Thursday, August 20, 2009

Employed or Unemployed, This Is Good Advice

In today's Wall Street Journal Christina Binkley lights on several of my favorite themes. She directs her advice to those who have recently been laid off, but it applies as well to those who are still employed. Link here.

In her words: "The way people comport themselves after losing a job can make all the difference in what comes next. From how they convey the news to colleagues, to the type of clothes they wear and how they punctuate emails, the newly jobless must use careful footwork to navigate the job hunt."

Binkley wants people to let their good character show, not just in job interviews, but all the time. She recommends decorum, propriety, courtesy, civility, good manners, and correct punctuation.

Overall she recommends that people get over their "presumptuous and free-wheeling style." She wants them to overcome a casual, put-on confidence and project the image of people who are serious, responsible, reliable, and competent.

A good place to start is with more formal dress. Some people will find it strange, but a suit shows respect, for others and for yourself.

Also, exercise more control over the image you project on your Facebook page. Do you want people to see you as a party boy or as a person of consequence?

Even if it is only going to be seen by your 300 closest friends, the image you choose to project can stick to you like a rash.

I was intrigued by Binkley's suggestion that job seekers start punctuating their emails. She is telling them not to dash off emails that are cool, casual, and insouciant, but to take the time to write real sentences.

It is more respectful and allows you to formulate a coherent thought.

Among the larger issues, Binkley cautions people against bad-mouthing their old job or their old colleagues. Of course, that includes posting a rant on YouTube.

In effect, it is best not to vent to anyone. The chances are that whatever you say will get back to the wrong people-- past or prospective employers. Worse yet, when you take pride in your ability to put on a histrionic display you are telling yourself that you are an angry person.

If you do, when you go to an interview you will either lose your composure at the wrong moment or be forced to struggle against your natural tendency to vent.

Nor should you offer detailed explanations about why you are unemployed. Be circumspect, do not share the gory details, retain a stiff upper lip and move forward.

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