New strategies to get a new job

When you see someone who has a career you want, it’s a safe bet that they spent the majority of their career clearly defining themselves and then differentiating themselves from all the other people who defined themselves the same way.

Self-knowledge is a huge career tool, but most people find it onerous and try to skip it. The problem with skipping over self-knowledge is that people hit a career ceiling, not because someone put it on top of them – we put it on top of ourselves by not knowing who we are.

In order to differentiate yourself, you have to know what you don’t do well, and what you can do better than most people. This takes trying a lot of stuff (read: tons of failures) and it takes being wrong a million times (read: take public risks).

1. Forget about being smart.
The first thing you should not be is smart. You know that great American idea that we are a meritocracy? Well, it’s true, except it’s not a meritocracy based on hard work, we’re a meritocracy for good social skills.

We used to place high value on people who were walking Encyclopedias. Now we don’t need those sorts of people, and, in fact, they are weird. Their formerly very-useful ability to store data is relegated to parlor tricks now that we have computers.

My favorite example of the cultural demise of the know-it-all is the infographic of dumbest editorial arguments on Wikipedia. The arguments are fueled by people who think they will somehow define themselves by their arcane knowledge. For instance, on the page for Andre the Giant, 3,766 edits have been made in a dispute about whether his height was 7’4” or 6’10”. The problem is that these people will be defined by their obsession with facts, but they will be defined as useless.

2. Create new ways for people to connect.
The value people bring to the table today is social. We can see this in the reports from human resource departments across all industries about how emotional intelligence is key to hiring decisions.

The shift toward valuing peoples’ ability to create community is evident in marketing departments (community manager is a hot job title right now) and in technology roles (Microsoft just revamped its review process to emphasize social skills among developers).

One of the hottest trends in the art world is relational art. That is, art that changes the way people relate to each other in a given space.

For example, did you notice the ping-pong table in the picture at the top of this post? It’s sitting in an empty corridor of a parking lot. The artist, Laura Cashman, turns the parking lot into a place for people to play. The artist is not Leonardo da Vinci, but the Mona Lisa does very little in the way of creating a community of warmth and support.

3. Understand which commodities you add value to.
Personality is how you decommodify a commodity. Like spam. Or porn. (It’s such a fine line, really.) Look at this writing by Patricia Lockwood. She makes tweets into poems about porn that smack of the rhythms of spam:

Midnight. My wife and children are asleep. Breathlessly I begin to search for my favorite kind of porn: “Women Standing in Big Jeans”

THE BIGGEST WOMEN IN THE TIGHTEST JEANS!!! U WONT BELIEVE YOUR EYES! THESE WOMEN SIMPLY CANT GET ENOUGH STANDING AROUND IN BIG JEANS!

These jeansluts stand up really straight with their tits out, holding the jeans as far away from their bodies as possible! SO RAW

This girl wants a denim vest, a denim scrunchie, and denim Keds — are YOU the sicko who’s going to give them to her

Did you love those? We love them because they show us something we know in a new light.  Making a commodity personal brings pleasure to people who are bored with the commodity.

4. Be known for your ideas.
This means you need to be okay being wrong. Being stupid. And being told you were wrong and stupid.

You can’t be known for ideas if they are not new ideas. It’s really hard to think of a new idea. A lot of times an idea is so clearly true to me that I don’t recognize that it’s new. For example, when I tweeted about having a miscarriage in a board meeting, it was so clearly true to me that tons of women had already had miscarriages in the middle of meetings so it was right to talk about it. But it ended up that this was a new idea to a lot of people.

On the other hand, sometimes I think I have a really new idea, like taking Adderall to get more work done, and it turns out it was only new to me—Generation Y had already done it to get through high school.

So it’s clear that the only way you can tell if an idea is new is to tell it to people. It’s a good bet that if it sounds terrible to people then it’s a new idea. For example, Peter Moskos, associate professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice,  advocates that we stop putting people in prison and start flogging them. He argues that if you give people the choice between prison and flogging, most will choose flogging.

Flogging doesn’t actually ruin your life. It just ruins a few moments. So how can we say that prison is not barbaric and flogging is? On top of this, we already know that prison is not a deterrent to crime, and prisons cost us way too much money. So prison is terrible and flogging solves almost all the problems of prison (except deterrence, but that’s another story.) This is a new, radical, persuasive argument to me. (And bonus: his soon-to-be published book on flogging.)

So I remember the guy’s name. Because he made a difference in how I think. I love him for that.

5. Face reality: this is the game you have to play.
Getting a job is a popularity contest. It doesn’t get more personal than that. So paying attention to how people work around the commodification process is important.

