After more than two decades in the Executive Search
business, I have learned a lot about what goes into a
successful hire. I try to impart my knowledge to both hiring
managers and candidates. Nevertheless, at many job
interviews I find myself listening to questions that make me
cringe and answers that make me want to cry.
Now it's my turn to talk.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Live, Love, Laugh, Learn Excel

Those of us who were kids before the 1990’s may remember when school was all about learning the three R’s:  reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic. (We took some liberties with spelling.) Both we and our teachers were happily unaware of such activities as formula pasting, data sorting, finding-and-replacing, and spellchecking.

Those of you who are younger than thirty-five or so might be congratulating yourselves as you read this because you have grown up in a personal computer world.  You twenty-somethings may have learned basic word processing skills before you grew out of T-ball, and clicked your way around colorful world maps well before you were allowed to walk to school by yourself.

Don’t get too comfortable. At the rate technology advances, all the “stuff” you know now will be outdated before your own kids are old enough to ask for the keys to the wind-powered car. 

If there were a single piece of advice that I could give to EVERY unemployed person I know, it would be to learn something you don’t already know in terms of technology. 

There’s always a good excuse for lack of techspertise

You might have spent the bulk of your career in a field that did not require huge technological expertise.  Construction and/or skilled labor come to mind.  Or you might have been so “high up” that you were able to assign others to perform the required word processing and spreadsheet functions for you, while using your advanced knowledge to analyze the results.  Or maybe you worked in a small office that resisted computerization until the bitter end and left you untrained in basic computer skills. Whatever the case, the everyday language of basic technology is a foreign tongue to you.

My advice is to lose the excuse. It is a bad economy, and possibly will remain bad for some time to come.  There are jobs out there, but you may have to learn something new to qualify for them.  The language of today’s workplace is technology.  Here are four basic areas of technology that might open a door that might otherwise be slammed in your face.

1.      Microsoft Word

2.      Microsoft Excel

3.      Sending, receiving, forwarding E-mail

4.      Perusing the Internet

If you are already experienced in these areas, try to become even more proficient – or explore a more complex software program that is a staple within your specific industry.

It doesn’t cost a lot to acquire basic computer skills.  Hundreds of books (as well as computers) are available at the library. Courses are available online or at local sites.  These range from free to somewhat costly.  Many of you have family members who have acquired these skills already and would be happy to share them with you.  Free Of Charge.  Ask them.

Your old job is your old job – your new job may be more challenging and rewarding than you could have hoped.  But to get it, you might have to learn more than you ever wanted to know about things like formatting, formulas, and hyperlinks. 

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