Tag Archives: success

Career Choice and the Accompanying Partner Survey Release. Defining Moves, The Art of Successful Relocation. Information, Inspiration and resources for the global accompanying partner expat spouse.

The “Career Choice and the Accompanying Partner” Survey is out!

Career Choice and the Accompanying Partner Survey Release. Defining Moves, The Art of Successful Relocation. Information, Inspiration and resources for the global accompanying partner expat spouse.The eagerly anticipated “Career Choice and the Accompanying Partner” survey conducted by Evelyn Simpson & Louise Wiles is now available, and it makes fascinating reading.

“This report provides a view of the assignment experience and the impact it has on career choices and aspirations from the partners’ perspective.”

Respondents answered questions relating to their prior employment status, factors affecting their desire and ability to work in their host locations, and their levels of satisfaction and sense of fulfillment with the international assignment, and the responses, conclusions and recommendations made will have expat partners across the globe nodding in agreement.

Their findings included:

  • While 78% of accompanying partners would like to work while on their current assignment, only 44% do.
  • Unavailability of work permits inhibit many accompanying partners from working, but it’s by no means the only reason seeking employment while on assignment is difficult or impossible.
  • Theoretical availability of work permits doesn’t mean its practical to get one.
  • Other practical factors, such as language mastery, are more frequently cited as impediments than the lack of a legal right to work.
  • Working accompanying partners report higher levels of fulfilment than non-working accompanying partners.

For more information or to download a free copy of the report summary, click here.

Congratulations to Louise and Evelyn!

Think Globally, Act Locally – World Book Night

It’s raining today, and I have a list of jobs as long as my arm that need to be done – none of which I want to do. I am feeling trapped by obligation, paperwork and a sense of frustration, which is why today’s post from Cheryl Krocker McKeon, a fellow volunteer at Project Second Chance, is particularly timely.

Cheryl demonstrates the same passion for books that I reserve for chocolate. In addition to her regular book reviews at shelf-awareness.com (you can read her most recent one here), she is also involved in World Book Night, a project that aims to share a love of books and reading among the community.

They sent her to jail.

 

The old bumper sticker “Think Globally, Act Locally” came to mind Monday night as I joined a group of passionate California readers observing World Book Night by schlepping boxes of books to a local jail.

Started in Great Britain last year, April 23, 2012 marked the first World Book Night (“WBN”) observed simultaneously in England, Ireland, Germany and the US.  Twenty-five thousand US volunteers chose a title from a list of 30. The 500,000 specially printed books were donated by the authors and publishers.  We could give the books away anywhere, with the requirement that we seek out light or non-readers.  Givers went to homeless shelters, soup kitchens, hospital waiting rooms, airports, Little League games (to parents on the bleachers – brilliant!) and many more.  Recipients were sometimes initially skeptical, but always pleased to realize they were getting their very own, new book.

Several customers of our local bookstore wanted to get books into the hands of prisoners.  Networking paid off as somebody who knew somebody contacted a teacher at the Alameda County Santa Rita Jail, who found an enthusiastic supporter of World Book Night in a programming director, who hosted our two-hour jail stay.  While WBN givers each received 20 copies of one book, we had received extras from the WBN office, and were loaded down with 260 books.

First stop: the women’s pod, where the 100 residents sat attentively as we each gave one-minute summaries of a book.  “Science fiction by an African American woman author: Kindred”  followed by “Texas football mania: Friday Night Lights”  then “Murder mystery based on fact: Q is For Quarry,” and on through Patty Smith’s memoir, Jhumpa Lahiri’s novel of immigrants, “Bel Canto : a novel of how music can soothe your spirit.”

The residents were asked to file by to choose a book, and return to their cells. They shopped. They clarified, “Is that the Holocaust one? The Book Thief?” They spoke softly to each other: “You get that one and then we’ll swap.”

