evilcatbert knows all!

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


A froggie went a courtin' .......

When asking someone out, do you usually just jump in and start telling them what a great date you are without any clue as to what they might be looking for or what they might want? How's that working for you?
As a peruser of many cover letters/emails accompanying resumes, I'm a bit taken aback by the number of job seekers who devote their entire covers to what THEY are looking for, how talented THEY are and why THEY deserve an interview for the job opening I posted without once referring it back to anything I asked for in my job posting.
Yipes, people, don't I deserve dinner before bed? What happened to old fashioned wooing? When I have something you want, wouldn't it make more sense for you to show that you value what I have instead of indicating in your cover letter that you wouldn't mind "hitting that."
When a cover letter clearly indicates the letter is all about the job seeker, it's a real turn-off and I move quickly on to the next applicant who treats me better. They tell me I work for a great company, they want to be part of my team, they have skills that could be valuable to me based on what I posted, etc. It's romance versus sex so if you want the best chance of staying in the game, write a love letter to the employer and forego the "I want your sex" missive. It may seem great in a song but doesn't play well in the work place. If you can't write a cover that's focused on what the employer wants and not about yourself, then you are truly better off without one. All a bad cover does for you is overshadow your resume.


What's in a name?

Apparently not much any more.  In the past few years I've noticed an unusual phenomenon concerning people's names and their lack of reponse to how they would like to be addressed.  When, out of courtesy, I ask an Andrew how he'd like to be called (Andrew being the obvious choice but maybe he'd like Andy or Drew), I'm starting to to be met with a shoulder shrug and/or "it doesn't matter."  And it's happening often enough that I'm sensing a pattern.  Since when don't names matter?
While I readily acknowledge we start out in life being named by someone else, at some point in our early development we assume charge of our own names  - Catherine becomes Katy, Michael remains Michael (not Mike or Mick), etc.  If we really dislike the name we were called at birth, we have the option of changing it either legally or by insisting others call us by the name of our choice.  Our names reflect how we perceive ourselves and are part of our identity.  So when I meet someone who indicates by word and/or deed that what they are called doesn't matter, I can't help but feel I've fallen down the rabbit hole.  
Why don't they know what they want to be called?  Are they afraid that by asserting their preference for a specific name they'll be labeled confrontational and difficult to get along with?  Is consensus really that important to them or do they really have so little attachment to their own names that it truly doesn't matter what they are called?
I'll admit -  I'm baffled and uncomfortable when encountering this situation.  I really don't want the responsibility of naming anyone since the last people who did that were their parents and look how much they had to do to get their child where they are today.  So remember when you're applying for a job the first thing you should decide on isn't what pay you want, what time off you prefer or even what type of work you'd really like to do - it's to figure out for yourself how you want to be addressed.  It's the first question you'll be asked in the workplace and the last chance you'll have to firmly establish your autonomy before being asked to give some of it up in return for a wage.


On Brewers baseball....

I love it when applicants surprise me on their applications.  The start of the new baseball season reminded me of a recent job candidate's reason for leaving his sports bar job in fall of 2009:
"The baseball season tragically ended for the Brewers in October."
If you're going to offer commentary on your job application, make it witty!
Well spoken, Chris J. Bender.  I hope this season ends a little later for all of us.
Update FYI - Chris was offered a position on 3/30/10 and accepted it.


On the road to Damascus ....

Human Beings (as much as we might not like to admit it) really are creatures of habit.  As a result, what we do on a regular basis speaks volumes about how we will behave in the near future. That's why banks want to view your credit history (your buying and paying habits) before giving you a loan.  That's why schools want to check your high school grades before accepting you into college.  And it's also very much why employers developed the "past performance predicts future behavior" mentality which requires job seekers (you) to provide resumes and job histories in order for employers (them) to predict how you will handle the job they currently have open based on how you've handled your jobs in the past.
Unfair you cry!  Can't people change, you ask?  Absolutely.  But in most cases, it's only when something truly significant happens in our lives that we can force ourselves to the hard work of dropping our inefficient old habits in favor of acquiring more effective new ones:  getting married (or even getting divorced) can spur us to lose weight, battling a serious illness encourages us to exercise more and reduce stress in our lives, while having a child can be a tremendous incentive to grow up
As a result, unless and until a person has a "Road to Damascus" experience (getting knocked on your butt - hard enough to change your world view), it's assumed we will continue to do what we've done before.  So if on further review your own job history has blemishes, an employer will be a lot more open to giving you a "second chance" if you're able to tell them what happened to you on your own "Road to Damacus" that caused (or is causing) you to rethink how you've done your job in the past in favor of doing it better in the future.