I Advise With a Little Help From My Friends - Part Two: More Career Advice in Pop Music



This is the second of a two-part series from Ellen Mehling, METRO's Job Bank manager and career development consultant. Photo via @ThomasHawk on Flickr.

In the previous article, I shared some song lyrics that illustrated some bad job hunting or career advice. In this one I offer some lyrics that are do’s/true, some that convey both good and bad advice, lyrics that pose questions, and my favorite: the lyrics that inspired me to write these articles. As before, next to each set of lyrics, I explain why it is recommended or not.

I always feel like somebody's watching me
-“Somebody’s Watching Me," Rockwell

Take care with what you post online: text, pictures, videos; do everything you can to make sure your online presence is appropriate, professional and accurate.  Google your own name to see what is retrieved.  Be extremely careful what you say in any venue where you are using your real full name (the name that is on your resume); this includes LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, blog postings and comments on the blogs of others, listservs, and online communities.  Be sure that you are using social media to your advantage.  Avoid negativity, adult content, foul language, arguments and insults/attacks on others, and public discussion of controversial, divisive or highly personal topics (such as religion and politics).  Some people will see what you’ve written right after you post it, and others may find it (much) later, when you’ve almost forgotten about it.  Something you post in haste and anger can give you cause for regret for a very long time. Never forget that employers will check you out online before hiring you, in some cases before interviewing you.

Another way in which you can be “watched” is by your employer, when you are using a company computer or other device, at or for work.  Everything you do when using a computer or device that belongs to your employer can be seen by that employer, at any time.

Everybody wants me to be 
What they want me to be
I'm not happy when I try to fake it 
-“Easy," The Commodores


Be yourself, when interviewing (or networking), regarding your character, preferences, skills, strengths and suitability for a particular job or task.  You want to impress the interviewer and be flexible, but if you go too far and present yourself as something you’re not, you’ll end up unhappy in the job and your employer won’t be happy with you either. 

Money, get away
Get a good job and more pay
And you’re O.K.
-“Money," Pink Floyd

Know when to hold 'em
Know when to fold ‘em
Know when to walk away
Know when to run
-“The Gambler," Kenny Rogers


When you’ve been offered a job and negotiation begins – you have to be absolutely clear in your own mind as to what is acceptable and what is unacceptable.  If you just take whatever is offered, that’s not negotiation, that’s dictation.  You should do your homework re: salary ranges for the type of job you are applying for and negotiate, but with the economy in the shape it’s in and jobs so hard to come by, now is not the time to hold out for your dream salary.  Don’t forget, though, that there are other things you can negotiate for besides salary – look at the offer as a whole, not just at the money and don’t accept an offer without thinking it over from all angles.  

You can't always get what you want
But if you try sometimes
You might find
You get what you need
-“You Can't Always Get What You Want," The Rolling Stones

I still haven't found what I'm looking for
- “I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For," U2

I can't get no satisfaction
I try and I try
And I try and I try
-"(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction," The Rolling Stones

Right now there are many more job seekers than jobs for them to find, and that reality is affecting all who are unemployed.  It can take a while to find a job, or even get an interview, and this can be very frustrating.  Many info pros who are finding positions are working outside of libraries, many are in jobs that don’t have “librarian” in the title, some are working multiple part-time jobs, some have relocated… and some may have to work in a less-than-dream job for a while before getting the kind of job they really want. Patience, flexibility and persistence are required for success.




Nothing you can do that can't be done
-“All You Need is Love," The Beatles

It is also true that if you believe you will be successful you will have a much better chance of success; your frame of mind is of great importance here.  If you are optimistic this will come across in your resume and cover letter, blog/listserv postings, first impression, body language, eye contact, how you answer interview questions, etc. 

Meditation and visualization can help with this; athletes and other kinds of performers do these deliberately to get themselves in the right frame of mind so they can do what they have to do.  Employers don’t want to hear, “Hire me, please!  I’ll do anything!”; they want to be convinced that you are the best person for the job.


Who am I anyway?
Am I my resume?
-“I Hope I Get It” (from A Chorus Line), music by Marvin Hamlisch, lyrics by Edward Kleban

The answer is… your resume represents you; it doesn’t tell employers everything they need or want to know about you, but it is important.  Be sure to use appropriate keywords and phrases for scanning software as well as for a human reader and be sure to customize and tailor your resume each time you send it, to emphasize what each hiring manager is seeking.

Whoever the company fires, 
I will still be here. 
-“The Company Way” (from How to Succeed In Business Without Really
Trying), music and lyrics by Frank Loesser

Maybe you'll get a replacement
There's plenty like me to be found

-“Goodbye Yellow Brick Road," Elton John

Never think that you are irreplaceable or indispensable, especially in a tough economy, no matter what you have done, how long you have worked for your employer, how stellar your reputation, how good you are at your job, or how well you get along with everyone at work. There are many people who never dreamed they’d get laid off who are now unemployed. For any job you are applying for, you can be sure there are dozens if not hundreds of others going for that same position. If you truly understand that you may find yourself looking for work at any moment, you can take action so if and when it does happen, you’ll be prepared and have the best chance of bouncing back quickly.

But first, are you experienced?
Have you ever been experienced?
-“Are You Experienced," Jimi Hendrix

The degree alone won’t get you a job – having the ALA-accredited MLS means only that you meet one of the minimum requirements for most library jobs. Hiring managers want employees with specific experience; if you are job hunting you are competing with others who have years of such experience to offer. Get as much relevant experience as you can, however you can get it: volunteering, part-time jobs, internships, etc.

Doesn’t have a point of view
Knows not where he’s going to
-“Nowhere Man," The Beatles

Yes, there are two paths you can go by
But in the long run
There’s still time to change the road you’re on

-“Stairway to Heaven," Led Zeppelin

You must have a plan, for your job hunt and for your career. You want to be flexible and change the plan as necessary, but you still have to have definite steps that you are taking deliberately to reach your goal. 

A man hears what he wants to hear
And disregards the rest
-“The Boxer," Simon and Garfunkel

These are the lyrics that started it all; they gave me the idea to write about song lyrics, and this is something I encounter constantly with job hunters – dismissing any advice or tips or information that are not what they want to hear. If they are told they should do something they don’t want to do, they instantly come up with reasons why they can’t do it or don’t have to do it or it won’t work for them. This selective hearing (a kind of inflexibility, with perhaps a bit of entitlement and stubbornness too…) can hinder your job search, and your career.

It is often true, too, that something which seems bad at first glance turns out in the long run to be something good (or vice versa); it is often only in hindsight that you can really evaluate an event with any accuracy. Rather than habitually or reflexively resisting change or anything that is not to your liking, it is much better to take advice or news of change with an open mind and with an attitude of flexibility.


So, can you think of any other job lyrics that might offer good (or bad) job hunting or career advice? Let us know on our Facebook page.

Ellen Mehling received her MSLIS from Long Island University and works as a librarian, instructor and writer in and around NYC.  Her professional experience includes work in special, public, and academic libraries, as well as archives.  She is Director of the Westchester Graduate Library School Program and Director of Internships for L.I.U.’s Palmer School and since 2009 has been METRO’s Job Bank Manager / Career Development Consultant.  She teaches classes and workshops on job hunting, information literacy, researching, and other subjects at METRO’s Training Center and other venues within and outside NYC.