Archive for July, 2011

A Case in Point

Found on line, from a real job opening post: If you are given an offer for this job…“Your current employer will present you with a counter offer that includes a pot of gold and a unicorn if you try to leave them. (Of course, you will not accept this counter-offer because you know NPR is where you should be and the unicorn will understand.):”

This is a job which calls for a real fit—and real courage and real creativity. This is NOT your “typical HR” approach—and they know it. They use humor to illustrate that.

Which brings me to humor. Yes,  you, too,  can use humor in your cover letter—if you do it as well as these guys did.

The post continues: “Okay. It’s decided. You’re convinced that you are just what NPR needs and you want an opportunity to prove it to us. Here’s what you do next:

Craft a cover letter that illustrates the mastery of your craft, what you bring to this role, and the difference you can make. We want to know the following:

If I was the fit—and I’m not although I might have been 20 years ago with a slightly different career path—I would also put humor in my cover letter. I might mention the unicorn, but there are others ways a passionate applicant might show they fit the job and the culture of this company, and bring the combination of skills, abilities, and qualities NPR is looking for. But the main point here is they are looking for someone who is full of passion energy and enthusiasm.  And so was TUI (a school) when I was hired. So…. Bring these along too. But be very clear—there has to be a REAL FIT! You are the really right person for the job.  Fake enthusiam wil get you nowhere. But if it’s the read deal, be brave!  Show up–andgo for it!


Best Practices for Living and Working

I know I keep bashing HR, but sadly it is a real problem. Here is an excerpt from a court case:

“Supervisors allegedly told Back that it was “not possible for [an employee] to be a good mother and have this job.” They questioned whether her commitment would be as strong after she earned tenure, and they asked her about “spacing out her offspring.”

The court allowed the case to move forward, holding that stereotypes about mothers not being committed to or compatible with work were “themselves, gender-based.”

But I know I know—you need a job. You must decide if you want a job at a company with inhumane policies—they will bite you in the butt eventually.

Meanwhile, if you have your military retirement and the luxury of looking for the job where there really is a values match, take the time and trouble to do that.  One of my friends did—he now flies blimps. In the Army he drove helos, so it took some time to get multi-engine rated, but it is his dream job. (Not always his dream bosses but so far more good than bad.)

But the pursuit of self knowledge and excellence will always serve you. Do you keep your word? You’d be surprised how few people do.

Do you have the skills to ask a supervisor to set priorities on rush work? Probably not.

Do you live by the Golden Rule? If so, you will find the results are far better than if you live by the rule “he who has the gold…”

If you don’t believe that look at the mess our economy is in. The reason the wheels fell off in 2008 was not the war, although that is an ongoing issue. It was dishonest brokers, lenders and even borrowers– and those who believed that overheated housing prices were immune to retraction that tipped this house of card into collapse. Golden Rule? Sadly, no.


If everyone had played fair the problem would not have arisen—and  of they were playing fair now, solutions would have been found, and houses would not be sitting empty as banks get richer.

But also, if a company is going to promote, assuming any degree of honesty, who will they promote: the worker who is always on tome, who always comes through, and who is consistently helpful and cooperative? Or the one who is often late to work and on deadlines, who complains ands who back-stabs?

Who will go first in a lay off?  You do the math.

Like I said, this blog is not for the faint of heart…


Categories: Uncategorized

Hey-you out there with a gift… yes you!

So what shall I talk about today, in my one-sided conversation in cyberspace? I have covered the easy stuff: make sure your resume has NO errors. Make sure you research the company and write a unique cover letter. Make sure the job really is a fit and you believe you are the best candidate. Be prepared to interview—about which much more could be said it not by way of a blog. (I can coach people on this if they wish.)

You may have noticed the tagline of this blog says it’s not for everyone. Why do you think I said this? Well, much research has shown that people get attached to their ideas and tend not to be wiling to change them or consider their flaws. So I can’t do anything to help those people—they are sure they already know whatever there is to know. (See

But most of us are pretty darned human and need a mirror– and we need to learn more then we already know. THOSE are the folks I am interested in talking to.  Are you brave enough to say “Hmmm. Maybe I don’t know…” Are you someone who knows you have to make the world a better place and just need to know someone else sees that your gift is, indeed, important enough to share?

Good! Contact me!

What Is A Fit?

Many of the folks I am in touch with are worried about getting jobs—many have degrees from on line schools. I personally don’t think they need to worry. There are (by some accounts) as many as 70 workers per job opening. “The most conservative official estimates indicate that 15 million unemployed workers are now chasing 2.5 million jobs openings. A more realistic estimate would show that there are 10 unemployed workers for every open job.”


So what do you do if you are one of those applicants, fresh out of the military?


