There is one key rule in management: never hire anyone desperate or stupid enough to work for someone like you. Unfortunately, at some point in your management career you may need to replace an employee who was smart enough to quit.
If and when this happens, you will probably come across something known as a “resume” and its useless cousin, the “cover letter.”
Back when people used typewriters and an archaic delivery system known as the U.S. Postal Service, cover letters served the important function of protecting resumes against damage caused by psychotic postal workers.
Since the advent of computers sometime around 1885, resumes have been sent via email. Today, the purpose of a cover letter is to avoid attaching a resume to a completely blank email, which is frowned upon in some cultures.
You will recognize a cover letter by its adherence to the following format:
Beginning: Blah-blah-blah. Blah-blah-blah. Middle: Blah-blah-blah. Blah-blah-blah-blah. End: My resume is attached.
While most managers read only the resume, you should always print out and read the cover letter as well. This is a handy way to kill time and avoid doing actual work. Perhaps more important, it can serve as inexpensive gift wrap, lining for a birdcage, or holiday party confetti.
Under no circumstances should you pay attention to the following: Read More →
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As we near the end of the second quarter, there’s been a lot of wobbly news out there about the economy. Jobs numbers are up one month, down the next. But what’s really down is people’s job satisfaction (surprise, surprise). According to the Mercer consulting firm, half of U.S. workers are unhappy with their bosses, 1/3 want to quit their job, and 20% are mentally checked out.
Sheesh. That’s a whole lot of not wanting to get up in the morning for work.
But before you quit that day job in favor of greener pastures, I’d like you to hit the “pause” button—particularly if you’re in the middle of a huge project or new initiative. Consider the following:
You may currently be working on your greatest hit. One that will pay dividends and help you open doors and land countless jobs in the future. If you split before you’ve had a chance to see it through, it could negatively impact your career narrative for decades to come. Starting projects is easy; finishing them (and living to tell about it) is what will get you hired elsewhere. Read More →
Everyone knows that things slow down in the weeks before and after Christmas. People want to head to parties, decompress, and take a long winter’s nap after duking it out in Corporate America for a whole year.
But every year, in the week before July 4th, I start getting panicked calls from candidates whose active searches have gone into a holding pattern. As someone who’s been doing this for 11 years, this phenomenon is just like the vortex between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. What gives?
Year-end Fiscal. Most people think the end of year is right before the ball drops at Times Square. But for more and more companies, their ball drops at the end of June. That means that head count allocations, budgeting, and performance reviews are all happening NOW. Hiring managers’ attention will naturally be more focused on internal issues. Be patient.
Hiring Managers Are People Too. Lives, family obligations, vacation schedules—we’re talking about humans here. And if managers have been slogging it out for the first half of the year, you can bet that they’re going to take a break when things slow down and long weekends are an option again. Many companies these days give an extra day or two around July 4th. Respect this, and know that people who’ve been on vacation usually come back focused and energized and perhaps more receptive to your candidacy than before they left, frazzled. Just give them a day or two to get back in the swing of things. And if you get their vacation schedule ahead of time, you might be able to sneak in a break while they are gone too.
It all started with an innocent question from Leslie, a college student just trying to get her thesis done. She emailed the Washington Post humor columnist Gene Weingarten to ask him how he had built his “personal brand over the years.” Not one to mess around, Weingarten used this letter as a reason to write about getting fed up “personal branding” and similar marketing terms.
The best way to build a brand is to take a three-foot length of malleable iron and get one end red-hot. Then, apply it vigorously to the buttocks of the instructor who gave you this question. You want a nice, meaty sizzle.
It gets a little more graphic after that. Several writers were on hand to leap to the defense of personal branding. Paul Carr of Techcruch, for instance, pointed out that Weingarten seemed happy enough to use his own photo (branding!) in a column prompted by someone else’s proposal (user-generated content!). Read More →
Monster starts its own job network, the Facebook app BeKnown. Now you can “manage your professional identity and your social identity in one place,” rather than through multiple sites and social networks. Yay? [Mashable]
CNET has a list of the companies that probably make up Google’s enemy list. And with company like this, it’s probably just an honor to be nominated.
The New York Times ponders Klout and its potential weaknesses.
Would you fire the ranty Southwest pilot who complained about having to work with flight attendants who were a “continuous stream of gays and grannies and grandes”? The odd part is when he’s told that he’s transmitting his bitchy chitchat but keeps on talking …. [The HR Capitalist]
If you’re a startup with limited funds, then you have no choice but to hire generalists. Employees who wear many hats can produce a minimally viable product faster and more cheaply. And a smaller team means a nimbler team, which takes less time to make decisions.
The downside, of course, is that rarely will someone be an excellent engineer, product person and CEO all rolled in one. Rarely is someone a great saleswoman, marketer, and financial analyst. And even more rarely is someone a great UX designer, writer, visual designer, and researcher. Everyone has a finite number of strengths, and that means that your startup will suffer from a lack of talent in the areas in which your team is weak.
Fast-forward a bit, to when your company has grown to the point at which you can start hiring for specialized positions. You can bring in the top players in all the essential disciplines and start filling out the areas in which you’ve been weak. From a hiring perspective, things get a bit easier: you know exactly what you need. However, the startup world still tends to attract players who can play multiple positions. It rarely attracts star single-position players. You may still find yourself interviewing generalists—some of whom are very talented—but the organization you’ve now created mostly needs specialists. If you hire a generalist for a specialist position, he or she is likely to feel underutilized and start branching out of the space you’ve carved out for them. Read More →
It may sound funny, but the best product people are the ones you rarely see. Being a great product person means that you understand your own business, the competitive landscape, and current market trends, but most importantly, it means you understand your users.
Everyone has opinions, and opinions can be good, but they can also be dangerous. The biggest trap for product people is to have an opinion on day one—whether “day one” means it’s a new product or that you’re new to the position or new to the company.
Opinions based on nothing but your gut are just assumptions. If you make statements like “This is how people are going to use our product” and “I know what people are looking for, so let’s build that,” and you only have your opinion to back them up, than what you’re really saying is, “This is how I assume people are going to use our product” and “I think I know what people are looking for, so let’s build that.” When you do this, you’re guessing, and guessing leads to failure.
What you should be doing is getting out of the office and talking to your users (either current or potential). Opinions and assumptions are good, but then you have to get out and talk to people. Ask users how they do their job, what frustrates them, and what would improve it. These conversations should be made before and (even more important) during development. As you build, bring prototypes to the users and expand the conversation by asking them to use the prototypes. Ask them what they like and don’t like about them. Does it solve a problem for them? Does it make their life easier? Read More →
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