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Fix It Or Forget It?

December 14th, 2011

Cindy* had been Assistant Marketing Copywriter at her company for a couple years, originally hired as a temp. She suspected that her image as a temp never really left, and that it was hurting her chances to be taken seriously as a writer.  While her employee reviews were consistently above average, whenever she requested more challenging assignments, her supervisor always had some excuse ready about why she was stuck doing the busy work.

Cindy was really good at writing the copy for the bread-and-butter clients for the firm, but after nearly three years doing it, frankly, it bored her to tears.  The last straw was when her manager hired someone outside of the firm to handle the bigger clients . . . and told her to train him!

When Cindy approached me on the details of beginning a job search – the time and effort involved – especially in this very tight labor market, she changed her mind.  Cindy decided to Fix It! by putting all of her spare time and energy to work, but writing for herself instead!  (She felt that she could better sell herself on the page, rather than in countless offices, answering, “Tell me about yourself” questions.)

Cindy continued working on her assignments as usual, but she brought in a large purse (with her personal laptop).  When her projects were done, she would write notes on paper notepads, in the event her work computer was being monitored.

During her lunch break, she would work in a private space and transfer her written notes to her laptop.  At the end of the day, Cindy would take home more notes and her laptop and transfer them as well, and continue writing.

Within a year and a half, Cindy had written a book and approached a publisher, who was interested in publishing it!  She felt that this was a much better use of her time, rather than going on countless interviews.

With a published book added to her resume, people in her office no longer think of Cindy as merely “the temp girl,” and she is now considering beginning a job search, since her stock is much higher.

Duane* got a position with a company that has a lot of happy hours.  In fact, quite a few of them seemed to start before 5:00 somehow – and Duane doesn’t drink.

At first, he’d go out with everyone to the bars and order a soda or coffee, and it seemed that others in his department were ok with it.  Duane wanted to meet his co-workers and network after hours, and thought nothing of it initially.  They would even gleefully exclaim that they were glad to have a “designated driver” at lunch, which Duane thought odd.  (How drunk did they plan to get at lunch, he wondered?)

Later, though, he began to feel that eyes were cast upon him as though they considered him a snob for not joining in.  He also then heard a tale of company history.  Apparently, employees used to drink on company property nearly every Friday afternoon as their “happy hour”, but something went awry (he didn’t learn exactly what).  He got the impression that someone complained, though, which put an end to alcohol on the premises after that.

It became clear that Duane was becoming equated with the previous complainer, and people were suspicious that he might be the next person to further curb their festivities.  Fewer people asked him to join them for lunch or Happy Hours as time went on, and many personal conversations either stopped or became hushed as Duane entered rooms.

While Duane did find the environment to be a bit immature, he wasn’t interested in policing anyone, and yet somehow found himself assumed to be some sort of hall monitor, not to mention social pariah.

Duane decided to Forget It! and we began his job search immediately.  When it was clear that he was a final candidate for a position, we added an initial layer of checking the social media channels of the employees at the company, to see just how important partying was to their lives.  In a couple of cases, that was the prevailing theme for nearly everyone, and Duane politely declined further interviews.

Do you have a Fix It or Forget It? story to share?  Send it to me, and it might help others.  Identifying features will be altered prior to publishing.

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Good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment.
—  Rita Mae Brown

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