On Pleasing People (I’m Not Pleasing Everyone)

I’m passionate about what I do and feel like my message is awesome for everyone. But it isn’t. And yours isn’t either – sometimes when you network (or interview) with people you will click, and sometimes you won’t. Here are two contrasting e-mails that I got this last week:

Happy FaceI just wanted to drop you a quick line to let you know the impact your blog has had on me. Although I haven’t commented on any of your posts, I wanted you to know that I have been reading your outstanding blog entries and they have opened up a whole new world to me. I’ve begun to see the importance of personal branding and career management from reading your blog. This has also introduced me to the blogosphere, and I’m starting to think about ways that I can begin to work towards using this critical medium.

Rik F.
Project Manager
Idaho

That’s very cool Rik – when I got this it made not just my day but my whole week. Here is the contrast (I’m leaving all the text as she wrote it)…

Subject: Good For You

Angry or Sad faceI have not read your article and don’t know if I will or not. Have you lost your job lately? and how old are you? My S.O. lost his job a year ago and turns 57 today, he worked for an organizationfor 11 years that housed the homeless they told him his job was done away with but within a week put someone else (someones friend with no experience) in his position . UE has run out with no extensions. There are no jobs for someone over 50 other than meeters and greeters that barely pay minimum wage. Employers treat our age bracket like common garbage. I don’t recall our parents being treated the way we are treated today. So don’t say this is a good thing as everything we have struggled to work for will be taken from us as the piddly money I work for doesnt stretch that far. I have been also caught in quaterly layoffs 3 times in a row so I won’t say it is a good thing. 20 years experience in anything means nothing.

Angry in Minnesota

I’ve already responded to “Angry in Minnesota.” I’m not sure how she got my e-mail address (it’s not the JibberJobber e-mail), or what article she is referring to… but man can I feel her pain. I haven’t connected with her emotionally but I can certainly feel her pain. Those of you that are older than me might disagree with where I’m coming from, since I don’t have as many years in the workforce, but I’ll tell you what, I feel like I’m as passionate about my mission as she comes across in her e-mail. Here’s a little more about me:

  • I’m 33. And a half. I’m not Gen-Y but obviously not as experienced as some (many) of you.
  • I have 2 cars and a mortgage. In fact, I went from about 14 years of house payments to 29 years, since I moved from a very affordable house in a small town for the company. And then I got screwed. And guess what – the car and house bills did not stop coming in – even though my income did.
  • I have four kids. I had three when I got laid off. My wife was pregnant. Think it’s fun to get laid off when you are pregnant? Guess what folks – NO ONE will pick you up on insurnance, even if you get a new job. That’s enough to scare anyone (especially me).
  • I did “all the right stuff” and still couldn’t get a job. In a big city, and in a job seeker’s market. I have an MBA and have been CIO, VP, GM, Programmer … titles that should have carried weight – but didn’t.
  • I neglected my career management thinking that a degree and experience would do the job – it didn’t.
  • I didn’t even think about networking or personal branding.
  • My kids prayed for many months that “dad would get a job” … except my 3 year old prayed that I would get to work safely (even though I didn’t have a job :p)

So is it about age? Education? Job level?

I don’t think so. I’m sorry that we haven’t been able to connect. I hope that you are not prejudging me, saying that I’m too young, nieve or inexperienced to know the HELL of getting kicked out on your butt with nothing and nobody to help. I’m sure this would have been harder and worse had I been older – I don’t discount that.

But please don’t discount me. I’m passionate about my mission and my message. Whether you are just getting out of school and can’t get a job, or 30-something and going through your first layoff or 50/60-something and been through this a few times before but now facing age discrimination – my message applies.

I’m not PollyAnna – I know this is HELL. I’ve been there. I’ve lived through it. And my only hope is that I can help one person through a change, like what you see in Rik’s e-mail. That’s all I’m here for – to just help one person say “I’ve begun to see the importance of personal branding and career management” — that’s what drives me to blog each day.

So there you go – I’m pleasing some and not others.

By the way, does anyone know what’s so special about tomorrow? It’s a HUGE day for me!

10 thoughts on “On Pleasing People (I’m Not Pleasing Everyone)”

  1. I’m usually just an ornery pest around here, but I agree with everyone.

    I agree with Jason that we’ve all been there, it’s extraordinarily painful for anyone to be laid off as we’re all making life plans (that cost money) when it happens.

    I agree with this lady that it’s different for the over-50 set. Different because they’re having to learn this lesson for the first time late in the game. And that’s a little bit of extra twist in the knife for these guys. And they are right that fewer companies will hire a post-50 guy.

