Ask BA

November 7, 2011

A Career Move is an Obstacle Course – Claim Victory

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Written for: Communicado Magazine
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So BA:

I’m thinking of making a career move – what’s it really like out there? ES

So ES:

Depending on where you live, its not so bad. And, depending on your skill level and industry, its really not so bad. There are parts of the country that are desperate for workers and industries based in science and math that can’t fill enough jobs. Your bigger worry should be the people for which you must get past to GET the job.

I’ll use myself as an example. Many yeas ago, I interviewed to be the Director of Communications for Kellogg. The VP said they were having a lot of trouble working with journalists and didn’t know how to manage media coverage. I didn’t get the position because she said she wanted someone with nutrition experience. I thought they needed someone with media experience? She had been an IT person in her previous positions. As a journalist, learning subject matter takes one day – connecting with fellow media types is priceless. You get my point…

This is what I’ve learned from the interview process: The people who are hiring you are hit or miss as evidenced in my example. You’ll get the people who are lazy and waiting for the perfect person to fall in their laps… you’ll get a great recruiter who is dealing with a hiring manager who doesn’t know how to connect the needs of the position to the skill-set of the right person… and you’ll get the people who are only looking for PERFECTION in one person – which doesn’t exist. And now, it all starts with behavioral based interviewing – its where the interview process has landed. I am not a fan…

It’s the idea that a prospective employer can figure out how you’ll do in this new position based on past behaviors. It always starts with, “Tell me about a time when…” But, the questions have no connection to the position for which you are interviewing, just past behaviors. Doesn’t seem to factor in career growth to the present day. If the questions were based on requirements outlined in the position description or what skills you have that can meet those requirements, that would make sense, but, they don’t. Complete disconnect. I’m waiting for someone to ask me, “Tell me about a time when you went swimming and successfully avoided drowning.” It’s like that. Be ready.

And be prepared to be shaken down on compensation. Many employer today are looking for a highly skilled person at entry level prices. Stand your ground – insist on being paid market value for your experience. And don’t be afraid to say no to the person who asks you to start below your career level and work your way back up.

So, there are a lot of challenges, its a lot of work and can be greatly frustrating, but, not insurmountable. Get out there and make it happen. No fear – I’ve given speeches about not letting fear manage your career… about taking those chances that ultimately give you the career satisfaction being complacent won’t. As long as you’re getting interviews, you will get a new position. Congratulations and good luck.