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Brazen Truth-Telling

Podcast with "Brazen Careerist" Penelope Trunk in a TotalPicture Radio Truth-Telling Session


The Brazen Careerist joins us for a truth-telling session.

Penelope Trunk, The Brazen Careerist
Penelope Trunk

Penelope Trunk is in the jet stream of career advice, soaring miles above the constant noise of useless, outdated information from self-styled career experts.

How many career or "self-help" books have you picked up which state the following: "The classic career topic of 'How to Get a Promotion' will become irrelevant;" or "Sex discrimination is everywhere, so don't try and run." And, on the well worn topic of resumes; "When writing a resume, don't be too honest." Be sure to check-out chapter six, titled: "First-time managers don't need to suck." Get ready for the Brazen Careerist: The New Rules for Success. (Warner Books 2007). Be sure to read more for links and other good stuff you can't put in an XML feed.

Penelope Trunk Biography

Penelope Trunk writes career advice for a new generation of workers. She explains why old advice - like pay your dues, climb the ladder, and don't have gaps in your resume - is outdated and irrelevant in today's workplace. She has a reputation for giving advice that is counterintuitive but effective, like take long lunches, ignore people who steal your ideas, and stop vying for a promotion.

Trunk is known for test-driving her advice before spewing it. Her own career choices have been featured by TIME magazine and the London Guardian as examples of the new issues people face at work today. Both the New York Times and Business Week cited Trunk's writing as especially in tune with this new workplace. In her personal life, Trunk routinely (often awkwardly) demonstrates buzzwords before they buzz, like the quarterlife crisis, portfolio career, and shared-care parenting.

Trunk spent ten years as a marketing executive in the software industry and then she founded two companies of her own. She has endured an IPO, a merger and a bankruptcy. Prior to that she was a professional beach volleyball player.

Trunk started writing business advice when Fortune magazine published an open call for a woman to write about her own life as an executive. Trunk auditioned with a piece about her brother's stupid Internet ideas, and a piece about her boss's sex appeal, and she won the job. Today, she is a columnist at Yahoo Finance and the Boston Globe, and her syndicated column runs in more than 200 publications worldwide.

Trunk has spent roughly ten years each in Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles and New York City. Recently, taking her own advice about how to leverage scientific data to choose a job and a place to live, she landed in Madison, Wisconsin. The first word her baby learned in Wisconsin was cow.

Trunk is also a popular public speaker. This is true, but not massively true. For example, where she has spoken, she has been popular, but she does not speak all the time. That said, as a career advisor, Trunk realizes that a bio is not so much factual as aspirational, and she feels compelled to put an aspirational paragraph in her own bio. Otherwise, how can she advise other people on setting goals for themselves that are a bit of a reach?

She is dedicated to helping people find success at the intersection of work and life, because that's what she wants for herself. She thinks of career advice as a group effort - the movement for her generation X— so please email her. Or at least check out her blog, where she posts daily tips for making work life and personal life one happy, synchronized adventure.

From the Brazen Careerist Blog

1. Don't answer the phone when it wakes you up.

I know people get giddy for interview call backs like they get giddy for good-date callbacks. But the combination of giddy for phone calls, and sleeping late because you're unemployed could be lethal.

Time magazine reports that "the morning haze you experience when the alarm clock goes off is known as sleep inertia, and it clouds your brain more than sleep deprivation. The impairment is most severe in the first ten minutes but can linger for up to two hours." Bottom line: Let the call go to voicemail and go get some coffee.

2. Edit a wikipedia entry to show you're an expert.

Writing a blog on a given topic is great for your career. It shows that you specialize and you know you're stuff. But a blog is a big time investment. I got the idea of taking charge of a wikipedia entry from reading this blog post. It seemed totally natural to this woman to contribute to wikipedia in an area she was becoming knowledgeable in.

We should all think this way. In general, editing wikipedia is not rocket science. It shows that we are good at working in a team (which is what a wikipedia entry is), and that we have expertise.

3. Handle hard interview questions with a positive bent.

"Most times people ask trick questions, the person is looking for you to go negative," says Cynthia Shapiro, former human resource executive and author of Corporate Confidential. An example of one of these questions is, Tell me about a difficult boss and how you got around it.

The impact of being positive in an interview, and in life, cannot be overestimated. Optimistic people are happier and more fulfilled than the not-so-optimistic.

4. Don't provide two email addresses.

Why do I see so many resumes with multiple email addresses? If you can't make up your mind which email address is best, then how will you make decisions for anything once you're hired? Providing two email addresses is not being thorough. It's being annoying. Know the difference.

5. Make your resume a tease.

I write all the time about how a resume is a marketing document and not a list of your achievements or (worse yet) your job duties.

But David Perry, author of the Guerilla Marketing for Job Hunters, takes that one step further and says a resume should be a tease. You don't want to tell absolutely everything. You want to tell someone enough to get them to call you to ask for more.

6. Pitch your cover letter from the right angle.

A reader, Harry Hollenberg, wrote in with this tip: "Don't spend your cover letter telling me why my firm is perfect for you. Tell me why you're perfect for our firm."

7. Turn your job hunt into a publicity campaign.

This is actually something to do before you need the job. Debra Feldman, Job Whiz (and Coachology veteran) writes:

"Try Googling yourself. If you can't find anything that promotes you as an expert in your field, take steps to establish a web presence so recruiters and colleagues can find you and learn about your strengths. You can do this and control the content by establishing your own professional website (not family trips) and including information detailing your achievements, links to other references, white papers, articles, presentations at industry conferences and keynote speeches, internal training you've developed or delivered, PowerPoint presentations of general interest."

"The idea," writes Feldman, "is to let yourself be found by recruiters and others who are looking for certain skills or qualifications. This tends to make you a more interesting and attractive potential candidate than if you submit a resume or write to introduce yourself. Think how you feel when you unearth a gem."

Peter Clayton

About Peter Clayton

Peter Clayton, Producer/Host, is an award-winning producer/director of radio, television, documentary, video, interactive and Web-based media who has created breakthrough media for a wide array of Fortune 100 clients.


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