Listen and Learn

You asked for advice from a trusted source about how to get a job.  You were given good advice.  You didn’t follow it.  Why?  Because you didn’t really listen and learn.  You turned down your brain as soon as he told you to re-write your resumé.  You really shut down when he mentioned changing your hair or clothes or Instagram.  Maybe you should replay that conversation because last time you checked you didn’t have a job yet.

Your advisor told you to update your resume.  He didn’t mean just change the color.  Get help if necessary, but craft a polished, legible, accurate, scan-worthy, e-mailable, honest, paper-based resumé.  It won’t guarantee a job, but it may get you in the door for an interview.  There are some free sources for resumé-writing assistance, such as a college you recently attended or a literate working friend.  There are also paid services that will analyze or even fully re-write your current resume.  Choose a path and get that resumé redone.

The advice to redo your resumé was not unexpected and you didn’t take it personally as you already knew your paperwork needed an update.  However, you were taken off guard and a tad hurt when your mentor suggested you change your appearance.  You spend a lot of money on your hair and feel that it expresses who you are whether it is green or in dreadlocks or not there on purpose.  One’s hair does usually express a lot about the person wearing it which can be a problem when you are looking for a job.  For instance, you have an interview with a middle-aged woman who has a son with green hair who is also looking for a job.  She has begged her son to change his hair color thinking that it would better his chances for employment.  Now she has a tale to tell him about how she wouldn’t think of hiring a green-haired person like the one she interviewed today.  That would be you. 

Perhaps this green-hair tale is silly, but it has a kernel of truth.  People who interview others for jobs have their own set of biases and whether those biases are illogical or inappropriate is beside the point.  The interviewer’s biases exist and they may interfere with you getting a job.  When you are looking for a job, try to diminish any biases that the interviewer might hold against you, like your hair, the way you dress, even the way you sit.  This doesn’t mean that you have to give up your personality or values, you just have to lessen their possible negative effects while you are job hunting. 

Your advisor was not being overly critical when he gave you advice, so don’t be overly sensitive in considering it.  Turn your brain on.  Review that conversation about what you need to do to improve your chances of getting a job, then do what you were told.  You do want a job, don’t you?

P.S. If you are Billie Eilish and have green hair, then you already have a job.  No problem.  Not Billie?  Read this post again as it might help get you closer to her level.

Work Spouse

First thing: Do not acquire a work spouse. You might think you can handle it, but you won’t be able to and when you figure that out it will be too late.

There is a natural progression in the workplace that can change an innocent friendship into a battle between mutual enemies with one’s livelihood and reputation at stake. Perhaps you have seen this happen, maybe even participated in it yourself. If not, take this as a word to the wise and be aware of what can happen among and between co-workers.

When you have a job, frequently that job causes you to interact with the same people. This is the co-worker stage. As with most human interactions, you will get along better with some of these co-workers than others for a multitude of reasons. The more positive relationships can evolve into the next stage – friends. Male or female, older or younger, black or white or whatever color. At this point, the field is pretty wide open for being friends at work.

Friends often see each other outside of work. Company-sponsored bowling leagues or similar interests such as birdwatching can bring work friends together. Almost anything that co-workers have in common can result in meeting up outside of work which can be just fine. Co-workers can share activities, interests, even family outings, and become good friends.

Going beyond friendship and activities that involve others leads to the stage of companionship. This is where things can start to go sideways. The two of you spend time online with each other. You start having lunch with just the two of you. You may even meet up to have a drink after work. Nothing wrong with any of these activities in and of themselves; they just lead to a slippery slope and perhaps some suspicion from others.

You are halfway down the slope when you become confidantes and start to share things with your companion that you don’t share with others. Confidantes have a special relationship that no one else feels and that relationship tends toward exclusivity. The stage of being confidantes cannot be maintained at work. It can go forward to a sexual relationship or skip that stage altogether and go directly to the final stage – enemy.

If you do proceed to a sexual relationship, then there can be an interlude of excitement, forbidden lust, and even a twinge of love. This stage won’t last long. Someone will find out and it will all be lost. If you do both manage to keep your jobs, you won’t be friends any longer. You won’t be confidantes. You probably won’t be civil to each other if you continue to work together which is doubtful. You will be work enemies, if not personal enemies. Final stage.

To keep off the slippery slope, simply avoid going past the friend stage with co-workers. Keep it simple. Draw a line. Then don’t cross it.

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