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Posts Tagged ‘@The Cubicle’

Why not go further in political science? Why not go to law school?

What does that have to do with me interviewing for an assistant position in the Fundraising department? And, if I had gone to law school, I think I’d be more than a tad overqualifed for this job. I wouldn’t be interviewing for this job at all.

Better yet, two words: Excuse me?

I think you’re too smart for this job – but I’ll hire you anyway.

Let’s not bring up the huge elephant in the room – OK? You’ll only make me feel worse.

I just want to know if you enjoy perfoming data entry for 8 hours a day.

Um, how does that translate on a resume? I’d like to meet the person, however, who actually does enjoy that.

How do you deal with difficult people?

Technically, this is a valid (but very stupid and poorly executed) interview question. It’s like asking people, “What do you do when you’re bored?” It’s too ambiguous and open-ended. 

Also, it’s really suspicious – are we talking about someone in particular? (the answer: YES!)

I only want to interview people who have done external company communications for 5 years.

OK, that could be anything like email…or Facebook pages.

You need to have a 3.5 GPA in order to interview.

GPA is not the most effective screening measure. Also, if transcripts are a necessity just to talk to you, I’m less likely to apply (3.5 GPA or not).

Getting college transcripts is a real pain in the butt.

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Photo Credit: Offbeat Photography @Flickr

Photo Credit: Offbeat Photography @Flickr

They’ve been out of the job market for years.

Parents mean well, but they can give a lot of useless advice to their kids.

Especially when it comes to job searching. If your parents have been at the same place since you were in high school – they most likely haven’t had to actively look for a job in quite some time.

That being said, when they gripe at you about not finding a job – their perspective is referenced from a job market that existed 1o to 15 years ago.

Of course, they’ll bring up anecdotes about that time they were unemployed for a year in 1983 or how they had to look for a job in the bubble of the 1990s – it still won’t compare to your job search.

Why? Because they haven’t had to look for a job now.

Their contacts are in the same boat

If your parents are in the same boat as this guy – their connections may not be as strong as they once were. Since older job seekers entering the market haven’t had to look for a job in ages, they’ve probably become a little lazy and insulated from the necessities of keeping a fresh (and relevant) network.

Despite building up powerful contacts – there’ s no guarantee that your Baby Boomer parents can capitalize on them like they could several years ago.

And, by the time your Mom or Dad hits the job market – their contacts may have dwindled (if not disappeared).

The same places that won’t hire you will hire your parents

Nowadays, employers are taking advantages of the blood fest going on in the job market. Seizing upon the opportunity, they can now doubly trade in on getting cheap experience – even if it means hiring baby boomers to work at a fraction of what they could really make.

So why hire you when cheap labor comes at a better price by hiring an applicant that has twice the experience?

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When you know you’re gonna get canned

There’s all this talk that it’s common courtesy to give your employer 2 weeks notice when quitting your job. Yet, who is that really benefiting? Common opinion states that you burn bridges when you quit without notice.

I think burning bridges is a tad overrated.

Think about it, what if your employer said, “Hey Jane, we’re planning on terminating your employment next Monday, so I just thought I’d let you know as a courtesy.”

You’d probably freak out at first. Then, perhaps, you’d come to terms with your (eventual) job loss and prepare for the inevitable changes. Maybe, you’d even quit before your job’s expiration date. Yet, that’s not how it usually works. 

Employers don’t do that – there’s no common courtesy when you’re getting canned. You’re pulled into a quiet office on an otherwise ordinary Tuesday afternoon (when all your coworkers have left for a “late lunch” around 2 pm) and told by your manager that you no longer have a job.

Oh, and you have about 10 minutes to gather all your crap and get out.

Where’s the “common courtesy” in that?

So, no – all this common courtesy BS needs to go out the window. Perhaps, you’ve already received verbal warnings, been written up and are on probation. Unless you enjoy the indignity of being escorted from your (former) place of work with a shoddily assembled Trader Joe’s bag of personal items – you might as well quit.

No notice necessary. 

Giving 2 weeks notice is a death sentence

Some employers have a nasty habit of firing employees on the spot once the (very kind and courteous) employee gives a manager their obligatory 2-week notice.

If you’ve seen this happen – these managers get what they deserve. You’re actually playing it smart when you don’t give notice in these cases. What’s the point of 2 weeks of unpaid unemployment just so you can puff out your chest and say “I was courteous.”

Give me a break. You’re better off spending that time starting your job search sooner (or, if you are lucky – your new job).

What about burning bridges?