There’s a movement among economists and philosophers to should stop measuring a nation’s success as GNP and start measuring it in terms of collective wellbeing, or Gross National Happiness.

I like this approach because on a micro level this means that you should stop fighting against a market that is not going your way. Offline journalism is a dead end. Being a novelist will not support your lifestyle—even if you are homeless. And you can’t expect to get a job as a 40 year old that a 20 year old can do. Just face the fact that 20 year olds are full of potential and promise and more fun to hire.

The practice of shifting how you think to go with the flow is important. You need to focus on your happiness instead of the market. You cannot force the market to offer something it doesn’t have. And you cannot change yourself to fit the market. But you can look at what’s there. Look at what’s true. And be with it instead of fighting it.

You’ll be surprised how much more effective you’ll be in all aspects of life if you play this game with yourself.

 

 

Posted in Job hunt
72 comments on “New strategies to get a new job
  1. Jim C. says:

    Intelligence is passé? Really?
    Intelligence is a lot more than the ability to retrieve obscure facts from memory. (1) It involves judgement — the ability to know what facts are important and which ones are not. Those dweebs arguing about André’s height aren’t showing any judgement, or they would get off the Internet and do something useful with their time. (2) Intelligence requires the ability to make important connections between facts. That’s where inventions come from.

    • penelopetrunk says:

      This is a great example of what I’m talking about. Inventors work all alone in most cases amd in most cases they are quirky, obsessive and unmanageable. Inventors usually sell their product to someone who has a team of high emotional intelligence marketing types that bring the product to market.

      Penelope

      • Jim C. says:

        Inventors don’t work alone in most cases. Most patents come from corporate R&D departments, and most have multiple authors.
        As for quirky, it has been my experience that the marketing people, particularly the advertising creatives, are much more quirky than the scientists and engineers who developed the products. They may have high emotional intelligence, but most of them aren’t good at evaluating facts.

      • Chris says:

        Ugh. This is the second HR blog I’ve read today insiting intelligence is passe. Ask a manager had a similar discussion. And AAMs readers and now Ms. Trunk have equated extremely high IQ with being somewhere on the autism spectrum. But I’m sure like AAMs readers she’ll scream from tge rooftops she is not stereotyping.I made the mistake of clicking on that link from 2007 – another high IQ/aspergers syndrome article. It is not in fact rare for people with extremely high intelligence to have excellent social skills.
        I find it really disheartening that we don’t value intelligence like we used to. I have known many many people who are outliers in the intelligence scale and I honestly believe there’s no job they can’t learn (AAM’s argument for scoffing at the intelligent applicant was that he was ‘only’ smart but didn’t have the intelligence or skills.)
        Lets assume that the social awkward intelligent person is as rare and normally distributed as the socially awkward intellectually disabled person. So why wouldnt you snatch up the highly intelligent person even if they don’t have the exact skills and experience? They will learn them! While the more skilled, experienced person is stuck at status quo, the highly intelligent person will master those and invent new ones. Theres nothing wrong with being of normal intelligence, but it doesn’t mean you have better social skills. It does mean different intellectual limits. Highly intelligence people who are in the marketing department will go home and perfect their integral calculus and conditional expectation functions to improve product roll outs. The middle intelligence employee is more apt to rely on logical fallacies, biases and hueristics. Also, high intelligence workers CAN find insights to apply to work from all “book learning” everyone else disdains. I use my understanding of the American revolution, the planets and newtonian physics and other bodies of knowledge all the time at work. AND I got invited to all the cool parties and had great looking prom dates. That’s essentially the difference between the high IQ and average IQ employee.
        And I don’t understand this obsession with painting all smart people with a low emotional intelligence brush. I find it so sad that it is a very common reaction assume smart people have other failings that make them unemployable. Similarly when a high intelligence person points out their smart, it is used as evidence against them – ah ha! Low EQ!
        There are at least a few people left that value intelligence above all else. I’m one of them. If someone wants to emphasize their “people person” qualities to sell themselves….fine. I won’t shame an intelligent person for doing the same thing. As someone said in AAM’s comments, smart people don’t have to tell others they are smart. Unfortunately, that isn’t true. Sadly, now that stupidity has become a virtue with dumbed down media, education and culture – actually sometimes you do have to point out your intelligence to people who may not see the value in that.

        • Tom says:

          Excellent perspective. If we’re not careful…according to those proponents of “I’m ok and you’re ok..even if you’re a moron”, it becomes believable that our society could devolve into an endless morass of socially well adjusted mediocrities sharing low-level ideas. The scary thing here is, we will appear like easy prey to those countries that DO have the correct priorities on education, smart creativity and intelligent decision making.

