Plastic-degrading fungus found in Pakistan trash dump

We’re filling up the world with plastic, and the material takes up to a millennium to break down in landfills. A group of scientists sought a solution to our plastic problem in nature – and they actually found one: a plastic-devouring soil fungus.

Our current solutions for dealing with plastic aren’t working well. Not all of the material is recycled, and it’s polluting landfills and oceans. Sehroon Khan of the World Agroforestry Center said in a statement, “We wanted to identify solutions with already existed in nature, but finding microorganisms which can do the job isn’t easy.”
Khan, lead author on a study published this year in Environmental Pollution, said they took samples from a dump in Islamabad, Pakistan “to see if anything was feeding on the plastic in the same way that other organisms feed on dead plant or animal matter.”

Turns out, there was such an organism: the fungus Aspergillus tubingensis. Laboratory trials revealed the fungus can grow on the surface of plastic, where it secretes enzymes that break chemical bonds between polymers. The researchers even found A. tubingensis utilizes the strength of its mycelia to help break plastic apart. And the fungus does the job rapidly: the scientists said in weeks A. tubingensis can break down plastics that would otherwise linger in an environment for years.
Factors like temperature and pH level may impact how well the fungus can degrade plastic, but the researchers say if we could pin down optimal conditions, perhaps we could deploy the fungus in waste treatment plants, for example. Khan said his team plans to determine those factors as their next goal.
Khan is also affiliated with the Chinese Academy of Science, and eight other researchers from institutions in China and Pakistan contributed to the study.
Via Agroforestry World
Images via Alan Levine on Flickr and courtesy of Sehroon Khan

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China Affirms Alliance with Pakistan After Trump Says Islamabad Abets Terrorists


Flags of Pakistan and China
China’s top diplomat told his American counterpart that the United States must respect Pakistani sovereignty and security concerns as they pertain to Afghanistan or else endanger “peace and stability,” reports Chinese state media.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had a phone conversation on Wednesday with Yang Jiechi, China’s state councilor of overseas foreign affairs. Yang, who outranks the Chinese foreign minister, defended Pakistan after US President Donald Trump claimed that it “often gives safe haven to agents of chaos, violence and terror” during a Monday speech.
Trump called Pakistan a “valued partner” whose “contributions and sacrifices” against terrorism were to be commended. However, Trump went on to say, “Pakistan has also sheltered the same organizations that try every single day to kill our people. We have been paying Pakistan billions and billions of dollars, at the same time they are housing the very terrorists that we are fighting.”

© AP Photo/ Press Information Department
China came to its ally’s defense during the Tillerson/Yang call. “We must value Pakistan’s important role on the Afghanistan issue, and respect Pakistan’s sovereignty and reasonable security concerns,” Yang reportedly said.
Yang went on to tell Tillerson that China was willing to increase cooperation with the Americans in Afghanistan as a “joint effort to realize peace and stability”. This comes after Trump’s call on US allies and global partners to support his new strategy of focusing solely on obliterating terrorist organizations in Afghanistan, rather than nation-building.
Beijing has its own security concerns in the region, including terrorism migrating from Afghanistan through Pakistan into Western China. In September 2015, a group of knife-wielding men attacked workers and police officers in the western Chinese province of Xinjiang, across the Karakoram mountains from Pakistan and Afghanistan, killing 50.

US President Donald Trump announces his strategy for the war in Afghanistan during an address from Fort Myer, Virginia, US, August 21, 2017.
China and Pakistan consider one another “all-weather friends” and have established a very strong economic, diplomatic, and military partnership over the last few decades. China has spent $62 billion since 2015 to modernize Pakistani infrastructure as part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) initiative, an aspect of its global One Belt, One Road project. Pakistan celebrated the initiative by issuing a new coin adorned with the Pakistani and Chinese flags to commemorate their friendship.
On Thursday, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Pakistani Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua met in Beijing and issued a joint statement where Wang praised Pakistan’s efforts against extremism, and reaffirmed China’s commitment to CPEC. “Given the current complicated and changing international and regional situation, the strategic significance of China-Pakistan relations is even more prominent,” Wang said.
“Pakistan will not change its policy towards China no matter how the domestic situation varies,” added Janjua. “Pakistan will remain committed to the CPEC as well as promoting new advancement in our bilateral relations.”

