On the Job

On the Job


From age 20-65, the average American works 40 hours a week. That adds up to 10.3 years spent on the job. Make your years at work worth your while.

single and on the job

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Next to home and hearth, the other Big Thing in life is work, and under that umbrella: career, ambition, and OK, wishful thinking. The old adage about being on your death bed and having regrets about not spending enough time with family is only partially true. On my own, for example (I wrote it down) I would also add: “I regret sending my brilliant novel to that publisher who’s now making lanyards in a Swiss Clinic, and while I’m on the topic, if “they” would have listened, As the Word Turns would still be on the air … wait there’s more … I want to live another month.”

For some, a job is what pays the bills, and even if you have to put up with a co-worker who cleans his ears with your pencils, big deal. For others, their career is a large part of who they are and what they believe. Others are career clueless. Let’s look …


Dear Marnie: I lost my job recently and I’m temping in the interim. I’m trying to make a career change from insurance to human resources. I’ve been on several interviews and everybody tells me the same thing, “You would be great as a recruiter, but …” I’ve been out of work for two months and am getting very frustrated. Am I ever going to get the break I need? — Shana.

MARNIE SAYS: You’re asking a writer? We have the words, “Love-you-kid but-we’ll-have-to-pass” pre-stamped on our unemployment checks. Are you ever going to get your break? I’m not a 900 psychic hotline, honey. What I can do, however, is help you turn your intention into strategy. Ready?

Getting it!  Your Personal Strategy:

* You’re leaving these interviews before the good part: the reason for the rejection. Will you please let these naysayers finish their “buts” before you tune out?  “But” what? If you had a Tic Tac? A mole on your earlobe? A Wonderbra? You’re not listening. So listen, will you? Take notes. It’s all in the in “buts,” sweetie.

* Once these interviewers list the “buts” don’t crawl out defeated. This is your shot to mine the intelligence and resources of the very people who hold the kind of job you want: the recruiters! Most people adore mentoring.

* Ask great questions: “What’s the very first thing you would do you do if you were me, Ms. Fleigel?” “How did you get started, Mr. Lovejoy?” Show them you’ve got spunk and can take criticism. Plus, they’ll feel like benevolent big shots.

* Keep mining. My hunch is those “buts” include: you need more training, skills, background, patience and connections. Ask everyone you know in the field exactly what it takes, how to start, and where to go.

* Getting past the “buts” takes guts. Take that course. Intern. Start on a lower level of your career track. Do whatever the experts tell you is required.

* Make each stride a ride. Call all those contacts back with thanks and a progress report.

Heck girl, two months is a nanosecond when making a career change! Be brave.  Be bold. And most of all, be prepared. When you are, you won’t be asking an advice duenna to lay odds on when your break will come. You’ll have the tipped the odds so far in your favor, you’ll be working on a sure thing!


Dear Marnie: I am a voice coach with a young student, age 16, who longs to turn pro. Actually, it is her parents who are pushing her. Fact is, she doesn’t have the voice. If she just enjoyed the lessons or entertaining friends, that would be fine, but she works hard hoping to launch a recording career. I’ve been as tactful as I can with her parents, but they insist I continue preparing her for The Voice. I’ve had stage parents before, but never like this. The daughter is a lovely person who, I believe, suspects this is “The Impossible Dream.”  Do I continue with the charade, tell the truth or what? — Frustrated in San Francisco

MARNIE SAYS: Yes. Maybe. In that order. What a ghastly situation for all — especially you.

Getting it!  Your Personal Strategy:

* Gently inform your darling little warbler that her genius lies elsewhere — along with a few well-placed suggestions of more suitable options. Is she a fair artist? A potential master chef? A whiz at fixing Smartphones?

* Then call in Mama Rose and the gang and tell these creepy people that you will not participate in this deluded, destructive charade when their sweetie has medical schools to look into, miming to learn, Lady of Spain to “accordion” (oy) — or — requires a nice, normal post-pimples-time to think, to feel, to experience life.

* Can you still teach her? Of course. But only if they get the fact that you are tuning her to sing for friends — not her supper.

* Let me tell you, sweetie, once you lay the truth on your improbable prodigy, the poor thing shall do a little dance of joy like that animated broom in Fantasia. You see, in my vast experience, I have learned that those with more self-awareness know when they’re stuck and welcome a scissor. And you have done this young woman the extreme courtesy of not only ending her pain, but cutting her loose to find her true calling — one that doesn’t involve shrieking at the world, but rather finding her very own harmony. What a wonderful lesson, teach. Now, go grab an apple on me.

MARNIE SIDELINER: Assessing our limitations accurately often requires more wisdom than knowing our strengths. A good teacher is obliged to guide us on this journey, not with an eye to discourage, but rather to tell us the truth as they know it, and find alternatives to encourage.


Dear Marnie: I’m unsure of my future. I’m 22 years old and a senior in college and have been an A student all my life (there has been a B here and there). I have been wondering forever what career I should choose. I want to do something I love where I can enjoy my hard work. I’ve always loved movies, so I’m thinking, why not the film business? How do I know if I should focus my studies there or do something more safe and secure? I really need an answer. — Gary22

MARNIE SAYS: The ponderous weight of your question left me so breathless that it took quart of Haagen Dazs just to revive me. Scout, you’re 22! You’re at the age where you’re still pondering the zit and you want some aging Agony Aunt to tell whether you should take  “Accounting 101: A Nice Way to Earn A Living”  or “Street Miming 101: A Climb to Nowhere?” Pish-posh.

Getting it!  Your Personal Strategy:

* This I will tell you. (Are you parents out of town I hope?)  “Safe” and “secure” are for orthopedic shoes, not hot-blooded young heroes.

* At your age, your Big Mission is not to nail down a pension. No. It’s to explore all those glorious nooks and crannies known as Gary. Therefore, young man, you start by deciding not to decide your entire future today.

* Choose instead, to experience and savor life. You like film? Intern for a budding filmmaker (the poor thing could use a decent cup of java), paint scenery, take courses in everything from “The Stooges: A Retrospective,” to “Ingmar Bergman: How to Depress a Nation.” Volunteer! Soup kitchens, senior centers, animal shelters, hospitals all need you. And you need them to scope your talents, increase your skills, widen your vision, and test what makes you heart beat just a little faster.

Then one day, the answer will stun you. Perhaps not “the” answer forever, but what fuels your “passions.” When you feel it — the passion for something — you won’t be asking me or any other imperious fool what you should “be” when you grow up. Your Mission will be simply to follow who you “are.”

Copyright © Marnie Macauley / 2015 Singular Communications, LLC

Marnie MacauleyAdvice guru Marnie Winston-Macauley — therapist, author, speaker — has been a radio, TV, and syndicated advice columnist and counselor for over 20 years. Witty, wise and totally irreverent with a self-professed loathing for psychobabble, she’s written over 20 books and calendars, along with  hundreds of relationship columns and features for prominent publications.  She has her MS degree from the Columbia University School of Social Work.  In media, her work has garnered her Emmy and Writer’s Guild Best Writing nominations. She is widowed and now living single. For personal advice, you can also find Marnie Macauley on Liveperson.com or on Presto Experts. She invites you to join her on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. 
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