I believe that I’ve reached a point in my career in which one of my tragic flaws is that I come across as too nice. It’s something that I hear a lot, actually. From recruiters, from strangers, from hiring managers, from interviewers, from uber drivers, from coworkers, from anyone on the planet that doesn’t actually know me. I guess that’s just how I come across to the world.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe there’s anything bad about being too nice. I like being nice. I like being reliable, dependable and approachable. I like that people feel they can come to me. I like my calm voice and my quiet demeanor.
Somewhere along the superficial exercise that has become job hunting in 2019, being nice has become a flaw. People don’t see being nice as something they need in their business. People don’t believe that I can stand up for myself, and therefore, that I can stand up for them and their business.
The catch 22 in all of this? In reality, I’m not all that nice. If someone were to speak with any of my family or friends, they’d learn really quickly that I’m an ornery human being. But, when someone takes all of 1.5 minutes to read your resume and that’s the conclusions they draw about you, that’s what you get. That’s all you get.
I received an email last night that was really thoughtful and filled with helpful advice for my in my career search. It was an email that contained some really great, helpful advice that I’m definitely going to look into and try and try to incorporate. And, while I really appreciated the email and thought that it was very kind of said person to write it to me, one of the things that was said in the email was a reminder of how people are so quick to judge.
“You seem like a nice candidate, not a need candidate.”
I’m nice and people don’t need nice. That’s what I keep hearing.
If people believe me to be nice and nothing more, then I need to do some restructuring of my resume and cover letter again to come across as less-nice. Again, I see nothing wrong with being nice. But, that’s apparently not what companies want anymore.
I have no problem standing up for myself. Actually, one of the reasons why I am no longer with my previous employer was because of my standing up for myself. But, perhaps the soft voice and calm demeanor doesn’t convey that. Perhaps the friendly cover letter doesn’t showcase what it is that I’m capable of because people are to busy thinking ‘she seems nice’.
It’s funny, you know, trying to navigate what it is that people want. The majority of the hiring managers I’ve dealt with this year are men. And men, I’ve come to find, really don’t like strong women. In my 30 years on this earth, I’ve met very few men who actually like strong, opinionated, powerful women. They prefer women to be calm, cool, easy going. So, I convey a version of calm, cool and easy going in job hunting as a mean of appealing to said stereotype and all I get is ‘you’re so nice’.and ‘you just seem so nice’ and ‘you’re too nice’.
Where’s the balance? There doesn’t seem to be one. There doesn’t seem to be a way to win. You are either wrong, or you’re wrong.
And that fucking sucks.
I’d be curious to see what they’d say if they met the real, ornery, put-you-in-your-place, no qualms about me. I’d be curious to see what they’d think of me then.
I realize that you have to ‘play-their-game’ in order to get hired. But I just happen to be someone who thinks their game is fucking stupid.