By Lisa Parker

I’ve talked before about candidates contradicting their abilities. Mostly I’ve talked about how applicants’ actions fail to live up to their words.

  • Atention to detail
  • Exceptional communicator with the ability to communicate with people of various backgrounds exceptionally.
  • Excellent ability to manage deadlines. (yet the application was submitted 2 days after the position closed)

Today I’d like to take a moment to talk about how your actions may contradict your supposed professional calling. How many times have you experienced someone working and left thinking they have no business doing that job? Perhaps you’ve encountered a nurse who is irritated by people in pain, a salesperson who doesn’t return calls, a police officer speeding while talking on a cell phone, a financial planner navigating a bankruptcy, etc. The list goes on. Even if you aren’t a career counselor, you have some preconceived notions of how various professionals should act. This isn’t complicated stuff.

It’s bad enough for those who are working to have customers questioning their choice in careers. It’s even worse to have an interviewer wondering over an applicant’s. It happens a lot. I know I’ve had my share of “huh?” moments. Whether it is the techie who can’t figure out the electronic application, the sales person who seems to cower in the chair, the writer who sends a 4 line cover letter or the human resource professional who blabbers on about legally protected subjects, the impression that’s left is the same. This person has no business doing this job.

The natural question for me to ask at this point is if it’s possible you may be leaving prospective employers with that impression? Make your own generic list of what would be reasonable for an employer to expect of someone with your professional aspirations. How do you stack up? Honesty is important here. If the answer is “not well” then you need to do some hard thinking. Are there things you can change? Do. If not, then it’s time to change course. It’s not logical to keep chasing something you aren’t truly designed to do and it’s not fair to be angry with employers for recognizing the contradictions and choosing someone else.


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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