        • Barbara Saunders says:

          I too object to the common wisdom that high IQ means low EQ. It stereotypes all high IQ people. It also obscures the problem of “yes-man” types of political environments, where “smart” is actually code for anyone, regardless of IQ, who challenges bad ideas with evidence.

      • Tom says:

        Really? My read on this is an inept attempt at stirring the pot just to keep this blog lumbering forward. Pls don’t pit the best and brightest against the those that are struggling to find personal value in lieu of intelligence. You’re most likely smarter that that!

        • Sarah says:

          Debates about IQ and EQ? Boring! IQ testing has been discredited a zillion times for being useful to almost no-one, and is well known for rewarding the type of information valued most by white, upper-class people. And the testing of EQ in workplaces is making a lot of management consultants quite wealthy but not necessarily helping a lot of people understand how they can be at their best. What I’m interested in is the various types of intelligence around us, and how it can be harnessed to make the world a more inclusive place. I advocate with people with disabilities who are desperate to be working, but who are relegated to the ‘back room’ because there are only a few people across the world who have figured out how to help them apply their innate skills and abilities to paid work. This blog celebrates and holds a narrow focus on the type of work available to a privileged few (work from home; white-collar; writing), but fails to be inclusive of the range of tasks that make for a functioning society, where everyone’s skills are valued. A low IQ does not make you suited to routine work or the Back Room. But it does mean you rely on others to help you figure out how to best apply what you have to offer, and there aren’t any tests for that.

          • Lori says:

            I can’t help but notice your racist remark on white people. . . Rude and off topic.
            Intelligence is often defined as being a “know it all”
            Truth is we assess an individual usually within the first 10 minutes of approach, if they provide you with relevant information you most likely will choose to A: Stay longer, or B: Happily engage in conversation next time you see them.
            With a “know it all” they will most likely not give you the chance to ask them, rather spout unnecessary information that you don’t require, as a result you would try to avoid any future contact as they are not of interest.
            Both of these individuals may be equally as intelligent, however, the first impression is what will lead one to want more, or want nothing.

      • Lori says:

        Debates about IQ and EQ? Boring! IQ testing has been discredited a zillion times for being useful to almost no-one, and is well known for rewarding the type of information valued most by white, upper-class people. And the testing of EQ in workplaces is making a lot of management consultants quite wealthy but not necessarily helping a lot of people understand how they can be at their best. What I’m interested in is the various types of intelligence around us, and how it can be harnessed to make the world a more inclusive place. I advocate with people with disabilities who are desperate to be working, but who are relegated to the ‘back room’ because there are only a few people across the world who have figured out how to help them apply their innate skills and abilities to paid work. This blog celebrates and holds a narrow focus on the type of work available to a privileged few (work from home; white-collar; writing), but fails to be inclusive of the range of tasks that make for a functioning society, where everyone’s skills are valued. A low IQ does not make you suited to routine work or the Back Room. But it does mean you rely on others to help you figure out how to best apply what you have to offer, and there aren’t any tests for that.

        Posted by Sarah on April 19, 2012 at 6:44 pm | permalink | Reply

        ——————————————————————————–

        I can’t help but notice your racist remark on white people. . . Rude and off topic.
        Intelligence is often defined as being a “know it all”
        Truth is we assess an individual usually within the first 10 minutes of approach, if they provide you with relevant information you most likely will choose to A: Stay longer, or B: Happily engage in conversation next time you see them.
        With a “know it all” they will most likely not give you the chance to ask them, rather spout unnecessary information that you don’t require, as a result you would try to avoid any future contact as they are not of interest.
        Both of these individuals may be equally as intelligent, however, the first impression is what will lead one to want more, or want nothing.

    • D says:

      Good judgement results in good decisions. Good decisions come from experience. Experience comes from bad decisions.

  2. Tracie says:

    I really enjoyed this article. You are a gifted writer. I am on a career break to take care of my sick child so it’s not entirely relevant. Yet, it was still a great read.

  3. Brian says:

    I am not sure I agree though I love the word flogging.

  4. Gary says:

    I’ve seen it many times, the person promoted to a higher level is the one that the others call the brown noser, the one with the social skills to get ahead. The smartest person in the room is often the loneliest and maybe the lowest paid.

  5. my honest answer says:

    Sorry Penelope, but I gave up reading when you had to resort to porn to keep our interest. I miss the serious career advice aspect of this site.

    • Lucia says:

      to honest (anonymous) answer “I miss the serious career advice aspect of this site.”