Frankly, depending on how bad the exit is – you can actually still leverage relationships from the charred remains of a burnt bridge. If you managed to alienate an entire department – or just your boss, you probably can still connect with former co-workers. This is not naive – its business. I’m not advocating that you make quitting your job without notice a habit – but there are certain situations that warrant it. 

People quit jobs for all sorts of reasons. Today’s workplace is less likely to punish you for jumping ship because job hopping is paramount for professional success. So, if you are worried about your reputation, you most likely don’t have one to worry about. Your reputation – just like your relationships – will speak for themselves.

It’s easier to blame the person doing the unexpected quitting as unprofessional and not practicing good business etiquette.

Yet, no one ever seems to question what drives people to quit jobs unexpectedly (and without notice) in the first place.

It’s never brought up that the company’s workers rather chew glass than come to work or that turnover is ridiculously high or that the CEO has a personality of a barracuda.

Also, how likely are you to refer to a former employer you hated for a reference? The relationship speaks for itself. If you’ve been dutifully practicing career multiplicity, hopefully by now you have other connections in your network to rely upon. Thus, if you are thinking about using your former manager for a recommendation for your next job – be a little realistic and move on to other potential contacts.

Furthermore, most company HR policy prevents managers from bad mouthing former employees. Some don’t even allow managers to provide recommendations or references. When looking for a new job, HR managers give title and dates worked.

And, with only your permission – salary earned.

Your staffing recruiter may ask questions like if you gave 2 weeks notice, what happened at your last job yadda yadda yadda – but if you’re smart, you can handles these questions with flair. You can say you left to pursue other opportunities.

Theoretically, you did. It’s not lying.

Other posts you may enjoy:

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Photo Credit: Regolare @Flickr

Photo Credit: Regolare @Flickr

Perhaps this post is ill-timed. Maybe, in a deep recession, I shouldn’t suggest that job hopping is (still) beneficial

Nonetheless, today, I’m interested in giving you something a little ridiculous to think about.

You can always top yourself – NOT

Besides the completely 1990’s phrasing used above – topping yourself  is not always the (greatest) end result.  

Outdoing what has already been done becomes a repeat exercise in …what?

If you are determined to best yourself over and over again as long as you can – it will ultimately become unfulfilling, not to mention, BORING.

Among other things, moving away from (or beyond?) your professional zenith requires spreading your scope of experience while maintaing focus

The tricky party is being fooled into believing a unique and forseeable set of risks are in your way.

In reality, you’re only re-hashing previous obstacles. Why accept the possibility of exhausted options when, instead, you can reinvent the same challenges over and over again?

Its a paradoxical complexity shading a simple truth: such challenges ask for very little. In fact, they may insist you become medicore (on the inside) bit by bit.  

Have principles. Learn to walk away

Dave Chappelle essentially gave Comedy Central the kiss of death when he refused to return to Chappelle’s Show. The common knowledge – opinion? – is that the comedian felt his style of comedy was becoming warped by the writers and producers.

Others contend that he was crazy and out of control.

This is not the first time people have travelled down a successful road, danced with greatness and then, moved on. Despite what the world may think about such actions, acting upon them empowers you beyond the usual shifts in career and job adventures.

Instead of becoming subdued by your own power and success, take it at “face value.” Respect it for what it is – and what it isn’t.

Respect for your work (and yourself) requires handling decisions on whether to exploit it and your talents for fame or fortune. Prepare to live with the consequences of accepting or rejecting either of those paths.

Once that is done – you can walk away- and have it be your choice.

Leave a Mystery

Knowing everything you could possibly know about something leaves little to wonder about. What happens?

You move on. The allure is lost because your interest depletes to zero. In an information saturated world, you aren’t necessarily growing just because the knowledge is there.

Leaving mysteries expands the the 3-dimensionality of your career. If you are interested in expanding your professional peak without becoming stale, engage in a mystery.

In short, fresh perspectives breathe new life into your own professional vision.

Being at your peak has little to do with how much you already know, but what little there is left to find out. 

How far are you stretching your current knowledge? What are you giving others to discover and what are you discovering from them?

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Photo Credit: Brymo @Flickr

Photo Credit: Brymo @Flickr

Narrowing your scope – keeping your eyes on the (stupid) prize

Instead of broadening your vision for the future, you’re worrying (a bit too much) about finding your next job. Obviously, if you have bills to pay and mouths to feed – your sense of urgency is more immediate.

Yet, even with (or without) those things, the unemployed rigidly stick to making it next to the hurdle. Remember: it’s only during the breaks and stop gaps that we get to recoup, reinvent and restabilize where our career and life are heading.

