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The Most Important Business Lesson I Ever Learned

September 13, 2018

I hate changing jobs. Oh, I don’t mind getting a new job. I actually enjoy interviewing. The part I struggle with is actually applying, picking a job and saying, “Yeah, I could. . .I should have that job.”

It’s not that I lack confidence either. I’m comfortable in as in individual contributor, or as a second level manager. It’s simply the visualisation of myself in a new position, a new role.

My first real position was a support operator for WordPerfect corporation in Orem Utah. When I started in IT in the late 80s, it was enough if you could touch type. I excelled at support. It was a job I could do well. I had more than a little experience with computers already. And I was good with people.

I quickly moved up in the support organization. But few people make support a career, and I was no different. Eventually, I started looking outside of the support organization for a new position.

I had a good friend who was a WordPerfect Sales Rep in Washington DC. He recommended me for a position on the sales team. I had been travelling as an escalation engineer. I would work with the sales team setting up and later troubleshooting WordPerfect email installations.

My friend Jim knew I was good in front of clients. I wasn’t easily rattled. I obviously had a great handle on the technology. In other words, I was a great fit for the position.

I didn’t get it.

Jim was part of the interview process. Although he had to remain objective. I interviewed poorly. I was tentative. I was everything I later worked to overcome.

Jim and I talked about it afterward. And it was then that he gave me this piece of advice,

If you really are the best person for the job, it’s not arrogant to admit it. In fact, you owe it to your employer to put yourself out there and push for the position.

I had been overly deferential. In an effort to not be boastful, I’d gone too far to the other side and downplayed my accomplishments. Jim knew the work I’d done, but I hadn’t adequetly explained it during the intview process.

It’s a fine line between modesty and bragging. But, if you are the best choice for the job, don’t be afraid to let people know. If you don’t, no one else will.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

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