Shift Your Perspective at Work by Telling Yourself a Different Story

From the Harvard Business Review:

We all tell ourselves stories about work, and these stories shape the way we think, lead, and make decisions. For instance, if the story that runs through your head all day is “Everything’s a battle in this office,” you’re more likely to expect hostility and be primed to attack. Negative stories like this one generally don’t help you, so consider shifting to a new narrative. Start by identifying a challenge you’re facing, and then ask: “What is the basic story I’m telling myself about this issue?” Consider how the story is affecting you and your team. Is it constraining or liberating? If the latter, think about what you’d like to change and how your story needs to shift. What reimagined (and true) version of the story would be more useful for pursuing your goals or doing things differently? Rewriting a story is often a matter of choosing to see a situation from a different, more-positive, perspective.

Adapted from "To Make a Change at Work, Tell Yourself a Different Story," by Monique Valcour and John McNulty

Getting Better at Handling Disappointments

From the Harvard Business Review:

Disappointments are inevitable and unpleasant —­ a missed promotion, a failed project, a poor investment — but you can always learn something from them. To constructively deal with your next setback, think through what happened. Distinguish situations that were predictable and preventable from those that were unavoidable and beyond your control. Ruminating over something that didn’t go your way — and that you couldn’t control — will only frustrate you further. For situations that you could have handled differently, consider them in positive terms: What can you do differently next time? What lessons can you learn from the mistakes you made? And remind yourself of what’s going well in your life, so you don’t let the disappointment take an outsize role in your brain. It might sound like a cliché, but keep the setback in perspective — and try to let it go. You may be tempted to play the situation over and over in your head, but staying preoccupied with it will only create unnecessary stress.

Adapted from "Dealing with Disappointment," by Manfred F. R. Kets de Vries

How to Deal with a Difficult Boss

I recently listened to a webinar led by Annie McKee, best selling author and internationally recognized leadership adviser on “How to be Happy at Work.” She was asked a question about how to deal with a difficult boss. A part of her answer was to ask yourself,

  • What do I think is riding my boss?

  • How can I see him/her as human?

  • How can I set emotional boundaries and keep a good sense of self?

She then reminded us that much of what is going on is the boss’s problem and to try a little empathy.

Having worked with difficult bosses, I know how easy it is to get into negative spin. I talked to a former peer after leaving one challenging job and she replied that our company President had calmed down after a few years and was probably nervous his first years in such a role.


Eons ago, when I had a particularly hateful job, I had what seemed like 52 interviews in 52 weeks until the boss whom I had written up for sexual harassment laid me off.  I was eminently qualified for the jobs where I interviewed.  I had the experience, had a Master’s degree and Senior Level Certification but no offers.  As someone who interviewed candidates for a living, I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong or what was wrong with me.  A retained search recruiter friend told me that I was going for jobs for which I was over qualified and that firms like to compare their ideal candidate with the top of the heap (but not hire them) and were merely using me as a measuring post.  The more I interviewed the more my self-confidence decreased and the lower down on the rung were the jobs I chose.  It was a self-defeating cycle.  So if this reminds you of anything you are experiencing, try to put on your big person pants and go seek the job you deserve.

Good Advice on Job Search

Read online


From the Harvard Business Review

July 31, 2018


When You’re Looking for a Job, Focus on the Process


When you’re applying for jobs but aren’t getting them, it’s easy to feel desperate. But don’t lose your confidence — it’s a key trait that hiring managers look for. To keep desperation at bay, shift your focus from the outcome you want (“I need a job!”) to the process you’ll use to reach it (“Here are the specific steps I’ll take”). Check for job openings and apply for positions that suit your experience. Attend networking events to get to know potential employers. Talk to friends and colleagues to find out who’s hiring. And take classes to improve your skills. Keeping your attention on these small-scale goals will ease your frustration and help you feel productive, especially if finding a job takes longer than expected. And many of these tasks are things you need to do after you get hired as well, so you’re laying the groundwork for your future success once you do land a position.

