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Rounding up the best career advice from ’18

JT: It’s that time again, when we pull together our best advice from over the past year.

DALE: And with it goes our wish for you: May 2019 be your best year yet. We’ll be standing by to help.

ON LOSING OUT ON A NEW JOB: Even though you didn’t get the job, you have started to establish a relationship with this employer. Stay in contact and let them know that you would love to work there someday. Why? Because eventually there will be another opening, and the fact that you stayed in touch could be the very thing that gets you the job the second time.

ON WORRYING ABOUT LAYOFFS DESPITE THE GOOD ECONOMY: Here’s the perfect situation for any employee in the New Economy: You know managers in other companies who’d love for you to work for them. Plus, you know colleagues in other places who’d eagerly pitch you to their employers. Think of it this way: Be the person everyone wants on their team. That’s the new job security – it isn’t about your current employer, it’s about your future ones.

ON ENDLESSLY PERFECTING ONE’S RESUME: Your resume shouldn’t take more than an hour to create and far less to customize, as needed. Anything more than this is not a productive use of your time. What you need to be doing is figuring out who you want to work for and connecting with people who already work there. Most jobs are gotten via referral. When someone can walk your resume and cover letter into the hiring manager, you have a much greater chance of getting the interview.

ON HATING THE FIRST JOB AFTER GRADUATING FROM COLLEGE AND WONDERING HOW LONG YOU HAVE TO STAY: You are so early in your career that if you switch now it won’t be a negative. But it’s important that the next time you choose wisely. It isn’t so much that another short-term job will hurt your reputation, it’s that unless you spend some time there, it’s like a college course that you didn’t finish – you won’t get any credit and you’ll keep starting over.

ON WANTING TO MOVE ON TO A NEW JOB BUT NOT WANTING TO DISAPPOINT THE OWNER/BOSS: Sticking around would only make you start to resent the owner and the job. That would really ruin the relationship! So find a new opportunity, and when you do, do your best to make the transition as easy as possible. Try to help him find your replacement. The more you show him how much you appreciate him, the easier it will be for him to accept.

ON BALKING AT BEING ASKED TO DO A TRIAL PROJECT BEFORE GETTING A JOB OFFER: The trial project is no different than an actor going on auditions or a point guard trying out for a team – you can balk at the work required, or you can embrace the challenge. In fact, if you’re going to resent the tryout, you’re going to lose anyway, so you might as well turn it down. Either be grateful for the chance to compete or walk away.

ON FEARING THE NEXT DOWNTURN AND STAYING IN A “SAFE BUT BORING” JOB: There are NO safe jobs. None. Especially boring ones. If you’re bored, then the job is easy or routine or both. That means you’re a candidate to be replaced by automation or someone overseas, or to have your job given to a less experienced and cheaper employee. So, the first thing you should do is find ways to renew your current position. One way to do that is to begin a job search. As you get out and make new connections, you’ll meet people in other organizations and learn other ways of doing similar jobs. The search will reinvigorate you and, ironically, make you a better employee in your current job.

ON GETTING MANAGEMENT TO SEE YOU AS A STAR EMPLOYEE: Offering to be of more help is great, but it won’t lead anywhere if your boss doesn’t have ideas specific to your role (and most don’t). So enter that conversation with suggestions: “What would you like to focus on? Cost cutting? Speeding up workflow? Reducing returns?” The boss will know what’s relevant, and the questions will reveal how you can be what every manager wants, a true ally.

ON TRYING TO CHANGE CAREERS BY SENDING OUT HUNDREDS OF ONLINE APPLICATIONS: The problem is thinking that applying online will get you a job. One study found that only 3 percent of people who apply get a call, and that includes people with experience in similar jobs. The only way to change careers successfully is to focus on networking.

ON HAVING SURVIVOR’S GUILT ABOUT BEING ON THE TEAM TO DECIDE LAYOFFS: Start by drafting recommendations for each person, and once the layoff occurs, take the time to post those recommendations on each person’s LinkedIn profiles. Next, send them each a message saying you are happy to be a reference and make introductions to anyone in your network who works at companies they are interested in working for. By doing this, you are encouraging them to jump into the job search process and giving them the confidence to do so.

ON BEING A DISAPPOINMENT TO YOUR FATHER BY WORKING AT A NONPROFIT INSTEAD OF MAKING A LOT OF MONEY: Recast your work for him in such a way as to give him bragging rights. How? Arrange for him to meet some of the people your nonprofit helps. Help him rewrite the story of his son. Help him see how you are pursuing wealth, not just money.

ON WONDERING IF TAKING AN APPRENTICESHIP TO CHANGE FIELDS WILL REQUIRE STARTING OVER AT ENTRY LEVEL: Choosing to do an apprenticeship implies you want to become a specialist in that area. It’s called a career pivot. There is nothing wrong with that, especially if you gain valuable skills during the internship. Companies will see you as an attractive candidate because you have professional experience AND have recognized the area you wanted to focus on next.

Jeanine “J.T.” Tanner O’Donnell is a career coach and the founder of the leading career site Dale Dauten is founder of The Innovators’ Lab. Please visit them at, where you can send questions via email, or write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St, 15th Fl, New York, 628 Virginia Dr., Orlando, FL 32803. (c) 2018 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.