Posts Tagged ‘employment’

Jimmy Stewart meltdown

This is actually re-posted from last year, with additions (I thought of 5 more reasons).

1.   Employers ARE hiring, despite the common misconception that everyone’s in Bermuda.

2.   There’s less competition since a lot of job seekers think everyone’s in Bermuda.

3.   It’ll keep your momentum going, and make it less likely you’ll hop into a bathtub full of water and plug in your electric toothbrush.

4.   All those holiday parties are great opportunities to network. And scarf down free food.

5.   You’ll soon get sick of staring at the TV and watching Jimmy Stewart have a meltdown.

6.   A lot of companies start their fiscal year in January,  so they want to get the newbies in there as soon as all the holiday crap is over.

7.   There’s always the chance a manager could be inspired to hire you while snockered on spiked eggnog.

8.   How many times can you listen to songs about homicidal reindeer?

9.   The hiring manager is more likely to bring you on-board out of holiday spirit despite the embezzlement charges.

10.   Job search can generally be more fun during the holidays, since a lot of people are jollier than usual. Not me, but a lot of people.

 

Check out Explode, a comedy thriller/mystery novel. Spontaneous human combustion, or murder?

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While lying on a job interview is a bad idea, that doesn’t mean the Job Interview Police will come after you with handcuffs and an electric prod if you don’t reveal every little snippet of info related to your work history. Contrary to popular belief, a job interview is not an interrogation. It’s more like a first date. If you were on a first date, you wouldn’t chatter about the time you spent in the psych hospital because of your breakdown after your stalker ex-boyfriend came after you with a serving fork, would you? Hope not.

By the same token, don’t talk about the stuff the employer doesn’t need (or necessarily want) to hear in an interview, either. Here are a few tidbits to keep to yourself:

  • Your termination from your last job as the result of your calling your boss a moron on your Facebook page. Yes, people still actually do that. Don’t be one of them. And if you were terminated for something stupid you did or something stupid they did, your prospective employer doesn’t need to hear the details. Be as brief and positive as you can in your explanation as to why you left the job (not a good idea to say you were “fired,”  “terminated,” or “tossed out on my ass”), and don’t talk against your former employer, even if he was an evil toad who forced you out because your lunch was smelly.
  • Your plans to get pregnant. If you start a new job and actually get pregnant, you probably want to share that bit of news with your employer at some point before your water breaks all over her Manolos during a sales presentation. But you are not legally or morally obligated to share your personal goals with an employer you don’t even work for yet.
  • Your plans to take a 2-week trip to Alaska next month to try to catch a glimpse of Sarah Palin skinning a moose. The knowledge that you might have to take 2 weeks off right after starting a job might sit sour in the interviewer’s mouth, and you don’t want that to influence their decision whether or not to hire you. Besides, you don’t know what their timeline may turn out to be. When you have an offer and are discussing a start date is the time to bring that up.
  • Your recent divorce and subsequent career epiphany. The career epiphany part is fine if it’s relevant to why you’re applying for that particular job, or how you’ve arrived at this point in your career. But leave the personal stuff for your shrink.
  • Your difficulty getting out of bed in the morning.  Not all of us are morning people, and some workplaces are more flexible than others about work hours, but you don’t want to share your tardiness issues on a job interview. ‘Nuff said.
  • How you became born-again last week. How nice for you, but the whole God thing — not an appropriate topic for an interview, unless you’re applying for a job in a monastery.
  • Your salary in your last job. Yes, the interviewer may ask, but you don’t have to give out that information, even though you think you gotta answer ‘cuz they asked. Don’t forget the “it’s not an interrogation” thing. And by the way, your previous employer isn’t supposed to share that info either. You can answer the question by saying that your desired salary range is blah blah blah, based on your level of experience and the position. Your desired salary range is what’s relevant, not what you made before. After all, you may have been absurdly underpaid, or you might be more interested in a lower-paying position at this point in your career for various reasons. So there.

I’m re-posting a piece I did awhile back on branding/marketing yourself in your job search. If you’ve already read it, just pretend you’re an Oceanic Flight 815 survivor experiencing a time flash.

