Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Going the Extra Mile

Very cool link today! The story is about someone who has been unemployed. Reading between the lines, this career consultant describes a client as “an unemployed Baby Boomer.” Two things in that phrase should have been the kiss of death in the job hunt. 

  • First, the job-seeker was “unemployed.” In today’s market, that’s not uncommon; but there has been lots of chatter about how it is easier to get a job if you already have one—even though most people who have lost a job take something close to a year to find a new one. 
  • Second, the job-seeker is a “Baby Boomer.” That means my age (56) or older. Employers are skittish about hiring us old folks. When they think about how much time an employee has to retirement, they see “not much.” They see someone in whom they’ll invest time, training and other resources, only to have that person walk out the door in (from a business perspective) the blink of an eye. They see someone who will demand a higher salary, relative to a younger person.

In short, evidence on a resume, no matter how skillfully hidden or shuffled under rotating shells, is often enough to get such a person kicked out of the running without serious consideration.

Sad truths.

But this job-seeker did something different: preparation, practice, perseverance, passion... and PowerPoint presentation. She brought with her to the interview a product that gave her the background in the field and the company. In other words, doing the research to put this presentation together gave her superb familiarity with the employer and the field for which she was interviewing. And she brought in something that was not requested, something extra, something beyond vague answers. She went the extra mile.

New college graduates, of course, are not facing the stigma of being an older worker. They are seeking entry-level jobs, where salaries are more or less “set”--it’s not a “sky is the limit” situation. (Nobody knows how much us older folks want when we apply for a job; and everybody's afraid to make the first move in talking about salary.) A PowerPoint presentation may not be appropriate in all cases. 

However, there is still something to be learned here. This person got the job because she thought ahead about what the employer might want to know, and what would prove that she was a superior candidate. She demonstrated her superiority rather than talking about it.

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