Any Email Can End up on the Internet for All to See

If your company’s internet and email system is secure and you only write an email to one person with no cc s, then only one person will ever see that email, right?

Not so fast.

In today’s litigious society, you can never be sure what documents, electronic or otherwise might have to be produced as a result of an internal investigation, government investigation or lawsuit. And once that email is produced, who knows how many eyes will view it or where it will ultimately end up. I can guarantee you one thing, the context in which you wrote that email will rarely be made clear and so you will live or die by the words in that communication. These days even erasing that email may not be enough. Many email systems automatically back up emails before they can be erased and simply do not permit deletion at all. You might think you have deleted the email but somewhere within the system there is a copy just waiting to be produced.

Just ask Penn State’s former President. I don’t think he ever thought the words “humane treatment” would come back to haunt him in the way that it did or that an email addressed to him, which included a discussion of this topic, would end up as part of an investigative report that would be published on the internet for all to see.
Google Freeh and Penn State and you will easily find the report but to save you the trouble, here is the link, Go to the end and you will see a number of emails attached but the one I mentioned above can be found on page 227 of the pdf.

So, before you hit send, before you even start typing, think, would I be ok with this email ending up on msnbc’s home page?

Would I be comfortable with my mother, brother, child seeing this email?

Does this email show me as a seasoned professional or as a reactive manager who acts first and thinks later?


What email safety guidelines do you follow?

How do you protect yourself from going viral?


What the Recruiter will never tell you (but expects you to know)

Where does your application wind up?

Applicant tracking systems (the databases/software that is at work when you apply online) are the established way most organizations accept applications these days.

If you have read anything about applying online you know that you need to use the key words in the job posting or some systems will not even pass you along to be viewed by the recruiter.



Here are a few other things you should know about applicant tracking systems:

   1. Using the online application system

If you are having trouble applying online, first look at whether or not your file is in an “odd ball” format or is a large file, audio, use Internet Explorer not Firefox. Some do support FireFox but many more do not.

Still having trouble? Ask a tech savvy friend.

While recruiters will respond to your inquiries regarding how to apply online, we do expect you to make every effort to figure it out first.

Today’s marketplaces wants people who are tech savvy and if you can’t figure out how to apply online, you are already putting yourself at a disadvantage.

And if you are going to write to the company’s HR department for help, don’t start off with “your system is bad, broken, stupid and needs to be fixed”. Even if that is the case, no one wants to hear that their system is stupid and 99% of the time it is user error. And again if you are already showing and expressing frustration and negativity and you have not even applied, you are not creating a great first impression.

   2.  Application responses
Don’t say your application was not acknowledged because all you got was a standard email response.
The standard email response is the acknowledgment.
And don’t pick a fight with the recruiter because you think you should have been considered but got an email saying your qualifications are not a fit for the position.
Organizations generally select somewhere between 1 percent and 5 percent of applicants to interview. It is a very competitive job market and while you might have some of the qualification in the job posting (or even all), the organization likely has an applicant pool that has all of those qualifications and more.
     3. Complaints
While it is your choice to move up the chain of authority within an organization and complain that HR overlooked you, did not get back to you as quickly as you would have liked, etc, – don’t do it! No one likes a complainer and creating negative karma with HR is not a good idea.
     4. When to apply
Recruiters get email notifications when you apply online and even when you update your application. So while it is ok to apply at night or early am (this shows especially if you are still working that you are not searching for a job on someone else’s dime), don’t apply at 2am or 5am.
Stick to applying before 10pm or after 6am. Recruiters need their sleep and they don’t need email pings throughout the night.
And if you are showing even before you applied that you are a night owl doing who knows what at 2am, you will be casting doubts about being bright eyed and bushy tailed and ready for work at 9am.
    5. Follow-up
Yes, you should get prompt notification after an interview that you are or are not being passed on to the next round.
Unfortunately organizations take much longer to hire than they used to.
There are more candidates to consider and the stakes are higher in terms of getting the right person. So, it can take 4 to 6 weeks for organizations to make a decision after the first round of interviews.
Be prepared for that and don’t bombard either HR or the hiring manager with follow up emails. One thank you email post an interview and one email three weeks after if you still have not heard anything is all you should be send. And make sure that the second email is not whiny or full of complaints. It should be calm, matter of fact just letting the organization know you are still interested and understand that recruiting processes can take some time.
    6. Calls
DON’T call-ever unless you are returning a call. Phone calls are never welcome unless they are solicited.
Recruiters simply do not have time to spend with candidates who are not the right fit for a position and sorry to say, do not have the time usually to give you career advice.
If you are lucky enough to get referred by a friend to a senior manager in the field you want to work in or an HR person in an organization you would like to work, be respectful of their time and have no more than 3 set questions for them.
After you have asked your questions, ask them, do you have any advice for me, and then LISTEN, don’t interrupt or argue with them.
What have you learned about applying for jobs?

