Why You Were Rejected from Your Dream Job–And How to Buck up Before You F*CK up

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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.

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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.

—Aimee Barr

THIS IS WHY NOBODY RESPECTS YOU AT WORK ANYMORE

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SHOW DATE: JULY 9, 2014

You give them an inch, they take a yard.

No, that’s not another one of Job Talk’s esoteric sexual puns—it’s the ill matter of performing favors for co-workers. (Do count the sexual puns in this article, though—the number’s listed at the rear.)

Being asked to break the rules for somebody and bending over backwards just because you’re friends not only puts you in a compromising position, it takes away your power and credibility.

The reverse is doubly unsatisfying: nobody wants the victim who always needs to be paid early because his finances are a disaster. Bringing the drama of your everyday life to the office by asking for special favors (especially getting your check early) not only kills your chances at a promotion, it lowers your status in the office considerably.

No matter how small the business, companies’ systems are set in stone for a reason. It’s to prevent workplace sanfus where co-workers are placed in vulnerable positions that detract from office performance and pile on dysfunction.

Business environments, especially at small-mid sized companies like Forster-Thomas, can get very close and familial. If you want it to stay intimate, everyone has to follow the guidelines set in place and not kneel down for any little favor.

You’re going to get ahead at work only when you stop focusing on being liked or looking for others to break the rules for you. Offering leeway only serves to open a Pandora’s box, where the compromise snowballs into a bunch of he-saids and she-saids and workplace drama that gets you nowhere.

Know the rules and stick to them. You might like your co-workers. Really like them. But the only way you’re going to move up and maintain workplace relationships is keeping your power, your dignity and your favors to yourself.

 

Sexual puns in this article: 69

GET FIRED-PROOF EVEN WHEN YOU’RE ABOUT TO GET FIRED

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

HOW TO MAKE AN EXTRA $230,000 WITH YOUR LOOKS

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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.

Rachel Lefort Tells You How to Look Good, Even if You’re Not Good Looking

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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.

Email Snafu: Fixing Errors When Emailing Foreigners

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My secretary, Todd, recently copied me on an email he sent to a potential client in Beijing. (Let’s call her “Emma,” since every Chinese person I know seems to give themselves a Tweedy English name).

Here’s how the email read:

“Hi Emma,
I’m a rittle confused. Did you mean 10 am or 10 pm EST for the Skype call with Evan and David?
Best,
Todd.”

Rittle?!?!? When I saw it, I was, of course, mortified. (Maybe I giggled a little). Was Todd mocking Emma? Was it just an honest typo? Or is Todd a big racist? (I can imagine him thinking “rittle,” not intending to actually type it…and then OOPS).

So what do I do? Fire Todd? That goes without saying. I do it twice a week. But what do I do about Emma? What’s the business etiquette reboot? Is there one? How could we, well, save face?

Do I:

A) Make Todd send an apology?

B) Correct the mistake and send the apology myself?

C) Ignore it and hope that Emma doesn’t catch the mistake? I mean it’s not as if I don’t often have to guess what she means in her emails: Just the other day she wrote: 并把相应的航班行程和价格发给您,如果没有问题咱们就出票. Translated by Google, this means: “And the corresponding flight itinerary and prices sent to you, we would have no problem if the ticket…” That was clearly meant for somone else, but it was later followed up by another email—in English—that read: “China is limited but his leaves all of us working for the Chinese families. A room to have the families well informed of the US education.”

WTF?

It took a few minutes of going through old emails for me to figure out what the f*ck she was talking about, but I eventually got it.

Now, I want to be clear: This is not just a Chinese issue. I have had some of the strangest emails come from France, Portugal, and Germany—not to mention Scarsdale—that have been completely unintelligible. And I am sure my attempts at responses in Spanish et al haven’t been much better. Still, this email from Todd—unintentional though it was—bordered on racism. I think.

To that end, I have this to say: Slow down when writing emails. And always reread them—no matter what. But you didn’t this time, so here are some possible ways to fix the tres raciale mistake:

1)     Arriba, Arriba! Andale, Andale! (To quote Speedy Gonzalez):  The second you realize the faux pas (or slip-up, en Français), just send the exact email with the correction. Don’t bring any attention to it. Sometimes menos is mejor.

2)    Short and Sweet: Still worried? Ok. Ok. So, you’re too worried to say nothing. So, make a joke out of it. By this I mean, Make fun of yourself for the error—followed by an apology—in front of everyone copied on the email: “Oops, I meant to write ‘little’! Damn carpal tunnel.”

3)     WWJD?: You’ve dealt with this colleague (Emma) before and she’s not forgiving. In fact, she’s a real asshole. Well, you’re just going to have to bend over and—as Jesus would say—“turn the other cheek.” Don’t even wait until she realizes the error. Preempt her anger with an apology…plus the corrected version.

