Archive for January, 2012

We’re not a good fit – huh?

January 30, 2012

I’m hearing it frequently these days.  A phone message from a former client or a new one, expressing concern and frustration.  “We’re just not a good fit, so we are letting you go” –  What does that mean?

Maybe it’s humane.  Like no-fault divorce or no-fault fender-benders.  If so, hmm, I guess that’s okay.  Maybe they will say that in a reference check and that’s not a bad thing.

Recently I heard it from someone who was nearing the end of the probationary period.  In this situation, it might mean just exactly that.  Someone was looking down the road and didn’t like the sight.  We aren’t a good fit. 

I think the underlying question is this:  is the poor fit about skills or personality?  

May I suggest something?  In the interest of tact, you managers can stick with We’re not a good fit.  You know how to say it and it avoids conflict.  But if you would be willing to add just a bit of constructive feedback about skills and your organizational outlook, the pain can be lessened.  Try this:

  • We’re just not a good fit.  We are uncertain as to whether we are continuing our in-house publications, and we know that’s your specialty.
  • We’re just not a good fit.  We are a small outfit that doesn’t match your international experience.
  • We’re just not a good fit. Financially, there is no future for this position.

Employers, please be positive about the employee’s potential.  Stress a marketable skill or two, offer a specific accomplishment as a reference point, and thank the not-a-good-fit person for being a valued (if short-term) colleague.  Manners go a long way in the healing process.

A special birthday reflection

January 17, 2012

When your daughter has a birthday, it makes a mother stop to think.  Was it so many years ago that I first held this beautiful creature?  Does everyone feel she has the cutest, smartest, funniest kid?  (Maybe, maybe not, but I really did have two little wonders!)

Amy, I know this is a tough time, but those of us who have known you for (….) years are confident that you will come through the stormy times triumphantly, returning to your gifts of teaching, speaking, writing, and caring.

You’re in a career swamp right now and the compass is not within sight.

To you and to all mid-lifers who are stuck in the career doldrums, I wish you a great day.  May you all be secure in the knowledge that you are loved and valued.

Are you lucky? Save it for the interview.

January 13, 2012

A colleague recently told me that she had heard that the latest, trendiest interview question is this:  Are you lucky?

Yes? No?Maybe?

I actually love this question, because it gives you the opportunity to reveal your gifted self.

Sample answers:


I’ve been lucky enough to work with some great people, and together we have accomplished a lot.  For instance…

I was raised in a family that valued education.  Books were the main source of entertainment, and …

The most recent luck was when a neighbor, who knew I was jobhunting, mentioned this opening.


I don’t really believe in luck.  I believe in hard work, learning by doing, including making mistakes.  I am a good communicator, and I am committed to seeking help when I need it.

I’m not sure what you mean by luck.  I think we create that thing called luck by putting ourselves in a position to take advantage of opportunities.  But no, Lady Luck has not come calling recently.


By luck, do you mean coincidence?  I’ve had plenty of that, often through being in a place where like-minded people can be found.  At the college job fair, I struck up a conversation with….

I was chatting with a friend, who said she liked something I had written and would like to help promote it.  Was that luck?  Well, it wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t sent her the copy.

What about you – are you lucky?  And are you ready to answer that question in an interview?

More on Mushrooming and how to avoid it

January 6, 2012

Here are a few more thoughts by Katherine Coram, a newly-retired federal worker, who is writing on time management issues.  She shares a few suggestions on how to avoid the time-waster of exaggerating the demands of what you are doing:

  • Think about how much time the activity really requires and allow it that in your daily schedule. 
  • Limit how much time you put into an activity based on its value and whether you are actually accomplishing what you are trying for. You can always quit a household task or a writing session in the middle.
  • Try to schedule several activities for one trip out of the house.
  • If you have something scheduled, plan something else for before and after.
  • Above all, keep your sense of proportion.  Remember, most mushrooming takes place in your own mind. Ask yourself regularly;  is this worth the time I am putting into it? How can I change?

Remember. Maybe for the first time in your life–this is YOUR Time.

Thank you, Katherine.  I hope you’ll share other insights on time management with us on this blog.

Warning for the new retiree – Beware of Mushrooming!

January 5, 2012

Today it is my pleasure to offer you some wisdom from a recently-retired colleague, Katherine Coram.  She is reflecting and writing on aspects of successful retirement, and herewith presents a suggestion for you:

Beware of “mushrooming”—the tendency of minor time commitments to take up a whole lot more time  and attention than they deserve.

A doctor’s appointment, shopping trip, social engagement or volunteer commitment that you would previously have squeezed in can become a full-day focus. I teach a one hour class, but I manage to put most of the day into preparing for it, getting dressed, and feeling virtuous afterward.

Activities around the house can mushroom too, especially since housecleaning and yard work DO take us more time.

If you decide to do a part time job or consult or freelance, it can easily take up as much of your time and energy as your full-time job did.

You can even fall into preparing a couple days ahead for an activity that doesn’t require it. A friend told me about  her mother focusing much of her week on the day she had to take out the trash.

If you would have ideas on mushrooming or would like to read more of my thoughts on time management in retirement, please email me at

Katherine Coram is a former Federal employee, who is still trying to work out this retirement thing.

Thank you, Katherine.  I had not heard the term mushrooming as an aspect of time management.   Does anyone out there identify with the temptation of filling a day with a small matter?

Next:  how to avoid the mushrooming phenomenon.

2012: What’s a Career Counselor to Do?

January 3, 2012

Happy New Year to you.  Are you taking stock, making plans, setting goals?  This year, I’m skipping that usual stuff about losing 10 pounds, de-cluttering the basement, putting more time in the garden.  Maybe those things will happen, maybe not.

I’m excited to share the following plans with you, and ask your help in holding me to them:

  • Create more book reviews of works that may be useful to career changers/seekers,
  • Write more blog postings focusing on the good news of the economic recovery, including success stories,
  • Make presentations on how to get and how to leave jobs,
  • Assist my clients in establishing more effective networks of their own.
  • Continue to accept new clients into my practice until April 1, after which time I will only make appointments with existing clients.

About that last point; the time has come to wind down my private practice.  I will not stop working with the wonderful people I already have or that I may meet during the first quarter of 2012.  This is a  difficult decision, because I love being part of people’s stories and walking with them on their journeys for a brief time.  And it will be hard to say no.

If you have thoughts on successfully transitioning into retirement, I’d love to hear them.