In your job search quest, you’ve probably seen the word “branding” floating around in the job-o-sphere (here’s a personal branding blog with a lot of helpful tips) and heard your job search strategy compared to a marketing campaign, with you as the product.

While “self-branding” can sound vaguely scary (especially if you’ve ever worked on a horse farm), it’s not as masochistic as it sounds. Marketing yourself is, in fact, an effective way to conduct your job search, and branding is an essential component of that.

Here are some strategies to help you in your job search self-branding efforts:

  • Come up with what you want to be known for – your professional identity (known in marketingspeak as “positioning”). What are your unique talents that make you different from Joe Schmeckel Jobseeker? Are you TechGirl? GrammarGuy? Do you know where all the commas go before they die? Of course, branding yourself as GrammarGuy probably won’t help you much if you’re a forklift driver. It has to be relevant to the field you’re interested in.
  • Figure out what specific benefits your skills/experience can bring to an employer (otherwise known as your “value proposition.”) Fill in the blank: “When my co-workers (or future co-workers) need help with _____________, they come to me.” Hopefully you’ll be able to come up with something other than, “finishing all the leftovers from Adam’s birthday party,” or “remembering the name of Mr. Spock’s mother.”
  • Emphasize your talents on your resume and in your cover letters. Employers, like men in a relationship, hate having to try to read your mind. And when it comes to an employer, since there’s nothing in it for them, they probably won’t bother. If you want them to focus on particular skills that will benefit them, make it obvious which skills those are.
  • Focus your LinkedIn profile and Twitter tagline (excuse the alliteration) on those talents, in much the same way you focus your resume on them. And don’t tell me you don’t have LinkedIn and Twitter accounts. You’re job-hunting. It’s 2011. Shame on you.
  • Build a positive online rep. relevant to the type of job you’re interested in. Start a blog in your area of expertise, or at least comment on other people’s blogs, showing your knowledge and offering helpful info. Join LinkedIn groups relevant to your talents, and get involved in the discussions. But I wouldn’t get involved in anything too potentially controversial when you’re job-hunting. That’s just me.
  • Establish your style. Yes, if your style is Lindsey-Lohan-meets-Charlie-Sheen, you probably need to rein it in a bit. And resumes and cover letters need to be more on the formal side in terms of tone. But you do want your online persona to pretty much reflect who you are and how you want to be perceived at work. After all, you’re unique. You want to be noticed (for the right reasons). Besides, if your persona is too scattered in different directions, a prospective employer might think you have multiple personality disorder.
  • Figure out what your target market is, and go for it. Who are the employers you want to work for, who are likely to need and value your talents? If you want to use your aerial basket-weaving skills in a free-flowing environment, don’t be looking at companies that specialize in a 3-piece suit dress code and actuarial statistical analysis.

Okay, we are all human and have emotions. Well, most of us, anyway. But that doesn’t mean we should just emote all over the place when we’re at work. It’s distracting, uncomfortable and can undermine your professional mojo — especially, dare I say it, if you’re a woman. That glass ceiling is slippery when wet (from tears, of course. What did you think I meant??).

So here are a few workplace drama don’ts:

  • Try to avoid crying at work. Yes, it happens. I’ve had a couple of sobbing sessions in the ladies’ room in my past work life myself. But unless you come to work and discover one of your favorite co-workers is dead, it’s generally considered unprofessional to bawl in the office. If you feel yourself losing it, excuse yourself as quickly as possible and go cry in private. Or you can try clearing your throat, which I’ve heard stems the flow (haven’t yet tried that one).
  • Don’t blow up. I’m not talking about spontaneous human combustion. Not that I would advise catching on fire at work, either. Or anywhere else, for that matter. But I digress … Yelling or throwing a chair at your colleague’s head is not okay. I grew up with a time bomb, otherwise known as my sister, that went off at unexpected moments. It was quite unnerving and stressful, and you don’t want to be the trigger for your co-workers’ traumatic childhood memories.
  • Rein in the crazy. Being a bit eccentric or odd can make a workplace more interesting, up to a point. However, you don’t want to be known as the office wacko. If your workplace is casual and welcomes creativity, wearing a Three Stooges tie is probably okay. Wearing it around your waist instead of pants is not.
  • Don’t overdo the touchy-feely. Some offices are more okay than others about expressing affection to co-workers, but the whole sexual harassment thing warrants some caution. Even if you don’t think a hug will be misinterpreted, your co-worker might still prefer you keep your distance. Especially if you have tuna-breath.
  • Keep your passionate political and religious opinions to yourself. Don’t share your agitation at work that your hero, George Bush, couldn’t serve a third term, or that God spoke to you when you got up to pee at 2 a.m. and told you to stock up on freeze-dried beef patties to prepare for the apocalypse.