In the end, a job is what you want – but that narrow focus can cause you to miss other opportunities that may not present themselves again. The problem is not finding a job – it is keeping yourself sane (and satisfied) while you look for one.

The trick: Remembering what you like to do when you actually had this much time on your hands

Expecting more of the same (over and over again)

In other words, your Plan A is also your Plan B, and C and so on. As a seasoned job hopper, I’ve always been able to bounce back. I’m not going to blame the economy or my (lack of) willpower (OK, maybe just a little).  Instead, the disease of my indifference to job hopping  can be a suitable scapegoat for this scenario.

Job hopping is not always hopping up – sometimes you need to slip a rung or two if you want to add to your skill arsenal. If you jump from one professional venture to the other without much forethought, you may doom yourself to unrealistic expectations of the job market (and your place in it).

This is tricky territory because job hopping has a mixed bag of positives and negatives. In this case, if you have been job hopping within an industry in a downturn –  reasonably tweak your expectations. If you are looking for a career change, be prepared to make broad exceptions.

Question to answer: Is it time for career change, industry change or a change altogether?

Embracing Agoraphobia – in a big way

Some of the (un)expected side effects of joblessness is the amount of freedom and time that is suddenly thrust upon you. Nonetheless, you haven’t left the house in days. Maybe, like most job seekers, you are patrolling Internet job sites, mass emailing potential employers, contacts and God-knows-who else.

You’re glued to your computer looking for opportunities that might not be there. Yet, a lot of this activity is solitary in nature and only compounds the reality that you are not in an office or surrounded by other people. 

Life becomes radically different when the usual 8 hours is not dictated by someone else. It feels liberating… at first. Yet, for some, the sheer velocity of trying to maintain and create a centered routine can be overwhelming. That’s why it’s so important to give yourself the task of being active outside your home as well as within it.

If you go somewhere as prosaic as a coffee shop and read The Onion – that’s fine. Immerse yourself in an environment where there will be people, voices, noise and activity.

If you are introverted (like me) you’ll only leave as soon as you get there to relieve yourself of the stress of being in a crowded environment. Don’t. Do yourself a favor and surround yourself with the world outside your home.

Don’t sequester yourself from it.

Today’s Task: Leave the house. Immediately.

You aren’t working for free

Unemployment doesn’t mean unproductive. When given 8 hours to do whatever we see fit – the monkeys start to escape from the cages.  Volunteering while you are out of work can be your saving grace. You already know that the best job development comes at the highest price: your time.

So, don’t waste hours in front of a Monster job board when you could be learning something you always wanted.

Or, if you find the right opportunity, you’re developing the “defining moments” of your career. Usually, this means giving yourself the incentive to move on to something else while working on something new.

Semantics vs. Perspective: Think of it as a job sabbatical

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Obo-bobolina @Flickr

Photo Credit: Obo-bobolina @Flickr

You can’t get a word in. When you do, it’s glossed over like you are talking about the weather. You are ignored.

Or, at least it feels like it. Lots of twenty somethings complain that their superiors look over their ideas or outright ignore their creativity in the workplace.

Cue rolling eyes and huffy sighs

Frustration is inevitable when one has so many ideas they want to implement – if only their boss would just listen to them!

Contribution and creativity are, in reality, two different things in the workplace. Effective contributions generate ideas that have a foreseeable (and achievable) impact on a company or department’s bottom line, operations or strategical methods (or all three). They are not necessarily plans that have the “wow” factor attached to them or implement the never-seen-before-or heard-before ideas.

Creativity ignores that – not in a bad way, though.

Creativity doesn’t follow the route of necessarily being practical. It tends to be big. It creates new (or side) projects. It requires a leap of faith or someone with guts. Creativity may not always be effective. Yet, it damn sure is interesting (to the creator, at least). 

If, however, you are able to successfully merge creativity with an effective contribution – then, you may boost yourself out of the Middle Child Syndrome.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with creativity. It, nonetheless, may have little to do with work. Here is what you can do in the meantime to get over your MCS:

Ignore

As long as your own work is not in peril, it may be best to “act like it’s not happening.” Depending on the hierarchy in your company, your boss and co-workers might not be ready to bask in the light of your sunny ingenuity. Don’t let that stop you from being your wonderful, creative self.

Keep coming up with new ideas – they’ll be useful.

Tone it down

Are you running down your boss (mercilessly) to get your point across? For example, its’ 8:05 a.m., you and your boss are at the Flavia machine and you hound her with all your “great” ideas for getting involved with social media.

