What Is It That YOU Do?


dream jobI have been with Hogan now for just under 12 years. It’s been an incredible experience and I’m privileged to work alongside unbelievable intelligence and talent, but I have to be honest about something: in non-professional situations I dread the question, “So what is it that you do, Jesse?” I envy my wife, who when faced with the same question can simply say “I am a teacher,” or a friend who answers, “I’m an engineer.” You see, my response is something like, “I work for Hogan Assessment Systems. We publish personality assessments.” And so it begins….

There are several ways the conversation can go, but it usually consists of a joke in which the person asks what I see in his or her personality, and then a seemingly infinite stream of “Oh. So what does that mean?” It’s very similar to a conversation with a two-year-old, in which every answer is countered with “why?”  I am by no means comparing the inquisitive individual to a toddler; more stating that what we do at Hogan seems really tough to explain. But is it really? Does it have to be?

I’d like to think the answer is no. What we do is simple in its complexity and complex in its simplicity. Let me start with an example. Picture a successful long-haul truck driver. Now picture another individual, only this one is a commission-based sales representative. Take these two successful employees and swap them. Generally speaking, it doesn’t work. But why? The answer is personality; the personality characteristics that make one successful in the cab of an 18-wheeler are drastically different than those that make one successful in a sales role.

Everyone has their own definition of personality. For the most part, we all know what it means, but putting that definition into words can be challenging. Most everyone would describe the above individuals similarly, however the language used to depict them would vary drastically. Furthermore, subjectively applying those various languages to a specific job is inaccurate, ineffective, and could even result in legal trouble.

Enter Hogan. The Drs. Hogan obviously didn’t invent personality, but they did develop a very reliable taxonomy of its constituent parts. The structure and language they built provides the consistency required to accurately measure it, and the methods they developed made those measurements applicable to occupational performance. The science behind all of this is inherently very complex, but in general terms, we help organizations ensure that the right people are selling and the right people are driving. We can even provide a solid foundation for coaching designed to improve the performance of those already driving, selling, or virtually anything else…but that’s a whole different dinner party.

That’s honestly about as short and sweet of an answer I can provide to the initial question, so you might now understand why I dread it. To know what we do requires some understanding of Hogan, which from a marketing perspective is brilliant. To the fella opposite me at a happy hour, however, it may prompt a new set of questions in his bag of pleasantries.