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The critical email most job seekers fail to send

A successful email

A very short email was sent out by a candidate after a brief phone screening for a top level job.  I got a copy.  It helped set that candidate apart from all the others in a quiet way.  The next day that email was replied to with an invitation for an in-person interview.   That’s a successful email.  That email said, “Thank you for the chance to talk with you about your company and that opening.”

I admit it.  The email did NOT get him the interview.  His phone presence, background, cheerfulness and “can do” attitude got him the reply.  Still, the “thank you” email helped.

100 applicants for a job is not unusual.  Phone interviews with 10 solid candidates is common.  Often the choice between the top 3 candidates is only based on chemistry, the feelings of the moment.  So what can you do?

  1. Send a thank you by email after every interview.
  2. Also send a paper thank you.
  3. Dwell on the positive.
  4. Never complain about a previous job, boss or coworker.
  5. Tell interviewers what you like about the job.
  6. Ask for the next interview or for the job.

In the interview be the type of person you most like working with.  After the interview, be thankful.  That’s an unbeatable combination.

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There’s no secret about success.  Did you ever know a successful man who didn’t tell you about it? (Hubbard)

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Later:                          The guy who invented running died

I make the milk every morning

Propagating blueberries guerilla style

Great ideas are a dime a dozen

How to resign your job – part 2

The hardest thing to learn in life is which bridge to cross and which to burn. (Russell)

bridge-512086_640-pixabay“Take this job and shove it” – can really hurt YOU

Every week I hear, “I know that candidate from a previous job.  I wouldn’t touch him with a ten foot pole. He was not a team player.”

Sometimes that comes from the way the person left a previous team.  Often the comment arises from an incident a decade or more before the comment.  Someone burned bridges as they left a job.  They were rude, bitter, destructive or insufferable.

Your boss may be getting ready to quit too.  He could be your new boss again at your next job, or in 10 years.  A current teammate may be on your future interview team. Leaving in a professional manner makes it possible to work together with members from your old team in the future.

Professionals leave relationships intact.  I have heard it put: “Be wise as a serpent, harmless as a dove.”  Don’t let people take advantage of you, and don’t purposely hurt anyone.

We are back to the right way to quit.  Hand your boss a simple letter that states:

“I have appreciated the opportunity to work for XYZ company.  I am resigning with my last day of work on -date-.”

Then keep your mouth shut.  Say only positive things.  Never brag about where you are going.  Cooperate with your boss and coworkers.  Avoid all questions about where you are going geographically or with which company.

Be wise as a serpent and harmless as a dove.

Something To Do Today

Have you got a network list?  People who you are actively cultivating to help your career should be in that network. How many of them would like to work for the same type of company you find ideal?  Count it up.  Really.  Count it up.  Doesn’t it make sense to have them as future allies?

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Tomorrow:     A successful email

Later:              The guy who invented running died

I make the milk every morning, my wife will keep me

Propagating blueberries guerilla style

Great ideas are a dime a dozen

How to resign your job – part 1

“The non compete clause is never enforced.  I’m not worried if they find out where I am going.”

A very real guy I know said that to his new boss.  He went back and bragged to his old coworkers about the new job.  He got a phone call from his old company’s lawyer.  Guess what?  They are enforcing the non compete clause.  If he fought it, he very well might beat it.  But during the ensuing battle he couldn’t work. So he is staying.  What do you think his career pway_out-710184_640_pixabayath looks like now?
Resignation should always be done with a simple letter stating:

I appreciate the opportunity I have had to work for XYZ Company.  I am resigning my position effective <date>.

Don’t say where you are going.  Don’t brag to your coworkers.  Don’t even admit which state or industry you will be in.

What if there is not a non compete clause in your contract?  You should resign the same way.

Why?

You may be accused of bringing trade secrets to the new employer.  They may not be able to stop you, but they can still cause you and your new company pain in the courts.

Resigning should always be done the same way.  Simply and quietly. Gloating is never a good idea.

Something To Do Today

Don’t quit today unless you already have a new job.  Then quit in a short professional letter of resignation. Practice avoiding questions about where you are going to work.

Suicidal glory is the luxury of the irresponsible.  We’re not giving up.  We’re waiting for a better opportunity.  (Bujold)

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Later:  How to resign – Part 2

A successful email

The guy who invented running died

I make the milk every morning

Propagating blueberries guerilla style

Great ideas are a dime a dozen

Confronting your boss – 5 things to do to get fired

fight-655390_640-pixabay“I won’t do things that way. You have to do it my way. You don’t have the guts to fire me,” the company President told the CEO after a long loud discussion about the direction the company was going.   The CEO left and took a 30 minute timeout.  Upon returning the boss said, “Do you want to say anything?”  The answer, “No. I’m right.”  The reply was, “You’re fired. You have half an hour to clean out your desk.”