      Don’t judge book by its cover.
      Don’t judge entire blog by one single post (or even a short part of it).

      P.S. to Penelope – I really admire how you don’t care loosing “fans” who are unable to embrace (any) bigger picture. You surprise me a lot, and your blog posts make me feel uncomfortable many times, but I’ve subscribed totally voluntarily after all and it’s my job to deal with it:)

  6. Purple Koolaid says:

    Penelope, you hit it out of the park, again. A homerun!
    I am saving this for my young children. They need to read this when they are older and applying for jobs.

  7. CRLife says:

    Being able to adapt…
    I say this constantly to the verbatim reporting community. You shoot yourself in the foot if you can’t adapt and serve the changing market.

    You said “on a micro level this means that you should stop fighting against a market that is not going your way.”

    When the market changes, your purpose stays the same, but you need to adapt and change how you view things, how you relate. Cultivating a sense of community, instead of division, could help so many people, but instead there is in-fighting, and then we all look bad.

    I’m so disappointed in the leaders in our industry. They dropped the ball when they decided to only defend particular methods, instead of embracing the inevitable opportunities and supporting all of the professionals doing great work.

    You probably have no idea what I’m talking about, but this post addresses so many things I wish I could get across to other people.

    • penelopetrunk says:

      This is a great link about what’s happening in the reporting community:

      http://m.good.is/post/where-have-all-the-photojournalists-gone/

      CNN fired twelve photojournalists because CNN can use iReporters — people who send in photos from their iPhones.

      The article talks about how photojournalists won’t be employable until they figure out what they can do that people with iPhones can’t do. What will they be known for?

      Penelope

      • CRLife says:

        Great link…really hits home. It’s all the same issues.

        This reminds me of a quote:
        “Hell, there are no rules here – we’re trying to accomplish something.” — Thomas A. Edison

        Thank you :)

  8. Irving Podolsky says:

    Dear Penelope,

    You always offer practical advice and you’ve done it here again. But you left out one important variable:

    The boss’s resistance to all the productive qualities a worker brings to the table.

    I’m a consultant in Hollywood, and I get hired from movie to movie. I report to the director of the film and my job is to help him tell his story in the clearest most interesting way possible.

    There are technical aspects to my service as well as creative ones. Sometimes the director’s idea of what is best conflicts with my idea about that. Many times the director’s personal process depletes his ultimate intention: to engage an audience within his finished movie.

    I then face a choice: do I respond to the director’s immediate wants or pressure him to do it my way. An argument about which way is RIGHT usually results in my getting alienated from the project.

    This is a tricky situation and I’m dealing with this conflict now. How do I serve both masters, his core intentions and also his unproductive requests?

    Here’s how I deal with this confrontation.

    I respond to his way of doing things and then help him to DISCOVER the better mouse trap I’m offering.

    This discovery process takes more time and is less efficient and sometimes it doesn’t happen at all, but in the world of PEOPLE DYNAMICS, guiding him instead of pushing him is the most diplomatic approach I know. And it trains me to work with people who work for me.

    The question then becomes: When I’m the boss, am I listening to those new ideas coming from others?

    Irv

    • Thom Westergren says:

      Irv, your job is one of building trust in you from the director. Depending on the director, this may never happen. Presenting two options, though more work, is a good approach. Don’t assume that others will see your genius, you need to sell it and, especially, prove yourself worthy of their trust. Hang in there. If you’ve got what it takes, I’m sure it will be recognized by the right director soon and you’ll be rewarded.

      • Irving Podolsky says:

        Thanks for your reassuring words, Thom.

        My leading desire in any job is to support the people who hire me and help them to realize their vision. Most of the time, I’m able to do that by working with my clients on an equal level. I believe it’s possible to do that on this film, given enough time.

        Irv

  9. Bill McNeely says:

    Penelope,

    I am a former Army logistics officer with 6 solid years of overseas defense contracting experience.

    I want to move away from these industries.

    Over the last 2 years I have started several companies while reading every startup blog, book magazine I could with only critical success

    How do I convince a tech startup to hire me as a sales or biz dev guy?

    Here is what Jason Cohen over at A Smart Bear suggested:

    http://blog.asmartbear.com/startup-hire-me.html

    Thoughts?

    Bill McNeely

    • D says:

      If you can afford it, offer to work for free for a couple of months. Then make yourself so valuable they can’t afford to lose you.

      • fred doe says:

        i would never hire someone who would work for free. talk about emotional intelligence. they would either be a trust fund baby or have the self esteem of a garden slug.