A Pakistan security personnel stands guard near the the Beijing-funded megaport of Gwadar, in southwestern Pakistan
In addition, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying defended Pakistan on Tuesday. “I should say that Pakistan is in the frontline of fighting terrorism, made sacrifices to fighting terrorism, making important contribution to upholding peace and stability,” Hua said, the third defense of Pakistan by Chinese leaders in as many days.
A 2016 Pew Research Group survey of Pakistani public opinion found that 84 percent of respondents had a favorable few of China, compared to 16 percent who had a favorable view of the United States.

Pakistan sets terms for help in anti-terror fight


PRIME Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi chairs a meeting of the National Security Committee on Thursday.—APP
• Top security meeting rejects Trump’s allegations of duplicity
• Warns against scapegoating Pakistan for failures in Afghan war
• Takes exception to role assigned to India in new regional policy
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s top civilian and military leadership on Thursday strongly rejected US President Donald Trump’s allegations of insincerity and duplicity in the fight against terrorism and set conditions for future counterterrorism cooperation with Washington and Kabul, specifically the removal of hideouts in eastern Afghanistan.
The government’s formal and comprehensive response to the Trump administration’s policy on Afghanistan and South Asia came after a meeting of the National Security Committee (NSC), which was chaired by Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and attended by ministers for defence, foreign affairs, finance, and interior, the national security adviser, services chiefs and heads of intelligence agencies and military operations.
The NSC was specially convened for deliberations on the US policy and formulating the ‘comprehensive response’.
The government had earlier given a preliminary response to the policy after a meeting of the federal cabinet. The army too had expressed its views through a statement after a meeting between Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Bajwa and US Ambassador David Hale on Wednesday.
The statement issued after the NSC meeting was a detailed rejoinder to all elements of concern in the new US policy and President Trump’s speech — the allegations about sanctuaries, claims about taking billions and billions of dollars in aid from Washington, fears about nuclear security, and the formalisation of India’s role in Afghanistan.
The bottom line of the response is that Pakistan remains committed to international efforts for peace and stability in Afghanistan, but it also wants its concerns to be addressed, including the main issue of sanctuaries on Afghan soil.
The demand for elimination of sanctuaries was thrice mentioned in the unusually long statement.
Counterterrorism cooperation with the US and Afghanistan, the NSC said, was contingent upon: “focusing on core issues of eliminating safe havens inside Afghanistan, border management, return of refugees and reinvigorating the peace process for a political settlement in Afghanistan.”
At another point, the NSC underscored that it would “more specifically” want “effective and immediate US military efforts to eliminate sanctuaries harbouring terrorists and miscreants on the Afghan soil, including those responsible for fomenting terror in Pakistan”.
Separately, it said: “Pakistan is committed to not allowing its soil to be used for violence against any other country. We expect the same from our neighbours.”
The United States, it may be recalled, had already signalled its willingness to address the issue of removal of safe havens in Afghanistan from where terrorists have been launching attacks in Pakistan. In the first statement issued by the State Department on behalf of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson after President Trump’s speech, it had been said that it was “vital to US interests that Afghanistan and Pakistan prevent terrorist sanctuaries”.
Pakistan has long demanded action against those sanctuaries, but there has been no serious action so far, except for a brief campaign after the Army Public School tragedy in December 2014. Several terrorists wanted by Pakistan reportedly move freely within Afghanistan and, at least according to one statement by former TTP spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan, after he surrendered to security forces earlier this year, the terrorists were given special identification documents by the Afghan authorities to facilitate their movements there.
Terrorists from their sanctuaries in Afghanistan carry out attacks on Pakistani border posts and, according to the ISPR, multiple attacks attempted on the night of Aug 13 were foiled because of improved security arrangements.
New Indian role
In very categorical terms, the NSC expressed its reservations about the role assigned to India in the new regional policy that extends from economic assistance and development in Afghanistan to peace and security in South Asia and the broader Indo-Pacific region.
Pakistan fears that India with its new role would work to exacerbate its security concerns.
Questioning the role given to India, the NSC said: “India cannot be a net security provider in the South Asia region when it has conflictual relationships with all its neighbours and is pursuing a policy of destabilising Pakistan from the east and the west.”
The committee also pointed towards Indian interference in the internal affairs of neighbouring countries and use of terrorism as an instrument of state policy.
“The committee condemned state-inflicted repression on the people of Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir and reiterated Pakistan’s continued diplomatic, political and moral support for their struggle for self-determination,” the statement said.
Pakistan’s worries about Indian role would be a major irritant in Pak-US engagement on the new policy. Secretary Tillerson had said the US would engage with Pakistan “in a very serious and thorough way on its expectations and the conditions that go with that”.
Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif was earlier scheduled to travel to the US for bilateral talks with Secretary Tillerson next week, but the trip has been delayed for a later date after his tour of China and other friendly countries.
Nuclear security
In his speech, President Trump renewed the fears of nuclear security when he identified as a major US interest in Afghanistan and Pakistan the effort to “prevent nuclear weapons and materials from coming into the hands of terrorists”.
The NSC dismissed those apprehensions as baseless and reminded that Pakistan has an internationally-recognised “robust and credible command and control system” and it is “a responsible nuclear weapon state”.
Terrorist sanctuaries
The committee went to lengths to reject the US accusation of terrorist sanctuaries on Pakistani soil that was also rebuffed in the preliminary statement as “false narrative”.
It was said that Pakistan’s indiscriminate action against all terrorist groups was proven by the improved security environment in the country. Pakistan’s commitment to fighting terrorism, it maintained, was also demonstrated by its counterterrorism cooperation with the US in the past, something which was also acknowledged by Mr Trump.
“We consider the lives of the citizens of other countries as sacrosanct as those of our own,” the statement said.
President Trump’s claim of “paying Pakistan billions and billions of dollars” was said to be “misleading”. The statement said the money given to Pakistan was reimbursement of the “part of the cost of ground facilities and air corridors used by the United States for its operations in Afghanistan” and not any “any financial aid or assistance”.
The NSC called for recognition of the sacrifices made by Pakistan in the fight against terrorism in terms of tens of thousands of civilian and security personnel martyred and $120 billion in economic losses suffered by the country’s economy. It warned that scapegoating Pakistan for failures in the Afghan war would not help in achieving the objective of stabilising war-ravaged Afghanistan.
Published in Dawn, August 25th, 2017

