The Recruitment Underground Blog

Career Skills, Training and Transitions

Back to the Basics

Posted by jamesseetoo on September 24, 2009

Okay, I admit it, I like a good cliche. After all, a cliche is a cliche for a reason – besides being catchy like good advertising it’s usually true.

One of the main lessons I’ve learned over the years as a student and teacher of martial arts is that everything usually comes back to the basics. You can learn all types of fancy moves but at the end of the day nothing works unless you’ve got a firm grasp of the basics and the firmer that grasp the better. On the other hand, when it comes to teaching, students usually want to move to more advanced things quickly and honestly, it’s usually more fun to teach the fancy stuff than the basics because – well, I’ve done the basics over and over again. Which is probably why I can do the fancier stuff so it’s  kind of a circular argument.

But I love the basics even though it’s easy to get caught up in the fancy stuff. Which is also one of the reasons I teach – it makes me think about the basics and keep going over them so they’re always fresh.

And I love the basics of recruiting, even cold calling. You can see it as a chore, an opportunity to be rejected by someone who doesn’t even know you or you can see it as a chance to meet someone really interesting, an adventure in getting to know someone you might otherwise never have met.

And the same holds true as you progress in your career. Think about what you do, whatever you do – it all comes back to the basics doesn’t it? You might like doing projects and managing people but you have to have a core skill in order to base things on. There has to be a base line made up of all the experiences you’ve gained over the years. But through it all, you need to have something to hang them on and that’s where the basics come in.

After all, if you can do all the 360 degree assessments you want but if you don’t have a firm grasp on what your organizational goals are they don’t mean anything. It’s like developing a cool new product that your customers don’t need – you’ve strayed from where you need to go.

So where does this all fit into your job search or your job performance? Well, sometimes an opportunity will present itself as something you’ve done before. Most recruiters will automatically think been there, done that – she’s beyond that job. We need someone who’s more “hands on.” But if you’ve kept your hands in, that is – kept up with the basics rather than just been managing you’re probably as enthusiastic about the basics as someone who’s just starting at the same time bringing extra value to the job as someone who has been there done that.

There might be times when you’re presented with a job that you’ve done before and you might not be that interested because it may seem – well basic to you. But if you see it as an opportunity rather than an insult, a chance to re-ground yourself in the basics you just might discover what you loved about that particular skill set to begin with. And when you’re back in the game, you’ll have the opportunity to stand out and be outstanding.

So here’s an exercise for you. Remember when you were starting out in your career, when everything was new and you found ways to apply your skills. Remember the feeling you had when you figured something out using the basic skills you already knew with a slight twist of your own. And move forward to another time when you built on these basic skills to solve other problems. Now make that picture bigger and brighter and step into it so you’re not watching it as a movie but you’re acting in it. And feel the love of what you were doing.

Do the basics excite you again, make you want to get back to doing things hands on? If they do, you’ve gotten back to the basics and your love of what you do will come through in any interview or at your job.

Remember, your skills are your job security.

James Seetoo

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One Response to “Back to the Basics”

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