Years ago, I interviewed for a job in Pittsburgh. I flew in late at night, with the interview scheduled first thing the next morning. As I unpacked, I realized I had forgotten the pants to my suit. My mind was racing as I went through the options of what to do.
Could I wear the pants I’d flown there in? No, they were sweatpants. Could I call a cab to take me to a mall? No, it was late and everything was closed. Could I have a pair of pants shipped to me from home? No, all the shippers were closed for the day.
This brainstorming went on for an hour. I wracked my brain as I tried to think of a creative solution to this big problem.
It turned out, packages could be dropped off directly at the airport until around midnight for FedEx, and could be delivered by six the next morning. The only catch was getting the pants to the airport.
My apartment manager was the only one with a key to my apartment, but I didn’t have her phone number. So, I called a neighbor who was friends with another neighbor who had a dog that the building manager walked every day. I knew he would have the building manager’s phone, and I knew my other neighbor had the dog owner’s phone number.
After a few calls, I found the building manager’s phone number. I called and asked her to give my key to a friend who was willing to drive the pants to the airport. My friend entered my apartment and called to locate the correct pair of pants. Then, he drove them to FedEx, and mailed them.
Afterward, I alerted the hotel desk to contact me the moment the pants arrived—which they did. The interview went smoothly and nobody noticed anything unusual.
One of the questions they asked was, “Tell us about a time you encountered a problem and were able to find a creative way to solve it.” It was the perfect opportunity to share my story. The interviewers were both surprised and impressed. What started as a nightmare turned out to be a big win!
I don’t remember if I got that job, but I do remember that the interview went well.
The lesson: When it comes to job interviews, don’t expect everything to go perfectly. There’s often something that will go wrong. If you can plan on that thing, it’s much easier to roll with the punches and have a positive experience.
Interviewing is not about answering every question correctly. The hiring manager is more likely to remember how they felt about you than how you answered each question. It’s like going to a live comedy show. You don’t remember each joke, but you remember whether you had a good time.
As I’ve shared before, I’m a fan of working from home. Although it comes with pros and cons, the benefits are often undeniable. Those working from home are often able to be more productive. They have the ability to get more done in less time. They don’t waste hours each day in the car commuting. They are able to focus on what matters the most – working. And, they have more time left to devote to their families.
On the flip side, if you’re working from home, you have to try harder to make real connections with your coworkers. It’s easy to know very little about the people you’re working with. You are less likely to know about their families or hobbies, for example. Although these details aren’t related to work, knowing coworkers well can increase teamwork and therefore productivity.
Personally, there’s another hurdle too. Working in person creates more opportunity for social connection. When you work in an office, you’re more likely to have lunch with coworkers. You’re more likely to celebrate birthdays and holidays. Work is more than just work. It’s a place to make friends. It’s a place to socialize.
One downside to working from home is that people feel lonelier. They feel disconnected. The social aspects of working in an office are gone. If you’re working from home, this is something to be aware of. Very likely, you will want to try to make more time for social connection outside of work than you did before. Making friends as an adult isn’t an easy task, but it’s important.
If you’re like most people, starting to make new friends is the hardest part. It’s hard to know where to begin. Think about your hobbies, and interests. Are there things you wish you knew more about? From cooking to bowling to running, there are many different types of groups for different interests.
Meetup.com can be a great resource. Meetup has many special interest groups that you can join with little obligation. Look for events on the website of your local newspaper. You can also search Eventbrite for paid events that may be happening in your area. If you find groups that are of interest that are not on one of these sites, send them an email and asked to be added to their newsletter. Most groups send out weekly or monthly notices of upcoming activities.
When you find fun things to do, be brave. Try to attend a few different activities. If you can, attend alone. Many people do this. Going alone will encourage you to talk to people you haven’t met before.
Just one social activity per week can greatly change your social connectedness. Suddenly, you’ll find yourself with friends and social events. And, being social is about more about being social. The happier you feel, the better you’ll do at work. And, very often, being socially connected can help you find a future job.
How do you react when you’re behind at work, or at home? So often, when this happens, it feels like the answer is to do more. Roll your sleeves up, work harder, and push through it. Stay up late, and get up early. This can be an effective strategy if you’re doing something mindless, such as unpacking boxes after a move. But, if you’re doing work that requires thought and concentration, doing more may not actually work. In fact, it could have the opposite effect.
Over-working yourself will wear you out. It will zap your creativity and your mental energy. Your work will take longer, and it is more likely that you’ll make mistakes. Pushing yourself too much is one of the behaviors that can ultimately lead to burnout. And, burnout can take quite a lot of time and energy to recover from.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting that we all begin checking out. It’s also not an effective strategy to do nothing.
But, when you’re tight on time, or your to do list seems to be way too long, take the time to reprioritize. Rather than try to accomplish everything, decide which of your long list of things is the most important. A great exercise is to try cutting your to do list in half. If you could only accomplish half of the things on your list, which tasks would you begin with? Which tasks must be completed now versus later? Which tasks are quick, and which are long?
