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Real Job Talk

Business & Economics Podcasts

Seasoned HR and recruiting consultants Liz and Kat help you navigate your career and get through your work day. Go beyond the employee manual for some real job talk!


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Seasoned HR and recruiting consultants Liz and Kat help you navigate your career and get through your work day. Go beyond the employee manual for some real job talk!








Episode 94: Golden Handcuffs- What Do I Do?

We have a letter! One of our listeners wrote to us with a question. They are stuck with what to do with their golden hancuffs. Their current employer was acquired by a larger company. The company wants them to stay, and has given them a year-long series of bonuses and severance if they stay long enough. But they'd also like to look around to see if there are other opportunities. They don’t know what to do about their bonus package in the job search: can they disclose it? Can they use it as leverage it as part of a job negotiation? It’s a great question, and while we counseled them separately, we share our advice with each of you. What ARE golden handcuffs? They’re a way that a company incentivizes you to stay with them vs leave after a major change. For example, our listener’s company was acquired and they have golden handcuffs that pay them over the next 6 months to stay with the company vs leave for another job. For our listener, they get bonuses every 3 months and then another payment if you stay through the pre-determined transition period. Because our listener is early career, we advised them to stay and get experience with acquisitions and use the bonus package to accumulate a nest egg (assuming they can tolerate it). And we also advised them to not start looking for a new job right away, and instead to take time to make a must-have list, and then start searching 3 months before their last day. Can our listener use their package to get more money? If YOU are applying for jobs, you can’t use a retention program as leverage, but once someone is interested, or if you are being recruited, you may be able to use it. You can say “I’d love to be considered, but I have this retention package and am planning on staying through the end. Can you help keep me whole?” They likely won’t pay it all out, but maybe it will get you a sign-on bonus. Deciding what’s right to do? Look at your must-have list, look at what you want to learn, and as opportunities come your way, make lists of pros and cons guided by your must-have list to balance learning, opportunity, stability, and happiness. Another interesting opportunity may come from the new company, so doing your best post-acquisition and learning about the new company, new ways to do things, and meeting a new network of people is a huge opportunity. Post-acquisition retention is an incredible learning opportunity. You have the opportunity to see how a new company does things and also see new groups and meet new people. Use the opportunity to learn and grow. If you do get approached for a new job, tell them right away that you’re planning on staying through the period of your retention bonus and let them know what it looks like to see if they can help move you earlier. Stress that you’re most interested in learning, growth, and opportunity, and you’re willing to give up money for the right opportunity. If you know you’re talking with a recruiter, write notes and make sure you’re ready for a clear and open conversation. Be confident in who you are, what you’re looking for, and what’s important to you.


Episode 93: How to Handle Your Company Card

Today we’re talking about all things Company-Paid. We're here to help you understand and navigate the world of expenses. Here are the Real Job Talk guidelines for using your company credit card. Guideline 1: Look at your company handbook/rulebook and familiarize yourself with the company’s policies around expenses. There may be limits on hotels, guidelines around flights, and per diems for meals and drinks. If you see friends during time in a new city, that needs to be on your dime - just like when you see friends at home. Your per diem is to cover you because you’re there for work, not for your cocktails with friends. Guideline 2: If it isn’t told to you, ASK! Can you buy yourself a mouse, monitor, or new desk? Ask the recruiter or hiring manager what will be covered by the company. Guideline 3: Convenience is key. You are traveling for WORK, so any bookings you do (hotel, office etc) need to be close to the work you are doing, not to the nearby city you’ve always wanted to visit. If you travel to a city and you want to go sightseeing and learn about it, that's totally fine, but the time you spend as a tourist is on you -- because the company doesn’t need you doing it and it's not part of your job. That said, you can extend your trip with a later flight after your personal travel (the company owes you a round trip ticket, the dates are less important), but the hotels and food during your tourism are on you. Guideline 4: Treat the company’s money like your own. Want an upgrade for extra leg room, but that’s not in company policy? That’s on your dime. Think about saving up your per diem to buy your family dinner on your way home from the airport? The company doesn’t owe your family dinner -- and they could fire you or at least lose trust in you if they find out. Bottom line: it’s not smart to abuse expenses. You could get fired. Don’t be fired for something so avoidable. Guideline 5: If it’s not for work, it’s not expensable. If you’re not sure, ASK. If you choose to work at a coffee shop instead of home one day, it’s not expensable. If you’re having lunch with friends and they say “How’s work?”, that’s not expensable. If you take your team out, it probably IS expensable. And when you can expense something, don’t bust the budget or order the most expensive thing you can. Don’t take advantage. Guideline 6: Use the systems you’re told to use. Follow Finance’s guidelines. Keep receipts. Stay on top of it so that your expenses are up to date. If you pay attention to these guidelines - and to the guidelines of your company - you won't get into trouble with expenses at work.


Episode 92: This Was All An Accident with Kat Kibben

Welcome back to Real Job Talk, Kat Kibben! Kat (pronouns they/them) is the founder of Three Ears Media, a speaker, advocate, and leader in the HR space around inclusivity and job descriptions. We're really pleased to have Kat join us for a second time on the podcast. (Check out their first appearance, Episode 38: Write a Resume that Gets Past the Screeners with Katrina Kibben ( Every week, Kat writes a letter with their thoughts from that week. They started writing their letters as a marketing exercise, but found the letters got more personal and they eventually evolved to being about... life. Those letters are now a collection of stories titled This Was All An Accident focusing on their year of living in a van and traveling around the United States. According to Kat, the first step of accepting yourself is learning what it feels like to be happy. Kat started writing a list of what they were doing when they felt happy and then read the list every day and whenever they were feeling low. We unpack the word “should” and redefining boundaries in a way that works for us. Can a CEO live in a van and work 4 days a week? How did Kat redefine their norms to adjust to van life? Scheduling in van life has to be flexible, and not only did Kat have to adjust their idea of what work looked like, but their team had to adjust and refine their set up. Kat inspired Kat and John to take their own van trip. We discuss the planning of a van trip and how it’s a metaphor for life in that you can plan and plan, but you often run into and need things you don’t plan for. Both Kats learned that lesson in their van trips. Our lessons? Bring duct tape and an ax! We dive into vulnerability. Kat felt most vulnerable when they learned that their estranged father was reading their book. They wrote it for teenagers and people who could use the lessons they’ve learned in their life. What they found was that it felt most vulnerable when they knew people who they know in their personal life were reading it. They’re more used to people they work with knowing more about them from their work. Kat talks in their letters about hard things, but has very clear boundaries. Their rule is to not write about anything they aren’t certain about in their life. We talk more about boundaries and how they determine what to share and how to handle people who ask questions they aren’t ready to answer. Lastly we talked about staying realistically positive without being toxic. Kat’s answer is to focus on now vs the huge picture so that life isn’t overwhelming. One of Kat’s motivations is around helping kids, specifically queer and trans kids, feel comfortable and safe in their bodies. They mentor adults about being queer in the workplace and tell us some stories about how they help people live authentically. Get Kat's book, This Was All An Accident: Letters and Life Lessons ( on Amazon Kat's blog and personal site: ( Linkedin: katrinakibben ( Twitter/X: @KatrinaKibben ( Facebook: katrina.kibben ( Instagram: @katrinakibben (