Next, the pod of 100 men, then the more secure unit of men – mostly older.  We never asked how those residents got there.  The jail serves short-term sentences, which we learned offers fewer services than a long-term prison.  As we handed out the books, we got sincere, polite thank-you’s.  As we left each pod, the group shouted out  “Thank you, thank you!” and we waved merrily as if we were going to see them again soon. We avoided eye contact with each other, silently admitting we were in danger of emotional overload.

Neal, our leader, guaranteed that those books would be read.  “They’re new, and they’re theirs,” he said. We guaranteed him that we were grateful to have met those readers.

Next year it might be fun to hand out kids’ books on a playground, or a sports memoir at a trailhead, but I think I’m hooked on giving books to readers who truly will use them to escape into a different place, the only way they can at this point in their lives.  Maybe World Book Night made a difference in a few personal worlds.

 

Photo courtesy of State Library and Archives of Florida

Relocating family at airport

Relocating? 9 Essential questions every expat should ask. (Part 3)

Relocating family at airport
photo courtesy of the Nationaal Archief

Part Three of our guide to what you all really need to know about relocating before you accept your international expat assignment: How will it affect the whole family?

(If you missed the previous postings, here’s part one and part two)

 

 7. What provision is there for my partner?

Relocation policies are increasingly aware of the need to keep all members of the family happy, especially when the majority of early repatriations are due to family concerns. This is reflected in many assignment packages, which include career assistance for the spouse (resume preparation, employment authorization documentation, visa assistance etc.), cultural orientation training, language training, or a lump sum to be used in any way you prefer.

If you have taken the time to create your family 5 year timeline, your expectations and goals should be clear, and you can identify whether the package (and the length of the assignment) meets the needs of the accompanying partner.

Some questions to consider include:

  • Is there recognition for same-sex partnerships, and does the host location have a similar policy?
  • Is there orientation and location support for the partner, or are they just expected to ‘get on with it’?
  • Is there an established expat group in place to provide host country support?
  • Who is expected to establish the essentials – housing, utilities etc? How much time and management does this typically take?
  • Will you be legally able to work in your host country, what national and local documentation is required, and how long will the application process take?
  • Will you be required to undertake local re-certification, and how long will the process take?
  • How much travel will the assignment require, and will that affect the accompanying partner’s ability to work?
  • Is the accompanying partner’s career appropriate for short term employment, and what would happen if the assignment duration changed?
  • Is remote working a possibility, or should you consider career counseling to explore other options?
  • Are there any local cultural or legal barriers to your employment?

The ability of the partner to work will depend on many things, not all of which you might expect. Visas, work permits and employment authorization will vary hugely between locations and professions, and it may be wise to get career counseling explore the option of working remotely or creating a more flexible career structure. Even those with widely transferable professions such as nursing and teaching are restricted by the need for local re-certification within the limited time span of the assignment.

Other physical factors such as local vacancies / needs, restrictions (e.g. curfews, dress codes, security issues, laws etc.) the practicalities of sustaining a family life, or even availability of childcare will affect the accompanying partners ability not just to find work, but to maintain an career long term.

 

8. What provision is there for my children?

The questions that apply to the accompanying partner also have relevance for any children in the family. All the standard questions for any school about curriculum, student-teacher ratios, test scores and demographics apply, but there are additional factors to consider to ensure a consistent and coherent academic pathway. For short term assignments and younger children there is more flexibility in terms of practical schooling options, but the older the children, there is a greater need for advance planning for college applications, residency requirements, academic language and funding.

Consider:

  • How long is the assignment, and what if it gets extended or you move to local payroll? While private schooling is the most flexible in terms of admission and curriculum, the long term expense can be prohibitive.
  • Does the host location have appropriate available schooling, or will boarding school need to be considered now or in the future? Is this something you and your children are happy to consider?
  • Does your child have any social, emotional or learning issues that will need special consideration? Are these needs able and likely to be met in the new location, or will you need additional resources?
  • Does the new location allow for transfers between schools, or is there a limited choice? Is homeschooling supported where there are gaps in curriculum provision?
  • What are the demographics of the school? Will the range of languages spoken be an advantage or a barrier to effective teaching and learning?
  • Does the policy absorb the impact of international college fees, and what if we transfer during the college years?
  • If your children are college age and would normally have spent summers living at home, does the package include a flight to your new location for them once per year?
  • What happens when my child reaches legal adulthood? Will they be allowed to remain in the country as dependents, or will they have to apply for an independent visa?

