Qualifying Your Job Leads

Brand You is the product you’re selling to your prospective boss. You need to qualify your job leads to narrow your choices to the employers whose workplace culture and environment mirror you own values and needs.

Qualifying your job leads is a way to act strategic instead of blitzing scores of companies blindly with your resume simply because you want a job.

Target your job search to the firms where you will fit in. Kate Wendleton published the book Packaging Yourself: The Targeted Resume.

I figured out quickly when I took a job in a law firm while going to school that transferring from one office job to another office job (even in a different field) was a mistake.

What the company needs and what you need in terms of goals (their bottom line and your professional goals) should be in synch.

You will ensnare your future boss when you’re able to cogently tell that person why you want to work for that company. This is critical when you’re going on a job interview.

Remember these sales dictums: Don’t try to sell the customer a blue shirt if all they want is a white one. Sell the benefit not the feature.

If you’re wearing a “blue shirt” to a company that needs a white one in effect the interview is a waste of time.

Power listing your skills, abilities, strengths, and experience gives you the features of your product. What is the benefit of the company in hiring a person like you who has these qualifications?

What you bring to the table should demonstrate that you will fit into that particular workplace.

More on promoting The Business of You in the next blog entry.

Coming up after that: a list of job search websites specifically for individuals with disabilities.

Will You Fit into the Company Culture?

Here’s where it pays to take a rigorous accounting of your prior job environments.

At one ill-fated interview I went on in the 1990s the woman asked me what I liked best about my last job.

“I loved the interaction among coworkers,” doomed me as soon as I told her.

Apparently, for that woman at that job this wasn’t the right answer. Luckily, I wasn’t hired.

This is because the building would’ve been a 10-minute walk from the subway.  In that time, it took me at least two hours on the subway to get into Manhattan. Factor in a 10-minute walk in addition to the subway ride.

Having an isolated job at a desk away from coworkers would’ve sealed the deal that it wasn’t worth it to walk 10 minutes to get to an isolated building.

Today it’s imperative to research the business environment.

There’s been the opposite trend of “open offices” where everyone is working in one big room without dividers like in the traditional cubicle format.

Would you thrive in this workplace where you’re on display while going about your business?

As you can see, fitting into the company culture is imperative.

In my career handbook Working Assets I talk about qualifying your job leads like a salesperson qualifies their prospective clients to pitch a product or service to.

More on this in the next blog entry.

Will You Love the Job?

This is something you should ideally figure out in the interview process not after you’ve started the job. Once you’re on the job, you shouldn’t want to jump ship as soon as you start it.

Again, this is where researching the company comes in handy.

If you don’t think climate change is man-made, you wouldn’t interview for a Green Alternatives Think Tank.

If you’re an eco-conscious soul, your values would tie in at Banana Republic where the water is returned to the environment clean and dye-free after garment creation.

The answer you give to this question—in whatever guise it’s asked—should tie into the company’s mission and values.

A friend took a questionnaire when he wanted to get a job as a pharmaceutical sales rep. He was coached on how to respond to the question: How important is money to you? The candidate was supposed to clearly state that money is the most important thing.

So, for you maybe earning a high salary is your goal.

Showing the interviewer that your values align with the company’s mission is a way to stand out.

Can You Do the Job?

A Workopolis.com internet article referred to a Forbes article that listed the 3 Most Important Interview Questions: Can you do the job? Will you love the job? Will you fit into the company culture?

I’ll tackle each question in a separate blog entry.

The category of question that the first one falls under is often termed behavioral. What would you do on the job in a certain situation?

This is where having a CAR statement handy benefits you. Talk about a Challenge you faced on a job or in a related position like volunteer work. Tell the interviewer the Action you took to resolve the situation. Then end with the Result of your Action.

Before any of this goes down on the job interview you will have researched the company to figure out what its pressing need is. On the interview you can then sell yourself as the only person qualified to fill this need.

