Q: I have an interview next week and I’m afraid they will pick up on the fact that I have only been in my current job 13 months. In reality, I took a step downwards for this job after the previous company I was in closed, (not my fault, I hasten to add, the market had moved on and the company ran out of road). This opportunity now offers me a chance to get back doing what I did and at an even higher level where I will be managing people. But will the last 13 months go against me in the interview? (HG, email).
A: When it comes to career development, we tend to be far too influenced by what happened recently. Recency bias, anyone? We need to develop the capacity to look at our careers in a more rounded way and to place events in context. Relevance is more important than chronology, as I’ve written here more than once.
The 13-month issue can be easily wrapped up. In fact, in your question above you have given the answer. There was a blip in the form of the company closing and being a worker and somebody who likes to keep themselves active, you took on a role that wasn’t an exact match for your skills and experience.
Was there anything you learned in the last 13 months that could be of value in the new role you are now chasing? If so, flag this in the interview: it may be an introduction to a new technology, some new thinking on leading and managing people or contacts you built up. Get the value from what you learned.
Then set about highlighting how this role makes sense for you. It accords with your skills and experience. It brings you back to doing what you are best at. Show them that you are hungry for this challenge and that you know that you can do a good job for them.
Show your value
If you shine the light the right way, they will see the value of having you, particularly with your experience. They will be comforted by the fact that you have shown yourself as somebody unafraid to roll up your sleeves and do something that might not necessarily float your boat.
The key here is that the onus is on you to let them see the value you bring. This is where you need to focus your attention. Never rely on the interview panel somehow figuring out that you are the right person – take deliberate steps in your answers to trumpet your suitability. Nobody else will do it for you.
You should not be in any way apologetic about the last 13 months. The days of the linear career path are a thing of the past. People chop and change, try out new jobs, react to different scenarios, and, as a result, create a rich career history that in many cases makes them more rounded and attractive employees.
As always, figure out the job spec very closely and have examples at the ready that show you have what they are looking for.
Featured image courtesy of Pixabay.
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