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Tandem Powered offers a full suite of Professional Resume Writing, Career Development, and HR / Business Consulting services.

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Tandem Powered's blog is dedicated to empowering readers by highlighting best practices in the arena of resume writing, career development, and organizational effectiveness, as well as by providing readers with an insider's view of the corporate hiring process.

Searching for Meaning at Work Could be Making You Miserable

Kent Nolen

Searching for Meaning at Work Could be Making You Miserable

There is absolutely nothing wrong with seeking meaning and fulfillment in work. With many Americans working well over 40-hours per week on average (per the US Bureau of Labor Statistics), you should be deriving some satisfaction beyond a paycheck. The truth is, though, that many people are seeking too much meaning from work, and it is making them miserable.

Again, finding meaning in the work you do is a positive thing. However, you can’t effectively find fulfillment in work without first building a sense of self and a baseline understanding of your strengths and values. Without a centering understanding of who you are outside of work, you are likely to fall into the trap of elevating the role that work plays in your life to unhealthy levels, a trend that  is now being called workism

Workism is essentially the twisted notion that work can serve as your primary (if not sole) source of meaning. It’s the belief that if you place work above all else you will find meaning and fulfillment. Like so many belief systems, it is a powerful promise and premise. But it’s a lie and it can lead you to be:

Gullible– Many companies have a genuine vision for the impact they can make. Of course, many don’t (does anyone believe that Facebook is actually working to “to build a global community that works for all of us?). Regardless, a company vision should be a unifying idea, not a sacrament. Because you are seeking too much meaning in work, you over-identify with the feel-good buzz words that make up your company vision. Your employer can sense this and knows that they can reap the rewards of all the energy you devote to helping the company fulfill its vision.

Anxious– You are putting all of your energy into work and the “meaning” it brings you. But if you lose this job, you will not have any sense of purpose – even misguided purpose. So, you spend your day crippled with anxiety about how well your colleagues are doing, fearful that you are being outperformed, passed up for a promotion, and in danger of being laid off.

Underpaid – It is in every company’s best interest to maximize human resources and minimize costs. That’s business. And companies have gotten very skilled at this. One of the key ways in which employers extract greater levels of effort for less money is by driving the idea that meaning is as or more important than a fair salary. You believe them and feel grateful to just have a job that makes you feel good. The problem is, during the few hours you have to yourself that aren’t spent sleeping, you don’t feel good. You feel undervalued.

Fake – You know that finding meaning at work is valuable social currency. That is why your Instagram feed is full of people who seem to be deeply fulfilled doing whatever it is they do. Of course, you know these people and you know they are struggling as much as you are. Despite that, those stories drive you to find greater meaning at work while posting pics of yourself “living your best life” both at work and in the few hours you actually aren’t working.

Misguided – You’re willing to optimize out the very things in life that make you genuinely happy so that you can spend more time working. Sadly, you’re not even appreciating the meaning that is present in your life outside of work because you are so aligned with the notion that work is the only place to find real meaning. Alternately, you find so little fulfillment in your non-work life that you decide to give more and more to work because it provides some sense of belonging and meaning.

Ultimately, your anxiety, insecurity, willingness to work long hours for little pay, and unquestioned devotion to the company vision makes you an excellent employee. In short, you are being exploited. You are exactly who your employer wants you to be – someone willing to kill themself searching for a sense of meaning while enriching the company.

All of that may sound very dark and like a plea to not seek any meaning at all from work, so let me say it again: deriving a sense of meaning and fulfillment from the work you do is a wonderful goal. But it demands that you first understand who you are – what your strengths and values are.

Knowing yourself is a powerful antidote to the hollow promise of Workism. It provides you with a framework for decision making and a sense of clarity as you move through the world. It also enables you to do work that is increasingly aligned with your strengths and values, which is how you find real meaning and fulfillment in work.

Don't Use That Photo on LinkedIn

Kent Nolen

With average attention spans diminishing to nearly no time at all, first impressions are more important than ever. Because of that, things like your LinkedIn photo choice matter. It’s likely the very first thing employers will see when looking st your social resume.

With that in mind – and because people often make terrible photo choices – I am resurfacing my go-to guidance for selecting a LinkedIn picture.


I hate talking about LinkedIn photos – as an HR professional it is upsetting to me that one's picture is increasingly being taken into account during the hiring process. My distaste (and the law) aside, it is a reality that your profile photo will play some role in the hiring process. With that in mind, I think it is time to resurface some tips for selecting an effective LinkedIn profile photo.

Here are some things to consider when selecting your LinkedIn (or other) profile picture:

Don’t crop a group photo – You may think that the photo of you with your arm around your buddies at a football game is the best picture of you. Your team won, you look genuinely happy, and the lighting is really good. That may all be true, but when that picture is cropped to be you and the shoulder of a friend, it’s going to look silly on your LinkedIn profile.

Go as high quality as possible – Pixelated, low-quality photos make terrible profile pictures. You may be striking just the perfect balance of professional and approachable, but if the quality is bad, it doesn’t matter. Always upload the highest quality picture possible.

