Re: Jobs/archetypal anecdotes and nitty-gritty advice

John McCreery (jlm@TWICS.COM)
Sun, 13 Oct 1996 10:39:44 +0900

>A long post full of perhaps unwelcome and paternalistic advice, but I've
>had the chance to make 12 years worth of mistakes, which may be worth
>something! --wade

I'd call it a long post full of very sound advice. I espcially liked the
bit about "DOS in 10 minutes." Reminded me of a banker friend of mind whose
dad is now a successful systems/software consultant. My friend says that
when he went to apply for his first computer-related job, he was asked, "Do
you know C++?" "Yes, I do," he said. He then went out and bought a book and
learned it.

As someone with a little experience on both sides of job interviews, I'll
add a few observations.

If you open with "I've got an MBA (MA....Ph.D.) from X" I may hear

(1) lack of self-confidence
(2) a sense of entitlement that may make you difficult to work with
(3) lack of preparation; you don't seem to know what I'm looking for

Contrast the above with, for example, "Your ad says that you're looking for
X. Could you tell me a bit more about what the job entails?"

Now I'm hearing,

(3) preparation (You've read the ad and you know what it says.)
(2) leveling (Speaking as one adult to another. You sound easy to work with.)
(1) confidence (You aren't over-eager. You are looking into a possibility
that might be mutually advantageous.)

If the person who is doing the interviewing is, as Wade suggests, someone
entered the job market with a BA (or any degree that is lower than the one
on your resume), he or she may be jealous of the chances you've had and
fearful of you as a potential competitor. Think about what you can do to
defuse these feelings.

Always remember the basic fact of competition. If the job is one you want,
chances are that others want it too. One terrible thing that schooling does
to those of us who have usually gotten good grades is that it teaches us
that success depends on satisfying an arbitrary standard; pass the test,
get the "A." And too often it's been too easy; so we wind up with a low
tolerance for frustration in situations where perseverance and a
disciplined search for "How can I offer better value than any of my
competitors" is the key to getting what we want.

Arthur Baron mentioned Goleman's book _Emotional Intelligence_. Lots of
good stuff in there. One bit that sticks in my mind is the Belgian study in
which the strongest predictor of academic and other success was a test
conducted when the subjects were four years old. The experimenter offers
the child a marshmallow, then says,"I've got to step out for a minute. If
you don't eat the marshmallow while I am gone, I'll give you another when I
get back." In later life it was the kids who had waited fifteen or twenty
minutes to get the second marshmallow who did well--regardless of scores on
IQ and other intelligence tests. Something to think about.

John McCreery
3-206 Mitsusawa HT, 25-2 Miyagaya, Nishi-ku
Yokohama 220, JAPAN

"And the Lord said unto Cyrus, 'Shall the clay say to him who moldest it,
what makest thou? Let the potsherd of the earth speak to the potsherd of
the earth." --An anthropologist's credo