SHOW DATE: OCTOBER 1, 2014
You know it’s true.
You lied to get your job. Eventually, you have to put up or get out.
If you say you know how to work with Excel, eventually you’ll have to learn Excel.
What’s brought this subject up is our office manager, Roberto.
Roberto said he could be a copy edit during his interview. Obviously one of the things you need to do to be a copy editor is spell. When we asked him to read over some client work, the ugly truth was revealed.
He didn’t see a difference between “desert” and “dessert.”
But seriously, this is not the worst sort of lie. There’s all types of lying. Half of Americans admit to lying at some point during a job interview.
We are not in favor of lying. However, our personal belief is that you should do everything you can to get the job. But you have to be able to rise to the occasion if you plan on stretching the truth a bit.
In Roberto’s defense, he was good at English. He had good grades in his English classes. So when he saw that we wanted someone who preferably knew how to copy edit, he said he could.
Our problem is not that Roberto said he was a copy editor. Our problem is that when he got the job he didn’t get ass over to The Learning Annex and learn copy editing.
Just because you have an English degree doesn’t mean you know how to copy edit. Just because you know how to use a computer doesn’t mean you know how to use Excel.
You have to be cautious. This is where the lie gets crazy.
Sometimes you don’t know that you lied. And you find out later that what you said you know how to do you don’t actually know how to do.
What you do then is take a class.
There’s a big misconception. It’s never too late to learn the skill you said you could do (but can’t). Even when you’re found out.
But what’s the difference between an acceptable lie and an unacceptable lie? It’s fine to stretch the truth a little to get the job, but it needs to be something that you can back up.
An example would be saying you can copy edit, if you’re not going for a copy editing job.
If you have 4 out of 5 skills and the 5th skill is something you can learn, say you have all five.
Heath Ledger supposedly got the lead role for A Knight’s Tale by saying he knew how to stage fight. Which he didn’t. But when he got the job he immediately went out and learned how to stage fight.
Here’s an unacceptable lie. If you’re not 6’2”, don’t say you’re 6’2”. This goes for acting gigs, shoots and online dating. If you say you’re 180, and you’re actually 280, that’s a big fat lie.
If you say you worked at Morgan Stanley when you didn’t work at Morgan Stanley, that’s unacceptable.
If you say have a Bachelor’s and you don’t, that’s unacceptable.
These are career destroyers.
These are usually lies made up from thin air.
There’s a difference between faking it till you make it and flat-out lying.
You know in your heart when you’re hustling and when you’re just making shit up. It’s the same feeling you had when you were five years old and knew you were doing something wrong.
SHOW DATE: SEPTEMBER 24, 2014
Every single year, our office manager, Roberto, makes appointments during this time when he should know—just as he’d known for the past five years—that we’re off.
Who makes appointments on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur?
Be aware of your boss’s traditions and holidays. Or else it’s just going to be embarrassing.
In fact, be aware of the holidays of people you work with directly. If a co-worker you interact with on an almost daily basis is celebrating year 5774, send him a Happy New Year email.
It doesn’t matter if you’re Jewish, Muslim or whatever. It’s about being aware of your network’s traditions. So when time comes and the holidays roll out, you not only know not to schedule appointments, meetings or events, but also that this is the time you should be wishing people a happy holiday.
Uncle David and Roberto always celebrate the Night of a Thousand Stevies, “the largest and most beloved Stevie Nicks fan event in the world.” Auntie Evan never forgets that this day is off-limits.
And that’s exactly how you should operate in the office.
Honor other people’s cultures, traditions and holidays. Don’t throw a banquet or anything. Just ask them if they’ll need help around the office that day. Acknowledging that you know is enough.
Let’s say your boss is gay. And you just put a little equality flag on your desk on Gay Pride Day. Or you put the flag up on your Facebook profile pic for a day.
The acknowledgement makes all the difference.
It can get you a lot of respect. It’s how you network and get jobs. Don’t miss the opportunity to show that you are aware of what others find important.
It’s also vital to be aware of what you’re entitled to during your holidays.
