Thursday, May 30, 2013

When to Work for Free

My article on AOL today: When to work for free.

Job Hunters: Job simulations are replacing standard interview questions

I've long advocated that employers use job simulations as a key tool for deciding whom to hire. The practice is taking off, including firms that corporations hire to create such simulations. One, HireArt, was touted recently in Thomas Friedman's New York Times column. Another, HireVue, was profiled in this month's Forbes.

Adam Grant, a currently hot employment guru wrote this, providing the intellectual underpinnings for replacing interviews with assessments. He particularly touts instruments that assess drive. 

The message to jobseekers: Especially if you're applying to large companies, be sure you're applying for jobs where you can demonstrate the skills to do the job  and not just try to get by with slick resume and cover letter language, and canned answers to standard interview questions like, "Tell me a problem you solved."

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

My next UC Berkeley lecture is open to the public: "What Every Career-Minded Professional Must Know for 2014 and Beyond"

After keynoting the Beyond Academia event at U.C.Berkeley two months ago, it has hired me again, this time to give an Extension Public Lecture. The event is open to the public.

I'm calling it, What Every Career-Minded Professional Must Know for 2014 and Beyond. I'm flattered to have been given that opportunity and that it was the first event touted by the Dean in her summer message.

It will be on June 12 from noon to 1 pm. I'll discuss six career "truths" that I don't believe are so true any more, if they ever were.

While the lecture is free, registration is required. To register or for more information, including location, click HERE.

My Home-Office Garden

Forgive my deviating from the no-nonsense tenor of this blog but I am enjoying how the deck planter outside my home-office is looking now and thought you might too.

The third picture includes my doggie Einstein.

Click on the images and they'll enlarge.

It's remarkable how little work it takes me to produce a good garden in the San Francisco Bay Area with absolutely no spraying for pests or fungus. The keys are an automatic watering system and that I've carefully selected hybrids for beauty, length of bloom season, and disease-resistance.

The bright pink plant is Godetia Grace. The light pink daisy bush is Argyranthemum Pink Comet. The orange zinnia is Magellan Coral. It blooms beautifully for eight months and available in many nurseries for just $3 or $4 for a six-pack or by seed from many vendors, for example, Harris Seeds. The large white daisy is Snow Lady. The small bright red rose is one I hybridized and is commercially available: Paint the Town.

I know that "heirlooms" and non-hybrids are today's fad, perceived as more "natural" but most of those really are inferior: less beautiful and more disease-prone.

The rest of my garden is looking good now too. Here's just one picture from it. It's of three bougainvillea: left to right: Spectabilis, James Walker, and Imperial Delight. 

Monday, May 20, 2013

Creating a Strong, Ethical Resume, Fast

You're dreading writing your resume. My post today on and republished on Yahoo!.com: How to create a strong, ethical resume, fast.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

I'd Like to Ask a Favor

Update: I just heard that thanks to you, almost $4,000 was raised during my show's hour. For comparison this was four times as much as the show that preceded mine. Thank you very much. I will continue to work hard to earn your support. 

This morning (Sunday, May 19) from 11 am to noon, Pacific time, on my KALW-FM (NPR-San Francisco) radio program, Work with Marty Nemko, on which I try to help people with their worklife,  I'll ask listeners to donate money to the radio station.

I get none of the money but the amount I collect during my hour is used as an indicator of how many people listen to my show, the strength of their support for the show and, in turn, whether my show should stay on the air.

As in most public radio donation drives, I offer thank-you gifts for giving during my hour:
  • For $150 or $250 for a couple, you get to come to the studio on June 30 to watch the show and then have brunch with my wife and frequent co-conspirator on the show, Barbara Nemko, as well as with fellow donors. We've done these brunches before and they are a networking opportunity, a chance to offer input on my show, and oh yes, people find it quite fun. A number of people have come more than once. It's limited to just a dozen people.
It is a bit ironic for me to ask you to donate to KALW. After all, the station mainly presents leftist views and I so value diversity of ideology. And I wouldn't choose to listen to most of the music played on the station. But I do care to keep doing my program, soooh, there you go. At least I'm asking in a way that I believe is devoid of the hype that too often characterizes money-raising efforts.

Oh and, of course, most of the show today is not spent asking for money. I'm committed to keeping the requests brief. The hour focuses on Barbara and me talking about how to get cured of excessively  interrupting people---one of my many failings.

