What Have You Done for Me Lately?

Feb. 2, 2011
Remember that phrase when it comes to your career development and you will be successful.

The oral board and the fire chief rating your chief's interview wants to know! Janet Jackson had a hit song titled "What Have You Done for Me Lately?" Remember that phrase when it comes to your career development and you will be successful.

It is not uncommon to have someone complete something such as a training class, an educational accomplishment, or a day of volunteering, but not do anything more with that. I took firefighter tests for approximately four-and-a-half years before I was hired as a full-time firefighter.

It was not uncommon to take the same department's test two or three times (some departments test once a year), or be on a hiring list for five years. Yes, I was called by one department for a chief's interview, and I had been on their hiring list for five years! Because of budget reasons, that department had frozen all hiring, including the hiring list they had. Imagine that, five years (or even three years) after you completed the hiring process for a department and were placed on a hiring list, and you get a phone call for another oral board or a chief's interview!

For many people, this wouldn't be a big deal because they may have already been hired by a department they want to remain at or they have found a different calling (yes, it does happen). However, for many people it is a big problem because when they go into that interview with an updated resume (after such a time frame, it is common to have the department ask for an updated resume) or just provide their knowledge, skills, and abilities to an oral board or the fire chief, they tend to look the same as when they first went through the process a few years ago.

You may have looked like an awesome candidate when you first went through their hiring process, but now, three to five years later, you don't look that awesome because time has passed you by. Your education still looks the same, maybe your degree is yet to be completed. You have not obtained any more certificates than was shown on your first resume. You have not completed much (if any) volunteer experience either.

Do you think you stick out in a negative way - of course you do? As opposed to a candidate that was able to show a proven track record of continuing education and keeping yourself and your skills up-to-date. We want to hire that person that has kept abreast of the fire service and has not given up on themselves or their commitment to their education and their future. Giving up is one main reason why people do let their qualifications get stale and grow stagnant.

Wouldn't that just break your heart though? You had given up, not taken any more tests, and then a fire department calls you up to see if you're still interested in continuing in their process. You are jumping for joy that you still have a chance, that your dream of becoming a firefighter may still come true. However, because you failed to keep your resume up-to-date as well as your qualifications, you get beat out by someone that has.

VE PRZIBOROWSKI, a Firehouse.com Contributing Editor, is a battalion chief for the Santa Clara County, CA, Fire Department and an instructor for the Chabot College, CA, Fire Technology Program. Steve is a 16-year veteran of the fire service. He holds a master's degree in emergency services administration, has authored numerous fire service articles featured in the leading fire service publications and is a regular speaker and presenter at fire service events. He has also mentored and coached numerous entry-level and promotional level candidates. You can find valuable fire service entry level and promotional preparation information and his contact information on his website: www.chabotfire.com. Visit his website www.code3firetraining.com  for information on his upcoming classes.

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