BACK FROM THE DARK SIDE
BY JEANINE "J.T." O'DONNELL AND DALE DAUTEN
Dear J.T. & Dale: I am a successful businesswoman who has worked hard throughout the past dozen years to be near the top of my company and industry. To get to this place, I had to put my job first. However, now I want to spend more time with my children and take better care of myself. But I'm finding that the people I work with are not supportive of this. On my latest performance review, I got only "average" marks. I spent years giving my heart and soul to my job, and now I'm being penalized for wanting to take care of other areas in my life. I am feeling more angered each day. ? Amelia
J.T.: So, Amelia, you ate the cake and now you don't want the calories to count. Let me be straight: This situation is your creation, not your employer's or co-workers'. I hear all the time, "I paid my dues, now I want to ease off." Well, that was another time, another economy.
DALE: That seems a tad dark, but I can't disagree. There aren't "lifetime memberships" anymore; no, we all have to keep on paying dues. What worries me, Amelia, is the anger. You made a conscious decision to step back from extraordinary effort, which means you chose to be more ordinary. And your review confirmed it. If your response is to be offended, that merely will add resentment, and what are your employers/co-workers to do with the New Amelia, the embittered one who works less? You're headed into a downward spiral that will end with your being fired or quitting, with "what went wrong" rumors echoing about the industry.
J.T.: I'm so glad you were able to brighten up my dark assessment, Mr. Sunshine.
DALE: Point taken. So let's merrily skip forward to reversing the downward spiral. Amelia, you must change your situation to match your new goals.
J.T.: As the marketing folks say, perception is reality, and the current company feels that they are losing something from you. So the easiest solution is to move to a new company, where they won't have memories of how you "used to work."
DALE: Or, you can go to your current employer with a proposal to tele-commute a couple of days a week, or head some new department where your work is less visible ? or otherwise match the new you with a new work situation. I once negotiated a four-day work week with my employer in order to work on my first book. It didn't last ? the organization resented my "special treatment" ? but I got the book done and was ready to glide into the next phase of my career.
J.T.: In doing so, you brought your new self into alignment with your work. And, to end brightly, I want to cheer you on, Amelia, in choosing "balance." While your work might be less rewarding, that's just one part of the "trade" in "trade-off." When you get home, be sure to check that other "performance review," the one in your children's eyes.
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Dear J.T. & Dale: I've heard rumors that resumes are being computer-screened to find key words. If so, then I should pack in as many technical terms as possible, right? ? Keith
J.T.: The rumors are true, and key words are being flagged. However, this also was true before computers were involved. Most HR managers are responsible for hiring many kinds of people for a variety of positions. There is no way they can have a keen understanding of every job and what it takes to be successful in each. Instead, they have always relied on key words to help them quickly scan a resume to determine compatibility.
DALE: So we can conclude that the scanning process calls for straightforward language ? as opposed to, say, cute job titles like "guru." However, if you "pack in technical terms," you risk having won over the electronic heart of the computer only to have a weary-eyed human screener lose heart and decide it's easier to slide you into the Reject Pile. Forget the computer; write for the reader.
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Jeanine "J.T." O'Donnell is the creator of www.careerjuice.com, founder of the career coaching company, www.bluekilowatt.com and author of "Find Your Career Path." Dale Dauten is the founder of The Innovators' Lab. His latest book is "(Great) Employees Only: How Gifted Bosses Hire and De-Hire Their Way to Success" (John Wiley & Sons). Please write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St., 15th Floor, New York, NY 10019, or via email at email@example.com.
(c) 2007 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.