Wholehearted Living and Playing with Watercolors



Last year for the first time in almost thirty years as part of an art journaling course with Brene Brown,  I began playing with watercolors again.

An artist I am not, but the directions from the course I was taking was to “make a beautiful mess” and I figured that much I could manage.

I had, and am having, a ball with my watercolors.

There is something relaxing and soothing for me in choosing which color to use and every single time I start to swish the wet paintbrush on top of the dry watercolor palette I get a rush of excitement watching the color come to life. There is a moment before I touch the paintbrush full of color to the blank white paper where anything is possible.

Will I just let my hand brush over the page in random gestures?

Will I be more deliberate and bring a specific idea to life?

Imbedded in that moment is the promise of creation and the openness to choose what I will create. There is nowhere to rush to and no rules to follow. I am playing with watercolors just for me, for the sheer pleasure of it.

When is the last time you did something for the sheer pleasure of it? Not because you had to, not to accomplish anything or to satisfy anyone other than yourself but just because you feel like it.

It is funny as children most of us would not think twice about doing something for the sheer pleasure of it. We are hard wired for pleasure but most often we are conditioned by society to focus more on producing and achieving. We start off spending more time playing than working and then gradually it shifts to more work than play until recess fades entirely.


Years ago after much study (and a few critical incidents), medical schools and hospitals began to limit the number of hours interns could work without a break. There are similar rules for truck drivers and airline pilots. For most of the rest of us, there are no rules limiting the number of hours per day or per week we are permitted to work, let alone enforced breaks.

It is up to us to figure out what boundaries will keep us intact around length of work. And I can tell you what makes doing that TONS easier is having things you are longing to do outside of work. Taking time to do things you have not done in thirty years-or ever-is life changing.

What would it be like to give ourselves a “recess” every day, to move our bodies, play a game, fool around with watercolors or just be silly? If you could design your very own recess, what would it look like?


Tell us about a recess you are giving yourself at this time.

Being Managed by Someone Significantly Younger than You

I bet if you are in your 40s or 50s you just assumed that as your career progressed and you moved into more senior roles, your boss would be more senior to you, in experience, if not in age.  It seemed like that would be the natural order of things.  You thought, if I work hard at my job, attend to my professional development and show loyalty to my employer, I get promoted.  And, you operated out of the belief that if you did all of those things, you got to choose when or if you moved on from your present employer.

As many of us have now found out, the world does not work that way anymore.  Some of us have found being good at your present job duties is not enough.  There is an almost intangible mindset that most organizations value these days.  People in their 20s and 30s seem to come by it naturally but for most of us in our 40s and 50s, we have to make some shifts to get there.  This mindset is all about innovation, best use of technology and satisfying customer/consumer/constituent needs.

In order to join the flow of this new mindset, some have found they needed to lean into their younger colleagues and mirror their way of thinking and being.  Some have even found they need to explore new professions.  And yes, some have found that while they were making these necessary shifts, their 30 year-old colleagues were becoming their bosses.  (And if you are the 30 year-old boss, be patient and respectful, you may feel your 40 year-old or 50 year-old colleague is slowing you down but they have wisdom to share if you are open enough to receive it!)

Here is the GREAT news…all of this can be incredibly freeing.  I have LOVED being a coach to folks who have undertaken this journey.  I have watched the realization dawn on them.

