Career Links: December 2016


A lot of working Americans report being under stress these days, and who can blame them? Many of us have killer commutes, family responsibilities and a full plate of outside of work issues to deal with, and that’s not even counting the things that stress us out AT work!

 However, despite the presence of stress in our lives, a significant factor in adult life satisfaction is whether we can engage in what has been called “hard fun” -- a deep challenge that uses all of our skills, and yet is enjoyable for that very reason. Writer Donna Sapolin says hard fun “might just be the best way to keep the kid-like spirit alive in grown-ups, throughout their lives.” If nothing else, it’s a way to find a sense of purpose, and grow our resiliency muscles so we’re “in shape” if a major challenge (in any part of life) comes our way.
This month’s links discuss challenges that definitely fall on the hard side of hard fun: getting a new job after the age of 50, dealing with deadline-related stress, talking to a potential employer about your salary, and how to tell your career story so that people will listen. But if you follow the advice contained in these posts, you’ll get a great “adversity workout” and be ready to go toe-to-toe with just about any situation! Enjoy!

The closer I get to 50 (and believe me, it’s now right around the corner, not across town having a cup of coffee like it used to be) the more I dread the thought of being a free agent in the job market. Next Avenue writer Laurie Petersen has produced a round-up of advice from three professionals in their fifties on how they found great jobs after a period of unemployment.

For Florida public service commissioner Donald Polmann, networking in an executives-only transition group was key to finding his new job, as was taking a part-time project director position in the interim. For Maria Henze, success in the fashion industry came through posting her resume on LinkedIn and elsewhere and following up with networking contacts and recruiters. Jim Pasquale, who had held various positions in the technology sector, found his current position through becoming a thought leader in a specialized area (online cloud storage).  All three provide evidence that finding a good job after 50 is possible -- if one is willing to try unorthodox strategies and let their unique personal experiences and attributes shine through.

13 Tips For Talking About Money In A Job Interview Without Making It Awkward

Jacquelyn Smith, the careers editor for Business Insider, tapped workplace expert and leadership coach Lynn Taylor for tips on how to bring up the topic everyone has a love-hate relationship during the interview process: salary. Taylor’s advice is far more nuanced than “wait until the second interview” and the article overall covers a wide range of potential scenarios.

One of the most interesting bits of advice covers the “vibe” one may feel after an initial conversation with an employer.
"Pay close attention to the length and quality of your initial email or phone screening," says Taylor. "Ask yourself: How long did the initial phone call last? Was there laughter? Did the email reveal enthusiasm? These are initial indicators of how aggressive you can be."
If you’ve ever felt weird about ironing out the salary part of a job offer, and want to do better at that next time, this is a great post to review.

This post discusses something I’ve noticed on an anecdotal level for years: that productivity takes a nose-dive when unrealistic time pressures are placed on employers. Alexander Kjerulf discusses why scarcity pushes us into making dopey decisions, and offers five ways to help employees not feel crunched for time.

I especially appreciated what he had to say about how time scarcity damages work relationships.  

“One of the first things to go in a workplace facing time scarcity is the workplace relationships. … we need to make sure that there is always time to create and maintain relationships between employees. There should always be time for a coffee break and a chat with a co-worker. No one should eat lunch alone at their desk. Even something as simple as saying a cheerful “good morning” to your teammates in the morning can make a positive difference – and can be neglected and forgotten under time scarcity.” 

How To Tell Your Career Story So People Will Listen

Our job history, and the stories about our work that make up that history, are one of the things in our life that are most definitely our own. Perhaps that’s the issue: many people are so close to their career story that it’s hard for them to explain it to others or utilize it effectively when on the hunt for a new job. Miriam Salpeter, of Keppie Careers, pulls together the skills needed to master this vital task in a brief, yet comprehensive post. 

She begins with a great way of constructing your narrative (it relates to looking at the jobs you’re interested and retro-engineering your story to match their needs), and then moves on to describe how you can deploy your newly crafted career story while networking, on your resume, and in job interviews. I particularly liked the way she related the career story to how she recommends people prepare for their job interview:

“Don’t schedule an interview until you’re ready with several stories that will address typical interview questions. Use the [Problem - Action - Result] approach when you prepare so you’ll be able to discuss problems you’ve solved, explain how (what actions you took) and discuss results during the interview. Spend the majority of your time explaining how you overcame the problem and the rest of your time detailing the results of your efforts. Ideally, you’ll mention the long-term impact you had on your organization. For example, ‘One year later, the office is still following the protocols I instituted.”’

~ Liz Massey, Managing Editor, ASU Alumni Association