As a rule of thumb, most expats I know have planned current schooling well, but the issues of college education have been forgotten. We are unfamiliar with the admissions process and requirements, fail to understand the importance of standardized tests, and underestimate the complexity of the fee structure.

While colleges are increasingly accepting a wide range of academic evidence for entry, there is less flexibility when it comes to funding. Short term assignments often mean that you no longer qualify for resident rates, whether national or state, regardless of your citizenship. If you have high school age children, consider the long term impact of your school and assignment choices – if you though private school was expensive, just wait until you see the college ‘international student’ rates…

 

Resources:

Career Counseling – Jennifer Bradley

A Career in Your Suitcase: third edition. Jo Parfitt

International Baccalaureate Organization 

School Choice International

Camel train circa 1900's

Relocating? 9 Essential questions every expat should ask. (Part 1)

Camel Train circa 1900

 

When we think of living abroad, we instantly conjure up images of white sandy beaches, turquoise seas, friendly locals and a leisurely quality of life. That is, until we’re two days into our first relocation, surrounded by boxes, with no power, not internet, and no help in sight. By day four, the bloom has gone off this particular rose, and by day seven, we realize that we were possibly just a little naive in thinking that four bedrooms, a balcony and guaranteed sunshine were really all we needed to find our bliss. So for the anyone considering relocating, here’s part one of the ‘9 Essential Questions Every Potential Expat Should Ask’ series. And yes, the same rules apply for domestic relocations too..

1. Where am I going?

The standard ways of finding out destination information – travel guides, websites and maps – tell you very little of what you need to know when relocating. Visiting a country for a short period is very, very different to living and working  there, and it’s the challenge of day-today living that causes many assignments to end early.

To understand whether your new location is a good fit for you and your family, you need to do two things. Firstly, assess how your time is spent currently, including work, school, commuting travel, after school activities, sports, socializing etc. Using resources specific to long term living rather than short term visits, assess how much change you would experience, what benefits and disadvantages your new location has, and decide whether or not this is really the move for you.

This might be anything from a lack of sunshine /open space/daylight hours/ professional theatre to different education systems, religious practice or high crime rates. There is a whole world out there, and it’s better to keep your options open for a more appropriate assignment than be forced to terminate one early.

Ask your HR department about global information that the company purchases –  resources like Living Abroad, Expat Arrivals, the Not for Tourists guides and the Lonely Planet guides will give you much of the information you need, and online blog registries and expatriate forums have the real life experience. Consider joining a network like Internations to meet locals and expats from your potential host location.

2. How long will I be going for?

Notice that didn’t I ask how long was your contract was for?  Ten years and 5 relocations ago, we were offered a 1 year temporary assignment to Kenya. I have yet to return home, and all of our wedding photographs, birth certificates, photographs of our children as babies and furniture are still in a house in Wales. Contracts get extended, new transfers are offered, and if you are taking short term assignments, often all your belongings are not included in the relocation policy.

More importantly, you need to have a clear understanding of how long all members of the family are willing and able to participate a globally mobile life.

The long term issues surrounding schooling mean that your children may not have the required qualifications to attend the school of their choice (although colleges and universities are becoming much more flexible in terms of acceptable international admission criteria) or they may now be liable for higher ‘international’ tuition fees as you have lived outside your home country for too long to qualify for local fees.

The accompanying partner may have negotiated a year’s leave of absence, or may be required to maintain professional registration status, both of which become vulnerable if an assignment is extended.

