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Be like Jonathan

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by Lisa Johnson

28 days ago

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Last week I watched episode 2 of Employable Me on ABC iview (I have yet to see episode 1 or 3, but they are on the list of things to watch this week!) and I was stunned, actually moved to tears by the brilliance and joy of a young man named Jonathan who was passionate about getting a break into an accounting firm.

Jonathan has autism and has clear insight into what that means for him.  He is aware that he struggles to read social cues and people’s faces.  He is also aware that numbers calm him; that complex numeric puzzles delight and inspire him.  So he has done everything he can to get the kind of role that exploits his passion for numbers.  Jonathan wants to be an accountant.

What struck me about Jonathan was how prepared he was for interview.  He knew what suit and tie would likely impress an interviewer, he had prepared excellent, well thought out answers to likely questions, he was clear on how his neuro-diversity could be an asset in an accounting related roles. Honestly, I was so impressed that I wondered how anyone could not employ him.

Jonathan was offered a short term internship and there is a scene (sorry spoiler alert) where a supervisor challenges him to find errors in a spreadsheet.  It was like putting a three year old in a bath full of jelly and balloons, Jonathan was electric in his excitement.  Let me be clear, this is a guy who will forget to take a lunch break and will thrive on all those hideous problems that so many other people write off as boring or mundane.  Needless to say, by the end of the show it is revealed that he has a cadetship with a global professional services company.  I cheered out loud.

What are the lessons for you?

  • Stop thinking you can wing an interview – be like Jonathan, prepare well thought out, clear answers to typical questions like “why do you want to work here” or  “where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time”
  • Think about your presentation.  A conservative suit in navy or charcoal, a clean white shirt and a smart conservative tie is a winning combo.  Polish the shoes, and for crying out loud, wear socks.  That no sock with work shoes / brogues thing could put an interviewer off.
  • Shave.  Apply plenty of deodorant, make sure any make up is minimal and restrained
  • Turn your mobile phone off BEFORE you get into the building.  Or at least onto silent and DO NOT ANSWER IT if it rings in an interview
  • Be aware of any shortcomings e.g gaps in your resume, high turnover of jobs, lack of experience and be prepared to acknowledge them and then spin them in a positive way
  • Be passionate – if you are doing something you love to do, then the joy will be palpable

Like Jonathan, even with a great attitude and all this preparation, you won’t be offered every job you apply for, but hopefully, like Jonathan you will eventually get that role that makes you want to get up every morning and go to work!

Watch “Employable Me” here

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