First, do your research. What are your skills? What did your degree teach you over and above the name of it—i.e. “IT” or “Health Care”? Did it teach you to be disciplined and make sure you met deadlines? Did it teach you to be a self starter?


These are the things that are in your hands—and it is up to you to spell that out–for yourself and for a future employer. Whatever your degree is and wherever it is from, that is a minimal part of what will make you seem like the perfect person for a given job. But make sure you really are the perfect person for the job.


That requires two things—an inventory of your strengths and weaknesses—and the details of the company you are applying to.


More next time!



Categories: Uncategorized

So what’s with HR Blunders?

I know I am again preaching heresy… that Human Resources folks may not all be geniuses..  But I have dealt with them. I was a consultant they paid very well to assist them with hiring, firing and all manner of issues which companies face. There were three of us on the team– and I between us we had a HUGE amount of “in the trenches” “chops.” yet I wish I had a hundred bucks for each tome we were told “but that would never work” for what we knew were best practices. So, you see… these people (almost) all read the same books and make the same mistakes.”

If you follow the news you know how often people are badly hired… and badly fired.  Shucks–the fact that most corporations  now look only to their shareholders should tell you a lot– they don’t care about you, dear job seeker, and the family you have always supported in your military career… and they only will when you have become a “key” person. Which, as you knock on the  door, fresh out of the service, you are not.

So here are a few of the things they do: First off, as you may know, follow a pattern to slog though the excess of resumes. ANY error may get you (your resume) sh*tcaned….so you had best get the resume right. (More on that later as well.)

Second, if you send out the same cover letter to everyone you may as well go fishing… or biking or whatever you enjoy doing–because this will not impress a single soul who reads it. (Which is one reason you REALLY OUGHT to have been more patient when  your English composition teacher TRIED to teach you how to write well!)

So… the fact that HR people are probably overworked and underwhelmed by most applicants  is just ONE SMALL PART of what you need to know to stand out.

Anyone with Half a Brain…

Would… learn how to use BOTH halves! Yes–your brain does have two halves. There is the left brain and the right brain, and they are different–and largely separate. (

You left brain a is a serial processor–it goes step by step. Your right brain is a “parallel” processor. This is more like the spokes in a wheel–information can get from a distance to the “core” immediately, without steps. This can be much faster and more accurate: studies have demonstrated this. (

So-called “unconscious perception” is right brain perception. (The speech center is in the left side so the right side does not use words.)

Now this is, of course heresy, as you have been taught by way of left brain learning and “everyone know that logic is all that matters and everything else is a distraction, right?


We all (think we) know ” distractions are “bad”.  It’s the left brain that has to plod along and gets “distracted”  if the sequence of steps is interrupted. But actually, students with ADD are often better students than those less easily distracted. My hunch is it is because they have had to learn to integrate some right brain skills.

Being able to access both would help. don’t you think? Stay tuned…..

Categories: Uncategorized

No, you probably are not an excellent writer…

Sad, but true. I have taught many students– many of them military. Most corpsmen or nurses or radiologists.  They cannot write.  They are deeply concerned about their patients: however, many are non native speakers. They may be potentially terrific employees in the civilian sector–but they have lots of competition and they need to pass the first barrier- GETTING THEIR RESUME READ! (TIP– all the advice you got for free is probably worth what you paid for it.)

Is it “negative” to say many job seekers cannot write well? Probably– but it is no more negative than a correct diagnosis of a patient–if it is accurate. So if you would prefer to skip the job-seeking  step of  knowing your strengths and weaknesses… read no further!

All experts agree, most incoming college students were not skilled writers, even a decade ago. Those seeking degrees in their profession, such as health care, or in, say, IT, do not see a need to write well. (And no one loves slogging through a course that makes them feel stupid, such as composition or–heaven forbid–“critical thinking.”) As a result, those graduating with degrees, even from traditional schools, tend to be poor writers.  (see

Add in the Internet age and the for profit schools.. and you can say with great certainty the “excellent communication skills” requirement in almost every job posting is wishful thinking. (More on what else  employers think that is not realistic in a future blog post.)

Again, the ability to put yourself in  the shoes of the person looking to hire you is of high importance. VERY high. But most people lack this skill. In fact, the skills that produce excellence are not taught in school. And I spent 6 years active and one full year Active Reserve– I know “excellence” is not a part of  military culture. “Close enough for government work”–this was our motto. In fact, definition #4 for “soldier” in Merriam Webster Dictionary is “one who shirks work”.

So, only a few of these military members who are fortunate enough not to be disabled due to combat conditions will be ready to access the exact job that they are a fit for–the the MUTUAL benefit of both employer and employee–and the “consumers” for health care–without some help.