Ding Dong the Witch is Dead

Our Guest Peter Berner of Pilot Workplace Advisors contributes this piece

Hi there,  

bernerHere is my weekly 30 second idea for you and your career.

Erik is one of my career heroes. Erik had an MBA and a Doctorate. Erik delivered the mail at a large corporation we both worked at. Erik happily pushed his mail cart from office-to-office, floor-to-floor, every day. By choice, Erik worked at a stress-free job that paid him just enough to support a frugal but fulfilling life of freedom, travel and outdoor adventure. Erik made no apologies for not using his education to make more money. Erik was exactly where he needed and wanted to be in his life and career.  To those of us suffering the insanities of the workplace, the stress of corporate demands, the competition for promotion, the pressure of politics, the jerkiness of coworkers, Erik was something of a folk hero- easy to admire; hard to emulate.

There was a particularly mean, nasty, feared and despised senior executive at this company.  On the day that she was (finally) fired, Erik could be heard singing “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead” (the famous Munchkin tune from ‘The Wizard of Oz’) as he pushed his mail cart throughout the building.  Hundreds of coworkers tried to suppress smiles while humming along under their breath; each of us knowing that Erik was the only one of us who could do what we all desperately wished we were willing or able to do. If Erik lost his job over this stunt (he didn’t) he could easily push a mail cart somewhere else.

Lovable goofballs like Erik are great reminders that we all make choices and trade-offs in our jobs and careers. Are you getting good value for the price you are paying to do your job?

Take great care of yourself, and your career. 

Peter Berner

Pilot Workplace Advisors


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How to Make a Potential Employer Fall in Love With You

How to Make an Employer Love YouLooking for ways to impress a potential employer? Want to make your résumé or job application stand out from the pack?

This from an employer:  “In the past few weeks, I’ve reviewed 480 résumés and applications for 16 different positions. I’ve interviewed 22 candidates and brought 6 back for a second, more intense round of interviews. Believe me, I can tell you what rang my chimes!”

“Some of this advice may surprise you. Some may even make you angry because it doesn’t seem fair or right to you. I can’t guarantee that all employers will agree with me, but why take a chance in this employers’ market?”

  • Only apply for jobs for which you qualify.  The “NO” pile of applications is increasingly made up of people who don’t even remotely qualify for the advertised position. Why waste the time? If you find yourself applying because it’s an area of work you might want to get into, or think you’d like, don’t bother UNLESS you can make the stretch and fit between your qualifications and background and the described opening.  Otherwise, you are wasting your time.
  • Each application or résumé gets less than 2 MINUTES of time; usually it’s a 30 SECOND SCAN!  You need to quickly qualify yourself as a potential candidate because the employer doesn’t have or take the time to do it for you.
  • Write a targeted cover letter that introduces your key qualifications and highlights your “fit” with the position for which you are applying. Address the letter to the person conducting the candidate search, when known. DO NOT presume familiarity and write, “Dear Carol.” Until someone knows you, the name is “Ms. Landry.”  Additionally, the cover letter needs to specifically address the available position. Spelling and correct grammar do count. So does the spacing of words on the page or email screen and an attractive overall appearance.
  • Target the résumé to the job. Would you like to know how many people are looking for a “challenging opportunity to utilize my skills with a progressive employer who will provide opportunities for growth?”     Customization counts. Customization is everything when you are looking at substantially different opportunities, too. Say, you are looking for a training position or a marketing position. The identical résumé won’t sell your skills for either field.
  • Lead with your strengths. What makes you different from 40 other applicants? On your customized résumé, start out with the background and experience most important for the position you seek. The stage of your career is also highly relevant to the placement of information on your résumé. If you are just graduating from college, lead off the first portion of the résumé with your education and degree.

The key is to make it easy for the résumé reviewer to see that you are qualified for the position. You want your résumé in that “YES” pile awaiting an interview!

Source:  Susan Heathfield

ADVANCE YOUR CAREER by Learning the Art of Asking vs. Telling

ADVANCE YOUR CAREER by Learning the Art of Asking vs. Telling

Guest Tip by Barbara Hayley, CEO Hayley Ranch Consulting

One of the biggest pitfalls in bad communication is the way people ask – or their lack of asking – to get things done; if you are asking that something get done, ASK for it to get done – don’t imply it.

The act of asking allows the other person to enter into an agreement with you and you then create an environment of integrity – as opposed to one of command and control. People will resent you if you tell them what to do vs. asking them to do it.

Asking can only be done by, well – asking!

“Would/will you please send me the information?”