Adapted from “Stay Confident During Your Job Search by Focusing on the Process, Not the Outcome,” by Art Markman


LinkedIn Hint About Key Words

I heard this suggestion at Northwestern's Kellogg School of Management bi-annual coach's meeting last week and perhaps it is old news to you.  To see what key words people are using to search for you:

1.  Click on your name on your profile to get to your Dashboard

2.  Under your Dashboard, Search Appearances

3.  Scroll down to see Keywords that searchers used.

When I did, I was pleased to see that the words were mostly ones used in the "title" under my name.  See what comes up when you do this search.


For Those Who Don't Know What They Want to Do

Thanks to Sarah Hyche, fellow Kellogg Career Coach, for bringing this article to our attention on LinkedIn.  Please read Stacy Kim's WHY YOU NEED TO TRY THE LIGHTHOUSE METHOD; Want more out of LIfe--but you're not sure what?  This non-goal goalsetting method can help.

Dr. Kim, not only a PhD but a life coach helps women (but I strongly suggest that men can adapt her suggestions as well) find enjoyable work by using what she calls the Lighthouse Method.  See the link below to read the whole article for a description of the method and simple steps.

A Perspective and Way to Handle Conflicts

To Get More Comfortable with Conflict, Stop Making It Personal

Conflict is a normal, healthy part of working with other people. And yet many of us avoid it at all costs — often because it feels personal. To get more comfortable with disagreements, and to reap the benefits of productive conflict, let go of the idea that it’s all about you. If you model that you’re comfortable with productive conflict, you’ll show your team that it’s OK to disagree, encouraging people to raise their ideas. To move a work conflict away from the personal, think about the bigger picture and the business’s needs. Disagreements often arise over objectives and processes, for example. When you and a colleague have different views about something, ask yourself: Why is this difference of opinion an important debate to have? How will it help the organization or the project you’re working on? The more you can keep a conflict focused on the business, the better chance you have of resolving it in a way that benefits everyone.

Adapted from “Why We Should Be Disagreeing More at Work,” by Amy Gallo and as mentioned in the Harvard Business Review's Management Tip of the Day from May 16, 2018.




If you're applying to jobs using LinkedIn, you might find it useful to know that it may be looking at your skills section to determine whether you're qualified for the position.

To clarify, I'm told the Top Skills identified for a job on LinkedIn link to the skills you're endorsed for on your LinkedIn profile. In other words, if the role is seeking Sales as a Top Skill, its not enough to list the keyword Sales in your profile. Its looking to see if you're endorsed for the Sales skills in your Skills & Endorsements section. So, the Top Skills are essentially serving as the ATS.

As always, LinkedIn changes frequently. However, someone confirmed to me this was the case for one of their clients.

Grounding Yourself During an Interview

The following is from the always wonderful Harvard Business Review and can be applied to interviewing.  When you have a phone screen, you might be able to walk around.  During an in-person interview, you will have to use the place your feet firmly on the floor portion of the suggestion. 

March 15, 2018


Stay Calm During a Tough Conversation by Grounding Yourself


Having a tense conversation brings up a lot of negative emotions, leaving you feeling like an active volcano. To prevent an outburst and stay in control of your emotions, physically ground yourself in your environment. One of the best ways to do this is to stand up and walk around, which activates the thinking part of your brain. If you and your counterpart are seated at a table, and suddenly standing up seems awkward, you might say, “I feel like I need to stretch. Mind if I walk around a bit?” If that doesn’t feel comfortable, you can do small physical things like crossing two fingers or placing your feet firmly on the floor and noticing what it feels like. Mindfulness experts call these actions “anchoring.” Whatever you can do to focus on your physical presence and your senses will help you stay grounded and get through that tough conversation.

From “How to Control Your Emotions During a Difficult Conversation,” by Amy Gallo

Management Tip of the Day from the Harvard Business Review

Get Over Setbacks by Learning from Them


The next time you feel that you’ve royally messed something up at work, avoid self-flagellation and think about what you can learn from it. Don’t interpret setbacks as “I’m not cut out for this challenge.” Instead, tell yourself, “I haven’t yet developed the required capabilities for it.” Framing the setback this way will not only help your self-esteem but also allow you to candidly reflect on what went well and what didn’t. Those insights will help you set challenging learning goals and experiment with alternate strategies. You can make sure you stay in learning mode by worrying less about demonstrating your ability to perform certain tasks and focusing more on your development. When taking on a new challenge, ask yourself, “Am I in learning mode right now?” The question will prime you to stay open to what you can discover, rather than diagnosing your inadequacies.

