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A Lesson from Twitter

· 3 min read
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Several months back I was addicted to Twitter. Any time I can pull out my phone, I would be checking my Twitter feed.

It's a time waster. Prolific YouTuber Dr Derek Muller describes it as a part of the distraction economy.

I had even gone to the extent of checking for more updates when I had finished everything in my feed. What was the use of that? Is there anything to gain from all that time spent reading little messages from strangers?

Given that each message is at most 140 characters, surely Twitter's only value is for newsy stuff right? Well, that's mostly true but every now and then, you can find a gem of wisdom among the stream of ramblings.

And found one I did. I don't remember the exact wording but the gist revolves around these two sentences:

"Why is this job important?"

"What you will learn in this job."

This was posted by someone who was in the position of hiring (programmers I think). He found that by including these two points in a job advertisement, it helped to attract more quality candidates than not.

After parsing through the sentences, I can see why. The first point "What is this job important?" probably does not make sense to a lot of people why it would help. The second point "What you will learn in this job." is probably more obvious. Clearly it speaks to people who want to learn more. Beyond that though, if we delve a little deeper into the characteristics of the people who place emphasis on it, we can easily see that these are people who want and desire to acquire new knowledge.

Naturally, if I were to infer another characteristic that makes such a person perpetually curious, it would be interest, or for some, passion. Only when you have interest/passion in a job, would you be always keen to learn more. And a person who is interested/passionate can be counted on to complete the tasks satisfactorily, not necessarily to the supervisor but simply to herself.

What about the first point? What can we infer from it?

A disassociated worker likely doesn't give a damn about why the job is important. I can think of two traits in an individual who does give a damn.

One is the ability to think at a higher level, "see the big picture", and understand and appreciate the role that she is playing in the organization for the job that she is doing.

The other is an innate desire for self actualization. For some people, the knowledge that one has a significant role to play in the company provides the extra motivation to work hard. I think that's probably the reason why some people stay behind after office hours to complete the task at hand whereas others adopt a "couldn't care less" attitude in the office.

Simply adding these two points in the job advertisement will not magically filter out the dispassionate candidates, but you can leverage these two points during the interview to "suss" out these hidden personality traits in the candidates.

If you are in a position of hiring, try this out the next time a position is available and see if it works for you.