3. What does the package include?

There are various types of relocation policies, including local, local plus and international, all of which give different levels of pay and benefits dependent on location. And while some will seem very generous in terms of base salary and hardship allowances, once on assignment you can quickly discover that the money is eaten up in unexpected ways.

If you have the information from the previous questions, you will have a better idea of what your new lifestyle will cost, and whether or not components that you consider essential are reflected in the assignment offer.

Key areas to look for are not just base salary, but frequently reviewed goods and services supplements (useful in less stable countries where the price of goods and exchange rates can fluctuate wildly) , health insurance coverage, childcare and school funding, whether you will be paid in your home or host currency, travel allowances, emergency evacuation policies, and repatriation assistance.

Talking to other expats will give you the best understanding of the real cost of living, which brings us neatly to the first question in Part 2 – “Do I get a preview visit?”

Sometimes, It’s better not look.. FIGT 2012

It’s been a very tricky day, which has taken me further and further from the cosy little comfort zone that I have created for myself. Up until now, I had considered myself successful at this relocation stuff, mainly because we managed not to lose anyone en route, the family are happily installed in work / school /dog training classes, and I had finally got around to finding a personal sense of purpose – this website. It’s not intended to set the world on fire, counteract global warming or generate world peace, but hopefully, someone somewhere will find at least one thing useful.

Not really an ambitious goal, but it works for me. So when someone suggested that I submit an application to present at the 2012 Families in Global Transition (FIGT) in March, it seemed like a good way of meeting like minded people. Which brings us back to today.

I spent the morning with a Social Media consultant to sort out my inept and haphazard Linkedin, Facebook and Twitter accounts. She wanted to know why I needed help, so I told her about FIGT and not wanting to be caught showing my knickers, metaphorically speaking. After a lengthy and very informative discussion, she gave me homework, which involved researching the other speakers at the conference so that I would have a list of people that I want to meet.

It has backfired badly. I am now in a state of abject terror. They are all far more qualified, experienced and connected, with excellent relocation pedigree, and I don’t know a single soul in the entire conference. I feel like the pound mutt at the Kennel Club show, and not only am I too frightened to want to meet any of them, I would rather eat my own tongue than admit my own existence. I have paid the registration fee and booked a vendor’s table and have no idea what to put on it apart from an all-you-can-eat pastry selection and a ‘Sorry I Missed You’ sign.

The Feisty One was with me when I began to hyperventilate, and was quick to offer a bracing pep talk. “Mummy”, she said “You have to stop being silly. You have a website, you’re building an app, you were a lecturer and a nurse” (here she starts to look a little panicky as she began to run out of material) “and you have a husband and two children and three dogs.” A glowing recommendation indeed – especially when two of the dogs run away on an almost daily basis -, but not necessarily the most professionally reassuring.

Thing are not going exactly to plan and I can see only one way forward – fake popularity and alcohol consumption. If you promise to Share, Like, Tweet and otherwise make me look popular, I promise to share all the gory details of what may well be a three day marathon of rabbit-in-the-headlight moments and any leftover pastries. And for those of you familiar with Washington D.C.; know any good cocktail bars?

 

Top 10 Concerns of Expats #4 – Defining Moves Version


8. Standard of Living

“Few people willingly move abroad to accept a lower standard of living – there are exceptions of course such as those who volunteer to help in nations affected by wars or dire economic circumstances.  The majority of us move abroad expecting to find or achieve a better or equal standard of living to what we previously enjoyed – but everything from the cost of living to the availability and quality of infrastructure can impact this.”  (Shelter Offshore)