Episode 91: Networking with a Purpose with Robert Gilbreath

Welcome to Real Job Talk Robert Gilbreath! Robert talks to us about his career journey as a solopreneur, entrepreneur, and an employee and how he treats each role like he’s the owner of the company. Robert Gilbreath is an experienced solopreneur and entrepreneur, and joins the show to share his insights on work mindset, ownership of roles, networking, and evaluating side gigs. He has a diverse background that spans SaaS, ecommerce, partnerships, marketplaces, and product, with experience on both sides of the table across all those areas. Tune in as he delves into the importance of networking, being positive, and helping others. Robert shares his approach to evaluating new opportunities and emphasises finding purpose in what he does. We also touc “Act as if….” every company you work at is your own. Is a mantra (one of many) Robert Gilbreath brings into each role he has. It helps to guide him in making each organization better in some way from before he was there. Marketing is an interesting discipline because people throughout the company will have opinions on the work you are doing. The best marketers can switch industries- the academic side and the creative side and it’s about understanding your audience and how to connect with them. Success is often tied to taking ownership - of your role, your career, and your journey. That means saying “yes” in early career, trying new things, and owning both success and learning. We talked with Robert about side gigs and his approach to networking as a way to make sure he always has something interesting going on. Robert’s goal is to know everyone in Austin doing ecommerce so that he is always touching what’s happening in his space. Connect with Robert Gibreath Twitter/X: @robertgatx ( Website: ( LinkedIn:


Episode 90: Advance Your Career with Kelli Thompson

Welcome to Kelli Thompson! Kelli is a speaker, coach, author, and HR executive who left the corporate world to pursue her passion for helping women advance their careers. She is driven to help more women make it to the board room, advance their careers, and bring their best, most authentic selves to the office. Today we’re going to be focusing on talking with Kelli about the very important topic of salary negotiation. Kelli’s career started in banking, where in her journey in HR and leadership development she noticed that most of leadership were men. She found joy as an HR executive in helping people figure out paths to develop their careers. She then worked for a tech company where once again she found joy in helping with career development. She liked that so much so that she worked for a consultant who specialized in career development and broke out on her own to do one-on-one leadership coaching -- which also included less travel. We asked Kelli her thoughts on Lean In and how she feels about women’s journey into the boardroom. Kelli agreed with us that the “do it all” idea can burn women out -- especially since women tend to take on more unpaid and unpromotable administrative work at work and take on more at home. We all agreed that being an executive of any gender requires a ton of support at home and in life so that you can dump what’s not necessary, doesn’t give joy, and you need to delegate and create boundaries. In order to grow in the executive ranks, Kelli asks us how can we show up and do what we want to do without feeling resentful. We ask Kelli how she coaches a burned out person who wants to get ahead. She said they usually are ahead -- but that it’s not sustainable. She first asks where in their life they feel most resentful. They eliminate just that and focus on what needs to be addressed so they can focus. We ask about when salary should be discussed in the job search -- up front as early as possible. And salary transparency helps! The issue with salary transparency in the remote first world is that the range is inclusive of all areas, which means that the range can include the salary in Omaha and NYC, which won't be the same. What that does is encourage transparency in the conversation, but also, Kelli says to look up jobs listed locally to know what your range is. And if the range is less than you want, there’s no harm in having an initial conversation and seeing if there is any flexibility. That said, if the job is being upleveled, you want to know where that “lower level” work will go -- it may still sit with you. To get the most out of salary negotiation, you want to talk about what you bring to the company (not your personal needs), the skills you bring, and what the company can get from your skills (increase revenue, lower expense, reduce risk, lead change) in order to demonstrate what you’re asking for. And if the range is more than you were expecting, keep that poker face! Just say, “sounds good” and remember, that initial number is still negotiable. Get what you’re worth! What’s negotiable in a job offer? Probably not the benefits plan, but sometimes you can adjust the boundaries of hybrid/remote situations and often learning and development opportunities. By understanding the benefits packages you’ll know what you can/can’t negotiate. Usually that first offer isn’t the ceiling. You can try for more. The worst thing they can say is no. Good people get hired, promoted, and raises even in a bad economy. Good people also get let go. Show your value and make sure your skills are what your company and other companies need. The best negotiators, even in a down economy, acknowledge the environment and showed what they can bring. The best negotiators are kind, direct, and show their value. Also, don’t forget that we learn a lot about you during the negotiation process, but also you learn a lot about the company by how they behave during the offer process. What does confidence look like in salary...


