An article by reporter Faye Flan in the Vancouver Sun this morning questions the role of IQ in being successful in landing a job.  Citing James Heckman, an Economics guru from the University of Chicago, “Many people fail to break into the job market because they aren’t measured on intelligence tests. They don’t know how to behave in job interviews. They don’t  understand how to behave in job interviews. They may shoe up late or fail to dress properly.”

Heckman proposes that personality may be a greater factor, where a candidate shows signs of diligence, perseverance and discipline. Other factors may include good study habits in school, the ability to collaborate, and, of course, luck.

In my practice of helping people with mental health issues, I like luck as an overriding factor to success in job search. The best part about luck is that there is absolutely no way to measure it. John Forbes Nash tried this in developing the fundamentals if Game Theory, and he got himself into real trouble. (His story is documented through Russel Crowe in the movie “A beautiful Mind.”

I have had several examples of people who found work who, by modern standards of so-called job readiness, should never have been hired.

These include:

  • A fellow who was in the middle of a 10 year sentence for bank robbery who began a career in social work by first volunteering with me, then working for me helping people in emotional crises in the community. These days they would be weeded out through a criminal record search. In this person’s case, I, as the employer, wanted him, and I got him. Thus, a new career was born.
  • A teenaged fellow, who, mid-way through his interview for a warehouse job, pulled out a bag of chips and a pop and had his lunch. I suppose that was in response to the question, “Tell me a little bit about yourself.” The HR person  phoned me and said she liked his originality and decided to hire him.
  • A middle aged man who lives aboard a fishing vessel who always smelled of deasil fuel and usually showed up to meetings with me with popcorn woven into his hair who successfully landed a position in a training program to be a set decorator in the motion picture industry.
  • Me! I came in late for my interview at Fraser Health, and afterwards I noticed I had my shirttail hanging out my fly. I got the job, and I still have it.
  • Me! After 13 years as a professional and world-famous archaeologist, I found a job as a street worker working with runaway teenagers. My chances of scoring that job would be akin to my landing a position as a surgeon.

For these reasons, I consider a major variable in achieving success. Your job, as a job seeker, is to try to find creative ways to lure luck out of hiding. I won’t say that it would be advisable to show up late with your shirt tail hanging out your fly, but as Popeye once said, “I am what I am.”

Instead of relying on wardrobe mishaps, here are some other things you can do to lure lick out of hiding.

First, Go into your interview prepared to ask some important questions about your prospective position. This means research. Start by googling the company or agency.

  • Find out the key members of the management team. This will make it possible to answer questions such as:
    • Is there anything  you wish to know about us. This will give you the opportunity  to ask:
    • What factors make you the top 10 agencies/companies?
    • What would be the qualities pf the best person for the position?
  • Are there any theoretical or philosophical aspects to the work? I learned that the job I do follows a model developed at Dartmouth Psychiatric clinic in New Hampshire. That was useful in answering questions about what would be my practice
  • Go there before the interview and scout out what people are wearing . Try to dress a little better at the interview
  • After the interview, make sure you have the name and email address of your interviewer, or the names and email addresses of everyone on the panel that interviewed you. Compose and send a thank you note for them. Timing for this is critical. Ask whether there is a timeline they are following for interviews. If they say they hope to make a decision on Friday, send it by Thursday. Often employers interview the also-rans last. This is a good time to remind the employer of you.
  • Feel secure in the fact that probably nobody else will write to them probably.
  • Make sure your shirt tail isn’t hanging out your fly.

Mike Broderick , a one- time archaeologist, is a Vocational Rehabilitation Counsellor with the Fraser Health Authority in Port Coquitlam where he helps people with mental health disabilities find and keep full or part time employment .

He WAS the Employment Specialist for the Neil Squire Society in Burnaby where he found employment for people with physical disabilities, A Supported Employment Coordinator at THEO BC (now the Open Door Group), and a case manager at Community Fisheries Development Centre where he helped people move from the fishing industry to something else because there, “Ain’t no fish.” This means he is VERY familiar with how a modern day resume should look.

He is a newly retired ambassador with the Vancouver Board of Trade and a former member of the Labour Task Force of the Burnaby Board of Trade He does some work as a field Archaeologist, is a fitness instructor and frequent contributor of fitness humour articles to Alive Magazine. He is always saying, “If you can’t be fit, you can at least be funny.”

He lives in Port Coquitlam with his spouse Cecelia. You can reach him at home at michael_broderick@telus.net  or at 604-464-4105. If you’re looking for a career change, he is also the Spin Doctor and can give you a resume makeover at competitive rates.




  1. energywriter Says:

    Great advice. Though it didn’t work for me last spring. I tried for a job for which I have years of experience, answered their questions in detail, dressed well, smiled a lot and didn’t get the job. Good to read your posts again.

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