February 5, 2013

Click to listen to the whole interview


Irene Veenhuysen thought that being a flight attendant was a “stupid job.” Back in university in her native Holland, she joined KLM “but only one summer,” she told Career Buzz listeners (Feb. 5, 2014). That was more than 20 years ago, and now she’s a KLM four-stripe purser, in charge of all cabin staff. What does she like? “When I’m working I’m going somewhere. And when I’m there I have time off to spend as I like in New York or Tokyo or Rome.”

Consider the skills and adaptability Irene needs: “If you’re on the ground and there’s a fire, you run out of the building and call 9-1-1. We can’t do that,” Irene said. “So you have to be able to deal with any kind of problem that arises when you’re 10 km up in the sky.”

Sometimes she’s a nurse or nanny, firefighter or police. The function is flight attendant or purser, but the skills draw on many other roles like “psychiatrist, if people get crazy!”

What are the clues that apply to you?  Take a page out of Irene’s playbook and name all the different roles you play at work. Do you build relationships like an ambassador? Do you help younger staff like a mentor? Or are you a leader who navigates big distances like a pilot? Naming your roles helps you claim skills you’ve developed. What’s  more, you can use these roles to communicate to others who you are and what you do. Try this: Write a brief headline for yourself (can use it on LinkedIn) using one or more role words. E.g. Ambassadorial relationship builder with a gift for mentoring

Need help identifying your skills and generating related career possibilities? Check our individual career programs. Our Career Tools Tune-Up helps you fine tune your LinkedIn profile.

Listen to the whole interview with Irene Veenhuysen.

Share it!