    That’s why I recommend all 40ish year-olds to be getting ready a business plan for starting their own business. They may not need it for 15 years, and the aging of a business plan will help it, but with workers staying alive longer and retirement age not changing, they’re going to either end up in a minimum wage job or their own business.

    Plan now, ladies and gentlemen.

    Dan

  2. “Led Zeppelin didn’t write songs that people would like, they left that up to the Bee Gees” – Wayne Campbell

    (whoever that is… oh, google says he’s either Wayne from Wayne’s World or he’s an Aussie Football player. Either way, “Excellent!”)

  3. Dan – wow! You gave me inspiration on at least one other blog post – profound advice (for some reason I haven’t picked up on this before in the last year that I’ve been doing this).

    Rob – good guesses .. it’s none of the three.

  4. What about a business plan for your career?

    Unless you consciously choose to get in the driver’s seat and determine where you want to go and when, formulate a plan to get there, and then execute (network, build a visible online presence, sharpen your skills), you will forever be at the mercy of employers who don’t care about you or your situation. They have a business to run and to them, it’s all about the bottom line.

    Your bottom line is your career. Manage your career like you manage your business, and you can shift the job search paradigm from being a job hunter to being “the hunted.”

    Recruiter Tim Norstrem and I will be talking about this tomorrow in the CFO–Career–Forum.

    Cindy Kraft
    The CFO–Coach
    http://www.cfo-coach.com

  5. There are a couple of other things to add to developing a personal brand, networking, and managing a career — having the fundamentals in place to withstand being laid off.

    I’ll give two additions:

    Financial backing. This means that — as very hard as it is — have a year’s worth of take home income in the bank (or your liquid stock investment account) so that desperation does not set in while looking for a job. This doesn’t mean you slack off in looking; rather, it can help you have the peace of mind of turning down a job offer that you don’t want.

    Family backing. Having an excellent relationship with your spouse or significant other as well as children go a long way to surviving a layoff. When laid off, there is immediate emotional turmoil thrust into the family unit. Strong relationships can withstand this turmoil most of the time. Having weak family relationships can often cause enough stress to break the back of a relationship — causing even more stress.

    So, yes, develop the personal brand. Understand that networking is for life. But, have financial and family backing so as to withstand the storm. No one else will do it for you.

    Scot

  6. Cindy – totally agreed!

    Scot – excellent additions. I was fortunate to have both and it’s made a huge difference both in a stressful job search and as I started to launch JibberJobber.

  7. Hi all

    Daniel, do you mind if I don’t totally agree with you? Why wait until your 40-ish to plan for when you’re 50-ish? As said by many: we’ve all been there, I was there at 39 – having moved to a different country also. Lost more than just a ‘job’.

    Scott, I’m sure you know this one too – besides family ‘back-up’ you do need a network back-up. My network has helped me fantastically when we ‘were down and out’.

    Great and very true post Jason. Hope you encouraged the lady in Minnesota not to give up hope for better times.

    Karin H. (Keep It simple Sweetheart, specially in business)

  8. JA:

    Why not send Angry in Minnesota over to my Turkey Farm http://tinyurl.com/lxu93 and tell them that I LOVE to work with OLD turkeys like myself. There are two in my gaggle right now and I have bandwidth to help 5 at a time. No guearnatees of course but I love a challenge.

    I know that age discrimintation exsists but you have to have a Unique Value Equation, be able to express it, and know how to sell it. Then the age bariers seem to melt away. It’s not magic. It’s basic value.

    “Oh I see, if I hire you, I get more value out of it than I have to pay. Great!”

    You have to use little words, and big numbers. After all these youngsters have never had to concentrate very long, so you have 15 to 45 seconds to qualify. Your sales proposition has to be similarly laser focused. SO, when I can express my value concisely, when I can figure out how to get it under your nose, and when I have “sales collateral” (i.e., cover and resume) that make it OBVIOUS to the receptionist what I can unlock for you, it is amazing how “age discrimination” is no where to be seen.

    It’s too easy to say “I’m too old”; it much hard to say “I don’t add any value”.

    It’s really the same. imho

    fjohn
    the big fat old turkey hisself

    Ferdinand J. Reinke
    Kendall Park, NJ 08824

    Webform that creates an urgent email => http://2idi.com/contact/=reinkefj
    Web page => http://www.reinke.cc/
    My blog => http://www.reinkefaceslife.com/
    LinkedIn url => http://www.linkedin.com/in/reinkefj

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