Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Road Warriors, Networkers and Wordsmiths

On this Thanksgiving Tidbit Tuesday (I seem to have an abundance of alliteration), lets consider the habit of saying "thank you."

Don't be a turkey: According to HotJobs, it's a good idea to send a thank-you note after a job interview, although opinions vary as to the impact on getting the position. One senior manager said he had yet to see a thank-you note from a candidate really being the deciding factor in being offered a job, but concluded that every little bit helps. Still, he stressed that if you do send a note, make sure you check for grammar and spelling.

Another executive felt a little more strongly about the importance of sending a thank-you note after an interview, noting that while it probably won't be only thing getting you a job, it certainly doesn't hurt. She mentions that if there are multiple candidates who send notes, the candidate who doesn't send a note sticks out in her mind.

Forget the hot breakfast, just get me a hi-speed connection: Hotels and airports are gradually catching on to the fact that mobile workers need more help getting their jobs done on the road, The New York Times reports. "Hotels that cater to laptop-toting travelers are scrambling to add electrical outlets in easy-to-reach places, install better task lighting and design chairs with flat armrests that can double as desks.

They are putting desks on casters so the desks can be wheeled in view of the television or even extend over the bed. And perhaps most important to business travelers, some hotel chains are installing technology to make their Internet service more reliable or adding employees to offer better support when guests call for help", the story says.

Further, "airports have not made as many changes, though some are adding kiosks where passengers can charge gadgets, check e-mail messages or buy a flash drive to replace one they forgot."

Pass the crab dip, please: Crain's Chicago Business reports that "in many careers, embracing the social whirl goes hand in hand with climbing the ranks. Staying on top of industry issues or becoming acquainted with potential clients can differentiate those moving up the ladder from those happy to stay on the ground.

But that division can cause friction at home and point up fundamental differences in how each partner weighs career vs. family."

The story profiles some couples, and how, for example, they handle the networking needs of an outgoing person with those of a homebody. Some couples compromise on which events the spouse will attend, while others feel part of their role is to remind the partner that life exists outside of work.

Look it up: In case you didn't know it, there's a Dictionary Society of North America, and it often posts jobs for lexicographers, the folks who help add words to our life.

According to Portfolio, assistants start at around $30,000 a year, while senior editors can hit the low six figures; freelancers are paid either by the project or hourly at a rate of $25 to $45.

Useful skills include a grammar and computational linguistics knowledge, along with a proficiency with search engines and the ability to be open-mindeded, curious about language and detail-oriented.

There are an estimated 200 full-time positions in the U.S., with an equal number of freelance jobs.


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Thursday, August 30, 2007

Job Interviewing 101

I remember when my older son was just learning to read and write and I found his name written boldly in pen on the white marble of our fireplace hearth.

“Did you do this?” I asked him, pointing to his name.

His big blue eyes looked boldly into mine. He shook his head “no.”

“Then who did?” I asked him.

His chubby little finger quickly pointed at his infant brother, who was happily sucking on his sock as his older brother tried to sell him down the river.

Of course, the written evidence was to the contrary, so my son spent some time scrubbing the fireplace and learning a valuable lesson not only about where and when to write his name, but the consequences of lying. (OK, so I took away “Barney” watching for a week, which was really more of a reward for me.)

After speaking with some hiring managers this week, I think a few of them are feeling like they’re dealing with some 5-year-old children at times who believe they can deny written evidence of their misdeeds.

Specifically, it’s becoming a chronic problem that job candidates lie on their resumes. They’re lying about their education, about their experience and even their references.

Now, while it’s true we try to put a positive spin on our skills and abilities in order to gain the attention of hiring managers, it’s also true that nothing will get you dumped faster from the interviewing process than lying. And, keep this in mind: if it doesn’t catch up with you now, it will later – just look at the former RadioShack CEO who was forced to resign after owning up to the fact that he never received the two degrees listed on his resume.

And, here’s what’s making the problem worse: Job candidates are lying about lying. A survey by DDI found that while 31 percent of hiring managers claim job seekers “misrepresent” their education, only 3 percent of potential employees agree. And though only 15 percent of job seekers admit to using a personal, non-work friend as a reference, 40 percent of hiring managers say it's happening. Almost 70 percent of the businesses surveyed by a professional organization say lying on resumes happens occasionally to frequently, in all kinds of companies.

So, here’s the deal: You’re smart enough to do Internet research on your blind date, your former girlfriend and whether Jamaica is nice this time of year. Do you honestly think a potential employer isn’t going to do a background check on you? Do you really believe that if you say you can fly the space shuttle that someone isn’t going to ask you to take it for a spin to make sure you really possess those skills?

All right, one last thing: nearly nine out of 10 (88 percent) executives polled said sending a thank-you note following an interview can boost a job seeker’s chances, but at least half of applicants fail to do so.

The bottom line: Listen to your mothers. Write your thank-you notes and don’t lie. We know what we’re talking about.

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