Friday, August 17, 2007

Job Search Communications:
24 reasons why they aren't calling you for an interview

Jimbo posted a piece the other day about his frustration with job search communications - he found out, through the "grapevine," he didn't get a job he interviewed for, instead of through the people who interviewed him. This is a frustrating problem in the job search process - who hasn't felt that they're communication with a giant black hole in applying for and/or interviewing for a job? Jimbo's dilemma prompted me to dip into my years of applying for jobs and reviewing candidate resumes, and I've come up with 24 reasons why you never hear back from a company or organization once you've sent them your resume and cover letter:

1. there's no longer a job at the company;
2. nobody has time to review all the resumes;
3. the job's been changed and they need new resumes;
4. none of the resumes matched what their needs are, and they're really really picky;
5. they called you, and you called back and left a message, but they then decided not to call you again;
6. you're overqualified;
7. you're underqualified;
8. nothing on your resume, in their eyes, convinces them that you're even a slight match for the job;
9. they can't make a decision on who to call;
10. someone reviewing the resumes knows who you are and tells the hiring manager you should not be contacted;
11. it's taking them a really REALLY long time to review resumes;
12. you're just plain wrong for the job;
13. they think you'll ask for too much money;
14. your name reminds the chief reviewer of this bully that used to torment him in school;
15. they lost your resume;
16. the post office lost your resume;
17. you thought you sent your resume, but you really didn't;
18. the email you sent with your resume attached got lost;
19. the email attachment - your resume - got lost;
20. the resume attached was in WordPerfect and they have MSWord (or vice versa);
21. something about your resume turned them off;
22. you didn't send them all the information they asked for;
23. you're not the right sex, age, etc. even though this is illegal (it's tough to prove);
24. your background on the first five emperors of Holy Roman Empire is not up to snuff - that is, any reason whatsoever that you could never guess.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

How To Get The Job Of Your Dreams
Part 2

Yesterday I posted my thoughts on Fast Company's short slide presentation titled "How To Get The Job Of Your Dreams.". After weighing in on the first three quotes, I promised my opinions on the second three today, and here they are:

"People who think they should just get things for who they are or whatever are the people who don’t make it. If you want to follow what you want to do, you have to have that extra drive and effort that nobody else has." -- Fatal1ty. Professional Video Gamer.

Not sure what he's saying here in the first sentence - I think it's "don't expect an engraved invitation." As for the second sentence - I'm tired of people saying you have to work so bloody hard that you might end up with a quintuple bypass and a stroke on your way to your bliss. Do we honestly believe everyone has to do it this way? I think this idea is just as bad as "magical thinking" - or "if you want it hard enough, you'll get it."

"The very first thing you have to do when you want to find that job you are passionate about is you have to be honest with yourself to a point where it may almost be painful… Because many times when you say this is what I want to do, everyone around you will look at you like you’ve lost your mind… You have to be able to handle the pressure and outside criticism." -- Rebecca Donohue. Stand-up Comedian.

I really agree with the first part of this quote. I've come to a point in my life (with my script writing) where I've been incredibly honest with myself, and it's been a painful decision to quit - although it's felt good too. And it's opened up new vistas for me.

"For people who want to get into music -- if you want to be an artist use the Internet. Make a cool video and put it on YouTube. There are so many amazing things made possible now with the net and with MySpace and so many ways to get your music out there." -- Mark Ronson. Music Producer and Artist.

Rings true for me. I wish I had today's resources twenty years ago when I was studying communications in grad school. Actually, I learned from the ground up, shooting and editing 16mm black and white film by hand, creating video with large, heavy equipment, learning the basics of lighting - key, back and fill. So I feel I have hands-on experience. But only up to a point. Now we're faced with zillions of people creating content online. And we haven't done it long enough to see whether or not it's sustainable by the "masses." I mean, how long can anyone create without seeing some sort of monetary return?

I've thought and looked at lists of people and thought some more and I still can't come up with anyone I know who's working in their dream job. I've come up with people who worked - in the past - in their dream job, but the dream changed.

I don't see a whole lot of writing on that.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

How To Get The Job Of Your Dreams
Part 1

This just in from the "How To Do It" file... Fast Company has a short slide show titled "How To Get The Job Of Your Dreams." I was looking for other information on their site, but this drew me in like a black hole. I spent all of 1 minute 30 seconds viewing it, as it's very very short. The advice, quick quotes from notable people, hits the usual notes: give it your all, don't quit, pay attention, analyze, start small. No mention of luck. No mention of "surround yourself with people who work in their dream jobs" (although that might be difficult, as they're usually working.)