Adapted from “Good Leaders Are Good Learners,” by Lauren A. Keating et al.


I don't keep New Year's resolutions and so don't ask my clients to do so.  However, I think it is interesting to envision a better future and so liked the recent post of Andy Evans that I came across.  He calls this a goals exercise.

Posted by: Andy Evans <> on 11:10am Dec 17, 2017.

- What would your life be like if it was the same in all ways as it is now?
- What would your life be like if it was 10% better in all ways than it is now?
- What would your life be like if it was 20% better in all ways than it is now?
- What would your life be like if it was 30% better in all ways than it is now?
- What would your life be like if it was more than 30% better in all ways than it is now?

Choose one of the above as a goal for 2018 that you would commit to.

Reflect on your choice - why did you choose it? What would you need to do in order to achieve it in practice? Emphasizes the Importance of LinkedIn in Your Job Search

See the information below from a website I have recommended in the past for candidates to run their resume and desired job posting through to see how well their resume stacks up. also does a LinkedIn Optimization of your profile.  Let me know how it works for you, if you try it.

“138M people or 62% of employables in the US are on LinkedIn

44k job applications are submitted through LinkedIn daily

87% of recruiters use LinkedIn to find candidates for jobs

94% of recruiters use LinkedIn to vet job candidates”

Recruiters and hiring managers can’t find you without a complete and fully optimized LinkedIn profile.”

“Whether you’re using LinkedIn to attract recruiters or supplement your resume in your job search, your profile will only make an impact if it’s tailored to the jobs you want with specific keywords and search engine optimized profile sections.”


Book recommendation: WEIRD IN A WORLD THAT IS NOT by Jennifer Romolini

I was asked by TLC Book Tours to preview WEIRD IN A WORLD THAT’S NOT by Jennifer Romolini and given full permission to dislike it.  I have slogged through many career books and disagreed with many parts of them.  This one I enjoyed and agreed with 99.9999% of it.  If you are a young career woman, you should read this book.  It is an engaging and valuable read.  Jennifer might think she is weird (and perhaps she had a weird start) but she is a good human being with real values and she is a terrific writer.  By sharing her missteps, she generously shares how to get a start in the work world, how to manage, how to live, how to be.

She preaches without sounding preachy being authentic and kind to oneself.  Her message is positive, life affirming.  She begins with helping you find out what do you want to do when you grow up, proceeds to resumes, interviewing, handling rejection, networking, how to get out of your own way at work, how to be the employee who is hard to fire, how to tolerate a difficult work environment (FYI, sometimes, it just is), how to ask for a raise and how and when to quit.  She next moves to how to be a Boss, a good Boss, after sharing an example of when she wasn’t one.  You will laugh while learning as she covers all that you need to know to kick off your career.

Thanks to TLC Book Tours for providing a copy for my review.  The opinion is all my own.

Good News about that Dreaded Salary Question if You Interview in NYC, Philly or Massachussetts

New York City Bans All Inquiries Regarding Salary Histories of Job Applicants

New York City has joined other states and cities across the country – including Massachusetts and Philadelphia – in banning employers from inquiring about a job candidate’s salary history. Per legislation signed on May 4, 2017 by New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio, effective November 1, 2017, all employers in New York City, both public and private and regardless of size, may no longer:

(1)        inquire about the salary history of an applicant for employment; or

(2)        rely on the salary history of an applicant in determining that applicant’s salary at any stage in the employment process, unless the applicant “unprompted” and “willingly” discloses his or her prior salary information.

The law prohibits both asking the applicant directly about his or her salary history – whether on an employment application or during the hiring process – and searching of publicly-available records or reports.  The law’s prohibition also applies to the negotiation of an employment agreement.  However, the law specifically allows employers to continue asking about objective measures of an applicant’s productivity, such as revenue or sales generated, which should make this change in the law more palatable to employers hiring salespersons.

Instead of inquiring about salary history, employers should discuss a job applicant’s expectations regarding salary, benefits, and other compensation. 

