It is no secret, I LOVE interviews. To make it even more strange, I love to be interviewed. The challenge of crafting the perfect answer and organizing my thoughts into eloquence is thrilling.
In my head it’s the same energy and “ta-da” vibe as those book of world records kids who stack cups. It is exhilarating to watch! That’s what my brain does with answers in an interview. I’m not saying it’s sane, I’m just saying it’s fun!
Pageant girls are really, really good at this. They can stack words into 30 second or 1 minute sound-bytes that will make your head explode. And being on their support team is one of my favorite jobs.
Recently, I have been asked to help professionals prepare for interviews ranging from the federal government to private enterprise. A very, very different arena for sure, but the goal is the same; show them why you are the best for the job.
In the federal government, at a certain level, there are a handful of candidates for a specific job posting. Usually the candidates have all worked together, this one training that one, that one nominating this one for an award and so on and so forth. But for the most part, the resumes are quite similar. I asked my client, what is it that makes you standout next to Judy and James and Joseph as the correct choice for this position?
“I have excel and powerpoint?”
“I have a certification in…” such and such fancy titled training thing?
“Ok, then I don’t know”
I’m guessing, unless you are a pageant girl, you probably don’t know either. Take a deep breath, put your note pad down, it’s not as complicated as you are making it seem.
With all things being generally equal on the resumes, the only distinguishing factor is YOU. Your life, your experiences. I don’t mean that one seminar you went to that one time. I mean YOU!
I have one client who uprooted her life in Alaska when she married a military guy. They had a little boy, then another. While stationed a continent away from her support system, with her husband deployed, she decided to go to work at the child development center so she could provide income for her family (no, we don’t pay our soldiers enough, but that’s for another essay) and still be with her babies. That grew into a nice position at the center which allowed her to finish her paralegal certification. When her family was moved again, because military, she was qualified to earn an excellent position in Washington DC due to her experience, her reputation for hard work and newly minted certification. Now years down the road, she has the flexibility to make her own schedule and work from home. She picks up her boys every day from school and has yet to miss a soccer game or golf match.
This year, she prepared to interview for a fabulous and much-deserved promotion, I asked why she didn’t mention any of this in interview practice. This story is beautiful and passionate and personal.
“I didn’t think that mattered for the job…”
I blink in disbelief.
Her story is beautiful and inspiring. But if you read her resume you would see only a monotone portrayal of qualifications. It’s the basic pencil outline of you. It is the full YOU, the road you took to get here, the lessons you learned, the failures and successes, the way you speak of the “why” and “how…” that is what fills in the picture with brilliant color.
So much focus is placed on resume building in school and early professional life. But does anyone actually give guidance on HOW TO SPEAK after you hand over that well-crafted resume?! (I mean, I do but that’s not really my point.)
The profound poet of my youth was spot on when he penned, “There is no one alive that’s you-er than you…” so speak on it!