Archive for November, 2011

Heard any good jokes lately?

November 30, 2011

Recently, I found a discussion on LinkedIn about jokes in interviews.  Someone was actually asked to tell a joke. And the person asked the career community what one should do in this situation.

Ouch.  I’ve been trying to think what I would do.  And I can’t think of a thing.

What’s the intent here?

It could be that they want someone with a sense of humor.  Maybe they work in a high-pressure situation, and need someone who can make them laugh.  Maybe.

Or maybe they want to know how appropriate you are.  Race, ethnicity, age, size, and so on… definitely not the time to trot out the minister, priest, and rabbi.

Maybe they want spontaneity.  Think fast!

I do have a sense of humor, I do tell stories, I do think fast.  And yet, I can’t see that joke-telling is appropriate in this context.  Too stressful.

Here’s what I hope I would do:

Wow, what a great question.  Let’s get back to it when my brain is in gear. 

At the end of the interview, I’d say upon shaking hands, I know I still owe you a good joke.  You’ll hear from me.  

And my thank-you letter would begin with the greatest, newest, most relevant joke that my friends and I could come up with.

What’s your reaction to this question?  Heard a good joke lately?

Next: how would you handle….


Interview Prep 101: what’s new?

November 28, 2011

When you think about job interviews, do you mentally glaze over at preparing those strength/weakness questions?  And your five to ten-year goals?

Let’s talk about something else.

These are challenging times in and out of the workforce. And I’m hearing about new questions that are happening in interviews.  It could be fun to share what I’ve heard and what you’ve heard about new materials.  Do we know the right answers?  Possibly not, but it can be useful to look at your options.

A request:  sometime between now and December 9, send me your concerns about job interviews in 2011.  And I’ll address them as thoroughly as I can.

Coming up first:  heard any good jokes recently?

Giving Thanks wherever we are

November 24, 2011

It’s a quiet morning in Maryland, and we’re preparing for a modest dinner this afternoon, with family and two invited guests.  The menu is (I think) under control, and I’m not aware that I’ve forgotten anything.

Especially, I’ve not forgotten to be thankful.  Two legs that work, a mind that functions pretty well, health as good as it will be, family that communicates and cares about each other.  Friends that show up when you need them.  A home that is warm.  A checkbook with something in it.

And work that is exciting!  Clients who value the process of self-examination in the quest for work in which they will flourish.  Former clients who stay in touch, offering assistance and information to others.

No, I’ve not forgotten to notice the many blessings around me.  Happy Thanksgiving to all who may read this.

A Salute to Veterans

November 11, 2011

To you graduates of military service, this is your day.

Not only do I say thank you for your service (a cliche these days, but nonetheless sincere), I also want to recognize the career accomplishments  that you come home with.

You have seen a bit of the world, you have been trained in a new skill or two, you have acquired some kind of personal discipline, and (the best news) you are now eligible for some well-earned veterans’ benefits.

Listen carefully as you are briefed.  Or if that was a while ago, dig out those papers. There might be advanced education in your future.  There might be healthcare or assistance in buying a home.  There are friends to be made and cherished over the years.

For a story on a Vietnam vet’s path, check out this link.  I happen to know it’s about a really good guy, because I’m married to him.

From the Metropolitan Museum: more lessons

November 9, 2011

I’ve learned a few things from the fifty interviews in Museum: Behind the Scenes at the Metropolitan Museum of Art by Danny Danziger.

Most of the specialized workers loved art to begin with.  There’s a security guard who had fallen in love with art on a vacation to Italy.  And most report being taken to museums as children.  One even described playing hooky from school and spending the day at the Met.  The exception is a maintenance worker who took the job for the paycheck and ended up being changed by his surroundings.

All the workers enjoy watching visitors.  They eavesdrop on the crowds at special exhibits and in the permanent collections, thus taking the pulse of their customers.

And all agree that their workplace is special.  They all get the mission and are proud to be part of it.

I hope this helps all you would-be employees of a museum.  If you want to be better prepared, you should read the whole book.

There’s also a message for the rest of us.  It’s the mission thing.  Do you know why your organization exists?  Do you know about its founding?  Structure?  Governance?  Challenges for the future?  The more you understand of its background, the more fully you’ll be prepared to share your talents.

Want a museum job? Read this!

November 7, 2011

Lately I’ve been caught up in the fascinating folks that work at the Metropolitan Museum in New York City.  In Danny Danziger’s book, Museum: Behind the Scenes at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, you’ll find fifty interviews with the people who make the Met happen.  And since I have an interest in jobs in the arts, I thought I’d share a few tips for the art-bound jobseekers out there.

  1. Go to museums.  Take your kids.
  2. Develop an interest, preferably something offbeat.  (One person collected baseball cards as a kid and discovered the passion of a collector.)
  3. Let the museum staff know you exist.  That might be writing a note about a current exhibit, contributing to the library, or volunteering.
  4. Know someone.  That might be the floral designer for special events or a buddy from the army who is a night watchman.
Workers at the Met reflect a variety of backgrounds as well as a broad spectrum of jobs.  From the Honduran immigrant to the great-granddaughter of H.O. and Louisine Havemeyer (whose bequest is one of the core collections at the Met), from plumbers and security guards to curators, donors, and the director, each interviewee has a grasp of the mission of the museum, and each has a favorite work of art.  I did not know that lunch conversations among staffers often focus on “what would you save if the building were on fire” topics.
Next:  What do all these workers have in common?  And what can you learn from their stories?