Episode 89: Feedback Conversations at Work

Today we're talking about giving feedback at work. In talking with managers at work, Liz encouraged people to ask their people how they wanted to get feedback and how to deliver news positive and negative. Feedback, when given in a timely and kind manner, can be a gift. But often we forget key steps like finding out how someone likes to receive feedback or framing it in a way that makes sure your point is conveyed. Feedback tip #1 is to make it as timely as possible. When you finish something, talk about what went well and what could do better. When you’re in a team reflect as a team and as a manager give feedback fairly and in a timely manner so the person can learn in the moment. With performance reviews, if a manager doesn’t ask how you’d like to receive your review, for you to ask to see it up front (if that’s your preference). Ask for what you want/need in order to have the feedback discussion be as helpful as possible. Most managers will say yes, but if they don’t, you can say that you may not be as responsive or talkative because you need time to digest feedback to have the most impactful conversation. How do you respond to a review that is a surprise? Ask for some time to digest and ask for a follow up meeting. Then take a minute to reflect and write down your responses. You can write an emotional response as long as you throw it away and write a fact-based response. You don’t want to come across as emotional or reactive. Sometimes, if you believe a review is wrong or unfair, you need to consider the source and how much you respect their opinion on your performance. You thank them, respect their opinion, but then share your viewpoint and facts that back it up. Make your point with facts and evidence- be factual but not accusatory. The goal is to get closer aligned and share perception and meet in the middle. What if your manager refuses to talk about your review? The answer is “ok, I was hoping we could talk about it.” and then you need to make a career decision….When you realize there won’t be a conversation, you get out of the conversation as quickly and calmly as possible. You can give the rebuttal to your HR person to make sure your viewpoint is filed. What about less formal feedback? We talk about a friend whose boss unknowingly gave them really insulting feedback in front of peers. Our friend was LIVID and wanted to know what to do. We advised them to use the “When EVENT A happened I thought B and felt C” and to talk it though in the next 1:1. To then say that you know that’s not what they meant to do, and ask for them to give constructive feedback privately. Tell people how you want to communicate in real time. If you like Slack, say so. Same w email. Saying something like “I’m most organized in email, so please communicate with me there” doesn’t put them on guard but helps them know how to work with you. Ask people their preferences and honor them and that will help you build relationships. Your goal is to build real, authentic, kind working relationships and our communication style is on us to communicate.


Episode 88: Layoffs and Severance -- What Should You Know?

We talk about a topic that has come up extensively over the last few months -- severance packages. What are they? What aren't they? Why do they exist? What do you do when you get them? Our goal is to answer all of the questions we get around them to help you learn and be prepared if you’re faced with them. Question 1: What is a severance package and what is the point of them especially if I’m an at will employee? "At Will" means that you don’t belong to the company. Why do companies give severance? To absolve blame and because it’s the right thing to do to get the person to their next job since looking may be unexpected. It is an agreement to keep quiet about fault, i.e., it’s money to say that this was a no-fault situation. It can have a combination of compensation and benefits, talks about your last day, and what needs to be done to earn it (like return your stuff or finish a project). Note that there is a timeline around signing it (45 days for over 40 if more than 1 person, different rules if WARN is enacted). Take your time to understand your package. Please know that people delivering the news are having a horrible day too. Question 2: Can I negotiate a severance package? Not really, unless you have very clear evidence that the company has done something wrong by you. It is usually determined by a formula. One exception is if you have a pending legal action or a documented legal case, or if you are an executive who has negotiated a separation ahead of time. Potentially yes, for sales commissions that close by a certain date. Don’t compare yours with the ones from other companies -- they’re all different and have different terms of their packages. Question 3: What can I expect once I hear I’m part of a RIF (Reduction in Force)? What the package is -- what it includes and what it doesn’t. Get a lot of paperwork (15-50 pages+) with all of the terms of the agreements. Last day and when and how to return your stuff. Expectations around what it takes to get severance and when you have to sign (don’t wait until the last day- it’s just annoying). COBRA information, which helps you stay on your benefit plan for 18 months after you leave the company. Question 4: Should I sue/get a lawyer? Not unless you have documentation that proves you’ve been harassed, etc. Have someone to review the paperwork. Know that a lawyer put your package together so it’s probably pretty sound. Question 5: Thoughts on posting my RIF on Linkedin/social media? You do you Being supportive to those affected is lovely, but you’re not RIFed, send direct messages and be supportive of people, but ndon't do a “I’m sad my colleagues are gone” posts. Share their profile, write a recommendation, and make the help about them, not you. Green circle on LinkedIn -- yes or no? YES! It makes you more searchable! Say what you want and leave your feelings to your inner circle. On Linkedin and social be positive and looking towards the future. Personal reach outs are better than big dramatic posts When you share desperation, people feel badly and helpless. Keeping it professional in professional groups and on Linkedin will help people know if and how they can help find the next job, but saying that if you don’t get a job soon you won’t be able to pay your mortgage makes people feel guilty and doesn’t work in your favor in professional circles. To wrap it up, being a part of a RIF is hard, scary, and heavy on the heart. To be prepared, listen to our Looking for a Job Learning Track episodes found on the resources page of our website ( We recommend always having a current resume and Linkedin, and keeping your skills up-to-date in case you find yourself in an unexpected job search.


Episode 87: Change in Careers with Mpume Ncube-Daka

Liz and Kat Zoom in with Mpume Ncube-Daka all the way from South Africa to talk about change conversations. Mpume works with people to drive the best decisions in their growth and development. She is passionate about personal and professional development and learning through change. Mpume thought she’d be a doctor when she grew up, but realized she needed to change direction after a failed math class. She then became an accountant and has built a career on change. After laughing at humanities students in college, Mpume finds herself a student of people and passionate about psychology and human development. With careers in marketing, business strategy, accounting, and finance, she can see all sides of business problems and be able to connect with her clients. We ask Mpume about navigating workplace relationships - what advice does she give for navigating the modern workplace? She reminds us to take time to relate to people as human. Take out the noise and get to know someone as a human. Navigating a workplace culture is about navigating that company’s particular cultural nuances first. Once you understand that, you bring your authentic self into the space. First you want to observe how feedback is given and received- preferably at the interview- and see if it’s a place you want to work. We ask about navigating a full career change vs a just job change. The #1 thing is self-awareness. If you know yourself, you know what excites you, what you don’t want, and you want to do things that excite you and make you money. What skills and strengths do you have that are marketable? You may love to color, but it may not pay the mortgage. You don’t want to get all of the meaning of your life from work. We work to have the life that we want- all happiness can’t come from the workforce. Communicating effectively is a key skill to thrive in today’s work world. Mpume has ABCs of work communication. For her, #1 is interpersonal communication, which includes both verbal and non-verbal communication. We all want to be heard, no matter if someone agrees or not. If we feel heard and listened to we can work together. Be good at listening and giving the time to hear someone’s opinions. And it’s important to clarify that you heard the thing they were actually saying. They key to effective listening? Be present. Not checking email. Not checking Slack. Not prepping dinner. Clarify what they are saying to make sure you understand. We ask how do we stay present in today’s crazy world? Don’t make it about you. When it’s about understanding what the other person is saying, you can focus on their message. It comes to company culture- if everyone expects instant communication and people are Slacking during meetings, you’re not encouraging listening and being present. We ask for advice on behalf of our listeners who feel stuck in their career. Mpume wants you to look at what “stuck” looks like for you. Why do you feel stuck? Get to the bottom of why you’re feeling that way before you start to solve the problem. If you’re stuck, how do you getting out of the hole? Create goals to challenge yourself to get out of that space. Does being stuck feel different for women? Yes! Sometimes we need to make choices that work for us and what we want in our lives. That said, many women want to be super women and not drop anything, and we come at our situation from a guilt perspective. When we realize what we need and want and stop feeling guilty about what we aren’t doing, we find our power and our gratitude.


