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Weekly Reader 6.20.11

Job Advice from a professional “Mommy”

A popular NYU professor who’s often asked for job-hunting advice by her former students has taken to calling herself “Media Mommy,” after one of the students told her that’s how she is regarded by many. Sharing her wisdom,  Betty Ming Liu—a colleague and good friend—recently posted “8 job search tips” on her entertaining, informative blog. These tips are excellent advice for any job seeker, and the post is a good resource for the moms among us who are toiling as employment and motivational coaches for adult children.

Betty writes, “Think of the advice below as soft skills to complement the core professional skills that you can offer an employer.”

  • Make business cards and always carry them with you.
  • Have a good email signature.
  • Keep up with your profession’s latest news as well as its movers & shakers.
  • Put yourself in the path of potential contacts.
  • Following up is the key to success.
  • Make sure that your writing is meticulous.
  • Always have at least five ideas that you can pitch a prospective employer.
  • Having a personal passion will always give you something to talk about.

One commentor, Jenni Stone, also offers smart suggestions to a friend whose son is about to go on a job interview set up through a family connection:

I believe he needs to take the interview seriously and look as if he wants the job. Don’t go in looking like its already in the bag and he doesn’t have to try because he already has a connection. Dress formal and a little over the top Dress to impress – but more than that, dress with an attitude of compliance and deference. Look starry-eyed that he’s been given the opportunity. Be charming and say ‘thank you’ often….

Tell him to be memorable, acquiescent, accommodating – act like the kid who hasn’t been recommended by a friend – and write thank you notes afterwards. Actual, real paper thank you notes.

Fathers and Daughters

One more Father’s Day note:  Psychology professor and author Peggy Drexler interviewed 75 successful women for her book Our Fathers, Ourselves: Daughters, Fathers and the Changing American Family. Because of the personal and professional changes in women’s lives over the last few decades, she expected to see some changes in the traditional father-daughter relationship. But she found just the opposite as she writes in a Wall Street Journal piece, “Daughter’s and Dad’s Approval”:

No matter how successful their careers, how happy their marriages, or how fulfilling their lives, women told me that their happiness passed through a filter of their fathers’ reactions. Many told me that they tried to remove the filter and—much to their surprise—failed.

We know that fathers play a key role in the development and choices of their daughters. But even for women whose fathers had been neglectful or abusive, I found a hunger for approval. They wanted a warm relationship with men who did not deserve any relationship at all.

An interesting contrast is another Wall Street Journal piece that ran around Father’s Day 2010.  In “Finding Dad’s Softer Side,” Elizabeth Bernstein relates the stories of several women who when faced with personal difficulty—divorce, breaking up a relationship—found it emotionally difficult to confide in Dad.  Ms. Bernstein writes:

You can partly blame mom. It’s her job to be the emotional center of the family. If her children—and especially her daughters—aren’t coming to her with their problems, she feels she’s failed. And she often guards this position jealously. (Ever called home to talk to your parents, only to have mom do all the talking?)

Despite their best intentions, dads often still view their daughters—adult women with professions and relationships and children of their own—as vulnerable 6-year-old girls.

And daughters often idealize their fathers, still seeing them as all-powerful, strong and strapping 35-year-old men. They stopped telling Daddy their secrets right around the time that they got their first crushes.

Which makes sense, considering the findings of Ms. Drexler!

Gen Y: Too Much Confidence?

Many baby boomer parents instilled a strong sense of self-esteem in their children as they were growing up, perhaps too strong, according to some academics like Jean Twenge who has written about  the narcissism of Gen Y.  In her book “Generation Me,” Prof. Twenge argues that our 20-something  children are too “all-about-me.”

www.amazon.com/Generation-Americans-Confident-Assertive-Entitled/dp/0743276973

Now using data from a new study published in the British journal Self and Identity, she posits that Gen Y feels “superior” as compared to other generations, including their parents.  Part of that overconfidence comes not only from the cheering moms and dads and the oft-blamed soccer trophies but also from grade inflation.  According to stats cited in the article,  in 1966  only 19 percent of college students who were surveyed earned an “A” or “A-minus” average in high school, compared with 48 percent in 2009.

Associated Press reporter Martha Irvine interviewed Prof. Twenge for “Study Finds Students Confident”:

“There are some advantages and some disadvantages to self-esteem, so having some degree of confidence is often a good thing,’’ says Twenge. But as she sees it, there’s a growing disconnect between self-perception and reality.

“It’s not just confidence. It’s overconfidence.’’

And that, she says, can pose problems, in relationships and the workplace — though others argue that it’s not so easy to generalize.

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