Private employers can make employees work on holidays. There’s no state of federal law against that. However—and here’s the catch—there are laws that ban religious discrimination.
So it’s illegal to let your employees off on Christmas but not Hanukah if there are both religions in the office.
What a lot of companies do is give you a set number of personal days you can take off.
If your boss isn’t giving you these but she is giving others a day off for their holiday, you need to tell her to give you the equivalent days off.
(The Civil Rights Act of 1964 requires employers to accommodate employee’s religious holidays.)
Wrapping it up, it makes a huge difference if you reach out and acknowledge your employer’s, co-workers’ and friends’ religions and traditions. It’s enough to warrant you respect, grow your network and even grant you a job opportunity.
Also know your own rights when it comes to taking days off. You’re entitled by law.
Till next time.
SHOW DATE: AUGUST 27, 2014
We just took a week-long cruise to Bermuda (yes, it was awesome, and yes, you should be jealous), and while on deck, kicking up our sandals on the high seas, we noticed something fascinating about the ship’s crew. Especially the entertainers.
Just imagine, you’re basically trapped on this boat with a handful of other 20-somethings all wanting to make it big as actors, dancers, hosts, etc.
Job lore claims that getaways like Disneyland or cruises are hell-on-earth career paths for entertainers.
Not from what I saw and heard.
These guys are doing some serious theater, constantly.
Uncle David brings up a good point though: why the hell would these guys leave the opportunity-laden theatrical grounds of New York for half a year at a time to entertain a bunch of booze-soaked tourists?
My take is a bit different. These guys are building their resume. Their doing Mama Mia on a ship. They have something to take back home in six months’ time.
When opportunities dry up on land, take to the ocean.
We were talking to Desmond while on the ship. This guy makes $3,500. That’s rent-free. The ship probably gives him free meals too… so that’s 40 g’s a year that you’re NOT making sitting at home trying to secure a spot as an extra.
Do you really think it’s career suicide to go on a cruise ship? I think that’s just old-school thinking. It’s so last-century it hurts.
Vegas. Disneyland. Disneyworld. Cruise ships. Performers look down on these jobs. They have this image that working at an amusement park, casino or ship is like the ghetto of the industry.
But what are they doing now? Probably sitting at home and judging, critiquing and laughing at the people actually earning something. While they themselves earn nothing.
Those performers on our cruise are sending out videos over social media daily to their agents. They’re not missing any auditions.
If you’re trying to get your foot in the performing career, it really doesn’t get much better than cruise ships, or amusement parks, or casinos, or any venue of that ilk.
This an all-expenses paid job that give you leeway to build your resume, meet new people and practice. You are literally refining your craft in front of an audience, getting clips, and being provided all basic human necessities FREE.
You call yourself a working performer. So go work.
We also added a link to Backstage.com’s cruise line auditions to our tools page, so get check that out, along with a ton of other helpful job tools.
Till next time.
SHOW DATE: JULY 25, 2014
You’re being taken advantage of, and you don’t even know it.
One out of three workers in America is a contracted worker, or freelancer—meaning they get a 1099 instead of a W2. Or they get paid under the table.
HUGE problem: most of these freelancers walk through the door saying, “please use me ANY way you please. I’ll do EVERYTHING you want me to do.” Basically, they act like they haven’t gotten their freelance cherry popped yet.
How you begin your relationship with a client or company determines whether the gig is going to fall through or thrive. Will there be insanity along the way? Or will the seas be calm and steady?
Before you even breathe, there’s that split-second where the client (or prospect, or employer) knows, unconsciously or otherwise, whether she can miss a few scheduled meetings, not pay on time, and basically hold you by the balls.
The dirty truth? You get taken advantage of because you want to be liked, and this absolutely DESTROYS you and your dignity in the long run.
In fact, a worthy employer or client can tell how submissive a contractor will be from the cover letter.
We’re using a combined 50 years of work experience to compile a list of absolutely VITAL advice that will help prevent you from bending over backwards (or forwards) for your client or employer.
