The End of the Nasty Know-It-All


Employers are desperate for talent, and talent has long been equated with expertise. The more a person knows, the higher their probability of being selected for an opening, even if they have the personality of a brick or are painfully unpleasant to work with. Now, however, that trend seems to be ending. More and more, employers want a combination of competence and collegiality.

We've all had to work with them - the nasty know-it-alls. They are tolerated, sometimes even celebrated by employers because they are very good at their jobs, but they make life miserable for everyone else. They are disrespectful, haughty, inflexible, intolerant, mean or some ugly combination of several of those traits.

You have to wonder how they ever got past the recruiters and managers who interviewed them. But, they did. By the thousands. The nasty know-it-alls seem to have no problem getting job offers and staying employed. At least, until now.

A recent international survey conducted by the training company Hyper Island found that character has surged to the top in importance among working professionals. An astonishing 78 percent of the respondents said that "personality" was the most desirable attribute among coworkers, besting "cultural alignment" at 53 percent and "skill-set" at 39 percent.

What did they mean by personality? According to Hyper Island, these professionals are looking for people who have drive and an open mind and who are dependable and creative in their job performance. They spend one-third of their lives at work, and they no longer want to share that time with socially stunted or maladjusted people.

Putting Personality Into Your Transition

If the views of those professionals are also the views of their employers, the job market is in the midst of a profound shift. Organizations that were once willing to overlook the character flaws of candidates will no longer do so, no matter how skilled they may be. To put it another way, they want to hire the Engaging Expert, not the Nasty Know-It-All. They want workers to be good at their own jobs and to contribute to the teamwork and camaraderie that fuel a high performing organization.

There are smart ways and not such smart ways to include personality in your job search. Yes, so-called "soft skills" should be an integral part of your portfolio of employment qualities. But when noting them - whether it's on your resume or in an interview - it's critical that you connect them to a workplace outcome that an employer will value.

You see, there's a disease running rampant among employers these days. I call it "employment dementia." If you're in transition, they find it hard to recognize your value as a worker. They've lost the ability to see you as a potential contributor.

For that reason, you have remind them of what your soft skills will do for them. For example, if you have a track record of flexibility on-the-job, show how that trait enabled you to step in for an absent coworker so there was no loss of work output or to shift to another, more important project so it was completed on time and within budget.

To get the best results in today's tough job market, don't position yourself simply as a high performer and certainly don't come across as a nasty know-it-all. Instead, build a brand as an engaging expert by featuring your soft skills AND the value they can add to an employer.

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Peter Weddle. 4/17/15. The End of the Nasty Know-It-All. Weddle's Newsletter. Retrieved from:

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