It is interesting where lessons are learned. At a Wisconsin water park, I rapidly learned two lessons which emphasized the benefit of quick action, and recognizing the value of your own work (regardless of others’ perspectives).
While walking in the pool, from the corner of my eye, I noticed a 7-ish year old boy come down the slide with a big scream of “WAHOO!” as he propelled feet-first into the water. After a few seconds, I realized that I hadn’t seen him come up, so I turned around, questioningly, to face the area of water he’d just entered. “People float… kids come up” I told myself as I scanned that area as the next second or two passed. Just in case… I took a step in that direction, still anticipating that his head would imminently bob up above the water surface. After yet another second, I took another step… and then received a splash from the lifeguard’s dive into the water to rescue him. I was close enough that I could hear her say “You are OK, you’ll be OK” as she transported him onto the edge of the pool.
This was Lesson 1: You’ve gotta dive in. Especially while in job search, it is not enough to have “good intentions” or “anticipate that things will go well” without your active, deliberate, participation. The longer you ‘look around’ to consider, and prepare for what is occurring, the less likely you’ll be involved in meaningful activities (and results). The more prepared you are to dive in when you see a need or opportunity, the more tangible will be your influence on that situation.
After the boy was settled, I watched the lifeguard walk the boy to his (I assume) father, who was sitting at a table close to the pool’s edge. I remember seeing him reading a newspaper, and looking up while the lifeguard presented the boy, along with an explanation of what had occurred. I was amazed when I saw him respond by raising his hands in the air with a “Kids will be kids, what can ya do?” look, before motioning for the boy to get back into the pool (by himself).
Shortly after this, I walked up to this life guard and told her that, I wanted to extend her a “Thank you” for having saved the boy, as it seemed that one had not been provided by the dad. After thanking me for my comment, she added that she’d been a life-guard for a few years, and had gotten used to that type (lack of) of a response from the parent/guardian.
This was Lesson 2: Recognize that you can present, or offer, someone an extremely valuable item or proposal, and they just may not be very receptive to it. Their response is not within your control. Regardless, you need to keep providing the value that you provide. You cannot be dismayed by anyone – be it companies, hiring managers, phone screeners – who may not express much interest, at that moment, in what you offer.
Have you ever had a sudden, unexpected lesson present itself to you?
Allan Channell is a new ‘Blog to Work’ contributor. He has experience in software development, project management, and has interests in communications, Tai Chi, and humor.
There are so many variables in an interview, and every one of them is subjective. I’ve been mulling over how to distill this dynamic to its most basic point as a concrete starting point for any job seeker. Most of the variables come from things over which the job seeker has no control or influence. As hard as it is then, if a past interview seems to have gone south due to one of these, the job seeker has to just let it go and look forward to the next one.
I’ve been on both sides of the table, I’ve mentioned this before. Depending on which side of the table I find myself, I do my best to keep awareness in the back of my mind for the other side.
The most basic point is that this is an interaction between two people, most likely complete strangers, who both want the encounter to be successful. The job seeker wants to land a job that will be a good fit. The interviewer wants to get this interview process completed and get back to the regular business of the department – by finding a person who will be a good fit. (Of course group interviews are a likely occurrence, but let’s keep this as one on one for now.)
Are both of the people mentally present? The interviewer might be having a very hectic day, the team might have enough work for two new members yesterday for instance – there were plenty of interviews where I walked in and had to tear myself away from multiple problems. As the job seeker, I hope that you took a moment prior to the interview to center your own thoughts.
There is going to be a whole lot of subtlety in the dynamic that forms during the interview. The two most important traits from this basic and concrete view are competence and confidence. This goes for both sides of the table, but since you can only affect your own focus on that.
Can you tell your example stories smoothly, adjusting details to suit this particular circumstance? Do you make certain that you are answering the question that was asked and not the question that you want to answer? This is how you exhibit your competence and confidence. These traits are also exhibited in your own follow up questions.
Finding your groove in displaying your competence and confidence can take some practice. I’d love to get some examples from any of you.
Beth Anne Reed has a background in Customer Relations, Process & Project Management and a deep interest in Written Communications.
© 2014 Blog to Work | Blogging your way to a job, All rights reserved
By Tim Klepaczyk
What do you say in a cover letter? I’ve typically identified where I found out about the open position. Then I’d talk about how my experience matches what the company says they are seeking in the job description – some people even go so far as to list the requirements and matching experience in two columns. Finally I conclude by asserting my confidence that I would make immediate contributions and that I will contact them soon about an interview. This type of cover letter is probably familiar to many of you.
This approach has been adequate in the past, but cover letters can be more effective. The key is to remember that you’re trying to communicate what’s in it for them. If you’ve done your homework, you know the important tasks in the role you are seeking. Find at least three SSAR story examples that reinforce your track record of success in these tasks – Situation you were in, Strengths you used to address it, Actions you took, and Results delivered. Conclude by advising that you have additional stories when you meet.
For this position you are seeking someone who can get these things done.
I have a record of success in such tasks. In this situation from my work history I used this strength to take this action and achieve this result. In a second situation I used this different strength to take this action and achieve this result. In a third situation I used a third strength to take this action and achieve this result.
When we meet I can discuss these examples and more in greater detail. I will contact you soon to arrange an interview.
How much more powerful this is – I know how to do the job well, and will deliver immediate results for your company. That is a more effective message for a cover letter.
Tim Klepaczyk is an RF & microwave engineer with over 20 years of experience in applications & sales and product design & validation. He also loves writing.
© 2014 Blog to Work | Blogging your way to a job, All rights reserved