You’ve heard this comparison: dates are, for helpful or painful, like job interviews. (In this economy, let’s hope at least one or the other, depending, is plentiful.) But career counselor and author Nicole Williams sees it the other way around: when women (or “girls,” as she calls ‘em) apply the received dating wisdom of the post-Rules generation — basically, “don’t give the milk away for free” — to their workplace, they can create a new, strong, and female-friendly way of doing business.
Williams’s book, Girl on Top: Your Guide to Turning Dating Rules into Career Success, has been getting mostly positive coverage in magazines as disparate as Money and Cosmo, and is currently ranked at #32 on Amazon’s business books list. Whether you agree or disagree with the tenets of her philosophy, she has some interesting advice for women coping with some typical year-end job bugaboos. We caught up with Williams during her crazybusy book tour.
BG: The recession rages on, and it seems that about 10 percent of the US population has been “dumped.” What are the parallels between the post-breakup “Slanket and Zebra Cakes” period and the first few weeks or months of unemployment?
NW: It’s oh-so similar. Rejection — personal or professional — sucks. But the difference is at the end of the day, as much as you’d like to lay fetal and eat (or frankly drink) your way to delirium, a girl’s got to pay rent! Let yourself have a good cry and feel like shit for a week (or if desperate…two) but you know what they say about getting back up on the horse…Get back out there while your contacts are fresh, your skills are current, your confidence has a pulse and you haven’t convinced yourself all would be fine if you could just land yourself a spot on The Hills.
BG: Those of us still in the workforce will soon be facing the dreaded Holiday Office Party–any tips on how to survive?
I’m fine with the hookup as long as he’s not your boss, you do it after the party (where no one is going to see you), and with someone you actually have a hankerin’ for. I’m not big into one-night work stands–it’s way too hard to see him day-in and day-out if there’s no long term potential. The risk is too great and let’s be honest, there are lots of options out there.
On the drinking front: one is fine, three is not. This is a big occasion where you really can make an impact and it’s better not to do that drunk. Break free of your usual crowd and get to know the big-wigs, talk about something other than the latest financials, and wear something that isn’t your usual office attire. But be careful, it’s not New Year’s party-sexy–it’s still work.
BG: Another recession question: say you like your job OK, but you learn at the year-end company meeting that there will be no raises or bonuses this year. (Not unlike “I love you but I don’t foresee marriage anytime soon”?) Should you stay or should you go?
Such a great question. It’s not just about the cash (although if it’s been years, you’re a high producer and the company is flush…it is), it’s about the compensation package. Are you learning things and meeting people who you’ll be able to turn into money-making opportunities? Is your boss offering up extra vacation days, some other sort of hearty “thanks”? Is she or he giving you time and attention–offering you constructive feedback, introduction to important people? If your boss isn’t into you (and doing NONE of the above), I’m all about cutting and running. Just remember that in this economy, money isn’t the only indicator of love.