“Would/will you please pick me up?”

“Would/will you please send me the information?”

“Would/will you please let me know?”

Most people instead will say, “I need you to do this”; “I need you to pick me up”; “I need you to send me the information.” It is important to notice what you are saying – pay attention to the words you are using.

Use the same context then when writing an email:

“Dear Sue, Thank you for meeting with me today about my career change. Would you please send me the information we discussed by Friday, May 4, 2012 as we discussed?

Thank you again. Sincerely,”

Guest Tipster Barbara Hayley is the CEO of Hayley Ranch Consulting, Inc and Director of Business Development for Jansen International. She also serves as: Event Chair, 2011 Operation Military Salute Event Chair, Houston West Chamber of Commerce 2008, 2009 & 2010 Salute to Veterans Board of Directors, Houston West Chamber of Commerce



By Karen Masullo for Facet

I commented on a recent conversation on LinkedIn that I believe holds value for any job seeker; that of web reputation management firms.

The idea consumers get about these types of services is a bit flawed;

there is no legal technology tool that “scrubs” the web.

The only way to get rid of negative content is to create new content, however, if the site hosting the negative content is older and more established than the new content, new content may have no effect.

These reputation management companies may send letters to the sites hosting the negative content requesting removal – it occasionally works as most sites will remove questionable content to avoid possible litigation – I did this myself for an artist whose work had been lifted and watermarked by someone else – each site I contacted agreed to re-post the work with the correct artist credited or remove the original items.

The Reputation sites may then create new sites, using a “spinner” application (“spins” duplicate content so it does not appear to be duplicated) to post content with slight variations to avoid a Google duplicate content penalty – in the case of an individual this may include resume sites, bio sites, etc. For companies, similar info including Free Press release content, again slightly spun.

They then use a variety of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) techniques to push down the new content and sites, with the hope that this new content will inded push the old content down in search results. Some of the techniques some companies use are absolutely Black Hat SEO (bad SEO), and can actually create more problems than originally existed.

The most important tool an individual or company can have in its brand protection tool box is a monitoring tool – while Google Alerts is great, there are many others that complement alerts such as Radian6, Alterian, Tracx, Trackur, SocialMention and others.

For individual users and job seekers, there are many free reputation monitoring tools. If you are active in using social media, http://sproutsocial.com/ is a good one.

The bottom line is it’s all about sound, organic, White Hat SEO and active monitoring. Invest the money in a good SEO effort and create new, real, valuable content if there is negative, job-killing content about you on the web.

Also, establishing a professional Google+ profile is very helpful, as Google will generally display this in the top 3 results.

Why am I telling you this? I believe this news article is telling:

EXCLUSIVE: Online reputation management, in which companies monitor search results and try to bury unfavorable pages about their clients, is a booming business, but are some breaking the law to purge critical posts? Breaking the Law to Fix Your Rep:

EXCLUSIVE: Online reputation manager hacked websites to ‘inject’ illegal code

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2012/01/20/google-cide-online-reputation-managers-can-wipe-from-web/#ixzz1k1dXBdtx

Be aware, and if it sounds to good to be true, keep your money in your pocket.

Karen Masullo is EVP, Social Media for Firestorm. In addition to serving as Firestorm Solution’s own in-house social media advisor, she also serves on the Firestorm Solutions Expert Council and delivers social media strategy and policy services for Firestorm clients. Prior to her work with Firestorm, Karen worked in the Career Transition industry for more than twenty years.

You can read more of Karen’s articles here: Karen Masullo Articles

Do You Have Presence?

Do You Have Presence?

by Guest Tipster Cheryl Smith Bryan

Most of us recognize presence when we see it. We also recognize when we don’t see it. When successful individuals hit a career obstacle, a lack of presence may be the issue.

Presence is conveyed by:

What you say

Knowing your subject is critical. Communicating expertise through intelligent questions is very effective. Concise remarks that reflect insight have a much greater impact than a lecture.

How you say it

Use a warm tone of voice to project confidence rather than arrogance. Persuasion doesn’t necessarily require volume, but you must speak loudly enough for everyone to hear.

What you don’t say

Posture is power. Whether standing or sitting, you want to command attention and confidence. Sit slightly forward in your chair and lean in without compromising personal space. Avoid distracting habits like drumming your fingers or clicking your pen.

Cheryl Smith BryanCheryl Smith Bryan, a member of the International Coach Federation and a certified Birkman® consultant, assesses and advises high potential employees and teams and coaches executives for career success.

Best Job Search Advice?

Chances are you’ve received plenty of career tips over the years, whether solicited or not.