Still, it made me think, especially as I'm looking for a job. Here are my thoughts (in bold) on each quote. As there are six quotes in all, I'll run three today and three tomorrow:

"Never give up. People go 99% of the way and then just like when running a race, they get really tired towards the end. But it's those that go the last 1% who are successful. Edison was right: it's 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration. Keep going because you never know when you might succeed -- success sneaks up on you." -- Jim Clash. Adventure Columnist, Fortune Magazine.

I give up, because sometimes I have to keep my sanity. Getting tired towards the end - that's one thing, and I'm used to that. Hating the race, or at least no longer finding it interesting (which is where I am now), is another thing entirely.

"An indirect path to where you eventually want to arrive may be better than taking a direct route. As a designer, it's beneficial to make oneself as eclectic and interdisciplinary as possible. Take auxiliary classes. Because while you're studying algae or even sheep diseases, you never know what information you might get and how that might end up influencing your design work someday." -- Pam Greene. Senior Design Innovator, Nike Considered Line.

That's the way my mind works. I like this quote the best, as it's something I advocate for others, as well as myself. Keeping options open, and interests too, have steered me into some pretty interesting jobs. Maybe by using this tactic my next job will be a "dream." The trick for me, though, is being open to new horizons on a daily basis. The older I get, the more I feel I need to revisit past comforts.

"All you have to do is go create your dream job if it doesn't exist. Don’t wait around for someone to hand you the perfect job -- go out and start making it happen." -- Steve Hager. Editor, High Times Magazine.

This is the "just do it" idea, and I've followed this advice before. The problem comes when I've met with some success crafting my own route, but it didn't result in a sustainable income.

And a final thought (for today) - I don't think I know anyone who is working in his or her dream job! I'll have to do a little research, and I hope to have some details for tomorrow's post (which will contain the final three quotes from the slideshow.)

Monday, August 13, 2007

What's Brand Me?
Revisiting "Personal Branding" a Decade Later

Ten years ago this month, Tom Peters' article "The Brand Called You" appeared in Fast Company magazine, and an era was born. The term brand stopped being the exclusively property of cattle ranchers and breakfast cereal manufacturers, and started being our property too.

I remember reading the article, and finding the concept interesting. But I was too busy working full time, writing plays in my off hours, and managing my life (both the social and everyday upkeep aspects) to work at defining my personal brand.

I've got a much better idea of it now. Today, something moved me to read the article again. I not only found out it's ten years old, I could see how, even today, people would still a difficult time explaining who they are according to their brand.

Simply put, my personal brand is what enters the room before I do.

We used to call it "personality." Or "personal style." But simple doesn't mean it's easy. I'm sure you've had people tell you "I hate working on my resume" or "I hate developing my yearly performance appraisal."

That's because we're really bad, and hesitant, at thinking about ourselves in this manner. Here's a thought exercise I've found useful to get around that problem:

Think of a friend, waiting for you in a restaurant. You're meeting for lunch, drinks or dinner.

He or she is thinking about what the experience will be like once you show up.

Is your friend looking forward to:
- laughing because you always say funny things?
- exciting political conversation because you're always up on what's happening across the country?
- telling you some great personal news because you're always happy and congratulatory?
- a long afternoon because it's going to be all about you?

The person waiting for you is attuned to the experience he or she is going to have once you show up.

Now take it wider. Think of how others might view you at work.

Are you:
- always ready to lend a hand, when it's needed?
- someone who people tiptoe around?
- the go-to person when anyone has a problem?

All these thoughts and opinions are elements of your personal brand. They're the things people instinctively feel even before they see you. They're the things people expect from you.

They might expect:
you'll always be positive
you'll always be difficult to deal with (and so maybe they just don't and you're left
you'll always be energetic at every moment of the day
you to be calm but kind of out of it until the coffee kicks in
you'll always be there.

It even goes to the work you crank out. They might expect that:
it's always nearly perfect
it's always missing something
it'll be delivered so quickly that they won't be ready for it
it's always delivered timely
it's something they'll have to fix later

It really helps if you have some examples of things you know people have said about you. Snippets of a conversation, or the positive things written about your work in your last performance appraisal.

Simply put, our personal brand is what enters the room before we do.

Once I started thinking about myself and "my brand" in this way, I started laying a foundation which I can build on quickly when I need to. Like, when I apply for a job. Or when I'm about to meet a bunch of people I've never met before. Or if I need to change something I'm doing in order to make the outcome better or surprising, instead of the boring old status quo.

I can't promise you'll end up happy working on your resume, but you might end up much happier with your results.

And read the Tom Peters' article (again, if you've read it before.) Reflect on how timely it still is, especially 10 years later (which is a billion years in cultural time.)

Picture from The Arizona Ranch Web site.