Archive for August, 2008

Don't Forget To Vote

Friday, August 29th, 2008

The polls are open!  Make your vote count!  The Diagram Prize for oddest book title of the past 30 years is at stake.  Here are some of the 24 contestants:

Highlights in the History of Concrete
How to Avoid Huge Ships
The Joy of Sex: Pocket Edition
Weeds in a Changing World
Greek Rural Postmen and Their Cancellation Numbers

and of course. . . .

The Big Book of Lesbian Horse Stories

The Oddest Book Title of the Year contest was begun in 1978 to combat boredom at the Frankfurt Book Fair.  (Last year the winner was “If You Want Closure in Your Relationship, Start With Your Legs.”)

Go here to vote and here for more info about the contest.  The winner will be announced Friday, September 5, 2008.

Is Your Job Hunt Stalled?

Thursday, August 28th, 2008

SFGirl is still looking (follow the links back to read the whole story).  Here’s the latest:

Dear Working Girl,

Is there a dipping point where you just decide to take whatever you can get or give up?  I’ve been at this for a year or longer.  Mostly I’m tired of searching.  I’m almost running out of steam and momentum to keep at this.  A phone call to anyone who might help is useful until they tell me we’re in tough times and I have to be prepared to wait it out. . .and I don’t want to wait out the downturn for a better job. 

Also, silly question, where does one make phone calls during the day?  I’m oddly having trouble finding a quiet place to make these calls without noise/distractions.  We used to have a conference room but we renovated recently and there is no outside conference room.

Dear SFGirl,

Sigh.  Looking for a job is hard.  Doing anything that’s not showing results is hard.  You need a hug!  (Working Girl is sending you one right now.  Hope it helps.)

Anyway, when you’re job hunting (or doing anything difficult and challenging) and it’s not going well, you have two choices:

  1. Stop trying.
  2. Try harder.

(You could also continue doing what you’re doing now.  But why would you?  That’s not working!) 

So let’s consider your two options:

1.  Stop trying.  This just may be what you need to do.  You know, give yourself a break.  Go do something that gives you some success.  Relax.  Have fun.  Take a trip.  Start a new hobby.  Think about something else for a while.

2.  Try harder.  Does the idea of giving up (even temporarily) stick in your craw?  Then step on the gas.  Double/triple your efforts.  Do the things you’ve thought about doing but didn’t because (a) you doubted they would work and/or (b) you were afraid.

The point is to do something, anything, different.  Maybe what you need is a little of both options:  stop trying for a while, take a break; then redouble your efforts & give ’em hell!

P.S.  The phone call question:  Cell phone, right?  There must be a storage closet or empty office somewhere!  Some coffee shops have meeting rooms (they do in Seattle).  Is there a library nearby?  Libraries often have study carrels.  In any case, you don’t necessarily need total silence.  If noise happens while you’re on the phone, say, “Sorry, I’m calling from a ___________.”  Make it a joke!  People will understand.

The Worst Interview Question

Wednesday, August 27th, 2008

US World and News ReportsMost interview questions are hard but this one is the very very worst.  Ugh.

See what it is and how to deal with it at WG’s post today over at U.S. News.

The Secret To Effective Speaking

Tuesday, August 26th, 2008

Last night was the final session of Anna Bernstein’s Voice & Communication Skills class.  And here’s the final message, the Big Answer to all your speaking concerns:

Are you ready? 

The secret to being an effective speaker is to speak in a way that is most understandable to and comprehendable by your audience’s brains.  

Clear as mud?  Specifically, (a) brains like to receive information one thought at a time.  And, (b) brains stay better connected with speakers who vary their tone, pitch, and rhythm.  (Monotones kill!) 

In theory (and the class discussed this at length), you should be able to use the same style of presentation no matter who your audience.  I.e., you’d address the General Motors Board of Directors the same exact way you’d speak to a group of first graders.

“Whoa, Nellie!” some class members exclaimed.  Wouldn’t the GM board warrant a more “sophisticated” speaking style?

But Anna stuck to her guns, insisting that brains are brains.  “Everyone’s brain prefers pitch variety,” she said.  “Everyone’s brain prefers one thought at a time.”

It’s a pleasingly egalitarian theory, and so Working Girl approves.  It’s also handy, because you need learn only one set of rules for communicating. 

However, it’s all easier said than done.  The “final exam” for this class was a short presentation.  WG’s talk did not go so hot.   Sigh. 

(Mark Twain offers some comfort.  He said, “It usually takes me more than three weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech.”)

How To Handle Adults Who. . .Aren't

Monday, August 25th, 2008

One of Working Girl’s little life rules is to never ask more of people than they are capable of delivering.  (She doesn’t always manage this, but she tries.)