Focusing in on fewer things allows us to do those things better. It allows us to clear our minds of the worry of having to complete too many tasks. For the items you do complete, you’ll have the time to do the best possible job on each task. Of the tasks you focus on, you’ll actually complete them. And, you’ll do a better job.
If you’re squeezed at work, you’ll probably find this advice is the opposite of the way many leaders think of getting things done. So often, prioritizing what is important seems like an impossible task. In fact, everything is important. How can we possibly pick specific tasks over others?
But again, trying to accomplish too much is not a good long term strategy. It can work once in a while, but not normally. There’s a saying that if everything is important, nothing is important. And, this is true. When you try to do too much, you may find yourself completing very little of your list.
Both at work and at home, make your goal to do fewer things better. You’ll find that this strategy will improve your mood. You will ultimately accomplish more. And, your quality of work will improve overall. At work, this strategy will force you to have tough conversations about which projects take priority. But over time, the process of reprioritizing your work will become easier. And, you’ll get more done.
Labor Day is always a fun time of the year. Most people are off of work for the three day weekend. Many get a chance to spend time with loved ones over picnics and barbecues. The Labor Day holiday was created in the 1880s to honor the works and contributions of American workers, and the American labor movement.
In the last two and a half years, the American workplace has transformed in ways that we could not have envisioned. Many people are now working from home. Roles and responsibilities have changed. There are many labor shortages, and pay increases. There is more transparency in recruiting and hiring.
Along with all of this change, you may have heard about the concept of “quiet quitting.” If you’ve wondered what this trend is about, it’s honestly not as new as it sounds. Quiet quitting isn’t really about quitting. It’s about employees slacking off at work. Right now, it’s all the rage among employees.
One thing the pandemic taught us is that life is short. Things aren’t guaranteed. And, when times get tough, many companies will let employees go to save the company. People care more now about benefits and balance than they care about money alone.
The question for employers becomes, how do you curb this trend? How do you keep people engaged? It’s hard anymore to know if employees are really working. When they’re working from home, employees are only seen during meetings, and only if they turn on their cameras.
Some employers have addressed these concerns by monitoring employees more. They’ve increased their use of software that measures productivity. Unfortunately, this isn’t the answer. Employees who want to do the minimum will do that, whether they are monitored or not – and whether they’re in person or working from home.
Employers should spend more time getting to know their employees. They should try to listen to what’s important to employees. They should provide training and mentoring. They should pay a fair wage. In other words, it’s time to get back to basics. Employees want to feel valued, and they want to feel respected.
But, the buck doesn’t stop there. Going to work isn’t like going to an amusement park. An employer’s job isn’t to keep everyone happy and entertained all day from nine to five. If you have found yourself quiet quitting, it’s time to reevaluate. What could you do at work to feel more engaged in your projects? What could you do to connect more with colleagues?
If the answer is nothing, it may be time to look elsewhere. Work is an important part of life. If you find yourself checked out most of the time and without hope of change, dust off your resume. Look for a new boss, a new employer, or possibly even a new industry or a new role.
Quiet quitting is not a long term solution for what should be a short term problem.
Getting an interview can be exciting, especially if it goes well. If you’re dying to leave your company, the hope of a new job can leave you feeling both relieved and energized. And, the more interviews you have with one company, the better the chances are that you’ll get the job. Right?
Some of the reasons I’ve heard for sharing this job search secret include, “I know this person is my friend, so it’s okay.” “My boss and I are close; they won’t mind.” “My company needs to know I’m interviewing, so they’ll be prepared if I do leave. It’s the right thing to do.” “I want to see if my company will give me more money to stay.”
First, none of these reasons provide the personal benefit they appear to. They simply give away your power. And worse, they put your current job at risk.
When it comes to interviewing, nothing is a sure bet. Even if a company has talked to you ten times and is in love with you, the position may be put on hold for budgetary reasons. The hiring manager may leave, and the process may halt. The company could reorganize and the job may no longer be needed.
Until your offer is officially in writing and in your hands, there’s no offer. It could take you as long as a year or more to find a job. In the meantime, you still have bills to pay and a family to feed. Why would you put that in jeopardy?
Often, a boss you perceived to be your friend feels an obligation to let the company know you have disclosed this information to them. Even if they like you, your search may be perceived as being disloyal to the company. In the worst-case scenario, you may be fired and asked to leave immediately.
When it comes to asking for more money, keep this in mind. If you don’t have a written job offer, what incentive does your company have to give you a raise? They don’t. There’s no good reason they should offer you any more money just because you’ve been interviewing.
If you begin to tell colleagues about your search, don’t be surprised if the word gets around. People love to find something to talk about. If you share information about your search, you’re setting yourself up to become next. The last thing you want is for word to get back to your boss before you’ve found a job.
As exciting as it is to share about your job search, it’s 100 percent unwise to do so. You’ll set yourself up for failure that can be difficult to repair. When it comes to job searching, there’s no better alternative than to keep yours secret.