“Helpful” suggestions, job-oriented advice can range from the eminently sage (“Do what you love”) to the highly questionable (“Do what pays the most”).

Embracing the good advice can lead to a brighter, wealthier future. On the other hand, implementing those bad tips into your professional plan may lead you into a hard-to-reverse downward spiral. What’s the best career advice anyone has shared with you? What’s the worst advice you’ve received?

Share your insight by commenting to this post, and thank you!

CEO Guest Post: Don’t Name Your Resume, “resume” & Nine Other Head-Smacking Tips for Job Seekers

We’ve said these very same things, so it’s great to hear it from the CEO of a company that’s hiring.  If you’re not familiar with ERP SoftwareAdvice, they help buyers find the right software for their business. Like the big consulting firms, they research the market identifying the best solutions for each buyer. Unlike those firms, their advice is available to everyone, for free.  In the last year, their website helped 15,206 organizations find the right software.  Check them out and enjoy the POV of Don Fornes, CEO.

Don’t Name Your Resume, “resume” & Nine Other Head-Smacking Tips for Job Seekers

At Software Advice, we’re hiring like mad, or at least trying to. You might think a growing company with interesting jobs, great pay, top-notch benefits and a cool office would find hiring to be a breeze in a recession like this. Nope.

We want A players on our team – we have 19 so far.

However, we typically sort through about 150 candidates for each hire we make. Only about twelve of those 150 candidates get to a first-round phone interview.

Why so few?

It’s not worth our time to interview any more than that. The incremental effort of interviewing more than twelve out of 150 candidates produces a very low marginal yield of qualified hires. There may be a superstar hidden in the other 138, but it’s not worth our time to dig too deep to find her. Yes, we look at each application, but we do so with an eye for why we should reject the candidate, not why we should hire them. That quickly gets us to roughly a dozen interviewees, and then we switch our mindset to start thinking about who we want to hire.

With that as context, I want to share some of the screens I use to whittle down 150 applications to twelve interviews. I’m not talking about the usual hiring criteria; yes, we absolutely look at experience, achievements, academic credentials, etc. That’s all core and critical. Instead, I’m going to talk about the head-smacking, silly things people do that make me click “reject” in our applicant tracking system (ATS).

One more bit of context: our typical hiring profile is a recent college grad, zero to five years out, looking for a sales or marketing job. Keep that in mind. Here goes:

1. Don’t name your resume, “resume.” About a third of applicants name their resume document, “resume.doc.” “Resume” may make sense on your computer, where you know it’s your resume. However, on my computer, it’s one of many, many resumes with the same name. I used to rename them, but then I noticed the strong correlation between unqualified candidates and the “resume” file name. Now I reject them if I don’t see something really good within ten seconds. By using such a generic file name, the applicant misses a great opportunity to brand themselves (e.g. “John Doe – Quota Crusher”). If you’re qualified enough to sell or market for us, you won’t miss the opportunity to at least use your name in the file name.

2. don’t use all lowercase. i’m not sure where this trend originated. is it some text messaging thing? it’s so easy to capitalize properly on a keyboard. how much time is this really saving you? to me, it screams out, “hi. i’m lazy. my pinkies are really heavy and I’d rather not move them to shift. when i start working for you, i’ll look for other ways to be lazy. i’ll also rebel against authority figures like you, just like i’m rebelling against the english teachers that dedicated their lives to helping me become literate.” seriously though, this bad habit buys you next to nothing and is bound to offend countless detailed-oriented hiring managers.

3. Don’t write like a robot. I’ve noticed a funny phenomenon with many grads that are entering “the real world.” While their speech is still littered with “ums,” “likes” and “you knows,” their writing is exceedingly formal, long-winded and boring. The people that are reviewing your application were young once too. They may still be young. Most of them have a sense of humor. They get bored. Please, don’t make them parse dense cover letters and resumes that read like some robot ate a thesaurus and puked. Just use concise, well-written prose. Keep sentences short. Toss in a joke or two. Show us a little bit of your personality. We’re going to have to work with you more than we see our spouses, so show us that we’ll enjoy it. No robots.

4. Don’t spam hiring managers. It’s easy to tell when a candidate is just applying to any job out there to see if anyone will call for an interview. Unlikely. Hiring managers want to know that you are excited about the position. They know that passion for the role is critical to success. Take the time to understand the company and the open position. Write a cover letter or email that explains your interest in the role and your qualifications. Tweak your resume to match the hiring criteria. On our web application, we ask applicants to answer three questions. Why? Because spammer applicants will just enter simple answers of a few words; applicants that care enter well-written, thoughtful answers. We delete the former immediately. Remember, these jobs are competitive; the only way to compete is to stand out…in a good way. Spam won’t.

