Take the Interview

Happy new year!  I hope you are staying safe and healthy and ready to jump into 2022 with both feet.

As I’ve said several times recently, this is a wacky job market. There is huge demand in food service, warehouse work, and other trades. There is a significant number of voluntary quits in all arenas, which means that those jobs need to be filled by someone else.  I expect the employment activity this first quarter of 2022 to be through the roof. It is a great time to be job seeker.

So, let’s imagine what would otherwise be an unusual scenario.  Say you apply for a job that you are only lukewarm about, but they call you for an interview. What do you do?  You could pass because you really don’t want the job, and I just told you that there were plenty more fish in the sea, right?

Take the interview! There are at least three good reasons that you should take the interview and go into it as if this is the best job ever.

  1. Practice – To land the job you really want, you need to be good at being interviewed. This gives you the best possible practice. You get to hear and respond to questions, gauge the interviewer’s reaction, and practice your questioning techniques.
  2. Networking – Even if you don’t think you want this job, you might learn about a different job at this company, or you might be able to include the recruiter and/or hiring manager in your network to help find a job someplace else.
  3. You might like the job – Want ads are tiny slices of jobs, designed to attract candidates and to weed out the unqualified.  You won’t really know what the duties, the work environment, etc. are just by reading the job posting.  But, by going through the interview process and talking with people, you might find out that this job is better than you thought.

Let’s be real, what the worst thing that can happen by interviewing for a job you don’t think you want?  Maybe you waste a couple of hours of time.  Maybe you run into your current boss in the HR office (awkward).  Maybe you have to turn down an offer.  Those are all pretty small risks.  If you get a chance to go through the job interview process, take it. The practice alone is worth your investment in time, and maybe it will turn out even better than you expected.  If you need some help with your job search, try this: https://im-fired.com/about-the-book/.

Happy Holidays

Friendly reader and job seeker. I’m dealing with some technical issues so I’m going to take a few weeks off, enjoy the holidays and get things taken care of. I’ll be back with more job hunting help after the first of the year.

I wish you, and your family, all the best for these holidays and fantastic success in your job search efforts in 2022.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Feliz Navidad, Happy Kwanzza, and Happy New Year.

In the meantime,  if you need some tips on how to make the most of your search, this might help https://im-fired.com/about-the-book/. Also makes a great stocking stuffer!


This week I took a course on time management. The basics that have been taught forever are still true.  You need to do what matters most first, and then let your schedule be filled in by all the rest.  If you need some resources to improve your time management I suggest you check out Do What Matters Most – either the book or the training – or First Things First – either the book or the training.  But what I was thinking about as I went through this course was all of the ways that I’ve failed in applying these techniques in the past.

I read The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People probably 35 years ago, and it blew my mind. I’ve reread it several times since, and I’ve taught the seven habits in many workshops.  Habit 2 – begin with the end in mind, and Habit 3 – put first things first, form the core of time management. The challenge to the 7 Habits is that second word, habits. For these techniques to really work you need the discipline to practice them every day – to make them habits.  And when you do that, you will be unstoppable.

But what gets in the way?  Lots of things.  Life throws you curveballs. Plans change.  But more than anything else, the think that gets in the way, at least for me, is – me.  I procrastinate. As my father used to say, “why do today what you can put off until tomorrow?”  In many ways I am my father’s son.

But there is a bigger question.  Why do we procrastinate?  Usually, it’s because we don’t want to do something. If I set a plate of cookies in front of you, who’s going to say, “I’ll save mine for tomorrow?”  You like to eat cookies, and if they are right there, you do.  There is no procrastinating. But, what if you are supposed to be contacting strangers to schedule networking meetings?  Or filling out a job application for a job you’re not sure you really want?  That’s when procrastination kicks in.

When you are looking for a job, and for the rest of your life, you need to learn to do what matters most.  Find the tools, techniques, discipline you need to make those calls, fill out those applications, send those thank you notes, and do your research.  Very few of us can find our next, best job just by sitting around and eating cookies.  We need to stop procrastinating, and get it done.  If you need some tips on how to make the most of your search, this might help https://im-fired.com/about-the-book/.