Episode 86: How to avoid job abandonment

Today we’re talking about job abandonment -- something we’ve each seen a handful of times in our corporate careers. (Kat saw it more with people working in retail.) We want you to know what job abandonment is, how to avoid it, and what the ripple effect can be when someone abandons their job. What is job abandonment? Job abandonment is when you just disappear from work and nobody knows where you are for a certain period of time, even just a few days. It often leads to you losing your job. When someone doesn’t show up without any notice, management and HR starts asking around. Then they call, email, text, Slack, and try to get in touch with someone any way they can. HR gets involved when they resort to using personal and emergency contact info to get in touch. It’s a tough balance in trying to find the person and see that they are ok -- but you don’t want to set off too many alarm bells, just in case the whole thing was caused by a dead phone battery and an alarm not going off. At a point when the job abandonment is suspected, the authorities may be called to do a wellness check, hospitals may be called to see if someone’s there, and if someone knows the person’s kid’s school, the school may be called to see if the family is ok. Before letting someone go for job abandonment, management and HR will try to find them and make sure they are ok. Kat knew someone who just couldn’t deal with life and disconnected with their work. After trying to find them, the president of the company showed up at their house. Job abandonments are very stressful for managers and HR people, even when the person turns up OK.The worry that happens when someone disappears is very real, and companies want to avoid invoking their job abandonment policy. As the person who is managing your career, you do not want to be source of that stress and you want to be seen as responsible and reliable. If your company or manager doesn’t know that they can rely on you, your career in that role will be short-lived. And when you go to find your next job, it may be difficult to explain what happened if you simply burned your bridges and left. To avoid this, we have some tips to avoid noncommunication and miscomunication with your workplace when you really just can't come in. Someone you know will be aware if something is happening to you. Make sure they also have your manager’s contact info. You don’t have to tell work everything about your personal life, just what you need to communicate what to expect. For example, " need to go on medical leave" or "I need to take a week of personal leave." That's enough. Crazy concept: your company doesn’t pay you to not show up. BUT this has happened to other people before you, and because of that, the company likely has policies in place to support you if you can’t work. And your country may also have labor laws that cover this as well. You need to communicate enough to make sure that your job is protected. Don’t be the person who causes angst for others, and don’t have your decisions cause angst and disruption for your team or for coworkers depending on you. If you need time off, ask for it and take it. When people disappear from their job, projects get derailed, trust gets broken, the rumor mill goes nuts, and colleagues get overloaded. Don’t be the person who made this happen. Communicate, don't just ghost.


Episode 85: Personal Branding and Resume Strategies with Angela Loeb

Welcome to Real Job Talk, Angela Loeb! We refer our clients who need their resumes done to Angela because she literally wrote the book(s) on resumes and job searching. Angela started out helping people to get into beauty school- she interviewed people and helped them get into classes. Angela got into recruiting by answering an online ad (a rarity!) and worked at an agency for many years until the 2009 recession. She wrote a book, conducted seminars, and hosted a radio show on “blog talk radio” on the job search process. We asked Angela about going out on her own vs working for agencies. Angela had a mentor who encouraged her to work from home and branch out beyond their agency. She started her business as a side gig (we highly recommend doing this first!) working with individuals until she realized that she could support herself with her own business. Angela helps people to brand themselves, write their resumes, and be able to tell their stories. You are marketing you, and you need to figure out your value proposition/branding statement. As a job seeker, you have to position yourself like a product. So how do you show resume readers what you can do for them? You think about what you mainly want _to do, and then highlight it with the rest of _what you can do sprinkled around the side. You want resume readers to see you how you want to be featured. If you start with your resume, it’s just an inventory of skills. If you lead with what you WANT to do, you tailor your resume to the job you want. If you assume everyone’s going to want to hire you, you’re not thinking about your target audience. Resume readers want skills, not adjectives. A lot of people come to coaches and resume writers to help them get clarity about how they can have impact. We asked Angela about the use of social media and how to be consistent in branding across different media so that your overall picture between your resume and social media is clear. Angela also says not to copy your job description on a resume, but agrees that you need to show that your experience matches the experience they are looking for. And, while many job descriptions talk about intangibles like “team player,” to say that you're a team player is white noise on your resume. You need to SHOW that you’re a team player, results driven or detail oriented in your accomplishments vs by listing those qualities. Front end work to get your strengths and goals clear is critical in a successful job search. Is the Great Resignation over? What’s the job market like today? Angela points out job cycles, and recommends that hard times cause companies to need different skills. We may end up in a limited hiring bubble, but right now companies are still screaming for talent. You may want to move to a role that feels stable for you. It comes down to knowing what you do that creates value and impact and can highlight it, you’re going to be more successful in your job search because you can pivot, modify, and adapt. If you have a skills gap, you need to fill it. Show companies you want to work for that you understand their business. You can get those gaps filled by volunteering, and also can expand your network that way too! Being a connector and getting to know other people can absolutely help you get your next job. Commenting on what you’re interested in and posting about it helps you become a thought leader in that space. Lastly, we asked Angela about video interviews and resumes. We’re seeing employers using more asynchronous video interviews. It’s convenient for the hiring managers and companies. Videos allow you to show people who you are, but it’s important to stand out and have an edge. Remember, you can’t have a video resume be too long or you’ll lose your audience. On video, you need to be “on”, engaging, and interesting. Watch examples of video resumes on sites like Bitable and use templates to get your message out there. Angela on Twitter: @angelarloeb (


Episode 84: Your company was acquired! Now what?