Concerns of Relocating Expats - Standard Of Living

What most of the studies don’t show is that we have a mental idea of what our new life will be life that doesn’t just revolve around granite kitchen countertops and a pool. I for one had a mental image of expat life in Kenya as a cross between Out of Africa and Gone with the Wind, with martinis, perfectly pressed linen clothing and a serene demeanor featuring heavily. I would finally have the time to write a book, master yoga and cook gourmet meals. Hours spent on the phone trying to get my electricity / phone / internet reconnected (an oft repeated task that had no relationship to whether I had paid the bill in person, by mail or at a bank) and days spent sobbing with loneliness did not ever appear in my fantasy life. So when we talk about standard of living, the corporate assumption is that all we are expecting is physical comforts like modern housing, air-conditioning and household help, and while we need to be aware of the cost and availability of the ‘home comforts’ that we consider essential, they are not the route to expat happiness. What we also should know is that more time can be spent managing staff than the work itself would take, that the cost of air-conditioning is not just in electricity, but also in time spent locating a repairman and then waiting at home when he doesn’t appear for the fifth time, and your elegant clothing makes you stick out like a sore thumb in the local markets..

Try to articulate your anticipated life before you go, and then compare it to the average lifestyle of the local and expat population to see whether you are really being realistic. Most physical comforts can be achieved with a little planning and effort, but you may find that once you are there, they no longer have the same appeal. Thinking of your standard of living in a holistic way allows you to sort the needs from the wants, and will give you a far better chance of contentment long term.

9. Bureaucracy / Corruption

“No matter where in the world you live you will always face bureaucracy – and by its very nature bureaucracy is usually mind numbingly ridiculous – but as an expat it’s so much worse because it is foreign bureaucracy so it is even more unintelligible, nonsensical, impossible to understand and yet imperative.”  (Shelter Offshore)

I like to think of bureaucracy as a hoop that has to be jumped through. The difficulty is in defining where exactly the hoop is, and how high we have to jump to get through it. And while I think of corruption as someone with the power to move the hoop to make getting through easier or harder, I also happen to know that there are plenty of ‘jobsworth’ civil servants and who may not be corrupt, but are just as unhelpful.

Getting frustrated with it is universal and understandable, but doesn’t change the fact that it exits, and you still need to get though it. If you have a corporate relocation package, your company may have already hired a professional to guide you though and expedite the process. As an individual, your local and expat network will prove invaluable, because everyone will have already have jumped through those hoops and can give you advice. And as a final note – try not to get angry. I have yet to hear of a situation where it helped, but by contrast, I have many, many personal experiences where staying calm, smiling and asking very, very nicely for help has smoothed the way for everything from getting school places to US visa appointments.

10. Raising Children

I’m pretty sure that concerns about raising children are not exclusive to expats – quite the opposite, in fact.  For where we are wondering if exposing our children to multiple vaccines, repeated school moves and language barriers will warp them for life, our less transient counterparts are worrying about their child’s gluten allergy, lack of global awareness, and Spanish grades. It comes with the parenting territory, and unfortunately, we have no way of knowing how we are doing until they hit teenage years and are only too willing to list our shortcomings..  There are a number of strategies for relocating expat children and Third Culture Kids but my Four Basic Rules are:

1. Keep them informed, but not overwhelmed. Tell them early, include them in discussions about family life, and give them a say in matters that affect them.

2. Move at the end of a vacation, not at the start. It gives them time to say goodbye, and less time spent without friends to play with.

3. Fill the void. Assume that for the first month or so, you will need to keep them occupied with family activities, and keep them in contact with friends from their old location via text, email or Skype.

4. Expect issues. Everyone is under stress during a transition, so try to be patient, allow for a some acting out, and get help if you need to.

 

Cultural Orientation – What Puppies Teach Us About Basic Manners and Universal Understanding..

We have a new puppy, and watching her integrate into her new environment has got me thinking about the importance of manners and communication in successful relocation. It has also shown that it doesn’t matter how cute you look, how nice your temperament or how big you’re going to be one day, if you ignore the basic rules, you are still really, really annoying..

It’s also made me realise how universal the rules are; greet in a way that’s acceptable to your new acquaintances, defer to the more experienced or senior, listen to what their body language is telling you, say sorry quickly, don’t take offense and share the water bowl nicely. Good behavior gets rewarded, and being unpleasant means less friends to play with. And don’t bite.

