Take this job and…

The Great Resignation is real. Last year people were told by their companies to stay home. This year people are telling their companies they’re not coming back. And sometimes not even that. In the same way that companies have mistreated candidates who’ve interviewed for jobs and then ghosted them, some employees are ghosting their employers, not even notifying the company that they’ve quit. They simply stop going into work and ignore calls, e-mails, and texts.

Dear Boss

Social media has been flooded with very visible displays of people quitting. TikTok has seen a rise in “QuitToks.” People Instagram their resignation letters or themselves holding signs saying, “I QUIT!” or “OUTTAHERE!” The pendulum seems to have very definitely swung to the employee. But the funny thing about pendulums, they swing back and sometimes with a vengeance.

As recently as October 2019 the unemployment rate was a record low of 3.5%. Employers were scrambling to find qualified workers. The people who had in demand skills were in the driver’s seat. Barely six months later, the unemployment rate was in double digits as companies laid people off, furloughed them, or simply closed their doors. Qualified people with impressive resumes couldn’t even get an interview. Today the baton is firmly in the grip of the workers as the quit rate tracks up. Traditionally at or below 2%, the current quit rate nationally is over 3% and, in some industries, (hospitality) double that. It’s not just minimum wage workers who are leaving. Quit rates among professionals in business services are also at record rates.

My word of warning is that employers have very short memories when it comes to employee shortages. They quickly forget how hard it is to find qualified staff and go back to mistreating and taking advantage of employees when they have the power. But these same employers have very long memories when it comes to how you have treated an employer. And the Internet never forgets. We’ve seen both private citizens and public officials vilified for things that they posted years ago.

I’m not advocating we cede all the power to the employer, not at all. They should be as grateful to us for working for them as we can be to have a good job. But if you’re going to quit, think twice before posting yourself doing the happy dance as you waltz out the door.cat quit

What are they waiting for?

Woman-on-holdI was just reading an article about wait times when calling an airline to resolve a problem; a delay, cancellation, or need for rebooking a flight. Telephone wait times frequently exceed 90 minutes and in some cases were in excess of 4 hours. Airlines provided little explanation other than not having enough customer service reps. These same airlines had eliminated countless customer service rep positions during the pandemic when the number of travelers plummeted. So there’s one staffing problem, but not the one that came to mind for me.

Possibly the worst part of a job search is waiting for a response. Whether it’s after an application, a first round interview, or a meeting with the hiring manager. All are frustrating but the worst is as the process nears its end. You’ve been through countless rounds of interviews. You’ve been told you are one of if not the top candidate. You’ve tactfully inquired as to where they are in the decision-making process and been assured that they’ve completed all interviews and will be making a. decision shortly.

Hours turn into days turn into weeks. What are they waiting for? There are lots of explanations, and none of them fully acceptable.

  • The company started interviewing in expectation of hiring and now there’s a freeze. Or they started before they had full approval to add headcount and it’s not you, the candidate, that needs approval, it’s the funding.
  • An internal candidate appeared at the last moment and expressed interest in the opportunity. They couldn’t have applied before because the search was done quietly, possibly to prevent this person from applying. But they found out (they always do regardless of the organization’s best efforts) that there was an opening and despite the fact that the hiring manager may not want that person on the team, someone above or in HR insists that all internal candidates get a fair shot at the job. “It’s good for morale.” Not yours!
  • It’s the holidays, or summer, or the “busy season,” and it’s impossible to get all the involved parties together to make a decision. As if all hiring decisions are made by a committee sitting around an oval conference table.

Whatever the reason the thing to remember is that all of this has nothing to do with you! While you’re waiting and driving yourself and your loved ones crazy, you’ll manufacture all sorts of insidious reasons or self-defeating theories about why it’s taking so long. Most of these start or end with, “I’m not good enough.” And nothing could be further from the truth.

The hiring manager has a To-Do list longer than a CVS receipt and finalizing the decision and getting you onboard is just one thing on that list. Compared to getting back to an irate customer, resolving a conflict between employees, or soothing the bruised ego of their best salesperson, getting back to you simply falls to the back of the queue.