This is what to say when you get asked to talk about yourself in a job interview


Rachel McAdams waiting for a job interview in ‘Morning Glory’. Image: Rex
Chances are that as some point in your life, an interviewer has said to you, “Tell me about yourself”. It is one of the most common things to be presented with in a job interview, but it is also one of the most difficult to get right. Luckily, a Harvard student who received internship offers from Apple, Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Goldman Sachs, among others, has shared her tips on how to perfectly answer this.
Jessica Pointing – who runs the career-advice website Optimize Guide – says that she was most frequently asked this in her numerous interviews.
“You should already know the answer off the top of your head,” Pointing told Business Insider. “It’s your elevator pitch. In addition to that, it’s probably going to be the first question in the interview. First impressions matter.”
So, how do you get it right? Pointing says it can be broken down into three parts. Firstly, start off with a brief introduction (your name, your university, what you studied), then delve into the highlights of your CV, don’t overdo it, just mention the accomplishments you are proudest of. Finally, briefly talk about why you want to work for the company and be specific to the role you are applying for and how your skills align with the position.
Pointing explains that, ultimately, you want to end by reminding the interviewer why you are the perfect candidate for the job.

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Google launches its AI-powered jobs search engine


Looking for a new job is getting easier. Google today launched a new jobs search feature right on its search result pages that lets you search for jobs across virtually all of the major online job boards like LinkedIn, Monster, WayUp, DirectEmployers, CareerBuilder and Facebook and others. Google will also include job listings its finds on a company’s homepage.
The idea here is to give job seekers an easy way to see which jobs are available without having to go to multiple sites only to find duplicate postings and lots of irrelevant jobs.