For those without the dubious benefits of a houseful of dogs, here’s the human version.

1. Correct forms of address. They may be difficult to pronounce, you may struggle with the correct titles or differentiating between personal and family name, so be prepared before you go. A simple phrase book will give you basic guidelines for the accepted forms of address and how to pronounce them, so practice them at home before you try them out on your unsuspecting new acquaintances. Use phonetic spellings on Post-it notes or flash cards to keep as a reminder of people you meet, and don’t be afraid to ask for a reminder from a friend or colleague. If you have access to cultural orientation training, this is a great time to practice and be corrected.

2. Mirror body language. Studies show that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and where human behavior is concerned, we tend to replicate the body language of people that we like which in turn makes us perceived as friendly and pleasant. It also shows sensitivity towards other cultural and religious behaviors, so practice observing and emulating. Draw a line at copying the accent though…

3. Acknowledge your mistakes and take ownership of them. When you enter a new environment, whether a work, social or living one,  you are under stress, however small. Its a primitive fight/flight awareness, and it changes the way we react to situations. With relocation however, this stress is more constant and at a higher level than normal, ue to the wide range of unfamiliar situations that we find ourselves in. Few of us give the best impression of ourselves when we have just spent three hours trying to get electricity / internet connected using phrase book Mandarin / Swahili / Urdu, so mistakes are inevitable and understandable. When you realize that you have made a mistake, take ownership of it immediately and apologise. And then move on; endlessly revisiting it is just awkward.

4. Least said, soonest mended. I once had delightful students from China staying with us, but at every mealtime, when asked if they liked the dish that I had painstakingly prepared, the reply was “It’s ok”. In Britain, when someone uses it in that way, it means  mediocre. I bit my tongue for about six months, until one day the question of use of ‘ok’ came up in dinner table conversation. It transpired that they thought it meant wonderful, and their faces when they realized how unsuspectingly rude they had been was a picture of mortification.

You too will be a victim of the of the communication breakdown trap, but don’t assume offence is deliberate and if it happens, ignore it and move on. People rarely are intentionally rude, but global differences in use of body language, personal space, tone, hand gestures and volume are endless, so there is plenty of  room for error. So be slow to take offense, and err on the side of caution in responding to perceived insults. And hope for the same levels of tolerance in all those you inadvertently call a horse’s behind..

5. Host well.  If you invite people to an event, the time taken to make the feel welcome is essential, and speaks volumes about your level of respect for  them. This includes planning a refreshments that are appropriate for them, taking into account dietary preferences, religious observances and anything else required to avoid making them feel awkward. It doesn’t have to be lavish, but it does have to be thoughtful.  The phrase that sums up what you are aiming for? Honored guest.

6. Be gracious as a guest. Be gracious for what you receive, from whomever you receive it. People are often judged by the way they treat those around them, but all too often those actually providing the service are ignored. “Please”, “Thank you” and good eye contact should be the very minimum we offer.

And as a final note, if you make a mess on the carpet, please at least attempt to clean it up..

Planning on Returning to Work? Free Online Career Mentor Classes

One of the things that has surprised me in my online voyage of discovery is the kindness, encouragement and generosity of so many people involved in the expat and ‘trailing spouse’ world. One of those is Jennifer Bradley, who was introduced to me by a mutual acquaintance. Despite never having met me in person, she still found time to say kind things about the website, and thanks to her encouragement, I am now a contributor at the Families In Global Transition Conference in March..

She is offering a set of free Career Mentor sessions, so if you are contemplating re-starting, reconsidering  or re-inventing your career, this might be a great place to start. And no, I’m not paid to say any of this – I just really like her humor, her attitude and down-to-earth, practical approach.

 

New Series of Free Career Mentor Classes

Learn what you need to know to make your job
search easier and more effective.

The classes are virtual. Join from the
comfort of your home or office.