I understand that you might have self-doubt. Or not perform well under pressure like in an interview. Remember that this is a two-way process. You’re interviewing the interviewer too. You want to try to assess the person inside their persona.

Will you love the job? We’ll talk in the coming blog entry about what you can tell the interviewer when they ask you this question. It can be framed in different ways.

Finding the Ideal Work Environment

Today with the rise of people embracing multiple gender identities it begs the question: what is the ideal environment to work in for those of us who identify as non-binary or transgender?

The Human Rights Commission (HRC) in the United States has tracked workplace policies since 2002. The HRC has seen an uptick in benefits like providing employee health insurance that covers gender-confirmation operations.

Should a person like me or a non-binary or other person be forced to work outside of an office? It comes down to investigating diligently in your job search the company culture at different firms you’d like to send resumes to.

The fact is a person who dresses differently or has piercings or tattoos could otherwise be quiet and reserved or have a more traditional method to executing their tasks on a job.

While networking with staff at companies on LinkedIn everyone can be cordial, and it might be hard to glean their real-life MO. Yet sleuthing around before you’re made a job offer should be standard operating procedure.

The internet literature tells businesses to execute “diversity training” to familiarize employees with how to engage with transgender coworkers in a non-biased way. This extends beyond the dress code. It can only be a great stride that companies encourage individuality in the modern workplace.

The more often that people who express unique identities get hired at different workplaces I’m hoping that things get better in society in terms of treating everyone with dignity and compassion.

More in the next blog entry on the 3 most important questions you’ll be asked on an interview. The reason they’re asked is to gauge how well you’ll fit in at the company.

Dress Code Diversity

An innovative tactic for promoting Brand You is through how you dress. As I wrote in a blog entry innovative thinking should be prized as a tool to generate solutions that achieve profits for businesses. Visionaries are in the vanguard in how we dress as well. Restricting the type of clothes, a person wears on their job can backfire.

A more relaxed dress code can promote gender equality. A lot of women prefer to wear pants not skirts or dresses. Allowing staff to dress in their own style within the bounds of what’s appropriate can boost morale. Forty-five percent of firms that instituted a casual dress code saw increased productivity.

Adhering to a strict dress code rules out hiring a diverse talent pool. Individuals who don’t dress in a traditional style are shut out of the workplace at classic companies.

For those of us loathe to wear a suit on the job I recommend getting a job in a public library or other non-corporate environment. I can remember all those suits I wore in the 1990s to my insurance office jobs. Good riddance to the 1990s—and to dressing in boring, bland outfits with no pizzazz.

In the coming blog entry, I’ll talk about a real issue in the workplace for people who don’t conform. Though it begs the question as to whether there can be a “norm” from which others deviate.

I say: hold on. Not so fast with the norms.

Individuality in the Workplace

I want to talk about honoring individuality in the workplace. Michelle T. Johnson in her book The Diversity Code thinks “honoring individuality is the highest form of achieving diversity.” Read her book for the inside scoop.

Tactics abound that enable companies to increase profits and foster the health and happiness of employees. In the modern workplace savvy businesses have gotten hip to these habits:

Today in e-mail correspondence some firms allow their employees to list their preferred personal pronouns after their signature as in: Robin Smith (they/them). It’s thought that when cisgender individuals do this it helps non-binary and transgender people feel comfortable in sharing their identities. There’s a real safety risk that transgender people face in society.

To be candid I don’t want to be identified by my gender and prefer to use my given name as in: Christina Bruni (Chris/Christina).  A woman I talked with thought this was a great idea. I haven’t gone so far as to sign my e-mails this way yet.

An image consultant I contacted stated that a person should feel free to tell coworkers whether they identify as masculine or feminine. You can identify as non-binary as well as transmasculine or transfeminine

A good place to start is with your e-mail signature as in: Sheila Jones (she/her) or however you identify. You can list the pronouns on your name badge at a conference too.