With this new feature, is now available in English on desktop and mobile, all you have to type in is a query like “jobs near me,” “writing jobs” or something along those lines and the search result page will show you the new job search widget that lets you see a broad range of jobs. From there, you can further refine your query to only include full-time positions, for example. When you click through to get more information about a specific job, you also get to see Glassdoor and Indeed ratings for a company.
You can also filter jobs by industry, location, when they were posted, and employer. Once you find a query that works, you can also turn on notifications so you get an immediate alert when a new job is posted that matches your personalized query.
“Finding a job is like dating,” Nick Zakrasek, Google’s product manager for this project, told me. “Each person has a unique set of preferences and it only takes one person to fill this job.”
To create this comprehensive list, Google first has to remove all of the duplicate listings that employers post to all of these job sites. Then, its machine learning-trained algorithms sift through and categorize them. These job sites often already use at least some job-specific markup to help search engines understand that something is a job posting (though often, the kind of search engine optimization that worked when Google would only show 10 blue links for this type of query now clutters up the new interface with long, highly detailed job titles, for example).
Once you find a job, Google will direct you to the job site to start the actual application process. For jobs that appeared on multiple sites, Google will link you to the one with the most complete job posting. “We hope this will act as an incentive for sites to share all the pertinent details in their listings for job seekers,” a Google spokesperson told me.
As for the actual application process itself, Google doesn’t want to get in the way here and it’s not handling any of the process after you have found a job on its service.
It’s worth noting that Google doesn’t try to filter jobs based on what it already knows. As Zakrasek quipped, the fact that you like to go fishing doesn’t mean you are looking for a job on a fishing boat, after all.
Google is very clear about the fact that it doesn’t want to directly compete with Monster, CareerBuilder and similar sites. It currently has no plans to let employers posts jobs directly to its jobs search engine for example (though that would surely be lucrative). “We want to do what we do best: search,” Zakrasek said. “We want the players in the ecosystem to be more successful.” Anything beyond that is not in Google’s wheelhouse, he added.
Monster.com’s CTO Conal Thompson echoed this in a written statement when I asked him how this cooperation with Google will change the competitive landscape for job sites. “Google’s new job search product aligns with our core strategy and will allow candidates to explore jobs from across the web and refine search criteria to meet their unique needs,” he wrote. “Yes, as with anything, there will be some challenges and adjustments to existing job posting sites; the biggest perhaps being for those that are currently driven by SEO.”

12 Habits Of Genuine People


Genuine people have a profound impact upon everyone they encounter. Dr. Travis Bradberry unveils the unique habits that cause them to radiate with energy and confidence.
There’s an enormous amount of research suggesting that emotional intelligence (EQ) is critical to your performance at work. TalentSmart has tested the EQ of more than a million people and found that it explains 58% of success in all types of jobs.
People with high EQs make $29,000 more annually than people with low EQs. Ninety percent of top performers have high EQs, and a single-point increase in your EQ adds $1,300 to your salary. I could go on and on.
Suffice it to say, emotional intelligence is a powerful way to focus your energy in one direction with tremendous results.

