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February 27, 2014

WorkWise Q&A, Blog Tip: Mistake, style, stranger

I’m one of the long-term unemployed, or I was until I took this job. My gut told me not to take it, but my need to get out of the house every day to earn a paycheck won out.


Q: Dear Dr. Culp, I’m one of the long-term unemployed, or I was until I took this job. My gut told me not to take it, but my need to get out of the house every day to earn a paycheck won out. I’ve been hanging on for two and one-half months, hoping. It’s not getting better. I can’t stand the grind, but I don’t know what to do to make it better. Stuck

A: Dear Stuck, Feeling stuck is a state of mind you’ve brought on yourself. Because of that, you can make some changes over the short-term to help you ameliorate your frustration and prepare you for your next move.

Every morning bring hope into your situation by doing at least one thing different that will reflect where you’re going rather than where you are. Of course, that means you have to know your direction. If your job requires you to copy materials all day long, develop a new way to put them in categories. If you’re constantly answering phones, adjust your tone and record the results of the conversation.

Taking initiative will get you unstuck eventually. Don’t complain about being stuck. Take steps so that you aren’t. mlc


Q: Dear Dr. Culp, I’ve been job hunting in a field with a lot of people who came up through technical work. They don’t communicate as well as many people with other backgrounds. They’re not bad people, but they’re not as nice or gracious. Am I being a stickler for details when I’m truly interested in the work they do? I wonder if being different might get in the way over the long term. Uncomfortable

A: Dear Uncomfortable, Although you’ve encountered a pattern among the people in the new industry, you don’t report that they’re not welcoming you. Have you seen any signs that you’d need to adjust your style for their sake? If not, consider adjusting your own attitude.

You can obsess over their rough edges every day or allow them to appreciate who you are and notice how they do it. Then, model your appreciation of them over theirs of you. Calm down! Sometimes being different is exceedingly helpful in establishing your value to an organization. People are drawn to you for the gift you bring. Become comfortable in your own skin as a good first step toward becoming comfortable around different people who are comfortable in theirs. mlc


“Job hunting is all about getting your foot in the door and hopefully not getting it stuck there,” reports Michele Mavi ( She’s not afraid to buck conventional advice.

You see, Mavi networks, with a twist. “It’s about who you don’t know,” she maintains. Walking in New York City, she told a friend about a band she’d lined up for an event. A stranger who heard the town announced that that’s where he lived. Could this be a call to opportunity? She started chatting and learned that he and his colleagues “make people’s dreams come true.”

“Well, then I want to work for you,” Mavi told him. Exchanging cards, she saw he was the CEO of a promising marketing company. A single email led to an interview and a job she wanted.

Of course, the heretofore unknown person could be the brother of your boss, ready to spill the beans about your opportunity-hunting, or of otherwise dubious nature. You don’t have time to ask Your City’s Finest for a character-check! Just don’t be reckless, and follow Mavi’s advice to “play it safe and send a traditional resume and cover letter as a backup.” Once on the job, continue with openness.

Mildred Culp welcomes your questions at

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