During a telephone interview a client reported she was asked what she’d done in the last six months to upgrade her skills or get better at her job. She couldn’t think of a thing. She responded that she’d been so busy performing she’d had no time for professional development. After she thought about it she decided she didn’t want to work for that company under any circumstances! She’s still ruffled.
Not so fast my friends. It’s not an unreasonable question to ask a fortysomething in an age of runaway technology. (I know people who are still using WordPerfect.) I suspect what the interviewer was testing was ego strength. Fact: People who relentlessly look for new information or experiences are better performers.
The question you never want to be asked is, “Do you have 20 years’ experience or one year’s experience repeated 19 times?” That is a common question for long-term occupants of any job. I’ve been researching, writing about, and counseling on career planning since 1975. Wouldn’t you want to know how what I did now was different from 1975? More had changed than has stayed the same.
Part of interview prep should be to divide your experience by three to five-year periods. You, and only you, can explain how the job changed. No reference check can reveal it. How did you begin doing things differently while still getting the result? If it truly was the same job done the same way for 20 years that is scary. Consider the following signs you’ve been updating:
1. Courses taken anywhere from a community college, in-house, association sponsored, or any credible organization.
2. On-line research which you can summarize in a sentence or two. How did what you learned change the way you approached your job?
3. Experimentation that changed how you did your job. Example: “I saw that we were spending too much time on individual inquiries. I developed a series of templates and my boss liked them. Now everyone in the department uses them.” Nailed!
Interviewers need some proof that you are working to get better at your job. You get bonus points when you point out that you initiated these upgrades. Always Posts: ask yourself who you would hire: the person who’s fully engaged or the person who’s going through the motions, however competently?
If you were to ask employers what they hated most — aside from aggressive incompetence — they’d say, “passivity.” They want someone who at least hints that he or she would put more than the minimum into doing the job.
Contact Marilyn for Help With Career Strategies
Get your career on track pronto. Develop a successful strategy to get the job you want. Contact Marilyn Moats Kennedy now.