TALENTSMART, INC.
But there’s a catch. Emotional intelligence won’t do a thing for you if you aren’t genuine.
A recent study from the Foster School of Business at the University of Washington found that people don’t accept demonstrations of emotional intelligence at face value. They’re too skeptical for that. They don’t just want to see signs of emotional intelligence. They want to know that it’s genuine—that your emotions are authentic.
According to lead researcher Christina Fong, when it comes to your coworkers,
“They are not just mindless automatons. They think about the emotions they see and care whether they are sincere or manipulative.”
The same study found that sincere leaders are far more effective at motivating people because they inspire trust and admiration through their actions, not just their words. Many leaders say that authenticity is important to them, but genuine leaders walk their talk every day.
It’s not enough to just go through the motions, trying to demonstrate qualities that are associated with emotional intelligence. You have to be genuine.
You can do a gut check to find out how genuine you are by comparing your own behavior to that of people who are highly genuine. Consider the hallmarks of genuine people and see how you stack up.
“Authenticity requires a certain measure of vulnerability, transparency, and integrity,” -Janet Louise Stephenson
1. Genuine people don’t try to make people like them. Genuine people are who they are. They know that some people will like them, and some won’t. And they’re okay with that. It’s not that they don’t care whether or not other people will like them but simply that they’re not going to let that get in the way of doing the right thing. They’re willing to make unpopular decisions and to take unpopular positions if that’s what needs to be done.
Since genuine people aren’t desperate for attention, they don’t try to show off. They know that when they speak in a friendly, confident, and concise manner, people are much more attentive to and interested in what they have to say than if they try to show that they’re important. People catch on to your attitude quickly and are more attracted to the right attitude than what or how many people you know.
2. They don’t pass judgment. Genuine people are open-minded, which makes them approachable and interesting to others. No one wants to have a conversation with someone who has already formed an opinion and is not willing to listen.
Having an open mind is crucial in the workplace, as approachability means access to new ideas and help. To eliminate preconceived notions and judgment, you need to see the world through other people’s eyes. This doesn’t require you to believe what they believe or condone their behavior; it simply means you quit passing judgment long enough to truly understand what makes them tick. Only then can you let them be who they are.
3. They forge their own paths. Genuine people don’t derive their sense of pleasure and satisfaction from the opinions of others. This frees them up to follow their own internal compasses. They know who they are and don’t pretend to be anything else. Their direction comes from within, from their own principles and values. They do what they believe to be the right thing, and they’re not swayed by the fact that somebody might not like it.
4. They are generous. We’ve all worked with people who constantly hold something back, whether it’s knowledge or resources. They act as if they’re afraid you’ll outshine them if they give you access to everything you need to do your job. Genuine people are unfailingly generous with whom they know, what they know, and the resources they have access to. They want you to do well more than anything else because they’re team players and they’re confident enough to never worry that your success might make them look bad. In fact, they believe that your success is their success.
5. They treat EVERYONE with respect. Whether interacting with their biggest clients or servers taking their drink orders, genuine people are unfailingly polite and respectful. They understand that no matter how nice they are to the people they have lunch with, it’s all for naught if those people witnesses them behaving badly toward others. Genuine people treat everyone with respect because they believe they’re no better than anyone else.
6. They aren’t motivated by material things. Genuine people don’t need shiny, fancy stuff in order to feel good. It’s not that they think it’s wrong to go out and buy the latest and greatest items to show off their status; they just don’t need to do this to be happy. Their happiness comes from within, as well as from the simpler pleasures—such as friends, family, and a sense of purpose—that make life rich.
7. They are trustworthy. People gravitate toward those who are genuine because they know they can trust them. It is difficult to like someone when you don’t know who they really are and how they really feel. Genuine people mean what they say, and if they make a commitment, they keep it. You’ll never hear a truly genuine person say, “Oh, I just said that to make the meeting end faster.” You know that if they say something, it’s because they believe it to be true.
8. They are thick-skinned. Genuine people have a strong enough sense of self that they don’t go around seeing offense that isn’t there. If somebody criticizes one of their ideas, they don’t treat this as a personal attack. There’s no need for them to jump to conclusions, feel insulted, and start plotting their revenge. They’re able to objectively evaluate negative and constructive feedback, accept what works, put it into practice, and leave the rest of it behind without developing hard feelings.
9. They put away their phones. Nothing turns someone off to you like a mid-conversation text message or even a quick glance at your phone. When genuine people commit to a conversation, they focus all of their energy on the conversation. You will find that conversations are more enjoyable and effective when you immerse yourself in them. When you robotically approach people with small talk and are tethered to your phone, this puts their brains on autopilot and prevents them from having any real affinity for you. Genuine people create connection and find depth even in short, everyday conversations. Their genuine interest in other people makes it easy for them to ask good questions and relate what they’re told to other important facets of the speaker’s life. These are some of the skills we teach in our emotional intelligence certification program.
10. They aren’t driven by ego. Genuine people don’t make decisions based on their egos because they don’t need the admiration of others in order to feel good about themselves. Likewise, they don’t seek the limelight or try to take credit for other people’s accomplishments. They simply do what needs to be done without saying, “Hey, look at me!”
11. They aren’t hypocrites. Genuine people practice what they preach. They don’t tell you to do one thing and then do the opposite themselves. That’s largely due to their self-awareness. Many hypocrites don’t even recognize their mistakes. They’re blind to their own weaknesses. Genuine people, on the other hand, fix their own problems first.
12. They don’t brag. We’ve all worked with people who can’t stop talking about themselves and their accomplishments. Have you ever wondered why? They boast and brag because they’re insecure and worried that if they don’t point out their accomplishments, no one will notice. Genuine people don’t need to brag. They’re confident in their accomplishments, but they also realize that when you truly do something that matters, it stands on its own merits, regardless of how many people notice or appreciate it.
Bringing It All Together
Genuine people know who they are. They are confident enough to be comfortable in their own skin. They are firmly grounded in reality, and they’re truly present in each moment because they’re not trying to figure out someone else’s agenda or worrying about their own.
What other qualities do you see in genuine people? Please share your thoughts in the comments section, as I learn just as much from you as you do from me.
Want to learn more from me? Check out my book, Emotional Intelligence 2.0.