In preparation for this new law to go into effect, employers should carefully review their employment applications, standard interview questions, and hiring processes.  Employers should also train their employees responsible for interviewing applicants and negotiating employment agreements as to the requirements of the new law.  We recommend doing so sooner rather than later to ensure a seamless transition once the law does take effect on November 1, 2017.

Constance Unger
166 E. 34th Street  #12D
New York, New York 10016
H (212) 689-0152
C (646) 325-8289


Attended an interesting and valuable video meeting at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management on reflection and thought I would share.  Thanks to Paul L Corona, MBA EdD for a great presentation and the information.  The topic was reflection and it can certainly be useful in job search.  He quoted, John Dewey, famous educator, who has said that we learn not from experience but from reflecting from that experience.  In our busy lives we seem to have little time for reflection yet there is a return on investment.  Reflection can be gratitude, journaling, meditation talking with a coachThe speaker listed three professional and three personal questions we can ask ourselves as we make reflection a habit.


1.       Exactly what happened?

2.       What lesson, good or bad should I learn from this?

3.       How do I move on and not linger on what happened whether it was good or bad?


1.       What did I do well?

2.       What can I do better next time?

3.       Who and what am I most grateful for?

Perhaps these will be helpful to you.  At the question and answer time, Paul was asked how to turn off reflection for those who continuously ruminate and his answer might be useful to some of us.  He suggested to analyze the pros and cons of what it costs to constantly reflect and instead build in a periodic reflection instead of continuous reflection. 

I am grateful to Paul and to Kellogg for the opportunity to participate in this valuable webcast and to share.




I was talking to a client who is going into a negotiation with an employer who will use my client for contract work.  My client wants a "win/win" solution.  I reminded him that he didn't have to be responsible for the employer, that the employer could take care of his own interests.  Sometimes we bend over backwards so far to be fair that we forget about putting our own interests top of mind.  This is a message mostly for those who find they don't get their own needs met, for the "people pleasers" among us, not for those who want to win at all costs. 


We are once again in the midst of the Olympics.    I can’t imagine doing any of the routines which is perhaps one reason I am not able to do so.  (However, age and lack of athletic talent might also play a part.)  This topic does tie into job search in that we need to see ourselves as successful.  We humans probably spend more time berating ourselves for mistakes we make than we do in visualizing success. 

Olympic athletes go over their routines not just in practice but also mentally numerous times.  They envision success, not failure.

Of course, to be successful we must have and then practice the necessary skills.  After that we need to get out of our own way, let go of fear and envision success

One way to visualize overall success is to write a letter (does not need to be sent) to someone you admire as if it were one year from today.  The letter recipient can be a friend, fictional character in a book, someone in the past, your future self.  In that letter, outline all the good things that have happened to you during the year and how happy you feel.  Be very specific about the successes and your emotions around this success.  Really feel the power of this. 

To visualize success in interviewing, visualize yourself walking into the interview room, confidently answering questions, asking questions, ending the interview.

Another suggestion is to change your definition of success until you land.  In some events it is announced that a competitor had beaten his/her prior personal best.  I like this as a measurement because everyone can do it, not just those who win medals.  So I suggest to you that you strive to beat your personal best in number of networking calls, resumes sent out, comfort level at interviewing.  If you set the bar at increasing your ability rather than winning the job, you will see yourself as successful, which then, with the right opportunity, your practice and feelings of comfort will end up in your winning the job you want.

HOW TO REACH ME for career coaching           



The Management Tip of the Day from Harvard Business Review

Like any other leadership capacity, stress management requires self-awareness. Leaders who manage stress effectively are able to recognize signs that they’re approaching their tipping point and consciously, deliberately step back from the edge. The next time you notice your stress levels increasing, take a moment to notice your breath. Start with a couple of strong, long, and deep breaths. Notice the physical sensations that accompany each one. After taking a few of these initial breaths, switch to a technique called “resonant breathing.” Inhale for 10 seconds and exhale for 10 seconds, for a total of six breaths per minute. You may find it helpful to do this while walking; the pace of your steps can provide a regular tempo for each breath. Eventually the rhythm will continue on its own and you can stop timing. Continue to breathe in and out until your state of mind shifts and you feel a sense of control over your emotions.

Adapted from “A Simple Way to Combat Chronic Stress,” by Alexander Caillet, Jeremy Hirshberg, and Stefano Petti