A rose is a rose is a lovely flower that smells good

We have nice offices with lots of tasteful plastic plants strategically located throughout.  Each year, one of our summer students is responsible for taking them all outside and hosing them off.  One year, a particularly enterprising fellow asked, after finishing the job, if he could put “Plant Manager” on his resume.  It got chuckles all around until I figured out that he wasn’t really joking.

He was legitimately, if only for a short time, managing the plants but I’m not sure that I could in good conscience send him to any of my clients.

What’s clear is that we have to focus on what needs to be done not the title.  A plant manager could be called an operations manager, an operations supervisor or a facilities manager.  The focus should be on the type of equipment and processes involved and the problem/challenge that has created the need to find this person in the first place.

On the candidate side, it is important to layout in clear, non-jargon phrases what you have done and in what contexts.  Instead of Plant Manager, it would be more accurate to say “in charge of cleaning and inventorying a large, cumbersome group of dirty, plastic plants”.  This would lead an employer to the conclusion that the candidate is able to do hands on, physical work, can handle detail oriented tasks and doesn’t mind getting dirty.

It all comes down to the 4 Ws.

  • What
  • Where
  • When
  • Why

Candidates need to identify the w’s of their experience and employers need to layout the w’s of the job.  Good recruiters line it all up in the middle so the match is easy to see for both sides.

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