Sign up to get advance notice by email.

http://forms.aweber.com/form/80/184254580.htm

During each 30-minute class, you will learn
essential skills and practical tools that you can use
to find your next position.

Join one or more of the series.

More information:

http://careeroptionscoach.com/career-mentor-2012class-series/

What really matters in job interviews? And no, it’s not the size of your resume..

Relocating means change, and for any accompanying partners who want to find independent employment, that means crafting a resume, applying for jobs, and if we get really lucky, landing an interview. We may have the qualifications, the experience and great references, but once we get into the interview room, what really gets us the job?

Richard Wiseman, author of 59 Seconds: Think a Little, Change a Lot outlines three characteristics of success in job interviews, and they may come as a surprise.

Be pleasant and likeable. Candidates who had gone out of their way to engage with the interviewers were more likely to be offered the role, regardless of qualifications or experience. Behaviors that positively influenced ‘likeability’ included being positive and enthusiastic about a feature of the company, smiling and maintaining friendly eye contact and showing interest in topics not necessarily related to the job, but of interest to the interviewing panel.

Be forthcoming about your weaknesses, but save your best for last. Wiseman notes that faults, mistakes or weak areas have less negative effect when raised early in the interview, and can actually be seen as evidence of honesty and self awareness. Strengths, accolades and achievements have the opposite effect, however. The later they appear in the conversation, the more positively they are viewed by interviewers; the same achievement mentioned early is seen is bragging, whereas later signifies modesty.

Don’t overestimate your own importance. Interviews are stressful situations, and mistakes are both usual and forgivable. In fact, studies show that most people overestimate both how many people notice and the magnitude of their errors. Your reaction does have an impact, however, so becoming increasingly embarrassed and awkward can have a far more negative effect than the actual blunder itself.

Other tips Wiseman suggests to persuade interviewers that you are the candidate for the job include:

Keep it Simple. When writing your resume, avoid using complicated names, titles or embellishments. Studies have shown that people are drawn to words that they can easily pronounce, and will avoid using words that they struggle with. Which is absolutely no use if that words refers to your greatest career triumph.

Make it Easy Reading. While we’re on the subject, Wiseman points out that the more complex you make your description, the less intelligent you are perceived to be. Clarity is seen as a trait of intelligence, so squelch your desire to grab the thesaurus, and use plain language instead. And a plain font, because one that is hard to read has the same negative effect on the reader.

Play Piggy in the Middle. Studies he reviewed identified a ‘center stage effect’ where people towards the middle of the group were perceived as more important, and were more likely to be chosen, or conversely less likely to be eliminated, than those on the outer edges. So in group interview situations, be aware that where you take a seat can have a far greater impact on your chances of success than you ever imagined.


Miss Representation

Yesterday, I wrote a post How to make friends and introduce people, which included a brilliant photo of two very, very special women. In aesthetic terms, the picture was less than flattering, but to me, it sums up many of the things that I value so much about them.

The backstory behind the photograph is that they were at a leaving celebration for a long serving elementary school Principal, and I was not. I was relatively new to the area, and although I was invited, I didn’t know many of the people going and was feeling a little intimidated and insecure. Until I got that photo, demanding my attendance.

Here’s what I see when I see that photo. I see two smart, savvy and very funny women, who care enough to take the time and effort to include me, even though their lives are already full of family, friends and social activities. I see two women who are willing to make themselves seem less perfect if it helps others feel better about themselves. I see two women who have had plenty of troubles of their own, but still found the time to listen to mine.  I see two women who I want my daughter to become, and my son to discover.

The picture shows only these two, but there are many others. Some are members of my family, others I have known since childhood, many I have met on my travels, and one has traveled alongside me. They each have had a profound effect on my life, whether they know it or not, and all embody the idea behind the Miss Representation movement; that “You can’t be what you can’t see“. I’m lucky; I see or talk to strong, smart, humble and hilarious women every day, and I can’t imagine life without them.

So this video is for all those women, and the men who value them. Please share it.