1. #1
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    Default Promotion Question (a little lengthy!)

    Greetings everyone!

    My department, which is a smaller combination department(20 paid) will be have promotions within the next month or so. Being a small department with low turnover, this doesn't happen too often. I will be putting in for Lieutenant. My question to do with the initial application. The subject of my concern is my education. While I have a lot of experience and also certifications (some advanced), I also went back to school after starting the FD and got an associate's and bachelor's degree. What I view to be a sticky situation is that with the exception of our most senior captain (who is at retirement age and of course is not promoting), I am the only one who has a bachelor's degree in the department. Our chief doesn't even have one---not that there is anything wrong with that, it just adds to my confusion. I am trying to figure out the fine line of showing that I am proud of my accomplishments, yet not being arrogant about it. It is a tough thing considering this is a competition for a position...and another may not happen for a couple years.

    One of the questions we have to answer for out application is to describe our most substantial achievement. Given the above, should I focus on writing about my degree as my achievement? I don't mean in a I have a degree and no one else does kind of way. Mainly in a "I'm always looking for ways to better myself and this is how I did" kind of way. Another brainstorming I had was to talk about my education, along with fire department milestones all coming around to the fact that it has all helped make be a better firefighter and someone that can be counted on.

    I feel like I should be confident about my accomplishments, but not cocky. I know on paper I probably look better than anyone I will go against and I also feel I can hold my own "off paper" against anyone. I just want to give myself the best chance at promotion (considering getting it would involve jumping over people with several more years experience than me-which is not an idea I have ever been crazy about, but it has happened to me before, so I guess I shouldn't feel so bad if it happens).

    Any input or ideas you have would be greatly appreciated!

    Thanks!

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    What is your degree in???

    It seems that if you have worked there, they already know you have a degree

    But I think you hit it, do not foucus on the degree but wrap with everything that has got you where you are at:::

    """"I'm always looking for ways to better myself and this is how I did" kind of way. Another brainstorming I had was to talk about my education, along with fire department milestones all coming around to the fact that it has all helped make be a better firefighter and someone that can be counted on. """"

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    Thanks for the response. My degrees are in Business and Management.

    You are right about everyone in the department knowing about the schooling I have done, however I am thinking along the lines of those that will be reading the information in the application (and in the assessment center) not being affiliated with my department and therefore not knowing anything of the extra stuff about me.

    Thanks for that input, I'm pretty sure what you quoted is the route I am going to take. The question asks for one accomplishment, but lets be honest, everyone can write about one thing and probably make it sound great if that write enough about it. I think it would be good to show some diversity.

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    I agree not to focus on just the degree. How about everything you have done up until today has prepared you for this opportunity?

    I get the feeling you would probably be a little long winded in your oral board and assessment. An engineer type of mind. Trying to give a blue print when we just need a sketch. A dump truck when you just need to give us a trailer.

    You will have an opportunity to use you education in the question "What have you done to prepare for the position".

    Try this: Start with your education and keep it in chronological order. Then your experience in order. End with those things you can tie your name to. Things where you were part of a team, took something from inception to end or were part of a committee that established a procedure or skill.
    _____________________________________________

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    Capt. Bob, Great advice. You are right, I do tend to be a little long winded. I mainly don't want to leave anything out...and frankly, being passed over in the past by those greatly less qualified--I don't want to let that happen again!

    This is something I have prepared my whole career for, unlike others who start studying and trying to learn SOP's when the promotion is announced. I'll steal a quote I found: "At the moment of truth you will not rise to the level of expectation; you will fall to the level of training."

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    I completely disagree. Be proud of your accomplishments and put it right out front. This is your most substantial achievement, be proud of it.

    DO NOT let the fact that you took the initiative to go back to school and others did not lower your value. That's ABSURD! To not mention your greatest success because others may feel inferior? Give me a break. Why don't you give them all a trophy for being on the last place team too.

    Here is the way you present it:
    My greatest accomplishment is my ability to set a goal and accomplish it. I returned to school while maintaining a full time job and earned an Associates degree. When I was finished I earned a Bachelors degree. This process taught me how to set a goal and sacrafice for what I believed was important. It has also opened my eyes to the business world and how the fire department can interact with the business community as well as making me a stronger writer.

    The reality is that THEY all had the same opportunity to go to school and chose not to.

    I did the same thing. When I started I was 9 classes short of an AA degree. I completed it as well as a Bachelors and a Masters. I too heard from many the same story, "Why are you going to school, we are firemen, we put the wet stuff on the red stuff......"

    Congratulations, now put your degree to work.
    Paul Lepore
    Division Chief
    Aspiringfirefighters.com
    AspiringFireOfficers.com

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    Thumbs up Thank you!

    Thanks Chief Lepore! That all made 100% sense to me. (I had actually hoped you would respond to this post after reading some of your other posts and material!).

