yellow light!Some resumes do not say, “come to a screeching halt”, but “advance with extreme caution”. These are the “yellow lights” potential employers pick up on in resumes. There are very good books and articles available in the market on-line and off about what to do about resume “red flags” or “red lights” (like an incarceration event), or the leaping red flares that signal that an applicant will not be a great hiring choice. My purpose is to update the list of things that make potential employers suspicious.

World Wide Job Gypsies

Not only has this applicant traveled from job to job, breaking camp every 1/2-2 years, but has gone “from sea to shining sea”. Movement from job to job has no recognizable pattern. Career movements appear unplanned.

Whip and Buggy Era email address

Applicant email address still has @AOL or @hotmail at the end of it. Yellow light: this person does not care about keeping technological knowledge and skills current.

Cannot be found on Social Media

Applicant either has a LinkedIn profile without a picture or no LinkedIn profile at all. Applicant has no presence on Google+, Facebook or anyplace else on-line.

Applicant cannot be “texted”

Probable technology phobic and still uses a “flip phone”. Scared to use smart phones or is averse to learning new things, so cannot be linked into any extra-office sharing system.

Snail paced career movement

Applicant served in one job more than 5 years at one company with no forward movement (no upgrades in responsibility/titles).

Grand Canyons

Huge time gaps between positions. Possible incarceration events, protracted health challenges or recovery episodes? Oh, this is going to be a discussion, but not in any interview at this company!

Take care of the “yellow lights” to keep them from turning into “red lights” that can really stop the progress of a career.



Would you believe....?

Would you believe….?

The question is, “Why on earth don’t you settle down and get a job like a normal person?” Or, is it, “Why the **** (choose your own bad word) do you go from-job-to-job so much? Then there is the ever-refreshing, “Why can’t you keep a job?”

I just brought all this up (UGH) as the possible thinking behind the one question that scares applicants the most:”Why did you leave your last job?” Of course it must be answered. The potential employer does has a right to know, so, “Non of your beez-wax!”, although flipping like an Olympic diver on the tip of the tongue, is never the right answer. Oh, yes, there are “right answers” and none of them are:

  • My last boss was a jerk
  • It was a conspiracy against me
  • I lied on my resume
  • I stole millions from the company

Some people–some we even elected to positions of power–can really say that they bad-mouthed the boss, were the object of bullying, lied about having an MBA or stole #Big-Bucks from consumers, friends, family, and shareholders. Regardless whether or not they made the news for what they did, there is a way of handling it on the resume. If the immortals of imfamy can, so can all of us lesser lights. Of course, if there was an “incarceration event” (prison) it is better for the applicant to be candid about it then NOT GET TOO DETAILED. We humans become the stories we tell ourselves. Negative stories make for negative outcomes in interviews. Someone who has spent a substantial amount of time out of the workforce caring for a relative can actually tell that story provided it is short, to the point and told in a positive way. A military wife is not required to hide a lifetime of making multitudes of “homes on the base” in support of a spouse’s career in the armed forces.

The norm is that workers, especially younger ones, seldom stay at one job for more than 2-3 years. There is an unspoken rule, though. Frequent job change might be expected these days, but  the “hopping” has to suggest a thoughtfully planned array.

Attention Fellow Job Gypsies: Stop Looking For a Job and Make One

"Elf Mother and Child" - by artist Blaer Naomi

“Elf Mother and Child” – by artist Blaer Naomi

Hoping that all have had a wonderful Mothers’ Day, let us begin as promised. for the next few articles we will consider that becoming an employee is not the only way to make a living. A blogger I read, Penelope Trunk, said in one of her articles”If you can’t work up the corporate ladder, you have to work for yourself. Most entrepreneurs have been fired from about five jobs. Because they are unmanageable. ”

I used to feel insulted by this statement at one time in my life,  but when I looked again from the perspective of “another point on the wheel”, so to speak, I acknowledge that the author has a point. Some of us are really bosses passing as employees. These are the working world’s “changeling children”. In old tales, the faerie kind would steal human children from their cribs and carry them off into slavery to the fae, leaving in their stead one of their own, a changeling. The changeling would grow up in the human household as their child, but would at some time inevitably show up for what they really were–aliens from the fairy world.

