As a recruiter and search consultant, I’ve seen many people react to feedback that was given to them. I’ve seen some react well, and I’ve seen some react poorly.
As students preparing to graduate and enter the workforce, it’s important that you have a healthy perspective in regards to the feedback you receive and even more critical, that you do something with that feedback.
I have many examples of professionals not responding appropriately to the feedback they received following a face-to-face interview. Unfortunately, they often become defensive, saying the following things or variations thereof:
- “I didn’t do that.”
- “I didn’t say that.”
- “The employer misunderstood what I said.”
- “They employer misunderstood my intentions.”
A candidate once said the following to me: “The employer is stupid for not hiring me. I know more than they do.” Needless to say, that statement was not constructive in the least. All it did was illustrate the ignorance of the candidate and not the employer.
My firm also works with fresh veterinarian graduates on a frequent basis. When I or one of my recruiting associates speaks with these graduates about their career or about a specific position, they sometimes say they didn’t learn enough about surgery skills in a school or enough about business skills or interviewing techniques. As a result, they don’t want to pursue the opportunity, if we’re discussing one for example that requires surgery skills. Unfortunately, they also don’t all seem motivated to take the steps necessary to improve their skills or their situation.
And that is where the problem lies.
I’m a big proponent of continuous training and education. Even though you’re going to graduate soon, it does not mean your education is coming to an end. That is absolutely not the case. You should be constantly learning throughout the course of your career, and one way you can learn is through the reading of books. I know there might be some of you who don’t like to read, and if that’s the case, audiobooks are a good option.
With that in mind, I’d like to reference a book that pertains to this topic. The Principles of Success by Jack Canfield is an excellent book that I recommend all professionals read. In that book, Canfield addresses the topic of feedback as follows:
“Most people are afraid to ask for corrective feedback because they are afraid of what they are going to hear. But you’re better off knowing the truth than not knowing the truth. Once you know it, you can do something about it. You cannot fix what you don’t know is broken. You cannot improve your life, your relationships, your game, or your performance without feedback.”
Since you’re just starting out in your career, you probably feel as though you’re being inundated with feedback. That’s a good thing! This is the time when you should be listening to every piece of feedback that’s offered to you. It’s one of the best ways to become better and position yourself effectively to enjoy more success in the marketplace. When you avoid feedback, the only person you’re hurting is yourself. That’s because you can NOT improve something if you don’t know what that something is. And if you’re not able to make improvements, then you’re not able to grow.
You’re probably saying to yourself right now, “That’s easier said than done.” And you’re right. That is easier said than done, but it still has to be done. That’s because even if you don’t avoid feedback, you can still stunt your growth by not responding appropriately to that feedback. Being defensive is counterproductive for a number of reasons:
- You focus more on what you perceive to be a slight or even a personal attack than on the feedback itself.
- You don’t take steps to make the improvements that are necessary to progress (as mentioned above).
- The person providing the feedback will be less inclined to continue providing feedback.
Yes, sometimes feedback can be humbling. However, honest feedback is necessary for true growth. There’s a saying that states, “All growth is painful.” That applies to not only to physical growth, but also to professional growth.
So where does that leave us? It leaves us with a clear path to take. If it’s a bad idea to run from honest feedback, then it must be a good idea to run toward it! (That might be an exaggeration, but not by much.)
The Principles of Success advocates two specific steps when it comes to feedback. Those steps are as follows:
#1—SEEK out feedback.
That’s right, actually ask people for feedback. You do this knowing full well they may provide feedback that is unsavory. But that’s exactly the type of feedback you need to hear! Feedback is not to be avoided; it is to be embraced.
#2—Be grateful for the feedback that you do receive.
Not only should you be grateful for the feedback, but you should also express that gratitude. Thank the person who provided it, and be genuine about it. The last thing you want to do is sound sarcastic. People who provide honest feedback are doing a great service for you. It’s nearly impossible for a person to know all of their weaknesses. We all have blind spots.
And there’s something else that you should do right now. You should make the decision to take ownership of your career and initiative for your career. This is the perfect time to make sure that you have the right attitude about your professional life and that you know who is responsible for what happens. Your parents are not responsible. Your professors are not responsible. Your school is not responsible.
YOU are responsible for what happens in your career.
If you feel as though there are gaps in your education or you’re not learning everything you need to learn, then I recommend taking responsibility and taking initiative. Figure out what you need to do in order to be successful. It could involve acquiring more hard (technical) skills, soft (people) skills, or business skills. Whatever you think you need to learn, take the initiative and make sure that you learn it.
And a big part of this whole process is feedback. Do not avoid feedback. Do not react poorly to it. Instead, seek it out. Feedback is not a personal attack. When viewed in the proper manner, it’s a gift. Namely, it provides an opportunity for you to identify areas of weakness, take steps to remedy those areas, and improve your chances for job search success and career satisfaction.
This has been a guest blog by Stacy Pursell. To read more about her and her company please visit The Vet Recruiter web site.