Ok, so... January is almost over and you are struggling with continuing to get in shape and pay off the holiday credit. (You're in good company! I'm right there with you!) Have you taken a few moments to figure out how to make yourself a better candidate for a new job opportunity in 2014?

Whether or not you are currently employed, take a moment to think about self improvement. What did you do in 2013 in order to make yourself more valuable to the company you work for, your manager, or your future employer?

Many people expect that they have the right to be promoted/hired while doing nothing out of the ordinary. Those individuals getting promoted are doing quite a bit out of the ordinary of their everyday job. Some ideas may be:

-Take a class in your field. Better, enroll towards a higher level degree than what you currently have! In my years of recruiting, I have never heard someone being passed over on a promotion for having too much education. It's never too late, and there are many online courses to assist older students with families and careers in completing collegiate degrees.

-Start a blog. Get intricately familiar with your subject of choice! Your writing and communication skills are sure to improve! Talk to them. Maybe even help them too! You can start a local networking event if you know enough people from various industries.

-Get involved in your community. Becoming a more well-rounded person makes you a better employee.

-Most importantly, make sure your attendance is impeccable! Nobody likes a pilot who cancels at 3 am before a flight! Stay until the job gets done. Put in 100%, consistently, every day.

Let's set the bar higher for 2014! No more mediocrity. Let's show the world how it's done and all get promoted!!!
 
 
Don't worry: I didn't put a picture on this blog article!

A few weeks ago, a dear friend posed a metaphorical question: How much douche could a douchebag douche if a douchebag could douche douche? And I texted her immediately, asking if she was responding to an email from our prior head honcho.

So...I posed the question to my loyal facebook fans: How do you know your manager is a "big fizzy douche" (to coin a musical number in Chuck Lorre's ingenious and always entertaining show, "Two and a Half Men"? The response was overwhelming, and emails are still coming in.

So, with no further ado, are you, or do you have, a DOUCHE BOSS? Here is a Top 10 Get Hired and Beyond Exclusive List!

10. You take no accountability for your team, point fingers, and blame others for your disinterest and inadequacy.
9. You treat your employees as objects, rather than humans. This is especially true and especially disgusting at termination time. 
8. You lie or make false promises, including (but not limited to): promises of raises and promotions which the company cannot back up (and you are well aware of the carrot you dangle.)
7. Instead of focusing on employee accomplishments, you nitpick the 3 minutes someone is late because they are stuck in traffic, commuting half an hour or more, to get to your stress-filled crap zone of despair. (Ok, maybe that's one of my personal contributions.)
6. You speak to your subordinates as though they were minions. Or small, stupid children. Or small, stupid minions. Being demeaning and demoralizing is a very douche way to talk to individuals you personally hired for skill and expertise.
5. You don't delegate work appropriate for the staff you hired because nobody will do it as well as you do, thereby making very intelligent people fixate on mediocre crap.
4. You devalue anything in your employees' lives besides work and expect them at your beck and call, at minimum wage, around the clock. (Right, Boss from #7?)
3. You are too self absorbed to notice that morale has gone down the toilet, faster than your team can say "Douche!"
2. You rule through a culture of intimidation, rather than a culture of respect. Yeah, that sucks on the receiving end!
1. You ask a minimum wage employee for a personal loan, then threaten to penalize the person since they did not provide you with said loan. (I actually heard that from someone this week, and think that takes the KING DOUCHE CROWN!)

Sorry to have offended anyone with the repeated usage of the word "douche'. Please feel free to take creative license when sharing with others, and change to ass-hat, crap-nozzle, jerkoff, or any other term that truly encompasses the ultimate douche-ness of a prior (or current) boss. 

Feel free to share in comments or privately how your boss has been a huge douche to you! Your anonymous quote may make it into an upcoming blog!

I shall now go burst into the musical number made famous by Walden Schmidt and Alan Harper! And...I can't sing!
 
 
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No, my loyal readers, this is not a pornographic post! Your cover letter should be no more than 3 paragraphs. 3 short paragraphs! You really don't want to lose your audience before he/she opens your resume.

And speaking of resumes, there is various discussion of whether a resume should span 1 or 2 pages. Based on your level of experience, I am fine with a resume spanning 2 pages, going back no longer than 10 years. Please, any longer than that, and you are not going to captivate your audience in the 20 seconds or less it takes to scan said resume. A full CV is not required for most positions, but is helpful to have on your hard drive to discuss talking points which may be over 10 years old but remain relevant. 

When to follow up after an interview? More than a day is too long! A brief thank you email, including an opening to have the interviewer contact you with questions should be in his/her inbox no later than the morning after you interviewed. Too much time goes by, and your follow up skills may be questioned, especially if a competing candidate emailed sooner! 

Good luck and happy hunting!



 
 
If you do not reach a deadline, get tangled up in a great deal of minutia, or simply dropped the ball in an area, man (or woman) up! Let the boss know what happened in a humble and professional manner, and take the initiative to resolve the issue via a proactive approach. Come up with solution prior to meeting with your supervisor and offer it in a confident and friendly manner. Nobody is perfect, and nobody expects you to be. However, being a responsible employee involves accountability for areas you may fall short.

I am not saying if you are a pilot and land the plane nose-down that there will not be more drastic consequences! (For my pilot friends who regularly read the blog). However, in the normal course of a non life-threatening day, take accountability in areas and ask for help when you need it. That is why teamwork exists: to assist, to delegate, to offer help to a colleague.

