On December 3rd, a large national firm recently bought the company where I work. By the following Monday, the purchasing company had replaced many key managers, including the individual to whom I reported. For whatever reason, my new manager took an immediate dislike to me.
Last week, my coworkers and I received word that each of us would interview with a three person “selection” committee that would assess our “fit” for our jobs. This scares the heck out of me. I’ve checked around to see if anyone knows anything about why my manager dislikes me. All I’ve been able learn is that she considers me defensive because I cross my arms across my chest. This seems stupid; crossing my arms is comfortable.
I want to keep my job and if it’s a big deal will try to keep my arms from crossing, however, however, it’s hard to remember and not comfortable. What else do I need to keep in mind?
When you interview with individuals who decide your job future, demonstrate respect by listening to any information they offer and their questions. Answer each of their questions directly and clearly. Keep your nonverbal posture neutral and open.
Between now and when you’re interviewed, assess what the selection committee may look for by learning as much as you can about the acquiring company. Then, measure yourself and your skill set against the qualities and skills they need. Ask yourself what you bring to the table and be prepared to highlight your strengths and relevant skills and experience.
Most importantly, banish any attitudes that prevent you from being present during this meeting, such as fear you might be fired or resentment that you have to interview for the position you currently occupy. You work for a new company and its management has the right to decide if you’re the right fit.
Next, you’re up against the widely-reported misconception that when individuals cross their arms it invariably indicates defensiveness, insecurity, irritation or the desire to block what they hear. In body language, one signal is no signal. Crossed arms only indicates a barrier when accompanied by closed fists, a tightened jaw or lips, a head that shakes “no” or eyes that avoid contact.
Men, in particular, cross their arms due to habit or because they feel comfortable doing so. This may be because men’s arms rotate slightly inwards, while women’s rotate slightly outwards.
Both men and women often cross their arms as a power pose or in a comforting self-hug. Men also often cross their arms when sitting with women who cross their legs. This indicates “matching,” the same mirroring phenomena that leads many to pick up an accent or twang when talking with someone who speaks with an accent or twang. When this occurs, crossed arms signals unconscious rapport and not defensiveness.
Despite what’s true, perception often outweighs reality. Since you can’t afford your new manager misreading your posture, you might want to sit with your arms uncrossed if you can do so without it feeling artificial.
I was laid off two months ago after working for my former employer for nearly two decades. At first I was giddy with all the job postings I found. I threw together a resume and sent it in response to more than thirty postings but have had no response.
Here’s my resume and a job posting for which I thought I was a perfect fit. Could you tell me what I did wrong?
You sent me a posting from an online job board. Many of these boards use applicant-tracking software (ATS) to review resumes. This software searches resumes for keywords listed in the job posting and tallies them to determine which applicants have the most relevant experience. Your resume fails to include any of the posting’s keywords.
You also “dress up” your resume with text boxes, which makes your resume hard for the software to read. ATS can’t easily scan resumes that include text boxes, unusual fonts or that are submitted in PDF. You can, however, often bypass the software by calling the hiring manager. If you intrigue a real person with your relevant experience, he or she may pick your resume out of the slush pile.
© 2020, Lynne Curry
Lynne Curry is the author of “Beating the Workplace Bully” (AMACOM, 2016) and “Solutions” (both books are rated 4.8 out of 5 stars on Amazon.com). Send your questions to her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on twitter @lynnecurry10.