Whether during or after the show, it's easy to donate. Just call 1-800-525-9917 or go to  As I said, I get none of the money. It's just a way to help keep my show on the air and more important, to support public radio. Whether you're donating during my show or afterwards, I would appreciate your mentioning that you're donating to support Work with Marty Nemko. 

Whether or not you donate, I hope you'll listen this morning from 11 am to noon. You can hear it on 91.7 FM in San Francisco, or anywhere on the world right here on your computer at from 11 am to noon, Pacific time.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Me Talking Careers on AOL as the "Opening Act" for Sheryl Sandberg?!

AOL video-interviewed me today for a half-hour. HERE is the three-minute highlight reel.

The interviewer asked me about resumes, landing a government job, and who should and shouldn't go to college or graduate school.

The video continues with Marlo Thomas asking Sheryl Sandberg about  whether college is still a wise choice.I never thought I'd ever be the"opening act" for Sheryl Sandberg!

HERE is the full interview. In the first few minutes, two unemployed college graduates tell their tale. Then I try to help them, after which the interviewer asks me various career-related questions.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Making the Most of a Job Lead

You get a lead on a job but how do you make the most of it? That's the topic of my AOL article today. 

Much of the advice is applicable not only to job hunters but to anyone trying to maximize a lead's value: a sales lead, business development lead, even personal lead. 

Tomorrow, I Do Three-Minute Workovers on AOL Live

It's been a good few days. First, it was being on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Yesterday, it was that I was the sole source for a Business Insider article on work-life balance being overrated.

Now, AOL has selected me to be the career expert whom, on AOL's Lunchtime Live!, will, tomorrow on live video, try to help two B.A. holders who have McJobs to find better work. I'll have just a few minutes with each. We'll see what I can do.

It'll be tomorrow at 12:30 PM Eastern. HERE's the link to more info.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Your Goal Should be Contribution, not Happiness

This will appear on a week from tomorrow but I thought you might like an advance look.

Update: HERE is the link to the article on AOL, and it's been reproduced in a number of outlets including Jim Cramer's The Street, but I like the version below slightly better. 

Work-life Balance is Overrated
Your goal should be contribution, not happiness
by Marty Nemko

Most people view life's goal as to be happy. I believe that's misguided.

If the goal is happiness, you could, for example, spend all your time gardening, watching comedies, playing video games  having sex, etc. Yet if people did that, the planet would be far worse: patients would die, homes wouldn't get built, the Internet wouldn't have been invented, etc.

Even though Mother Teresa was sometimes far from saintly, she didn't work in the stench of Calcutta streets, ankles bitten by scorpions, because it made her happy. She did so because she realized that helping humankind was far more important than her being happy. Cardiologists who choose to work nights and weekends to keep more patients alive realize their life is more meaningful than if they had opted for the vaunted work-life balance. Even the supposedly lowly payroll clerk who, after the standard work week, takes work home to ensure that everyone is paid accurately and on-time is living a far worthier life than is someone who diverted that time to recreation.

And as I said in my recent interview in Business Insider, contrary to what advocates of work-life balance claim, long work hours do not lead to burnout. Indeed, as long as you're doing work you're good at and believe in, you'll likely be more energized from long work weeks than if you spent the discretionary time playing sports, watching the boob tube, or the current fad, yoga.

I'll be 63 years old next month and, since I was a teen, have worked 60 to 80 hours a week. I cannot claim to be a happy person. Like my father, I believe I'm constitutionally inclined toward mild sadness. But I know that my life has been more worthwhile for having spent workweek hours 40 to 60+ having helped 4,000 career counseling clients, written seven books,  over 2,000 how-to and public-policy articles and blog posts, plus myriad other contributions. Yet because we're awake 100 hours a week, there has still been sufficient time to have been happily married for 37 years, the father of a well-adjusted successful child, and to have become a professional-level pianist, an award-winning amateur play director and play sports or hike at least 45 minutes a day, six days a week.

I will continue to work long hours until I drop in the service of things I believe will make the world better. I do want to drop dead at this keyboard. A silly canard is, "No one ever died wishing they spent more time at the office." Indeed, most of the most contributory people I know and I want to work 60+ hours a week as long as possible. That's the main reason CEOs continue working long after they've made enough money to last three lifetimes.

As Isaac Asimov, who had written or edited more than 500 books(!) said when asked, "What would you do if you knew you had six months to live?" He said, "Type faster."

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Is Work-Life Balance Overrated?

Business Insider interviewed me about what I thought about the deified "work-life balance"

The article came out today and I was surprised and, I must admit, flattered to see that my opinion was the only one cited. Perhaps because it is contrary to conventional wisdom.

