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Don’t air Your Dirty Laundry on Social Media

Tonight I watched in disbelief as a social media page in my hometown blew up with accusations against a corporate restaurant that specializes in “all you can eat” buffet style cuisine. Apparently a woman took her daughter out for her birthday along with her mother and got bad service. She posted photos, and videos online because her mother was accused by the waitress of putting food in her purse. At buffet restaurants, you can’t take home the leftovers. The manager also approached the table and the woman started recording the encounter on her phone.

She posted the video on a Community Facebook page with 35,000 followers, where she called out the waitress and manager by name. Also included was a very long-winded story with all the sordid details. She was pissed off that her mother was accused of theft and called 911. I’m sure any of us would be angry to be falsely accused of theft, although calling 911 is a bit over the top since 911 is supposed to be used for life and death emergencies. But that’s not the issue here. I’m cringing over the fact she immediately went public on Facebook and it went viral, forcing the company to issue a statement. According to the thread, there may even be a lawsuit.

Our local TV station picked up the story, and now the incident will live for a very long time on page one of Google, easily searchable to a future employer. Many of the followers on the Facebook page are demanding that the manager and waitress be fired. Maybe they should. I don’t know, I wasn’t there and I don’t work with them or eat at their restaurant.

What I do know is the manager, the named waitress, AND the woman who decided to go public over this slight will probably be looking for a job in the future. It may not be right away, but at one time or another, we’re in the job market. And any astute HR manager will find this story online during the background check and move on to the next candidate. No one wants drama in the workplace regardless of who was at fault during the incident. It’s a HUGE distraction.

Stop Complaining online
Photo by Omar Prestwich on Unsplash

Don’t Stoop to Conquer.

Mistakes happen. If someone accused me of wrongdoing, the last thing I would do is publicize it for the world to know. Even if I was right. Airing dirty laundry can get very stinky. Now the credibility of the waitress, the manager, and the accuser are all in question. When you get in a pissing match with a skunk, you all smell bad.

Social media has become the judge and jury of these arguments, and frankly, no one wins. Not the accuser. Not the company. Not the employees. The problem should have been handled better, that’s for sure. But making these situations public can negatively impact one’s career. The accuser will learn that the hard way.

Before you post your drama online, look far into the future. Would you want this to affect your ability to find a good job?

A scorned woman wants revenge. A strong woman moves on. How one handles them-self in these situations speaks volumes.

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Welcome back to Standard Time

This is our nation’s last week of the season on Daylight Saving Time (DST). That’s right, Saving time, not Savings time to which it is commonly and incorrectly referred. It’s that crazy time of year when everyone is buzzing along in good spirits, and WHAM! Darkness on the Monday drive home next week messes with circadian rhythms. Studies show more accidents occur the week after the clocks change than any other time of the year.

Arizona doesn’t change its clocks, except on the Navajo Nation in Northern Arizona. But for those of us dealing with triple digit temperatures in the middle of the summer, the sun setting at 9PM doesn’t make sense. Some think we have it easier, and in some ways we do. For one, we don’t have to remember to change our clocks, at least those not connected to computers that now do it for us. For another, we don’t have the crazy adjustment twice a year of telling our bodies, and our pets that the time has changed. That’s the easy part.

The hard part? Telling the rest of the nation what time it is here. My dad used to say we’re on MST year round. He was right, but it just confused everyone. Now it’s referred to as Arizona Time. During the winter months, we share the same time as our other Mountain state friends in Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Idaho, Montana, and New Mexico.  But come Daylight Saving Time, those states go an hour earlier, while Arizona joins the ranks of Pacific Daylight time. That means we share the same time as California, Oregon, Washington, and Nevada during DST. Growing up in Lake Havasu City we had to remember what time our flight was leaving McCarren Airport in Las Vegas according to the time of year or we would arrive an hour earlier or miss the flight altogether by arriving an hour late. Talk about confusing!

Why is this such a big deal to Arizonans and 1st Rate Resumes? Because we have clients all over the nation. When we’re on Standard time, we’re two hours earlier than the East Coast. During Daylight Saving Time, it’s three hours. Yet people throw out EST year round when they shouldn’t. It’s EDT in the summer, and EST and the winter if you want to be correct. If you’re one of those who uses EST consistently year round, you’re not alone. Even NPR can’t get it right on their own whiteboard rundowns for their national shows!

During the next 4 months, feel free to use EST because you’ll be correct. But keep in mind that on March 8, 2015, EDT returns, and that will become the correct way to schedule appointments across the various time zones.

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5 Telltale Signs Your Resume is Outdated

Logo-rIf you’ve been adding new information to a resume you created years ago, there’s a good chance it’s out of date. Sure it may have worked well for you in 2005, but will it work today? Maybe. Maybe not, depending on how out of date the formatting was on that first draft. Here are a few signs your resume is antiquated.

1.  It has Small Caps in the name or sub-headers. This was a fancy font that resume writers used about 10 years ago. But then we learned that Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) turn the letters to garbage characters, turning your well-crafted resume into an illegible mess. Dump the small caps.

