evilcatbert knows all!

Bringing you the world from on high. As cats are curious, independent and sure they know everything, prepare to be enlightened.


I'm baaackkkkk....

The good news - I've been busy with recruiting and on-boarding new hires for our company. The bad news - my job here as employment guide and guru is far from over.
Here is a sampling of reasons for leaving your last job that shouldn't be included on or anywhere near your applications/resumes:
- I need more money (so think we all but don't put it in writing!)
- I didn't show up for work on a holiday (let the apologies begin ..)
- DUI (honest but TMI this early in the game)
- Negative, unorganized atmosphere (was it a bring-your-own party?)
- Lacrosse season started (not quite the work ethics employers prefer)
- I was discharged without a stated reason (really??)
- co-worker tried to fight me (and no one to turn to at all?)
- I did not like the job & the other employees are very lazy ('nough said)
- I broke both legs in June and didn't produce a doctor's excuse (think this through - if you have two broken legs & you can't show up to work for your boss to see what actually happened, it's really not that unreasonable for an employer to ask you to have your doctor's office fax in your excuse or have a family member drop it off if you can't make it to work.)
And my personal favorite?
- unhappy
A pen is a loaded weapon that can easily be used against you so please handle it with care when applying for jobs!


Back to Basic Training....

If you truly want an employer to take your job candidacy seriously:
- don't reference any other employers when submitting a resume (for example don't say you really want to work at Company Y when you're sending a resume to Company X).
- don't say you are looking for full-time work (even if true) when applying for a part-time position (even better explain why part-time work makes sense for you and/or your lifestyle)
- don't include an objective/cover letter that states you want a job in a different industry.
- don't include photos or other personal information such as age, sex, religion, race, etc.
- do include relevant direct job experience (if you've done it before, list that experience first)
- do tie your indirect experience back to what the employer needs (how what you did before demonstrates you can do a good job at what they need the candidate to do now).
- do explain to them how it makes sense to consider you for their opening (for example - if you are applying for a job in another state and you will be living there - say so - don't just send a resume with an out of state address on it). If your application doesn't make sense on the surface of it, you will not be considered for hire as the employer doesn't have the time to figure it out and won't spend any time asking when other applicants' applications seem to make more sense.
- do make it as easy for an employer to reach you if interested and call them back promptly when they are calling you for an interview - every minute that you let pass means they are calling another candidate for the job.
Bottom line: show the employer you want to work for them, that you have the skills they need and that you understand business by making it easy for the employer to hire you.


Is personal branding passé?

According to Wikipedia, "Personal branding, self-branding, self-positioning and all individual branding by whatever name, was first introduced in the 1980 book: "Positioning: The Battle for your Mind", by Al Ries and Jack Trout."
Because the terminalogy is 30 years old and has become jargon doesn't mean it isn't important to your job search or career advancement.
Pesonal branding means taking responsibility for figuring out what you're good at then positioning yourself to demonstrate in writing (cover letter & resume) and in person (interview) how what you're good at can be of use to the employer to whom you are trying to sell yourself.
Unfortunately, lot of current job seekers are under the mistaken impression that it is an employer's responsibility to discover how they should fit into the employer's organization. What a waste (of their time and your opportunity)!
An employer who is trying to fill an opening doesn't have the time to spend figuring out how your indirect experience might relate to the job they need filled yesterday. But if you can take the time to demonstrate how what you've done in the past and how you aproach work can be used to their advantage, you will separate yourself from the multitude of candidates who simply spray and pray.
When you treat job hunting like the lottery, you're limited to luck. When you treat it like a brand (by taking the time to know what you actually have of value to sell to an employer), you should soon start discovering which employers actually need what you have to offer and you'll stop "carrying coal to Newcastle" (where they have plenty already) and start carting it to Wisconsin in the winter where it's sorely needed.


The sound of your name....

Charles Aznavour's lyrics from a song called "The Sound of Your Name" explains and explores the power of a name.
"The sound of your name comes to me any hour
on wings of the wind, like the scent of a flower
how can I explain, it's impossible power
The sound of your name"
If you've ever called someone by the wrong name, you know the reaction can be anything from puzzlement (you talking to me?) to annoyance (sorry - I'm not Lisa) to anger (the least you can do is get my name right!).
So if names have power why use them carelessly? One of the oft repeated and easily preventable mistakes job applicants make is referring to another employer or another employer's openings when sending out covers and resumes. People, people, people - always double check your cover letters and resumes to make sure they actually reference the employer and job you are applying for before hitting send! Mistakes like this one can be fatal to you in any job search because
1) covers and resumes are a work product and if they're faulty it reflects badly on the sender.
2) they easily indicate that the applicant is repeatedly sending the same cover and resume to multiple employers rather than taking the time to match their qualifications to the employeer's actual job opening.
3) the sender didn't care enough to send the very best (yes, Hallmark, I'm "borrowing" your tagline!)
The negative reaction that happens when an employer receives a cover letter refering to someone else's company or someone else's job usually isn't communicated to you except by silence so the only way to avoid this mistake in the future is to audit, edit then send.


