Workplace Navigator: Let Them Eat Cake, Just Leave Me Out of It

Workplace Navigator: Let Them Eat Cake, Just Leave Me Out of It

Question: I have been working in my huge company for almost 10 years now. This company was in a state of transition before I started, so I only know the new regime.

I have been very happy with my group and contacts in general and with my salary and bonuses. I am highly rated at my job and within a couple of years of retirement. Overall, though, morale has been low because so many people have been forced to relocate.

This month, it was announced that there will be a monthly birthday celebration. Whenever we have had these events, they have been sad and awkward and fake. There are always the cheerleaders who want to support the fake nonsense and even bring in the calorie-stuffed treats nobody needs, but some of us just want to be left alone to do our work and get our love at home.

I know they are trying to build a little morale, but it is not necessary at all for me. I’m happy to continue to do a great job, exceed expectations and support my closest co-workers, but I want my personal life separate. I don’t want to drag cakes in, and I don’t want anyone doing it for me.

I guess my only alternative is to ask to be left off the list when my birthday month comes up.

Answer: But then you’d be denying yourself an opportunity to share two of life’s great pleasures with colleagues: eating cake and snarking about the awkwardness of forced festivities. And here’s something else to think about: Maybe some of those colleagues who were relocated or who don’t get celebrated at home enjoy a token taste of sweetness.

Mind you, I get it; I like my social gatherings small and intimate. I can’t help wondering, though, if there’s more to your reaction than a simple desire to separate professional from personal. Is there perhaps a deeper dissatisfaction — with your job or even something outside of work — that good pay and professional connections can’t quite compensate for, so you’re taking it out on cake?

Or maybe you simply resent the monthly ritual of bread and circus where the clowns’ painted smiles are a little too desperate and the smell of the elephants’ empty tent still lingers. Fair enough. Still, identifying yourself as a conscientious counter-confectionist may draw the attention you’re (presumably) trying to avoid.

If you can’t wait out the festivities at your desk without the ringmasters tracking you down and press-ganging you into participating, maybe you can privately arrange your schedule so that, somehow, you end up having afternoon client meetings or doctor’s appointments every single time one of these celebrations pops up.

“I missed it again? Darn it! I really need to keep better track of these things. Have you settled on a date for next month’s?”

Keys to a Killer Resume

Q: How do I write a resume that will get me hired (from readers everywhere)?

A: Lauren Milligan, who makes a living writing resumes as chief executive and founder of Chicago-based ResuMayDay, says the goal is to need no resume at all: “Network, network, network so the resume and application become nothing more than a formality.” But even as a formality, it has to represent your best face: “There’s no time when you can skate by with a subpar resume.”

Also, an increasing number of employers are using applicant-tracking software to winnow hundreds or thousands of applications down to a qualified handful. According to Milligan, a surprising number of resumes are kicked out for reasons having nothing to do with the applicant’s suitability for the job.

Milligan lists three factors to help keep scanning software from rejecting your resume:

Keywords: Applicant-tracking software is programmed to select resumes that contain certain keywords relevant to the job opening. Brainstorm for those keywords, including software and skills — the job ad itself probably contains clues — and write your resume around them.

Format: Not only should you submit your resume in the requested file format, Milligan said, but you should also make sure it has a scanner-friendly layout. Text boxes — including page borders — may be eye-catching, but they can also cause the software to overlook your carefully curated keywords.

Headings: Stick with the standards the software has been programmed to recognize, Milligan advises: “Work History” and “Education,” rather than “Milestones” and “Matriculation.”

Those tips can help you get past the robot guardians.

Author: Karla L. Miller

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