Matt Broadbent - Red or Black
I was reading about Simon Cowell's new game show, Red or Black, this week. It involves a tremendous number of people who are in with a chance of making lots of money and who are then gradually narrowed down to one lucky winner. This got me thinking about trainee recruitment. Of course the difference is that those appearing in the glorified toss-a-coin fest rely entirely on luck while one's 'chance' of winning a training contract or pupillage can be seriously enhanced by following a few simple rules, taking a few simple steps and doing a few simple things well.
Let's have a go at a quick five rounds. If you think black and red give you an equal chance of progressing then pick at random. Otherwise…
Challenge 1. You need to start planning for your career and working out how to get a law job. Either:
Black: Get around to applying yourself to the task once your finals are in sight - it's a linear process after all. Think about your studies, then think about a career.
Red: It's your future so try to map out how it might develop as early as possible, making sure you don't miss any crucial watersheds or opportunities.
Challenge 2. It turns out there is some readily available information on your chosen field and how to get into it. Either:
Black: Hoover up every possible bit of information about what to do, how the market works, who everyone is and what attributes can be found in those who succeed. By the end of it you could write a book on it yourself.
Red: A bit of light reading around the subject gives you the general idea. That'll do.
Challenge 3. Having done some research, it's time to describe what sort of person you are and what you can do. Either:
Black: You chuck together something which highlights your impressive sounding, albeit generic, attributes. "Good team player, great communicator, good attention to detail, who thinks outside the box." Who could resist you?
Red: You undertake a forensic analysis of everything you have done or achieved, checking off which key attributes and competencies you are displaying, before reworking this information into an impressively balanced personal profile that ticks all the boxes. And, where you couldn't tick the boxes, you go off and participate in further activities to gain the missing skills. In fact, you're so organised you've used the MySelf feature in your MyLC.N account, which was specially designed for this to record your results!
Challenge 4: Now you're writing and sending applications. Either:
Black: You're firing off applications like the huge gang of baddies unloading their magazines at the A-list Hollywood star running unprotected though your line of fire. Something's bound to hit the target surely?
Red: You are like Leon the assassin in the film of the same name. You approach everything with thorough thinking and complete dedication. This approach means a successful outcome is a foregone conclusion.
Challenge 5: You've been invited to interview or an assessment centre! Great news. Now you need to turn up and close the deal. Either:
Black: You indulge in more meticulous preparation for this single chance for this particular job. You establish the exact format of the encounter. You hone your knowledge of the employer's business: its challenges, its competitors and its strategy. You ensure you have a credible example to demonstrate each of the competencies you've worked out they require and you turn up on time.
Red: You quickly reread the application that got you the interview and make sure you can trot out a rehashed version. There's not much more to say is there?
You're probably rolling your eyes having heard all this before. But be honest with yourself. Have you really covered all the bases (and more) or are you just going to cross your fingers and roll the dice?