In case you have no idea what the hell Dunder-Mifflin is, it’s the fictional paper company in which an array of bizarre and often socially obtuse characters spend their workday in the sitcom “The Office.”

“The Office” characters frequently demonstrate behavior that, while funny on a sitcom, in real life would likely get you booted out the door so fast you’d be sitting out in the parking lot with your coffee mug in your lap and a dumb look on your face before you had time to say, “Maybe that wasn’t such a good idea.”

Here are some big fat don’ts if you want to keep your job in the real world:

  • Tell a racist joke while attempting a Chris Rock impersonation.
  • Volunteer the info that you’ve been trading sexual favors for a discount on office supplies.
  • Kiss a gay co-worker on the mouth in front of the entire staff to demonstrate your lack of homophobia.
  • Have sex in the stockroom with a co-worker during office hours.
  • Tell your employee she gives you a boner.
  • Fake thousands of dollars of website sales.
  • Pelt a client’s office building with eggs because they didn’t buy your products.
  • Toss messages from your boss in the trash without reading them.
  • Share an employee’s confidential info with everyone else in the office.
  • Perform a fake suicide to elicit your employees’ sympathy.

1.   It’s a good way to network, which is a much more effective job search strategy than staring at the computer screen for eight hours a day and indiscriminately spewing your resume out into the Lost Dimension of Job Seeker Infinity.

2.   Oprah’s history anyway.

3.   You’ll actually get some valuable info about what’s going on in your field of interest, and won’t have to keep listening to your whiny frenemies who keep saying, “There’s nothing out there.”

4.   You can officially slap the aforementioned frenemies upside the head for being negative.

5.   You’ve been spending too much time on the couch in your bathrobe, and you’re starting to smell.

6.   You’ll get info on what skills you need to be competitive, so you can emphasize those skills in your resume and cover letters, and/or brush up on the ones you’re shaky on.

7.   It’ll keep you in the game. ‘Cuz once you’re out, that fence is hard to climb over, and you don’t want to get your doinker caught in those wires on top.

8.   You’ll be interacting with actual humans.

9.   It’ll keep your confidence up, and give all those “talents I have to offer” thoughts long-term storage space in your head.

10.   You can actually get real live smokin’ job leads that way.

Interviewers still occasionally try to see how creative they and you can be with  “Think on Your Feet” (and sometimes on your head) interviews. What is a “Think on Your Feet” interview, you ask? Well, remember the movie “The Running Man” (yes, with your good buddy and mine, Ahhhhnold), which depicted a sadistic game show in which criminals were hunted down by professional stalkers? Well, it’s not like that.

Here are a few wacky “Think on Your Feet” interview questions:

  • If you were a hamburger, what topping would be on your bun?
    Not sure it really matters how you answer this one, as long as you don’t say, “You.”
  • If I were to look in your kitchen cabinets, what would I see?
    If you don’t care about burning your bridges, you can say, “One hundred cans of corned beef hash in case of the apocalypse, and a package of moldy Cheez-its.”
  • If Hollywood made a film about you, what actor – alive or dead – would play you?
    Probably not, “Bela Lugosi, since my former colleagues found me kinda creepy.”
  • If you were a salad, what flavor would your croutons be?
    Bad answer: “Onion and garlic, ‘cuz that’s how I always smell.”
  • If I were to ask your seventh-grade teacher about you, what would he say?
    Really bad answer: “Who? Oh, the pot-head.”