      • Lucia says:

        just wanted to “push” the LIKE button (…ah, this FCB influence…)

  10. peter moskos says:

    Thanks for the kind words, Penelope. I’m glad you found my book so thought provoking!

  11. Shawn says:

    Hi Penelope,

    I agree, forget about being smart, at least how most of us think of being smart. Now it pays to be dumb, in the sense that you are comfortable asking dumb questions and being able to get groups/teams to build on each other’s ideas. The new smart is being able to bring out the best in others, to facilitate teams in new ways.

    Emotional intelligence is also a big deal, it is being taught more and more within organizations. A focus on learning styles, team coaching, and other techniques are becoming more popular as well.

    Being known for your ideas is important, but being able to “plant the seed” of an idea in a group and having it grow, even better.

  12. Amelia-Bot says:

    This is an insightful and important piece. Insightful in its exploration of the critical factors that actually influence what happens in the work world — rather than those we have been told to believe matter or would like to believe matter – things like “smart” “right” “safe” – less because they align with actual lived experience but because they align with long-cherished beliefs about how the world should be – just and fair and with rewards based on merit.
    Of course smart and right and safe have their place, as do justice, fairness and merit. (I’m an idealist at heart, so I tend to place them rather high. However, this type of ranking is beside the point here.) Your point, and it is a subtle one, as it runs so counter to current cultural myths about the how and why of success and achievement, is that to insist on the integrity of these qualities – to believe that these qualities are enough and will somehow magically – Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo -create an authentic, fulfilling professional life, is sadly misguided.
    In particular, the bit about “smart” strikes a chord. Smart (not “intelligence”, Jim C. , and certainly not wisdom) is over-rated, and as you note, essentially a one-trick pony in the age of Google. A “meritocracy of good social skills” is apt, and particularly so when those social skills extend into the virtual world of Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter etc.
    This brings to mind this great David Foster Wallace’s essay “Tense Present: Democracy, English, and the Wars over Usage” where he illustrates the critical role of fluent social skills by describing the circumstances of a SNOOT – here defined as “a little kid who’s wildly, precociously fluent in SWE” (Standard Written English)”.
    “Just about every class has a SNOOTlet, so I know you’ve seen them — these are the sorts of six- to twelve-year-olds who use whom correctly and whose response to striking out in T-ball is to cry out “How incalculably dreadful!” etc. The elementary-school SNOOTlet is one of the earliest identifiable species of academic Geekoid and is duly despised by his peers and praised by his teachers. These teachers usually don’t see the incredible amounts of punishment the SNOOTlet is receiving from his classmates, or if they do see it they blame the classmates and shake their heads sadly at the vicious and arbitrary cruelty of which children are capable.
    But the other children’s punishment of the SNOOTIet is not arbitrary at all. There are important things at stake. Little kids in school are learning about Group-inclusion and -exclusion and about the respective rewards and penalties of same and about the use of dialect and syntax and slang as signals of affinity and inclusion. They’re learning about Discourse Communities. Kids learn this stuff not in English or Social Studies but on the playground and at lunch and on the bus. When his peers are giving the SNOOTlet monstrous quadruple Wedgies or holding him down and taking turns spitting on him, there’s serious learning going on … for everyone except the little SNOOT, who in fact is being punished for precisely his failure to learn. What neither he nor his teacher realizes is that the SNOOTlet is deficient in Language Arts. He has only one dialect. He cannot alter his vocabulary, usage, or grammar, cannot use slang or vulgarity; and it’s these abilities that are really required for “peer rapport,” which is just a fancy Elementary-Ed term for being accepted by the most important Group in the little kid’s life.
    The SNOOTlet is, as it happens, an indispensable part of other kids’ playground education. The kids are learning that a Group’s identity depends as much on exclusion as inclusion. They are, in other words, starting to learn about Us and Them, and about how an Us always needs a Them because being not-Them is essential to being Us. Because they’re kids and it’s school, the obvious Them is the teachers and all the values and appurtenances of the teacher world. This teacher-Them helps the kids see how to start to be an Us, but the SNOOTlet completes the puzzle by providing the as it were missing link: He is the Traitor, the Us who is in fact not Us but Them.
    In sum, the SNOOTier is teaching his peers that the criteria for membership in Us are not just age, station, inability to stay up past 9:00, etc. — that in fact Us is primarily a state of mind and a set of sensibilities. An ideology.)
    So thank you for once again providing such useful counter-programming to the fairy tales that so often (consciously or not) misguidedly serve as a template for our professional lives and for your willingness to take the risk in sharing it.