An aside:

In New York State it’s become easier to get issued a gender-neutral birth certificate. You don’t have to file an affidavit to do so.

Using the Creative Process on a Job

I’ve thought long and hard about the topic of suitable careers for Artists and other left of the dial folk. Not all of us will see the day our paintings hang in the Metropolitan Museum. Not all of us will go on a worldwide tour with our rock band.

It’s why I’m a big fan of having a pleasant day job like that in a library. And singing your heart out with a folk band at night and on the weekend.

After I bombed out in my first career in legal and corporate offices, I went back to school for a library degree. While at Pratt Institute I met other students, who were Artists that worked as librarians. Some were studying in the dual-degree program for an MS in Library and Information Science/MA History of Art and Design. This enabled them to work in the library at an art school, museum, or cultural institution.

I recommend getting a job in a library. You’ll need a Masters’ degree to become a librarian. To get a job as a clerk or computer assistant in a public library you don’t need a degree.

For over 11 years I’ve had a niche as a career services librarian. Creating resumes and helping people conduct job searches is a novel way I discovered to be creative on my job. Each resume I create is hand-crafted. A work of art in its own way.

This shows that expanding the definition of what constitutes the creative process can open career doors. Not just doors for Artists. Doors could open for everyone seeking bulletproof job longevity in the age of robots and computers.

I coached a woman who taught herself computer imaging design so that she could get a job as a graphic artist. She told me that traditional photographers aren’t used to shoot product photos anymore. CAD-programs are used instead.

Even accountants are creative in coming up with inventive methods for their clients to cut costs. Individuals working in a traditional job like this can be Artists after hours.

I knew a woman who worked as an insurance agent. She moonlighted as a baker.

More in a coming blog entry on expressing yourself on a job within the protocol of the modern workplace.

The Healing Power of Choosing Your Identity


In December 2019 I decided to identify as an Artist.

My reinvention as an Artist could empower you to live boldly as the one and only you.

That’s because as I found out your personality is your jet fuel.

You have the right as a human being to choose your identity and embrace your individuality. So many beautiful expressions of humanity exist in everyone living on earth.

Maybe you identify in a non-binary way. I can relate to individuals who were told to undergo conversion therapy. It’s a relief when you can finally live out loud as who you are.

Repressing your feelings can cause ill health. Artists are creative souls whose emotional energy has the power to transmit a healing vibe.  

Engaging in self-expression was the number-one habit I used in recovery to achieve my goals. Acting true to yourself sounds like a cliché. That’s because it’s true. Your personality is your jet fuel.

My Artist’s Statement is framed thus: I act as a Chief Joy Officer to create things of beauty to share with others to make them feel good.

The photo above is of a painting I created in 2018. You show up to an art studio. Upbeat music plays on the sound system. An instructor guides you through painting on canvas with a theme. The night’s theme was Golden Goddess.

Yes, I am an Artist. Who are you?

Having a Happy Post-Diagnosis Life

My intent in publishing Left of the Dial and Working Assets was to dramatize my positive experience of having a fulfilling post-diagnosis life.

Train wreck memoirs tend to be compulsive reading, yet do they empower readers to envision having a happy life?

Living the life in which you can enjoy working and living is just as compelling when it’s a success story.

The point is that you can love your life even though you have a diagnosis.

I’ve coached peers who have been unemployed or underemployed. One of them got a part-time job in a library.

One person I’ve heard of got accepted to law school. Another peer graduated from a university.

An individual I know has been happy to work as a cashier at Dunkin’ Donuts. One person is proud to mop floors at McDonald’s.

Whatever you do–even if it’s volunteer work–the point is to be able to get up every day and do something that makes you feel good.

My goal is to give others hope and joy. It’s because hope is the precursor to healing. And healing from an illness is possible when you do what gives you joy.

In a coming blog entry, I’m going to talk about self-acceptance. About how choosing your identity frees you to go down the path in recovery that is right for you.