Saturday, February 20, 2010

Interview Road Kill - “I Haven’t Done It, But I Can Learn”: Best of reCareered

Ever respond to an interview question, by saying "I haven't done it, but I can learn"?

OUCH … I can feel your pain. Your interview ended with those words. The fat lady sang.

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Employers realize you can learn if you've been in the workforce for a while, or if you've graduated college. Of course you can learn. It's even a bad answer for an entry-level job candidate.

But today, unless you're entry level, employers don't want someone who can learn, they want fast solutions to problems. If you can learn, you might have a future with the company to solve new problems, but to be hired you've got to demonstrate that you've already solved that problem (see

Employee turnover averages 18 months, and technology changes every 3-4 years – is it any wonder employers look for people who already have the skills to solve today's problems?

Instead, could you reply, "Sure, I've solved similar problems!" and go on to give a close example? Instead, most candidates turn into a "deer in the headlights" and say "I can learn".

Anticipate problems the company has through your research (see:, before you even craft your customized resume. Read press releases, SEC reports, articles, blogs … and gain an understanding of the company's challenges and problems. Show how you can solve them before you are even asked and you're a leading candidate.

Say "I can learn" and you're road kill.

TIP: Remove the phrase "I can learn" from your vocabulary. Don't say it to recruiters, nor to family or friends. Just don't say it ... ever.

Many job seekers describe themselves in a resume as a generalist, attempting to attract a broad number of opportunities. That's nice – but it doesn't work (see

Yes, this used to work, and it's how everyone over 30 learned how to job hunt. But it's 2010. And in 2010, employers want subject matter experts who have direct experience in solving specific problems.

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