Making it my business: j to the o to the b, kids

For my next trick, I will attempt to pass myself off as a career counselor!

I’ve talked about work before, but this time we’re going a bit deeper than happy hours. Yes, dear readers, this time we’re talking about navigating the tricky waters of Ye Olde Dreaded Job Search.

(Before we get into it, if you have any questions, send them to Seriously, send them because we’re running out.)

Dear Valerie,

I recently left a job that I stayed at for less than a year. Is that going to be a problem when I interview? What should I say when they ask me about it?

Thanks a bunch,
Jumpy Job Seeker

I doubt I’m alone when I say the idea that you must stay at a job for at least a year is old news. People leave jobs at different times for all sorts of reasons, and your short time at your last job is not necessarily a black mark on your record. As long as you don’t make it a habit, it shouldn’t be a problem, particularly if you’re changing careers, not just jobs.

If your interviewer asks you about it, be brief and honest. Go with a simple “The company was making changes and it was no longer a good fit” or “They weren’t able to offer as many development opportunities as I would like, so I decided to look for something that had more potential for advancement.” Odds are the person conducting the interview will leave it at that and might even take your decision to leave as a sign of initiative and clear-cut goals.

A word of warning, though. By no means should you ever insult or bash your previous employer. This is Richmond, and there’s a good chance you could be talking to your former boss’s wife’s best friend from college. You all know I’m right. So watch your tongue.

Dear Valerie,

I’m about to start looking for a “real job” and I wanted to see what you thought about something. I have a full sleeve on one of my arms. Should I cover it up when I’m interviewing?

Inked-up Inquisitor

It all depends on what you mean by “real job.” If “real job” means working in a creative setting like an advertising agency or a graphic design firm, you’re probably Ok with letting some of your ink peak out. If you mean an investment firm or law office, it’s probably best to cover up. If you’re not sure where your prospective employer falls in the spectrum of tattoo acceptance, ask around. See if you have friends or family who know anyone who works there and can pass some insider info along to you about the company’s tat-friendly status.

But, as demonstrated in my response to the last question, I think it’s always best to play it safe during the interview process, regardless of where you’re looking. You want to use that time as your chance to present your skill set, not bring up issues tha t quite frankly have nothing to do with your ability to do good work. if it looks like the job will work out, and you’re still not sure of they’re tattoo-friendly, just ask. If they’re cool with it, awesome. If not, you can choose to keep yourself covered or look for a job elsewhere.

Got something to say? Leave it in the comments.

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Valerie Catrow

Valerie Catrow is editor of RVAFamily, mother to a mop-topped first grader, and always really excited to go to bed.

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