Conversely, when up for a promotion, identify areas where you succeeded. Highlight to your boss the big wins within the organization, and discuss the bottom line results (financial profitability, savings, new customers, long term customer retention, etc.) These are great areas to showcase when you are in an interview as well. Be aware of and proud of what you contribute to the organization. 

 

 
 
I can’t tell you how many employees come to me unprepared. They have old resumes, forgot their resume, dog ate the resume, dog peed on the resume. And my first thought is: will this person be more prepared for a presentation?
 
Today, I was meeting a student for a scheduled appointment to review his resume. I rushed my lunch in order to meet with him on time. He “thought I emailed the resume to myself, but I guess I didn’t.” I thought you’d potentially be a good candidate, but I guess you aren’t? What’s the deal? Why are you unemployed? Let me count the reasons...

Be ready for an interview, job fair, or networking event. It isn’t as though it fell out of the sky. I am sure you knew it was coming! Take time to run your interview answers off a friend, think about what you are going to wear, how you are going to present, and what you are going to bring in your portfolio to make you look like a superstar. Otherwise, all you are doing is cutting into my lunch hour or my productive time that I could be spending with someone else, and I don’t like that!

 
 
I understand that many of you are not reading my blog with pockets of disposable income. Many of you are reading it in the hopes of getting ahead with your career, or getting out of an unemployment or underemployment type of situation. Regardless, one thing that is critically important to know in developing a business, brand, or career path is that it takes money to make money!

Things you will need to budget for your job search include:
-A business suit or 2 if you have extra interviews (yep, I am a broken record about that damn suit!)
-Polished and professional business shoes
-Hosiery (women) or nice new socks (men)
-A few classic ties and dress shirts in neutral colors (men)
-Printer ink
-Nice paper for your resume
-A leatherette portfolio in which to present your resume
-Gas/transportation costs, may include overnight if you are open to relocation
-Relocation expenses if the company does not reimburse the full amount

Please make sure you have enough to get in front of the employer. Show the hiring manager how professional you can look and be. Dress for success, and success will follow with the right attitude!

 
 
At a job fair event, I met a gentleman who impressed me so much and was a consummate professional. He was well spoken, and chatted with me while I was setting up my audio-visual presentation. During this time, he joked around with me and was personable and funny.

After the presentation, he thanked me politely for my time, and followed up with me shortly after on Facebook and LinkedIn. His follow up was impeccable, and based on the professional presentation he offered, I would eagerly refer him to anyone I know for a job.

Take a page out of this gentleman's book. Smile. Laugh. Network with people as though they are people and not just a means to a job. They will remember it and respect you for it!
 
 
Everyone has it. Some people thrive on it. But no employers get excited about it.

It is personal drama! Understandably, life happens. Relatives die. Kids get sick. Cars break down. People use their paid time off in a variety of ways, and life keeps happening, even when we are busy making other plans. What I can tell you is this: if you are a drama magnet, you will not endear  yourself to your boss. 

If you are chronically missing work, sleeping in, and making excuses, you are not going to get promoted. Similarly, if you are a chronic gossip, you won't be making a whole lot of friends.  

Leave the drama to the performing arts and get your job done at work. You may even get a raise!
 
 
Sometimes in management, a difficult decision needs to be made, involving a freeze on salary increases/raises, or a layoff issue. Unless you were fired for disciplinary or performance reasons, this is not an indication of how your employer feels about you as a human being. Similarly, you should not share in an interview that your employer “hated you”, “discriminated against you”, or “harassed you”. You should share that a business decision was made to incur a reduction in staff, and you were a casualty of that reduction. When you badmouth your boss or prior boss, it is very unprofessional and unappealing, as you are in an interview to put your best foot forward.

Similarly, when you resign from an organization, whether for a relocation or better opportunity, consider it a business decision. If your employer takes it personally, it is okay to explain that you needed to make a move, whether for financial gain or employment growth. Tell your employer that it is not personal, but a business decision, with the opportunity to advance in your career. Anyone who respects you as an individual and an employee should understand. If not, that signifies that you may have been in the wrong place, and that you are making the right decision. Regardless, both sides are acting in the interest of what is best.

 
 
Please do me a favor as a fellow human being: don’t tell me that you don’t have any weaknesses, whether in an interview or anywhere else. For starters, that’s bullshit! And it makes you sound like an arrogant jerk.

This question is asked, not to challenge your abilities, but to see how you effectively can answer a difficult question. Answering it with tact and honesty, and being prepared for it in advance, will assist you in sounding confident and professional, not cocky. Remember, people hire who they like!

Some ideas include:

(From an entry level candidate): “While I am newly licensed/graduated, I lack the experience you may find in someone more seasoned. However, what I lack in time in this career, I make up for in (SHARE STRENGTHS HERE).

(From someone with heavy experience/potentially overqualified): “While at first glance, I may seem overqualified for this position, I can provide you with flexible hours, a great deal of firsthand experience, and understand the salary range for the position. I am interested in becoming a long term player within the organization.”

Other ways to answer the question include sharing what you have done to overcome a professional weakness, or how you work now on improving an area which requires a little extra. If you research the position and find a minor area where you can be trained, that may be a good discussion point.

Please don’t tell me you are a perfectionist. That isn’t a weakness. It’s arrogance!