In this episode we advise on what to do when your company gets acquired. Most of us don’t know if our company is going to change structure, ownership, or leadership, so when something big is announced it can be a bit shocking and can cause us to ask, “What happens to me?” What do you do that day? Acknowledge your feelings - you’re going to get flooded with emotion. It’s scary. The number 1 thing you can do is take care of yourself. Continue to breathe. Take a walk. Understand that the feelings of uncertainty are normal and expected, but don’t pretend they aren’t there. That said, if you’re a manager or a leader, you need to take a deep breath and lead your people. You can tell them how you feel, but also exude confidence. Don’t make promises you can’t keep. Be as honest and forthright as you can. Admit what you don’t know. And save your meltdown for time away from your team. As an individual contributor, attend all meetings the company has for you, but make sure you keep getting your job done. Remember that being adaptable is the #1 skill that help people have successful careers. Being reliable is always helpful in staying a necessary resource. As an individual contributor you can control your adaptability, your attitude, your willingness to help, and your performance. Being the person who asks how you can help with the transition will make you invaluable. After day 1, learn about any upsides or golden handcuffs that come along with the deal. Are there bonuses for staying? Does anything happen to your pay? Your benefits? Your equity? Who at the new company does the same thing as you? Knowing your situation helps you assess where you can fit in the new org. That said, it’s a great time to brush up your resume and start exploring opportunities. Look for ways to help ease the transition in time of change. Post-acquisition layoffs happen. Be ready. Assess the culture of the new place. How did they announce it? What was the welcome like? How happy do the new people seem? Judge the new place against your must-have list. Be aware. Ask questions. Be a calm force looking at things objectively to best assess the situation. Look at how you’re welcomed- you learn a lot about a company when you see how they handle an acquisition. Is it employee first? Are you left in the dark? Are they focused on assuaging your fears? How is your manager handling it? Are there skill gaps between your old and new responsibilities? Try and fill them whenever possible if you want to stay and make yourself a stronger candidate for an internal or external search. Do whatever you need to do to be a great candidate for any job search. Figure out what this means to you, talk to your Board of Advisors for advice, and give it a chance to see if it can be a good change.


Episode 83: Top Secret! Taking about NDAs

Top secret! We’re talking about NDAs, non-disclosure agreements. What’s an NDA? It’s an agreement between you and the company saying that you won’t share information about the company outside of the company. These are shared whether you’re an employee or a contractor. Sometimes you sign an NDA when you’re interviewing, which means that whatever you learn during the process you can not take back to your current employer. If you’re working on a secret project at work, your NDA says that you don’t tell anyone about what you’re working on. At least not the details of it. So, what do you do when someone asks what you’re working on?? Kat advises you make a joke like, “I’d tell you, but then I’d have to..”. You can tell people that you can’t wait until it becomes public and you can talk more openly about it. You can also say to people, “There’s a lot going on at work, and maybe if you Google it you can figure it out.” Internal Use Only means do not forward, and if you don’t listen, you could find yourself in legal hot water. Sometimes, when talking about things that are top secret, we have to realize that not everyone has the same amount of knowledge, so fishing to see who knows what could get you into hot water. If you know about something that isn’t public knowledge, you don’t want to be asking about it in case you make people curious and they find out things they should not know about. On your first day, make sure to ask for a copy of everything you sign and make sure you take the time to read it. Always know what you’re signing and make sure you can honor it. When you leave a company, it’s ok to ask for your signed documents. You will want to review them for non-solicitation language (and time limits -- for example, you may not be able to refer someone from that company for 12 months without violating your agreement) before you refer someone from there. Be informed to make sure you honor everything you’ve signed. If something is Googleable, it’s in the public domain, but if it’s not, it’s probably under NDA and you don’t want to be the leak -- so keep it to yourself!


Episode 82: Truth in Background Checks

Today we’re talking about background checks. Background checks are a standard piece of company’s hiring processes. The company takes the resume and verifies education, employment, and criminal records. Sometimes they also do things like drug tests. Both of us have had to rescind offers or eliminate employment based on background investigations, and each of those situations could have been avoided. The net net: be honest. It establishes trust. Background checks include references. A bad reference check can cause doubt and we’ve seen offers get rescinded because of them. So be aware and make sure all of your references will speak positively about you! Different industries (especially regulated industries like healthcare, financial services, and government) have different requirements including FBI checks and credit checks. Do your research to know what to expect. For most companies, they ask if you have any felonies, arrests, or other criminal records. TELL THE TRUTH. Yes, that arrest for drunk and disorderly on Spring Break ‘97 WILL show up on the report. If you’re honest, you should be ok. We’ve only seen issues when there are discrepencies between the application or resume and the check. Make sure you’re always as honest as possible! For education checks, if you claim to have a diploma, make sure that the school will confirm that you have the diploma. Taking credits does not equal a degree. Finishing coursework but not taking exams does not equal a degree. Having a financial hold means that there is a hold on your degree and you can not claim it. We have seen when someone doesn’t know that there is a financial hold (and they even walked), and we’ve seen companies go both ways when this happens -- they might rescind the offer, or they might let it go and follow-through with the hire. Still, if you aren’t sure, check with the school before claiming the degree. We encourage you to keep good records of the dates of your jobs. If you don’t know for sure, say “approx”. Just disclose whatever you can. What about changing your title on your resume to make it more searchable? That's ok -- your resume and Linkedin are marketing tools. BUT, you want to make sure any application states your true title, no matter how goofy it is. There’s a difference between changing the words on your title and lying about your title. We’re begging you to tell the truth.