Wait-you mean I could devote my whole life to this job, abandon any semblance of work life balance and STILL not land that promotion?


OR I can choose to learn and grow and develop my skills, broaden my world view, play, have fun, be creative, ask for what I want, have a blast along the journey and find what is the perfect path to a promotion?


AND, if I decide I want to break out on my own, become a free agent, today’s world supports that too?


I really believe you CAN have it all.  You can have work that you love, career success and work life balance.  It takes spending some time to get really, really clear on what it is you TRULY want and it takes consistent, sometimes BOLD action but it really is possible to have a life you are passionate about and work which fulfills you.  I am excited to be lifting up each week a different aspect of professional development, job search strategy, leadership development, having career success in your current organization and engaging in the bold pursuit of work life balance.  My hope is that sharing these insights gained from my own journey, will encourage you to share your insights so we can build a community of career explorers who are uncompromising around  creating work that support the passionate, alive, fulfilling life they want to live.


What have been some of your experiences with younger colleagues?

Sometimes Slow is Better

“The Rhythm of Nature is medium to slow…”

Angeles Arrien

Having grown up in New York and spent most of my career in NY, I have been surrounded by a fast paced world.


Everyone and everything moved fast and you were expected to catch up. Long before smart phones, the lines between work and life for myself, and most people I knew, were almost nonexistent. Time away from work often felt fast too because it was rarely long enough to get fully away from work, let alone recharge.

Every once in a while I would attend a retreat or run off to the monastery for a few days. Every time I went I would promise myself that this time I would slow down the pace, this time I would leave work earlier. Finally in my late 40s I came to admit that while I loved the work I did and even loved work in general, I could no longer keep up the same pace. 14, 15 hour days were simply not possible and even 11 or 12 hour days took a toll.

I also found that being in a depleted state made me cranky and resentful even though at that point in my career, no one was “making” me work those hours. Working long hours was an ingrained habit with me and not wanting the team that reported in to me to suffer the same fate as I had throughout my career, when there was more work than I thought they should have to do, I took it on myself.

Finally I went to program at the Center for Creative Leadership where I was bluntly given the feedback, it is time for you to stop doing and move into a coaching role. When I got back to the office, I realized I had to refine what I thought of as work. I saw work as things I actually produced. Just talking to others, giving requested advice, being an active listener was helping, not real work. But, yes, now this is my work.

I also realized that I could not do this “work” if I came at it from a place of feeling stressed or depleted or resentful for spending so many hours at work. I only did this work well when I was in touch with my own natural rhyme, when I had taken time to sleep and eat and rest, when I had taken enough time away from work so that I could be fully present when I was at work.


In the midst of this shift, I had the opportunity to spend part of my month in Nashville working for another organization related to my New York employer. I remember the first week in Nashville looking around at 5:30pm thinking, where is everyone? I soon learned that leaving at 5pm was simply a given. Folks worked from 8 or 8:30am to around 5pm. Some even came in early and worked 4 longer days and were off on Fridays.

They took a lunch break. They worked hard and productively all day long and then they went home. They went home to their lives and their families and their leisure activities.

They “played” as hard as they worked and their waking hours were almost equally divided by their work life and the rest of their life. Now, this was a non-profit and it is not to say every organization in Nashville leaves at 5pm but it was more about a mindset than the actual time they left. Their life outside of work was as much a priority as their work.

And more than anything else, they consistently made themselves and those they loved a clear priority.


How will you slow down your life?


Harry Part 6-Harry and The Teacher

Art by Lisa McLaughlin
Art by Lisa McLaughlin

Meet Harry

Harry and Sailing

Harry and His Lists

“I had the best two weeks. It was quiet in the office but with a trial coming up next month I knew I needed to use the time to catch up on my paperwork and at first I was dreading it but then I remembered I had decided to try doing it from the sailing perspective. And it worked, it really worked. Before I started each piece I was working on, I thought, what deeply, meaningful conversation do I want to have with who I am writing this for?

