There is an old story about a farmer saying to his son, “Son, I don’t mind you going to school so long as it doesn’t interfere with your education.” Today, a more moderate way of making the same point is the saying, “Educations teaches one how to spell experience.” The reality is that both education and experience are critical when considering a person for a new position. Most resumes focus entirely on those two critically important factors. However, most employers want something well beyond either factor. That all important, but often missing factor, is best described by extending the “Education teaches one to spell experience” with “and wisdom is knowing when to ignore experience!” Wisdom manifests itself by demonstrating sound business judgment. What companies want are employees, at all levels, that can make appropriate decisions as unexpected events occur. The rate of change in virtually all aspects of the business world is increasing; what worked yesterday may not work today, and probably won’t work one year from now. Also, independent of most rigorous standards, variations still occur. Responding and embracing change is not enough. The new corporate mantra must be Adaptive Execution – by all. Adaptive execution must be based on responding and not simply reacting to events. It seems that in many organizations, the “knee-jerk” has become the new corporate dance. There is probably no better example of the “rush-to-judgment” frenzy than most news media outlets exhibit. Often, they respond to incomplete data instead of the underlying information.
Several decades ago, the Japanese led the world in adopting a judgment-by-all philosophy in their manufacturing activities. Every employee on the manufacturing line could stop the production line when an issue arose. Also, employee circles were formed that included employees at all levels. They offered improvement suggestions based on their experience and judgment. The results of these efforts are well-known, and similar techniques are followed throughout the world. Without a doubt, the most important attribute that companies look for in new employees is sound judgment.
Judgment involves determining the most appropriate response to a situation. With the speed of business and our near instant exposure to data, not necessarily information, many individuals feel compelled to react instead of responding to situations. Even during the interview process, the difference between reacting and responding can surface. With the anxious desire to impress, a candidate may quickly begin to answer a question even before the interviewer has stopped talking – a situation that is commonplace in most dialogues and, certainly in most business meetings. Taking a moment to craft a thoughtful response instead of responding quickly will leave a positive, lasting impression.
Resumes that list past results are necessary but no longer sufficient. Weave into your resume how, using your judgment, you adapted and won. Even in the most conservative or regulated industries, fast responses to changing events are critical. Your education and experience are important arrows in your quiver, but how you choose to use them to aim and hit the business’s moving targets are based on your judgment. Show your prospective employer that you have what it takes to make the right decisions, fast – but not too fast.