Your boss is a 57 year old Baby Boomer who thinks Facebook is stupid. And, the last thing she wants to hear (for the 8th time) is you cheerleading for blogging, twittering or whatever else.

You have to dole your creativity out in small doses. Don’t stampede people with it – spoon feed instead.

Don’t Whine

“No one listens to me – and I have really great stuff to say!” Ugh. That’s one way to alienate everyone in the office. Don’t (openly) complain about how you are not getting the attention you think you deserve.

Be open and cheery. Whining is a major turn off. Who wants to talk to a whiny (Gen Y) brat?

Find a connector

This is especially helpful for women in predominantly male environments. Gender differences in communication (and creativity) will always exist. Therefore, if you have someone who can help support your innovation, it most certainly can’t hurt. Recognize that nothing gets done alone.

Find an evangelist for your ideas.

If that fails, connect with someone who can help you do the following:

  • Tweak your ideas so that they can better fit with the personality and goals of the company
  • Better address the priorities of the company or department
  • Target you towards existing projects that need a fresh jolt of energy and creativity

Chemistry

Sometimes, the frictions are more personal than professional. It can be hard to fit into a new environment and doubly difficult when the chemistry is off kilter. There are ways to fix this, but it takes time. Spend your time being likeable and dependable, implementing creativity will surely follow.

Good ideas and plans don’t expire, so don’t rush yourself.

What do you think of MCS? Do you think there is more to MCS than just having your ideas ignored?

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Stewf

Photo Credit: Stewf @Flickr

Inspiration is viral – I’ve been bugged.

Nisha Chittal and Aman Sanghara wrote posts regarding the validity and usefulness of Liberal Arts degrees. 

They’re sparking an already long standing debate on whether or not lib arts majors/degrees serve any professional (or social) value beyond having wonderful cocktail conversation at parties.

Essentially, I’m biased. But, I’m going to tell you that there are drawbacks that come with being a math and science brainiac.

My boyfriend was an electrical engineering and physics major in college. He designs light bulbs. He’s quite good at it. And, he constantly nags me about turning off the lights. He hates light.

Don’t ask.

Currently, he’s pursuing his masters degree in product development. What’s that? I can’t really tell you. Yet, from what I can tell, you learn the ins and outs of how to design, market and sell anything.

So far, half of  the curriculum has included classes on communication.

One in particular is the art of negotiation.

Dealing with the abstract frustrates those who manage the concrete – the absolute known. It annoys them in a myriad of ways. They also make no bones about letting you know how useless they think it is.

And, the reason it’s useless?

I can’t argue with your emotions. I can’t measure that,” says my boyfriend. Oh, lord – did you catch that word – measure?

Since there is no immediate and obvious value in the argument, it’s dismissed. Everything’s an argument – there aren’t discussions.  Compromise? Does not compute. And, if you catch them in place where they don’t think the argument can be won – you hear this: “We’ll agree to disagree.”

Technically minded folks are just as apt (if not more likely) to shut down during a negotiation. Concrete thinkers don’t work in abstract because the whole world is in black and white. Well, at least their world. It makes them uncomfortable to venture beyond that.

Unfortunately, that can make them very poor negotiators. When you are constantly seeking a yes or no, wanting either/or and not allowing a but, you lose out on a whole lot more than you bargained for.

Obviously, of course, not all negotiations are abstract. Some are concrete and allow little room for compromise. But, in those cases, technically minded negotiators take everything at face value. They fail at trying to probe for the deeper meaning.

After all, there are no hidden meanings in a math equation. This plus that equals outcome.

Negotiations, however, are more complex than that. But, we already know that, don’t we my fellow liberal arts majors? We have to round out theories with facts, but we aren’t tethered to the terms of right or wrong. Actually, it’s quite liberating when you aren’t limited by finite and measurable data. You’ve got a lot more possibilities.

That’s why they call studies like political science, history, economics, etc.  the social sciences. It involves understanding how people fit into the world, not the other way around. It’s centers on finding the balance (and appreciating it) between the concrete and the abstract.

I’m not saying that the sciences have no value – of course not! I’m only annoyed that science majors want to place competing (or better) value on their education based on something like salary or that they work in “numbers” (or, oddly enough, an intangible idea of validity in the professional world).

It’s lame, quite frankly.

The art of being professionally engaging is negotiating your own talents and interests with relevance to the world and the people in it. I’m hoping my boyfriend is at least learning that in his communication classes.

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