Dr Sharna Wiblen -19 October 2018

Who are you? Who, who, who, who… Who are you? ‘Cause I really wanna know, tell me who are you?

What CSI Teaches us about Intentional First Impressions

Dr Sharna Wiblen

19 October 2018

Who are you? Who, who, who, who… Who are you? ‘Cause I really wanna know, tell me who are you?

By now many of you will have either a little bop as you start to sing the famous song by The Who or images associated with the incredibly popular CSI: Crime Scene Investigation TV series will be permeating within your consciousness.

If asked to describe CSI, many individuals could respond with ease. Descriptions of a crime-based drama where characters collect data and information to garner various insights and deductively solve the relevant crime. While other descriptions may prioritise love, social awkwardness, comradery or blood and dissection, these would be frequently appropriated with the context of drama and crime-based discussions.

15 years of CSI teaches us about the power and persuasion of impression management and personal brand. Regardless of whether we talk about episodes of CSI within the Las Vegas, Miami, New York, Cyber franchises, the writing and production teams offered numerous plots which consistently reinforced the show's brand in the exact ways asked for in its theme song. When asked of vast audiences around the world, each can unanimously respond – CSI is a crime-based drama.

Questions of “who you are? “ lie at the heart of impression management and personal brand. These questions are also the foundation of talent management, and more specifically talent acquisition. Talent conversations operating within our interconnected and increasingly digital world are underpinned by various rhetorical strategies which purport people pass judgments within the first six seconds, and that traditional recruitment and selection process can be designed to ensure objective and unbiased decision-making whereby the “best” candidate is selected.

While it is imperative that we continue to talk about how to iteratively improve recruitment and selection, it is also important to acknowledge that talent-based practices are founded upon judgments. Talent acquisition involves a human (the selector) making a series of judgment-based decisions about the value of another human (the candidate/s). Human Resource or line-based stakeholders are making a series of judgments about whom they think you are. The judges are seeking to ascertain your “value” and the extent to which you will positively contribute to the execution of operational and strategic imperatives.

Combining these perspectives with my proposition that talent is a performative construct (something that we do) and published empirical research (Example 1 & Example 2) that illustrates the ongoing perception that senior stakeholders do not need to over-engineer talent identification processes because they “know talent when they see it”, it is imperative that we transition towards intentional first impressions. Be deliberate, intentional and informed about who you are and what you want to be known for. Knowing which personal and professional stories you want to share should inform the words you employ when describing yourself and answering the question: who are you?

Now is a great time to think and reflect - what do you want to be known for? What words would you like individuals to utilise when describing you? Are these words and ideas articulated within your digital profiles? What will you do and what actions will you take to influence perceptions and to encourage individual’s to judge you in this way?

When thinking about your first impression and your ability to be perceived as “talent”, then think of CSI – because this is a show that people don’t struggle to describe. Talent acquisition demands intent and individuals can benefit from positioning personal strategy stories and intentional first impressions through actions that align with CSI and not the famous quote from Forrest Gump: Talent acquisition is not like a box of chocolates. Organisations do want to know what they’re going to get.

Therefore, when thinking about job aspirations, LinkedIn profiles and CV’s, think of CSI when reflecting on questions of who you want to be. Be intentional with your first impressions and talk and act in ways which help others to see what you want them to see.

i The Who theme song was not associated with CSI in all countries.

Dr Sharna Wiblen is a Lecturer in Management at the Sydney Business School, UOW working at the boundaries of Talent Management, Information Technologies and HR Analytics.

Dr Wiblen teaches intentional first impressions as a core aspect of Sydney Business School’s Master of Business Administration (MBA) subject 903 Responsible Talent Management Strategies.

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