Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Superman vs. Hancock

I heard a speaker make this analogy at a conference last year, and the more I thought about it, the more I thought it would make a good presentation for our annual career fair. I also thought it would make a good exercise for my supervision class.

It is important to realize that two people with exactly the same skill set can be miles apart when it comes to soft skills. Given the unemployment rate, and hundreds of applications for each job opening, it is crucial to set yourself apart from the pack. With all other things being equal, great soft skills and attention to detail can be the things that move your resume to the top of the pile.

For the career fair presentation, we first looked at what employers consider important in a potential new employee.
  • Team player
  • Good communicator
  • Problem solver
  • Good leader
  • Professional
  • Good work ethic
  • Positive attitude
Then, we looked individually at both Superman and Hancock to see how they stacked up. The consensus was this -
  • Superman and his counterpart Clark Kent are both good team players, though Superman works very well alone. He is a good communicator, but does keep a couple of secrets. He has good problem solving skills. Superman is a good leader, though Clark Kent is not as assertive. He is professional, has a good work ethic, and a positive, get-it-done attitude.
  • Hancock, the group decided, needed to be looked at in a before and after context. Looking at him in the beginning, he was not a good communicator or leader. He wasn't very professional nor did he present a positive attitude. He could be a good problem solver, but his solutions were not always executed well. (i.e. He save the beached whale and hoisted it back into the ocean, but it landed on a boat which sank and left the passengers flailing in the water.) His work ethic tended to ebb and flow.
After working through characteristics with Superman and Hancock, we looked at what each of the high school juniors and seniors had to offer a potential employer. They were asked to look at what they were involved in at school, church, scouts, or any other organization they were a part of, and see how they could demonstrate those things employers are looking for. It was a good exercise, especially for those who didn't have any work experience at all, to see how their current activities could demonstrate those important characteristics. Team player could be demonstrated through sports, clubs, or cheerleading. Leader could be demonstrated again through those things in being chosen and serving as team captain, class officer, or club officer. Good communicator and professionalism could be demonstrated through participation in clubs, student conferences, and competitions such as FBLA, FFA, and DECA. Good work ethic could be demonstrated in participation in any or all of those extracurricular activities while maintaining good grades. We also looked at any volunteering or tutoring they were doing and how that could be incorporated. Once we were into the worksheet, students realized that they had more than just their contact information, high school, and year of graduation to put on a resume.

Back to our comparison of Superman vs. Hancock, we looked at how Hancock fared at the end of the movie. He changed, matured, became a better listener, and more compassionate and scored much better on our character evaluation. It was also important to realize you're not locked into who you are right now. Everyone can change and improve.

After the exercise, one student said that he realized he needed to be more involved outside of the classroom next year during his senior year. His goal was to remove the blinders and get involved in clubs and activities that he could add to a resume, and that would also help prepare him for college and those college applications.

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