Yes, you’re marketing yourself in your job search. You’re the product you’re selling. But that doesn’t mean you should be a snake-oil salesperson who resorts to sneaky tactics. Cuz guess what – it’ll probably blow up in your face. And you won’t be too marketable if you’re headless.

Here are a few dirty tricks not to do in your job search:

  • Lie about your background. Just as it’s sleazy to misrepresent a product, if you’re not honest about your experience and education, it’ll probably come back to bite you in the ass. Remember the Dean at MIT who was fired for saying she had a doctorate when she didn’t? I think she’s currently working as a cashier in the food court.
  • Harass employers. Once, twice, three times are okay for an initial contact or to follow up. More than that, not so much. Irritating the hell out of people isn’t an effective job search strategy. And if you crouch in the bushes and wait to pounce on an employer in the parking lot, you will officially be known evermore as Psycho Stalker Job Seeker Guy. There are laws.
  • Fudge contacts. You don’t want to contact a possible lead and say, “Joe Schmeckle suggested I contact you” if, in fact, you just got Joe Schmeckle’s name off of LinkedIn and he’s never heard of you. Bad form.
  • Conduct an in-your-face job search. Don’t you just love those ads with huge glow-in-the-dark headlines that shriek at you with multiple exclamation points? Bet you don’t.  Neither do employers. Unless they’re over-the-top-squirt-water-out- of-a-big-fake-red-nose themselves, in which case maybe it’s an ideal match. Usually, though, even though it’s important to be enthusiastic, don’t overdo it. Not in your cover letter or resume, or in person. Employers will want to smack you.
  • Try to bully an employer into interviewing or hiring you. I’m sure you wouldn’t do that, but I’ve heard stories….Just as it’s not kosher for a salesperson to ever try to intimidate a customer into buying their product, you don’t ever want to imply in any way that if you don’t get an interview, your Uncle Vito will come pay them a visit with your resume and a baseball bat. Of course, if Uncle Vito works for the company and can put in a good word for you with the hiring manager sans baseball bat, that’s another story.

No, I’m not referring to the ones who act like arrogant spoiled brats, barf on the Ritz ballroom floor when they were supposed to be on set an hour ago, and make their assistants clean it up. I’m talking about the classy ones who know what they have to offer, while respecting their colleagues’ roles in their work performance.

1.   Ooze confidence. We all have our insecurities, but do you think Angelina Jolie ever stammers to a director, “I don’t really deserve this role, but I’ll guess I’ll give it a try if you really want me to”? Doubt it. You know what your strengths are, and you know how you can be an asset to a company. So own your power – even if you don’t have lips the size of Buicks.

2.   Focus on the mutual interaction, not just yourself. You’re not a prisoner being interrogated by a fascist threatening torture. Nor are you a one-woman show. A job interview is a mutual-benefit encounter. If Jake Gyllenhaal just recited his lines without paying any attention to his co-star, he’d probably be selling ties at WalMart by now, no matter how hot he is.

3.     Dress the part. Think Ashton Kutcher shows up for a screen test with unwashed hair and morning breath? I’m thinking no. Unless, of course, he’s reading for a part as a homeless person. Dress for the interview; make sure all body odors are unobjectionable.

4.   Respect your potential costars. Don’t keep them waiting, explore how you can work together to produce a great whatever, and play nice.

5.   Be a class act. You don’t need to be super-formal unless you’re that kind of person, but be professional. If you have to wait for the interviewer, don’t whine. And no tantrums allowed.

CBS awarded Charlie Sheen “Employee of the Year” today for his outstanding level of job performance and dependability, stellar work ethic, and teamwork. Former winners of this distinction are Kenneth Lay from Enron, Bernard Madoff of Bernard Madoff Investment Securities, and former U.S. President Richard Nixon.

When asked how he became such an outstanding employee, Mr. Sheen responded, “Winning, duh. ”

“I’m very honored to receive this f*cking award,” Mr. Sheen further commented. “I thank these idiots from the bottom of my tiger heart. Of course, I totally deserve it, since the rings around my Saturn molecules make me superior to all you earthling trolls.”

When co-star and esteemed colleague Jon Cryer was asked how he felt about Mr. Sheen’s award, he responded, “No comment.”

Happy April Fool’s Day.