Written in ink

In “The Social Network,” Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is dressed down by his ex-girlfriend for his misogynistic comments about her on his blog.

“The internet isn’t written in pencil, Mark,” she says. “It’s written in ink.”

It’s an important idea – one that sometimes gets lost as we immerse ourselves in Facebook and Twitter and political blogs and all the rest of the digital footprints we leave around the web on a regular basis. [Read more...]

Human Resources

When you’re job hunting, it’s important to realize that Human Resources people are not your friends. (I used to quip that “Human Resources people are neither,” but I guess I’ve mellowed in my old age.)

Human Resources departments are staffed with gatekeepers – people whose job it is to keep you away from the hiring process. They’re not there to help you navigate the system. They don’t want you to know anything about how the job will be chosen, or what the real criteria are for the ideal candidate. Because if job-seekers could just talk to the hiring manager directly, and have a more active role in their candidacy for the job, what would be left for Human Resources people to do? Nothing. [Read more...]

Show, don’t tell

Anyone who has taken a freshman composition course has probably heard of “show, don’t tell.” In fiction writing it means, for example, to let a character’s actions, appearance and speech explain their personality.

THIS: “Larry is lazy.”

OR THIS: “Instead of doing dishes, Larry has his bulldog Albert lick them clean. The ones Albert won’t lick, Larry throws away.”

What does this have to do with job hunting? Too many cover letters and resumes are filled with phrases like “well-organized” and “innovative” and “problem solver.” When you describe yourself like that, how does an employer know whether or not to believe you? Or whether your definition of “innovative” is even in the same ballpark as hers? They can’t – so your materials go immediately to the “no” pile. [Read more...]

No carpet bombing

How many times have you heard someone (or yourself) say, “I don’t understand it. I must have sent out 200 resumes in the last few weeks, and no one has responded.”

The problem in that sentence is the “200.” Sending out tens or hundreds of resumes or applications means you sent out the same boilerplate information to all those people, maybe fancying it up with a mail merge so the cover letter reads “Dear Mr. Thomas” rather than “To Whom It May Concern.”

That’s a recipe for failure – mainly because a boilerplate resume and cover letter aren’t going to convince your audience to hire you. But also because it gives you a false sense of accomplishment – “I did all this work sending all that stuff out!” – and it takes away time from productive job searching. [Read more...]

It’s not about you

The most important thing about job hunting is to remember: it’s not about you.

Employers don’t care about your goals, your dreams, your five year plan, or whether you can make next month’s rent. All they care about is that they have a problem, and they are looking for someone to solve that problem.

That sounds harsh, but it’s true. And everything you do in job hunting that isn’t laser-focused on solving an employer’s problem is wasted time. [Read more...]

Welcome to the new Mighty Forces

Recently I had a conversation with a good friend, someone with many years of experience in his field. He’s a hard worker, innovative and knows how to solve problems. Despite all that, he’s one of the so-called “99ers,” people who have been out of work for more than 99 weeks.

This site is for him – and for all the people struggling to make their voices heard above the din of thousands of other job-seekers.

The good news is, you can do it. The bad news is, job hunting is a game where most of the people you encounter don’t want you to learn the rules. I’ll do my best to show you how to play the game; the rest is up to you. If you’re new here, you should probably start with “It’s not about you.”

I’m not a professional job counselor, and I don’t play one on TV, either. But I think we can have a conversation that will take you a little further down the road you want to be on. Let’s go.