December 2003

Volume IX Number 4   

The Ying/Yang of Year End


My clients have already begun expressing concerns about the duality that the season evokes.  On the one hand, we experience increased time pressure, with a distinct deadline for gifting activities connected with Hanukah and Christmas.  This may be coupled with increased work demands, not only for those in the retail and hospitality industries, but in other fields, with year-end reports and financials. On the other hand, as the song goes “it’s the happiest time of the year.”


People in a job-search mode, even those with reasonable severance packages, may be anxious about spending money.  At the same time, they don’t want to disappoint children and other loved ones.  I encourage clients to take a conservative giving approach, but to not avoid family or social parties or professional gatherings.


Last year, a client had two negative feelings about going to a professional holiday party.  First, she was concerned about being a “downer” to others, and,  in a particularly good example of holiday duality of feelings, the second fear was that comparing her unemployed situation to those still working would evoke further depression in herself.  The good news is that, after we rehearsed the holiday version of her “ninety second pitch,” she went anyway and had a great time.  Much to her amazement, there were several others “between jobs,” so her self-perceived uniqueness was shattered -- which also made it harder to feel “poor little me.”  She enjoyed herself and got several good contacts to follow up on, including one that eventually let to an excellent new job.


Another holiday duality problem is the inevitable clash between the wonderful images that the media bombards us with and the reality of our own families.  A young client with a graphic-arts background complained that being unemployed afforded her no excuse to avoid going to the small Midwestern city where her family lives, as she had done in previous years. She explained that the sharing of the holiday between her divorced parents was very uncomfortable.


An insurance executive decided not to have a Christmas Eve party for his wife and their extended families, ostensibly to save the money it would cost.  When I asked how his wife felt about the decision, it came out that she was relieved, since their families are very different -- one Italian Catholic, the other Evangelical German -- with different styles of interacting.  Acting as host in the situation, they agreed, wasn’t fun for either of them, particularly with the added pressure of being in a career transition. So it’s all a question of balance.


Career counselors monitor our clients’ feelings throughout the transition process, which inevitably produces highs and lows, but never more than in this season.  This year, has been a difficult one -- economically, politically, and socially. My holiday wish is that each of you gives yourself the real gift of some slack in the high expectations you have of the holidays  -- and of yourself.


Our “Rule” is that job searchers do three “fun” things for their own pleasure each week.  Between now and year-end, let yourself have some slack. Keep up your quest, but have some fun…  Ying/Yang…..AND a Happy New Year!



Job Statistics


Clients and client companies often ask me what occupations are growing, so I was delighted when a colleague shared the following tables from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics -- for 2000–2010.


Occupations with Highest Projected Growth Rates




New Jobs         (000)      

Growth Rate (%)

Software Applications



Computer support



Software systems                          



Network administrators                



Data communications  analysts    



Desktop publishers                       



Database administrators                 



Personal and home-care aides       



Computer system analysts              



Medical assistants                         




Fastest Growing Occupations for Post-Secondary Degrees


New Jobs (000)

Computer support specialist


Health information technology


Fitness trainers


Dental hygienists



It comes as no surprise that they are all health-care or computer related.  I have some concern that the level of the jobs is not what our clients are seeking.  I’m also concerned that this data was generated in the boom days of the late 1990’s and our job creation, in general, has slowed greatly since then.


The Soon to be Other Dr. Borland


My daughter, Elizabeth, is finishing her doctoral thesis in sociology at the University of Arizona in Tucson.  Although I’ve coached many education administrators, this is my first experience with someone seeking a tenure track appointment. The process is quite circumscribed.  The Chronicle of Higher Ed website lists for the next fall.  The student sends a C.V. and waits to be contacted.  Networking is unusual, and is done for the student by her department and/or dissertation chair.

Elizabeth currently has an offer from a mid-size public college in the Northeast and has interviews scheduled with three others. She did take a suggestion to email the colleges that interested her with news of her offer.  One prestigious private liberal arts college said they’d arrange an interview immediately. A large university helped keep the process going by including information that for one opening, they had 303 applications! It’s not over, and we hope for as many options as possible…. Wait for the next newsletter.


Books I’d Recommend


Re-imagine! by Tom Peters,  Doring Kindersley Limited, London, 2003, $30.


Shopping at my Barnes and Noble, this book practically reached out and grabbed me. First it’s the size and weight of a college textbook -- not subway reading.  Then there are the graphics and layout -- very 21st century format.  Not surprisingly, the publisher is British.


I had read and enjoyed In Search of Excellence, which Peter’s co-authored. This book is filled with real-life examples of recent or current leadership. There are many points to challenge and stimulate those who coach, mentor, or lead. 


Peter’s style is, in his own words, “I’m mad as hell.” He starts by saying he tried to return his MBA Stanford in 2002, due to the Business School Dean at the time, Robert Jaedicke, who had been his accounting professor.  “Thirty years later, on TV, he {Jaedicke} was testifying about his involvement in the Enron fiasco… he was chairman of the Board’s Audit Committee. Yet he claimed he had no clue about the truckload of transactions that brought the company down!” 


His definitions of leadership in relation to people struck me as particularly apt:

    • ·         Leaders as Talent Fanatics
    • ·         Leaders Nurture Other Leaders
    • ·         Leaders Engender Trust
    • ·         Leaders Are Relationship Mavens
    • ·         Leaders Are Networking Fiends
    • ·         Leaders Connect