‘A person who lies once is capable of lying again’ – our work expert responds

My colleague always moans about being too busy, but refuses the offer of any help
I work in a small team for a large professional services company and have a colleague who, while constantly bemoaning how busy they are, refuses the offer of any help. I put this down to a “martyr complex” but was alarmed when I found out she had told my line manager that I was not pulling my weight. I also learned she said the same thing about another colleague who, like me, offers their support whenever they can during busy periods.
I’m irritated that this person tries to suggest that myself and colleagues are not supporting them. Added to the mix is that, while I sit within the team, my role is somewhat specialised and as such I’m not in a position to offer the colleague in question my help very often – although when I do, it is refused.
Jeremy says
I wonder how you found out that this dissatisfied colleague had told your line manager that you were not pulling your weight? And that she’d made the same accusation about another colleague? On the face of it the line manager would seem to be being indiscreet; I don’t see how else these revelations could have become known.
In any small team accusations such as these, either real or imaginary, lead to suspicion, resentment and a toxic atmosphere, where just about any comment, however innocent, can be misinterpreted as an example of malicious gossip. However, I suspect an open challenge to this colleague would only exacerbate the problem. If met, as seems likely, by a straight denial you would be left feeling even more helpless.
Your best chance, it seems to me, is to raise the subject of mutual support at a general level while keep personalities well out of it. For example, you could suggest to your line manager that, with such a small team, it could be extremely helpful if there was open agreement that all team members should inform the line manager whenever they have enough time on their hands to help out a colleague. Even if no such convention is adopted, the very fact of raising the subject openly should be enough to clear the air.
Readers say
Email the colleague and say: “As discussed earlier, if you are still struggling with the workload I am happy to help.” Get your other colleagues to do the same. The person will either email to decline or not respond at all, but either way if your boss complains to the team, show them the email trail. allnighters
If they let you help it might become apparent that you could do their job in a fraction of the time. As in most things work-related, the best advice is to keep a journal – in this case detailing when you offered assistance and the circumstances of that being refused. Keiitth
Work (and domestic) martyrs exist in large numbers – they do unnecessary tasks in a pernickety way and then complain that no one else helps. I once shared a student flat with a woman who spent hours boiling tea towels and cutlery in large pans in the interests of hygiene, and then moaned that no one else did (we washed these normally). They never change, but as long as you are sure your boss understands the situation fully and therefore will take the martyr’s moans at their real value, you can afford to ignore them. Alexandria
Why feel the need to offer help? If they are (in their own judgment) overworked they should be taking it up with their manager. Next time they moan, suggest they do exactly that. time4tee
My brief time in the police a decade ago dominates my CV – should I remove it?
I am looking for a new job as my current one is a fixed-term contract that soon ends. I have had a number of interviews, but have noticed that interviewers are disproportionately interested in an episode from 10 years ago, when I spent 18 months as a police officer.
This was something I tried but found was not right for me, and I left without completing my probationary period. It stands out on my CV because all of my other work experience has been in office administration and customer service. I can understand why interviewers find it interesting, but I don’t want to be defined by a job that I did so long ago, or spend time in interviews discussing something that didn’t work out.
I am thinking of taking the police officer role off my CV altogether. The company that I worked for prior to that has closed down and cannot be contacted, so it would be easy enough to simply extend the period of time that I was there on my CV to avoid any gaps in my employment history.
I know this amounts to lying, and it is possible I am getting interviews on the basis that I have had an “interesting” job, but I don’t feel it reflects who I am now or what I have to offer.
Jeremy says
I can fully understand your predicament but would caution you against deleting the police officer period from your CV. Yes, to do so would be a lie, and one with which you would probably continue to feel uncomfortable. There is always that one in a thousand chance that somebody somewhere would unearth the truth. And, once you have been exposed for having falsified your personal history, any potential employer is likely to eliminate you from contention: a person who lies once is believed to be capable of lying again. In any case, I don’t believe it’s necessary.
Without torturing the truth, I believe you should find it easy to show how your experience with the police force was, in fact, extremely helpful in showing you where your strengths and interests really lay. Ever since then you have been grateful that that 18 months provided you with real life experience against which you can evaluate your work in office administration and customer service. It has enabled you to feel more confident in your choice of career and increase your satisfaction in the work you do.
It would seem a pity to expunge such an interesting episode from your CV when you can so easily turn it to your advantage.
Readers say
You should try to pick some experiences you had in the police and show how they have since helped you. For example, the police deal with members of the public at times of high stress and emotion. Surely this is helpful in a customer service role. SpursSupporter
General CV advice online appears to be to cut the length of your CV down to the past 10-15 years. I would merely start your CV with the job after your police work and think nothing further of it. TenementFunster
Many moons ago the one thing in my CV that consistently got me interviews was the fact that I used to hand-paint the Wallace and Gromit cufflinks that were all the rage back in the late 90s and early 00s. That single three-month summer work job got me into my (totally unrelated) science career.
The trick is turning it into a positive that works for whatever role it is you are applying. For example, did the police role require any level of integrity – dealing with confidential information/public records etc? That one time spent as an officer could speak volumes. Sorbicol
Do you need advice on a work issue? For Jeremy’s and readers’ help, send a brief email to dear.jeremy@theguardian.com. Please note that he is unable to answer questions of a legal nature or to reply personally.