Because a picture paints a thousand words...

I'm noting an uptick in the number of photos job applicants are sending with their resumes. I suspect it's something applicants are doing to make their resumes stand out in this difficult economy but it's also something that makes evilcatbert's fur stand straight up when it happens. Why?
Is it because I was born before cameras with viewscreens on both side of the camera were even thought of? Not really though I must admit a preference for looking out at the world versus looking in a mirror. It's because a picture paints a thousand words and by default discloses lots more things that evilcatbert doesn't want to know about any job applicant prior to interviewing them - things like race, age, religion (you know that cross you're wearing in your favorite picture?), etc. I want to be able to consider you for a job solely on your listed qualifications. So unless you're applying for a position as a model or an actor which requires headshots with your resume, please don't send photos with your resume unless requested.
I truly want to know how qualified any job applicant is for the position before any consideration about how good they'll look doing it so please keep your photos on Flickr or Picasa and send your resume unadorned by any unnecessary accessories.


"I'm late, I'm late for a very important date..."

A job interview is like a first date - if you like what you see, you want more. If you're less than impressed, the date is over before it even starts. For politeness sake you might stick around and talk with the person for a short while but once you part company, you know you're not going spend any more time together - it's just not a good fit.
If you want to get to the second date/interview, pull out all the stops on the first one. Showing up on time is huge - the reason that "punctuality is the courtesy of kings" is because being late is rude to the person who is waiting for you. It gives them the impression that you think your time is more important than the person you've left waiting. While your friends may think waiting around for you is no big deal, an employer won't find this anywhere near as endearing. Wasting their time is the equivalent of wasting their money - there's no benefit to either party if you do so - especially this early in the game before you have anything of value on deposit with them.
Imagine your favorite actor invited you to meet them at a set time. Would you risk missing this once in a lifetime opportunity to see them by showing up late or would you plan to be early in order to avoid missing your big chance? Treat any job interview like that and I guarantee you'll never be late for one again.
BTW to my favorite Time Lord of all, David Tennant, feel free call me from the Tardis. I'll meet you anywhere, anytime, on time - I guarantee it!


"I love the smell of napalm in the morning..."

Last week I posted about applicants requesting feedback from employers about why they aren't getting interviews but then flame out when they receive them.
Even if you are disappointed with the information, take a cue from this classy lady (I'm including her name since she deserves the credit!) who received news that a position she'd hoped to interview for had been filled:
"I appreciate your consideration and your reply. If something were to open up again in the future please feel free to contact me if interested. Have a great day!"

In contrast, I honestly can't recommend the "flame on" approach from another applicant on the same day (and who shall remain nameless) after he applied for a "female candidates only" position because he didn't feel our gender specific designation was either fair or legal. When notified he was not being selected because he didn't meet the qualifications, he sent the following:
"It is too bad that your company feels it best to discriminate from qualified candidates? Running a successful business means putting the best person in position to grow the bottom line. If you and your company feel only a woman can fill the "women" only position I hope that the sign "whites" only can come down from your politically incorrect position as well?
To coordinate you need to make sure that you get a single female in the office because a married one with children will always need to take care of kids and family first before the club. Just wanted to make sure the parameters are clear before I go and get a sex change to help you and your company succeed.
I really feel you are wrong in discriminating for the position like this and I hope your HR department looks into the EEO policies that you are breaking."

Since I'm head of the HR Department, I can assure this applicant that we know that EEO policies allow for a Bona Fide Occupational Qualification (BFOQ) that acknowledges both sexes have the right not to have members of the opposite sex in areas such as locker rooms, rest rooms and shower areas when it is an essential function of a position.
While I can understand this job applicant's disappointment during his obviously unsuccessful job search, the negative effect of sending emails like this to any potential employer will last a lot longer than the momentary pleasure he might have had in sending it. So remember - what doesn't help can definitely hurt you.
In closing, this applicant stated in his resume to us that "I bring a humorous and light atmosphere to the work place"
I could tell this from his light and humorous email to me.