Someone with a fire in the belly who gets stuck as an employee will eventually chafe in that close, constrictive, ill-fitting employee form. Sometimes they will appear even as “job gypsies” (job hoppers; fired multiple times), but they are not (a true gypsy is something else!). Such is the case for they who have big dreams; who want to have a big impact on the world. They come from another world. Unfortunately, many companies  are simply not constructed to accommodate these big dreamers; these “aliens”. They have to go and are often fired or a way is found to push them out. The next thing anybody hears from them is an announcement that they rule the world. Case in point: the founders of Apple and Microsoft. There is but one way for these big dreamers–entrepreneurship.  Entrepreneurs are this economy’s growing tip. They create the new businesses that create new jobs.

These words are not for everyone, but to they who will receive them, it might be time to move into the true path of entrepreneurship.

Interview Red Flags

The Interview

The Interview (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

red flag

Danger, Will Robinson! This could be a bad employee!

It’s time to hop back into the discussion about the interview. It is a given that the seeker is at the place where candidates are in process of being chosen to compete in the great arena–the interview(s) and the seeker is one of the chosen.  After all, this is what all the hub-bub is about, bub: being one of those too big to pass through the “coarse sieves” of the “first cattle call selections” . Now the finer sieves come out.

Company and independent  recruiters give the thumbs down on the following  “red flag” parade of behaviors–things that make a candidate look like a potential bad hire–in interviews. This list is a compilation of all the red flag behaviors I have learned to avoid. This wisdom is  collected from seminars, recruiters, online articles and many job searches. Of course, lack of contact information on the resume or an email address like, “honeylocust.com” reduces the chances of being called into the arena to zero!

Applicant States of Being

Did I really say THAT

  • currently unemployed
  • Mature worker
  • Worker of different gender, race, color or weight than expected
  • arriving for interview late
  • disorganized
  •  inappropriate attire
  • out-of date appearance
  • smoke/alcohol on breath
  • perfume/cologne
  • Lack of preparation
  • nervousness
  • over confidence/over familiarity
  • desperation
  •  negative attitude
  • low energy

From a Quick Look At the Resume

  • Out of date resume
  • Mature candidate
  • Pure functional resume
  • long gaps between jobs termination(s)
  • unstable job history –  “job hopping”
  • social media reputation
  • overqualified (setting your bar too low)
Emotional baggage

hauling emotional baggage into the interview

Don’t Ask, Don’t Reveal?

  • Prison terms
  • mental illness hospitalization
  • “Monk”-isms
  • conditions and health issues
  • Child/Adult care issues
Yes, it might take a few posts to get through all of these, but I feel it well worth the time.

Just Being Me: “Default Activity”

reading, an all favorite pastime

a featured illustration from Shay's Word Garden on Blogspot

Some people actually cannot imagine themselves alive on earth having nowhere to go every day that promises a monetary reward at the end of a week. It was from graduation to first job. No space between. It is simply mind-boggling for some folk to consider there could possibly be other places to be during the day and none of them involve parking on the living room sofa watching daytime TV.  “Being me” happens in the spaces not filled up by “the job”. Satisfying the need for a more meaningful life while having a low-paid, boring job causes this space.”Disassociation” from a former job will open more of this space too.
collage of hobby and off time activity

When I'm not working, I'm at...

Let’s play a game.Pretend suddenly you flew off to your favorite place to be; the place that could be called your “second address”…a place where if anybody goes there, they would find you. Are you there? Answer me honestly from where you are hiding. MARCO!

Who said, “POLO!”?
Found you. I know where you are. After the initial drama of joblessness, what might begin to happen is a rediscovery of joyful activity engaged in before there was any thought about paid employment. I call that “default activity”. For some, this kind of activity is laced up tightly into weekends and often called, “hobbies”. For others, it is what one naturally turns to when the day is over. It is what people do to “decompress” or “unwind”. Another word for it is “pastime activity”. Some people take chunks of time to do special projects like teaching kids to read in another country. Still others are gaming, treasure hunting, cooking, painting, sitting in front of the fridge inhaling more than the fragrance or on the dock of the bay “watching the tide roll away”. Default activity. It comforts; it relaxes; it probably started in childhood and it is organic to the personality. After the six-month anniversary of joblessness, default activity might be just the ticket to realign the soul with  authentic purpose. Who knows where a default activity might lead? A business, ministry and yes, a new career, may suggest itself that way.

My Wonderful Life Between Jobs: How To Keep Going

Elizabeth Regina 1

I am the queen.

