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Over thirty? Buy in plain brown wrapper.
on February 1, 2005
Big Sister's Guide targets young women -- twenty-somethings for the most part -- with its breezy, edgy style. It's bright and breathless, the way Sex and the City would play if the stellar quartet decided to go mentoring.
Ignore the style. This is good stuff. I'd encourage midlife, midcareer workers -- male as well as female -- to sneak this book home in plain brown wrapper.
Big Sister's Guide helps readers decode messages of the workplace. One of the best chapters deals with job interviews. When your interviewer caps her pen, time to stop. When he drums his fingers -- you're definitely talking too much. And assume the interviewer will be unprepared, so bring extra copies of your resume.
The Big Sisters give us tips on topics nobody wants to acknowlege. For instance, what if you've got a Bad Reputation? You're interviewing and someone asks, "Weren't you the one who--" And you get some nifty comebacks to defuse the situation.
In my opinion, the best part comes in Chapter 8: Who can you trust? Nobody, the authors say. End of chapter. And they are SO right! As a career consultant, I find my mid-career professional clients tend to err on the side of being open -- wide open! -- and continue to be surprised by the fallout. I encourage everyone to maintain the maximum privacy levels possible without getting a Major Reputation as a Serious Hermit.
Finally, I like their 3-step planning guide. Whenever you're embarking on a new project, such as a new career, ask yourself, "What 3 steps can I take now that will lead me in the right direction?" And if you don't know those steps -- then ("duh," say the authors) your first step is to figure out what they are.
So what's missing? The biggest omission relates to asking for help. Parents, college friends and coworkers rarely offer clear, objective advice. Twenty-somethings who seek out a career coach or consultant, and who pay the going rate, are rare -- but they're usually moving up fast. They do advise getting professional help with a resume, but not how to choose the best resource. Next edition might include a section on how to choose and how to hire help. (Free help? Typically worth what you paid.)
Otherwise, I recommend giving this book to anyone who's been in the workforce ten years or less...and buying it for yourself at any age! (A forty-something would be insulted to receive Big Sister as a gift -- but he'd learn a lot.)