Working Remotely

About 6 months ago I posted about remote work. There are more and more jobs available where you can work from home some, or all the time. But, before you apply for those, I encourage you to take a hard look in the mirror.

Remote work is not for everyone. A few months ago, I facilitated two workshops on how to manage remote workers. One of the things that I learned from developing those workshops was that being a successful remote worker is a two-way street. Yes, there are things the organization and your manager need to do to help you be successful. But there are also some things you need to do as well.

Working remotely requires discipline. You must be able to avoid the distractions that live in your home, like dirty dishes, laundry, the television, food in the kitchen, mowing the lawn, your children, and the list goes on and on. An advantage of going to the office is you typically leave your house and go someplace else – ON TIME – and you leave those distractions at home. When you work remotely, you really just need to roll out of bed and walk 10-50 steps to where you work, and you bring all of those distractions with you. To be successful, you need to be able to clearly separate “at work” from “at home,” even when “at work” may still be in the corner of your bedroom.

Secondly, you need a place to work, not just sitting on the couch or lying on your bed with your laptop on your lap. That can work for an hour or so, but you can’t do that 40-hours a week. The kitchen table is better, if you are home alone, but distracting otherwise, and you have to put everything away every night. Really, you need a desk or table, a good quality chair, good lighting, and as much quiet as possible. Stable high-speed internet access is a must. While you may not need a “home office” if you can make that happen it really helps.

Finally, at least for today, you need the full support of the people you live with. Again, “at work” need to mean “at work.” You will be challenged to work from home if you are also caring for your kids, spouse, parents, etc. The research shows that it can take over an hour to fully recover your productivity after a distraction. If you hear “Mom, …” every 30 minutes, you’ll struggle to get your work done.

A significant part of the post-pandemic workplace is remote work, but before you raise your hand to work from home, make sure you’re really ready and able to be successful. If you need some tips on how to make the most of your search, this might help https://im-fired.com/about-the-book/.

Happy Halloween

It’s Halloween (or at least Halloween weekend). Scary movies – trick or treat – house decorations – too much candy – BOO!  Halloween can be fun, but it can also be scary.

But, you know what is really scary?  Being long-term unemployed.  Losing a job that you’ve had for a long time, through no fault of your own, and then not being able to find another one.  Now that’s scary.  How long can you live without a paycheck? Two weeks – a month – three months?

The job market is bizarre.  Help wanted signs are everywhere because there is a shortage of laborers.  If you want a job in warehousing, retail, or food service, you can get one in a minute.  At the same time the news is reporting on record quits. People are voluntarily quitting their jobs in the last few months at a record pace. I don’t think it is because those people are taking warehouse jobs, do you? And regardless of what jobs they are taking, if they are quitting, they must be creating new job opportunities from the jobs they left, right?

Bottom line is that there are jobs our there. They may not be your dream job, but they pay money and provide benefits. If you’ve been out of work for a while, you need to take stock of what you know, what you can do, and what’s important to you.  If there are no jobs in your industry or preferred field, how can your skills translate to a different one? What job could you get where you might learn new skills?

It’s an old cliché, but if you’ve been out of work for some time, you need to get out of the box and look for something different. There are jobs.  Find one that helps you move forward (and pay your bills). As you continue to network, the dream job will come along.  If you need help with you search, try this https://im-fired.com/about-the-book/.

The Curve Ball

Here’s the situation.  For some time, you’ve been looking for a particular kind of job. It’s probably much like your current or previous job and aligns with your planned career path. But then, someone gives you an opportunity that is in a wholly different direction.  Here is an example.  I know a woman who was a well-respected in-house attorney. She liked being an attorney and wanted to keep doing that for the rest of her career.  Then she was offered the chance to do fund-raising.  She took the chance, loved it, and is doing great. Maybe someday she’ll go back to being an attorney, or maybe not.

