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November 26, 2013

WorkWise Q&A, Blog Tip: Core, bridge, failure


Q: Dear Dr. Culp, I have a special skill that my industry needs, but I can’t find a job to use it. I’m not just hunting online. I’m calling employers and interviewing. What can I do to be hired for what I want to do? Stumped

A: Dear Stumped, You won’t be when you structure interviews to motivate an employer to create a job for you. Create the preconception of you being hired by giving the over-arching reasons to hire you.

Record significant results for past employers from using your core skill.

Identify four skills related to your core to make a full-fledged job for you to propose.

Return to the core skill. Turn each result into a question for an employer. For example, if you made money, write a question asking whether the employer wants to see more revenue generated by employees. Did you increase productivity? Ask if greater productivity would be an asset.

In an interview, after you ask your questions and mention your results, ask if the employer would like to see a proposal from you. Then write one and go back in to present it. If the employer can’t use you, ask for a referral to another department. mlc


Q: Dear Dr. Culp, I’m leaving my company in a few months for consulting. At 65, I’m finding that everyone is asking me about “retirement.” Not only do I not plan to retire. I don’t plan to semi-retire.

All of the talk about baby boomers retiring has me worried, though, because I’m leaving a company at retirement age and I don’t know what I’m going to do every day. How can I get around this? Between

A: Dear Between, You’re actually between jobs, with the emphasis on jobs, not between. You know generally where you’re headed – consulting. Do you know specifically? If you haven’t already created a first-year strategy for consulting, including a list of the companies you expect to approach, make this time your bridge. The worst thing you could do to yourself is wait until after you leave the company.

Also, think about how you’ll reorganize your weeks for work, volunteer and lifestyle activities. What have you had to put off because of work? Schedule those in so you have some structure when you start. After you try them out, decide whether to keep doing them. mlc


At 2 a.m. recruiter Lynn Hazan isn’t sleeping ( Too many candidates have misjudged how to interview; so she lines up the advice they must be following.

There’s not much point in sitting still. Fidget. “Sitting in your seat is overrated and boring,” she says. Alternatively, drone on about yourself – you’re interesting, aren’t you? – or sit silently. Skip emotion and enthusiasm. Forget eye contact to keep the interviewer from reading you. Don’t let the person coach you. You know everything there is to know.

At the last minute, pull your shtick together. Or don’t bother at all. Leave samples at home, if you have them. “Give every excuse in the book for not preparing adequately for the interview,” Hazan suggests. “Your computer went down, your family needs you.” Wing it. It’s your style, isn’t it?

Respond with “yes” and “no” whenever you can. “Nip the conversation in the bud,” she says. Save the “probing questions” for a rainy day.

Restrain yourself until you see you have ten minutes to go. Then, give the employer serious attention in the last ten minutes. “Use long, rambling, incoherent sentences,” Hazan advises. Pepper the conversation with a swear word to be cool. Shock yourself with turn-downs.

Dr. Mildred Culp welcomes your questions at

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