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The More You Say You Can Do, The Less Believable You Are


Robby

As a qualified professional seeking jobs in the Indianapolis area, you’ve got lots of skills. You’ve had a wide range of experiences. You can serve an organization in many different ways and are eager to talk about your diverse areas of expertise.

Yeah. Stop that. It’s probably not a good idea.

This may seem like strange advice. After all, job descriptions tend toward the ridiculous when it comes to stating requirements. We’re supposed to be cross-functional employees who “wear lots of hats” and “pitch in wherever is needed.”

But here’s a fun activity: The next time you meet a doctor, find out their specialty. Then, ask them about their thoughts in a completely different area of medicine.

Guess what? They probably won’t want to answer.

Indianapolis jobs - Surgeons at work
© Flickr user Army Medicine

Keep in mind that doctors are among the most educated and most highly paid professionals in our society. And although every doctor knows a little bit about virtually every branch of medicine, doctors are highly specialized.

They don’t want to answer because they are not an expert in that area. A doctor who says “I do a little of everything: some heart surgery, some pediatrics, a bit of psychotherapy, and I also do run some pharmaceutical research” sounds pretty strange.

You should take this to heart when you meet people. Don’t list off all of the random skills you have. Remember, this is someone you’re meeting for the first time. If you do, one of the following is going to happen:

  1. They will zero in on something you happen to mention, and you’ll get pigeonholed as doing something that isn’t your strongest suit
  2. They will stumble across an area where they have more expertise (“Vous parlez français? C’est fantastique!”) and you’ll look foolish for mentioning it
  3. You’ll seem like a know-it-all.

Number three is a doozy. If people think you’re bragging or stretching the truth, you are now creating a bad reputation for yourself.

So is it bad to have a wide array of interests? Is it damaging to bring those into a potential job?

Of course not. It’s just not something you want to say when you meet someone for the first time.

So what should you say instead?

Well, if you’re going to talk about what you do professionally, give them your profession. Say you’re a project manager. Tell them you’re an accountant. Explain you work in outside sales. Indicate that you’re in marketing.

But don’t say I do a little of everything. Because if you do, you might be perceived as someone who actually does a whole lot of nothing.

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About the Blogger: Robby Slaughter is a productivity speaker and expert. He is a principal with a AccelaWork, an Indianapolis consulting firm.

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Mon, August 12 2013 » Career Planning and Goal Setting, Personal Organization, Self Development

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