Posts tagged job
What I Realized about Managing Your Own Career - Journal Entry

Disclaimer: This story is a work of fiction. Names, places and events are either the products of the author’s neurotic imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental. That is, unless you find the main character to be wise, charming and likable. In that case, it's definitely me.

Journal entry: December 24

You know what I realized today? There is a huge difference between "getting a job" and "making money."

If you only know how to "make money" by "getting a job," you can feel like you are trapped in a box with very few other options.

Me, I always liked the security of a box. And if I'm honest with myself, given the, I would probably scramble right back into a box. It gives me borders. It gives me predictability. It serenades me…

"Don't worry . . . about a thing,

'Cause every little thing gonna be all right"

There I was, building a great life for myself. A life in part, made possible by the box. I had my family and health, lived in a great neighborhood, did interesting work, and could even afford some of the nicer things in life.

Until one day . . . I got inauspiciously chucked out of the box.

And to get a little meta for a moment, I'm escorted out of the box by Security with years of accumulated personal belongings stuffed into a box. How’s that for Christmas present? I’m told he rest to be shipped to me later. Free shipping, or course. They wouldn't be THAT cruel!

And guess what?

It's not that easy for me to get back into my box or any other box.

Why not?

O let me count the reasons!

1) My salary no longer fits reasonably inside the box

2) I’ve outgrown the box professionally and don’t really fix inside it anymore

3) I've never paid attention to what was outside the box so I am clueless about what other boxes really want

3) I've never had to fight, climb or sneak into another box so I'm terrible at it

4) Unbeknownst to me, my box was an endangered species and there just aren't that many other boxes like it out there

5) The process of getting accepted into a box is like preparing for the Olympics. Qualifier after qualifier and you can knocked out at any point. I hope it doesn't take 4 years!

So what's the lesson for today?

Don't get me wrong. I'm not anti-box. I'm pro-options. I'm pro-awareness. And starting today, I'm PROACTIVE so I wrote the manifesto below as a reminder to myself.

Don't Get Boxed Manifesto

1. Starting today, I'll learn how to earn a living with or without a box.

2. If I ever go back into a box, I will make it a priority to pop my head out on a regular basis so I know what is going on.

3. I'll keep all my skills sharp and be open to opportunities to make money outside of the box.

4. If I start to outgrow the box, I will not allow myself to get trapped in the box by my own fears, inertia or lack of imagination.

Do you feel like you are trapped in a box? Have you every been chucked out of perfectly good box? How did you respond? Let me know. I’d love to hear from you…

How to Ace Your Interview

I love it when a junior person asks me for career advice.

It’s not because it makes me feel smarter or because I enjoy mentoring, although both of these are true. The number one reason is because it helps me remember lessons that I might otherwise forget.

As we move up in our careers, we run the risk of forgetting the fundamentals that helped us get here. Seizing the opportunity to reflect in response to a question is a useful antidote.

Recently, a friend asked me a question about interviewing. I could have given him the usual glib answers (e.g., research the company, be prepared with questions, have great stories), but I stopped and really thought about it. The result was I reminded myself of an important principle when it comes to making an effective connection while interviewing. A lightly edited version of our exchange is below.


Hi Joe,

A copy of my resume is attached to this message. I've put some thought into those questions and I've come up with the following regarding KPMG:

1. What values and traits do you find management and hiring professionals within your firm look for most in new associate candidates?

2. [intentionally omitted]




Hi B.J.,

Great questions. I've interviewed a ton over the years and failed to get the job many times so I'm sharing from my experience. In hindsight I look at this question very differently. One can't actually answer it in a helpful way because the lever you are looking for is something else entirely. Instead, I'd ask what skills do you need and what preparation should you do to strongly connect with each interviewer in front of you? And once you are connected, how can you lead them to believe (honestly) that hiring you will be the best outcome for them, their group, and the organization? They are the protagonist, not you. That's what gives you the best chance.

Good luck!



So remember, for the next time, treat each person you meet during your interview as the protagonist. You already have been screened as qualified for the job. Your mission is to show each person how you will help them in their story. Along the way you may find out you don’t want to be a part of their story and that’s okay, too.

Your Move: What have you found to be the most effective thing(s) in preparing for and succeeding in interviews?