    I have to turn in my application package tomorrow and I planned on putting finishing touches on it today. Now, I have a little rewriting to do. I did not hide my accomplishment, but I probably didn't give it the justice it deserved. You are also very correct, every person at my department has had the same opportunities-- heck, I have told several exactly how I did what I did, the costs, and everything involved--including the chief, and none of them have taken advantage of it. I even told them I would help them along the way (not doing work, but helping them learn the ropes).

    I appreaciate the kind words!

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    Best of luck to you!
    Paul Lepore
    Division Chief
    Aspiringfirefighters.com
    AspiringFireOfficers.com

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    Quote Originally Posted by fdinspector3 View Post
    Capt. Bob, Great advice. You are right, I do tend to be a little long winded. I mainly don't want to leave anything out...and frankly, being passed over in the past by those greatly less qualified--I don't want to let that happen again!

    This is something I have prepared my whole career for, unlike others who start studying and trying to learn SOP's when the promotion is announced. I'll steal a quote I found: "At the moment of truth you will not rise to the level of expectation; you will fall to the level of training."
    It’s one thing to have your application and resume packed with credentials and another being able to present them in the assessment center and oral board. And, if you can present the package . . . you don’t get the badge. Period! I talk to people like this all the time. They are shocked that candidates you mentioned who start studying when the job announcement comes out with less credentials, seniority, the village idiot, or guys they call the “Car Salesman” type get the badge that had their name on it.

    One of the promotional tests I took the top score on the written was 136. I thought I failed with 114. I was in second place. We caught the book smart candidate in the oral. He ended up number 6. It’s all about presentation skills.

    Quote Originally Posted by fdinspector3 View Post
    Capt. Bob, Great advice. You are right, I do tend to be a little long winded. I mainly don't want to leave anything out...and frankly, being passed over in the past by those greatly less qualified--I don't want to let that happen again!
    You agreed you were long winded. Could this possibly be the reason you were passed over in the past? If I quickly picked it up so will the panel members. And, now you want to go to overkill mode to make sure that doesn’t happen again. Making a long answer endless doesn’t work in your favor. Often candidates with this game plan end up rambling, overwhelming, and boring the panel members. The panel members are intelligent beings on the other side of the table. All you have to do is to offend one member and it could be game over.

    As I mentioned above: You could have an engineer type of mind? Trying to give a blue print when we just need a sketch. A dump truck when you just need to give us a trailer. This can often be taken as being anal. Kicking it back 40% can make it a more palatable presentation.

    You’re looking for a seamless no surprised interview one question after another. Your goal is to get your top score on a question, satisfy the panel and cause them to go on to the next question. Overkilling your answers will short circuit the process. I’ve heard panel members say this guy just wouldn’t shut up. How can we put him or her in a station to drive everyone else nuts?

    We hire people not credentials and resumes.
    Last edited by CaptBob; 12-15-2011 at 11:56 PM.
    _____________________________________________

    "Nothing counts 'til you have the badge . . . Nothing!"

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    All due respect Capt. Bob, you couldn't be more wrong in this situation. I will give you the benefit of the fact that you do not know my department nor the situation and that you are speaking "in general"--I think.

    First of all, my last assessment center was actually a mini-assessment with in house evaluators. (Remember where I said this is a pretty small department...think good ol' boy system). This time around, not sure what it will bring because it is for a different position. The point I was making about the last time was that it really didn't matter if I was if I was Chief Brunaccini, I still would have been passed over. I have to put forth my best, I refuse to slack so I am not "looked down upon." Also, I agreed that I could be a little long winded...but its not with BS...and its also not all of the time. There are times when you need to be direct and to the point and other times when you need to expand upon your thoughts. I know the difference. The reason my first post was lengthy was only to try to give details about the situation so one could understand.

    If selling yourself short works, I don't want "none of it."

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    When you transition from a basic position of a firefighter to a supervisory role your responsibilities change as well. When you become a supervisor you no longer have only the objective of bettering yourself but you are also responsible for providing all the means to bettering the people under you as well. What have you done in the past to show that you will be a good leader? Have you helped in training the new rookies? Have you taken initiative in attempting to better the department as a hole? I understand as a firefighter you are limited to the things that you can do.

    You said you have some time between now and promotions. Instead of stepping on or over your current supervisor, how about step beside him and attempt to take some of the load off of his shoulders. This is done very carefully and very slowly. I just recieved a new supervisor due to shift reassignments. My previous supervisor and I had an amazing working relationship and ruled the shift together as a team. When the new supervisor came on I had to scale back and start over ensuring that I did not over step my bounds. It has been 3 months now and the two of us again have been able to pair up and I have been able to take a load off of his shoulders to assist him in making his job as a supervisor easier focusing on the tasks that he alone has to perform. Stepping along side your supervisor and assisting in any ways possible (NOT brown nosing) will also allow you to better understand the roles required and performed with the position you are looking to fill.

    Good luck with your upcoming promotional process.

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