Friday, July 5, 2013

The Searchers

I want to begin by promising my mostly imaginary readers that this post will not be a book review from Goodreads. I have had some free time recently, so I have been able to finish a few books that I had been reading plus had plenty of time to write reviews for them. My three most recent posts were book reviews which makes four straight going back to March and five out of the last six going back to February. Instead of a book review, I am going to discuss a few topics somewhat related to career.

I was contacted recently by a friend I had not seen in a few years. He was the primary organizer of our friendly neighborhood get-togethers. I had thought that he had gotten a new job, and he and his family had moved somewhere out west. Instead, it seems that the job offer fell through, the family had not moved, and he has been busy getting his own business off the ground. He was previously a recruiter for various companies. Now, he is trying his hand as a career consultant. He is also working on a book. He asked me to stop by his office for a conversation. I readily agreed but mostly because his new venture is headquartered in the offices behind his sister-in-law's and her husband's new brewery.

The visit went well. I am glad that he is still in the area, and we discussed getting the get-togethers restarted. Those have fallen off significantly since he stopped participating. Unfortunately, I was never quite clear on his intentions for me. He obviously was looking for assistance with his new business from several different angles. Specifically what he was looking for from me was never quite clear. He mentioned technical help with the company although I assume on a volunteer basis. He was also discretely looking for investors. (However, he has been not-so-discretely searching for funding via the online site Fundly.) Of course, I am also a potential client for his career services and a customer for his book. In the end, I just enjoyed the conversation and the free beer.

In other news, my company has recently gone through a reorganization which included some layoffs. Several people that I know were affected including three in my group. Some of the affected people I know were older, so they were able to take early-retirement. I was switched to another department, but at the moment, my job is safe. In fact, a few months back, I was approached about an open position in a different group under a manager I know pretty well. I interviewed with that manager, was offered the position, and accepted. However, my transition was blocked by the manger of my new department. While you would think being needed that much would be a good thing, I do not think that is the case here. My recent annual rating was only average. I had discussions about a promotion with both my previous and potential managers, but my current manager has not been receptive to that idea. However, I did get a decent raise which helped somewhat salve my disgruntlement.

I also ran into one of my old managers at a recent chapter meeting of my particular professional organization. I have always been friendly with this guy. At our previous company, he and I played on a softball team together. His son and daughter also stepped up to play a few games for the team when we needed some extra players. I started called him "bossman" in the softball field and eventually in the office. He organized outings to hockey games. Unfortunately, I learned that he had just lost his job and was now looking for a new position.

Which brings us to the topic covered during that particular chapter meeting. The presentation just so happened to be from a career counselor. I paid rapt attention and took notes. I am sharing some of his career tips covering résumé-writing and interviewing below.

  • Your résumé should be in a readable font such as 11 point Times New Roman
  • Your name and email address should be at the top of each page on your résumé
  • Have a professional summary instead of an objective statement
  • Research the company to know what they do and what they are looking for
  • Instead of just a résumé, make the document a proposal presenting solutions 
  • Include a list of skills specific to the job posting to which you are responding
  • Address every key word in the description from the job posting
  • Your résumé should be limited to two pages with all the fluff removed
  • Do not list your membership in organizations that are not related to the job posting
  • Be well-groomed with a professional-looking haircut, trimmed fingernails and shined shoes
  • Again, do some research in order to be knowledge about the company
  • Do not under-dress or significantly overdress for the interview
  • Dress a step above how current employees at your potential position in the company dress
  • Answer the "Tell me about yourself" inquiry with a professional response that addresses solutions to the job posting
  • Have prepared questions for the interviewer such as "How does this position contribute to the overall success of the company?"

The speaker was a retired lieutenant colonel in the United States Army, so some of his tips such as the shined shoes reflect that experience. However, he also had experience in the private sector, and some of this tips such as not overdressing the part reflect that.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Review: Smoke and Mirrors

Smoke and Mirrors
Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I has been has been quite a long time since I read Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere, Stardust, and American Gods. In fact, it was several years before I joined Goodreads. However, I remember thoroughly enjoying all three of those novels. (I also thought the movie version of Stardust was great.) I do have to admit that I have not read any of his graphic novels though.

Perhaps it is the length of time that has elapsed or perhaps it is just the prudish American in me, but I do not remember his novels being particularly disturbing or having a heavy reference to sex. With many of the stories and poems in this book, it almost seems that the author is just trying to be shocking for the sake of being shocking. Many of the works either focus on sex directly or relate tangentially and usually in an overly creepy manner. Some other selections might not have concerned sex per se but still managed to relate to genitalia with the male type seemingly more referenced than female. While I really do not think of myself as particularly prudish, all this just did not work for me. However, I did find the various works readable, and almost all of them were thought-provoking which I very much did appreciate.

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