Posts Tagged ‘work’

Probably not, unless of course, you’re a circus clown. But you can often find creative ways to combine your talents. Or you may leave one of your passions as a part-time endeavor, while pursuing something else as your “day job.” Love ice cream? There are actually jobs as ice-cream testers. Of course, if the ice cream has in fact been poisoned by a sociopathic factory worker, you’re out of luck. And you will probably become morbidly obese and keel over from a heart attack in a few years. But hey, go to town.

If you can’t think of any careers offhand that connect with your passions, make a list of them. After you have the Passion List, then write down all the skills used in partaking of your passions. When that’s done, find a few job search sites and plug those skills into the “keywords” search function, and see what comes up. A lot of stuff will likely be vomited up that has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with anything you’re interested in, but just ignore that and focus on careers that sound exciting. Look at the Occupational Outlook Handbook and other resources such as the aforementioned informational interviewing to do a reality check on those careers, and off you go!

You can also check out some online career interest assessments, such as:, the Personal-Style Indicator at, the Myers-Briggs and the Strong Interest Inventory at, the Campbell Interest and Skill Survey at, or, to name a few. Some of these assessments are free, some are not. Some include consultations with certified career counselors, which is always a good idea, especially if you’re floundering around like a spastic fish.

The assessments are mostly about interests, but some also include self-identified skills (yeah, we talked about this earlier) and work values. Work values refers to the most important stuff you have to have in your work to, you know, make you feel whole and all that crap. Like, do you know you need to be creative in a job? Do you know you need structure, so that you don’t panic and wander off into another dimension, never to be heard from again? Do you know that you couldn’t do a job that would require you to write materials that referred to “kill fields?” Do you know that you would feel in constant need of a shower if you were part of advertising products that claimed to make elderly men sexually attractive to twenty-year-old models? You get the idea.

So you have a job — woo-hoo! You want to do your best to keep it. Here are some things not to do if you don’t want to skate too close to the edge of the unemployment line:

  • Wear clothing in the office that suggests you’re going straight from work to an audition for Sex and the City 3. While you don’t have to dress like a refugee from a convent, if you want to be taken seriously at work, keep the girls tucked in and save the nip action for a hot date. Not to mention the Sharon Stone-in-Basic-Instinct thigh cleavage.
  • Spread nasty gossip about your co-workers. It’ll come back to you, and not in a good way.
  • Be a clock-watcher. “Is it five o’clock yet?” Even if you stand all day on an assembly line with a hairnet on your head putting the caps on beer bottles, it’s not a good idea to imply that you think of your job as a prison that you can’t wait to be released from. If you do, I’m sure your boss will be happy to release you. Besides, if you feel that way, why the hell are you still there?
  • Scoff at the recordkeeping stuff. Hey, so you’re the creative type. We know you don’t care about all that boring data entry. Regrettably for you, though, that stuff almost always determines whether the organization makes or loses money, or keeps its funding if it’s a nonprofit. So if you screw that up, you not only screw yourself, you could screw the entire organization, which isn’t as much fun as it sounds.
  • Make racist, sexist or ageist comments. I’m going to assume you don’t work in an environment where ignorance is actively encouraged. Assuming it isn’t, any of the above could get you tossed out so fast your head would spin around like Linda Blair in “The Exorcist.”
  • Spend a lot of time texting your friends or shmoozing on Facebook. At this point in human evolution, employers don’t reasonably expect their employees not to touch their iPhones or look at non-work-related sites during work hours at all, but if you’re spending more time during the workday getting your friends’ opinions on your photo than actually working, don’t expect to be promoted any time soon.
  • Blatantly flirting with your boss, your staff, your co-workers, or your customers. Most of us flirt a little bit, without even realizing it. And co-workers do often date, even though a lot of companies frown on it, and it can certainly complicate your work life, especially if you break up and at least one of you doesn’t act like a grown-up (of course, if one of you turns out to be a psycho-stalker, that makes it even more difficult, but let’s leave potential restraining orders out of it for now). The thing is, if you sidle up to a colleague and whisper in her ear or grab your boss’s crotch under the table at a meeting, you can get yourself in pretty big trouble. Not only that, but you’d be perceived as ridiculously ignorant, since all you need to do these days to hear about sexual harassment is turn on Lifetime TV.

There are lots of different ways to network effectively, and a few ways not to network if you don’t want to bug the hell out of people. Bugging the hell out of people is generally not an effective strategy.

Seven Networking Dos

1.   Make a list of contacts, including relatives, friends, ex-co-workers and supervisors, ex-spouses (well, maybe not them), other professionally-related people you know such as vendors you regularly worked with, people with whom you’re in some kind of interest or community group, ex-classmates, instructors, etc.

