Office coach: Mask your job-seeking frustrations

Marie G. McIntyre
Tribune News Service

Q. I am sick and tired of being abused by interviewers who are neither courteous, respectful or kind. Many of them never look at my resume until I arrive, then proceed to inform me that the job requires some skill which I don’t even possess. I have been stared at to the point of discomfort, told that my past jobs were inadequate and advised to pursue a different line of work.

I have now started shutting down this negativity as soon as it occurs. When a hiring manager or human resources representative treats me rudely, I immediately let them know that I am blacklisting them. Employers looking for their next victim had better watch out, because I will no longer be anyone’s punching bag.

A. Many people can undoubtedly identify with your annoyance and exasperation. By definition, job-seeking is a highly frustrating process in which employers have all the power. Applicants not only feel completely out of control, but also experience constant rejection until someone finally hires them.

Unfortunately, however, the real problem occurs when frustration grows into outright anger. Conveying these negative feelings during the interview process inevitably creates a self-fulfilling prophecy — that is, applicants who are angry about being rejected start getting rejected because they seem angry.

The challenge for job-seekers, therefore, is to develop some effective strategies for managing stress. Otherwise, they may engage in self-defeating behaviors simply to make themselves feel better. In your case, for example, confronting rude interviewers might be emotionally rewarding, but it will kill your chances of becoming employed.

To have any hope of ending this unwelcome job search, you will need to find another outlet for your angry feelings. Then, when talking with interviewers, you must put on your “game face” and present yourself as the nice, friendly person that everyone loves to hire.

Q. Shortly after I took this job, my supervisor asked to borrow $50. Ever since then, he has made excuses for not paying me back, like forgetting to stop by the bank or finding the ATM out of service. Now he has asked for another $250 to get his car fixed.

Because this man is my boss, his requests make me very uncomfortable. I recently learned that he has asked people throughout the company for loans and never repaid them. Do you think I should tell someone about this?

A. Supervisors should never ask employees for money in any form. This blanket prohibition includes not only personal loans, but also solicitations for their favorite charity or requests to buy Girl Scout cookies. The reason is simple: When these appeals come from the boss, staff members don’t feel free to refuse.

Since there is safety in numbers, recruit some other victims of this loan scam and go as a group to your human resources manager. Hopefully, that will solve the problem. But if not, just respond to any future requests by saying, “I’m sorry, but I don’t have extra money right now.” If you keep this up, your impoverished boss will eventually seek out more lucrative prospects.

Marie G. McIntyre is a workplace coach and the author of “Secrets to Winning at Office Politics.”

Twitter: @officecoach