Taking the High Road

September 2009
By Fraser Traverse
As published in Miss A’s Heartfelt Living eMagazine.

Yahoo recently published an article called, “10 Ways to Be Liked in Your Job Interview” by Jonathan Littman and Marc Hershon that, though inappropriately titled because it actually gave warnings on how to be disliked in an interview, offered some good reminders to job seekers. The usual “don’t lie, don’t smile too much, don’t sweat, and lose the pop culture lingo” advice is the core curriculum for Interviewing 101. But I found recommendation #10 to be the strongest of the top 10 list presented by the authors: “Don’t be a switchblade.”

Whether you’re a new politico or a decades-long veteran in DC, trash talking a former employer can and will get you in trouble. The “switchblade,” the authors explain, “is thought of as a backstabber … If you make it seem like your former workplace was hell on Earth, the person interviewing you might be tempted to call them to find out who was the real devil.” Despite its distinction as a major metropolitan city, life inside the beltway is frightfully small. And while that job working for the high-powered, high-maintenance, insecure, ladies man of a boss may have seemed like a lifetime of spinning your wheels, in the end, you got out, lived to tell about it, probably learned more than you think from him, and years from now, trust me, will look back, laugh a little and be grateful for the experience. If you burn the bridge in a moment of spite or over a few too many drinks, your honesty will come back to bite you. You don’t know who could be listening and thinks he hangs the moon, in which case he will likely here about your grumblings and, since he’s higher up the food chain than you, his retribution will be far worse than your innocent little lamb comments.

So my advice for the month is to take the high road! Find that silver lining – however small it might be – in your current situation and gush about it as if it’s the single most important driver in your career. Potential employers will love your positive attitude, appreciate that you have a plan forward for your career, and may, in the end, really like you.


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