The job application I’d like to write…

Posted: July 3, 2011 in employment, not really sure

Being on the hunt for meaningful employment, as opposed to just a pay-check, for a while now has gotten me to thinking.

The standard approach to job seeking is sending in the boring, standard impersonal C.V that doesn’t accurately reflect who I am or what I can do.  The skills that I have learnt over the years of experience in a vast array of employment and the attitude that I carry with me when I go to work.

Now I have a rather old fashioned approach and attitude to work, somewhat influenced by the fact that my parent had their own business when I was a kid and from the discussions that I overheard as a child.  I have also been lucky to have some great mentors and inspirational figures in my life that have instilled a degree of reflective expectation from my employers  that I have found somewhat lacking in my time as an employee in Norway.

So I wondered, if I could write what I wanted, to really explain or display who I actually am, what I can do and what my real work attitude is (as opposed to the bullshit that most people put on their applications) what would it be like?


  • Firstly I would want to say that I like to work, pretty standard stuff that.  The reality is that I really do like to work, I like to dig in and get things done.  To set goals on a daily basis and achieve them.   So an employer can rely on me to actually come to work, to work, not just turn up and hang around for the allocated hours and engage in some sort of social activity avoiding actually doing anything of substance.


  • Secondly I would mention that I take pride in what I do, something I learned from the formative influences in my employment life.  This translates to actually caring about the quality of the work that I perform and the results I produce.  By taking pride in my work, it means that I get engaged, I care and it becomes a little personal.  So having lazy workmates or gormless managers (I find the word manager is often incorrectly used to describe power mad  arse-kissers) and unnecessary obstacles placed in my way is somewhat frustrating.


  • Thirdly I want to try and encapsulate the skills that I have attained over my life.  This is where it gets a little tricky as because I have travelled a lot and often taken on jobs to keep food in my belly and a roof over my head, my employment history looks a little disjointed.  Okay, it looks like the result of somebody with no real objectives or aspiration…

I have worked predominately with people my whole life.  Serving them as a waiter or bartender, selling to them in a variety of roles from camera equipment to hardware supplies.  I have been a tour guide in Europe looking after large groups whilst working for a company that had the approach: here is some travellers cheques, an old bus from WW II and 20 odd people who want the experience of a lifetime, now make it happen.  I really loved that job, it was really up to me to make it happen and to deal with all the different obstacles that pop up along the way when you have a bus full of party minded travellers to look after.

I have learned how to sell things, just about anything as I have found that many of the same principals apply regardless of the product or field.  I need to know the product, or products available, what the ones I sell offer, the company that is behind them and all the service and warranty requirements, and then to identify what the customer wants and needs.  I learned to sell in a way that is about building relationships with people, looking long term into fulfilling their needs so as to avoid the inevitable dissatisfaction and costs of returns that ‘quick’ sales can generate.  I have heard too many of my friends say that I can sell ice to eskimo’s and water to fish.  It is only because I have learnt to identify what the person need and then identify a way to deliver the correct product, plus I like helping people.

Service, particularly customer service is a skill that I have learned from some brilliant mentors over time.  I think that the key here is that you have to genuinely like and enjoy giving customer service.  Whilst you can learn the machinations and fundamentals, if you don’t actually enjoy it, then you will never be truly good at it, and the customer can tell.

I think this is where Norwegians have trouble in cutomer service as they somehow feel belittled or ‘less’ if they ‘serve’ others.  For some reason, there is a cultural stumbling block over the satisfaction that can be gained from helping somebody to solve a problem or making the effort to put somebody else’s needs first in a work situation.  Strange from a nation that is really big on charity and foreign aid…

My personality: well, I talk a lot, like a real lot, underwater with a mouthful of marbles lot.  I don’t get embarrassed, ever.  I multi task which pisses those who can’t off.  I don’t tolerate fools, ignorants and lazy people well, if at all.  I am critical, both of myself ( I am my own worst critic) and of everything I encounter – I mean critical in that I bother to think about the things that affect me and try to identify improvements, solutions and ways to make things more efficient.  The whole ‘nothing I can do about it’ attitude is something I just don’t get as I believe that all things that have made life better for people has started as an observation and criticism or dissatisfaction with the status-quo of the time.   I am an active listener, but can be ‘a little’ aggressive when trying to draw information from people as they tend to waffle and dance around with too many ‘niceties’ avoiding the point.  I like a good debate and love a good argument.  I find it stimulating and educational as when peoples emotions are brought out, truths emerge.