  13. LT says:

    I agree that failure is a great way to learn about yourself. Experimentation is good too. Unfortunately, even good failures are not often appreciated by potential employers. I have never heard some one say to me on a job interview, “what is an example of a time you failed and what did you learn form it”? From their point of view, it makes sense to hire those who will help their bottom line.

  14. Sherry says:

    Hi Penelope,

    I love your blog but why aren’t you on tumblr? I’d be reblogging you forever!

    Sherry

  15. Richmonde says:

    You shouldn’t be encouraging people to take drugs.

  16. Atiya says:

    As always I enjoy your point of view. I am now in support of flogging! I have always believed that a swift a** kicking can teach anyone how to behave! LMAO

  17. Alyosha says:

    A better alternative to prison would be to take the median strips on highways and flood them with water. Then when it freezes in the winter you can take the convicts and make them wear ice skates and they could skate. The prisoners would get good exercise. It would be beautiful to watch. And because they are wearing ice skates, they couldn’t run away very easily.

    This may not be a new idea. But I think it is a pretty good one.

    • Sam says:

      That would be fun to watch until the prisoners started to attack each other with their ice skates….

  18. Jeremy says:

    I see a lot of Sales/marketing resumes everyday…. and what comes to my mind is that most of them don’t know how to sell themselves and step out of the crowd.

    If they don’t know how to sell themselves… why would i lose time learning this person. THere will always be someone who will know the job better and cheaper.

    good post there: http://www.enerjp.com/2012/03/crisis-hard-to-find-job-step-out-of.html

    • Kazire de Guez says:

      You would not loose time. Time does not exist. You will only Take a few minutes to try to know this person, and see that this person is not a robot or a computer with this or that skill but a whole living life who may bring you (if you don’t think you don’t need anybody) new ideas that you were Not expecting, and which you can’t think about it before it happens. Otherwise it means you (think you) know everything, and thats bad for you and for many others.
      I am hiring a lot of people for my company and it is just incredible how some people are shy at the beginning and when I take the time to listen to them and ask questions about what they like and not questions about what they think they can bring to the company or agressive questions about the job they apply and often never worked in before, they are more relaxed and they speak more distinctly, and I can see their potential and what they can do, more than if I asked them directly. This is an approach that is not used very often, and It makes the world as aggressive as it is now, and people who are looking for jobs are very intimidated because they know that they will face agressive questions, so they prepare the answers in advance and that makes the world a world of robots more and more.
      I don’t think its social skills
      Because everybody says the same things all the time
      You can see it on all internet
      I rarely look in my facebook or twitter or whatever its called account because its always the same things people are talking about EXCEPT when its creative things like MUSIC, or FUNNY things about rich (arrogant, self based, egocentric…people).
      THAT’S what is interesting in life, ART and useless things.
      Not work. Work is work. And it should be more easy to work everywhere for everyone.
      It’s crazy how difficult it is for people to get a job !
      Creative jobs are 0.0000001 % of the working world.

      Thanks for the nice advises Penelope, it’s well written, I like the comment about sex, sex is very important in life :) look at shimpanzees…:D when they are fighting too much they just have sex and Hop that’s it ! No more problems !

      Take care

  19. Mark W. says:

    I just can’t imagine skipping self-knowledge. I would miss the challenge and the struggle. I like a good quote so here’s one about knowing yourself –

    “Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power. If you realize that you have enough, you are truly rich.” ― Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

  20. Vishnu says:

    I didn’t even realize it but I’m thriving in the self-knowledge department!

  21. lulu says:

    Hi Penelope

    I Would absolutely love your blog and wondering if i should share this with my boss??? coz now she will know where i’ve been getting all my tips from :(.. just so u know i’m in south africa … and love ure blog never been to the states but love the similarities

  22. Kayla Cruz says:

    Penelope,

    You’re a genius. I’d say 99.75% of everything I know about careers comes from you. And when I’m 30 and so much farther ahead in life than most other people, I’ll have you to thank.

    Please, never stop writing. K. Thanks.

    Kayla

  23. Jen Gargotto says:

    I was just thinking about the popularity contest factor the other day.. how it really does stay that way. Even in a world as seemingly impersonal as blogging, it’s STILL about who you know and who likes you/is willing to promote you. At first it will make you nervous, but then you’ve just got to embrace it. I love how you said 20-somethings are more fun to hire – I think that can be true about anyone. Yes, you have the skills, but at the end of the day the question is about whether or not that person wants to deal with you everyday. Work is a huge part of our lives, so when we hire we want to hire people that are going to be a great addition to that life. Being a snooty fact-machine is just going to frustrate everyone too much. It’s better to have humility, energy, creativity, some good old fashioned intelligence, and lots of passion and enthusiasm for your work and the work of the team.