Episode 81: Managing Gen Z and intergenerational communication with Dr Carrie Root

Welcome to Dr. Carrie Root, who joins us to share her book The Other Soft Skill that teaches about intergenerational communication and connection. Carrie has had a number of career twists and turns, breaking barriers as an IT consultant with the Navy and now as an educational consultant. Carrie tells us that she ignored the gender differences she found in her early career by pretending there wasn’t one. With her work consulting with the Navy on pause, she did some consulting with NASA and thought about everything she’d learned and saw a lack in teamwork from earlier in her career. Carrie learned about a local Rotary Club program that gave free tuition to kids who kept their grades up and were responsible enough to graduate, and did some research to see that many of them weren’t able to complete their advanced degree programs. She saw the opportunities to get kids from local schools internships, but was hearing that they were too rough. Carrie also found that when kids come out of school they were used to homogeneous groups, and in the workplace she was seeing communication and style breakdowns. She was able to set up partners, buddies, and mentors in order to build relationships across groups and help them learn to understand each other and their style. She realized that by getting to know others, team members were able to see each other as people vs stereotypical generational people. We discussed how leaders can set norms for how a team communicates and start the conversation about how to communicate across the team. Carrie also told us about how managers help with adaptability around new technologies and norms. Getting people teaching each other is a key to intergenerational team success. Carrie reminds us all to learn from each other and each other’s perspectives. We have so many opportunities to take time, develop relationships, and listen to each other. Listening is the most under-rated skill in the workplace. If we listened more instead of thinking about what we’re going to say next, we could all connect and serve each other better. Gen Z tends to want to learn and grow, so when managing them, make sure they are always learning, having new experiences, and can learn from each other. You also want to make sure they have the best software and equipment to be as efficient as possible. She makes sure that for Gen Zs they have no penalty for asking questions or trying new things. “If you learn from something that didn’t go well, that doesn’t mean it was a bad thing.” We talk about learning, growth, and growth mindset and wanting to learn and move forward. We ask Carrie where to find mentors. She says that you need to think about what you bring as a mentee and what your responsibilities are as someone being mentored. You need to set expectations, commit time, and work towards your goals. Look for mentors outside of your organization and to help with certain goals. What happens if someone is afraid to ask someone to mentor them? Carrie feels that if you’re afraid to ask, maybe you’re not ready to be mentored, and if you assume they won’t want to, you’re putting words in their mouth. She recommends asking in a way that it’s ok for them to say no or to say “not now”. That way you know if they say yes they want to do it. Carrie Root & 5G Power Skills on Twitter: @5gpowerskills ( Carrie Root on Linkedin ( Carrie Root & 5G Power Skills on Instagram:@5gpowerskills (


Episode 80: Millennial Management with Emily Tsitrian

Welcome to Professional Service Manager and author of the new book Make Me The Boss: Surviving as a Millenial Manager in the Corporate World, Emily Tsitrian! We talked with Emily about being a “newer career” manager, why she wrote her book, and lessons she learned along the way. We asked Emily how she got into professional services (which is a lot of project management, implementation, and customer success), and she told us about how in college she wanted to be in tech, since tech changes the world (for better or worse). She started at an enterprise health solution company, and after 7 years she wanted to join a start-up and ended up at a unicorn where they experienced hypergrowth as the company scaled. Suddenly Emily and her peers were in management. When a friend asked her what books she recommended about how to be a manager, Emily realized the right book for her didn’t exist, and she decided to write one. She started, put it aside because of….life…. and picked it back up with the pandemic and finished it! We asked Emily how she discovered her voice as a manager. Her first point was that managers are always learning. At first she was overly invested emotionally, made everything a hill to die on, and built the team around her vs building a team who could replace her. Growth can be uncomfortable and vulnerable, and people in management positions are vulnerable because everything is on display. All of a sudden, people around us see when we look at our phone, look into the meaning of what we say, and overthink a lot of our reactions. Being in management comes with “a lot of crap” according to Emily. We discuss being strong and using the word “no” to protect both ourselves and our teams. Drawing boundaries helps us protect ourselves. We ask about the difference between being a millennial manager vs Gen X or Gen Z. Emily explains how millennials have grown in a hyper-connected world, changing societal norms in positive and negative ways and how it affects management. They also have lower life expectancy, accumulated wealth, and live for experiences and happiness. They’ve turned the world of professionalism upside down and shown us that we need to be aware if we want to attract millennial talent. They’ve shown us that if you don’t run your business with morals, employees will walk out. Millenials are more likely to want to communicate with a screen. Emily wanted to help people address the whole person. We ask the first piece of advice Emily gives to new managers, and she breaks it into people who are managing their peers vs managing a new group. For the first group, Emily talks about managing at least one person who didn’t get the job. She said to make sure that you keep business continuity -- don’t let balls drop. Then think about both relationships with team members and relationships with new peer group. She also invites people to talk about what it’s like being managed by someone who was their peer. Be ready for the difficult relationships. She advises to step back from close relationships with people on the team; make sure everyone has equal access to you, and focus on being their manager vs their friend. Another tip from Emily is that when you become a manager, don’t lose that thing you can coach people on. If you’ve mastered something as an IC, don’t lose it. Again, it helps with coaching and credibility. Your team needs to feel that you’re able to represent them at a meeting, so public speaking is a critical skill to have as a manager. How do you get better (other than reading Emily’s book)? Give a toast, be a podcast guest, watch some TED talks, ask a question in a meeting... there are a lot of good ways. We ask about evaluating potential new managers if you’re making a job change, and Emily has some great tips. 1. Does the company invest in their management teams? Ask how well managers are supported. 2. Insist that you talk with the person who will be your direct manager. 3. Ask that person hard questions (which is...


Episode 79: Be Prepared for Networking!

