Using Practical Knowledge To Get the Job
Estimated Lesson Time: 4 minutes
Gordy has been working on his own for the last 20 years as a hair stylist. He has no college education and no experience in the “corporate world,” yet yearns to enter the business world. However, his lack of self-confidence and his skewed perception of what employers are looking for keep him from getting any of the jobs for which he applies. Good news for Gordy—his best chance to get the job he desires is by acquiring the practical knowledge needed for the position. The reason this is good news is that practical knowledge does not take four years and $100,000.00 to acquire.
We can categorize knowledge into three areas. Each has its advantage and use in life.
General Knowledge. This consists of the basics such as reading, writing, and arithmetic. It also includes facts and figures, dates and history, and people and places. We spend the majority of our childhood and youth learning general knowledge. It is general knowledge that allows us to function in society, build a foundation on which we can begin to acquire specific or practical knowledge, and win at Trivial Pursuit®.
Specific Knowledge. Once we have chosen a field of study to pursue, we acquire specific knowledge—specific to the chosen field. This is the information we learn in trade school or the latter years of college. Many corporations list as a prerequisite specific knowledge in the form of higher education.
Practical Knowledge. This is the knowledge that is even more specific to the work one has chosen to pursue. This includes knowledge of the organization itself, the specific duties of the job, understanding the market in which the organization operates—basically, the knowledge needed to perform the specific job.
Having practical knowledge alone certainly does not guarantee you a job. There are positions that have requirements, especially those regulated by government such as lawyers, doctors, airplane pilots, and others. In addition, public corporations may be hiring for image rather than for finding the one who can best do the job. Of course, these allegations would be denied due to discrimination laws, but in order to please stockholders, some corporations will hire the gray haired, ivy league degreed, racially and sexually balanced employees that have more letters after their names than in them. So unless you fit their public image profile, your chances of getting the job are slim.
Having practical knowledge really pays off when it comes to applying for a job with a smaller, more entrepreneurial organization. This is an organization in which the person doing the hiring is more concerned with the profitability of the organization than being criticized for his or her hiring decision. As an employer, I can confirm that hiring employees who already know the business and the industry can save months of training, loss of productivity, and money that would otherwise have to be allocated to getting the new employee up to speed.
Here are some suggestions for acquiring the practical knowledge needed to increase your chances of getting the job you desire.
- Visit the organization’s website. Most websites contain a wealth of information about the organization itself. Learn about the history of the organization, read any information on the principals and other members of the organization, and most of all, be familiar with what the organization markets.
- Learn about the organization’s market. Who are the organization’s customers? How does the organization get its customers?
- Learn about the organization’s industry. How big is the industry? How long has it been around? Who are the major players? Who are the organization’s greatest competitors?
It is a good idea to demonstrate some of your practical knowledge in your cover letter, or by sending an e-mail to the person in charge of hiring. A demonstration of your practical knowledge will put you at a great advantage over the other applicants. It is true that acquiring this practical knowledge takes more time and effort than just sending a resume or filling out a standard application, but it will be well worth it.
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Some discussion questions (some may not apply to this lesson):
- Have you implemented this idea in your life? How has it been working for you?
- Do you have any interesting stories related to this lesson? Do tell!
- What do you admire most about this person? (success biography days)