When you walk into a job interview, the hiring manager may already have a preconceived idea about how you are as a worker based on your age. How can that be? Employers often stereotype people. Baby Boomers are typically viewed as less driven, no longer having as much innovation, energy, or enthusiasm and possessing weaker computer skills. Millennial workers are known for their fascination with their phones and seem to have expert tech skills, but are often viewed as entitled and loyal only to themselves and want to be promoted quickly and frequently. Working parents can get pegged as being preoccupied and unreliable because of kids and their personal problems. Laid-off workers may be viewed as somewhat tainted and of less value because they are not employed. To set yourself apart from any stereotyped group, learn to project what all employers desire: the “ideal worker persona.” These are quick learners, adaptable, flexible, and willing to try to succeed at new tasks. They take their own professional development to the highest level possible and excel at their core strengths.
Attitude and some effort are all that is needed to develop this highly desired persona. Taking this new, proactive approach to performing your job is not difficult. Workers of any age can develop these traits that will increase their career potential by making them more appealing to employers. Job security and work longevity now depend on the worker— their talents, skills, and measurable achievements. It is your perceived potential and career identity that ensures you’ll always be able to find a new job. No company offers a permanent guarantee of work anymore. Today, savvy workers always keep the door open for an opportunity to move to a better position.
Here are the keys to developing the “ideal worker persona” skill set:
1. Choose a field and type of work you love. It’ll be a great deal easier. Passion gives purpose and ignites interest in continuing to learn and grow.
2. Develop your strengths into a top-notch skill set. Innate talents give rise to increased success and better performance on the job. These strengths are easier for you to use and will develop more quickly, so applying them on your job is the best way to stand out.
3. Advance key communication and computer skills. These are essential in most positions. Excellent writing is critical in each email or report you send. Coaching, leading, teaching— all require solid oral communication ability. Computer software must be learned, and the better you know it, the more productive you will be. These are skills you can strive to improve daily.
4. Be a lifelong learner. Read and stay ahead in your field. Improving your skills and diversifying them is critical to lifetime success and employment. It also makes you more enthusiastic, a better problem solver, and thus more appealing during the job interview.
5. Go to work with a “success attitude.” Focus your attitude on productivity and continuously look for ways to save money, save time, and improve the company as well as your performance. Wasting less time socializing, gossiping, or doing personal things while at work makes you efficient. It also helps contribute to a team effort and congenial workplace where employees can get more done during hours on the job.
6. Be flexible and adaptable. This means finding solutions, making suggestions, solving problems, and being willing to show initiative and to take on new projects, tasks, or responsibilities. Show that you are eager to become the worker the employer needs today and to grow into the one he’ll need tomorrow.
Once you’ve cultivated these traits, success at job interviews and promotions will result because you will be seen as the ideal worker the employer wants to hire and retain.