Wednesday, July 23, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Focus on the 'me,' not the 'we'

In America, we put a lot of emphasis on team work, especially on the job. Remember that saying -- there is no "I" in team? That's good to a point, but...

Focus on the 'me,' not the 'we'

In America, we put a lot of emphasis on team work, especially on the job. Remember that saying -- there is no "I" in team?  That's good to a point, but...

The "but" occurs during job interviews, say two recruiters for Target's program to hire college graduates for the retailer's fast-track to management. "I tell them to focus on the "me," not the "we," said Amanda Abney, senior field campus recruiter for Target. 

Too often, she said, students talk about their school team projects, but never describe what their individual contributions were. In fact, she said, they aren't even necessarily prepared to answer the question. Maybe they organized the meetings. Maybe they delegated the responsibilities to others. Maybe they created the power points, honed the presentation, handled the research. Maybe they were leaders. "Think about what you did," said Abney, who is based in Springfield, Delaware County.

I found her comment very interesting, because our culture talks about the value of all the players on a team. We consider it polite and gracious to turn the spotlight on others, but that's not good advice when looking for a job. When you are looking for a job, you need to be your own best public relations agent, promoting, promoting and self-promoting.

On Tuesday, the two recruiters attended presentations by Temple University business professor Kate Nelson's human resources students. Nelson said she always urges students "to tell their story," at job interviews, but she took an extra note of the "we" and "me" idea about teams. She said she'll  incorporate it into future lectures on job-hunting.   

No "I" in TEAM? Maybe not. But there's definitely an "I" in HIRED.

Jane M. Von Bergen Inquirer Staff Writer
About this blog

Jobbing covers the workplace – employment, unemployment, management, unions, legal issues, labor economics, benefits, work-life balance, workforce development, trends and profiles.

Jane M. Von Bergen writes about workplace issues for the Inquirer.

Married to a photographer she met at her college newspaper, Von Bergen has been a reporter since fourth grade, covering education, government, retailing, courts, marketing and business. “I love the specific detail that tells the story,” she says.

Reach Jane M. at jvonbergen@phillynews.com.

Jane M. Von Bergen Inquirer Staff Writer
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