This blog entry wraps up my trio of "Solutions" geared to employment. Future entries in the series will talk about housekeeping and other realities of living in recovery. Portions of this will be re-printed in a self-help book I'm working on, so you're hearing this first!
On August 13, 1990 I started my first day on my first job. For seven years after, I worked in corporations. Though I was laid off from one job after another, I credit my experiences in business as giving me a good foundation that held me up in subsequent work. What follows now is a free-form discussion of suggestions for keeping a job long-term, based on what I learned in those early years.
First, demeanor is everything. Though my budget could barely take the strain, I bought good clothes because I knew appearance mattered. Mind you, I don't advise going into credit card debt to do so. Rather, I cut down in other areas of spending so I could allocate more for clothing.
If you're a woman, treat yourself to a department store makeover, and buy just the foundation and lipstick. When these items are nearly done, take them to a drugstore to duplicate the look with a cheaper version. Eye shadow can be bought at a drugstore, too. When I was a lot sicker (trust me, I was), I wore garish eye shadow, crimson lipstick and streaked plum blush. Just starting work, I knew minimal colors were the way to go.
Try to wear makeup at work. One study, years ago, claimed women who wore makeup were paid 20 percent more. Do it for the simple pleasure of feeling good. Keep your eye shadow and lipstick neutral and add a glow via a subtle application of blush. I have no doubt that when I wore the theater makeup I looked like a sick person.
For men, a good quality tie (not polyester) will elevate your look, along with good shoes. Alas, I can't vouch for what works for men, but I can tell you what I do know. Make sure your shirt, tie and suits are color-coordinated. If you have a moustache, keep it trimmed. Get a manicure or at least keep your nails buffed; you don't need clear polish, you just need presentable nails.
Lastly, and this is going to reflect poorly on me, but you should attend to your nose hairs. Men who are oblivious to this one sure turn-off run the risk of creating a poor image at work and elsewhere. This is an indelicate suggestion on my part, but I've seen the worst offenders and it's not pretty to look at. Sorry.
More than how you look, what you say is part of the package. On my first job, my supervisor heard me tell a client on the phone, "Hold on a minute." She made a beeline to my desk and said, "No, Chris, it's ‘One moment, please.'" Ever since then, I've placed people on hold by saying, "One moment, please." Even at the job I have now.
At that first job, I had to make telemarketing calls. I was simply out of my element. When the position was eliminated, I found work at another insurance brokerage. In hindsight, I can see the mistakes I made at this second job, where I was discriminated against because I had relapsed and had to be hospitalized two weeks. When I returned to work, no matter how good I was, my new boss found every excuse to criticize my performance. I worked for a jerk that gave me his work to do as well as my own. Nobody liked him, but he was a senior person and often went into our boss's corner office to slander me.