Jacks-Of-All-Trades Don’t Get Interviews Because…

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As a career coach, I get a lot of emails that go something like this:

Dear J.T.,

I lost my job after working for more than ____ years at the same company. In that time, I had a variety of responsibilities. I worked in a half-dozen departments. As the company changed, I would take on new projects as needed. I was a “Jack-of-all-trades.”

I thought when I lost my job I’d find it easy to get a new one because of all I have done. I’ve got so many skills and abilities, my resume is three pages long. And yet, I can’t seem to get an interview. As I research positions on job boards, I find myself saying, “I can do that!” But, having applied to over 40 jobs, I’ve yet to get a single interview.

What am I doing wrong?

The answer is simple: When you try to look like a match for everything, you match nothing.

A Job Opening = Specific Problem To Solve

When a company has an open position, what they really have is a particular problem that needs to be solved. The person choose to hire will be the one that can solve the problem the best and is priced right. When you are marketing dozens of things about yourself, a/k/a being a Jack-of-all-trades, you overwhelm hiring managers. In fact, you distract them to the point they are unable to see you as a match. Not only do you appear overqualified, but they may also assume you are overpriced as well…resulting in your resume going in the “no” pile.(Here’s a good example of a Jack-of-all-trades who needed to revamp his LinkedIn profile in order to finally stand out to employers.)

The Solution? Become A “Swiss Army Knife” Instead

If you find yourself in the Jack-of-all-trades situation, I suggest you re-tool yourself to appear more like a Swiss Army Knife: be clear in what each of your key skills is good for and demonstrate them with precision. Here’s what to do:

Step 1: Identify the top 5 skill sets you want to leverage in your next position. You have many skills, but you need to focus hiring managers on the skills you are most passionate about using on a daily basis so you can find a job that plays to your strengths.

Step 2: Map out how those skills support an employer in solving a problem. Clarify how will you use these skills specifically to save and/or make the company money. Ask yourself, “What pain will I alleviate when I utilize these skills for an employer?”

Step 3: Quantify your track record of success in these key skills. You need to be able to back up your abilities with facts. Articulate examples of how you have used each of these skills to help an employer so you can justify the cost of hiring you.

Step 4: Optimize your career tools (i.e. resume & LinkedIn profile), so they reflect your problem solving expertise using the skill sets you chose to showcase. Simplify these documents so the text clearly supports your area of focus. Less is more. Give hiring managers enough information to confirm you can do the specific job without overwhelming them. Your career tools should say, “I can do the job you need, but you’ll need to contact me to learn more.” (Here’s an article where I explain why your resume has only 6 seconds to get a recruiter’s attention.)

Finally, Don’t Forget To…

Once you’ve gone from branding yourself as a generalist to a specialist, you need to do one more thing: start a proactive job search. Just because you revamped your professional identity to be better suited for specific jobs, doesn’t mean employers will start responding to your online applications. If you really want to get an employer’s attention, you need to increase your networking efforts so you can spread the word about your special problem solving abilities as a way to get referred into positions. (This article maps out why your resume is useless without the right networking strategy.)

What other tips can readers share to deal with the Jack-of-all-trades challenge? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

P.S. – First time reading my posts? Thanks for taking the time to stop by! Not only do I write for Linkedin, but I’m also founder of the career advice site, CAREEREALISM, and currently run the career coaching program, CareerHMO. I hope you’ll check them both out!

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19 Things You’ll Only Appreciate If You Studied Abroad

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Manneken Pis in diving suit (April 2007)

Manneken Pis in diving suit (April 2007) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Manneken Pis Brussel

Manneken Pis Brussel (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Manneken Pis statue on platform of JR Hamamats...

Manneken Pis statue on platform of JR Hamamatsucho station in Tokyo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Manneken pis

Manneken pis (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Close up of Manneken Pis in Belgian P...

English: Close up of Manneken Pis in Belgian Pride orange colours. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

19 Things You’ll Only Appreciate If You Studied Abroad

 

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GET TRAVEL NEWSLETTERS:

Because as someone famous once said, “the best things you learn aren’t learned in a classroom.”

1. Contrary to every mother’s belief, you won’t even feel sick if you eat gelato for every meal.
Or pizza. Or crepes. Or empanadas. Or anything in the top, bad-for-you section of the food pyramid. We’re on a budget here, people.

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2. Humans are inherently kind.
Strangers will go far, far out of their way to help you get around. All you must do is ask sincerely and thank copiously.
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3. Just because something is in a guidebook doesn’t mean you have to go look at it.
Exhibit A: Manneken-Pis.
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4. It’s better for everyone if we just pretend Euros are dollars.
Just forget the exchange rate, and stop converting every price to dollars in your head. It causes too much pain.

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5. Ryanair seats do not recline.
…but you could’ve guessed that from the prices.

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6. America is not the center of the universe.
There are other people living on this planet, and they live differently than we do, and they are really happy that way. It’s an awesome thing to realize.
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7. Doner kebab as drunk food is one thousand times better than nachos as drunk food.
Mostly because nobody’s really sure which animal that shaved meat comes from. What a fun, mysterious taste bud adventure!
doner kebab

8. Every person in a hostel is a potential best friend.
And sometimes they’ll agree to travel with you for days or weeks, after knowing you for a mere day. Voilà! Lifelong pals!

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9. Trains don’t always depart when they say they will.
…or ever.

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10. It is not only possible, but socially permissible, to wear the same outfit for seven days in a row 
How else are you going to fit your suitcase into the easyJet carry-on box? All you really need are a few colored scarves… that way, people won’t notice the same T-shirt recurring in photo after photo.

