Finding Superheroes

“So, I understand that you are applying for a position in our security division?”

“That is correct.”

“You know the job specifically calls for at least 10 years in the military, with at least two tours of duty including undercover experience behind enemy lines?”

“I know.”

“Further, experience of unarmed self-defense, and ideally a second career in law enforcement?”


“Now, your resume suggests that in fact you have none of that experience. You do know that we are seeking not just the head of our security department – but that the successful candidate would have hands-on responsibility for the protection of our C.E.O.”

“Yes, I’m completely aware of that.”

“I’m sorry, I’m confused. Why would you apply for such a dangerous and highly skilled job when it is clear that you have actually no experience at all in that world?”

“Well, I have always had this – for the want of a better word – hobby.” I want to transition to this new world and really make my hobby my life time work. Make a career change if you will. I am tired of the work I have been doing and though my resume doesn’t show that I am qualified, I am sure you will have no regrets. I know that I can cover off all the challenges you describe.”

“Your hobby? Do you have any proof of your abilities?”

“Well, unfortunately most of the time, I’ve had to work anonymously, so I can’t give you any references or show any proof.”

“I see. Well, without any proof of experience, competence or even references, I don’t see how we can in all honesty pursue your application. Might I suggest that you work on a more realistic transition to such physical and dangerous work? I see you are a reporter. Perhaps rather than such a sudden change, you might convince your Newspaper to offer you a role as a ‘conflict correspondent’ and take it from there.”

“An interesting thought ma’am. And interestingly I’d suggested that to my boss, but they really just see me through the lens of their perception of me – which dates back to who I was when I joined them. That’s why I need to leave my position and find a new role.”

“Well, I’m sorry we can’t help you Mr. …”

“Kent. Ma’am. Clark Kent.”

“Yes indeed Mr. Kent. I am sorry we can’t move further at this moment. Good luck with your future and please don’t hesitate to call me once you can demonstrate that you have more relevant experience under your belt.”


Experience, competency, current compensation, current job title, references, blind referencing , LinkedIN profile, resume, cover letter …… just some of the tools that we have in our toolbox when looking at people to ‘fill our positions’. It’s not great is it?

Job Titles. Boring right? But not so fast, some companies are starting to have fun … for example Ben & Jerry’s have employed people with titles like ‘Grand Poobah of the Joy Gang’ and the ‘Primal Ice Cream Therapist.’ (it is unclear if they are still there). I have a friend in London who’s title is ‘Head of Crayons’ and I am sure that every reader has got a ‘Galactic Overlord of Staplers’ somewhere in their organization? Then again – I have another friend with the title of something like “Software Engineer A7 – 5” … I kid you not. It is a large company that definitely understands ‘fun’ – so that isn’t it – but they definitely seem to use titles more as a specific organizational positioning statement than a description of what the individual does.

Bottom line – titles are all over the place with no standardization or normalization, which might explain why I was once told “john – titles are just like currency” … which certainly fits in with an old (16 years old to be precise) survey that revealed that “7 out of 10 workers said they would prefer a grander sounding job title to a pay rise.” (Pretty sure that if those same people were asked the same question today that you would get a very different answer … or maybe not. In a recent article in Market Watch Laurie Gardner said;

The young ones like Woody will take the title, the older ones will say ‘you can call me whatever you want, just keep paying me more.

I guess I am one of the ‘older ones’. But not so quick. If I am looking to leave and move to a new organization, aren’t I better positioned as a ‘VP Customer Engagement’ – rather than ‘EMail Manager’? Well, certainly you will be able to talk yourself up into a first level interview – if your resume passes the ‘BS filters’, but even then you need to be ready to talk at the level you aspire to. You know that right? Which brings me to competence and experience and compensation and all of those other pesky little things that get in the way of us talking ourselves into our ideal role. Admittedly, with the odd exception.

Organizations today are being gamed. If a discipline has only been around for 5 years – how can an organization seek someone with 7 years of experience in it? Jobs, roles, positions, descriptions … they are changing – or at least should be changing – at unprecedented speeds. So how do organizations keep up?

The answer is they don’t. They are increasingly relying on technology to help them filter the unprecedented numbers of applications from people that they receive daily. But that simply isn’t enough. If you want a doyen of ‘social media marketing’ with 10 years experience in a large corporate brand, a college degree in communications, front line sales roles …. something is likely going to have to give – and we are going to have to get a whole lot better at finding perfect candidates. Trust me candidates are well ahead of corporations in the art of ‘the next role’.

Filters. Application tracking systems. Integration to HR systems. LinkedIn. Job Boards. It’s all so old hat. So ‘00s’ thinking. The same technology that can identify how a Paris terrorist is connected to a Brussels cell and triangulate back to a network of cells across Europe can be applied to finding the right candidate for your role – right now. Uniquely combining structured and unstructured data. Corporate assets and non corporate assets. What you know – with what you think you know with associated percentage likelihood – all delivered through a rich visual interface.

Want to know more? I know Superman does, but you will all have to wait until a future article.


John Philpin
John Philpin
JOHN'S career spans 30 years, 2 continents, and organizations as diverse as Oracle, Citibank and GE. A Mathematics graduate, John moved to California in 1990. He helps technology companies create, develop and deliver their story for fund raising, market development and influencer programs. He also works with businesses to ensure they understand, and are ready, for the ever accelerating changes that technology is bringing to their industry. John is a co-founder of Expert Alumni and gleXnet and long before futurists and industry watchers were writing about the impending challenges that industries were going to be facing, they predicted a perfect storm of issues like skills gap, declining work forces, the gig economy, people trained to do work no longer needed, demographic shifts, economic and social change, market upheaval and rapidly changing ways of doing work. From the beginning they have promoted the idea that massive change was coming to how organizations should think about their workforce, with a singular focus on simplifying the interface between people and their work. Understanding the challenges ahead of the curve, the solution was built to arrive at a better understanding of the greatest restraint to business operations - competence, not capital. gleXnet provides unparalleled insights into an organizations people and operations by flipping the problem from the perspective of people, not the business.

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