James Caan – notable entrepreneur, dragon and man who strokes his beard a lot came a cropper recently in a radio 4 interview. He was speaking in his capacity as the Governments Social Mobility Tsar about the importance of employers taking on the right people and not just their family and friends. This comment was hit quite hard when it came to light the Caan had offered employment to two of his own offspring. There is something in this about practicing what you preach, but there are two useful things that can be drawn out of this story.
1. Use your networks.
You and your family will know people in industry. Use them to get experience, because, frankly, if you don’t, someone else will. Exploit contacts until your diary is so full of meetings and internships that you need to employ someone else to carry it around for you.
2. Don’t make grand statements that can catch you out.
I was chatting to a recruiter the other day that mentioned an applicant that claimed to know everything about their products and was therefore the best candidate. So the recruiter asked for the candidate to list all of the product names. Needless to say, they couldn’t. If you say something so ridiculously sweeping as ‘everything’ then you deserve to be caught out. Caan was right to say that in an ideal world, people would think of the greater good. But he didn’t stop there and that was his undoing.
This second point is important when applying for jobs. We have all seen the Friends clips when Joey claims to be able to do more than he actually can. Don’t get caught out. The most frequent lie I see is ‘I have an excellent working knowledge of the full suite of Microsoft Office packages’. Really? You can use Project? And you can do more than type numbers into Excel? A certain amount of hyperbole is expected, but it should be used with caution.
To make you smile, here is Joey…