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For the past 15 years, I've worked in the telecommunications industry and have been retrenched from nearly all of them.

Thinking back, I didn't manage by career path at all. I just took whatever came along to pay the bills and was too comfortable to search for better opportunities even when the axe was coming down.

My resume seems to be getting me interviews but during the interviews, employers always find that I lack depth in each of the areas I am being interviewed for, namely :

  • software engineering
  • system administration
  • systems engineer

My question is, how do I convince the interviewer that my variety of experience shows that I can probably acquire the skills easily over time?

Thanks.


Currently : 3 months into retrenchment and still looking for work.

History: I started out as a software engineer doing code maintenance for photocopiers. This was a US MNC that eventually went the way of Kodak. Then I was in QA for another US MNC in the telecomms industry. It wasn't Apple, so it tanked as well. I then joined as a build engineer in another telecomms company and it wasn't Android and it tanked as well.

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    It's not your CV that you need to look at. You are getting interviews. Instead, you need to think how you are answering in the interview. That is where your problem lies. – Jane S Jun 9 '15 at 8:12
  • Yes I agree. That was my question as well. Thanks! – user1862212 Jun 9 '15 at 9:01
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    For one how you say it. "Can probably acquire the skills easily over time". That would not give an interviewer a lot of confidence. – paparazzo Jun 9 '15 at 9:09
  • employers always find that I lack depth in each of the areas I am being interviewed for - Whenever this happens, are you writing down the question the interviewer asked and the answer(s) you gave? – Brandin Jun 9 '15 at 10:01
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You could give examples of times in the past when you had to quickly learn a new skill or solve a problem that required a skillset that you didn't previously have, but had to compensate for, for example debugging a piece of code in a language you hadn't learned. The best way to convince interviewers that you can do something is show that you've done it before and done it well.

Give examples of learning resources you are aware of and/or use regularly to upskill, such as online courses. If you are currently doing any courses, list them. If you plan to do any, mention them. Maybe say a little about your learning process, how you learn, how much you enjoy learning, what motivates you to learn, etc.

Show that you know what skills you would need for the job and demonstrate your commitment to learning those skills.

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The three areas you list for which you're being told you don't have enough depth for (software engineering, system admin, systems engineering) are really far apart in terms of skill set and job-function. If you're entertaining interviews in all three, perhaps it is your job search that is actually unfocused? If your resume is getting you the interviews, then it has already done its job!

Your background might translate quite well if you interview in other telecom companies, but it could be problematic for other types of companies whose interviewers don't have a clue what someone in telecom actually does (I know, I work in telecom hardware, and have dabbled in other domains).

In the interviews you'll have to describe your past work in a way the interviewer can understand. This would include the scope and the scale of your work, but do it in a way that completely avoids all use of jargon that is specific to telecom. You can't assume the interview understands even the most basic thing about your past work. More importantly, you then need to explain how your past work explicitly relates to what they're looking for.

Finally, it is really hard to make a case for being able to learn something which is required "on the job", nonetheless, everyone in every nontrivial job has had to learn and do new things. As the other answer said, provide compelling examples where you've done this. You may find that large companies are typically less receptive to quick learners and prefer to look for experience while smaller companies are more flexible about accepting different skill sets.

If you do work in telecom again, I would recommend getting out well before you get cut. Telecoms are "mean" there's no plus side to staying on the sinking ship. On the bright side, in the telecom business, you can usually see it coming months if not years in advance.

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