So strange as it may seem, it’s not about you. Try not to take the delay personally, though it sure feels personal. Keep in contact politely and persistently with HR, the hiring manager and any of the contacts you have in your network who can advocate for you. Don’t give up just because it’s taking waaaaaay longer than you think it should or that it has. Sometimes it feels like landing that next job would take a miracle. You’re in the homestretch. Your flight is boarding. Don’t give up five minutes before the miracle.

employed image

Search like a Lily Pad


I’ve sometimes wondered how lily pads knew to grow just tall enough to reach the top of the pond, so the leaves, the pads, could spread out and get sunlight and grow. I figured that once they reached the surface, that was the signal to stop growing in height and spread out.

In fact, lilies have a remarkably long and flexible stem that’s greater than the depth of the pond. This allows the pads to rise and fall along with the water level. Heavy rain, the pond fills up, the stem stretches out to accommodate. Dry season, the stem relaxes below the pads and curls up again until needed. More sun over on the other side of the pond? The lily can float over in that direction to get the rays it needs to survive.

People searching for jobs can take a lesson from the lily. You need to be as adaptable as the lily. Lots of jobs on the horizon? It’s time to stretch out, raise your profile on LinkedIn or with your network and make yourself known. As things dry up and the volume of jobs lessens, pull back, conserve your energy. More jobs in another geography or industry? Might be time to float over in that direction to get the warming rays that you need to remain viable in your search or industry.

It’s important to have roots, as the lily does, planted firmly in the soil at the bottom of the pond. The flexibility of the stem is what keeps the lily from drowning or drying up. Staying flexible in your search may be the key for you as well.

Photo by Neha Maheen Mahfin

A Day at the Museum

I’ve been doing some virtual museum visits. One of the things I miss during this pandemic is finding the solace in staring at great works of art. As I’ve “strolled” through the Art Institute of Chicago, the National Gallery, MOMA, and the Met, I’ve been wondering how these masterpieces might be interpreted in today’s environment. Lots of these were inspired by wars, depressions, and other life altering events. These take on a new and possibly different relevance today.

American Gothic

American Gothic – Grant Wood

I lost my job. I haven’t worked in weeks. We’re stuck together sheltering in place. Neither one of us is happy.






NighthawksNighthawks – Edward Hopper

I lost my job today and I don’t know how I can go home and face my family. I’ve been sitting in this café since noon.


Card PlayersThe Card Players – Paul Cezanne

None of us has any work. We sit, smoke, play cards and pray for the time to pass.



Sunday Afternoon


Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte – George Seurat

The theatres are closed, the restaurants are closed, our jobs are closed. All we can do is take another walk in the park. Seems like every day is Sunday.


Crying GirlCrying Girl – Roy Lichtenstein

I can’t believe I got Riffed.





The GleanersThe Gleaners – Jean Francois Millet

I’ve got an MBA and I’m doing this?!?





Woman Writing LetterWoman Writing a Letter – Ter Borch

I’m never going to finish this resume. Do I need a cover letter?






the-screamThe Scream – Edvard Munch

No explanation necessary.

No Lone Rangers

lonely officeI started this piece before we were all sheltering in place. Working alone, in isolation, has taken on an entirely new meaning. Yet the need for collaboration, the need to connect with others may have become even more acute. We’ve found new ways to create the connections and work together to create the teams in which we’re able to accomplish more than any one person can do alone. 



Human beings weren’t meant to work in isolation. Not today.

Humans are meant to collaborate. None of got to where we are in our careers on our own, we all had help. No one gets there alone.

When you fall on hard times, you didn’t get there alone either. Something happened. Economic downturn, corporate restructuring, the boss’s nephew needed a job.