5. Don’t expose your licentious personal life. We’ve all read about social media missteps – those unfortunate photos of you passed out drunk, covered in flour (“antiqued” as my co-workers call it), profane words written on your face. Honestly, I understand. If Facebook and camera phones were around when I was in college, I’d still be blushing in embarrassment. Now that you want a career, put that stuff behind you. Start managing your reputation online and off. One of our three application questions asks for the applicant’s proudest achievements. Today some guy answered that he had produced and stared in his own music video. Kinda cool, I thought. That is, until I clicked the link and witnessed the puerile lifestyle of which he remains so proud. Reject. As a rule, I’m not going to pry too deep into your personal life, so don’t jinx yourself by showing us you at your worst.

6. Don’t talk badly about your former employer. If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. This is especially relevant in the hiring process. When I read negative comments in an application or cover letter, I’m shocked. My problem with this is twofold. First, it typically takes two to tangle. I assume there is a high likelihood that this applicant finds trouble wherever they go. Moreover, talking badly betrays a lack of “political judgment” – a critical skill set for the workplace, whether you like it or not. When I hear a candidate say that their last employer was incompetent, a micro-manager, or unfair, I assume I’m next on their list. The candidate may be right; their former employer may be horrible. I’ll pass on the opportunity to find out.

7. Proofread your resume. It’s unbelievable the number of spelling, grammar and punctuation mistakes I see in resumes. Again, this is a blaring clue telling the hiring manager that you don’t check your work and you don’t pay attention to detail. More than one error and I’m clicking reject. Why so harsh? Because I don’t want to have to double check your work when I hire you. Hiring managers want leverage, not more work. It’s really easy to have someone review your resume. Friends, family, career counselors – all these folks should be willing to give it a quick read. Fresh eyes can catch those typos you’ve glanced over ten times. Take the extra effort and avoid the nearly automatic “reject” reflex that hiring managers have when they spot your errors.

8. Format your resume nicely. Take the time to format your resume nicely. It’s one of those small clues hiring managers look to for an indication of your attention to detail, organization and pride in your work. If you send me a sloppy resume, I’ll reject it knowing that you are likely to do sloppy work if I hire you. There are standard formats out there; use them. Don’t reinvent the wheel. Don’t get creative (unless you are applying for creative jobs in design, advertising, etc.). For sales, marketing, finance, administration, etc., stick to a clean, one-page format like the Wharton School Template. Don’t make us figure out your resume format when we’re busy trying to figure out you.

9. PDF your resume. Not everyone uses the same operating system and word processor that you do. I use a Mac. I don’t have Word – don’t want it. My ATS can’t handle .docx files. A lot of the resumes I see come through horribly garbled. So much for that nice formatting you did (Did you?). PDF, or portable document format, is a simple solution. Anyone with Adobe Reader – most any corporate computer has it installed – can open a PDF file and see exactly what you intended them to see. Most ATSs read PDFs just fine. Most any Mac application can print/export to PDF. If your Windows apps won’t, go download one of the many free PDF creator applications and PDF your resume. It’s so easy. It’s so free. It’s so appreciated.

10. When you get a job, don’t job hop. Finally, here’s one last piece of advice that goes far beyond the job application. When you get a job, try your very best to stay at it for at least two years, preferably more. We understand that the job market is fluid and you are not likely to stay with us long enough to get the gold watch. However, we do want to get a couple years of productivity from you if we’re going to invest in training and mentoring. One of the first things I look for on a resume is some demonstration of tenure. Had three jobs in your first year out of college? Reject. Four jobs in your first five years out? Reject. I’ve got to assume that you were fired repeatedly or you’ve got a bad case of career ADD. Got a good story about all that job hopping? Unfortunately, I can’t afford to take the risk.

I know I sound like a grumpy old man. I just can’t help but share this inside scoop on our screening process. I know it might reduce my screening effectiveness if I share my criteria. However, if you read this and fix your application, that tells me you are coachable and you care. Let’s interview.

If you are an A player, I hope you’ll get a good laugh out of this. Moreover, I want you to know that there is a company out there working hard to find you. We’ll hire you. We’ll appreciate you. We’ll reward you handsomely. Please apply! Just take your time on the application.

Don Fornes is the CEO of ERP Software Advice, an online resource that reviews HR and ERP software. This article was originally featured at: RescueResumes.com and is reprinted here by permission of the author.