I call a spade a spade, shoot from the hip and people know where they stand with me.  Respect needs to be earned, not commanded and loyalty is the result of being treated well and feeling that you are part of a team, to expect loyalty from someone you would cut loose in an instant is ludicrous.

At a meeting, if I have a question, I will ask it, If I disagree, I will say it, and if I ask a question of a superior (thus implying that they are better educated, more experienced, have access to more information and can provide answers and communicate vital information to subordinates), I will expect an answer that makes sense and addresses the question.  Being brushed off with the old ‘I will have to look into it and get back to you is very annoying).

Other skills I have learnt over time include organisation and prioritising, looking at things holistically and trying to find a way to balance all parties involved to attain an end result where nobody looses, or perceives that they have lost.  Running my own small business the last few years has taught me a lot and given me a deeper understanding of the costs of business and the importance of good communication and oversight as well as employing the right people.

Dealing with things on the fly, keeping calm in an emergency and finding a way to do the impossible are skills that have developed over time mainly from working in the hospitality industry where anything can happen, and usually does.

Now, as I have gotten older and after some nasty experiences in the past with some particularly dodgy employers, I have somehow arrived at a point where I have some expectations of any prospective employers.

  • 1. Honesty: don’t bullshit me with a tale of how your business offers all these possibilities for growth and in training if you really don’t.   This has been a large part my own fault as I have taken jobs with some truly rubbish employers.  But I still think that how an employer projects and represent themselves to prosective employees should reflect the reality, not just the PR spin and marketing bullshit they never intend to honour.
  • 2. Judge me on my results, what I achieve and allow me to ask questions.  Treating me like a mushroom cannot be good for your business.  Communication is important, I am curious, take initiative and am self motivated.  I will not stand around and wait for instructions so you need to ensure I understand the objectives and ideology of the business so that when I make decisions I will be in-line with the organisational culture.  Telling me squat and then berating me for making a mistake is sort of pointless.  Managers have responsibility of subordinates that I expect them to display and perform.
  • 3. Offer me a career development path.  I want to work towards a long term goal.  I want to make a commitment.  I want to grow, get better at what I do and be able to achieve more, both for myself and my employer.

What sort of environment am I looking for?

For me it is the desire to work around people who are engaged in what they do, who are inspiration because they are good at what they do, have knowledge to share and are part of something great.  I draw motivation from the work, having challenges to meet, obstacles to overcome and things to learn.  I enjoy an international environment as I like what many cultures can achieve when they work together, the different approached to the same problem, the cultural nuances they bring to the party and the expansion of ones world view that can be gained when working in such an environment.  Opportunities fro personal growth are a must, with promotion not about power and money but responsibility and as recognition of hard work.

So lets see, I want an International employer that offers a career path, I would like the opportunity for training, travel (really want to travel in my work!), a professional atmosphere and environment and to work with great, well educated and inspirational people and to work with people.

Oh, and whilst my job history doesn’t quite suggest that I can do the job I am applying for, read between the lines and make a leap of faith.  I can do more, way more than I have had the opportunity to display so far, and I know how to take responsibility and make a decision, something that many nowadays are sadly lacking…

And I am a foreigner, so I come to work on time, stay late, work hard, don’t take sick days unless I am actually really sick am there to work, not hang around with friends and talk about holidays, the weekend or other irrelevant bullshit on your dime…

Now, how to get that down on a cover letter and redesign my C.V to reflect who I am?…

  1. jenaconti says:

    Ah, yes. I know what you mean. When I was a freshman in college (ages ago!) I wanted to work at the local bookstore so badly that I drew books and bookworms all over the edges of my application. And guess what? I got the job because my application stood out. Something tells me the same technique might not work so well for a more professional position, but the woman heading up the NAV meeting for us “dagpenger” folks last week suggested that if we play guitar we take our guitar to our interview! It tells them something about us, she said. It shows we are fun and creative. Thank goodness I don’t play guitar or else I might actually consider that idea! 🙂

  2. For me, being able to express who I am and what I can do and have learnt is important to ensure the ‘correct fit’.
    I find a cv impersonal and somewhat cold as well as constraining.
    After time on dagspenger, I have found that the ‘ideas’ that are suggested by NAV are pretty useless if you have half a brain and are able to read.
    One of the obstacles here is that in Norway, it isn’t really liked if you stand out, this ‘janteloven’ thing where everyone aspires to be average is very odd and hard to fathom…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s