It has been at least a decade since I have had to earnestly look for a job. Each of my last three positions have pretty much fallen in my lap. Now, I know that this is a good thing, and I am grateful for the amazing opportunities that I have been given. In the last few months though, I have actually had to look for a job. It is very humbling. With every job description, you need to size yourself up, asess your strengths and weaknesses, evaluate your potential and admit to your shortcomings. There is no way around it.
As an example, here is a (fictional) job description for a Program Director:
- Proven experience as program director or other managerial position
- Thorough understanding of project/program management techniques and methods
- Excellent Knowledge of performance evaluation techniques and key metrics
- Outstanding knowledge of data analysis, reporting and budgeting
- Working knowledge of MS office and program management software (e.g. Basecamp, MS Project etc.)
- A business acumen with a strategic ability
- Excellent organizational and leadership skills
- An analytical mindset with great problem-solving abilities
- Excellent communication skills
- BSc/BA diploma in management or a relevant field; MSc/MA is a plus
Here’s what goes through my head:
Proven experience: I guess my experience can be proven, that’s what my resume does…right?
Thorough understanding…Excellent Knowledge…Outstanding Knowledge: I don’t know if I’d go as far to say that my knowledge of performance techniques is excellent, perhaps decent is a better way to put it.
Working Knowledge of MS office: YES! I totally get points for that!
Business acumen: Nope, none of that but maybe all of my other experience will count for something….maybe?
Excellent communication skills: Are we asking my colleagues, my friends or my husband?
MS a plus: Seriously?
How come there’s no section on applications for skill bartering? I’ll trade you Excellent Communication Skills for Can Binge Watch Netflix Like Nobodies Business. Or Can my superior leadership skills counteract my semi-decent analytical skills?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m plenty qualified for plenty of positions, but it is HUMBLING to apply for them. Knowing there will be people analyzing your resume, years of your life poured into it, nodding their heads at some aspects of it and shaking their heads at others. It is humbling that no matter how gleaming your work experience is, your education, your credentials, you will never have it all.
A recent job description asked for a resume and a ninety second video introducing yourself. A VIDEO! Do I look like a Youtube personality? Is this a job in media? It will take me weeks to script, shoot and edit a video of any caliber. How humbling.
As annoying as it is, as difficult as it can be, humbling and at times humiliating. It is something I am grateful for. It gives me an opportunity to reflect on my skills and where I need to be putting in a little more effort. It will ultimately make me a better employee, propell my career and refine me as a person. But maybe we can work on the language of job descriptions a little bit, make them more realistic. Something like this: Seeking decent candidate with admirable communication skills, a team player. Somewhat analytical and moderately organized. Job pays entry-level salary but if you’re overqualified and willing to work for less than you’re worth, we’ll take your MS.