Episode #68 – Perception is Reality When It Comes to Your Job and Career

Sharita: Welcome to “The Animal Health Employment Insider,” brought to you by The VET Recruiter. In this podcast, search consultant Stacy Pursell, founder and CEO of The VET Recruiter, provides insight and practical advice for both companies and job seekers in the Animal Health industry and Veterinary profession. The VET Recruiter’s mission is to help Animal Health and Veterinary organizations acquire top talent, while helping Animal Health and Veterinary Professionals attain career-enhancing opportunities that increase their quality of life.

In today’s podcast, we’ll be talking about how perception is reality when it comes to your job and your career. Welcome, Stacy. Thank you for joining us.

Stacy: Hello, Sharita. I’m glad to be here today. And I’m excited to be talking about this topic. I think this is something that all Animal Health and Veterinary professionals should hear about and be thinking about.

Sharita: Why is that, Stacy?

Stacy: Unfortunately, not enough professionals are aware of the situations in which they find themselves. They may look at a situation a certain way, but they’re not aware of how other people are looking at it. And this includes hiring managers at Animal Health organizations and Veterinary practices. And when you’re not aware of these things, it can affect what you do, how you act, and ultimately how successful you are.

Sharita: So you’re saying that even if you as the candidate knows the reality of a situation, you have to make sure that the perception associated with that situation accurately reflects the reality?

Stacy: That’s right. As a candidate, if you don’t do that, then you run the risk of other people thinking things that aren’t necessarily true. And when you’re competing for the best jobs with a bunch of other people, all it takes is one false perception to threaten your candidacy and your chances for landing a great job.

Sharita: How would you like to tackle this topic today?

Stacy: I think the best way would be to provide some examples of exactly what I’m talking about. As an Animal Health Recruiter and Veterinary Recruiter for more than 20 years, I’ve seen just about every scenario and situation you can imagine. In fact, I’ve probably seen and heard some things that are tough to imagine, too.

But one of the reasons I write so many articles and do podcasts like this one is that I want to share my experience and share my knowledge with people. I don’t want them to make the same mistakes that others have made. Learning from the mistakes of others is one of the best ways to learn. I’ve seen a lot of people make a lot of mistakes, and I want our listeners out there to learn from them.

Sharita: That makes sense, and I’m glad you’re here to help our listeners. What’s your first example?

Stacy: Before we talk about the first example, I want to mention that a lot of this has to do with personal branding. When I say personal branding, I mean how you brand yourself to other people. What people think about you is how you’ve branded yourself. That’s why it’s very important that you brand yourself correctly. If you rely solely upon people’s perceptions of you, then you might be branding yourself incorrectly. You must make an effort to ensure that people do not have misperceptions about you, because if they do, then they’ll think things about you that are not true.

Our first example is not getting back to people when they contact you and they expect you to get back to them, or not following up with someone when you’ve told them that you would.

Sharita: If you do that, what perception might a person have?

Stacy: At the very least, they’ll think that you’re absent minded or discourteous. If it happens more than once, then they’ll start to think you’re unreliable. And I must say that in my experience, being branded as unreliable is one of the worst things to be branded as. That’s because unreliable is close to untrustworthy. Being someone who can be trusted is extremely important in the employment marketplace. Hiring managers want to hire people who they feel they can trust. If they think that you’re unreliable or untrustworthy, then they are not going to hire you. End of story. I can say this with 100% certainty.

Sharita: So if someone expects you to follow up, you should do it.

Stacy: You should absolutely do it. Yes, I know that everyone is busy. But all it takes is a few minutes to write an email or make a phone call. It’s worth the investment of time so that someone doesn’t have the wrong perception of you.

Sharita: Stacy, what’s another example?

Stacy: Our next example is not keeping your LinkedIn profile current or up-to-date. Professionals in the Animal Health industry or Veterinary profession might think that this is not a big deal, but it is definitely a big deal. When I present a candidate to one of my clients, this is what happens.

