Management Articles


Fishing for the Right Person for the Job? Watch How They Swim

By: Susan Dunn

Susan Dunn, The EQ Coach, coaches individuals and executives in emotional intelligence, and offers workshops, presentations, trainings, Internet courses and ebooks.  She is a regular presenter for the Royal Caribbean and Costa cruiselines.  Visit her on the web at and for FREE ezine.

Monte (as I’ll call him) looked for a job for nearly two years and I worked with him, as his professional development coach. He had completed a career which he disliked, just making enough to pay the bills, but as many of us did, he lost a good bit of his retirement in 2001. He found himself looking for a new career at the age of 59. This is my specialty, BTW, so it didn’t bother me a bit, though he was understandably concerned.

The first thing I do with such a client is ask them to take the StrengthsFinder® Profile. It is a unique instrument that shows you what strengths are innate to you, i.e., you were born with them and will die with them. And for many clients who take it, the first thing we discover is that they were in the wrong job, sometimes their entire career lives. I mean totally the wrong job.

Monte had the most people-oriented and sales-oriented profile imaginable, including the strengths called WOO, Relator and Empathy. WOO people (it stands for Winning Others Over, or wooing them) are the hit-and-run sales type, but tempered with Relator and Empathy, you have a person who is excellent, naturally, at building and sustaining relationships, the kind of relationships that keep customers around for decades. With a natural ability to understand how people are feeling, and concern for them, and very high Emotional Intelligence (“soft” skills), Monte was ideally suited for a sales job.

However …

However, he couldn’t stand to be tied down. And it was the eventual mind-boggling paperwork in his former field that had finally driven him away.

Could we work with this? Where there’s a will, a good profile, a coach, and a client willing to do the work, there’s a way. Smart people are willing to bend for excellent sales people. Not the “rainmaker” types of sales people who become arrogant and abrasive because they’re good, but the ones who really need freedom to do their work. And in my personal opinion, anyone who’s good at selling isn’t good at, and dislikes, paperwork and it should be delegated.

But to continue, this showed up in Monte’s profile under the strength called Activator. He liked to move fast, and in fact was a sprinter in high school. He liked to set things in motion, moving rapidly, and then go on to the next thing. You can see such a person would do best turned loose to go sell. He was so well-liked by people he had every friend he’d ever made, and knew everyone in the county.

Last month, he ran into someone somewhere and sold them something, which is what he does best. He sold himself! He ran into a developer with many enterprises who had the smarts to see what he was looking at, aided by the fact that Monte showed him his profile, and explained what he was looking for in a work situation.

Fast forward … a base salary at 6 figures for doing the host of jobs in any organization that befuddle and confuse people in locked-in jobs that coincidentally require excellent people skills and flexibility (EQ) – such as when something goes wrong, or an ordnance needs to be worked through, or there’s a serious complaint that needs fixing, or a machine that needs to be repo’ed, and then commission for any of the product he sold.

Someone like this, with that sort of networking skills is not going to show up in your employment or HR office looking for a job. They’ll be out and about doing what they do best, so keep your eyes open!

Don’t look for a sales person in your HR office, because fish don’t live on land. And if it “swims” like a sales person, catch it quick before it gets away.

© copyright, Susan Dunn, 2004

Other Articles by Susan Dunn

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