Of course, there’s always lying. Send out a BCC email that looks like an apology form letter. Lead with “During this very busy season [even though it’s mid August], a small number of emails may have been sent to you with misspellings. They were in no way intended to offend the recipient…” You get the point, but this is really a last resort, and should only be implemented if you receive an angry response to the original email—and/or you’re a damn coward.

–Auntie Evan

Secrets of an Office Dominator

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SHOW DATE: JUNE 18, 2014

Most people need to be dominated in a relationship, be it in business or in life. One person is going to be the good guy and the other the bad guy.

And if you’re one the one receiving the commands and complaints, it can be quite frustrating. But is it crazy to think that if you removed the dominant figurehead from the relationship, your job, and your life, wouldn’t function as well?

We don’t find it crazy one bit.

If Auntie Evan doesn’t tell Uncle David to take out the trash during an in-home client Skype call, would Uncle David, as frustrated as he is over the domination, ever do it? If Auntie Evan doesn’t forcefully impose the company’s new pricing model in front of their employees and Uncle David says squat because he doesn’t want to embarrass the image of the company, would the business ever progress?

The dominator, essentially the task-master, whips you into shape. Every office has one. We get it (at least, Uncle David does), we realize it can be a pain in the ass to be told what to do all the time.

But it’s necessary. Every yin needs a yang. This doesn’t mean you can’t make the relationship with your dominator a synergistic effort that produces ideal results. You can even become a dominator yourself.

Coming straight from the horse’s mouth, Auntie Evan reveals how you can make a relationship with a dominator work for you, not against you. Use these points to understand the necessity of a dominator, or become one yourself.

There are three things dominators do that lets them stay in the position they’re at:

  1. They are loud, forceful and tenacious. Like pit bulls. They are the first ones to get their head into the discussion.
  2. They find a weakness and exploit it (Uncle David doesn’t like loud confrontations, for instance). They know you’ll give in, and they do solely to get ahead with their vision.
  3. This is the big one. They are willing to walk away from a client if things are not going their way. They have it in their heart that what they have to say is the right thing, and they know they’re really good at what they do. So for the relationship to be maintained, the client must be good at what they do, be a hard worker, and comply with the dominator’s vision. For a successful dominator, everything is replaceable, be it a client, a teammate, a spouse, or even their own role in the company.

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A dominator is committed to a cause, such as making more money for the company. If she loses a few clients along the way to get to the ones she needs, so be it.

The office dominator is an essential chess piece, because they’re the ones that gets results. Become one of them, or be dominated by one (and later become one yourself). Either way, you’re moving your career, and more importantly the company, forward.

Do the Right Thing at Work Without Everyone Hating You

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SHOW DATE: JUNE 4, 2014

There’s an age old problem that plagues us incessantly at the workplace: do I do the right thing, or the popular thing?

Say the popular co-worker who’s always coming in twenty minutes late, and you’re covering for him, or his co-workers are covering for him.

He’s a decent guy, a family man, and you don’t want to hurt him or his career. But it’s starting to affect the team and the office morale.

Do you report him or do you keep him safe from scrutiny?

Speaking to him may not work. He might say, “Yeah, sure, I’ll come in on time,” without it ever coming to fruition. And if you ask again, you’ll become that annoying co-worker who’s always nitpicking.

The question to any problem you have in the work place is, is it more practical to say something, or put your head down?

It’s painful to be the hall monitor blowing her whistle. You’re not getting promoted for it, and if you are, you’re going to be the supervisor or boss nobody respects.

Auntie Evan and Uncle David have two divergent opinions:

Uncle David: In this economy, you have to put your head down when you see your company is heading in a bad direction or someone is causing a problem. Don’t be the moral police, or you won’t get anywhere.

Auntie Evan: UD, if that’s how you feel, if you can’t step up, then you’re not really there for your company. Then you’re the small individual who only looks after himself and his paycheck.

When it comes down to brass tacks, do you need to be popular or liked to get ahead, or do the right thing and open your mouth?

AE: When things are not going well, you can’t just put your head down and hope nobody notices. It doesn’t matter what company you’re at, when you’re hurting the product because you’re keeping your mouth shut, it never works out for anybody in the end.

UD: But remember when you worked at that organization, and the new, younger program lead got hired and made a bunch of mistakes, and you called her out and were shunned for it? Only when you left the job and they saw all the mistakes go down did they call you up again.

So how do keep the company your number one priority when calling someone out, and at the same time avoiding looking like the hall monitor everyone wants to jam into a locker? Here are Auntie Evan’s foolproof steps to doing the right thing while still saving face:

1) Carefully document when the co-worker(s) makes a glaring mistake that affects the team and the company as a whole. Write down the date and time, and what was done. As objectively as possible (not, “At 4pm on Tuesday the bitch didn’t wash her coffee mug.”).

2) More importantly, take to heart that you’re doing this because you want the company to be great, because you want the country to be great. If you play the “what’s in it for me” game, you’re going to crash.