2.  Connect or reconnect with these folks around something you have in common.

3.   Get out there. Attend events, take classes. Go to professional networking events related to your field, networking events not related to your field, fundraisers, events related to your interests, parties, barbeques, bar mitzvahs, bachelor parties, etc., etc., etc. The more opportunities you have to chat with friends, acquaintances, and strangers, the better. As long as you don’t get too schnockered.

4.  If you haven’t already, join professional organizations related to your field if they’re not too pricey for your current financial situation.

5.  Whether it’s with someone you know intimately or a total stranger, in person or online, always make it a “mutual benefit” encounter. It’s not just about you and your job search. What can you do for them? Come on, you can think of something.

6.   Develop a positive online presence. Yes, I said “positive.” More on that below in the “Don’ts” section. Build a professional presence related to your field, and/or another topic you have a lot of knowledge about. Get on LinkedIn and Twitter. Join online professional/interest groups, post articles, (intelligently) comment on others’ blogs.

7.   Remember you have tons of talents and knowledge to offer, and you can be a valuable resource to others even if you don’t happen to be working right now. So strut your stuff a little. Not in an obnoxious way, rather in a confident “I-have-the-goods” kind of way.

And Now For the 7 Networking Don’ts:

1.   Don’t harass people. It may sound obvious (at least, I hope so), but no one will want to help you with anything, much less be within fifty feet of you, if you pester them. Connect and follow up, yes, but don’t call people every day, don’t try to contact them more than two or three times at the most (not in the same hour); generally don’t be an inconsiderate asshole.

2.   Don’t be ignorant of the online impression you may be making. Facebook photos of you with your pants on your head and blog comments in support of snuff films won’t help you. Don’t know what snuff films are? Good for you.

3.   Don’t walk up to someone at an event and say, “I heard you’re the Financial Manager at Vandalay Industries. Here’s my resume. Could you spare a couple of hours to take me to dinner so we can talk about my background? Thanks a bunch.” Of course, I know you’re not one of THOSE people. Are you? If so, stop it.

4.   Don’t join groups just for the hell of it. Yes, I know we’re all human and all of us have SOMETHING in common and all that crap. You’re much more likely to find people to connect with and have stuff to say if you have a reason to be a part of that particular group other than to network for networking’s sake. If you’re an outdoor, sports-y person, don’t take a needlepoint class in hopes of finding people who can give you job leads.

5.   Don’t try to reconnect with people who probably would prefer not to hear from you. Ex-boyfriends who cheated on you (or vice-versa) wouldn’t likely be good people to attempt to network with.

6.   Don’t put anything online unless you’ve proofread it first. Spelling and grammatical errors won’t win you any brownie points.

7.   I said it before, and I’ll say it again – Don’t make it all about you. Show your interest in the other person and whatever they’ve got going on. Offer to give them info, contacts, resources, massage, whatever. Well, only the massage if you know them really well. You don’t want to give the wrong idea. But you know what I’m saying.

Characters in films do all kinds of appalling things when they’re job-hunting that don’t fly in real life. Here are some of the most cringe-worthy:

  • Dress in goofy clothes in a job interview. Tom Hanks wears a powder-blue jacket in an interview scene in “Big.” Of course, he’s supposed to be only twelve, which is pretty much the only way you can get away with that kind of outfit. Generally speaking, a dark suit with a shirt or blouse that doesn’t glow in the dark (a little color is okay) is what you want to shoot for.
  • Beg for the job. In the movie, “Married to the Mob,” when Michelle Pfeiffer interviews for a job at a hair salon, she says to the owner, “I really need this job; please give me a chance.” Yeah, thanks for sharing. Employers don’t hire you because YOU need the job. They hire you because THEY need someone with your many talents.
  • Have a lover’s spat in front of a business prospect. That would be Melanie Griffith in “Working Girl.” Never a good idea to blatantly display your love life in a work situation, unless you’re an actor.
  • Show up at an interview looking like you spent the night in prison. After a series of mishaps, including getting mugged, having to sleep in Central Park, almost getting arrested with his hand in a little boy’s pocket and losing a tooth,  Jack Lemmon interviews for a sales job in “The Out-of-Towners” with no explanation whatsoever for his homeless appearance. Should you run into a snag on the way to an interview that results in your arriving looking like you’ve been digging through trash, it’s true that you don’t want to go into a long rambling account of your horrible experience and how traumatized you are. It’s still preferable, though, to give a brief and to-the-point explanation of why you look like crap than to just ignore it, like you always look like that.
  • Tell an interviewer that you don’t have any experience, but you learn fast. Jesse Eisenberg says something similar in “Adventureland.” Even entry-level jobs in real life do require either some work experience or concrete skills you use in your everyday life, which you have to spell out for the employer. Just saying you learn fast won’t cut it.