Talent vs. Hard Work in Job Success

Companies theoretically want to hire high-performance employees, and if that describes you, you probably want to be hired by a company that will recognize and appreciate the value you bring to it. The trick is, how do companies determine ahead of time whether someone will be a high performer and how do you present yourself in that light to prospective employers? Is it all about talent or does hard work play a part?

5 Signs of High Performance in Job Candidates

According to an article by Laura Stack in the Atlanta Business Chronicle, “Based on recent studies, some researchers argue that natural talent will triumph, whether a person works hard or not….Then again, hard work clearly gives the less talented a special edge.” The article then suggests that there are “5 signs of high performance to look for in job candidates“:

  1. The Yoda attitude: This is basically optimism and determination in pursuit of goals.
  2. A brilliant past: Testimonials to past performance, including top-quality references, can suggest great potential for future performance.
  3. Well-defined goals: Requirements include not only clear long-term goals but also clear, well-thought-out plans to achieve them.
  4. Advanced time-management skills: Top performers know they have to make the most of their time while still maintaining a balance that precludes burnout.
  5. Optimistic ambition: Here’s that reference to optimism again. These individuals are self-motivated and have a clear sense of direction, but they also check with their managers often enough to make sure they’re on the right track.

What Does This Mean for You and Your Job Success?

Stack’s article focuses on what employers need to know and do. Now it’s time to turn things around a bit and take a look at what you, as the job candidate, need to know and do. For instance, you need to:

  1. Believe you can achieve challenging goals and be willing to expend exceptional effort to get there.
  2. Perform consistently at the highest level you can achieve at any given point and execute appropriate actions to ensure full awareness of your value on the part of your boss and other influencers within your organization.
  3. Map out an action plan that spans both short-term and long-term goals, with suitable steps to achieve both types at designated times. Then be flexible enough to revisit and revise that plan periodically, so you don’t end up off-track (off-goal) down the road.
  4. Keep a reality check in terms of your time–make the most of it, even including relatively short bursts of intense activity when needed, but maintain an awareness of potential pitfalls that can accompany sustained intensity and take steps to counteract that.
  5. Reach out to connect with and interact with others to reinforce your efforts, but realize that you need to be highly self-motivated to move in the direction you’ve chosen.

With year-end 2014 now in sight, this would be a good time to take a look at some of these points and do your best to make sure you’re ready for your next move when 2015 arrives.

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