So she was thrilled to see Daneen Skube’s Interpersonal Edgecolumn in yesterday’s Seattle Times.  Daneen approaches this same topic in a related but original way.  First Daneen helpfully defines the “less mature” person:

  1. Thinks in terms of black and white
  2. Can’t see the world from other people’s perspectives
  3. Can’t sympathize with others
  4. Not good with the painful emotions
  5. Intolerant of differences between people
  6. Low self insight
  7. Low insight into other people

Sound like anyone you work with?  If so, Daneen has a cool way to deal with these immature types:

“. . . .close your eyes and ask yourself how old you’d picture this co-worker if they didn’t have an adult body.  Once you’ve established an age, consider how you would actually treat a child this old. . . . .[For example} if your co-worker really were 5, you would probably be patient, clear, and set limits without resentment.”

In other words, treat people according to their emotional age, not their “real” age.  Brilliant!  Of course, the trick is to do this without sarcasm, condescension, or annoyance.   But think about it.  Relating to people at the level they’re at (as opposed to the level they should be) can be an effective way to get the job done.  And, at work, that’s all you’re trying to do, right?

Thanks, Daneen.  You’re so smart!

Can You Permanently Delete Emails?

Friday, August 22nd, 2008

Rhonda writes:

Hello there, Working Girl!

I am emailing a previous employee that has become a close friend of mine.  Well, we are talking gossip about the new girl who replaced her and all the people that are annoying in the office.  I know it’s not the best thing to do buttttt I have a way to permanently delete those emails so I figure I’m ok.  My husband tells me nothing is permanently gone so I should watch it.

Dear Rhonda,

Your husband is one smart cookie.  The sad truth is that everything you type into a computer is retained in its memory even though you delete it.  If a company really wants to retrieve your emails, it can.  Just like on Law & Order and all its many, many clones.

It’s natural to think of our office emails as our own.  When it’s just you and your keyboard there’s an illusion of privacy.  But it’s only an illusion.  You already say you know that what you’re doing is “not the best thing to do.”  That’s your own intuition warning you!

So, yeah, it’s fun to gossip and blow off steam about all your annoying co-workers.  It may be what’s keeping you sane.  Just be smart about how you do it.  Meet your friend for lunch and chat up a storm.  Email her from your own computer at home, if you have one.  Even the office phone (on your own time) would be a better option than the company email.

It ain’t worth the risk.

More info:  Here’s a short & interesting thread from people smarter than Working Girl about just this topic.

Long Distance Job Search Tips

Thursday, August 21st, 2008

Here’s a longish but really interesting (with anecdotes!) article about how to find a job . . . elsewhere. It’s by Kevin Donlin of Guaranteed Resumes. Thanks, Kevin.

If you’re looking for a job in a distant city, you face an extra challenge: How do you convince employers to interview you when there are plenty of local applicants to choose from?

Challenging, yes. Impossible, no.

You can make a long-distance job search work. All it takes is some planning and creative effort.

Here are four ways that others have found work in far-off places. What can you learn from their stories?

1) Borrow a Local Address
If your resume and cover letters show an out-of-state address, it can count against you — many employers will look only at local candidates because they don’t want to deal with relocation costs and related factors.

That’s what Jeff Esposito found.

"I began my search by quitting my job in New York and moving back with my parents in New Jersey, to find a position closer to my girlfriend in Boston," he says.

After a fruitless month applying for out-of-state jobs, Esposito changed course by changing his address. "I replaced the NJ address on my resume with my girlfriend’s in Boston. This increased the number of calls that I received."

Questions: Who do you know in or near where you want to work? Could you live with them temporarily should you need to relocate? If so, consider using their address on your resume and cover letters. Keep your existing cell phone number, however, unless you trust others to answer phone calls professionally for you.

2) Take a Trip to Your Destination City
Most employers are unwilling to fly candidates in for job interviews. Why not solve this problem for them?

If you can’t use a local address, be up-front in your cover letter and say that you will be in town on certain days and would like to come in for an interview.

This worked for Taryn Mickus.

"I was living in Washington, DC a few years ago and searching for jobs in New York City," she says. "I called all of the companies I wanted to interview with and told them I would be in town for only two days and would really like to meet with someone."

Giving employers a small window of opportunity can nudge them into action because they won’t want to miss out on talking to you. And it gives them another reason to pull your resume out of the pile and examine your qualifications anew.

After setting a date to be in town and asking to meet employers, Mickus got enough interviews to land three job offers in six weeks and was hired by a NYC public relations firm.