Of course one day the crashing reality must be faced. One must give a straight answer to the question: what have you been doing for two years since you last drew a paycheck? At first that intrusive, incredibly boorish question used to throw me down. That question is so lacking in class.  I remember when I first heard it I used to lie there and let the anger-embarrassment-sorrow pound me into the dirt and hope the whole experience would just be over quick. After that I could hobble away; pretend it was a dream until the next time. This was my life until something remarkable happened in my thinking. Something happened in my soul that changed me forever.What was I doing between jobs? I was living, of course. I was being me. What I do does not define me (see our talk last week. Scroll one posting back). With or without employment I am still me and that is important because I am an incredibly talented, worthwhile human being. Our humanity determines that  we all have intrinsic worth.

A person’s real worth is not her net worth whether she is a queen or a courtesan. It was only when I came to believe this  that I began to see myself as also a worthy employee or, why not, a worthy entrepreneur. This is the mindset that has to be in place within a job seeker before she can conduct an authentic search for work:whether I am employed or not I am a worthwhile person. I don’t even have bus fare right now, but I am still someone who is valuable and highly valued.This has to exude from within. Not a puff of light powder fresh from a motivational seminar, this is what will keep the job seeker continuing to be on top of the earth when all indicators point only to the futility, the uselessness and to the conclusion that a better position is to be among the dead.

The Sun King's mistress

I am the courtesan

Some call this the brave heart. Some call this  the lioness’ heart. Whatever anyone names it, this is the survivor’s heart.


Last time I told a little tale about “disassociation”, my view of what begins to happen as a former employee has less and less contact with the former job over time. I said that ex-employees slowly begin to think of themselves in terms other than associated with the company. The morph begins here. Some people, extroverts especially, begin to show withdrawal symptoms from mild to severe from the instant social network that the old job used to provide so finding a new job might in reality be an attempt to quickly end the uncomfortable position of not having a social “nest” to be in. The introvert may show withdrawal brought on by the absence of a “place to go every day”;  the background noise of the old job in another way. However, since the greatest problem for an introvert might be “invisibility” on the job (what do you DO here anyway?), the task of finding a new place with the right background noise is agonizing and tiring because of suddenly having to talk  so much to so many new people. Please put an end to this agony quick once again.

Six months later, however, in some job seekers‘ heads  attention and interest begins to wane. It may take more effort to keep focused on the passion As the “old work identity” begins to dissolve like an Alka Seltzer tablet. The dispossessed, disincorporated former employee begins the real search for a new home; a new body,  I would say. This is stage two of the shape shift; a place where the seeker is not what she was nor what she will be.

As I remember, this was the place in the process where my self-image imploded. I tried on jobs and titles one after another and became increasingly frustrated because none of them felt “right”. Questions about where exactly I fit in society got me out of bed at 3:00a.m. for weeks. Nothing is more stressful than to have to put some title, any title on a resume. Nothing is more mortifying than stumbling through a makeshift answer to “what do you bring to the table?”, another form of , “tell us about yourself”. What belongs in that blank space? Nobody I knew had any answers. I was expected to figure it out on my own as most good career counselors usually recommend. What do you really want to do? What is your real basic passion?

But, “figuring it out on my own” takes time. So much time without a landing target frustrates networking partners because to them it  looks like a lack of focus or seriousness.  It seems so much easier to just stumble into yet another short-term “throw away” job. End the pain fast. Never face the real question. Hide from the real answer. The next step is life or death: stay a formless blob or snatch up the courage to participate in creating the new reality; making the new body.

That is the place where I ran out of tears. I decided to become myself.

A Recruiter’s Nightmare Applicant

Blue Hag Of Winter

Recruiters' nightmare applicant

Job gypsies are a recruiter’s nightmare

I was feeling fine until I went to a seminar featuring a recruiter recently. There the point once again hit like a hammer that job gypsies are a recruiter’s nightmare. I did not even venture to shake the speaker’s hand afterward.

When time is not on your side

Let us sit down face to face with our pot of tea between us and talk about this reality.  Some of us would do well not to fight hard, but to fight smart. This is especially true when barriers such as spotty job histories stare us down in derision at our audacity to dream of victory over them.

We are seeing a groundswell of effort these days–revolts and new laws to push back at companies’ nonsense thinking about the long-term unemployed. People seek to change the rules of the game to make them fair to all the players, not just the dealers. Still, the changes will not reach everyone, especially the hardcore unemployed. Gainful employment for all is not important to corporations and the governments they diddle. Will not the poor always be with us?, they say. To them a certain percentage of unemployment is even acceptable.

