Office Politics: What skill set do you really need?

It’s a job to take your breath away:  Director of community relations for a prestigious not for profit.  The job description calls for excellent people skills, communication skills, and initiative. You have, you believe, the perfect background.  They review your resume and schedule an interview. The interview goes well.  You are thrilled.  They made an offer.  You are ready to accept.

Not so fast.  This job category requires a hidden set of job skills that you may not even know you need.  Consider the following:

This job is as political as a job can be which doesn’t demand being elected.  How are you at reading minds, building relationships with competitors, placating the unreasonable, and over working the under-paid?  Do you have sharp outlines or only contours?  Second, assuming you are skilled, do those activities give you satisfaction at the end of the day?  I know many people who are skilled political operatives but hate the push and shove.

Is there anyone who’d apply for such a job who doesn’t believe he/she has great people skills, communication skills, and is a self-starter?  The vagueness alone suggests that political skills will be needed.  Even in a recession such jobs are readily available because few people know enough about office politics to survive much less succeed.

Have you scanned the horizon for victims?  Who failed in the job would be more important to know than who succeeded.  Rev up your network , find and interview your predecessors.

The tail on the tale:  The less measurable the skills called for, the more top political skills are  required.  Would you have done well at the Court of Henry VII?  Then proceed.

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