Not in the sense that you’ll feel good if you pretend you have a holiday coming. Rather in the sense that if you dread holidays or you dread how you feel at the start of them plus everybody around you can’t bear your company until halfway through the trip, you can do something about it in advance.
As you start your vacation, you’ll want to relax as quickly as possible. But a more effective approach is to transition slowly, allowing your mind and body to get used to the change, particularly if your prep time was very stressful. Research shows that stress can dampen our immune system. It’s true that stress hormones like cortisol prop us up for a time. But if we relax too quickly, letting go of that support before our immune system can recuperate, we can expose ourselves to illness. So maintain a similar level of mental and physical activity for the first few days of your holiday then ease into full relaxation.
Now if it this were about Internet Explorer, you could joke that users stay longer in their jobs because that browser is slower. But it isn’t about that, so we can’t. Instead, a firm has found that people who uses these other two browsers have certain characteristics.
Cornerstone’s researchers found that people who took the test on a non-default browser, such as Firefox or Chrome, ended up staying at their jobs about 15 percent longer than those who stuck with Safari or Internet Explorer. They performed better on the job as well. (These statistics were roughly the same for both Mac and PC users.)
The thinking is that these are non-standard browsers. That is, if you use them, you chose to go get them and it’s the act of even looking into alternatives that marks you out with these distinctive characteristics.
Whatever. I give up. It’s as if we’ve reached saturation point on articles that say writers working from home should pretend they have a real 9-5 office job and instead now we’re embarking on a round of articles saying they shouldn’t. Here’s a shouldn’t:
I polled some of my freelance friends to find out what rules they commonly break. Here’s what came up again and again:
“Work on a schedule, just like you would at a regular job. ”
No thanks, said writer Christine Hennebury: “I don’t set regular hours. I don’t set aside chunks of time. And I don’t turn off my work at a specific time. The whole point of freelancing and working from home is to blend your work and home life together a bit better.” Instead, Hennebury plans her day using author Jennifer Louden’s “Conditions of Enoughness,” deciding what she needs to get done to be satisfied at the end of the day. Then when she’s done, she’s done.
Trying to stick to a “normal” nine-to-five workday can present logistical problems for freelancers, too, as former freelancer Holly Case pointed out. “I remember one big article I was working on required me to interview an important expert. I spent nearly a week trying to reach him and never could. He finally called me at eleven p.m., explaining that he was on his way to a party in a limo and wondered if I could do the interview then. I said yes because I didn’t know if I would get it otherwise
There’s this firm, right, and it’s looking to hire various people but one particular group is proving a problem because they write rubbish applications. Apparently Project Managers are so bad at managing to project an image of themselves that the person hiring them was driven to write an article about how they should do it. Remarkably, just as with so very many other pieces of advice for job applicants, the answer is to write better.
You can do that. You’re a writer. We forget sometimes that what we do is hard and that many, many or even most people just can’t do it. So use your skill, use your talent, write your way into a job interview.
I also think that Product Managers need to write better resumes. Designers have, for the most part, figured out that it’s more about showing than telling. It’s easy to go to someone’s sites and portfolio to get a sense of what they’re about. Product Managers still appear to be stuck in the “Let me tell you how awesome I am” rut, though. This is a generalization, of course, but what I’m mostly seeing right now is resumes that excel at vagueness. It’s not uncommon to see a sentence like “Applied world-class methodologies to create a successful customer-centric product”, or some variation of that. What does that mean?
It’s great to see proof of success, yes — stats about conversion improvements, etc. are extremely useful. But hiring managers need more than that to assess Product Managers. We need to know how you think. We need to know how you approach problems, how you work, what methods you like and don’t like, and why. And for some reason most PMs I speak to seem surprised by those questions and have trouble answering them.
It can’t always be a good idea, but when it’s right, this could work well for you:
Introduce Yourself When They Aren’t Looking
What if you saw an ad for a job where you knew there was a fair amount of turnover. To add to this, let’s assume you are not desperate and unemployed. Wouldn’t it make sense, then, to allow the ad to run its course and send a letter a few weeks later to make it appear your interest in the company was genuine and not an opportunistic spur of the moment decision made because there was an enticing ad that sparked your interest? The point here is to get yourself noticed when they aren’t looking — and when there aren’t a hundred other candidates seeking their attention all at once.
The New York Times has been running a short series called How to Get a Job at Google. It’s very much about getting a vocational education, it’s mostly rather down on the concept of getting a degree in what interests you even if that won’t directly set you up for a career in the burger and fries industry. But among the long part 2 feature last weekend, there was this about writing a CV.
Laszlo Bock “is in charge of all hiring at Google – about 100 new hires a week” and says about CVs:
“The key,” he said, “is to frame your strengths as: ‘I accomplished X, relative to Y, by doing Z.’ Most people would write a résumé like this: ‘Wrote editorials for The New York Times.’ Better would be to say: ‘Had 50 op-eds published compared to average of 6 by most op-ed [writers] as a result of providing deep insight into the following area for three years.’ Most people don’t put the right content on their résumés.”
I read that translating the word job into the words freelance contract – and, actually, also translating resumé into CV – but what he then says about interviews is surely useful advice for any session where you’re pitching yourself:
“What you want to do is say: ‘Here’s the attribute I’m going to demonstrate; here’s the story demonstrating it; here’s how that story demonstrated that attribute.’ ” And here is how it can create value. “Most people in an interview don’t make explicit their thought process behind how or why they did something and, even if they are able to come up with a compelling story, they are unable to explain their thought process.”
There’s a not a gigantic amount more in the full Times piece but see what you think of the guy’s opinion on whether liberal arts qualifications have merit.
By the way, this is the 300th news post on The Blank Screen. Let us raise a mug of tea. Clink.