1) NO EFFORT and NO CREATIVITY spells DEATH: STOP transcribing your resume onto your cover letter. It’s redundant, annoying and shows no creative thought process. You don’t have to list where you’ve worked when it’s clearly displayed in greater detail on your resume.
2) Tell a STORY: Can you paint a picture of who you are as a hire by describing ONE moment where you excelled at what you do in an unconventional and exceptional way? There ya go, you’ve got the start of a GREAT cover letter.
3) Focusing on ME ME ME: Yeah, we get it. You’re hot shit. But what about us, as clients, or employers? What will you do for US? This is where you fall through the cracks to join the heaps of rotting bodies of unemployed 1099ers. Start expressing what you can do for OTHERS, not just yourself.
4) Puppydogs don’t get jobs: Calm yourself. If you’re hyperventilating from happiness or nervousness that someone actually CHOSE you, start cultivating a less reactive, more authoritative personality. Fake it till you make it if you have to; desensitization comes naturally with time and MANY interviews and sales pitches.
5) If you’re promising me the MOON, I’ll know you’ll give me the CHEESE: And by cheese we mean crap work based on bullshit claims. Get realistic and don’t offer everything on your plate and then some if you’re not sure you can provide at least half of what you’re claiming.
6) Look AMAZING: Self-explanatory. People like to pay people who keep up hygiene and look their best. End of story.
7) Always leave a paper trail: Have a contract and some kind of schedule to keep track of your time that you can show the client. This brings you respect, shows that you’re organized and fronts you as the lion in the relationship, not the gazelle.
8) Watch the clock: For those who have clients coming in late on a consistent basis, make sure they know from the get-go that if they’re ten minutes late, they lose ten minutes from their time.
9) Scraping the bottom of the barrel: This one should get you VERY excited. If your prices are low, hike those suckers up. A moderate-to-high price shows that you respect yourself, that you take yourself seriously, and that you’re willing to take the time to put in the effort instead of doing a bait-and-switch and pawning your responsibilities off overseas. Imagine you’re on old 42nd street in New York City, and you have your standard selection of, um… hookers. How would you react is Candy offered you a quickie for $10? Exactly.
10) GET PAID IN ADVANCE: You’re terrified to ask for money in advance. But if they’re struggling to pay for even an HOUR in advance and take their chances, WALK OUT. Fish in bigger ponds and don’t undermine yourself by grunting away regretfully for someone who can’t even drop a few bills for your skills.
Be powerful. People stop their nonsense and listen to you when you’re able to stand up for yourself and value your time and your money. Trying to be liked will only get you ONE place: broke, sobbing and alone.
John (not his real name), a 28-year-old law school graduate, was beyond pissed off when he walked into my psychotherapy office in Brooklyn. He had just been turned down for an analyst position at AIG after his fourth interview in the reinsurance industry this year. His Facebook fantasy, the one in which he shares the grand news “I’m hired,” was demolished—along with his ego.
John just couldn’t understand why he wasn’t chosen for the job: The interviewers seemed to like him a lot. He was fully qualified. He had connections at the firm and, most importantly, when we met for our initial session, John said, “It was a rough year.” He felt he “really deserved a break.”
Maybe he did, maybe he didn’t. The bottom line is: getting dumped sucks. Getting dumped by a potential employer is demoralizing with a twist of financial impact (#bittercocktail). John, however, was too busy licking his wounds to constructively understand where he was responsible for the rejection and how to deal with it, and how to face it the way the candidate who got the job would.
You have to be living under a rock if you don’t agree that the job market is competitive. But let’s not focus on the economy, your parents, the “unique” stress of the millennial generation, or Mercury in retrograde. Whatever the reason, you didn’t get the offer. Here’s the thing: the best place to look—when things don’t go according to plan—is at yourself.
All of the justifications you have for why you weren’t the “chosen one” are probably true. It sucks to be a millenial. And yes, the guy who did get the job is sleeping with the hiring manager. So what? You’re not looking at your responsibility in the matter. As a result, you feel defeated and cannot move forward. You can’t get back on the job- search horse. Wanna be successful? Or wanna give up? The choice is yours—not AIG’s, the reinsurance industry’s, the hiring manager’s, or Mom’s.