First, I present the candidate, sending that candidate’s resume to the hiring manager. Second, the hiring manager reviews the candidate’s resume. Third, the hiring manager then checks to see if the candidate is on LinkedIn. If so, they compare the resume to the LinkedIn profile.

Sharita: What if the resume and the LinkedIn profile are not the same?

Stacy: That usually means the LinkedIn profile is not up-to-date. If that’s the case, then the hiring manager is going to form a bunch of perceptions about the candidate.

Sharita: What are those perceptions?

Stacy: The first perception is that the candidate is not current or up-to-date with technology. The second perception is that the candidate has poor networking skills. And the third perception is that the candidate is not serious about their career.

Sharita: And since that’s the perception in the mind of the hiring manager, then they believe it’s the reality of the situation.

Stacy: Yes, exactly. I’ve seen good candidates be dismissed because their LinkedIn profile did not match their resume. It is difficult to erase that perception in the mind of the hiring manager. It’s better to make sure that the perception is never there in the first place.

Sharita: Stacy, what’s our third example?

Stacy: Our third example is having profanity or inappropriate photos associated with your Facebook account.

Sharita: Stacy, incidents like that have been in the news for the past several years. Do you mean people still allow that to happen?

Stacy: Oh, yes. They do. I don’t know why, but people seem to forget that hiring managers look at not just LinkedIn, but also at Facebook and any other social media accounts they might have. And make no mistake about it: people have lost jobs because of what they had on their Facebook page. And there have been professionals who have definitely had their candidacy for a job dismissed because of what was on their Facebook.

When a hiring manager sees unprofessional language and unprofessional photos on your Facebook page, they’re going to think that you are unprofessional. That will be their perception, regardless of what the reality is. You will have branded yourself as an unprofessional person. As a result, the hiring manager will be far less likely to consider you for the job. Is it fair? Maybe not. Is it happening? Definitely.

Sharita: Stacy, we have time for one more example. Do you have one for us?

Stacy: I certainly do. While our listeners may not have been surprised by the first three examples that we discussed, they might be surprised by this one.

Once upon a time, a person had to spend at least five years with each of their employers. If they didn’t, then they were labeled as a job hopper.

Sharita: And that was a bad perception hiring managers had?

Stacy: That’s right. It was bad. However, things have now changed.

Sharita: How have they changed?

Stacy: Let’s start with the fact that people change jobs more frequently these days. We’ve talked about this before on the podcast. Changing jobs more frequently has actually become the rule rather the exception. Some members of the Millennial Generation even change jobs every 18 months to two years.

So employers have become more comfortable with candidates changing jobs more often. However, it’s now gone beyond simply becoming more comfortable with it.

Sharita: What do you mean?

Stacy: Believe it or not, hiring managers are starting to dismiss candidates who have been with their current employer a longer length of time. This is especially the case if the length of time has been 10 years or more.

Sharita: They are? That’s completely the opposite of the way it was before.

Stacy: It is! And once again, perception is behind the whole thing. Employers aren’t as likely to consider these candidates because they’re afraid that the candidates are out-of-date with current trends or they lack all of the skills necessary for the position. I’ve actually had hiring managers say those words directly to me about candidates who have been with their current employer for more than five years.

These are things that Animal Health Industry and Veterinary Professionals must be aware of. They have to know what employers and hiring managers are thinking. They have to know what type of perceptions hiring managers have and what conclusions they’re drawing as a result of those perceptions.

Sharita: Stacy, so what’s your advice regarding all of this?

Stacy: My advice is to always be careful about how you brand yourself and how you portray yourself. Make sure that every interaction you have with other people, no matter who they are, is a positive one. Make sure that your social media channels, especially LinkedIn and Facebook, reflect reality and not a false perception that is likely to harm you. No one is going to do this for you. This is something that you have to do yourself.

Sharita: Stacy, thanks so much for all of this great information today.

Stacy: Thank you, Sharita. I look forward to our next podcast!