So, when you get that call, what do you do?  First, be interested. Never look a gift horse in the mouth.  Evaluate the risks and rewards of this opportunity with both a short- and long-term lens. From this opportunity can you learn new skills, make more money, broaden your network, prepare yourself for your next career move, or avoid getting RIFed? There might be lots of good reasons where making a sharp turn in your career is a good idea.  There also might be good reasons not to.

What I’ve learned is that career paths are rarely straight lines.  An old adage is that man plans, and God laughs.  While we love to make short- and long-range plans, the reality is that we cannot predict what will happen tomorrow, much less next year, or five years out. We can and should set goals, but we need to maintain the flexibility to allow events to move us forward.

A big key to flexibility is self-confidence.  Unless you work in a highly specialized field, or are a professional athlete, doing something different for a few years won’t diminish your skills, it will probably enhance them.  You’ll learn a new way of thinking and you’ll be more well-rounded.  You might even find that you’ll like it even better than what you do now.

Keeping in mind, that you may also be taking a risk.  You may find that you’re not very good at this new thing, or that you don’t like it. You might leave an okay job to try this new thing, and then lose that job. But if that’s the case, you’ll find another one, and you will have learned some new things about yourself.

So, when life throws you a curveball, lean in and hit it. Don’t expect your career to follow your plan exactly.  Have the confidence in yourself to be able to make the adjustments and move forward, ether way.  Remember, you are not defined by what you do.  If you are struggling with your job search, this might help.  https://im-fired.com/about-the-book/

The Grammar Police

I recently reviewed resumes for a very senior position. I was blown away with problems of grammar, spelling and punctuation.  These were people with PhD’s!  You would think they would know how to spell and write in complete sentences.  Regardless of their qualifications, their inability to write correctly lost them the chance to be considered.

Now, in full disclosure, we all make mistakes.  I know that I’ve made some typos in this blog. I typically read every post 3-4 times before I post it, and I still make mistakes. But, I believe that you, friendly reader, are a bit more forgiving.  I’m trying to help you (and suggest you buy my book). I am not trying to get you to hire me.

Don’t let simple mistakes in your key documents derail your chance at your dream job.  Have someone else proofread your documents before you submit them.  When you read what you wrote, you know what it says, and your eyes tend to skip over the mistakes.  Make sure you are using a current version of whatever software you are using, and make sure you turn on both the spelling and grammar checking.  If you can get access to use, use a product like Grammarly, it’s phenomenal.  Finally, if English is not your native language, you need to do all of these things. Don’t miss a shot at a great job because you didn’t pay enough attention to your written documents.  Make sure the spelling and grammar are correct.  If the carpenter’s rule is measure twice – cut once, the job hunter’s rule should be proofread 3 or 4 times – submit once. If you are struggling with your job search, this might help.  https://im-fired.com/about-the-book/

The Name Game

Any Shakespeare fans out there?  You’ve heard this phrase before, but did you know it is from a piece of classic literature? “What’s in a name?  That which we call a rose by any other name would still smell as sweet.”

This is a lovely sentiment, and when it comes a person’s given name it’s probably true.  For the most part, we can’t control the names given to us by our parents.  Sure, you could change it or go by a nickname, but your name is your name, and it’s part of who you are.

The same cannot be said of your email address.  Maybe it’s because I’m just old and grumpy, but I think if you are going to go out into the professional job market and look for professional job, you should take the ten minutes that are required to set up a professional sounding email address.

As an HR person I see lots of emails and resumes, and if Shakespeare is right, it shouldn’t matter; but I have trouble sending a job offer to kitten42@hotmail.com. I have a friend whose high school nickname was Pammy-Cakes.  That makes a great personal email address for her – or for Facebook – but not a resume.  Does it help or hurt if you apply for job with the email LovesToCook14 or GolfAddict27?

Set up an email address that is a variant of your name like bob.smith, bsmith2014, robert.m.smith, whatever.  You may need a use a number that makes it unique (there are lots of Bob Smiths) but don’t use your birth year- they don’t need to know how old you are.

