I'm ten years old and entering the US for the first time. The Customs Officer leans over and asks, "why are you entering this country?" With conviction, I repeat the only English sentence I know: "I am here to be a famous actress in Hollywood."
A lot has changed since that day. From actress to journalist, entrepreneur to consultant, recruiter to talent manager; I switched dream careers more often than some people change their socks. However, along the way I learned that one thing has to remain consistent - conviction.
Changing your career path is not problematic. As you gain experience, you should also get clarity around what does and doesn't make sense for you, and pivot in the right direction. What's problematic is when these career changes lack a logical progression. Conviction cannot grow where reflection and forethought haven't already taken hold. For that reason, I try to be deliberate in my career choices.
When I joined the People Operations team at AlphaSights, I quickly noted the difference between people who are deliberate and those who drift aimlessly from one thing to the next. The latter revert to buzzwords: strategy, entrepreneurship, problem-solving, leadership, etc. Conversations are generic and easy to forget.
Don’t get me wrong; some people genuinely want to do these things and work in, let's say, "strategy". The difference is that they are not just using "sexy" buzzwords. They've done their research. They know how they define strategy (a concept that might mean something different at different companies). They can articulate what type of strategy they want to do, what their ideal day-to-day looks like, and - most importantly - why they want to do strategy. These are the people with high career IQ.
So, why is career IQ important for employers? Career IQ is the difference between okay and amazing. If you are hard working and have relevant skills, we can train you and you'll do okay here. On the other hand, if you make deliberate career decisions to get yourself on the right track, you will know why you're here. And, in turn, when you know why you’re doing something, you’re happier, more dedicated, and you do a better job. Looking for career IQ allows us to find amazing employees - which is why I will always opt for a candidate with high career IQ over one with unbelievably strong credentials.
I no longer want to be an actress and if you're anything like me, your goals will also shift over time. With high career IQ you are constantly navigating between where you are and where you want to go. So, if we’re chatting about AlphaSights, forget all of the buzzwords and throw away those overused cover letters. Simply tell me what you want and how you can achieve it here - with conviction.