WorkWise Q&A: Trade show, distraction, gatekeeper

10/23/2013 12:10 PM

10/23/2013 12:13 PM


Q: Dear Dr. Culp, We have a big trade show coming up. I won’t be presenting, but I will be at our booth much of the time. People keep telling me that trade shows are an excellent place to build contacts, but I’ve never done double-duty before. How can I job hunt in the time I’m not scheduled for the booth without letting my employer know that’s what I’m doing? Torn

A: Dear Torn, You won’t be if you schedule your time effectively.

You didn’t mention the number of days you’ll be attending the trade show. Look for open blocks of time before it starts, during lunch and at day’s end. These are your best times to job hunt, just as they are when you’re at the office.

Check the companies scheduled to exhibit. Which ones interest you most? Call the presenters before the trade show to arrange for a time and place to meet, off premises, if possible.

If you can’t do that, be Mr. or Ms. Friendly by meeting people at their booths briefly. Focus on getting their card rather than distributing yours. Create a 15-second elevator pitch and move on. If a person at your company asks what you’re doing, say that you’re trying to learn more about the industry. mlc


Q: Dear Dr. Culp, I’ve been trying to job hunt, but I can’t keep focused. I feel pulled in a lot of directions. My husband agrees that I’m overextended. However, it’s impossible for me to stop job hunting, because my position will be eliminated in four months. Help me get on track, please. Skidding

A: Dear Skidding, If you’re overextended and you can’t drop anything, make it easy to be more productive. Reduce stress by ignoring or minimizing non-urgent telephone calls and in-person intrusions.

Tell people who tend to call you that you really need time to concentrate. Ask them to email instead or keep a list of things to discuss at one or more times throughout the day. They don’t need to know you’re job hunting and that you feel you’re at the tipping point, but they do need to know that you’re behind in your work and desperate to catch up.

Tackle your most difficult tasks for parts of the day when your energy is high. Save the others for when your energy is low.

When your mind wanders from the task at hand, stop, take a deep breath and renew your focus. mlc


Alex Forbes was job hunting, up against the system ( He submitted a resume to his professional association, which was clearing submissions for an organization. No one called, emailed or wrote.

This wasn’t just any job. It was one he really wanted.

He picked up the phone. HR answered. For 5 minutes he listened to drivel “about how they get hundreds of resumes, etc., etc.,” Forbes says. “I told her I should just come in and start working for them like George Costanza from ‘Seinfeld.’”

In case you’ve forgotten, this is where a new employee, dressed in a suit and carrying an attache, arrives at an office where everyone is nonplused. They fumble, hem and haw, then give him a choice of two offices. He chooses the small one, because he likes “to nestle,” and goes inside. Costanza opens the file he’s given, shuts it, sits there watching the clock until five and then leaves.

The gatekeeper “laughed so hard I think she dropped the phone,” Forbes reports. “She set up a meeting with the hiring manager that week. Got the job.”

Disarm ‘em. Lighten up a little yourself. Then, make ‘em laugh.

Mildred Culp welcomes your questions at © 2013 Passage Media.

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