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Minggu, 28 April 2013

What Your Next Boss Really Thinks of You

If your boss told you to start preparing for your next job interview, you might be a bit alarmed.  But it would be good advice. Here's how to ace your next interview, but not by cheating or through some kind of easy 'trick', which would just help you into a job that you couldn't do and wouldn't enjoy. The right way to ace a job interview is to become good at doing your next job, and be able to prove it. That means you need to start preparing now, while you still have time to do some hard work.

The first 'secret' is so obvious to your next boss, that she'd never think to explain it to you.  She wants you to be good at the job you've applied for - not the job you're doing right now. Promotion is not a reward, its a business decision that needs to produce a financial return. Most people don't really understand this basic fact. Of course, you will learn and develop on the job, but you need to be able to add value from day one.  If you have no experience in the key responsibilities required, your prospective manager sees you as a huge risk.

How do you gain experience and skills in a job that you don't have yet?  The best candidates have thought about this, and taken action. Identify the skills you will need in the job you want, and get creative. For example, if you are seeking a management job, you need experience organising projects and people; coaching people; monitoring others' performance; influencing others; and dealing with conflict. You can do all of these things without formally "being a manager." Create opportunities to gain the experience you need (e.g. suggest the project you want to lead). And don't expect to get paid extra while you're still just practicing. If you really can't find a way to gain specific experience, then at least read one really good book on the topic.

The second 'secret' is that your next manager is a skeptic. She's had people let her down before, pretend to be one thing in the interview, and turn out to be something different on the job. So your blithe reassurances that you're perfect for the job are not enough. Even if you're seeking an internal promotion, it's unlikely that your manager spends eight hours a day watching you work through CCTV. So she has lingering doubts. She wants you to prove yourself in the interview.

That means that you need to be able to explain what you have achieved in your job, how you achieved it, and how you knew you'd got it right. The majority of early-career professionals are quite poor at doing this.  Example: "How do you influence people?" "I just talk to them." Usually this answer is padded out a bit to sound better, but it's not good enough. Everyone talks to people when they're trying to influence them. What do you do better, that makes you the best candidate for the job?

At this point, you might have a sinking feeling, a slight suspicion that maybe you don't influence people any better than Joe in the next cubicle. This is good, hold on to that feeling. This is the start of something called reflective practice. It's the key to mastering your profession. We'll talk about that more another time. Until then - get started. While reading this, it's likely that you had at least one idea that would take you a step closer to your dream job. Your assignment for today:
1) tell someone about your idea
2) spend ten minutes taking some sort of action to turn it into reality. No-one else can do it for you.


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