Posts Tagged ‘expertise’

bonus - scrabbleMany individuals who would be entertaining retirement in a better economy are finding themselves staying in the workforce much longer. Sometimes this is the result of finances, and other times it is more a case of their not being ready to stop working. After all, daytime television seems to be a vast wasteland, and the “To Do” list can become the “It’s Done” list. This decision, of course, places them in the position of both competing with as well as potentially working for individuals who could be decades their junior! How can these “mature” candidates make the case for their contributions to their company?

Although the following characteristics are hardly exclusive to the “older worker,” here are some suggestions as to the key qualifications the mature candidate may offer:

Experience
“Experience is the teacher of all things,” a quote attributed to Julius Caesar, may not always be accurate, but those who have been around longer have certainly amassed more experience. Learning by doing will always be a key way to gather knowledge and expertise, and those whose life experiences span a greater time frame certainly have had this opportunity.

Expertise
Experience can beget expertise, as the more time we spend doing something, the better we get at it. Thus, the worker who has been at it longer is likely to have developed significant skills in their areas of experience. This could shorten the learning curve for them as a “new” hire.

Real-World Knowledge
As contrasted with theory and concepts, the individual who has been at work and life for a longer time frame has had the opportunity to connect what is being taught and written about with what really happens out there. As I have often said, “For almost everything I’ve learned in life, I can point to a scar.” Sometimes, literally! 🙂

Demonstrated Interpersonal Skills
“Playing well with others,” being a good team member, demonstrating facility in effective communication, etc., all have had the opportunity to be more developed in those who have been around longer.

Work Ethic
Although this is not universally the case, the “Protestant Work Ethic” is often well developed in those individuals from earlier generations, many of whom have spent extended time in the work force. Showing up on time, being responsible and dependable, exchanging a good day’s work for a fair day’s pay, etc., are often well developed in the mature employee.

Why They Are “Not” the Best Candidates: Mature Worker Concerns
As I am frequently working with individuals who would fall into this category, I will often suggest that the key reasons you may not be hired (or promoted) may include the following:

  • You want too much money.
  • You are not good at change.
  • Your technical skills are poor.
  • You may have impending health issues.

My counsel to these individuals is to demonstrate in their work, online presence, resume, interviewing and lifestyle that these reasons cannot be categorically applied to them as older candidates. With these issues addressed, they are able to present themselves as exceptional candidates based on all of the attributes noted above.

A Word on the Younger Candidate

To be fair, many younger workers can possess these qualities as well. The only item that may not be there for them is experience. But you can address that deficit by hiring them!

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If any of you have spent time traveling with young ones in excess of 25 minutes (or if you can recall being that young one in the back seat of the station wagon for what seemed to be a lifetime), you have heard this woeful cry, perhaps in stereo or in incessantly regular 5 minute intervals:

Are we THERE yet?!?!?

With the advent of online maps, GPS, smartphone apps, we can “guesstimate” our ETA with improved accuracy, but this remains cold comfort for those who are merely passengers, possessing no ability to accelerate the process, to take action to get THERE sooner.

I know what you are thinking…”I thought this blog was supposed to focus on CAREERS, not trips to Wally World!” Well, you are right, and here’s the punchline…

IN CAREER DEVELOPMENT, YOU ARE NEVER THERE!

I won’t cite that “old chestnut” it’s not a destination, but a journey (oops, I just did!), but it is true that you are either moving ahead or you are falling behind. Often not in giant steps, to be sure, but you should constantly be practicing what I have termed “Professional Dissatisfaction.”  To borrow from their excellent book The 5 Patterns of Extraordinary Careers, authors Citrin and Smith invoke what they call the “20/80 Principle of Performance.” In order to distinguish yourself, move beyond your assigned tasks (80%) to impact your organization, field, craft, etc. at extraordinary levels (20%). Invest time going beyond your job description to grow as an individual and a “human resource.”

To quote my good friend Scott Ginsberg (@Nametagscott), “Nobody notices normal.”

And, one more by Harvey Mckay (@HarveyMackey) “Real winners keep moving the finishing line.”

Here’s a humble introduction, dear readers, to what I like to call The 3 E’s of Employment, as well as the significance of getting to the final “E”.

E #1 –  EXPERIENCE

How do you get experience? By doing it, of course. We are constantly gathering experience in one area or another. It is often a requirement for a position – “5 years experience in a related business setting,” etc. Doing things over and over again will create experience. You can then tell people, “I have 10 years experience in a retail management setting,” or in whatever you have been doing. My critical question here is – “Just because you have done it before, does it mean you want to do it again?!” Many would be pleased to eliminate what they have done from consideration of what they want to do next in their career. Translation – “Been there, done that, have the T-shirt.” Experience has value, but it’s simply not enough.

