Synaptic DistressHas Penelope Trunk finally suffered a psychotic break on the pages of BNET?

“You don’t need time to job-hunt.”

Or did her editor?

“Job-hunting does not take all day… It’s too hard. So a bad job does not interfere with a good job hunt.”

Why Hunting for a Great Job Will Hurt Your Career is either a joke, or Trunk’s synapses never made it back from lunch.

“You know the saying that lucky people create their own luck? For the unemployed, that means taking almost any job.”

In any event, there’s no excuse for the editor who let this onto the front page.

“But I’ve got news for you: Living up to your potential is BS. What does that mean, really? I think it means impressing your friends, or, worse, your parents, and you have better things to aim for in life than that.”

I have happy relationships with my parents, my friends and the people I work with. But in any case, I’m leaving a special area in the comments section below, for the person whose job doesn’t involve personal relationships.

“You are not going to find happiness from your job – that comes from personal relationships.”

BNET, you tell me: Should we pretend all perspectives are healthy, interesting and worthy of debate? Or is it okay to publish whatever piles up in the cerebral dung heap? Be careful what you feed your readers, even if your editors are willing to eat it.

[Update: GL Hoffman over at LinkUp explains it all with just a diagram. Actually, with a Gruzzle: Shovel-Ready.]


  1. I’m glad i don’t have Sesquipedalophobia, or i wouldn’t have read past the headline. All ideas are good ideas, didn’t you know that, lest we be called unfairly critical. I love you and you love me, right? It’s insane.

  2. Back to the idea of “judgment
    versus “discernment”, I guess.

    Exercising a bit of discernment here, I’d say that Ms. Trunk’s ideas don’t sound very wise.

    (Judging has, perhaps rightfully, gotten such a bad reputation. But where are we without the ability to discern the useful from the less useful?)

    But then, I have gotten so much happiness from my various jobs over the years. Definitely equal to the joy I have had from personal relationships.

    (Perhaps Ms. Trunk has never had a job she loved?!)

  3. Don’t know what happened to the first paragraph above. Sorry for the weird split and the extra “sound” in there!

  4. This was one of your more fun posts.

    First, I haven’t heard the word ‘coprophagia’since high school (I went to a good one.). Evidently you went to a good one, too.

    I never heard of Penelope Trunk or BNET before, but have now learned that a pachyderm (another good word) is a polymath (another one). That is, she can use her trunk to enjoy either end of her digestive system.

    Philosophy is a wonderful pastime but not all bloggers are up to it. But you are, Nick. Keep calling them as you see them.

    PS It’s great having a good vocabulary but damned if I know what sesquipedalophobia is.

    PPS We really should resurrect coprophagia. It’s not one of those seven naughty words, it has more than four letters and it so aptly describes many of our commentators and politicos

  5. Wait a second here–baby and bathwater.

    There is some useful philosophy buried in the crap. Direct quote from paragraph 2: “You could think of job-hunting as something we do nonstop – which means you can do it when you have a job. You can also think of job-hunting as doing the difficult work of connecting with people and looking for an opening in your network, and that’s certainly not something you can do all day.”

    Does that sound familiar? You don’t need a whole day to peruse the want ads, to dig through Cragslist, to post and check postings on monstrous ladder databases.

    Further, is it really realistic to think you can spend whole days–days in and days out–finding good and useful content to enlarge your circle of contacts without turning into a one-person spam generator? I would say no.

    You need to keep your eyes open and tell your contacts about new and interesting cevelopments in the biz–but if the QUALITY isn’t forthcoming, you’re just generating noise. There’s a lot of noise in the world.

    Now, not every job is the right job. But it seems to me that this is at least a partial step in the right direction–job hunting DOES NOT STOP when an employer says yes.

  6. @Beth Rees: My compliments for trying to find the value in Trunk’s column, but I’ve tired of dumpster diving to find a little bit of pizza crust in the swill box.

    Job hunting is indeed all about connecting with people, and I DO think it’s something people should do all day.

    People who consider job hunting and career development “hard work” are those who also view it as a deliberate, mercenary task necessary to get ahead. Those are the people who spam, bother and irritate others.

    They’re the ones who start “connecting with people” only when they need a new job.

    I think connecting with people all the time is what leads to jobs. Connecting is not work. It’s life. It’s participating in, and making a contribution to, your professional and personal community every day of the week.

    “It’s too hard.”

    Gimme a break. Trunk also advocates job hopping as the best way to get ahead. Job hopping is easy and it’s instantly gratifying.

    I don’t seek out Trunk’s columns. They periodically turn up in feeds I receive. Trunk’s stuff is little more than self-conscious, self-promoting drivel intended to constantly show that she’s “on the edge.” She seems to enjoy telling people to go jump off a cliff because no one will expect it, or because it might irritate your parents. I do agree she’s on the edge.

    But the fact that you have to drop in to find “some useful philosophy buried in the crap” says it all. Coprophagia.

  7. Go read Nick’s ‘A Good Network Is a Circle of Friends’ in the Articles section of the ath site. This has provided much comfort to my clients who worry that networking activities will turn them into leeches or a spammers.

    Sesquipedalophobia-the fear of long words.

  8. If I was an incompetent director of HR worried than my company was about hemorrhage abused talent as the economy improves I’d post this on every door.

  9. That article makes my head hurt. The first point of structure leading to achievement would lead me to conclude that one can find happiness is one’s job but then the last point is a slam of that which I very much disagree. Achievement can be satisfying and that can lead to happiness, IMO.

    I’ve had many happy moments in my jobs. Those times when someone says “Thank you!” with such enthusiasm as you just saved them from hours of gruntwork that was resolved with some simple automation. There are also times where I can think about how where I work is making the world a better place. That too can cheer me up and indirectly comes from the relationship defined with my employer which for most people is a job.

    I wonder if Trunk has taken any job in the past, or if that was just some bait to try to get more readers.

  10. I hear Truman Capote: “That’s not writing. That’s typing.”

  11. “But I’ve got news for you: Living up to your potential is BS. What does that mean, really? I think it means impressing your friends, or, worse, your parents, and you have better things to aim for in life than that.”

    You know, alot of people (including me) would agree that Mahatma Gandhi or Mother Teresa lived up to their potential (or close to it), but they sure as hell didn’t look like they were trying to impress anyone.

    This lady’s absurd philosophy has no room for people pursuing excellence for something greater than themselves (and that includes many profit producing activities too)

  12. Given that companies will do anything to meet Wall Street’s quarter expectations, I can understand if people want to only pursue their own interest for the short term. But that may hurt their interests in the long term.