The guy was shocked.  In his heart of hearts he knew he was right so he made a few calls to shareholders to get support.  In half an hour the boss returned and said, “I gave you half an hour and you are not gone yet.  You can walk to the door with me now, or I can call the police.”

Here’s the mistakes this real person made:

  1. He challenged his boss’s authority
  2. He called his boss a coward
  3. No apology was offered for vicious insubordination
  4. An open attempt to create a mutiny was started
  5. There was no backing down or offer of compromise.

How do you deal with your boss’s mistakes?  I admit I have done every single one of these wrong things to a boss or two of mine in the past.  Luckily my rebellion was much milder.  I never got fired for it.  I didn’t get promoted either.

Some great ways to confront your boss are in How To Win Friends And Influence People by Dale Carnegie.  You’ll find it enlightening.

Something To Do Today

Don’t see if you can get fired.

Read How To Win Friends And Influence People

Cynicism is not realistic and tough.  It’s unrealistic and kind of cowardly because it means you don’t have to try.  (Noonan)

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Later:  How to leave your job

A successful email

The trick to working less hours and getting promoted

You don’t double your productivity by doubling your hours. Working lots and lots of hours may get you a promotion and a raise.  It may also get you burned out and fired.

A coupla months in the laboratory can save a coupla hours in the library. (Westheimer’s Discovery)

What you really need to do is double your productivity. Here is how to do it.

A friend sold me a chainsaw cheap.  She was doing me a favor.  She admitted that it ran, but it did not cut well at all.  I took the chainsaw home and reversed the chain.  It works great now. I could have just run the chainsaw more and eventually cut through any log (maybe). A little while ago my son decided to cut some monstrous tree roots with the chainsaw.  Suddenly it wouldn’t cut anymore.  The dirt on the roots had horribly dulled the chain.  I took it into my basement and spent half an hour sharpening it.  Now it cuts again.  But, I could have just worked a lot more hours cutting logs with a dull chainsaw.

The career trash heap is littered with the bodies of people who thought 20 MORE hours a week at work would get them promoted. While they were slaving away, someone else reversed the chain or sharpened the saw.  The thinker and planner got promoted.

You need to do your basic job well.  Other than your basic job, what will set you apart?  What will make you the best?  What will make you the natural leader?

How for YOU to get a promotion or raise

Your boss wants to look good and get a raise and promotion.  What can you do to help him? Is your working more hours the only thing that will make him look better?

Your company wants to make more money, spend less, and keep the customers happier.  Can you do something a little better while you are doing your basic job? Can you get involved in highly visible projects?  How can you set yourself apart?

In addition to being better, you have to get noticed, respected, and appreciated. Give your boss a weekly, monthly and quarterly report of exactly what you did better.  Then in your next annual review, you have ammunition.  And if you go job hunting, you have proof.

Take a careful look at your job.  Can you reverse the chainsaw chain somewhere?  Can you just sharpen the saw?  What do you need to do that will move you forward the fastest?  Is just putting in more hours really the most important thing you can do?

Ask your boss how HE is evaluated.  Now ask yourself how can you help HIM get a better evaluation?  Sharpen your chainsaw, don’t just work more hours.

Something To Do Today

Ask your boss how HE is evaluated.  How can you help him get a better evaluation?

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Tomorrow:    Confronting your boss

Later:              How to leave your job

Getting past a glass ceiling

True story: She can’t get a promotion.  Not even a bigger title.  The “Good Old Boys” all admit she is doing a great job.  She saves the company literally 5 to 50 times her salary every year.  She will never be promoted.  It is because she is a woman.  I know her.  I know her company.  There is no way up.  Even shooting her boss will only get a different man promoted ahead of her.

She can make her own life a living hell by suing the company.  She’ll lose even if she wins.  They would figure out a reason to fire her in a few years and then she’d have a hard time finding a job.

There are two ways to deal with a glass ceiling.

  1. Go around it.
  2. Get a new job.

Go around it

To go around the glass ceiling you need a mentor.  It is doubtful that your own boss will really help since he isn’t helping you now.  Invite someone 2 or 3 levels above you to lunch.  At lunch, don’t condemn your boss. Ask for help to grow.  Write down the advice you get.  Set up an appointment to have lunch again in 3 to 6 months.  Go over your progress with the person.  Report on how you have improved.

