The one term you can guarantee to find in any CV, after 'enthusiastic' and 'self-motivated', is 'transferable skill'. I recently found this stamped on an application from some young buck wanting to work as a project manager. He declared that three years of bar work and six months as a hospital porter had granted him 'transferable skills' that qualify him to run heterogeneous teams of designers, contractors, engineers and salespeople.
If I had been drinking coffee at the time I would have spat it out in mirth but, as it happens, my PA refuses to make it. In fact, it is the lack of good coffee that has driven me to recruit. I advertised for a project manager by mistake through the internal recruitment system we run, but decided to stick with it to save face with those judgemental folk in HR. After all, crafting a top-notch latte is a project of sorts, and the aforementioned candidate's bar experience had potential.
Last week I had
my own annual HR review, in which
I was gawped
at over square-rimmed glasses and asked questions such
as, "Do you feel part of the corporate family?" and "What do you think has been
your greatest contribution
to the company this year?" It was during this torturous hour that my mind wandered... initially to the office assistant, whose coffee was so refreshingly good I was seriously considering whether the repercussions of recruiting him to my department were worth it. I decided the irony of recruiting directly from this magnolia backwater of a department would probably be lost on them, but made a mental note to give it a bash anyway. This provoked a return to musing about 'transferable skills' and whether, despite spending a decade or two trotting about Europe for this company, I actually had any.
That evening I asked Mrs Business Lifer if she could identify any 'transferable skills' I might possess. She laughed and made some facetious comment about struggling to spot any 'skills' whatsoever. Only this morning, as I was writing out a plan of action for doing up the kitchen, having finished the itinerary for this weekend's family trip to Cumbria, did I realise my very own 'transferable skill'.
Like Newton with his apple, Archimedes in his bathtub, and President Bush with a phonetic dictionary — I realised with joy that I had the ability to 'project manage'. I had to be sure so I went through common attributes of the best project managers I knew. They all maintain a tedious attention to detail, like to call in well before work and command you to do something, strut about as if they are extremely important and have an annoying habit of summarising conversations and emails midflow. It turns out I'm just as pompous and manipulative as the best of them. I feel like writing a CV now, with 'transferable skills' in every sentence, just for kicks and giggles.
Our entrepreneurial correspondent travels the world in search of business, soft beds and good breakfasts.
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