The Ancient Mariner and the albatross bound around his neck

Ah, dear. I'll never place this applicant!

Work smart, not hard

Companies pay recruiters to find them the best talent they can get and the qualifiers for “best talent” include tenure of service. There is a pervasive belief that a person who has changed jobs three times in five years is unstable and therefore undesirable for whatever the reason. No recruiter will tie this albatross around their neck.

Some of us, therefore, would do well to go with either self-guidance or a coach and forget about working with recruiters until  work history proves the applicant  a safe bet or the challenge is surmounted another way. In any case, a savvy  job seeker must have a convincing personal answer for the hard questions in this area a recruiter will certainly ask. We are going to talk about alternatives in the weeks to come.

In the springtime of life, in the 20’s, outliving a not-so-great job history has viable odds. However, for an applicant in the harvest time of life, at 35-plus, the odds become friendlier with the house. A mid-career job gypsy’s best bet, then, is to work smart. That means to have great marketing and be very well connected.

Victoree: True North And Expanding Horizons

compass rose

Directions, please

A year or so ago this blog began as a kvetch, a protracted complaint about working and growing older and injustice. Career issues and growing older still concern me, but the blog will no longer have a kvetch session spirit.

As we were exploring the subject of career change, working and midlife, my idealist temperament began to show itself . I am realigning the blog to point to personal “true north” while remaining  faithful to serving our mutual interests. Oh, no. It’s not going to turn into a gooey, bouncy “rah-rah” either…regardless of the pink strip in the new header. There are enough empty-headed “career advice” blogs floating around the internet.

As we grow and change internally, it naturally follows that the change will at some point show itself externally. This is the day the first leaves of the idea seed show themselves above the ground.

“Victoree’s Blog: No White Flag” is expanding to embrace not only the midlife job search, but the general subject of  personal and professional development in “the third age” of life. The point is to remain faithful to the Divine Mandate,  the personal “prime directive” which goes beyond the job search and career goals.

gypsy wagon

Immediately noticeable is a change in the subtitle, which is now,”Conquering in the third age”. I will continue to talk about working in this blog, but in the larger context of an entire lifetime. This opens up  space for dealing with all the seasons of a career. In fact, I am working on “The Work Of Winter”, a book about  managing the season of non-employment–winter.

So, the journey of the gypsy continues. On toward the rising sun we go!

Of Career Direction and Work History In The Resume

birthday cake

Do not call Fairfax County FD

As we press on to a discussion of the  “work history” section of the resume, I prevail on your mind to consider that there is what I would like to call an “inner resume” running below the paper resume.

My theory is that we carry our “inner resume”, the story we have built over time about working, inside us. Comments in its margins, our thoughts about each entry including its history, form a kind of continuity text. It is therefore important that the “inner resume” is totally reconciled with the paper resume because interviewers are keen to pick up on any dissonance between them. Doubt about integrity arises. That, I say, is why many articles advise seekers to over learn the content of the resume–especially if you had it written for you.

I do not know about you, but for me resumes were simple until I grew up. Things were straightforward until I  left formal schooling and began paddling about in the employment pool back in the 70’s.  I made many bad choices that made for a “checkered”, not-so-good employment history. Warn your children.

The headwaters of the writing stream that I am navigating like a champion today came ready to bubble up when I arrived on earth. That life making river; the oldest and strongest, rushed over the banks of my career history quite often to save my sanity. Thank heaven.

four directions compass rose


You see, I  had one main passion and did other things to support it, but from a corporate perspective, I seemed to wander aimlessly from job to job. My “employment history” section looked more like a patchwork quilt or a string of freshwater pearls. My resume challenge, I thought, was to make a not-so-good history look like it had always been a single, navigable stream  while keeping my real passion hidden.

The truth was that the signals I picked up from school and general society caused me to be ashamed of my talent/gift package and to want to be “like the high-powered corporate women” I saw put up as role models. They were “normal” and I was “abnormal”.

Just a few days ago, I celebrated my birthday– “old enough to know better”–half a century-plus. Having lived long enough and to have held several jobs I am free of head games and fairy tales about working.  I have made a custom resume for each of the stronger work history streams, dismissed the weak ones and only mention the odious ones in passing during an interview– if asked.