Tag Archives: job rut

One huge secret to escape a stalled career

Nerds don’t just happen to dress informally.  They do it too consistently.  Consciously or not, they dress informally as a prophylactic measure against stupidity. (Paul Graham)

My partner changed the career of a man stuck in a job rut.  He was looking for a job and no one would hire him.  His current boss wouldn’t promote him.

Dress for your career, not your job

He was a banker.  He had a great personality, was a hard worker, smart, self assured, and educated. He got things done. He was going nowhere in his career.  His white shirt under that nice suit and tie was slightly wrinkled and just didn’t look sharp.  Karen gave him one piece of advice that made all the difference, “Get your shirts done at the dry cleaners.” He got the job and rose like a rocket in his new bank. 20 years later he came into our office and expected her to notice that he still got his shirts done at the cleaners. She noticed.

The secret

If you are applying for a job, you have to be dressed in at least the same crispness as the hiring manager.  A little better is okay.  The hiring manager has to get the first impression that you will work as hard as he does.  That first impression is often the only real thing that keeps a job candidate from being hired.

When you dress up to the level you want to rise to, you are seen at first glance as someone to be reckoned with.  People will automatically figure out where you want to go. Your clothes need to be clean, pressed, and sharp.  Your shoes need to be nicer, cleaner, and shinier than the shoes of your boss’s boss. And wear nice socks that never show skin at the bottom of your pants leg.

Look at how your boss’s boss dresses.  If you want to impress him, you are going to have to look like him.  Sorry. That is just a fact. If you are of the opposite sex, it only applies more strongly.  You have to look like you are in his circle of acquaintances in order to be invited to work directly for him.

The way you dress will actually change your performance.  Other people will subconsciously give you more respect and more opportunities.  Take advantage of it.

Instead of dressing like all the rest of the nerd herd doing your job, dress like the person whose career is going places.


Something To Do Today

Ask your boss to tell you how you should dress.


Later:             Resume blasting

Certifications – gold and lead

Recruiter motivation

Inventing your next job, not your next rut

Right now half of the people in the US workforce are seriously considering changing their jobs.  Look at your coworkers.  Half of them want to leave. If you are in one of the best companies in the world, the number is still 10% – 20%.  One GE executive announced he is leaving for a new job that will pay $100M.  He was one of their very top executives.  What about your company?  Which of the executives are ready to leave. Why?

More money.  Everyone wants more money.

What else? Before you leave, you have to decide what you want. After you spend the weekend dreaming and writing down what you want, it is time to invent your next job.

Other than money, what does your list of dreams show you value? Do you really want more family time, more challenge, more accomplishment, education, a real team environment or more time for fishing?  Look at your list of dreams and figure out what the underlying needs are. Not just what do you want today, but what need underlies that.

Underneath your list of dreams write down what really needs to change.

When you make the list of underlying changes you really want, also write down other “out of the rut” solutions to the problem.  What jobs, careers or hobbies would fix your problem?  Be sure the career change you are fighting for won’t stick you back in the same old rut in someone else’s driveway.  I’m always amazed at the number of careers that can be fixed by telling your boss, “You had better prioritize what you want me to do, because I will no longer work more than 50 hours each week.”

Look at those underlying changes you need.  Can you make them happen at your present job?  If not, time to change. List the jobs you would like that not only get you out of your current office, but fix the real problems.  Make sure that your new job is not just another rut.  Otherwise, you’ll be in that 50% looking to change jobs next year too.

To invent the job you need, you first have to know what you really need.

Something to do today

Make that list of underlying needs and add 20 ways to fulfill them.  Often you can invent the job you want while you are filling out the list.  At the very least this should help keep you from falling into the same old rut.


Religion, politics, sexuality and job hunting – suicide or the sweet spot?