Going Pink

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I currently have the pleasure of running a job application skills course using Jobline and my Moodle platform. Hi and welcome, everybody!

Writing a job application is a basic skill that needs continuous improvement. As you go through professional life, you keep redefining your professional identity and updating your CV, job objectives and career goals to go with it. The best practical guide for career soul-searching is probably still Richard Bolles’ job hunter’s bible, “What Color is Your Parachute”. But Daniel Pink has just published a career guide called “The Adventures of Johnny Bunko”, and it’s a manga comic that tells the story of how one man learns to thrive in the world of work. The format is brand-new in the West, and makes it a fast, fun read and an instant business classic. And the messages are good. The six “important lessons of a satisfying and successful career” that Johnny Bunko learns are:

  1. There is no plan. You have to find your personal way. So make fundamental rather than instrumental choices. Don’t do things because you hope they will get you something. Instead, do things you believe in, even if you don’t know yet exactly what they’re good for.
  2. Think strengths, not weaknesses. Focus your productive energy on making the most of what you’re really good at, and don’t worry about the rest.
  3. It’s not about you. Your job is all about creating added value for others – so put all of your talents to work for your team, your company, your customers and your clients.
  4. Persistence trumps talent. Stick with it. True grit wins over genius.
  5. Make excellent mistakes. No pain, no gain.
  6. Leave an imprint. Make a real contribution, so your work means something in the overall scheme of things.

Too much psycho-babble? No, no, on the contrary, Pink is fine, because he edits it down, manga-style.

But there is one thing that bothers me. We’re talking about work here. And no matter how much you enjoy and find fulfillment in your work, it’s seems healthy to keep a certain distance between your soul and your job description. Some of your power needs to go into non-marketable areas, into public service, family and friends, and into things you do just for the sake of having fun, in order to protect your spirit in our rather imperfect economic system. Anything else would be total self-exploitation, wouldn’t it? Putting everything you’ve got into the job would be setting yourself up for major disappointment and frustration.

I’ve become relatively good at helping others write their job applications. But being the supportive trainer type, I hate hard-selling myself, and can sympathize when my students find it difficult, too. German has that powerful expression, “seine Haut zu Markte tragen”. Once we’ve bared our souls and gone out on that limb, most of us hate being in limbo, waiting for the decision and worrying about what’s taking them so long.As for job interviews, they’re definitely worth practicing. I’ve made a complete mess of at least one.

Here’s my story: I had just moved from Dresden to Konstanz to happily end a long-distance relationship by getting married. But the morning after our wedding, instead of taking off on our honeymoon, I found myself on a train to Chemnitz on my way to a job interview. The job was great, and I was one of just two people to have been shortlisted. What an honor! But that day, as I left Konstanz further and further behind me, the mere thought of once again being 700 km away from my husband made me recognize what it was that I wanted. During the interview, I suddenly started praising the other candidate. I all but advised the interviewer to hire him. As you can imagine, he got the job. Well, if that isn’t what Daniel Pink would call “an excellent mistake”! It was right in so many ways… But I’ve said quite enough now, I’ll keep the rest of that story to myself, or else I’ll go completely pink.

  • Writing job applications in English? Explore Jobline, a self-study course created for students looking for their first job or internship. You don’t have to be a student to sign up for free and take advantage of the great resources and model CVs. Thank you, Joe Butler and Rachel Lindner, for getting me into blended learning with Jobline.
  • “The Adventures of Johnny Bunko” has its own blog and its own trailer (see below), and Craig Dadoly has made a Flash comic out of his interview of Dan Pink.

Learning the ropes – Vokabeln

go pink – erröten
application – Bewerbung
CV – curriculum vitae
skill – Fähigkeit, Geschick
redefine – neudefinieren
career – Beruf, Laufbahn
soul-searching – ernsthaft in sich gehen
parachute – Fallschirm
strengths and weaknesses – Stärken und Schwächen
be good at sth. – etwas gut können
to create added value – Mehrwert schaffen
to put something to work for – etwas für… arbeiten lassen
persistence – Hartnäckigkeit, Beharrlichkeit
to trump – ausstechen
to stick with it – dranbleiben
true grit – echtes Durchhaltevermögen
no pain, no gain – ohne Fließ (wörtl.: Schmerz) kein Preis
imprint – Abdruck
to make a contribution – Betrag leisten
psycho-babble – Psychoblabla
no matter how – egal wie
fulfillment – Erfüllung
job description – Stellenbeschreibung
non-marketable – nicht vermarktbar
spirit – Gemüt
self-exploitation – Selbstausbeutung
to set yourself up for sth. – sich unausweichlich in die Schusslinie bringen
disappointment – Enttäuschung
to hard-sell – jemanden zum Kauf zwingen
sympathize – Mitgefühl empfinden
go out on a limb – ein Risiko eingehen
limbo – Schwebezustand
What’s taking them so long? – Warum brauchen sie so lange?
job interview – Vorstellungsgespräch
make a mess of sth. – etwas versauen
long-distance relationship – Fernbeziehung
to get married – heiraten
honeymoon – Flitterwochen
shortlisted – in der Endauswahl sein
to advise – beraten
to hire – einstellen

Learning English tip of the week

Jobline recommends including your job objective in your CV. It should be a strong and compact statement of what you wish to achieve professionally in the position you are applying for, and it should go right at the top of your CV, after your contact details. Putting a sentence like that together is a good challenge. If you want to do it and would like language feedback, send me your sentence.

I had to reformulate my own job objective not too long ago to reflect that I’m writing more, which has changed my professional identity a little. Here it is: “To promote a love of learning inside and outside the English language classroom.”


3 Responses

  1. I love Johnny Bunko as it is fun reading. But as you mentioned, keeping the work-life-balance doesn’t seem to be an issue in such kind of books. Instead of sleeping in his cubicle, Johnny should find a girlfriend. 😉

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