E #2 – EXPERTISE

Expertise comes from experience. In most situations, if you do something long enough, you get good at it. That’s Expertise, whether it is in use of specific software applications, calming upset customers or trouble-shooting an ailing piece of equipment. You can’t help but improve if you do it day in and day out.  So, all of this Experience you are compiling will eventually promote some level of  Expertise as well. But wait! Just because you are good at it, does this mean that you must do it for the rest of your working life (I think you know the answer!)? I have solid math skills, but trust me, you don’t want me to do your taxes! Just as is the case in Experience, Expertise has limited value as well.

E #3 – ENTHUSIASM

NOW we are talking! Enthusiasm (the etymology is Greek, literally en theos, or “in God”) is where we all should be targeting our energies. Similar to what Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (chick-sent-me-hi) calls “Flow,” Enthusiasm has us so involved in what we are doing that we often lost track of time and space. To describe it simply as work does not do justice to our activities. We are, to use a highly quoted word, “engaged” in what we are doing. It has value to us, employs much of what I have called  in earlier blogs our “Best Stuff,” feels significant and worthwhile. And, when combined with the first two E’s, creates the Perfect Storm of Employment.

Look at what happens when we put these 3 E’s together – I do it a lot, I am good at it and I am passionate about it!

What a great way to work (if we can even call it work)! The practical application of this should be a wake-up call to both employers and employees.

Let’s seek out opportunities for all of us to get the most out of our working relationships.

And banish “Hump Day” from our calendars!

I’ve always wanted to juggle. I have read books, studied YouTube videos, pored over websites, etc. All to no avail. Yet I have family members who have picked up three objects and successfully managed it with ease.

I guess I just don’t have the talent!

Talent. Talent Scouts. Talent Management.  The word turns up a lot. In my reading and musings over the years, I have learned of four key themes that every talent (skill, gift, aptitude, expertise, pick the synonym you wish) seems to have. Maybe they will help you find yours. Allow me to share them with you:

1. You have an instinctive, top of the mind ability to use it. World class athletes don’t have to think about how to stroke a tennis forehand, counselors have an innate ability to hear emotions, engineers naturally gather data for decision-making, etc. You need not think about how to do it. It just happens. It’s hard-wired into your psyche..

2. You have a desire, a yearning to use it, even if you have difficulty describing it! I am constantly amazed by clients who clearly have innate abilities that they practice daily in their work and play, yet are unable to recognize their significance in planning careers and life decisions.

3. When you are called upon to acquire knowledge in this area, it comes easily and quickly. I still recall my struggle with learning geography (“Why bother?” – I asked myself. “That’s what maps and Google Earth are for!”), yet I was able to soak up information on computer technology and New Testament Greek like a sponge!

4. As you look back on the practice of this “talent,” you experience true satisfaction. “Flow” is the term used by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (read my reviews of a number of his books at http://www.shelfari.com/bl_davis) to describe what he calls the “psychology of optimal experience.” When you are in Flow, you lose track of time and space. When finished, you feel that you have accomplished something worthwhile, something of true value. It was worth doing.

  • If your talent meets these four criteria, then what are you waiting for? Start to use it!
  • Or, if you’re having difficulty finding where your talents lie, let’s talk!

Think back to your childhood (for some of us it may take longer than others, but please just do this for me). What was your “job” as a kid? I mean, before mowing lawns and paper routes.

Here’s the answer: your job was simply TO PLAY. That’s what kids do. That’s how they learn to socialize, develop physically, enhance their ability to communicate, etc.

So, kids “play for a living.”

One more question: How did you decide what to play? Why did you pick some activities and skip others?

I know how: you picked what was FUN. If it wasn’t fun, it wasn’t play!

Here are the hard, cold facts. At some point in each of our lives, some well-meaning adult came up to most of us and said knowingly and with a knitted brow, “OK. FUN time is over. It’s time to go TO WORK!” Ugh! Precious few people will feel good about that choice!

I have one more query for you: WHY do work and fun have to be mutually exclusive?! Why do you have to forgo enjoyment every time you get a paycheck?! Why must you choose between a pleasant experience and a job description?!

Allow me to introduce one of my personal guiding principles- I refuse to not have fun at work! Optimism-Breeds-Optimism

Please don’t misunderstand me. There are some things about my job that I would give up in a New York minute. Paperwork comes to mind right away. I’m honestly not that good at it! Every employment situation is likely to have some duties that you would love to eliminate. I call these tasks the “grown-up stuff.” Things you must do because you are told to. These duties can build character, demonstrate dependability and integrity. But if all you do at work is “grown-up stuff,” you may need to rethink your career goals.

