The candidates have been chosen, the political jabs and smears are in full swing and the Republican and Democratic conventions are just around the corner. With all the emphasis on qualifications and experience, what can the average job seeker learn from Barack Obama and John McCain before they sit down in the interview chair?
Tom Gimbel, CEO of staffing and executive search firm The LaSalle Network, who has placed over 10,000 employees at over 900 companies, has some helpful feedback on both candidates’ basic job skills that might help you land YOUR next big job:
John McCain: In a YAHOO! News interview early this year McCain stated that he is “illiterate” when it comes to computers and relies on his wife to navigate the Internet for him. In addition, his campaign has been slow in getting messages out through social media like Facebook, YouTube and MySpace.
Barack Obama: Obama is frequently seen on the campaign trail with BlackBerry in hand and even “teleconferences” with his young daughter on his Mac. His Facebook page has 1.2 million friends and he has even started his own social network called My.BarackObama.com.
Tom Gimbel’s Feedback: Obama has the edge on this one. Being “tech savvy” in the modern workforce is almost an essential and many times required. Many companies are employing social media, online video and blogging into their corporate indentities. Knowing your way around the tech world just might get you hired.
John McCain: McCain is not known as a great public speaker. He’s not going to whip a stadium crowd into a frenzy with carefully crafted speeches. However, speaking off the cuff with a smaller audience is his strength, so he has opted largely for “town hall meeting” style events during his campaign.
Barack Obama: Obama is most comfortable speaking in front of large audiences, which is why he is giving his Democratic Convention speech to 80,000 at Invesco Field in Denver. There is no doubt he can lay down a rehearsed speech with the best orators around, but when he gets one-on-one or gets grilled with questions he can get a little shaky. Once the teleprompter shuts off, Obama gets a bad case of the “ums.”
Tom Gimbel’s Feedback: This one is more of a draw. When searching for that dream job, it’s important to play to your strengths. If public speaking isn’t your forte, you’re probably not going to be a lawyer or a motivational speaker. However, everyone needs to hone and polish their communication skills, because nothing can ruin your chances of getting a job faster than not presenting yourself well in an interview.
John McCain: Though some have seen McCain’s age as a hindrance to his campaign, it is also his biggest strength. With 22 years as a naval aviator (including five years in a P.O.W. camp), four years as a congressman and 22 years as a U.S. senator, McCain has a depth of experience that is difficult to challenge. He certainly has the qualifications typically associated with Commander-in-Chief.
Barack Obama: As a senator with less than two years’ experience, a couple best-selling books and a legal background, Obama has a lot to prove to show the country he’s ready to be President. He’s made up some ground by running a very successful grassroots campaign and energizing younger voters, but he is still a political rookie with a lot of question marks.
Tom Gimbel’s Feedback: McCain definitely wins in the experience category. When searching for a job or a career path remember that the longer you spend in a job, the better your resume looks to potential employers. The person with many years of experience in a specific field shows they have staying power and can “hit the ground running” their first day on the job. Try to avoid shifting career paths and stay with companies for as long as you can.
So, in summary, who would Ginbel give the job to?
Sticking to the true political nature of this post, his answer seems to dodge the question:
“Honestly I would choose the experience of Mccain and the charisma of Obama.”
Personally, if I’m behind the desk, I think Obama gets the job hands down. His communcation skills vastly out-weight that of John McCain. And while McCain does have more life-long experience, it doesn’t translate well when he’s a near carbon copy of the lackluster employee you are trying to replace.
Tom Gimbel is CEO and founder of The LaSalle Network, a staffing and recruitment firm that has placed more than 10,000 employees at over 900 companies. Read more of Tom Gimbel’s musings on his career blog, www.pastfive.typepad.com. For more information about The LaSalle Network, visit www.thelasallenetwork.com.
Read more interviewing advice at www.GraduatingEngineer.com.