In this episode we’re taking a lesson from something that happened to Liz and using it to help people be prepared for networking meetings, especially when networking with executives. Liz posted on Linkedin about how her company is hiring, why it's great to work there, and told people to sign up for time with her if they were interested. Well, her calendar was FILLED….mostly with job seekers looking for pretty significant career changes. When people met with Liz, a lot of them didn’t know how to maximize their time with her. We decided to put together a list of ways for people to use the opportunity to network with someone who can influence your career. First, help the person you are talking with prepare. Make sure they have your resume or Linkedin profile and that they know the nature of the conversation. If you’re talking with them about a job or even about a specific role or team, let them know beforehand. Assume this person is busy, so help them prepare for the meeting by giving them any relevant information. Don’t waste face time giving the high level overview of who you are and what you want from the meeting - get that out of the way over email first. You can go deeper in the meeting if both of you arrive prepared. Next, be prepared yourself. Research them a bit. Research their company, the latest news, what they do. Don’t waste time asking questions that can be found easily on the web. You’re networking - be prepared to impress by doing the research up front. This will also help you maximize your time together by not wasting time with Captain Obvious questions. Third, if you’re getting to know them without a predetermined agenda, have your elevator pitch ready and be ready to say what you want from the meeting. You’re taking their time, make sure you get what you want out of it. Be concise and ready to clearly share your background and what you’re looking to get from this meeting. Fourth, let them run the meeting and ask the questions. Saying hi and then verbal vomiting without stopping to let them get a word in edgewise is not the way to go here. Since you’ve prepared them by sending over your reason for being on their calendar and your profile, let them take the reins. They may see something in you and start inquiring for reasons you don’t know. Let them. Extra advice around letting a woman leader run the meeting if you are a man, because women have radars out for men who run over them in meetings….don’t let that be a point against you. Lastly, be mindful of the time. Most managers and executives have packed days filled with meetings. That means: be on time and don’t go over. AND DON'T GHOST! Ghosting -- not showing up for the call without any communication or warning -- really interrupts the day and builds resentment, especially with busy people. If you can’t make it, send an email apologizing and reschedule as early as you are aware you can't make it. And be flexible - they might cancel on you. Busy people often have to cancel at the last minute; don’t take it personally. Make sure your 15 minutes before the call is free so that you’re on time, and watch the clock so that you can close with a minute to spare. If they want more time with you, they’ll ask. ;) We hope that these tips are helpful in preparing for your next networking opportunity. You’re lucky to get on someone’s calendar, make the most of the chance and don’t waste it sending someone your Linkedin link. Make a great impression; you never know when your paths will cross again.


Episode 78: Career Rehab with Kanika Tolver

Welcome to Kanika Tolver, speaker, CEO/founder, and author of Career Rehab. Kanika is a tech program manager who has build a business around helping people find and get the jobs they really want and will really love. Kanika inspires people around the globe to pursue their dreams, build their personal brands, and she is part of our tribe of people urging people to be the CEOs of their careers. In 2014 Kanika was unhappy in her job as a project manager at a Federal agency, and she decided to check herself into Career Rehab and work on her skills, revamp her resume, and check out what it was like working the private sector. She had experienced toxic management and she was done being in an environment where her ideas weren’t heard. To make the big change from government to private sector, Kanika learned what private sector employers are looking for. She revamped her Linkedin profile, learned new skills like Agile/Scrum, and built her resume around skills to show her fit. She made sure she would be found, her skill gaps were filled, and posted her resume -- and the jobs came to her. Kanika’s first private sector role was in consulting servicing the public sector. She was recruited by Deloitte to be a Senior Consultant, and started "dating jobs." Kanika told people to date jobs -- get what you need from the job, and get out as soon as you see yourself tapped out. At Deloitte, Kanika learned the power of building a professional network. Kanika quickly built a network internally and externally- not only with other black women, but with all types of professionals so that she could get a well-rounded picture of what success looks like and what she needs for success. It was important to Kanika to get all sorts of perspectives to have a holistic view of success, and in her words, “network like a hustler.” An architect designs a house based on what they need in the house, how many rooms, what features, and how it will fit on the land. Kanika tells people to do the same thing with their careers. What do they see themselves doing and then what skills or experience do they need to get to get there. She builds a personal goals list and a career goals list and then figures out how to make both work together. At the beginning of careers, we think more about money and getting a job vs on a must-have or nice-to-have list, but having clear goals and understanding where you’re going and where you want to go in your life and career - that will help you to assess opportunities. Who needs career rehab? Kanika wrote her book for three personas: - cool geeks (people with < 5 years of experience) who are ambitious and energetic but don’t know what they don’t know - corporate rebels (mid-level or senior professionals) who are ready to be promoted, and are rebels for their own causes - career dropouts who are making a big career change and switching careers. Kanika teaches us that we need to market ourselves and build personal brand. She talks about millennials being the masters of personal brand. She talks about building ourselves and doing things to be able to market. A degree is a foundation, but focus on accomplishments and branding to showcase how you can be an asset to an organization. She encourages people to create content: blogs, podcasts, tweets, etc. We asked about introverts: How do they brand themselves authentically and comfortably? and Kanika advises to build authentic and deeper relationships. If you’re shy and scared to go to networking events, bring an extraverted coworker or friend to push you. Stress, anxiety, and depression can get in the way of us finding our path in our career. Finding career clarity through any of those times is really hard, because it’s so hard to see ourselves as strong when we’re not feeling our best. Kanika tells people to focus on personal goals first, and that will often shed some of the baggage and help create career goals to find personal clarity. After we identify the mental barriers, identify what you...


Episode 77: Bereavement Leave

Today we’re talking about bereavement and bereavement leave and what to do when you need to take bereavement. Many companies offer very little bereavement leave. A leae of 3 days for a close loved one is typical, which we think is crazy, as our stance is that most people will not be able to come back after losing a family member after 3 days. AND, if they do come back, they won’t be at anywhere near full capacity. We hope that company cultures support people when they are grieving, and we ask our listeners to give people who are grieving a lot of caring and compassion. Our overall advice is to help you to take the time you need and keep your job too. If your leave is at all anticipated, tell your manager and teammates and keep them posted. Cover your work, keep people updated, and prepare coverage like you would for any other time off. Don’t take on big new projects when you have a loved one who is critically ill, but try to get your work covered. It’s time for some vulnerability so people understand what you are dealing with. When there is an unexpected loss, the best thing you can do is communicate immediately, ask a colleague for help (preferably someone who will have your back), delegate and share your projects or appropriate access to someone who can figure things out. Give a quick update to everyone and let them to figure it out. Keep in touch and update your manager/team about where you are in the process and what you need (e.g., we just had the funeral and I need another leave). There are types of more formal, .longer leave (FMLA or unpaid leave) that can protect your job while you take the time off you need. Work with your HR team to take the right type of leave. Ask about your options and find out what you can do to keep your job. Sometimes unpaid leave is the way to go to protect your job; sometimes taking some time off can save your job so that you’re not working while your mind is in a fog. Giving yourself time and space can really help you in the long run. Try not to make huge decisions about work when you’re grieving because you won’t have the required 'new hire' energy. It’s not the time to do a job search. That said, how your team and manager responds to your loss is an indicator of your long term fit at the company. If they treat you well, it’s probably a special place. If you have a team member who has experienced a loss, you want to help that person as much as you can. Take on projects, be an ear to listen, and express your condolences however feels comfortable for you. Welcome them back. Honor them and be kind. When you’re a manager of a grieving person, how you respond to their situation will truly show your true colors. The most important thing is caring for the person- because if you do, it will come back to you in spades because not only are you affecting them, but their colleagues are watching too.