When I place myself in situations where my work is primarily composed of activities that I actually enjoy (I have called this the move from Experience and Expertise to Enthusiasm in another blog ), I become the best employee I will ever be. The responsibility rests with me (and, ideally, my organization as well) to discover, communicate and implement my “best stuff” (another one of my favorite phrases) in my work and life. Then my company really gets their “money’s worth” out of me, and I cease being a “5 o’clock shadow!”

How about you?! Are you having FUN at WORK?  If so, great! If not, start to find it!

If any of you have spent time traveling with young ones in excess of 25 minutes (or if you can recall being that young one in the back seat of the station wagon for what seemed to be a lifetime), you have heard this woeful cry, perhaps in stereo or in incessantly regular 5 minute intervals:

Are we THERE yet?!?!?!

With the advent of online maps, GPS, smartphone apps, we can “guesstimate” our ETA with improved accuracy, but this remains cold comfort for those who are merely passengers, possessing no ability to accelerate the process, to take action to get THERE sooner.

I know what you are thinking….I thought this blog was supposed to focus on CAREERS, not trips to Wally World! Well, you are right, and here’s the application…

IN CAREER DEVELOPMENT, YOU ARE NEVER THERE!

I won’t cite that “old chestnut” it’s not a destination, but a journey (oops, I just did!), but it is true that you are either moving ahead or you are falling behind. Often not in giant steps, to be sure, but you should constantly be practicing what I have termed “Professional Dissatisfaction.” In flipping the ubiquitous Pareto Principle (80-20 Rule), the authors of the excellent book The 5 Patterns of Extraordinary Careers introduce their 20-80 Rule: Invest 20% of your time doing your assigned work completely and effectively, applying the 80% balance to acquiring new experience, skill, knowledge, expertise to differentiate yourself from the crowd.

To quote my good friend Scott Ginsberg (@Nametagscott), “Nobody notices normal.”

And, one more by Harvey Mckay (@HarveyMackey) “Real winners keep moving the finishing line.”

Many individuals who would be entertaining retirement in a better economy are finding themselves staying in the workforce much longer. Sometimes this is the result of finances, and other times it is more a case of their not being ready to stop working. After all, daytime television seems to be a vast wasteland, and the “To Do” list can become the “It’s Done” list. This decision, of course, places them in the position of both competing with as well as potentially working for individuals who could be decades their junior! How can these “mature” candidates make the case for their contributions to their company?

Although the following characteristics are hardly exclusive to the “older worker,” here are some suggestions as to the key qualifications the mature candidate may offer:

Experience
“Experience is the teacher of all things,” a quote attributed to Julius Caesar, may not always be accurate, but those who have been around longer have certainly amassed more experience. Learning by doing will always be a key way to gather knowledge and expertise, and those whose life experiences span a greater time frame certainly have had this opportunity.

Expertise
Experience can beget expertise, as the more time we spend doing something, the better we get at it. Thus, the worker who has been at it longer is likely to have well developed skills in their areas of experience.

Real-World Knowledge
As contrasted with theory and concepts, the individual who has been at work and life for a longer time frame has had the opportunity to connect what is being taught and written about with what really happens out there. As I have often said, “For almost everything I’ve learned in life, I can point to a scar.” Sometimes, literally! 🙂

Demonstrated Interpersonal Skills
“Playing well with others,” being a good team member, demonstrating facility in effective communication, etc., all have had the opportunity to be more developed in those who have been around longer.

Work Ethic
Although this is not universally the case, the “Protestant Work Ethic” is often well developed in those individuals from earlier generations, many of whom have spent extended time in the work force. Showing up on time, being responsible and dependable, exchanging a good day’s work for a fair day’s pay, etc., are often well developed in the mature employee.

 

Why They Are “Not” the Best Candidates: Mature Worker Concerns
As I am frequently working with individuals who would fall into this category, I will often suggest that the key reasons you may not be hired (or promoted) may include the following:

  • You want too much money.
  • You are not good at change.
  • Your technical skills are poor.
  • You may have impending health issues.

My counsel to these individuals is to demonstrate in their work, online presence, resume, interviewing and lifestyle that these reasons cannot be categorically applied to them as older candidates. With these issues addressed, they are able to present themselves as exceptional candidates based on all of the attributes noted above.

A Word on the Younger Candidate

To be fair, many younger workers can possess these qualities as well. The only item that may not be there for them is experience. But you can address that deficit by hiring them!