Quoting out of context is rather naughty ... but the comment " I •m not sure why some people apply for a position that seems ill suited to them ..."
from another blogger - [here]
got me thinking.
The cynic in me suggests answers of "So they can tell the benefit folks that they HAVE applied for jobs and not got anywhere", and "because they're getting pressure at home to go for the job". But there's a further answer too, I suspect - and that's "because it's a job I would LIKE to be able to do / because I feel I should be able to extend myself to take on that role and it would help take me out of myself". And - let's be fair - there's a further answer which says "because I wanted to find out more about a potential job than the advert told me".
And I found myself thinking back to early 1976 ... when I was finishing my degree course, and applying with gusto to a number of organizations. Although I had worked (during my thin sandwich course) at the Civil Service and at Seiscom, neither was high on my list. I had seen sufficient at the Civil Service Department to know that I would have been a round peg in a square hole (or square peg in a round hole), and while Seiscom did interview me and offer me a job, it was frankly such a poor one that I was shocked. I later came to appreciate that you can't offer a role that's commensurate with the skills of an applicant if you don't have such a role available, and to doubly appreciate that "CW" there - who will know who he is if he ever comes across this - was aware that the company was [behind the scenes] looking at a move from Sevenoaks to Dublin, and made the offer such that I was unlikely to accept it unless I was in a really tight spot for a job ... which was far from the case.
In those Utopian, halcyon days, I looked into a whole alphabet of jobs - I wrote down "A" through "Z" for a paper database, and ended up going all through to "X" - so that's 24 potential jobs - and getting a fistful of offers. In those days, a degree really meant a lot. These days (2010), 31% of 19 - 59 year olds have a degree; In 2001, that was 25%; 25 years earlier, I would guess that it was under 20%. That's not to say that degrees were harder to get, but rather than there were fewer people with them and so the job market for young people qualified to degree level was much more slanted in favour of the young person than it is today. However, that's taking me off topic.
Jobs "A" through "X". Some nice, comfortable programming jobs where I could have disappeared without a splash into an organization such as the Midland Bank (taken over by HSBC 1992), Scicon or CAP Gemini along with dozens of other new graduates. But ... one of my interviews / potential jobs stood out as different ...
You need to picture me in those days - a shy, introverted early-20s who had scraped through an English O Level but was good at maths and logical enough to 'walk' an upper 2nd in Computer Science. Very much a loner - certainly not the life and soul of the party, and with a preference to doing my own 'thing' rather than being part of team. And terrified of picking the phone up and calling someone whom I had never met before even if they were expecting my call
. And what was the job? That stood out as different? It was pre- and post- sales technical support of a range of high performance computer graphics products - for which I was to become the UK tech support specialist.
My role would involve making calls to customers who required assistance and advise on the equipment that had purchased (and that usually meant "solving problems"). It would mean visiting serious prospects along with the hardened sales team, and helping convince them to buy. And it would involve standing on an exhibition booth and opening conversations with total strangers - and taking a lead in those conversations to get our product across to them.
I hear you say. Ah - now here's the curious thing. It was that different job - that one that on the face of it might have looked so ill-suited - that I took. I took it exactly because
it was a new challenge, and because
I would have to work at it. Not for me the job that I would "walk" but rather one where I would have to run to cope. And indeed, I did have to run; so much of my own time, over and above the 40 hour week, was put into learning the technical aspects of the job so that I could assist and advise customers from a position of strength.
And the story has - I believe - a happy ending. With so much welcoming help and support from PL, JT, PS, BW, JR, MC, JL, TT and others (see [here]
to work out those keys!) - advise and sales training (and learning so much about human relationships in the business environment too) - I think I quickly made a very positive contribution. I certainly know that the job was, very much , the right choice for me. (written 2010-08-16, updated 2010-08-20)
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