By Betty Punkert, Employment Facilitator/Computer Instructor
Frequently I work with clients who are looking to make a substantial change in what kind of work they are doing. This may be because they are new Canadians and do not yet have the certification they need. It may be because they have undergone physical or mental health concerns that mean they cannot return to their old career
In any case there is often very strong resistance to the fact that I am trying to simplify their resume or omit particular skills or education as they are not relevant to what comes next. But they worked very HARD on that certification, they remind me. They are very PROUD of that accomplishment. They don’t want to give it up because it is important, and this is the key idea here, to THEM.
Let me use an analogy from another area of life to help make this clear.
Parable of the Chef
You and your best friend (or your life partner) have decided you want to try out a particular new restaurant. It’s quite expensive, and so you’ve been saving and planning ahead to make this a memorable experience. You check out the menu online and have decided you know exactly what you want and you have been imagining how awesome it would taste for weeks.
You arrive at the restaurant and with great anticipation, place your order for your meal. And yet when the server comes back, it’s not what you ordered at all. It’s something else on the menu. Perhaps you wanted chicken and got steak. Either way, even if it is more expensive than what you asked for, you are upset because it’s not what you wanted.
When you complain to the server, they respond with the explanation of, “well, the chef is very good at that dish, and they are very proud of how hard they have worked on it, so that’s what you are getting because it’s what they think you need to have.”
Are you feeling very satisfied right now? Probably not.
Give Them What They Want
And yet, when we insist on overselling ourselves or forcing our specialized upon an employer, not because it’s what they asked for (the job ad) but because it’s important to US, aren’t we doing the exact same thing as that chef? With exactly the same results?
Look, you need to sell what they’re buying. And if you were an engineer or a doctor or an accountant in a previous life but you’re looking to do something new, you have to sell the something NEW effectively. Your new employer only cares about what you will offer them going forward. Your past provides context in this situation, and if you’re trying to make it provide validation, you may be approaching the challenge from the wrong angle.
Focus on their needs, not yours, and you will get more responses.
If you’re having trouble figuring out how to separate your past from your future and presenting the skills you need to get your next job instead of your last one, give us a call on Monday morning before eight a.m. at 204-989-6503. Leave your name and number, and someone will call you to book an appointment with an employment facilitator to help narrow things down.