Climbing Corporate Ladder Is Too Stressful...What Do I Do?

Dear J.T. & Dale: I was laid off recently after almost 20 years as a project manager. I'm not sure how to answer the question about what my career goals are. I'm at a point in life where I just want a job to carry me to retirement. I've already been on the corporate ladder, trying to reach the top, and it's too stressful. Plus, I'm a single mother with an elderly mother to take care of, so I already have two ladders I'm climbing. — Victoria Dale: Your message reveals an underlying assumption about corporations: "Only eager ladder-climbers need apply." Sure, some managers seek out ambitious employees, but not all, and maybe not most. In fact, one consultant whose company helps its clients hire star employees tells of the time when the head of HR at one major retail chain confessed to him that she did NOT want stars, saying they were "too much trouble," and instead preferred steady, solid, ordinary workers. J.T.: OK, but let's not make a case for mediocrity. Seasoned professionals like you, Victoria, often reach a point where they realize they don't want to be the manager; but that doesn't mean they don't want to leverage their knowledge. Explain to interviewers that your goal is to be a true team player, one who enjoys helping the people around her succeed. Dale wrote a book on the subject, "Better Than Perfect," which describes how employees become the colleague everybody wants to work with. Dale: What great colleagues have in common is that they are eager to teach while also remaining eager to learn. They are ambitious, yes, but for the department or the company, not for themselves. J.T.: I know a woman who at 68 years of age is one of those beloved colleagues. Back in her 50s, she too felt she needed to sell employers on the idea that she would be a great ladder-climbing manager. She accepted a management position ... and was miserable. So, she approached the company and said: "I want to be the person who helps the young people around me grow and take on more leadership. I want to share my experience but let them have the opportunity to move forward." She now loves her work and has been told repeatedly that she has a job for as long as she wants one. So don't shy away from what you want; just learn how to sell it to employers, and you'll find buyers. jt-dale-logo Jeanine "J.T." Tanner O'Donnell is a professional development specialist and founder of CAREEREALISM.com. Dale Dauten's latest book is "(Great) Employees Only: How Gifted Bosses Hire and De-Hire Their Way to Success" (John Wiley & Sons). Please visit them at jtanddale.com, where you can send questions via e-mail, or write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10019. © 2009 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

If you saw our first video, you might have heard about the awkward situation one of our viewers, Diane submitted. She has recently worked with a co-worker on a group project. When it came time to present the project at a meeting, Diane let her co-worker present. While it went great, the co-worker proceed to take credit for nearly all of Diane's work. Frustrating to say the least!

SHOW MORE Show less

In this week's episode of "Well This Happened", we want to know what you would do if your co-worker took credit for the work you did...right in front of your colleagues AND boss!

We want YOU to be the career coach and tell us which one is the RIGHT answer!

Think you know? Vote below, and stay tuned for later this week when we announce the right answer (and why the other ones are wrong).

SHOW MORE Show less

If you saw our first video, you might have heard about the awkward situation one of our viewers, Cam submitted. He's been working at a job for awhile, but recently overheard a hiring manager making fun of a candidate with autism right after an interview-not only awkward, but VERY unprofessional!

SHOW MORE Show less

In this week's episode of "Well This Happened", we want to know what you would do if witnessed a hiring manager at your organization making fun of a candidate who they had just interviewed who had autism.

We want YOU to be the career coach and tell us which one is the RIGHT answer!

Think you know? Vote below, and stay tuned for later this week when we announce the right answer (and why the other ones are wrong).

SHOW MORE Show less

Starting a family is one of the biggest milestones in a person's life. It's in those first few months when a parent can really bond with their newborn and make lifelong memories. However, for some new dads, it can be difficult to juggle being a new parent while remaining dedicated to their career.

Fortunately, some companies have generous paternity leave policies that give new dads the ability to take time off of work to stay home with their child.

SHOW MORE Show less

There are LOTS of questions around resume dos and don'ts. There's so much advice out there that it can be overwhelming to try and figure out what's the correct answer.

During our weekly live Office Hours on YouTube, two of our coaches, Ariella Coombs and J.T. O'Donnell, answer questions live from viewers related to their job search, career success, on the job situations and more.

We complied a simple list of what we find to be the most common questions our coaches get about resumes. We hope you find this helpful.

Let's start with the basics...

SHOW MORE Show less

Back in March, we made the hard decision to change our private Facebook group of over 37 THOUSAND members to a fee-based only platform.

SHOW MORE Show less

In this week's episode of "Well This Happened", we want to know what you would do if a recruiter called you a day EARLY for your phone interview (and you were NOT PREPARED!)

We want YOU to be the career coach and tell us which one is the RIGHT answer!

Think you know? Vote below, and stay tuned for later this week when we announce the right answer (and why the other ones are wrong).

SHOW MORE Show less