One of the most annoying things about us financial types (at least to non-financial types) is the long-winded and seemingly endless explanations we provide when discussing complicated situations.
Although we are mistakenly thought to always “cut to the chase” or go right to “the bottom line,” when it comes to communicating about important matters, no detail no matter how small or insignificant (to others) can be left out if in our minds it provides a link of logic important to the “moral” of our story.
Nowhere is this more true than the saga of how we lost our last job or when asked to discuss our career progression.
In the case of why we left our last job, it is vitally important to be brief. The truth is that the person asking the question is only trying to satisfy his or her own morbid curiosity. As I always suggest to those giving 90-second announcements, unless you were arrested and convicted of a crime at your last firm, I probably don’t need to know why you left. And, if this is actually what happened, you probably won’t tell me. So, why get into it?
To tell a long involved story of “who did what to whom and when” is to expose yourself to the dual risk of “the maiden doth protest too much methinks” or even worse to mentally drag yourself back through an unpleasant departure from a job you held for perhaps a long time and really enjoyed. Just consider what the telling of this story in all of its gory detail will do to your mood and the rest of your interview.
The story must be brief – no more than a minute, and less if possible. It also must be completely accurate. Sure, this is hard to do without leaving out a lot of details, but this is what you have to do. You will find that with a little effort, you can determine what is important to others and what is only important to you. It is a critical distinction to understanding and communicating with your audience.
Fortunately, when it comes to discussing our career progression, we have the wonderful device of the 90-second elevator speech that I hope you all practice and practice and practice. It is the best answer I know to the question: “So, tell me about yourself.”
The 90-second elevator speech needs to be focused on only the important facts about you that are relevant to the job or potential job at hand. Starting with “I was born at a very early age” and working your way forward in time chronologically is a very bad idea. Start with your most recent experience and only add information about your “prehistory” to the degree it is needed to explain who you are and what you are about.
Hard to believe, but many folks in what I like to call the “outside world” are comfortable with the concept of being slightly pregnant. I know it is a concept we could never understand, but we will just have to live with who we are.