Returning to the workforce after a ten year absence was an eye-opener. Technology had moved above and beyond anything a mere mortal could have imagined back in 1997. The internet was in constant use in every office in the country, “I’ll google it” a common refrain. How did we ever create radio programs without the instant research tool at our fingertips? Somehow we did.
Networking used to be drinks at the pub after work, now it was Twitter and Facebook – not on-line get with it!
Blogging – was that even a word in 1997? Media, marketing, public relations jobs all demanded to know how I would “blog” their brand to the demographic?
Then of course there was the job application itself. No longer was it a question of an ad with a few descriptive lines in the paper, where you threw together a covering letter and popped your resume into the post. No now you had get the info pack (not too hard just download it) but then you discovered there was a “selection criteria” needing to be addressed. Sometimes 20 or more abilities, skills, key performance indicators, experience, you must evidence.
The challenge of course was that in order to meet EACH of the criteria you basically needed to have been preparing for THIS job for YOUR ENTIRE LIFE.
Obviously if only I had have known 18 years ago that I would one day be sitting in regional town, with limited employment opportunities, desperately wanting to work at the local council I would have put a lot more thought into my life choices.
Of course I don’t meet your selection because well, I’ve been busy living. I didn’t stick to a plan. I tried a lot of different things. I became adaptable and flexible when I was temp secretary, I learnt to think fast and stay calm in the face of five-second deadlines in commercial radio, I went to uni, did loads of non-published writing and learnt a lot about learning, I had kids and became adept at surviving on three hours sleep a night for four years (let me tell you that takes skill), I figured out how to juggle competing demands and worked out that in the great scheme of things there were more important issues than paid work. I taught photo scrapbooking and finally understood that every person, however ordinary, has an amazing story to tell.
But you see a mish mash of life experience doesn’t fit neatly into a tick-a-box selection criteria. It shows on the job when you use humour to defuse difficult situations, when you solve a problem by thinking outside the square, when you offer commitment because you care about the job, not just where it will lead you too.
Sadly though the interview panel won’t get to see that, because you never make it past the first cut and they don’t even get to meet you.
But you know what having a LIFE is much more important than meeting a selection criteria.