Scared?  Do you have to go to the owner, CEO or chairman of the board?  Do it anyway.  What have you got to lose?  You may be surprised that the person that far above you really wants to help winners like you succeed.  And if they refuse to help, try method 2.

If one morning I walked on top of the water across the Potomac River, the headline that afternoon would read, “President Can’t Swim”.  (Johnson)

Get a new job

Keep your old job as you search for a new one.  Chronicle your accomplishments in a job journal.  Report to your boss every week on your progress at work even if he doesn’t want to see it.  Take the reports and put your greatest accomplishments in your resume.

Network, contact recruiters, apply to good jobs at good companies.  Set criteria for moving and when you find the job, move.

Something To Do Today

Seriously ask yourself, why haven’t I been promoted this week?  Why haven’t I gotten a raise or a bonus this week?

Now write down in your job journal what you can do to get a promotion, raise or bonus as quickly as possible.

Will that make you happy?  Is that what you really want?  If yes, go do it.  If no, better figure out what you really should be doing.  There is no time like the present to change your life.  You get to be happier longer if you change today.

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Later:  The hours game

Confronting your boss

How to leave your job

Coyote traps at work – when to gnaw your arm off

Some mornings it just doesn’t seem worth it to gnaw through the leather straps. (Phillips)

Coyotes stuck in a trap have been known to gnaw their foot off to escape.  A lot of these three footed coyotes survive for years and do very well. Okay, they do well compared to coyotes that were killed by the trapper.

Scared to leave your job?  Nasty non compete?  Family responsibilities?  Too comfortable?

Are you really going to stay in that job until you retire no matter how you are treated?

If the company starts losing money is the president going to fire himself, or fire YOU? 

Do you have to shoot your boss to get a promotion?

Don’t leave just because you can.  If your job is fulfilling, pays well and gives you a chance to progress to where YOU want to go in your career, STAY.  If you have a history of job skipping, stay awhile even if you don’t like it there.  There are good reasons to stay in your current job.  Fear is not a good reason.

Yesterday I wrote about non competes.  If you are concerned about yours, talk to a lawyer who specializes in employment law.  Many non competes are not enforceable.  That means they are legally unfair or immoral.  You are not morally obligated to do something immoral.  It does not make sense to feel obligated to do what it is not legal to expect of you.

If you have a valid non compete, consider doing whatever you have to do to get out of it.  One good way is to go to your boss and say, “I want a new contract with a more limited non compete.”  Don’t threaten to quit, just ask him to reasonably limit the non compete.  If he says, “No,” you can always start looking for a job.  If he fires you for asking, check with your lawyer.  He may have just voided the non compete.  And last of all, he may realize you are upset and give you a raise or a promotion.

Even if you have to quit and commute 3 hours a day, it is better to quit now rather than later. Do you really think that in 3 years or 10 years you will have LESS obligations and lower expenses than you do now?  Slavery is illegal.  Don’t allow yourself to be a slave.

Don’t let fear paralyze you. Carpe diem. Seize the day.  Carpe jugulum. Grab the day by the throat and make life give you what you deserve.  You CAN change your life.

Something To Do Today

Like your job?  Tell your boss.

Want to leave?  Figure out how.  Don’t be chained to a life of low expectations.

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Later:                          Glass ceilings

The hours game

Confronting your boss

How to leave your job

Non-compete agreement abuse

Nothing more completely baffles one who is full of trick and duplicity than straightforward and simple integrity in another. (Colton)

Non-competes

For a year Jim did a two hour commute-one way, every day.  What a horrible thought.  He did it to get out of a non-compete agreement.  Do you think he will ever sign another one?

Lawyers in Pennsylvania are expressly prohibited by law from having non-competes for lawyers.  It is unfair, they say, to do that to lawyers and their clients.  A lawyer leaving a law firm SHOULD be allowed to steal clients.  So why do non-competes apply to everyone else? Because lawyers are paid to write them.

There are reasons to sign a broadly applicable non-compete agreement:

  1. You will be trained from total ignorance to blinding expertise and will be paid lavishly with a guarantee of 1 year of pay after you are fired or quit.

Not a long list.  Is it?

