Don’t Let the Job Description Keep You Out of the Game

Good morning! I hope your day is off to a nice start.

Yesterday at work, I was asked to go through my job description, line by line, and indicate whether I actually do all those things on a fairly regular basis. On the one hand, it can feel like you’re ratting yourself out on the things you don’t do. But in reality, it’s a good exercise to go through, especially as we’re trying to hire more people on the team. It lets the bosses know what we really do each day.

I learned years ago that job descriptions are little more than a wish list dreamed up by eager managers with a little help from somebody in Human Resources who has absolutely no idea what’s required in that role. Nothing against HR reps, that’s just the way it is. The finished product usually covers most of the important items, but with a lot of fluff.

Have you ever looked over a job description and talked yourself out of it without even applying, simply because it lists a bunch of things you’re not sure you can do? I almost did that thirty years ago. It was a job as an electronics technician, and in everything on the job description I had the experience. All except one – “Must be able to use a spectroscope.” I’d never heard of one, much less used one.

I started to talk myself out of applying, and finally thought okay … I can learn how to use just about any piece of test equipment. If I get the job, I’ll just go in, take one look at it, and say “We used a different kind in the Navy. Can you show me how to use this one?”

Well, I got the job, and over the course of almost ten years, I never saw a spectroscope in that company. They didn’t own one. As it turns out, the manager who wrote the job description didn’t know much about the job. He was thinking of an oscilloscope, and couldn’t remember the name, so he wrote the first thing that came to mind – spectroscope. I’d used dozens of different oscilloscopes.

Had I put too much emphasis on that one line in the job description, I’d have never even applied for that job. I worked there for almost ten years and, during that time, transitioned from electronics technician to technical writer, a career change that’s taken me in a completely different direction and has led to where I am today. And I could have chickened out and missed it all.

The same thing happens when we look at people who have attained a level of success that’s higher than our own. We’d like to live like they do – a bigger house, nicer cars, better vacations, more family time, and a daily lifestyle that comes with having the means to make each day whatever you want it to be. Wouldn’t that be nice?

But as we look at these people, we begin to justify why they’re where they are and why we’re not. We think maybe they’re a little smarter or got a better education in the things that count. Maybe they were born into wealth and all they have to do is maintain it. They’re younger, better looking, more popular, or just plain lucky. There has to be something they have that we don’t.

And the truth is, they don’t have a thing on you except a little bigger resume of accomplishments. You’re writing their job description as you think it should be, with qualifications that would make them laugh. They know better. They know there’s nothing all that special about their abilities that led them to success, other than the willingness to work past their shortcomings and get the job done.

These are the people who, if they’re being completely honest, would look at you and say, “You have everything it takes to be right where I am. You have all the experience, all the knowledge, and all the ‘special gifts.’ All you lack is the acknowledgment of your own abilities, and the confidence to do something about it.”

Some people will always achieve more than others. We can’t change that. But to look at those super-achievers and think they have something you don’t is like talking yourself out of a dream job because of one line in the job description. You’re up to the task. You have what it takes. And whatever you don’t know, you can learn. Give in to your dreams. The life you want is waiting for you to claim it.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Game On! What Position Will You Play?

Well, the Super Bowl is over, and one team is celebrating a lot more than the other. I didn’t watch but, from the score, it appears the stars of both teams were on the defense. It’s not often you see a big game with scoring so low on both sides.

I was never known for my athletic ability and, as a result, I was never much of a sports fan. I played little league baseball and football, which is to say they let me be on the team. I think there was something about that in the rules. My job on both teams was to occupy every square inch of the bench so the star players didn’t end up with splinters in their butt.

And that’s okay. We all get a few splinters every now and then. Besides, there were lots of things I could do much better than the stars of the team. But apparently, my mastery of the multiplication tables and ability to speak in complete sentences wasn’t a big turn-on for the girls back then. And I learned really fast not to compare report cards in the locker room.

Somewhere along the line, though, those things began to take on greater importance. Toward the end of high school, girls did start to gain an appreciation for intelligence. Or maybe it was my motorcycle. I’m still not completely sure. But my clumsiness on the playing field began to matter less over the years. Even the jocks didn’t care. To them, I was just another face in the hallway.

And here’s the thing – never once have I filled out a job application that asked about my batting average or how many times I sacked the quarterback. Seems now, all they care about is my brain. Well, that and my willingness to show up for work every day and actually do something productive.

That’s not to say I’m any better than the guys who chased me around the locker room with mentholatum and wet towels. In fact, I’m pretty sure some of them went on to have successful careers of their own. Hopefully someplace that places a high value on giving the new guy a wedgie. But I’m sure a lot of the people who control my paycheck were stars of the team back in the day.

We all have gifts. Some are more visible than others, and some are more valuable in a given situation. An athletic physique can be an asset when you’re sitting on the lifeguard stand or carrying a fire hose up six flights of stairs. But in the boardroom, where it’s covered by an Armani suit, nobody really cares.

For most of us, life exists somewhere in the middle. And, in that world, it takes a mix of skills to get by. There are days when a few extra muscles come in handy, like when it comes time to dump a 40-pound bag of salt into the water softener. Other times, those extra muscles are about as useful as a fork in a bowl of soup.

The key is to make the most of our gifts so that, when a situation arises, we’re able to pull out the right one. Ask any mechanic about their toolbox, and they’ll probably tell you they started with a couple of screwdrivers, and then built from there. One day they needed a set of wrenches. The next day it was a pair of pliers. And, for all of us, the day comes when we just need a bigger hammer.

There are some jobs that only require one tool, or one skill. But the more complex tasks require a mix of abilities. And sometimes, it’s the most delicate tools that we rely on the most. When I had my surgery a couple of months ago, one of the tools used was a bone saw. But I’m pretty sure the surgeon had a whole tray of tools to work with. Hopefully he counted them all when he was done.

We each have our own unique combination of skills and knowledge. That’s what makes us different and able to tackle a given situation with just a little more ability than the person next to us. But tomorrow, we may have to sit by and watch them take the “hero” spot for a day.

Our ability to use those gifts, and to seek out and find people who complement our own talents, can carry us to unlimited heights. We don’t have to be the star of the team. All we have to do is bring our best and make each day as important as the big game. Do that, and you’ll win every time.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved