23 January 2014

I Welcome Our Robot Overlords

Resume scanning software. Ghastly. Gone are the days of the whimsically written resume and the manual review. Toss in a handful of keywords, delete the word creative, and voila, maybe someone will pay attention to you.
Fortunately, the way to evade being passed over by the robots is to add more robots.
I popped my resume over to Jobscan and threw a few job descriptions into the other field. I haven't updated my resume in a while (whoops), so it was expected that I only matched the descriptions at about a 56 percent rate. If you're new to seeding your resume with keywords, this is a great place to test what words work for you.

20 January 2014

In praise of an emergency fund

Today I came out to my car to find the front left tire completely flat. A bit of Fix-a-Flat later, I was off to the mechanic. In months past I would be freaking out, "I can't afford this!" But this time, I had the assurance of an emergency fund.
Building savings while unemployed or digging out of debt is horribly difficult, but it can be done. Best of all, it helps to break the debt cycle. It's not fun or glamorous, but it helps.
My mode was to automate my emergency fund and save spare change until I had enough to deposit. Not having the dull feeling of doom made it worth the months of scrimping.

09 December 2013

Against DIY Gifts

You're un/under-employed, so you're cutting costs for the holidays. Cue the avalanche of Pinterest-flavored posts on jar-based gifts.
Lucky Charms marshmallows? Another take on granola? Pepper vodka? Spare me.
Why am I so Grinchy about handmade gifts? I love hand-knit beanie and scarf presents....
It's the lack of thought as to real cost. Yes, you might be able to give a thrifty gift by saving all of your spaghetti sauce jars and mass-producing your family gifts. However, the time that's required to put together all these glass container concoctions (not to mention the cost of materials) may actually be more expensive than seeking out a just-as-sentimental gift from Amazon.

If you're still bent on a whimsical DIY gift, here are a few more personalized suggestions:

  • Note cards that feature your (good) photography. A useful yet creative gift.
  • Handcrafts exclusive to you. If you're a champion knitter, by all means, knit something spiffy. If someone knit me a sock monkey, I'd set that thing up on my desk and incorporate it into staff meetings. Ballin'.
  • Scrapbooks from times together. If you're going DIY, go the whole hog. The recipient will be so jazzed you took the time and put thought into such a unique gift. The same can't be said for granola.

13 July 2013

Bad Boss

I've been wanting to tackle this topic for quite a while, but with much apprehension. One of the hallmark of bad bosses is you don't want to speak ill of the defunct, lest it affect your career. Nobody wants to be the whiner. And especially in this economy, unless you're in horrific conditions and subject to daily abuse you want to keep your job until you can flip to something better.
Tons of horrible boss lists exist, imploring supervisors to dial back that narcissism just a bit, please. Other articles warn jobseekers about managerial red flags.
But sometimes you just have a bad boss and you didn't recognize it at first because you were so desperate for the job. Or maybe you are the boss and don't realize how callous you are to your employees.

Are you a bad boss?
Do you:

  • Require inhumane amounts of unpaid overtime
  • Treat interns like slave labor to prop up your (dying) business
  • Scream at/around underlings; making them your personal psychiatrists
  • Belittle their education or training to make yourself appear better
  • Ask employees to assist in cutting "dingleberries" from your aging cat (seriously, it happened!), or any other super personal errand not part of the job description
  • Refuse to fire dead-weight employees due to your own apathy or sentimentalism
It's one thing to make employees occasionally stay overtime on a critical project. It's another to make every assignment a critical project. I once had a supervisor who assumed that no one had a life outside of work. I'm not speaking as a millennial bemoaning a lack of work/life balance. I'm talking about routinely requiring the minions to stay past 9 p.m. because of (ultimately unsuccessful) projects that got dreamed up at the last minute to occupy time. The business had people commuting in from large distances, so it was even more inconsiderate. I ultimately left due to other issues, but I was glad I never had to endure such fruitless long hours ever again.

The intern fiasco is something that's close to my heart because I've been a 20-nothing, multiple-internship-taking workaholic journalist. Internships are the bread and butter of journalism students, for sure. And yes, some interns are a pain because they don't work hard and expect to be praised for every little thing. But it's easy to misuse the internship as a way to ensure a contant stream of cheap/free labor into a business. Do that too frequently and you could eventually end up in legal trouble. Completing an internship isn't a guarantee of future employment, either, so if you take an unpaid internship, you're essentially paying for the slight chance of having a shot at a job. Depending on the employer, it may not be worth it.

Sometimes work is work. You grit your teeth and get past professional unpleasantness. Millennials are oft accused of being lazy and entitled. I've witnessed this to an extent in my own various jobs, though I think it's rarer than older folks think. And I think many millennials' motives are misunderstood, as this article suggests.

But here's a clue that you're not being mistreated in your work.
"C'est la vie" traits of bosses:
  • Requiring moderate but fair amounts of unpaid overtime
  • Giving employees assignments mildly out of their purview because it's a small business
  • Requiring personal errands because you hired a personal assistant (if you don't want to get uncomfortably intimate with your boss' daily life, don't take this job!)
  • Constructive criticism of your work
Setting realistic expectations for your job helps to combat the ennui that comes with day after day of work. I hope you've never had a bad boss, but if you have a particularly humorous or compelling story, please post in the comments.

24 June 2013

Wherein I Fire Facebook

In all the fallout from the Snowden and NSA scandal, I think the only surprise news was that journalists woke up and actually started doing investigative reporting. Checking sources?! Stop the presses!
I don't think anyone with a shred of discernment was shocked that many companies track users and communications. Information is currency and some companies' currency rivals that of governments. Nevertheless, I decided to delete my Facebook account for a few reasons:

  • I wanted to protest (in some small, futile way) the creeping disregard for privacy (Verizon, you're next on my list!)
  • As a journalist, I shudder at the number of my colleagues citing sources from Facebook. Seriously. If you believe things posted on Facebook, I have some great swampland in Florida to sell you.
  • From a job perspective, having a Facebook account doesn't help me. If I want to post public information for potential employers, I'll stick to LinkedIn or this blog.
  • Facebook is incredibly hackable. Again, if I want people to see pictures of me with my prize-winning rutabaga (not a euphemism), I'll post them to either of the above outlets.

18 March 2013

How To Annoy Via Email

Myriad keystrokes have been devoted to email etiquette, but in last few weeks I've found annoying emails reaching a critical mass in my inbox. If you're job-searching and are guilty of these grievances, you might want to rethink your employment strategy.

Infractions that make me want to chew glass:

  • Reconfirming appointments multiple times even though you use Gmail and can see the entire conversation. Google calendar. Use it.
  • Extremely long signature lines with favorite quotes, apologies for clumsy iPhone usage, or "funny" job titles.
  • Color fonts, weird fonts, overused bold, italic or the cardinal sin, ALL CAPS THAT SCREAM I WANT MY PRUNE JUICE NOW, WHIPPERSNAPPER. I usually just hit delete rather than read. Smoke signals would be more effective communication.
  • Forwards of any sort. If you sent me an email about our meeting, don't send me a follow up on how Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton use the blood of unicorns to condition their hair.
  • Waxing philosophical when I just sent a simple question necessitating a simple reply. If your email isn't kierkegard&maimonideslovechild@kant.com, just answer the freaking question.

15 March 2013

Holding Pattern

I just moved into the city. I'm not normally finicky about sleeping environments given my normal predilection for sleep deprivation, but the past week has been an exception. So catching up on blogs is a better option than counting squeals from rabid possums.
Last night I caught up on The Art of Non-Conformity, and I liked this post. Plus it quotes one of my favorite philosophers, Tom Petty.
One of the hardest lessons for me to learn while job searching was to not only wait patiently, but to continue pursuing other options. It was difficult not to pin all my hopes on the current prospect, freezing my life for that fateful phone call or email. Holding patterns stink.