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Gayle Hallgren Rezac co-author of Work the Pond!

GOOD ADVICE  TAKE ITThe Globe and Mail newspaper recently interviewed Tamara Vrooman, a top Canadian business leader. At forty Tamara Vrooman is the CEO of Vancity, Canada’s largest credit union with $14.1 billion in assets. Tamara took on this role in September 2007 after leaving a stellar career as Deputy minister of finance with the government of British Columbia.

In The Globe and Mail article Tamara is asked about the start of her career in the Finance Ministry. She said that when she went to apply for a very junior job as an analyst the feedback she got from the directors was this: “’Great interview, good writing, good analysis, good references, great grades – but history? We’re worried you can’t add.”

Tamara thought process was, “I was always good at math at school. I just didn’t pursue it officially because it was not my main interest at the time.” What’s key about Tamara’s reaction was that rather than taking these comments defensively, or as a defeat, she took action. “So I enrolled in a Master’s in public administration, and took every Master’s-level economics, statistics, and accounting course I could get my hands on. I came back with my A-plus transcript in hand, and said, ‘Okay, now what’s your excuse?’”

Obviously, she got the job. The lesson here is that when going for interviews really listen to the comments you receive, and not as criticism but as coaching. Perhaps there is a weak spot in your skill-set, or maybe the interviewer has seen something that you don’t see. If you take this information ‘under consideration’ you might end shoring up your career chances. Go get the knowledge and experience that you need and then revisit the opportunity.

And in these difficult times when finding a job may be more challenging than ever before, perhaps this is the opportunity for you to waterproof your career boat. If there are leaks in your ship, plug them now
Is it difficult? Yes. Is it impossible? No. Your parents might actually welcome you back–they are tired of watching Wheel of Fortune together! Or perhaps you need to make a decision to get the degree or courses you need by doing it on a part time basis so that you can support yourself through the process. But it is the perfect time, because when the economy heats up you will want to be the best that you can be.

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