    Thanks for another great read!

    • Mark W. says:

      Jen, there was a time I thought “getting ahead” relied too much on the popularity game and the sucking up to management. It didn’t feel right or fair. What I discovered is that I was looking at the hiring and advancement process in the wrong light – from the wrong perspective if you will. People in the position of making hiring and advancement decisions have people that they must appease so it’s in their interest to make what they consider to be the “best” decision. Their list of candidates will come from people they know best – the ones who have mastered the popularity contest and who can suck up the best. But here’s the thing. While people are putting themselves out there and making themselves known to the decision makers (and everyone else), they’re establishing trust. TRUST is very important as they’re becoming a known commodity. It facilitates a much easier and informed hiring or advancement decision. It’s important (but not easy) to look at it through the lens of the decision maker.

  24. emily says:

    Will you write more about #3? I don’t understand what it means. It seems really important though.

  25. emily says:

    “Well, it’s true, except it’s not a meritocracy based on hard work, we’re a meritocracy for good social skills.”

    This is one of the most accurate statements you’ve ever written on this blog.

    But if you truly believe this, you need to think seriously about the question it inevitably calls to mind: what the heck do you think you are you doing keeping your kids out of school on the basis of the academic insufficiency of the school system?

    Elementary, middle school, and junior high are not about learning the planets and the revolutionary war. They are hallowed halls of socialization. The information, beyond basic competency in reading, writing, and math (which can be tutored in spare time at home) is insignificant – the socialization is not. Children who aren’t there, who never experience all of the agonizing peer pressure (how to be socially normal 101) will forever struggle to catch up and be forced to sort of academically learn social skills their peers picked up intuitively in the crucible that is middle school. Maybe because you’ve always had to learn social rules adaptively and consciously, you don’t realize what a huge disadvantage this will be for your sons. And it is ESPECIALLY crucial for children whose home/family models for social skills are a long way from normal (aspergers).

    Please, take your own advice to heart. Recognize the unquestionable supremacy of social skills over ANY other type of intelligence for success in modern american society — and reconsider homeschooling.

  26. bdg says:

    I think it’s inaccurate to say that being smart isn’t important, rather it’s just being smart isn’t enough. You also have to be able to deal with people, communicate with people, be respected so that people listen to you and truly consider your ideas … and while I’m quibbling … it isn’t about being liked (although that definitely is a wheel greaser) it can also be about being respected. Respected for being smart or being respected for being hard-working (or both). So smart + liked, smart + respected, hard-working + liked or respected will all pay dividends. Just being liked and oh so social without either hard-work or smarts usually won’t.

  27. awiz8 says:

    Judge Judy begs to differ:

    “Beauty fades, dumb is forever.”

    A friend said it as well as Judge Judy:

    “Why am I such a smartass? Because I never get anywhere being a dumbass.”

  28. Caping in says:

    Just found your site through a friend’s recommendation and I love it! I can’t wait to read the next one.

  29. Md103 says:

    Well you know what, I’ve spent most of my life in retail and I’m just sick of it, and then I see people who have amazing jobs/careers and wonder where I went wrong. I’ve worked in Call Centers, but there just not my cup of tea – stressful and you take a lot of abuse from customers. I’m at this point like what do I do next? Where do I go? I’m afraid that if I keep asking myself this any longer, I’ll just be stuck in a lousy job as a cashier/clerk in a supermarket.

  30. Heroine Worshiper says:

    They better hurry up. The interview questions asking you to name every networking protocol ever invented are killing us.

  31. Hard Truth says:

    The honesty of this post is great to read, but simultaneously discouraging for the smart-but-socially-stunted.

    I am about to graduate (hopefully) in a couple months’ time–it will be my 2nd diploma in a different field, after getting a degree in a 3rd field.

    Penelope is right on the money about social skills trumping intellect in the workplace of today. I have an invisible disability (Aspergers), diagnosed by a clinical psychologist I was seeing for (I thought) career help. I realize now that the focus being on social skills today means that even being highly skilled in one’s field leaves you at a severe disadvantage unless one can party & be “fun” as well as one performs on the job.

    I wish they still institutionalized people like me. I am running out of money & how many times can a worker retrain before the truth hits them in the face: “your services are not needed, we want the more personable, fun applicant?”

  32. Jennifer says:

    Wow, how did I NOT know about your blog? Today is the first day I’ve read it and you have some great advice, can’t wait to read more.

    Jennifer fromJust Wedeminute

  33. Illuum says:

    #5 makes some great points and we love the concept of Gross National Happiness.