Lots of times organizations “go in different directions.” Reorganize, reengineer, restructure, redirect, reduce redundancies. It seems that no word that starts with “re” means something good for employees. But remember that “reward” starts with those letters. So does recognition. Nothing is black and white anymore. There are two sides to every coin, and it seems the coin is spinning on a razor’s edge and there’s nothing you can do to make sure it comes up heads. But the more people you know, the more people you have on your side increases the likelihood that you’re going to come out alright. It’s called building your network.

Your network is something you have to pay attention to only when you need it.
And you always need it.

You can’t wait until your job is at risk, or you have a problem to tap into your network. That’s too late. You need to tend your network all the time because you never know when you’re going to need it. If your job is at risk because of some corporate “re” word then the more people you have in your network who know you and the good work you do increases the likelihood that the RIF winds will pass you by. You didn’t get to some lofty position on your own, you had help. And you didn’t find yourself on the brink of elimination on your own. Someone else had something to do with that as well.

It won’t be your knowledge, your skills, or your talent that will save you. All the people in the organization have those to some degree. It’s going to be the people you know, the people who like you, trust you, and want to work with you, your collaborative skills, your network that will keep the building pass on your phone and your 401k accruing interest.

No one gets there alone.

Even the Lone Ranger had Tonto.The-Lone-Ranger-and-Tonto


Try Something

david-full-frontYour first job will not be your last job, or very likely your last career. You’re going to try lots of things in your work life and as they say in Silicon Valley, fail fast. Get the false starts out of the way early. This will help you to figure out your true path. Don’t stay with a mistake just because you’ve invested months, or even years in doing it.

Take what I call the “Michelangelo approach” to your career. Allegedly, when a visitor saw the finished David sculpture they asked him, “How do you look at a block of marble and see the David?” Michelangelo was reputed to be a very snarky fellow, as many artists are, and replied, “You just chip away everything that’s not David.” Start chipping away everything that’s not you. But the only way you’ll know is if you try. So, try something. It’s better to try something and fail than to try nothing and succeed. Don’t be afraid it won’t be perfect, be afraid of being in the same indecisive place you are today a year from now.

Sam Levene said, “Learn from the mistakes of others, you don’t have time to make them all yourself.” Don’t be afraid to ask for advice, no one got where they are without help. No one does it alone. But at some point, you’re going to have to take responsibility for what you produce. Like the people who created the Declaration of Independence, make sure you create something that you’re proud to sign your name to. And remember, 56 people created and signed the Declaration of Independence. No one gets there alone.

declaration of independence

Fast. Cheap. Good.


Used to be that when you started a new job, you’d get training, advice, a “break-in” period of three, four, maybe even six months.

Not anymore. You’re expected to hit the ground running, and fast. Start producing. You’ll be expected to deliver something sooner than you might expect or have thought. So, remember this:Done is Better Than Perfect.”

Deliver. Something.

You’ll be afforded the opportunity to fix it and fix it you will. I’m not suggesting that you settle or lower your standards, but focus on what’s important to the company. Your new company may be a very agile and nimble organization. Speed may be more important than perfect. Get something out there and fix it later.

And remember Stephen Covey’s fifth habit of highly effective people when trying to determine where to focus your efforts. Seek first to understand, then to be understood. Listen first and completely before responding. Listening may be the greatest skill you’ll use in your first weeks on the new job. This will help to focus so you can deliver.

I coached someone who started a new job. They were singularly focused on fast and needed to focus on best. They became successful when they focused on doing their best within the time parameters. As you figure out how and where to put in your best effort on the new job, remember this: Fast, Cheap, Good — pick any two. You can’t have all three.

Except pizza. Pizza is the only thing that is all three.pizza

Needle in a Haystack

haystack I keep hearing this radio ad for a recruiting service that compares staffing to looking for a needle in a haystack. Y’know, with a rake and a really strong magnet, that really isn’t so hard. You want to know what’s hard? Looking for a needle in a sewing store. That’s the challenge in staffing today. Imagine going into a sewing store (if such a thing even exists today) and looking for a needle. But not just any needle, just the right needle. The exact one you want and need. That’s staffing today.

