By Lisa Parker

A few years ago, my 5 year old son came running to me. “Mommy! Mommy! I put my car away!” Exciting stuff considering he rarely puts anything away without a lot of prompting. He beamed with pride. I gave him a supportive hug as I looked around the playroom. His car was where it should be, but the rest of the playroom was a disaster. Because it was an improvement for him, we celebrated. Though David putting that one car away spoke to his potential, it was a far cry from what I will expect of him in the very near future. Soon he will have the job of putting away all of his toys, and perhaps even some of his sister’s, before any kudos are extended. He’s shown me he has the capacity. What’s left is buy in and recognition of the bigger picture.

I’m talking about David and his car because I frequently encounter job seekers patting themselves on the back for doing not so much. They are making the case they are right for the job because in a previous job they did a fraction of what was needed at the time.  They were the top sales person, but everyone else stunk and their own numbers were dismal. They networked at professional events all over town, but had few business transactions and relationships with key decision makers to claim as a result. They redesigned the accounts payable process so invoices could be dealt with more efficiently, but aged receivables at 90+ days ballooned under their watch. Unlike David who was too young to fully grasp what is expected of him and understand celebrating one car in its place is a bit silly considering the other messes surrounding him,  these individuals should be beyond that stage. When a candidate makes a big deal over things I consider ‘big whoop’ in the grand scheme of things, I’m left to wonder if they don’t recognize they weren’t pulling their weight, don’t care or think I’m easily impressed. Any interviewer worth is his salt is going to try to define the scope of accomplishments you reference.


Lisa joined the Michigan State University Alumni Association as Director of Alumni Career & Business Services on May 1, 2012. Her primary focus is to develop effective networking and resource channels for experienced alumni interested in professional development and job search strategy assistance. Additionally, Lisa works directly with corporate, education, foundation and government partners seeking to attract qualified talent, retain and develop good employees, and establish collaborative relationships in line with their established goals and objectives.

With 15+ years’ experience in third party recruiting, Lisa offers a balanced understanding of both employee and employer perspectives.

Lisa is a firm advocate of the networking process and considers it a vital element in a successful job search. In addition to helping job seekers develop and best utilize networking contacts, Lisa shares her knowledge and insight-gained aiding corporate recruiting efforts-to give Spartan job seekers an edge in terms of lead sourcing, resume presentation and interview strategy.

Among Lisa’s notable accomplishments: Prima Civitas Foundation Scholar; Michigan Works Association Volunteer of the Year; Pink Slip Mid Michigan Planning Committee; career content blogger.

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Michigan State University.


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