The Line Between Frustrated Under/Unemployed and Angry Little Elf

I hear a lot of venting.  People are frustrated with their job search or lack of results so I hear a lot of venting.  I am okay with that – it is healthy, normal and helps you get to the root cause or additional issues which can lead to making actionable action plans.  Venting is fine.


But there is a line.


Once you cross it you are no longer venting out of frustration, you are spewing pessimism like an angry little elf.  No one wants to be around angry little elves, let alone hire one.


I received an email the other day from a very angry elf.  He is working with a business partner in trying to place him and they suggested perhaps I could help on my end.  His second sentence into the email was to the effect of they don’t like his resume and apparently they want to make money off him by sending him to me.


He went on to say that he cannot believe that he cannot get a job because of his resume, that everyone should read it and the good employers will find the good stuff and that we need to reintroduce reading into our school systems because recruiter types are too lazy to read.  He also alluded to this reputable company and me holding some type of empires.


Then he told me not to give him a speech about his enthusiasm as it is better than anyone he knows having gone through what he has.


Oh, and he is looking for a leadership role.


Like I said, I am all about the venting – I get it and I am a good person to vent to; no judgments, no pacifying, no abruptness.  When the line is crossed and personal attacks are made against me or professionals that I respect, then it changes things a bit.


I can help frustrated people; I chose not to help angry elves.


I understand life gives some people some really hard knocks and it is normal to be angry about it.  During certain periods of my life I was downright ticked off and until I was able to work through that I was unable to move forward.


That is the difference between frustrated and angry.


Frustration is still allowing for input, change, suggestions and growth.  Angry is self-destructive self-serving pessimism.


When working with frustrated I can make suggestions and help guide someone to the next level.  With angry there is no help that can be offered because it is everyone else’s job to change, not them.  Someone out there needs to do something for them because they deserve it for just getting through the day.


Not so much.


I don’t mean to sound cold or insensitive but employers don’t care what you have been through; they don’t play the game of “my life is worse than your life”; all they want to know is basically what can you do for me.  Period.


During the interview you do not want to play this game either.  The interview is a time to sell yourself, align with the company and help crystallize both your and the employer’s decision on if you are a good fit.


Go in with the comparison game and you will lose.  Oh, you may win the your life sucks worse, but you will lose the job.  Many of those factors will be irrelevant to your purpose there but also you are going to make those poor people really uncomfortable.


If a major life event forced you to not work for a period of years this is explainable in a professional manner during the interview – but it is not a therapy, pity or pat on the back session.


I admire people who get through difficult times with grace and dignity – it is hard to do; however as an interviewer my personal feelings about your struggles are not paramount.  The company is my first priority and bringing in people who will support it and help it thrive is my goal.


Your resume is an important factor; no, people are not reading them in detail as they used to at first glance because there are so many to read.  It is a sound-byte world and if you don’t engage me in the first few sound-bytes of your resume you have lost me forever.


Sad, cruel, unkind, unfair – whatever, it is life.  It is business, time is a premium and you have to adapt to the game or keep sitting on the sidelines.


There are a lot of ways in this world that are unfair and I often get frustrated because things happen the way they do rather than the way they should.  But I am also aware that I cannot beat every system; I must learn to adapt within the system to not just survive but to thrive.  It is my choice and I may not like it but life and business don’t care.


I have my best friend and some select people in my life that I can morph into my angry little elf mode with – but I keep it out of my profession.  You need to be the angry elf sometimes just be careful where and when.


It may alienate some, it may anger others and it may offend more.  This is not the way to build a network.  Be frustrated, but be open.


I will respond in a professional manner to this email and give suggestions and a critique of the resume; however I will most likely decline this individual as a client.


I help those who want help; not take on a challenge to prove someone wrong about their misconceptions about the professionals in my industry or that there are still nice people in this world.  I am a nice person; I don’t need to come back after being attacked to prove it to you.  I’ll be so nice that I will be chocking back every sarcastic comment that comes to mind as I am responding.


A prospective hiring manager or contact may not be so kind; they may simple ignore you or worse yet spread the warning of an angry elf.  Be mindful of where you are on that line; you may not recognize it but those around you do and perception is everything.



Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW

Career Coach-Strategist

Certified Professional Resume Writer

Career Polish, Inc.

Leave a Reply