THE BRAZEN CAREERIST- Pet peeves: A few of my least favorite things

Here is my current list of people and things I hate. It's an ongoing project that simmers week after week until it reaches boiling point and I have to spend a column venting.

1. People who are not coachable. They get good advice and don't take it because they think they know better. Everyone has blind spots that a little advice can shed light on. If you don't know how to take advice, people will stop giving it to you. And then you will stagnate. And the people who tried to help you will think to themselves, "Good. I was pissed that he wasted my time." 

2. Three-page resumes. Two pages can be okay–- but only if you've been in the workforce 20 years, or if you don't know how to enlarge the margins in your word processor. But anything more than two pages is someone who has lost all perspective. There is not enough important about your career to fill three pages. You reveal to all potential employers that you are mired in detail. 

3. The high and mighty. The people who say, "I'd never work for someone I don't respect," or, "I'd never play office politics to get ahead." Get real. If you want to be able to put food on your table, you need to learn to work for someone else, to do things a way you don't agree with, to do some work that doesn't matter to you. If you can afford to lose your job constantly to stay on moral high ground, then you didn't need a job to begin with. Continued below– 

4. The 8pm meeting. I don't care if you don't have kids. I don't care if no one in your whole company has kids. Each of you still needs to get a life. Just because you have no one sitting in bed waiting for a kiss goodnight doesn't mean you should be at work. Go to the gym. Go to a movie. Participate in aspects of life that do not have a profit-and-loss statement. Well-roundedness will make you a more interesting person, and even if you don't care if you're interesting, your co-workers will, so you'll do better at work if you leave work. 

5. The economically alienated. Don't complain about your butler to people who don't know what a butler does. And don't blow off the company party because you have season tickets to the opera. It's one thing to have a God-like pay scale; it's another thing to shove that in people's faces on a daily basis. Act like you're part of the team, or you won't have a team to act for. 

6. The people who won't change. Each week I get letters from people who say they hate their jobs, but they can't change it because they have so much seniority. Or they want to stay home with their kids, but they don't have enough money. Look, unless you're totally impoverished (and almost no one writes to me from this category except maybe recently divorced moms who have never worked), then you can do it. Sell your house. Move to Kansas. Stop sending kids to camp. If you want something enough, you will figure out how to live on less money. If you don't make the change, then admit to yourself that you want money more than– a job you love/full days with your kids/you fill in the blank– and stop complaining.


Penelope Trunk has started several companies and worked for many more. She penned this column several years ago, but she's busy with new things–- too busy to write new things.