11. English truly is the universal language.
And people who are learning English looove to practice it with you, even if they don’t make sense.

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12. Dinnertime in America is seriously warped.
Why did the Founding Fathers decide to eat at six when everybody else on the planet waits till 10?

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13. Spontaneity is rewarded.
Like that time you snagged the one Euro flight to Finland in an online promo. Or when you bought a last-minute ticket to the show in Ibiza. They weren’t the most logical decisions, to be sure, but they’re memories you’ll replay in your mind forever.
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14. Nothing bonds you like traveling. 
The way to know if you’re truly friends with someone? Food poisoning from the street fruit. Or a seven-hour bus delay. Or Wizz Air.

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15. Studying abroad involves, on average, about four minutes of actual studying.
Shh, don’t tell.

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16. Taxi drivers are some of the greatest people on Earth.
They just love to talk. And they’re so enthusiastic. And they drive you places so you don’t get lost like usual.
doner kebab

17. Traveling solo reveals hidden talents. 
You wouldn’t have thought you could navigate a Czech subway without a map… but you did.

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18. The Guinness Storehouse is a legitimate historical site.
No, we’re not proud of this fact. But at this point, it’s pretty much true.
guinness storehouse

19. Study abroaders are incredibly lucky people.
Very few humans get to spend carefree months exploring the world beyond their hometown, let alone during college. To study abroad is a privilege, and an awesome one at that.
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The Case Against Multivitamins Grows Stronger

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Generic structure of the vitamins K

Generic structure of the vitamins K (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Suggested mapping of several bone dis...

English: Suggested mapping of several bone diseases onto a person’s Vitamin D level (as estimated from the serum concentation of calcidiol). Based on Heaney RP (Dec 2004). “Functional indices of vitamin D status and ramifications of vitamin D deficiency Full Text”. Am J Clin Nutr 80 (6 Suppl) : 1706S–9S. PMID 15585791. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In some countries, milk and cereal grains are ...

In some countries, milk and cereal grains are fortified with vitamin D. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Prenatal vitamins contain higher levels of iro...

Prenatal vitamins contain higher levels of iron and folic acid, compared with typical multivitamins (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

vitamin 6, b12, b36

vitamin 6, b12, b36 (Photo credit: Iqbal Osman1)

Vitamins

Vitamins (Photo credit: DBduo Photography)

The Case Against Multivitamins Grows Stronger

 

Though some people might need more of specific vitamins, multivitamins don't help most people, studies say.

Though some people might need more of specific vitamins, multivitamins don’t help most people, studies say.

iStockphoto

When I was growing up my mom gave me a multivitamin every day as a defense against unnamed dread diseases.

But it looks like Mom was wasting her money. Evidence continues to mount that vitamin supplements don’t help most people and can actually cause diseases that people are taking them to prevent, like cancer.

Three studies published Monday add to multivitamins’ bad rap. One review found no benefit in preventing early death, heart disease or cancer. Another found that taking multivitamins did nothing to stave off cognitive decline with aging. A third found that high-dose multivitamins didn’t help people who had had one heart attack avoid another.

“Enough is enough,” declares an editorial accompanying the studies in Annals of Internal Medicine. “Stop wasting money on vitamin and mineral supplements.”

But enough is not enough for the American public. We spend $28 billion a year on vitamin supplements and are projected to spend more. About 40 percent of Americans take multivitamins, the editorial says.

Even people who know about all these studies showing no benefit continue to buy multivitamins for their families. Like, uh, me. They couldn’t hurt, right?

In most cases, no. But $28 billion is a lot to spend on a worthless medical treatment. So I called up Steven Salzberg, a professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins who has written about Americans’ love affair with vitamins, to find out why we’re so reluctant to give up the habit.

“I think this is a great example of how our intuition leads us astray,” Salzberg told Shots. “It seems reasonable that if a little bit of something is good for you, then more should be better for you. It’s not true. Supplementation with extra vitamins or micronutrients doesn’t really benefit you if you don’t have a deficiency.”

Vitamin deficiencies can kill, and that discovery has made for some great medical detective stories. Salzberg points to James Lind, a Scottish physician who proved in 1747 that citrus juice could cure scurvy, which had killed more sailors than all wars combined. It was not until much later that scientists discovered that the magic ingredient was vitamin C.

Lack of vitamin D causes rickets. Lack of niacin causes pellagra, which was a big problem in the Southern U.S. in the early 1900s. Lack of vitamin A causes blindness. And lack of folic acid can cause spina bifida, a crippling deformity.

Better nutrition and vitamin-fortified foods have made these problems pretty much history.

Now when public health officials talk about vitamin deficiencies and health, they’re talking about specific populations and specific vitamins. Young women tend to be low on iodine, which is key for brain development in a fetus, according to a 2012 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And Mexican-American women and young children are more likely to be iron deficient. But even in that group, we’re talking about 11 percent of the children, and 13 percent of the women.

Recent studies have shown that too much beta carotene and vitamin E can cause cancer, and it’s long been known that excess vitamin Acan cause liver damage, coma and death. That’s what happened to Arctic explorers when they ate too much polar bear liver, which is rich in vitamin A.

“You need a balance,” Salzberg says. But he agrees with theAnnals editorial — enough already. “The vast majority of people taking multivitamins and other supplemental vitamins don’t need them. I don’t need them, so I stopped.”

I’m still struggling with the notion that mother didn’t know best. But maybe when the current bottle of kids’ chewable vitamins runs out, I won’t buy more.