Update: I'm amazed and delighted that it's gotten 35,000 hits and 1,400 Facebook Likes. 

Monday, May 13, 2013

How to Make a Useful Networking Connection Fast

If your networking efforts have yielded little benefit to you, it's tempting to forgo it. Especially if you're job hunting, you could reasonably fear that by the time networking pays off in a job offer, you'll be homeless

My article today presents a way to make networking more likely to pay off fast, perhaps in just a few minutes. 

Friday, May 10, 2013

Marty Nemko Talks (and Jokes) on The Daily Show about Alternatives to College

Last night, I was on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

What was amazing to me is that they recorded five hours of interview with me about higher education's deceptive practices and about alternatives to college. During those five hours, I made a total of three jokes. All three made it into the segment.

Of course, I don't mind at all. The creators of The Daily Show are masters at making serious messages funny without trivializing them.

The Daily Show with Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Stay Out of School
Daily Show Full EpisodesIndecision Political HumorThe Daily Show on Facebook

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Looking for a Career? Pick Something Already!

My AOL post today ostensibly is tough-love career advice for Millennials.

Actually, it's far more broadly applicable. It reflects my growing recognition, after a quarter century as a career counselor, that it's foolish to spend too much time trying to pick the perfect career.

After just modest exploration, pick something, commit to becoming expert at it, and then make peace with it, recognizing that career contentment is far more likely to occur from tailoring and accessorizing a given career and then staying with it than from waiting for a more perfect career. Also, all ethically done work is worthy work. I'd go as far as saying that all ethically done work is sacred. 

Indeed, some of society's least respected work--for example, ditchdigging--in my mind is more worthy of respect than are the famous entertainers so many people idolize. 

Monday, May 6, 2013

I piano-accompany Napa Funny Girl stars Taylor Bartolucci and James Sasser

Rarely have I had as much fun on my radio show as yesterday. I got to piano-accompany the two fabulous stars of Funny Girl, which opens this Friday at the Napa Valley Opera House.

HERE is the video of Taylor Bartolucci singing I'm the Greatest Star.

And HERE is the video of Taylor and James Sasser doing the duet, I Want to Be Seen With You.

Oh, I might mention that my wife Barbara Nemko will be playing the comic relief role in Funny Girl: Sarah Straykosh, a busybody force of nature from Brooklyn.

And for the hour before the show on Friday, Saturday, and the following Saturday, I'll be playing  Broadway show medleys on the piano as well as accompanying the winners of the I'm the Greatest Future Star competition.

I've heard reports from rehearsals that the show is going to be wonderful. One insider said, "This is going to be the best show seen in Napa, ever." For tickets and information, click HERE.

Update: The first weekend nearly sold out its 1,500 seats, closing night this Sunday is sold out, and only a few dozen of the 1,000 Friday and Saturday night tickets remain. And the reviews have been fabulous. For example, KCRB said, "Easily one of the best, most memorable shows of the year." The Benicia Herald called it a "stellar production...a hard act to follow." The Napa Register called it "impeccably performed by all 19 actors (and) Bartolucci delivers the consummate Brice."

My radio show focuses on career issues so the bulk of the hour was spent asking Taylor and James as well as Funny Girl's excellent director, Barry Martin about the art of trying to make money in theatre. HERE is the link to the entire show, which is archived on the National Public Radio website.

Finding a Career: A quick but not dirty approach

My article today is Speedy Career-Finding: a quick but not dirty approach

Many people spend decades trying to choose a career. I believe this article's approach, though quick, enables you to choose more wisely than do most people.

Friday, May 3, 2013

You May Be Wise to LOWER Your Self-Confidence

I am of the belief that self-confidence, beyond a bare minimum, is more likely to abet complacency and even narcissism than to make people more productive.

Most highly productive people often worry they're not good enough--That's part of what drives them to keep striving. From George Washington to Abraham Lincoln to most of the many highly accomplished people I know, they're all driven by moderate insecurity and feelings of unworthiness. I hypothesize that lower achievers are too unintelligent or defended to feel that worry, that insecurity.

I believe that self-esteem programs do more harm than good. Enduring self-esteem comes only from ongoing accomplishment, not by virtue of being human, of a particular background, etc.

When I write and speak, in my professional as well as personal life, I often worry if it's good enough. More broadly, I worry whether, en toto, my life's contributions are valuable enough. I'm not worried into anxiety or depression but just enough that the worry, borne of only moderate self-confidence, does help me be my best self.