How to Deal

How to Deal: Happy-Hour Culture Can Breed Camaraderie

By Lily Garcia
Sunday, July 19, 2009

QThere is a big push at my job to go to happy hour, and it is really frowned upon when you do not join in. I am not unfriendly at work, but I am not very personal, either. I get exceptional performance reviews, but there is always that side mention (never on paper) that I don't hang out with the co-workers. Am I at the wrong place? My last company could care less who socialized with whom after work.

AWhen your supervisor laments the fact that you do not socialize with co-workers after hours, he or she is really saying that it would be better if you invested time in forging interpersonal relationships. In a collegial environment, the theory goes, conflicts are more easily managed, morale is strengthened and productivity soars. It is satisfying to work with people whose abilities you respect and admire. It is blissful to work with people you also like and trust.

The culture of your former company did not place the same emphasis on camaraderie as a business imperative, and it seems like that suited you well. However, you are in a different sort of workplace now. To fully realize your potential within this organization, you must be willing to compromise a bit. It might not be your speed to go out after work, but you should challenge yourself to try it now and then. Your co-workers by now have surely gotten the message that you would prefer not to join them. They will therefore be doubly appreciative of your efforts to be a part of these team activities. But even as you make the effort to participate in the culture of your workplace, you should gently invite your co-workers to consider your perspective, as well.

I don't think that you are necessarily working for the wrong company. There may be other aspects of your job, apart from the happy-hour culture, that suit you very well. It would be a shame for you to sacrifice a good gig just because you don't like to socialize with your co-workers.

What are the criteria you use to figure out who provides good advice and services on résumés and who is just blowing smoke? I keep hearing variations on "you won't recognize yourself when I'm done with you." More polish is what I want. Faking is not. Thoughts?

I understand your frustration. I, myself, was once contacted out of the blue by a recruiter who promised that I would not recognize myself when he was done with my résumé. When I probed regarding his technique, I gathered that he would assess my marketable skills and experience and package me (the "product") in such a way that I would have the greatest chance of attracting employers (the "buyers").

That made sense to me, but I remained uncomfortable with the idea that I would be presenting a false or contrived image of myself. I would like to think that prospective employers value authenticity and personality more than presentation and polish.

However, the truth is that we are all susceptible to the allure of an attractively packaged product that promises to make our troubles go away.

I don't see anything wrong with incorporating this concept into your job search. But if you place yourself in the hands of a recruiter who polishes you to a high gloss and brands you like a can of soda pop, you risk burying the earnest, hardworking professional that employers long for.

Some of the most helpful résumé advice I have recently heard came from a vice president at Lee Hecht Harrison, a company that, among other things, helps people find suitable jobs. She confidently asserted that you are the most qualified person to write your résumé because only you really understand your skills and accomplishments. Make sure that your résumé conveys compelling details about what results you are able to deliver to employers. This means quantifying your accomplishments with specific numerical data and tailoring your résumé to each job by incorporating terminology from the employer's job description.

The end product is a rich and compelling portrait that is sure to get you noticed.

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