The Platitudes of Career Development and How to Know They’re True
“As the founder of Career Girl Network, it’s been a few months since you’ve heard from me on this site. For those of you who follow our newsletter, you know that I’ve recently stepped down as Career Girl Network’s CEO and accepted a full time position in the world of corporate philanthropy, something that makes me ecstatically happy. As I move back to the corporate world, however, I’m excited to continue to write for this phenomenal site and support it as a member of the team who is continuing to move this initiative forward.
So as I embark on my first post back on CGN, I want to talk about an issue I saw so many times over the past few months as I was going through my own transition and job search – the appearance of career related platitudes. Platitudes, in case you’re not familiar, are those “positive” remarks our friends and family make when we’re going through a hard time trying to make things better, but actually making things worse. No one wants to hear “he’s in a better place” when someone close to you dies, but people say it anyway. No one wants to hear “what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger” when we literally feel like something is killing us. And when you’re in a career transition or going through a tough time at a job, those platitudes emerge even more strongly.
Let’s examine a few of the most common career platitudes, and perhaps how they’re well-meant even if they’re not well taken.
- “Don’t worry, the right job is going to pop up when you least expect it.” There you are, crying in your beer about your latest failed interview, and your friend says “Don’t worry.” At that moment, you absolutely want to punch her in the face. You’re thinking, “I don’t want it to ‘pop up.’ I want it to happen NOW!” But your friend, the platitude, is right. Searching for a job shouldn’t be about any job, it should be about the right job. And finding the right job takes time, it takes major time and major effort. Your friend is just trying to show you that your efforts aren’t worth nothing.
- “Chalk it up to interview practice.” This one is especially frustrating, especially when you feel you’ve done a great interview and you still don’t get the job. We’ve all been there. So when someone says it was great “practice,” it will no doubt make you angry. But the truth is, there is no better practice for job interviewing than job interviewing. No matter how many questions you run through with your spouse or your roommate, there is no substitute for the anxiety and fear of the actual interview process. So it’s definitely true that practice makes perfect, especially with the interview process.
- “Are you tailoring your resume and cover letter for every job you apply for?” This was especially frustrating for me, an author and the founder of a career website. Whenever I was asked this question, I wanted to bite back sarcastically, “Gosh, no, I never thought of that!” But the truth of the matter is, after you’ve been applying for jobs for a while, we all stop putting in the amount of time we should on each application. When you first start applying for jobs, you spend hours on every cover letter, and after you’ve been in the search for quite a few weeks or months, you just start duplicating. This is a very bad habit, and you shouldn’t get into it. So take your friend’s advice to heart and work harder than ever on each cover letter and resume you submit.
Ultimately, the platitudes you’re being given in the job search aren’t necessarily untrue. And moreover, they’re meant to be positive and helpful rather than frustrating and hurtful. Allow your friends and family to help you through, and remember the quote at the beginning of this article – “Proverbs are always platitudes until you have personally experienced the truth of them.”