The specific advice you should seek (and ignore) to become more self-aware

Self-awareness is the meta skill of the 21st century. Research shows it’s the essential foundation for high performance, making smart choices, and forming strong relationships. But while we bemoan the lack of self-awareness in our politicians, bosses, and Facebook friends, we rarely consider whether we might have room to improve, too.
According to findings from my three-year research program on the subject, 95% of people think they’re self-aware, but only 10-15% actually are. So why do we fall so short? One reason is that though it’s relatively common to see self-awareness as clarity about our inner workings (things like our values, our goals, and our ideal environment), true self-awareness also requires that we turn our gaze outward to understand how we are seen.
This isn’t a popular perspective. Many people believe that it’s simply not important what people think about you—all that matters is what you think about yourself. But, unfortunately, this just isn’t true. If we want to be successful at work and happy at home, we must consider how the important people in our lives perceive us.
95% of people think they’re self-aware, but only 10-15% actually are.It’s not that how we view ourselves is wrong or useless, nor should we develop an insecure concern about what people think. But because others see us more objectively than we see ourselves, we should take the time to understand their point of view. How else can we discover the hidden strengths that give us a unique edge, or the blind spots that are hurting our relationships without our even knowing it?
It’s perfectly normal to feel a mild sense of nausea at the mere idea of seeking out candid feedback about yourself, so here are five suggestions to help you get honest perspectives on the real you without losing your mojo.
Be picky about who you ask
Not all feedback is well-intended or helpful, whether it’s a colleague gunning for your job, an ex with a grudge, or a friend who thinks you can do no wrong. Highly self-aware people are selective about who they get feedback from, relying mostly on a small, trusted group of loving critics: people who’ll be honest with them while keeping their best interests at heart. Interestingly, this isn’t always those who you’re closest to. In general, the best loving critics check three boxes: You should be confident they want you to be successful; they should have regular exposure to the behaviors you want to learn more about; and they should have a pattern of telling the truth, even when it’s difficult for people to hear.
Provide parameters
Failing to give our loving critics parameters is confusing for them and unhelpful to us. For example, asking an innocent yet vague question to a coworker like “Can you tell me how I’m doing?” might yield anything from helpful feedback on how you appear in meetings to their opinions about your fashion choices and water-cooler banter. Instead, think about the skills or behaviors that are most important for you to be successful, happy, and fulfilled in the area of your life you’re seeking help—then ask specifically about those. A salesperson might explore his behavior in prospecting meetings; a CEO might look at the clarity of her communications; a friend might investigate whether he’s a good listener. Another gift of specificity is that if you hear something critical, it’s less likely to feel like an indictment of your entire personality.
Give them time
When we ask someone for feedback, it’s important to look at our request from their perspective. For this reason, it’s a good idea to give them a day or two to decide if they have the time and energy to really help you—and then they’ll be even more committed when they do. Also provide time to collect data and observe the issue you’re concerned about. If you want to know how you’re coming across in meetings, for example, let them see you in action during a few before asking for a download. When you do, you’ll get far more helpful—and specific—information.
Commit to curiosity
No matter how surprised we are at what we hear, it’s critical to remain curious. Sometimes just saying to yourself, That’s surprising. I wonder what I’m doing that’s making them say that? can change the conversation from a trial-by-fire to a fact-finding mission. It’s also best to focus more on asking questions and listening than on explaining or justifying. Try questions like, “Can you tell me more about what you mean?” or “Can you give me a few examples where you’ve seen this behavior?” Your job in this conversation isn’t to answer for the behavior—it’s merely to understand it.
Give yourself space and grace
We often force ourselves to figure out exactly what critical feedback means and what we’ll do about it, then and there. But it’s best to first take some time to react and cool off. If you’re upset after an honest conversation with a loving critic, do something that will boost your mood and give you some perspective, be it a long run, a tasty take-out meal, or a night out with friends. In fact, veteran feedback-seekers usually give themselves days or even weeks to bounce back after hearing something truly surprising or upsetting before they choose their course of action. It’s not only okay to take this time—it’s essential.
Above all, we must be as gentle with ourselves as we are honest. No feedback is ever an indictment of our inherent value or a full picture of who we are. At the end of the day, we all have strengths and weaknesses. And exploring them—through inward introspection and external feedback—is the key to a successful and self-accepting life.
Tasha’s latest book is Insight: Why We’re Not as Self-Aware as We Think, and How Seeing Ourselves Clearly Helps Us Succeed at Work and in Life. Learn how to write for Quartz Ideas. We welcome your comments at ideas@qz.com.

