Lessons about job hunting from my mom: The right piece for the right puzzle
Exploring new paths in the SF Bay Area.
October 23,2019 at 6:06PM UTC
I was so excited for my first real audition for my first play (I was in productions as an 8th grader, but that was different). It was freshman year of high school, and I was ready. More than ready. I had already memorized many of the lines for the character I wanted to play. All that was left was to get up on that stage and show everyone that the role was already taken.
Yeah….no. The character was a fairy godmother who needed to be sort of jaded and gritty - think more like Doris Grossman from The Critic, and much less like my portrayal, which was … as my drama teacher put it … “like watching Glinda the Good Witch.” Ouch.
I was crushed, of course, but my mom sat me down and reminded me that no matter how wonderful an actress Meryl Streep or Carrie Fisher might be, there are roles that they would not be a fit for either. They might be too short or too tall; too old or too young; not nearly thin or stocky enough; the wrong ethnicity, or they just can’t convey the proper, underlying tone for that character. It doesn’t make them any less of an actress.
“Sometimes, a piece doesn’t fit in a puzzle. That doesn’t mean it isn’t a puzzle piece, and that doesn’t mean that it won’t help complete some beautiful puzzle, it just doesn’t fit in that particular puzzle.”
I learned from the older drama students that freshmen and sophomores were hardly ever cast as anything more than background, non-speaking characters; mostly because they weren’t mature enough as actors. So, I studied a lot more about acting and theatre and the types of roles and methods that worked best for me. That spring I was cast in the chorus for the musical, mostly because I was in choir, and there were no specific lines. Still, it was a start.
The next year, though, was a different story. I had studied and practiced over the summer before, and when the play title was announced, I got a copy of the script and reviewed the characters to see which, if any, would be a good fit. Oh, yeah, there she was. Once again I memorized the lines in the audition scene for the character I wanted. Wiser than the year before, I nailed it. Even so, a lot of people were surprised when the director cast me; sophomores usually didn’t receive roles with more than a token line or two, if they were cast at all, and my character was a strong supporting role. Still, as rehearsals got underway, it was clear to see that I was the right puzzle piece for that puzzle.
It’s important to keep this in mind when job hunting. You might read the job description and feel you are capable of handling the job. The company may even bring you in for a series of interviews. But depending on the needs of the hiring manager for his or her team, or the culture of the company, you may not fit the position as well as they - or you - would like.
That doesn’t diminish your skills, it doesn’t mean you aren’t an excellent match for another company, perhaps even in that exact same role. You may need to “audition” over and over again until you find a place that is the right fit for both the company and you.
Believe it or not, Clint Eastwood was approached to play Superman before it went to Christopher Reeves. He turned it down because he felt he wasn’t right for the role. He was even approached to play James Bond when Sean Connery was said to be leaving; he declined that part for the same reason. So, fit goes both ways.
You should always research the companies you apply to. Who are their partners and competitors? What are their stated company goals, ethics, mission, and values? Do those align with your own? But there’s more.
When doing research on prospective companies, find those who would be your managers (your boss, his/her boss, and the boss’ boss’ boss) and co-workers. Do a bit of research and character analysis on them. Are they on Twitter? Do they post on LinkedIn? Have they published a book, white papers, a blog? Have they made a TED presentation or spoken at a conference? And don’t focus on just what they post about their jobs, but what other subjects seem to be near and dear to their hearts. Do you feel you would fit in?
If you have a recruiter working with you, ask them about the management and leadership styles of those up the chain from you. If your boss is more of a team player, but his/her boss is more autocratic, that will influence your work day, believe me. You need to make sure your preferred method of working fits with the manager’s style.
In order for it all to work well, it needs to be a match - for you and for them. So, while they are looking for the right piece, you should also be looking for the right puzzle.
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Has anyone left their full time toxic job for a contract role ?
I work with a very condescending, micromanaging manager and honestly it makes me sick to my stomach every time she puts a 1:1 on my calendar. I currently have a part time contract role that is way better environment wise, but no benefits. They offered me more hours and I am considering it.
Additional info: Contract role is well paying and is a level up from my current role. So pays more, better environment.
what would you do in my shoes ?
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It's tough to overestimate how effective these two tools — visualization and mindfulness meditation — are when trying to figure out what in the world your dream job really is.
I know this because I've engaged this holistic and empowering method personally and with hundreds of students and clients.
One of the many reasons it's so instrumental in gaining clarity is because we tend to romanticize what we think our dream job is. That can pull us off-course really fast, and we often feel like we've gone too far down that road toward it to turn back, so we're disappointed yet again finding ourselves in a job that's not a great fit.
In today's post on my blog "Reimagine," we look at what visualization and mindfulness meditation are in the context of a dream-job pursuit and how separately and together they can transform your experience.
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My manager does not listen.
she will jump in and take the conversation in the wrong direction and provide wrong information.
I tried telling her the client had issues with something, she cut me off and said the contract is under review that’s why the issues. It sounded wrong so I clarified but she further explained the contract being in review. I know my information was clear therefore I believed her. During a meeting with my client I passed along the info and they had no idea there was contract issues and after they emailed my boss and I.
my boss responded that she was not aware of any contact issues. Now the client is confused why I told them there were issues and even questioning my abilities.
She has done stuff like this before, today in a different client meeting she made me look incompetent.
how do I address this with my boss or do I just ignore her when she does it? my worry is sounding childish and being a complainer but I also don’t care to look bad to clients.
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Approaching month 7 of being laid off.
I recently got my job rejection letter after 3 rounds of a (seemingly) successful interview process; which took a total of 2 months, BTW. I am of course left feeling DEFEATED, however. I am wondering if there should have been something within the months-long process I could have done or inquired about etc.? Like a clue to have let me know hey, they aren't as serious about hiring you as it appears. Just in an effort to be better prepared for next time, that was a huge waste of time I actually missed out on the Job Fair
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Lots of people sell their coaching services on this platform.
I think this episode is worth listening to before engaging a Coach.
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May I just vent for a minute? And feel free to commiserate. Over the last 2+ years (actually, probably since mid 2020) I have had countless interviews. Interviews in all shapes and sizes (I'm in HR, by the way, for what it's worth, but I'm speaking as a candidate). I have been in interviews that were the most pleasant experience ever, some where I felt like it was an inquisition (one particular instance, I went through 3 rounds over several months, wasn't really into that job but needed a job, totally thought I bombed it and then when I called to withdraw when I landed my current job, they were upset). Brady Bunch-style Teams interviews. In person with facemasks (which led to one of the worst headaches I ever had). All kinds of different scenarios. And I tolerate them, I do. I applied for a reason, I will follow through and take each rejection in stride and withdraw for what is not a good fit for me. But out of all the different interview styles I've experienced, the one I absolutely hate, is the one-sided recorded video. Hate. Double hate Looooathe that style. I just did one last week (second time in my career I have had to) and I almost withdrew my application once I realized that was the next step. Anyone else find those particularly torturous?