Stop playing the blame game because it’s only going to screw you up, especially in this case, where the “Oh, cruel world!” anger is only going to stop you from being the best version of yourself—the person they want to hire.
Here’s my advice on how to take responsibility, move forward and get the job:
1. After age 26, stop blaming Mom for your bad luck.
2. Recognize that there is no master plan against you being devised by the universe.
3. It’s not fair. But the truth is, it never was. Not in the 60s, the 80s, or the 00s. Not for you, not for me.
4. You are allowed to feel upset when things don’t go your way. So, go ahead and wallow in self-pity. But, put a time limit on it. (Actually choose a date and time). Only then can you move on and be your most powerful self—and land the next job.
SHOW DATE: JULY 2, 2014
No matter how long you’ve known your co-workers or boss, no matter how buddy buddy you are with your work peeps and superiors, you can never rely on friendship to save your ass on the job.
Let’s make this crystal clear: friendship is NOT leverage.
If you had to choose between your favorite co-worker and your job, which one would it be? We all know the answer. There are very few people on the planet that will willingly throw themselves under the bus for you at work.
Don’t rule out the fact that great work relationships are a bad thing. It’s only when you use them as a support beam for your career when you discover the foundation won’t hold.
You ALWAYS, ALWAYS have to have leverage when it comes down to matters concerning your job. What does leverage mean? It means you have options, some sort of barter than can be taken place to cover your ass in case of emergencies.
Friendship is not barter material. It’s not something used to tip the scales in your favor.
Let’s get practical. You’re walking into your boss’s office, about to have the Talk about the fate of your job. How would you prepare? How do you make sure that you have enough leverage in the interaction to tip the scales in your favor?
Here’s a few golden tips from Auntie Evan and Uncle David:
1) Never walk into your boss’s office asking about the fate of your job. It’s like waddling into the room with your tail between your legs. Powerlessness and pleading only make you an easy target.
2) This is not the most helpful tip when you’re too far down the rabbit hole, but vital to the Job Talk mantra nonetheless: you have to be really good at what you do if you want some serious leverage.
3) Create leverage if you don’t have it. The best leverage is having another job offer. Have a place you can go to in the worst case scenario. Just like your partner looks at you more lustfully when someone else is vying for your attention, you’re a much most attractive prospect when there are others vying for your employment.
4) If you don’t have that offer to fall back on, get out there. Get a headhunter, get your resume out. Afraid you’ll be found out? It’s a bogus fear: if you’re going to be fired, there is nothing to lose. If you’re looking to be promoted, now you’re just that more attractive. It doesn’t mean wave that acceptance letter in management’s face; just don’t leave yourself at somebody else’s mercy.
5) If you’re playing high-stakes job poker and put up the “I’ll quit” bluff, you better be willing and able to follow through with it. To add on to the metaphor, get your poker face primed and ready: walking into an office full of emotions (read: anger) is sure to spell disaster. Emotions are easy to manipulate, and are the biggest form of anti-leverage on the planet. Additionally, when you’re going through your spiel, start off with what you want and need, and then transition to the fact that you’ll be looking for alternative employment otherwise, not the other way around.
Bottom line, steel yourself. Stop thinking everyone is your friend, and if they are, don’t count on their support when shit hits the fan. When the reaper comes knocking, keep the five tips listed above taped to the inside of your eyelid: in the tentative job world, leverage is king.
SHOW DATE: JUNE 25, 2014
Auntie Evan just ran into a colleague who was in the New York area that he used to work for Forster-Thomas. We’ll call her B.
Auntie Evan hadn’t seen her in a while, and she wanted to take on some work while she was in New York. That was fine and all, but there was one small problem: her appearance.
B was 150lbs overweight, her hair was three different colors, she had pimples showering her face and she was unclean.
Auntie Evan’s consensus? Looks matter. Better looking people get jobs. B wasn’t going to get on board looking like that.
Uncle David is horrified at this maxim, but Auntie Evan has a point: the “fact” that good looking people do better in life is, in fact, a fact.