3) Don’t make it look like you’re trying to cover your own ass. If you get somewhere early, and all you can do is gloat how you’re the only one on time, you’re doing it wrong. It’s about thinking, “how can I get everybody in on time.” Put the organization, the community, before anything.

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The One Thing We Don’t Want to Admit About Elliot Rodgers

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SHOW DATE: MAY 28, 2014

Elliot Rodgers, who killed 6 people and injured 7 more near the University of California on a shooting spree, has left us thinking.

It’s disturbing what Rodgers did. But we get angry too. Really angry. And we fantasize about doing things to our co-workers.

Truth is, there’s a little bit of Elliot Rodgers in all of us. And if we don’t acknowledge this, our negative thoughts will fester, take form, and boil over

Elliot was indeed insane on some level. But we all daydream in the office, we all have that little bit of psycho. Everyone gets to a place in their heads where they get fed up. Dan Savage, the popular sex columnist and podcaster, admitted that the Columbine massacre was terrible. But, as a gay man in high school, he admits that if he had a gun, he wouldn’t know what he would have done.

We’re half-sane, and we’re not looking to hurt anyone physically, but we do sometimes rage. We do get angry. We get crazy inside and we want to do things to hurt people, verbally.

It’s not just about pulling out a gun. It’s the gossip we tell behind people’s backs, the lives we destroy by stealing jobs, spreading rumors, ruining careers. There’s a lot of ways we Elliot-Roger people.

To just sit and avoid the issue that you have a little bit of crazy, to watch the news and dismiss the fact that you have a bit of Elliot Rodgers in you, is just letting that anger grow.

It’s easy not to take anything away from this debacle, to say “I’ll never pick up a gun and point it at a human being.”

But we lash out and make mistakes all the time.

How can you stop your own version of Elliot Rodgers?

Here’s a few quick tips to quell that top before it blows:

1) Ask somebody else to speak to the co-worker: Don’t rely on this one too much. But if you’re overly emotional and can’t think straight because you’re mad at your co-worker, ask a third-party to intervene. Get them to send a moderate response over email, or get them to talk to the co-worker in person. You’re doing two things here: you’re letting go of your ego by not proving how “wrong” the other person is, and you’re allowing yourself time to cool.

2) Rehearse what you will say out loud: “You’re an asshole.” Sounds better in your head, doesn’t it? Now look at your face as you say it in the mirror. Rehearsing out loud is always a great indicator of whether what you’re about to incur more fury than pacify the conflict.

3) Wait a day or two: Let yourself cool for a day or two and you’ll find the issue losing importance in your mind. In the moment you’re crazed. Two days later you forget what you were even angry about.

Elliot Rodgers felt like the world was unfair to him. We feel like that in the workplace sometimes. Acknowledge it. Shine light on it. Don’t keep it in and let it fester, or it’ll end up hurting you and those around you.

Top 10 Mom Habits That Translate To Stellar Job Skills

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Motherhood gives you all the skills you need to lead (or get a job).

Today one of my best friends told me that she does not have a job. I’ll call her Olivia. For recognize-ability’s sake. Each day, this single mum (she’s a Brit) wakes up at dawn, makes sure her two boys are up, makes their lunch, organizes their after-school schedule, makes sure they are clean and pressed (well maybe not) and heads them off to the subway, like the postman neither snow, nor sleet, nor—you get the point—she gets the job done.

Then Olivia returns home to make sure their finances are in order by running an in-home office so she can greet them in the afternoon and make their dinner, help them with something called Algebra and Earth Science, make their dinner, order them off the TV—six times—and wrestle them to bed, teeth cleaned, bodies scrubbed. But she says she doesn’t have a job.

Here are some other things Olivia does:

  1. Negotiates. They are always trying to manipulate bed time, play time and homework.
  2. Teaches communication skills: Please and thank you, say hello to your neighbors and write thank-you notes. (I think that’s called employee development.)
  3. Admits when she is wrong. “Maybe slapping him across the face was a bad idea. I will go and apologize.” (I did not claim she was perfect) And sometimes, as Auntie Evan always says: “Sometimes ya gotta be a bitch.” All top leaders know this.
  4. Responsibility: Admitting to who, when, and where he lost his retainer and makes sure he’s the one to find it.
  5. Is willing to be “the bad guy.” No, you may not stay up past 10.
  6. Is a role model: Shows up on time and also hangs out with cool, gay people like me.
  7. Takes them to foreign countries to understand and interact with other cultures. (Again, I think that’s called employee development.)
  8. Does her best not to speak ill of bizarre family members—like their father.
  9. Talks about them behind their backs (lot’s of bosses do that to let off steam)
  10. Asks for advice on childrearing from friends and professionals like teachers. (Sometimes she even listens)

So, in short, I’d say she has a job that teaches her all of the skills a leader needs to have. I wonder if we can hire her at Forster-Thomas Inc.? Why—because above all else, she is passionate about what she does!

–Uncle David

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