Archive for June, 2011

Grudge-holding across the decades

June 24, 2011

Some job-seekers preparing for interviews do themselves in by their anger.  It shows, believe me, it shows.  And so we spend time exploring the feelings of rejection, fear, discouragement, doubt, and other negative stuff that will only get in the way of a positive job search.

WordPress challenges us to wonder about the longest-held grudge in our own lives.

Embarrassing to admit.  It’s my kindergarten teacher, who gave me an Unsatisfactory in art.  My mother followed up with an inquiry.  And the teacher was ready with her answer:  Anne has not learned the rules.  She keeps putting the wrong colors together.  She still puts pink next to red, blue next to green.

Ouch.  Tears were shed.  My mother had feared that not following the rules might mean I was throwing paint at others, but no.  There are rules to be followed in the placement of color.

They tell me that Randall School still exists in Madison, Wisconsin.  And every other experience in that school was wonderful for my brother and me.  Still, I wonder if that rigid message contributes to my joy in being a docent at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, DC.  I’d love to tell Mrs. whatshername that the place is filled with women artists who didn’t follow the rules.  And we are the better for it.

Those rigid personalities tried to explain the rules to Rosa Bonheur, Frida Kahlo, Alma Thomas, and Georgia O’Keeffe.

These strong women are the answer to me:  the enforcers are ultimately wrong.  Wise teaching for all of us, especially those preparing for job interviews.

Courage: innate or acquired?

June 20, 2011

Job seekers realize they will need to be courageous to pursue and achieve their goals.  But do they have enough courage to succeed?

I firmly believe this trait can be developed.  You have the beginnings within you – we all do.  And like any other long-dormant muscle you possess, you need to warm up and then exercise it.

Enter the career coach.  When I’m coaching, I’m helping you set goals.  Here’s a list for today:

  • one phone call to someone new,
  • one contact with a former co-worker,
  • one small job around the house,
  • one quiet period,
  • one physical activity,
  • one update of a tool, such as your LinkedIn account.
After doing this today, you’re going to feel a certain (small) sense of accomplishment.  And guess what?  You get to do it again tomorrow…and tomorrow…and tomorrow…
Is courage innate or acquired?

What do you care about?

June 16, 2011

This is a question I use in doing an intake with a client.  It might sound like this:

  • For what you would make a speech by choice?
  • What do you feel passionately about?
  • About what might you go into a rant?
And I get answers.  I hear about the environment, politics (but less than you would think), the well-being of children, the safety of food, animal welfare, and senior citizens. Nobody says there’s nothing.
This is huge to me. From this list of passions, you can take your skills, interests, and personality, and consider a career in a place where others share your concerns.  No, we won’t agree on everything.  But we can agree to get excited about it.
As for me, I care about recycling, healthy eating, gas mileage, family ties, personal advancement, and enduring friendships.  I care about community and caring.  Stray cats.  Old china. The ten commandments.  I can go on and on.   Do these things contribute to being a career counselor?  I like to think that  they do, partly because they remind me to listen to what makes you unique and interesting.  Because you are.
What do you care about?

When one size doesn’t fit all; trying on a new resume format

June 6, 2011

It’s a lot of work, choosing, editing, and then formatting your resume.  And then there’s feedback:

  • I can’t tell from this what you want to do…
  • I thought you wanted to do something different…
  • This is too long/short/choppy/flowery.
Wait – there is a way to try on formats with no work at all.  I just finished playing with a feature on LinkedIn that was new to me.  You can let LinkedIn do the work for you in a handful of different formats, allowing you to see yourself the way an employer would.  Then you can decide for yourself which one shows you to the best advantage.
Ready, you LinkedIn members?  Go to Resume Finder and then start choosing and clicking.  Amazing.  I’m grateful to the people at for calling attention to this tool.  I never knew you could acquire a handful of resumes by an equal number of clicks.  Worth exploring!
And if you don’t like the resume content, it might be time to revisit your LinkedIn profile and bring it up to date. This is, after all, what people are reading about you.  It is your informal, online resume, for better or for worse.  Make it for better.

Awash in friendliness – enough!

June 4, 2011
  • What did you do this week-end?
  • Did you have a cook-out?
  • What are your plans for today?
  • What are you going to do with all that money?
Stop already!  You bank tellers – you know who you are!  I do not wish to tell you of my plans.  We all understand – you have had training on being friendly, and by golly, you’re doing it.  To the extreme.
Friends, try this:  ask your colleagues/neighbors/relatives what happens when they go to the bank.  I did this the other day, and was shocked at what I heard.  I was venting about being cross-examined about my Memorial Day week-end.  (Did I cook?  Go elsewhere?  How else did I observe the holiday?)  Do they want to hear about the laundry, sleeping in, checking email, and oh yes, my unremarkable grilling?
A young friend said that when she made a withdrawal from Bank of America, the teller actually asked what she was going to do with that money.  The bank customer, a new college graduate, admitted that she was beginning to consider making up stories to answer those pesky, intrusive questions. How ridiculous!
I’m thinking of saying something to the branch manager, but I fear being labeled that old grouchy lady.
I’ve taught customer service myself, and I do realize that the purpose is to establish rapport.  I get fidgety with the usual questions (It’s really hot today!  Just wait a few weeks!), but I can tolerate them.  But this new trend – getting way too personal – is making me uncomfortable.
What do we do?  If anyone from Capital One is reading this…. please consider toning it down.
Suggestions?  Does anyone like this so-called friendliness?

What can I say?

June 1, 2011

A few months ago, some nice folks named Chip Hiden and Alexis Irvin approached me about helping them with a documentary project on people who have found their passion and who work at it.  Sure, I love this topic!

They came to my house, interviewed me, filmed every blessed minute (including ringing phones and the occasional “you’re got mail”), and left.

And today came great news.  They have finished the teaser, and are working on the final editing of their film.  You can see an excerpt (featuring yours truly along with some of their superstars who follow their passion and make a living). If you find this a great message to convey, you can learn how you can contribute to the effort.

Chip and Alexis have courage.  And so do the people they portray.  The career counselor, who probably hankered after a life in Hollywood for about five minutes in the third grade, is relieved that the filming is over.

What do you think of the topic of following your passion?  Have you succeeded?  Are you at least on the path?