Auntie Evan cites University of Texas economist Daniel S. Hamermesh’s research that attractive people earn $230,000 more over a lifetime. Even an average worker is likely to earn $140,000 more than an ugly worker.
Auntie Evan does admits B was overweight when he first met her, but she was attractive and kept up appearances. She looked good.
Don’t let your ego get in the way when thinking about your attractiveness. Just because you don’t look like Pitt or Jolie doesn’t mean you’re not attractive.
Wash your face. Brush your teeth. Comb your hair. Wear the part. It’s not what you’re born with, it’s how you own how your look.
Take one of our employees, Ben. Classically good looking, a sharp dresser. But he didn’t start off that way.
Ben used to come in looking like a mess: shorts and polos several sizes too large, and generally an unkempt appearance. One day Auntie Evan told him if he came into work one more time dressed liked that he wouldn’t have a job. Ben listened.
Even if you work from home, pulling yourself together makes you feel great. And people can see that mustard stain over Skype, so it’s pretty much a must no matter where you are.
Looking good and being good looking are two different things. You don’t have to feel like you were blessed by the beauty gods to look the part.
Here’s a good tip: dress a level up. If your supervisor or boss wear a suit, adapt their style.
Forster-Thomas is an educational consultation company that helps students get into college and graduate school. Auntie Evan and Uncle David can’t make it fly that they have 50 years of experience between them and that they know what they’re talking about if they don’t look GOOD.
This applies to a creative office, a corporate office, a lax office, whatever office. Good looks matter, but looking good matters a lot more.
Check out our interview with Rachel Lefort on the phone, a former Ann Taylor designer, for some amazing style advice to make you look great no matter how much you were hit with the ugly stick at birth.
We brought Rachel Lefort on the show, a former Ann Taylor designer, to talk about looking good on the job. Check out her amazing style tips below:
Job Talk Daily: What’s your definition of looking good?
Rachel: It’s not what you’re born with, it’s how you package and carry yourself.
Job Talk Daily: What is the one item in your closet that you have to have no matter what job you’re at?
Rachel: The number one staple for men and women is a jacket. For guys a fantastic sports coat, and for women a fitted jacket or blazer. It always elevates your style and makes you look professional.
Job Talk Daily: Can the jacket be more eccentric, like a herringbone? Or stick to solid colors?
Rachel: If you have to choose one, go with the more traditional solid-colored jacket, so people won’t recognize that you’re wearing the same thing all the time. A navy blazer with muted buttons (not gold) is a great choice.
Job Talk Daily: Any other important points?
Rachel: The most important thing is the fit. The clothing item should be tailored to your body, not too tight and not too loose. That’s why your tailor is your best friend.
Job Talk Daily: What about bigger people? Are they hopeless?
Rachel: When you dress for your proportions it can look like you lost weight. Say a woman wants to minimize her hips. She would want to dress in a way that would bring someone’s eyes up rather than down. Bring attention to her neckline. A jacket with a light v-neck blouse and a dark skirt that minimizes the hips would be a great choice.
Job Talk Daily: Any advice for the person who a the fear of shopping?
Rachel: That’s a good question. Start with wardrobe basics. Make a small list of things you need: your basic black trousers, your basic jacket, your basic blouse or shirt. It’s work to find the right things, it can be hard, and it might take a while, but it’s necessary. It’s a commitment you have to take.
SHOW DATE: MARCH 19, 2014
Yeah, it goes without saying that leadership is the big cheese on your resume. As employers, we want to see that you’re not the average narcissistic employee and that you care about the world around you.
But there are three areas you need to be careful about, and it’s the same three areas considered dinner-table taboo: politics, religion and sexual orientation,
You might want to be careful declaring on your resume that you’re a volunteer for a certain political party, or that you’re involved in a church or a gay rights group.
Generally, these are good things to put down, but you have to be smart when and where to use it. You’re not going to apply to Chick-Fil-A with a section on your resume saying you were a volunteer for the Democratic party, or a fundamentalist church saying that you’re a gay rights leader.