Monday, October 28, 2013

Four Seconds

You have approximately 4 seconds to impress a recruiter when using an automated application system. The kind where your resume is uploaded then auto-populates certain parts of the application.

First, know that it never auto-fills properly. DO NOT TRUST that it does.

Second, fill in any blanks with as much information as you can.

The 4 seconds that a recruiter glances at your application, searching for nuggets of information to show them you are an ideal candidate go by very, very fast.

I just got done looking at 20 candidates who applied via our online application system. 17 of them sucked. And by sucked, I mean they were practically blank. That tells me their resume did not upload properly nor auto-filled properly. It also tells me the applicant didn't double check the final content.

So 17 people got stopped in their tracks. Who knows, there may have been quite qualified people in that group, I just didn't see any of their information to tell me so.

I myself applied via this same online system about 2 years ago. It was the first time I had applied for a job in 13 years! It was brutal. The system hated my resume (which was in InDesign). I had to reformat it in Word. Then it hated the icons I used for my Twitter, Blog and LinkedIn profiles. I had to delete those. It took about 5 attempts to get it to upload my information correctly.

Then I spent another 30 minutes crafting/fixing/adding to what was there. If this was my only means of getting an interview, I wanted it to read stellar. Then I clicked submit.

Make that 4 seconds worth it.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Uncommon Sense

I gave a presentation recently called "Leadership Sound Bites." It covers some basic tenets of leadership and reminds people to own their personal development and grow their leadership skills.

After I spoke, one person said, "it's common sense."

Yes, my friends! Yes, it is!

Unfortunately, most of us forget to use our common sense-ness quite frequently.

It is common sense to believe in yourself.
It is common sense to quit doing things that limit your potential.
It is common sense to own your mistakes.
It is common sense to have authentic conversations.
It is common sense to purposefully craft your legacy.

In fact it is all so common, it has become uncommon to see it happening on a daily basis in the workplace. We forget the simple things when we are bogged down by projects and deadlines and other day-to-day junk. Remind yourself on a regular basis that the basics are what are building the foundation of your career. You can't climb higher up the rungs if your ladder is on shaky ground.

Start with the basics folks. Start with common sense. 

Friday, October 11, 2013

The Letter

Have you ever written "The Letter?" The one that, at the time, seems perfectly needed, perfectly justified yet years later the memory of writing it makes you cringe? I'm sure loads of you have written The Letter to a boyfriend or girlfriend, but what about to your boss? I wrote one years and years ago and still cringe at the memory.

Here's what prompts writing it:

1. You're rockin' your job
2. You're getting a lot of great projects
3. You're getting a lot of great compliments
4. You love what you're doing and know you are good at it

All that sounds great, right? Well, then there's this last one:

5. You've been snubbed for something you feel you deserve

Thus, The Letter.

I was at my first job right out of school. I had the blessed fortune to work for a couple who owned a printing business and who made it a high priority to teach me everything about their business. Essentially my entire career in printing, production and creative management is owed to them.

All I can remember about The Letter is I was clearly mad. Mad that I wasn't included on some trip to some meeting that I felt I deserved. I worked hard preparing for it, I contributed to the presentation at a senior level and really felt like I made a difference to the project. Yet, I was not asked to attend and man, that pissed me off.

So all my anger and resentment went down on paper (pen and paper back then). I thank the Lord that I don't still have a copy of it and I have no memory of what I wrote. What I DO remember is the look on my boss' face after he read it. TO THIS DAY, I shudder when I think about the immaturity of my actions. If I could take one single thing back in my 20-year career, this letter would be it.

When I gave The Letter to my boss, he in turn gave me the silent treatment for a few weeks. That's it. No discussion, no rebuttal, no response. It was the worst few weeks I've ever had at work. And to this day, I feel like a shit. An ungrateful shit. I learned so, so much in that first job. I had incredible opportunities. And that job essentially launched my entire career.

So just a word of caution if you're ever feeling the need to get all your angst down on paper (on email). Don't. Big Capital D. Don't.

What you can do -- in this temporary moment of despair -- is remind yourself of what's great. How much you are learning. How amazing this creative industry is. That you actually have a job. And again, that you HAVE A JOB. That you are really good at what you do. That people are noticing. Think of these things, take a breath and step away from the keyboard.

20 years later, that, you won't regret.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Today's Horoscope

The horoscopes on are always true. I swear. Or at least they are when they are good and I really want them to be true.

Today's says this: The politics surrounding the events of the day will be quite ugly.

Ugh. The P-word. What workplace is without politics? None, my friend. None.

Politics are a weird thing. You need to admit there is a game to play, without overtly participating in it. You need to respect the existence of it, without paying it too much respect. Weird stuff indeed.

I think the word Politics is just code for Meany. I mean really, if we were all kind and helpful and genuine and respectful at work would there even be any Politics? I doubt it. Because there are Meanies there are Politics. So what's a girl to do?

1. Be kind. Self-explanatory.
2. Be helpful. The favors you extend come back to you double.
3. Be genuine. Everyone can sense phony-ness and we tend to avoid people we label fake.
4. Be respectful. You are not an island unto yourself. Respect that every person can teach you something if you just give them half a sec to do so.

Practice these four simple things daily. All four work together to stifle the efforts of the Meanies in this world. Less Meanies = Less Politics = Better Horoscopes.