Avoid the flash shadow – You’ve seen this picture. Someone standing in front of a cubical wall looking like a deer in the headlights with a horrible shadow behind their head. This kind of photo could make a nobel laureate look like an amateur. Good lighting matters – a lot.

Don't use a wedding photo – Ever.

In a perfect world, your LinkedIn profile picture would have zero relevance. But the fact is that readers will make immediate judgments based solely on your photo, so take it seriously. Plus, you've likely got a camera in your pocket that delivers the kind of quality photos once available only to professionals (portrait mode on iPhone is a perfect example), so if you don't have a great picture to choose from, grab a friend, fix your hair, and go find some nice natural light.

The Transformational Power of Nature

Kent Nolen

People often ask about the nature-centric path photos that are featured prominently here on the Tandem Powered website.

One of Tandem Powered’s Guiding Principle’s is: Egoless. Egoless is about the fact that worthwhile self-development is entirely an inside job that should be free of external quick fixes and outside validation.

What helps support egoless-ness? Getting out of your own head and out of your own perspective.

Immersion in nature is a great way to get in the right state of mind for transformation. The paths you see all over the website represent the transformational power of nature and, of course, the inspiration to “get on your own path” to fulfillment.

People are increasingly distracted and stretched. And, with all the advances in tech, they’re bombarded with news and information and ads and social media posts that make many feel exhausted and insufficient.

Most change agents (and a large chunk of the self-help industry, in general) exploit fulfillment seekers by perpetuating a fear-based, high-profit message: You're not good enough. This is a doomsday message that keeps you looking outside of yourself for satisfaction and validation.

Here on the website, I strive to send the right message the minute visitors arrive. No ads. No doomsday messages. Just helpful, inspirational content along with photography that mirrors that message.

Tandem Powered always donates a portion of earnings to worthwhile charities. In honor of Earth Day and the undeniable positive force of nature, Tandem Powered supports Earth Justice. From their website:

As the nation’s largest nonprofit environmental law organization, we leverage our expertise and commitment to fight for justice and advance the promise of a healthy world for all. We represent every one of our clients free of charge.

Thanks for your interest in Tandem Powered and the path to fulfillment.

Best Interview Advice

Kent Nolen

Go to your refrigerator and pour yourself a glass of champagne.

Raise a glass with me.

Why?

The job market currently favors candidates. Unemployment is low, so employers are having to work extra hard to compel the best candidates to work for them.

What does this mean? Well, getting interviews will, in most cases, be easier.

Just don’t mess up the interview.

I always cringe when I ask someone how an interview went and they reply with some version of “I think they liked me.”

Although you definitely want to come across as likable, likability should not be your first priority.

In my work on the other side of the table (HR / Business consulting), I often consult with companies on senior level hires. While hiring panels are never upset about a candidate’s likability, the hiring panel is most interested in how well you meet the requirements for the job.

In most cases, your interviews will be Behavioral in nature. Wow your interviewers with robust examples of how you nailed the skill in question. If they aren’t asking about areas where you align well with the job, tell them (ideally at the end of the interview when they ask if there is anything else you’d like them to know).

Don’t let good chemistry with interviewers fool you. When it comes down to it, a quality organization will first stack candidates up in terms of how they each meet the qualifications for the job. Your success hinges on your ability to outline how qualified you are. If your killer personality comes through while you do that, even better.

Oh, and keep your responses succinct. As I said in this post on how to handle video interviews, no one likes a candidate who blabs on and on and on.

Let’s review:

  1. Ensure they know how well you align with the job requirements.

  2. Be likable.

  3. Keep your responses swift, upbeat, and to the point.

Behind the Numbers

Kent Nolen

People find it hard to include clear achievements on a resume, but even when they do, they still tend to miss the mark by not speaking to underlying actions or strategy. Here are some tips for writing effective, compelling achievments on your resume.

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Why You Shouldn't Over Talk

Kent Nolen

Most hiring professional prefer concise, easy-to-read resumes. But that doesn’t mean they are following their own advice when creating their own resumes. Here’s why.

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The Most Dreaded Interview Question

Kent Nolen

"What are your biggest weaknesses?" is a universally dreaded interview question, but it doesn’t need to be. Knowing why the question exists and how to answer it well can make all the difference.

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Comprehensive Career Management

Kent Nolen

I am the first to say that powerful job search documents are only a part of a successful career management plan. That is why I place so much emphasis on the entire process; I want clients to walk away with a success orientation and the kind of bolstered confidence that can change their career trajectory. Projects are about a lot more than a new resume, and that’s why I love what I do.

Starting in 2019, full service clients will walk away from their projects with the guide, Beyond an Outstanding Resume. The guide outlines 12 tactics for comprehensively managing your career.

The suggestions in Beyond an Outstanding Resume serve as guideposts to point clients in the right direction, helping them to comprehensively navigate their path to achieving the ultimate professional goal: Career Fulfillment – not merely “looking for a job” when necessary.