The work just flowed and I went home every night satisfied and fulfilled. What is even better is what came next. I won the motion for my client and my partners were so impressed with my creative argument that they asked me to present a summary of my legal strategy at our monthly meeting.”

“I love how energized and excited you are about all of this Harry. I can hear it in your voice and you are grinning ear to ear.”

“Yes, I am excited. It feels like a new door has opened.”

“Great. Do you feel like playing with this a bit?”

“Sure. What do you have in mind?”

“I am thinking we have you do a bit of vision and dialoguing with yourself one year from now.”

We had done “future self” work before but usually in the form of Harry writing a letter to his future self, the self as he saw himself as one year down the road. Now I was asking Harry to get even more creative and imagine what his “future self” might say to him a year from now.

“Feels a bit out there.” Harry said with a grin. “But hey, I am in a good enough mood that I am willing to give it a whirl.”

“Ok. Close your eyes. Take a mind to get comfortable in your chair and then invite your future self to share with you what your future looks like one year from now.”

Harry sat in silence for a few minutes and I could see him almost nodding a few times.

I gently interrupted and asked. “Where has your future self taken you?”

“Well. I am in a law school classroom of all places only this time I in the front of the room as a teacher. I feel great, energized, peaceful, like I am in exactly the right place.”

Harry opened his eyes and said, “I have never thought about teaching before, maybe it is something to consider.”

Purple Squirrels-Is there even a JOB out there?

Thanun Buranapong
Photo by Thanun Buranapong

Is that job even real?

It is true.

Companies do advertise jobs as “test balloons”, sometimes called Purple Squirrels.

The company thinks, well, we really could use another person with a different skill set than the current team. But this company also thinks, we are not totally sure how we will pay for this person or we are not really sure we want someone new right this moment.

Other times they are very sure of what they want but completely unrealistic about being able to afford the level of skill or experience they are after. Or they don’t understand that most people don’t have deep expertise in multiple professional areas.

It can be frustrating to apply for positions only to find that the position continues to be posted for months, or drops off for a time and then a few weeks or months later is posted again. Maybe you even check out the company’s website and are able to see that in fact the position is never filled. You may even get to the interview stage, only to have the sense that the organization cares more about tapping your expertise in the interview to benefit their organization rather than actually hiring you.

The bottom line for job hunters is, each interview, each interaction, even each position you apply for is a learning experience.

If you are very lucky it lands you a job. And no question that you need to treat every interview as “the interview” which may land you your dream job. But, you also need to be open and alert to learning whatever you can about yourself, your skill set and how you are perceived by hiring managers.

For me, the delight I was always able to find in even the most challenging interview processes was that as I told the story of my work experience, I discovered new things about myself. Five years ago my interview for an HR Director position consisted of three panels of interviewers which were 17 people, 7 people and 12 people strong respectively.

As a former trial attorney all of this played to my strengths and was a lot of fun. My mentor and I had worked on questions to elicit a HR Director wish list from all of these panels. Happily I got the job and had the opportunity to fulfill their wish list. I was so clear from the first time I saw the job posting that it was my dream job. I brought that clarity into all three interview panels (and the follow up one on one interview to boot!).

I learned that being clear about what you want is a powerful tool in getting what you want around work.

Other interviews taught me …

  1. Not everyone will get your career path and that is ok.
  2. If you can’t say exactly what you believe around your professional expertise, run for the hills.
  3. Clicking (or not clicking) with your prospective boss will make or break your work experience.
  4. Get there a bit early and do some people watching. If people seem harried and tense, don’t expect the organization to have a relaxed working environment (and if they schedule the job interview at 6pm, assume this is a position which will likely not provide a great deal of work/life balance.)
  5. AND trust your gut, if something is telling you that it is not really a fit, run for the hills if you possibly can (or if not, start creating your back up plan the day you start working there.)

Featured image

Some day, when you are interviewing for that dream job, you will want to bring forward all you have learned about the interview process and knock it out of the park. If that dream job interview never comes, it means that a new dream is trying to break through and when the TRUE dream shows up, (after kissing a whole load of toads or purple squirrels) you will know for sure what you truly want around work and life.



What do you feel when you think of job searching or interviewing for your dream job?