    Our app is similar to Daniel Kahneman’s day reconstruction method. We help you be mindful of your moods and help you improve your happiness.

  34. diseño web profesional says:

    I see a lot of Sales/marketing resumes everyday…. and what, comes to my mind is that most of them don’t know how to sell themselves and step out of the crowd.

    If they don’t know how to sell themselves… why would i lose time learning this person. THere will always be someone who will know the job better and cheaper.

  35. Amy Gibson says:

    Penelope you’ve done it again, you never cease to surprise me and put a smile on my face. I’m a community manager (I think). I create meaningful connections between people at the office, I disseminate information to colleagues in a positive way to ensure we all stay focused on a common goal; and I make the world a happier place. A part of my day is devoted to engaging with colleagues on topics that interest them (in a natural way because I’m genuinely interested).

    I have never had a name for it until now, I always just listed my skills as ‘good at networking’. I am still chipping away at my job quest (which involved a recent reconnaissance trip to the US all the way from Australia). Thank you for helping me get a little closer every day to ‘taking a risk’.

  36. Jeff says:

    There is a great post here http://www.farnamstreetblog.com/2011/02/tapping-our-powers-of-persuasion/ on how you can use the psychology of influence in your interview:

    … Let’s say you’ve got a job interview, and you know that you’re among a variety of candidates. Say something like, “I’m very pleased to be here, and I look forward to giving you all the information you’d need to know about me, but before we begin, would you mind telling me why it is that you selected me to interview.” And let them speak. Let them, in a public, active way, describe your plusses. And they will spend much of the rest of the meeting validating what they are on record as having valuing about you, because people want to stay consistent with what they’ve previously claimed. And you’re entitled to that. Why be in the dark?

  37. Alan says:

    This is not important, but people are already proud of having been in prison (I live in a city). Imagine how proud they’ll be of having been flogged.

  38. anon says:

    So glad that I found this blog.

  39. henrygee says:

    you know what? i just don’t know what to say but seriously you’re really a genius. thanks for the great info.

  40. J_Mo says:

    “You can’t be known for ideas if they are not new ideas. It’s really hard to think of a new idea. A lot of times an idea is so clearly true to me that I don’t recognize that it’s new. For example, when I tweeted about having a miscarriage in a board meeting, it was so clearly true to me that tons of women had already had miscarriages in the middle of meetings so it was right to talk about it. But it ended up that this was a new idea to a lot of people.”

    Funniest thing I have read all day. Seriously: Who does that?

    That is not to say I think your having a miscarriage is funny. It’s not at all, and I’m sorry…But TWEETING about it? From a BOARD MEETING? That’s funny!

    I still value intelligence–of all types–above all else. I admit I’m a bit socially awkward, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten better at adapting, fitting in, faking it, or whatever you want to call it.

    I prefer my small circle of very intelligent folks to a large circle of popular but mediocre people ANY day!

  41. BV says:

    This is depressing for most of us who were not only told to work hard in school/university, but that intelligence (in all it different varieties) was the most important factor.

    Moving on, I’ve noticed that for jobs at top companies, you DO need good grades from university, you MUST be incredibly intelligent AND be incredibly social.

    I know many young people who are recent science graduates – smart, kind people but who don’t have the social skills that many others do. How are they supposed to get ahead if suddenly their intelligence isn’t worth much – because if it REALLY is a popularity contest, then they are all stuffed.

    There has to be something else constructive for those who don’t have brilliant social skills, no?!

  42. Justin Lee says:

    Being known for your ideas is the best piece of advice I ever heard of.

    I think it is the most important thing youve said in this post.

    but none the less… the entire post is excellent reading indeed.

    Regards,
    Justin

  43. Aaron says:

    If you have a conviction go to http://felonyhire.com/

    Most jobs they get you are General labor construction, starting around $15.00

  44. Shelly says:

    It’s not always about how smart you are. It’s who you know that will get you far.

  45. how to cold call says:

    Wow, amazing weblog layout! How long have you ever been running a blog for?
    you make blogging look easy. The entire glance of your website is excellent, as neatly as the content!

  46. SearchForJobs.info says:

    Thank you for the post. A interesting and helpful view.

    What I’ve also found is a collection of job searches at http://searchforjobs.info. To have a look there in regular time can also help to find a job.

  47. Charlotte says:

    It’s amazing to visit this web page and reading the views of all friends concerning this post, while I am also eager of getting familiarity.

  48. Pansy says:

    Piece of writing writing is also a fun, if you be familiar with afterward you can write if
    not it is complicated to write.

In Archive