Questions: If you want to work in another city, plan a trip there to meet potential employers. Try to arrange phone interviews before you go, so you can maximize your results by holding second- and third-round interviews in person, after you arrive.

3) Look Smart and Avoid the Competition
Hunting for jobs is like hunting for deer or ducks: The less competition you have for quarry, the better your odds of bagging one.

That’s how Katie B. was hired for a job in San Francisco after graduating from college and still living in New York state.

While other candidates searched for jobs on the usual web sites, Katie found hers advertised in PR Week magazine, an industry trade journal. She had less competition for the job opening this way and "My employer was impressed that a college student was reading that magazine" she says.

After her initial phone interview, Katie sent the hiring manager a thank-you email expressing strong interest in the position. "I offered to come out to San Francisco for a second interview, but they paid for my travel," she says.

Katie was hired shortly thereafter.

Questions: Do you know all the trade journals and magazines for your profession? Have you searched their print and online editions for job postings? If not, you may be missing out on a happy hunting ground with
less competition for jobs — even those out of state.

4) Find Local Allies
A final way to find jobs long-distance is to make personal connections where you want to work.

"I don’t care how much technology there is, one thing hasn’t changed: People still do the hiring," advises author and career consultant, Andrea Kay. So you need to meet people — the more influential and well-connected, the better — in your destination city.

That’s what ultimately helped Jeff Esposito get hired.

"I was approached by a recruiter near Boston who understood my situation and who made the initial interviews over the phone. After the second call, they asked me in for an in-person interview, which eventually led to the management job I now have," he says.

Questions: Who do you know in your target city? Who should you know? How can you bridge the gap between those two lists? Ask the people in your network, as well as on web sites like LinkedIn, MySpace and Facebook, to get introductions.

Now go out and make your own luck!

Kevin Donlin is President of Guaranteed Resumes and the creator of GetHiredNow.TV. Since 1996, he has provided job search assistance to nearly 10,000 people. Author of "51 Ways to Find a Job Fast — Guaranteed," Kevin has been interviewed by USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, CBS Radio and others. His latest product, The Instant Job Search System, is available at http://www.collegerecruiter.com/guaranteed-resumes.php .
(copyright (c) 2008 by Kevin Donlin)

Article courtesy of the Recruiting Blogswap , a content exchange service sponsored by CollegeRecruiter.com, a leading site for college students looking for internships and recent graduates searching for entry level jobs and other career opportunities.

Is Your Boss Human?

Wednesday, August 20th, 2008

US World and News Reports Or. . . maybe he/she is superhuman?

You can find out if you read WG’s post over at U.S. News today.

Your Voice Tip Of The Week

Tuesday, August 19th, 2008

Okay, this one is short and simple:

When you are leaving a voice mail message, use a different pitch for each number of your phone number.

Which is to say:  Don’t rattle off your number in a monotone.  Fivetwothreenineeightsixone.  That’s hard to understand!  Your listener may even have to replay your message (resenting you every second). 

You’ll feel silly at first saying, “My number is FIVE-two-THREE, nine-EIGHT-six-one.”  But it’s not about you.  It’s about your listener.  And it’s easier for your listener to comprehend what you say when you use “pitch variety.”

(In case you’re wondering, yup, Working Girl did have her voice class with Anna Bernstein last night.  And, yup, it was the lesson on “pitch variety.”)

Blowing It

Monday, August 18th, 2008

It’s Monday morning and Working Girl is googling “how to remove henna tattoos.”

Heh, heh.  It was that kind of weekend.

“They’re temporary!” S. said as WG, Mr. WG and S. passed the tattoo tent.  This was right after the belly-dancing exhibition and the lunch of Hawaiian food.

“They’re only five dollars.  Why not?” agreed WG.  Maybe it was the poi talking.

Anyway, that is why Working Girl now has yellowy-tan flowers, leaves, polka dots, and something that might be a butterfly covering her right foot and half of her calf.  If you saw it you would not think, “cool tattoo.”  You would think, “mysterious skin rash.”  It’s supposed to wear off in two weeks.

“That’s five bucks you’ll never see again,” said Mr. WG.

We can look back and try to figure out where we went wrong.  (Can a $5 tattoo be a good tattoo?  Should Working Girl not have told the tattoo artist, “Just go ahead and do whatever design you feel like”?)

In any case, the only thing to do post-mistake, whatever the mistake, is to admit to it, take responsibility for it, try to learn from it, and (if possible) repair it. 

But there are times when a screw-up is just a screw-up.  Nothing to be learned.  Nothing to be fixed.  Those are the mistakes that have to be lived with.  Or lived down.  The only thing you can do:  Walk away.  Never look back.

And wear socks.