The job interview: don’t just answer, ask!

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Much has been said about what to answer to tough or typical interview questions. Most of us spend hours rehearsing answers to questions like “Where do you see yourself in 10 years?” or “What makes you a good fit for this company?” But have you spent time thinking about what to ask?
Whether it’s your dream company or a backup plan, you should always equip yourself with the right questions. Beyond impressing them with your initiative and wit, it is also a great way to find out more about the position, the company culture, and the people you potentially will be working with.
Here are five questions that can help you do just that.
Aside from the job requirements mentioned, what other skills or traits would help me as an employee of this company?
You must have applied for this job because your resume and experience meet the qualifications. That’s great. But going for an interview is also the time to gauge whether your personality will work well with your potential colleagues.
Are you extremely introverted? Can you handle a company with outspoken people? Find out if this is really for you. Imagine spending most of your days in a place with people you simply can’t jive with – torture. Join a team you can work well with.
This question could also reveal possible additional work or skills needed when necessary. It is particularly crucial for startup hopefuls to know this because job descriptions are only a fraction of what’s expected of you. More often than not, extra hands will be needed for tasks outside of your responsibility on paper.
Think of the interview as a first date: make a good impression, and figure out what impression the company gives you – are you impressed?
Why is this position vacant?
This might seem like an uncomfortable question to ask, but finding out whether the person before you left because of overwork, or moved up the ranks after a promotion, gives you a glimpse of what to expect. Alternatively, the position might be open because it’s newly created, which means trial and error and a lot of expectations on your plate. Can you handle it?
What is the career path like?
You might be afraid to sound eager with this question, but if you have career ambitions, this is an answer you’d want to hear. If you are eyeing to work at a startup, you might not get the typical “after two years, you can get promoted” answer. Instead, small companies tend to be fluid with their teams. You’re either given different responsibilities, or have to wait for it to expand before being able to take on a more senior position. Whichever the answer, is that okay with you?
What is the company’s long-term goal?
Or better yet, ask about a specific timeline. Companies cannot survive without having a clear goal. It is especially critical for tech and startup companies to a have good idea of what they want to achieve, and when they expect to get there because of the limited runway they have. Do they want to be the next Google? Are you able to make a meaningful contribution to their goal? If you don’t agree with their vision, or if the answer seems vague and unconvincing, maybe this company isn’t right for you.
What do you love most about working here?
Interview managers tend to keep it black and white. Asking this question is an opportunity to connect on a deeper level, and to get a unique perspective about the company and its people. The answer will reveal how the interview manager feels about his job, whether it is a place where you can be passionate, or if it’s strictly about getting the work done. Was it a struggle for him to come up with a good answer? Trust me, it is important to love (or at least like) your place of work. If someone from recruitment can’t seem to convince you, it’s a red flag.
Always remember: you’re not just here to impress, you’re here to be impressed.
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About Natasha
Natasha is a young copywriter from the Philippines who dreams of writing a novel one day. A typical day in her life consists of puppies, naps, sports, and Netflix (Okay, fine. And work).