Because when you post that job looking for a needle, you’re not going get applications from a lot of hay. You’re going to get applications from a lot of needles. Needles of different lengths, different thicknesses,  and different degrees of pointy-ness. Needles for hand-sewing and needles for machines. The choices are endless. That’s staffing today. You’re going to get hundreds of applicants, all needles. Unless you’ve taken the time before you posted that job to clearly define exactly what you need, you’ve just made your job a whole lot tougher.

Too many people complain about the difficulty in finding the right candidates. Especially now when the unemployment rate is low. Doing the hard job of defining your needs before you post that job is the key to cutting through all that hay to find the needle. Or marching into a sewing store and picking up just the right needle from all the ones inside.

Cause finding a needle in a haystack really isn’t that hard. See if you can find this one.

Needle haystack

What are you waiting for?

I saw something really curious yesterday. Something that wouldn’t have looked out place 30 or 40 or maybe even 10 years ago, but it looked alien to me. I saw people standing in line in a bank waiting to see a teller.

teller line

I can’t remember the last time I went to a teller in a bank branch. I thought, “Don’t these people have phones? Or computers? What on earth could they be doing?”  I mean I’ve been in a branch to use the ATM or talk to one of the account representatives about their products, but stand on line to make a deposit or withdrawal or cash a check? Can’t remember the last time.

I wondered what else people are waiting for. If you’re searching for a job, have you applied online and now you’re waiting for someone to get back to you? Don’t hold your breath.

Are you toiling away at a job, crunching numbers, writing memos, and putting out fires and waiting for someone above you to notice and recognize and reward you? Not likely.

Trying to figure out how to reinvent yourself, strike out on a new career and waiting for a bolt of lightning-like inspiration? Inspiration is for amateurs as the painter Chuck Close succinctly put it.

If you want something to happen, make it happen. Get out of line.

If you’re searching for a job, get off-line and start networking. Newsflash, no one’s going to hire you just because you’ve got 1000+ connections on LinkedIn. They’ve got to meet you face to face and in the flesh. “But I hate networking!” Get over it. You’re going to have to do it so start now.

You want recognition? Make people notice you. Don’t wait to be noticed, get in management’s face. While you’re building a better mousetrap someone else, who probably doesn’t do as much good work as you, is cozying up to the boss. I know a woman who complained that her husband never bought her flowers. (Full disclosure, it was my wife.) A friend asked her, “Does he know you’d like to get flowers every now and then?” She looked stunned for a moment and that night let me know that she would. She gets them often now.

Want a new career? Doing what? You don’t know? How do you plan to find one? Are you talking to people, taking webinars, asking people if they like their jobs? Have you thought about shadowing someone in a career you think you might like?

If you want something, this is no time to be polite. Don’t waste time waiting, in line or anywhere else. It’s time to make it happen.

What are you looking at?



You walk slower when you’re looking at your phone. It’s a fact. Walking the streets of Manhattan. Trying to get across a crowded subway platform or train station. Walking down the hall in the office. You walk slower when you’re looking at your phone.

So what are you looking at? Is it really that important? And what are you missing? Who’s way are you in and who are you blocking? Who’s behind you desperately trying to get by as you meander along? FYI, I refer to people walking while staring at their phones as “meanderthals.”

Now besides slowing me down, you’re slowing yourself down as well and you’re the one missing everything going on around you. You’re not just depriving me of my cardio New York speed walk but you’re depriving yourself. But this is not just a rant about people walking while talking on their phones though I’m sure there are plenty of you who’ll chime in with your own complaints. (I’m guessing I may get more comments on this post than many others.)

Whatever’s happening on your phone (cat videos?) is probably less important than something else you can be doing. What other distractions are you looking at when you need to be focusing on the really important people or things? Don’t let yourself get slowed down by staring at the unimportant things in life. Put down your “phone,” whatever that is, and look at the sky, the beautiful buildings and where you’re going. Because you’re going to get there a lot faster if you’re not looking at all the shiny things, screens, squirrels and countless distractions today’s world throws in your path.

What are you looking at?sunsetbridge-view