Monday, February 27, 2012

Guest Post: Defining Skills, Revealing Attitude

It's Monday morning and already I have had to readjust my work attitude. Instead of slogging through emails and catch ups, I embraced my exhaustion from watching the Oscars and staying up very late and took a moment to do something at my job that I haven't done in a long time- take twenty minutes to be a part of something that reminds me what the mission of my place of employment is. And you know what? It worked!

I work at a school and today I got out of from behind my desk and watched a musical performance by a bunch of 12 & 13 year olds and it reminded me of how fortunate and awesome it is that I get to work in a place that's primary goal is to educate and foster creative young minds.  It's one of the reasons I went on my interview here many years ago. But the mission and goal of my place of employment sometimes escapes me, especially because I am not a teacher. I forget, as we all do sometimes, just how great and lucky I really am.

On that note, here is another Guest Post from Professor Kevin on the difference between defining your skills and revealing your attitude, the importance of both.

The Resume
by Professor Kevin

There are only two questions your next employer is going to ask of you during your application process.  Of course, they will disguise these two questions in a hundred ways.  But really, every question your next employer will ask you is either going to be for you to define your skills or reveal your attitude.  I have yet to see the interview question that is not trying to define your skills or probe your attitude.

The evaluation of your skills is done primarily by reviewing your resume.  The evaluation of your attitude is done during the interview; you can reveal very little of your attitude with paper.

Like many written communications, how you say something is as important as what you say—including your resume.  Your resume needs tone.  And the tone can be described as, What I learn when I am employed. This tone is the most important aspect of your resume and will highlight your ability and desire to grow and develop in your next employment.

Many resumes fail to answer this question.  Maybe the applicant puts down a G.P.A but even this marker fails because it references learning at school and not what is learned in employment, and there is a huge difference between these educational experiences.

What I learn when I am employed also answers the number one skill question in the hearts and minds of your next employer.  Before I hand you the answer, ask yourself what is the most important skill my next employer wants to know about me?  And I don’t care if you are applying to be a top executive or a dishwasher in a restaurant.  The answer is: Your ability to learn.  For example, your degree from college or graduate school provides your next employer with a better indication, not of what you know but what you are capable of learning.

With this in mind, you need to construct the details of your work experience that illuminate what you learned in employment.  I started as a receptionist and moved up to an executive assistant within three months.  I started at as a part-time bookkeeper and became an account executive.  I started as a production assistant and became a producer.  The same principle applies for upper level executive positions—you need to frame your work experience with references to what you learned and how fast you learned it.

Be sure to include all the training you provided both informally and formally to your co-workers.  Include all your mentoring activities as well.  I see very few resumes that explain the training the applicant gave to others; and yet, training your co-workers references your expertise, communication abilities and commitment to your last employer.

This approach separates you away from the individuals just looking for employment and places you solidly with the career-minded.

Why is your ability to learn such an important factor?  Because the economy we are in changes so fast.  The business landscape is one continuous earthquake; and companies that are not ready to change will be cast aside—just look at Blockbuster.  And, companies not only have to change, they need to grow and not grow artificially by buying things, but by real growth which is only found in their employees—grow people; grow profits.

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