Episode 76: Follow Your Path with Dr Carol Parker Walsh

Today we’re welcoming Dr. Carol Parker Walsh, whose tagline we love: she helps high-achieving professional women at midlife courageously design a career, brand & life they love. Carol is a coach, a speaker, best-selling author and business owner. Carol followed her path to go to school, get degrees, and go down a life path -- when she realized she that this path was doing what was important to others vs what was important to her. Carol realized that the thread in her career was teaching and helping others with their careers and inspiring and motivating women, and she’s been doing it for 7 years. Carol doesn’t see herself as having a lot of career changes; she sees herself as being someone who has evolved from employment attorney to HR person to organizational management trainer and consultant and then taught and was an Associate Dean in leadership. All of her jobs were around helping people and companies be better at what they do. We ask Carol about languishing and feeling like there is more out there for us. She had an experience in a car accident, which told her she had to turn and do something different with her gift of life. When we languish, we’re afraid of making a wrong decision, so we stay where we are. We are also afraid to try because of the possibility of things not working out. We also buy into the sunk cost fallacy around the time we’ve already spent and we don’t want to lose that investment. Choosing a new path could open new doors and empowers us to see “what if” vs wondering. Regrets come from the things we don’t do and the risks we don’t take. Big question: how do we figure out what’s next and plan how to get there? Find gratitude for where you are and what you have. Look how far you’ve come and appreciate it: write 100 accomplishments about yourself. Then look at your future self and see where they are and how they got there. If you’re stuck, ask your future self what they did. The key around success is flexibility and adaptability. When blips happen, we can’t let them derail us completely, but we get around them and keep moving forward. Even in coming up with that list of 100 accomplishments, we can find resistance, and we need to work through it to start recognizing our accomplishments. Stuck? Time to go to people who know you and can help you hold up to a mirror to yourself. Looking through the lens of alignment, we want to align the ecosystem of all of the pieces of our lives. We have to see what needs attention and lean towards that place -- be in the center and core of who we are and our values. This helps us decide what to focus on. We get messed up when we think everything needs equal weight. Our values and overall goals -- be it social, health, or career -- will help us to balance and make choices throughout our lives. And, the choices we make are the right ones for that time in our life. How do we discover what we should do in this world? The thing is, we don’t know everything that is out there in the world! Think about buying a car. You make a list about the features you need, the looks you like, and so on. If we need a minivan, but then buy a sports car, it’s not a fit. We have to look at career choices the same way: as a holistic list of features and responsibilities that we need and want. Carol’s focus is on women in mid-life. She built her brand and business by sharing her life, truth, struggles, and in sharing honestly her process in finding her own authenticity. When we lose the chains of the patriarchy that tells us what we need to be and limits what can do, that’s when we can tear up those rules and define our own path and what’s best for us. We’re all so much more powerful than we think we are. Personal branding is a big thing, but what about the people who don’t want the spotlight? it and own it and make sure you have profiles out there to say who and what you are. Fear is...scary, and for Carol, the scariest thing was becoming an entrepreneur at 50 and not having a regular...


Episode 75: How to give notice at a new job

We have a listener question!!! We got a great email from a global listener that we had to record right away (we sent them the raw recording). The letter was as follows: Hi ladies I have recently discovered this podcast and it has already helped me so much. I am a lawyer. I began working at a firm run by two people that I know very well and have a long (20 year) history with. Prior to accepting this role, I had another 6 week stint at a smaller law firm, but left that role to work here. 7 weeks into starting this new role I have the opportunity to interview at a large industrial company - a job that I desperately want, and which is out of practising law - something else I desperately want. This role offers double the salary, gym benefits, car leasing, health insurance - basically everything I could need. My question to you is: how do I quit a job that I have only just started!? I want to do the right thing by the people I know, but this opportunity is too good to pass up. Send help! Thank you, Janet First, we thank Janet for writing in and using her Board of Advisors (which now we’re on!). We tell her to follow her heart and dreams, and if she gets the job go for it. Then we remind Janet that she needs to figure out IF this is her ideal job, so she needs to really do some work on her must-have list. The reason is that we want Janet to figure out what she’s running towards and what she’s running from. To make a pivot, especially from something like law that takes a lot of time and education, is a big tough decision. We tell her to really be clear on her values and align them with the new company. Right now the job has rose-covered glasses and a gym membership, but those will fade and since you’ve recently made a move, we want this job to stick, and if values aren’t aligned it won’t. For Janet, she will need to quit a job where she was just hired by people who she’s known for 20 years. We assume they wanted to work with her and we want her to leave the conversation with them happy for her, but disappointed for themselves. Tell them how great they are and how much you like working with them, and that you were not looking but the perfect opportunity came to you and you took it. List out the comp, benefits, move from law and why you couldn’t refuse this offer. Make sure they can look at the opportunity through your eyes and that this isn’t about them but it is about your happiness. Most importantly, try your best to find and train your replacement. This means asking the new job to give you more time before you start in order to not leave your new role in a lurch. Whatever you can do to help your replacement is what you want to do with sincerity. You’re reaching out to your connections, posting the role, and making a public effort to find someone new. If you quit with sincerity, show people your path, and do your best to find and train your replacement, you will preserve your relationships. Assess the opportunity and follow your dreams, Janet!