I’ve written before about the importance of a first impression.  Don’t let that impression be marred because the recruiter gets an email from IHateWork@gmail.com.

BTW – The quote is from Romeo and Juliet, Act II, Scene II – Juliet says this to Romeo suggesting that she has no problem with him being a Montague when she’s a Capulet.  Now you have some culture in your job search. 🙂 Be professional in all aspects of your job search, including your email address. If you are struggling with your job search, this might help.  https://im-fired.com/about-the-book/

Feeling Older?

I’ll just come out and say it, age discrimination in employment is real.  If you are over 50, you will have a more difficult time finding a job.  Sometimes it’s blatant and sometimes is subtle, but more likely it is completely unintentional. Full disclosure, I’m over 60 and I know what I’m talking about.

As a general rule, the longer your career, the more you know, the more varied experiences you’ve had, and that should mean that you are more prepared to solve complex problems, will require less training, and will likely be a more loyal employee. But, it also might mean that you command a higher salary and a larger title.

The other thing that sometimes comes with experience is a set of bad habits and a resistance to change. You learned how to do this task 20 years ago, you certainly don’t need some young pup (your new boss) telling you to do it differently. That’s called being a curmudgeon and is rarely a good thing in the workplace (or anywhere else).  Finally, younger workers typically have more recently been in school, are often more open to learning, know the current trends/techniques, and tend to be more comfortable with both technology and change. 

These are all generalizations, but in reality, most hiring managers are using generalizations and assumptions. That’s all they have. So, they think they are picking the person they believe will help their organization the most. 

To counter that, you need to be prepared to come out swinging.  Talk about your experience AND your flexibility.  Talk about your knowledge AND your ability to learn. Demonstrate your familiarity with current trends and technology.

If you are over 50 and a curmudgeon, you will face age discrimination, and maybe you deserve it.  But if you are over 50, and have continued to learn new skills, kept current in your field, and are open to change; well now you are a clearly better hire than those young whippersnappers that are still wet behind the ears. Don’t be a victim of age discrimination. Fight back by keeping yourself current, flexible, and open to learning and change.  If you are struggling, this might help:  https://im-fired.com/about-the-book/

Its Back to School Time

Okay, Labor Day is in our rear-view mirror, we are fully into back-to-school mode. Some schools just started and some a month ago, but everyone is back. So, what are you learning?  Are you reading any good books? Are you practicing a skill?

To be a successful worker, and especially a successful job seeker, you need a commitment to life-long learning.  When the economy is strong, as it is now, there is a debate whether college is worth the investment. It takes 4+ years out of your life and will cost you at least $40,000 and possibly much more. You could graduate with a mountain of debt. So why not just get a job?  I can’t explain the economics as well as Forbes magazine, so if you are really torn, read this article.

What I’m most concerned with today is what you learn after you graduate.  I can’t imagine doing the same job for 40 years, and even if I did, I’d need to be learning new skills or methods along the way.  I read all the time; fiction, nonfiction, business books, whatever. You don’t have to be a reader, but you do need to grow.

I can attest with a fairly high degree of certainty, that if you plan to be in the job market for at least 10 more years, there is something significant you don’t know now, that you will need to know to be successful. Maybe you’ll need to learn a new computer program, maybe a new language, maybe how to operate new technology, or maybe just how to get along with people that have different beliefs.  I don’t know what it is, but I guarantee its coming, so get ready for it.

So, when that time comes, you need to be ready to learn, and the best way I know is to never stop learning.  Keep your mind open. Spend time seeking out new information. Read, whether online or printed books, magazines, whatever. Expose yourself to new ideas.  Pick up a hobby and get good at it. Learn something new every day. If you are not one already, turn yourself into a life-long learner.  If you get in the habit of always learning, you’ll be ready to learn when you need to. If you are struggling with your job search, this might help.  https://im-fired.com/about-the-book/