HomeAsian AmericansBreaking Bamboo: Dealing With Challenges Including Your Boss

Breaking Bamboo: Dealing With Challenges Including Your Boss

By Dave Liu, AsAmNews Staff Writer

*I got rejected from my dream job. I write strong cover letters showing why I’m THE right person for the job and have strong references and inside information from friends at the company. I’m right for this job. What else can I do?*

Start with a very detailed *post-mortem*. This is a medical term that
refers to examining a dead body to determine the cause of death. Do the
same for your situation. Are you *really* the right person for the job? Did
your references check out? Ask your insider friends about your
qualifications. Use them to find out who else is in the running and why
they beat you?

Now you’ve done as much due diligence as possible, get cracking. Determine what is correctable. Determine what is not. Some will be readily fixable.

Some will not. Like *Affinity Bias*. It’s our unconscious tendency to get
along with others who are like us. We prefer co-workers who are *not* different from us. It takes work to bridge differences when diversity is present. Perhaps this is what is harming you?

You’ll need to evaluate whether the job is really what you want? Are you
willing to make the compromises necessary to get it? Yes? Send an email.
Make a phone call. Do whatever it takes to get back in front of the hiring
manager. I have friends who even stalk the manager if necessary. Offer to
take them to coffee or tea and show them what a fun and social person you
are. All of this is in the service of the hiring manager seeing you as one
of them.

As you do your due diligence prepare to course correct. Oftentimes, I’ve
found that learning more and more about a job is like peeling an onion. You
are qualified. You are awesome. But you still got rejected!!! Why? Maybe
the company isn’t as great as you thought or the people aren’t exactly
*your* people. Maybe there are other subjective factors out of your
control. Add up enough of these and your interest in the opportunity wanes.
But don’t stop. Do the work. Even though the more you peel, the more tears, at least you know what you are fighting for.

*The project I’ve been working on just got torn apart. I need to hit the reset button. What’s frustrating is that I followed my supervisor’s instructions and guidance to a “T,” but others above him shot it down. It’s obvious my supervisor isn’t on the same page with his bosses. How should I handle this. Should I seek counsel above my bosses head?*

Verify through multiple sources that your supervisor is *not* on the same
page with their boss. Confirm that this is the reason. If this rings true,
I would definitely raise your visibility with your supervisor’s boss.
Otherwise, you will get blindsided. Again.

As we all progress in our careers, it’s really important to understand our
direct supervisor’s motivations. And their boss’s as well. Everyone answers
to someone else and knowing what motivates our supervisor is critical to
your career progression and longevity. If you don’t know why your
supervisor is making you do certain tasks you are flying blind. Make sure
you have insight into your supervisor’s boss. Ideally the entire chain of
command all the way up to the CEO.

There are many ways to do this. For instance, make sure you are present
whenever your supervisor is interacting with their boss. You do this by
offering real value add. Not just spectate. Offer to take detailed notes so
nothing falls through the cracks. If your project is complex and will
require Q&A, let your supervisor know that you would like to attend. You
will ensure that the material is presented well. That the project is
accepted without any issue. Usually bosses don’t wade through all the
minutiae of their subordinates’ work. They prefer to ask probing questions.
If you give enough good answers, they’ll presume the whole project was done well. Make sure your supervisor knows that you are there to support them. To make the project (and them) look good in front of their boss.

If your supervisor resists putting you in front of their boss, then try
casual opportunities. Ask your supervisor’s boss to coffee or tea or (even
better) boba! Try to make sure you get to know them better. Ask about the
future of the company. Make clear you are happy but want more
responsibility and exposure. If done diplomatically, your company will
reward you for taking the initiative.

*It’s time for me to seek a new career as I’ve lost the passion I used to have for my current profession. I’m in my 40’s. When I pursue other opportunities, I’m often overlooked because I would have to take a salary cut. How do I convince people to give me a shot. I have the smarts and know how. I just don’t have the experience.*

Take solace that many people reach points in their career where they lose
passion for their profession. They no longer have the same desire and
energy they had for the job when they were younger. I’ve found that it does
typically come in one’s 40s. You’ve achieved much but don’t see further
progression or decide the toll on your personal life isn’t worth it. That’s
what led me to retire from the intense world of Wall Street in my early 40s.

Once you’ve decided to make the leap and pursue other opportunities, be
sure to focus on what makes you unique. As I’ve said in the past, *Be Unus*. This comes from the Latin word for being the *One*, the *Only One*. Each of us is unique. Reflect on the skills that make you special and you can bring to a job or opportunity.

If you are in your 40s, you are unlikely to be able to differentiate on new
technologies or skills that younger professionals might offer to an
employer. However, you did work almost two decades in some industry. You’ll likely have demonstrated some level of management experience that younger candidates do not. Or you have industry contacts that others will find hard to replicate. Or if you are vying for sales facing roles, you might better fit the generational characteristics of your prospective employer’s
customer base?

If you are vying for opportunities in a new industry, lean on your *functional *expertise. To spur your imagination, here are some examples.

If you were a…

   – Banker: Convince them your skills of financial acumen and detail
   orientation are easily applicable to their sector.
   – Lawyer: Everyone needs people who are good at negotiation and
   interpreting nuance.
   – Journalist: Impress them with your writing and communication skills.

Just don’t sell yourself short.

On the compensation, I have some sobering news. Oftentimes, you might not be a slam dunk hire. Unless you are hired for a role that you’ve mastered for 20 years, they are taking a risk hiring you. They mitigate some of this risk by paying you less. If you are making a shift into a new industry or role, be prepared to take a salary hit. The bright side is that at least you’re in the game. Make them see how incredible you are. Work your way up the ladder and then get paid!

*About the Author*

*Dave is a seasoned executive and entrepreneur who founded several companies in entertainment, investments,
and technology, and worked on Wall Street for almost 25 years. *

*He started his career by joining a fledgling investment bank, Jefferies
when it had less than 200 employees.  Today, Jefferies is a multi-billion dollar diversified public company (NYSE:JEF). He rose from the entry level position of Analyst to Group Head of Internet and Digital Media and was one of the youngest Managing Directors in firm history.  As one of the only managing directors of color in the firm, he successfully broke through the Bamboo Ceiling. He not only worked hard but also played the corporate game.  *

*Hundreds of bankers have worked for Dave during his career. He has
mentored many of them who have gone on to some of the best business schools and companies in America.  He is eager to share his knowledge with Asian Americans and other disadvantaged groups seeking to maximize their
potential and achieve their career goals.*

*If you want some great career tips and insights check out Dave’s book, The Way of the Wall Street Warrior at TheWallStreetWarrior.com.

Check out these previous Breaking Bamboos:

Breaking Bamboo: Tricks to getting hired for a dream job

Breaking Bamboo: Dos and don’ts for job applicants

Breaking Bamboo: Be the one and only job applicant

Breaking Bamboo: Women leaders and negotiating a raise

Breaking Bamboo: Being Asian American and Fitting In

Breaking Bamboo: Overcoming the Model Minority Myth

Breaking Bamboo: Digging yourself out of the doghouse

Breaking Bamboo: From office romances to job search tips

Breaking Bamboo: Secrets to overcommunicating

Breaking Bamboo: How to get that next promotion

Breaking Bamboo: Career advice from an Asian American Executive

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