Confession. I am horrible at selling myself in job interviews. Mired in complexity I find it difficult to encapsulate and communicate my passions, interests and abilities with easeful humanity. I don’t think I’m alone here. When asked, “so tell us a bit about yourself?” I freeze. I don’t know why this is and I don’t know how to get around it.
I try and watch with heartbreak every time as interviewers disconnect. I can almost see their thoughts turn to the next interview candidate on their list or that last one they interviewed. “I wonder if they will accept the job offer?”
Have I been going about it all wrong? Should I stop trying to make myself fit the mold of what is expected and just offer up evidence of what I can do? I’ve been practicing and practicing how to sell myself when I should be selling my work. This is where my passion is, my interest, my focus.
All the best jobs I’ve had weren’t gotten through an interview, but through referral. People who know me know how dedicated, hard working, focused and loyal I can be. No matter how tough the situation I can dig down and get the job done. I have a persistence that can be hard to match. It’s a good skill for a researcher.
Recently, I was up for a job at a library, and I knew it was perfect for me. A friend suggested that I write out my reasons for wanting the job before the interview. Not a plainly numbered list of reasons, but the stories behind why I’m interested in the job, why I’d be a good fit. She wanted me to connect with the heart-centred purpose behind my application.
So I dug deep and thought of all the moments where I found meaning, purpose and direction at work—where I found myself. In particular I remembered this story: I was helping run a workshop on Late Iron Age finds in the UK. I was showing a 2,000 year-old coin to a four year old boy. He was just learning to read and the look of wonder on his face as he realized he could read the lettering on this ancient coin was indescribable. He saw that his reading was part of something ancient that stretched back a long way. That understanding connected him to something that was deeper and more mysterious than reading. And I knew exactly how he felt.
I didn’t get the library job. I did however learn some things about myself, about the curiosity and sense of fun and wonder that drives me. I am hoping that by tapping into these qualities I can find some more energy to keep going on this job search, and better connect with interviewers.
Job searches. How do you keep going?