4 Cringe-Worthy Career Moments

4 Cringe-Worthy Career Moments
From Recruiter - October 2, 2017

The other day, I was looking through a bunch of old photos in my attic. I cringed at my short, poofy 80s hair and laughed at my first pair of bifocals (yes, I had bifocals at 10, like a weirdo).

Those cringe-worthy moments are sort of a given for all of us. You thought you were so cool at the time, but later on, thephotographic evidence proves you so patently were not.

Even so, those cringe-inducing memories are fantastic to wade through. Recently, my friend Laurie Ruettimann publisheda blog postabout an experience she had with her boss as a young recruiter. Her story is one to which Im sure many of us can relate: The boss she thought was a jerk turned out to be right, and Laurie learned a valuable lessonnot until much later, of course.

I appreciated the article because it reminded me that, just like the old photos we all have, weve all experienced cringe-worthy professional moments. I spend so much time teaching and leading my team now that I often forget I was once young and trying to figure out this whole career thing. While todays professionals have blogs and media like The Museand Ask a Manager,no amount of career advice will save you from having a few of your own cringe-worthy moments.

But maybe I can save you from going through the same ones I did. Here are four of my most cringe-worthy career moments, in order of embarrassment, and the lessons I learned from each:

1. The Time I Realized My State School Journalism Degree Was Not the Same as a Decade of Experience at a Major U.S. Publisher

Pride is a funny thing, and I have it in spades.

I was working my rear end off as the staff writer, ad salesperson, distribution coordinator, and photographer for a local paperwhich, as you can imagine, did not have that many people on staff. The publisher and I were drowning in work and needed somehelp. When the publisher found that help in the form of an accomplished woman with more than 10 years of experience at a national newspaper, I was thrilled. When I learned she would be in a position of authority over me, I was not. After all, we both had journalism degrees; werent we the same?

Looking back at that moment, I honestly want to smack 23-year-old me. Experience matters. Of course my state school degree couldnt compare! Of course they werent going to have a 23-year-old manage a woman in her 40s! Back then, though,I railed at my husband for weeks over the injustice of it all. Ah, youth.

Lesson: Experience beats youth.

2.The Time I Was Passed Over for a Promotion After Four Months With a Company and Responded by Throwing a Fit and Crying at Work

I had just started at an investment firm, and I thought I was the stuff. I definitely padded my resume and spent the first few months taking work home so I wouldnt look like a moron. I worked really hard, sent a lot of emails, ingratiated myself with the higher-ups, and waited for my boss to notice that all my coworker did was complain about her husband while the rest of the marketing team did her work for her.

What happened instead was I got written up for wearing shorts to work and she got a promotion.

I thought I was a shoo-in, despite having barely a financial quarter behind me. This woman grew up in the same town as the big boss, was (as I have mentioned) quite the skilled delegator, and spent a great deal of time speaking to management in closed-door meetings. When I found out I did not get the promotion, I acted like a three-year-old. I stomped out of my office, cried in the bathroom (I am not a subtle or pretty crier), and vented toanyone who would listen.

Lesson: When someone is the bosss close friend, has been their longer, and does not throw fits in the workplace, she is manager material. You are not.


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