Monthly Archives: June 2013

Faking competence on a resume? Don’t Even Think About it.

Being caught faking competence in a job interview can be embarrassing and even worse. If you claim to be a  hotshot be ready to back that up.

It’s not so hard to impress them once

Can-you-draw-Ernie.jpgWhen my daughter was small she had a Sesame Street coloring book. I had been struggling to learn to draw and a simple line drawing of Bert caught my eye. With a few almost straight lines, some ovals and a scribble or two, you can create a recognizable likeness of Bert. My daughter was impressed, but just like every child since, it was obvious to her that Bert without Ernie was like Dean Martin without Jerry Lewis. (OK, I recognize that’s going back a while, Try Johnny Carson without Ed McMahon.)

Every child recognized Bert instantly and concluded that I possessed outstanding drawing skills. But my Ernie looks like a football with ears.

But it’s harder to impress them many times

But I would forget that when I had a small child for an audience, I liked to pull out a scrap of paper and in a few seconds approximate the iPad sketch at right. And every time the smile of delight turned into a frown. It’s not that I haven’t worked at drawing a recognizable Ernie, but something about his face eludes me.

Raising expectations, intentionally or not, by doing something well once can make others believe you have skills that you can’t repeat at the same level of proficiency. When you tell others about how great you are, you take expectations to a new level,

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What on earth are strong Microsoft Office skills?

Is “strong Microsoft Office Skills” too vague for your comfort? Then decide for yourself what that means to you and let employers know exactly what you can do for them tomorrow morning if they hire you. There may be a reason for the vagueness of what the employer is asking for, but you can rest assured the vagueness isn’t for your benefit!

Take care of your own interests by setting out a clear list of things you can do with Microsoft Word, Excel and the other great and useful programs that let you accomplish more work of a higher quality in less time. That tells them in a very understandable way how you will add value far in excess of the salary they will pay you.

4 Easy Steps to a clear story employers understand and believe:

  1. Do your homework: Research the specific programs that are needed to do the job you would like to have. Talk to someone who actually works there!
  2. Honestly compare your current skill level for each relevant Microsoft Office application to what employers need. The many skills checklists on the Free Resources page are intended for exactly that purpose.
  3. Upgrade your skills as needed by self-study and taking courses.
  4. Assemble completed checklists along with supporting evidence as needed.

You’ll find MS Office Skills Checklists here.

For more detailed explanations, check out my Slideshare presentation, then have a look at  some earlier posts that I’ve listed below.

I welcome any questions and suggestions for additional related materials.

First 20 Hours: Enough to Add a New Skill?

If it takes 10,000 hours, as Malcolm Gladwell told us in his book Outliers, to become really good at your job, can you become reasonably good in just 20 hours? You’re probably skeptical? Me too.I certainly was. Yet Joel Kaufman claims his method that will take you in just 20 hours from total novice to a reasonable level of competence in any area of skill.

So how long does it really take? 10,000 hours or 20 hours?

Can the 10,000 hours and 20 hours both be true? The answer is “yes”, but Kaufman and Gladwell aren’t talking about the same level of proficiency. Gladwell means becoming as good at what you do as Tiger Woods is at golf. That is to say, amazingly good. When you’re that good, you have what Cal Newport calls career capital. Real estate salespeople who are that good make a lot of money and know they can walk out the door and across the street to another broker. Any time they want and as often as they want. Professors who are that proficient can teach at the university they choose. Excellence like that means thousands of hours of focused , intentional, deliberate practice.

Plodding away at your job for five years gets you to 10,000 hours but that doesn’t automatically make you outstanding or even above average. And 10,000 hours is the reason why so few attain that level of truly remarkable proficiency. And the older you are, the less appealling a commitment of that sort. But Joel Kaufman says he has learned that a novice golfer can become good enough to play a round with some friends and not look like a rank beginner, with 20 hours of intentional practice following a short interval of research to identify the specific skills you need. Kaufman actually claims to have learned to play the ukulele in 20 hours. Continue reading