Here’s a list reasons to sign a limited non-compete agreement:

  1. You will learn crucial trade secrets
  2. You might steal customers or employees
  3. You will receive some training and the costs need to be repaid

A simple non-compete clause is the most dangerous. You can be barred from every job in an industry or area if your contract only says, “You will not compete.” Make sure any contract you sign clearly states what specific things you are not allowed to do.  It should list:

  1. A reasonable period of time that you cannot compete (never more than a year)
  2. A precise group you are not allowed to work for or call on
  3. Specific jobs you cannot do for someone else
  4. A geographic area it applies to (within 35 or 50 miles of where you worked)

If you don’t like a contract, change it.  Cross out sections and write in the margins.  Initial the changes.  Handwritten changes on a contract take precedence over the typeset text.

Take control.  You want a job, not a prison.  You need freedom to take another job in order to make this one worthwhile.  Have the guts to change a contract that is too restrictive.  You’ll be surprised how often your changes are accepted.  If they are not accepted, leave.  Value your freedom.

Something To Do Today

Time to gossip.  Ask people you know or strangers you meet at bars or the gym about non-compete agreements.  Get them to tell you horror stories they have heard of.  You will be appalled.  It is an education you need.

 

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Later:

Coyote traps – when to gnaw off your arm

Glass ceilings

The hours game

The 2 critical resume tests – do them yourself

Testing your resume

Testing your resume

Your resume has to be good enough in a blind test to get past the trash can.

Getting past the trash can

When is your resume being thrown away? In my last post I gave the 4 major trashing points in your resume’s life.

You have two ways to break through the cycle:

  1. Have someone give your resume directly to the boss with their recommendation.
  2. Have a resume that passes all 4 trash points.

Networking will get your resume directly to the boss with a recommendation.  Outstanding networking will get you an interview without a resume.

For the rest:

Do you pass the idiot test and the expert test?  Assume an idiot and an expert will each try to find a reason to throw away your resume.  Assume they have too many resumes and want to throw away as many as possible.  They are proactive trashers.

Pass the idiot test

The secretary has to see an obvious, undeniable fit with the job description.  She won’t understand all the acronyms, but she knows they have to be there.  She knows how much experience is required.  She knows it has to be a manager or a worker. She trashes resumes that don’t shout that they fit the job.

Pass the expert test

The boss has a lot to do.  He wants a great person to work for him, but doesn’t have enough time to talk to everyone.  Like the secretary he throws out the obvious problems.  The difference is that he understands the resume.  He also throws out the resumes that just don’t feel right.  Time is critical to him.  The first person he calls has the accomplishments he needs in his company.

How you can test both ways

Run a test.  Take your resume and the job ad you are responding to.  Hand both to someone who doesn’t know the field.  Do they think you pass?  Do the same with an expert.  Do you pass?

Hoping is not a plan

Stop wishing and hoping.  Either network your way in or find your own screeners.  You need other people to help you get your resume out of the trash can.

Something To Do Today

Who do you know that is up front and brutally blunt?  Take your resume and the job ad you are responding to.  Ask them read the job ad thoroughly.  Then give them your resume.  Ask them to decide in 10 seconds if it looks like the resume passes.  Then ask them to take 45 seconds and look closer.

Do you pass the test?

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Later:              Slavery and recruiter ownership

Non-competes

Coyote traps – when to gnaw off your arm

Glass ceilings

The hours game

When is your resume being thrown away?

bin-297863_1280You have to know when your resume is being thrown away to fix its problems. There is a timing pattern you must understand.  You have to break through your resume’s stumbling block in the following pattern to get hired:

  1. Your resume arrives along with 100 others. The secretary trashes 80 after a 10 second review apiece.
  2. The secretary trashes 10 more after giving them 45 seconds apiece.
  3. Her boss gets the 10 remaining resumes and trashes 2 after a 10 second review.
  4. The boss throws away 3 more viable resumes. He just doesn’t have the time to deal with more than 5.  For the 3 trashed, something is not quite right.
  5. He calls the 5 remaining candidates, starting with the best one.

Can you see why knowing when your resume is thrown out is critical?

Every time you send out a resume and fail to get an interview you should ask, “Who threw away my resume?” Ask the question of yourself.  Also ask your recruiter and the HR person at the company.  Beg, if you have to.

You need to find out when and why your resume is not being considered.  Also be sensitive to the recruiter and HR.  They may lie to you.  They don’t want to argue.  They want to be powerful and all-knowing.  Play on that and ask for advice as you try to find out when your resume was trashed.

Next time we’ll talk about how to get past the screenings and into an interview.  For now, try to figure out when your resume is being thrown away.

Something To Do Today

Make some calls.  Find out where your resume is being trashed.

Ask some friends, they may be able to give you some ideas too.

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Later:   Getting your resume past the trash can

Non-competes

Coyote traps – when to gnaw off your arm

Glass ceilings

The hours game