2. It has logos, photos, boxes, or graphs. These items can’t be read by an ATS. Plus using logos on a resume could mean trademark infringement and cause additional issues with a former employer.

3. It’s generic, vague, and verbose. Does it contain big fancy words but no one can get the gist of what you do? Clear and concise is the way to go in 2014. If the reader can’t understand what you have to offer in 15 seconds or less, your job search will slow to a crawl.

4.  It contains a street address. Years ago, we were told it must have an address so you don’t look homeless. But now with Zillow.com, and google maps, everyone can tell what the front of your house looks like, what you paid for it, when you bought it, and what your annual taxes are. Plus with identify theft being a serious consideration, it’s best to not give away too much personal information should your resume end up in the wrong hands.

5. There are underscores throughout the document. Underlines/Underscores can also cause problems with ATS.

It’s nearly impossible to keep up with all the changes from year-to-year with the job search. Recently I learned that it’s been deemed safe to add cum laude back to a resume where in the past we were told it wouldn’t get past spam filters. Hiring a professional resume writer saves you time and money in your job search. Just like tax preparation, the rules are always changing. We’re here to help.

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Don’t Let Facebook Ruin Your Career

Last week I was at a trade show in Las Vegas chatting with some fellow vendors about Facebook. The guy I was talking to at our booth “doesn’t do Facebook” and I understand why. I mentioned that someone in my list of Facebook Friends had been going through a public meltdown, describing intimate details of her broken marriage and fighting with her husband on her page. I had told this person the last time she did it to knock it off. Facebook is not your diary, and it could jeopardize your career. My co-worker at the trade show, a magazine publisher was listening in but had no comment.

A few hours later, the publisher I was working with asked me if I would like to sell advertising for her online magazine, which I had to decline because as a journalist, I tend to keep those things separate. Plus, it was a kids’ magazine, a target demo I know little about. That being said, I started to tell her about someone I knew who would be perfect. “This woman could sell sand at the beach,” I said, and I mentioned she had experience in broadcast advertising and had several kids of her own. She was looking for a work from home job. The magazine publisher was interested, but then I had to tell her the God’s honest truth. The person I was speaking about was the same person I spoke of earlier who was trashing her estranged husband all over Facebook. “No thanks,” said the publisher. “It sounds as if she has no boundaries. But thanks anyway.”

So there you have it. Just because you have a lot of friends on Facebook, and you think your page is private, it really isn’t. And if there’s one particular thing I learned at this convention is that “we all have a brand, whether we want one or not.” Don’t let your brand be tarnished by a foolish rant on Facebook. Every day is your job interview, and you have no idea how many opportunities are wasted because or your own self-published comments.

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The Foibles of Facebook

I was looking for a former colleague the other day on Facebook and lo and behold I found him! Before asking to “friend” him I looked at his profile, and discovered that he was married, and listed his wife’s Facebook page. Apparently you can easily do that with FB.

Out of curiosity I clicked on his wife’s page which was totally available to the public, including all her comments, private life, and even details of a recent doctor’s visit. I was concerned. Not only for her health, but for the career health of her husband. What if he’s looking for a new job? Employers can and will find this information. What most people don’t realize is that HR Directors are wondering “how many people are we going to have to insure with this hire?” along with any other related health issues, etc. Facebook is not the place to be posting your biopsy results.

According to a recent Workforce Management magazine article titled “Five Trends in Employee Screening,” there is more scrutiny by employers of social networking sites. This article was not posted online, so I don’t have a link.

Don’t let the “privacy” button on Facebook fool you either. You can still be tagged in photos, and your comments on your friend’s pages

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Graduating Cum Laude — You May Brag About it Again

When I first starting writing resumes 13 years ago, it was not uncommon for my clients to want tell future employers about how they graduated with honors. The universities use the Latin term “cum laude” on the degree to distinguish these hard working students. However, you may remember that spam emails were rampant early in the new millennium, usually adversiting websites containing adult content or enhancement drugs. Employers began using “spam blockers” to keep sexually explicit messages from ever reaching their company inbox.

This posed a problem for job searchers who were highly qualified and graduated cum laude. That’s because, cum has a different meaning in English than it does Latin, and it became one of those words that triggered the spam blocker. Resumes that listed this phrase never made it to the intended recipient. Instead, the documents were sent directly into spam folders and deleted. Professional resume writers were told not to use the phrase at all, and instead write “with honors.”

As with everything else in the job search, the rules are once again changing. According to chatter this week in resume writer e-groups, the spam blockers from 2004 are no longer relevant, and emails sent back and forth among the members discussing the “cum laude” issue are not being rejected. Perhaps the software has become more context-based, although this is in no way a scientific study.

Does this mean we can go back to using “cum laude” on a resume? Maybe. I always tend to err on the side of caution when it comes to changes like this. However it’s nice to know that students who work hard, and earn top honors are less likely to be ignored anymore because of spam blocking software.

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Can Social Media Derail Your Career?

This blog could also be titled “How to alienate friends, and stay unemployed for a very long time.”

I’ve been involved with Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn for nearly a decade when I joined Linkedin on the advice of a client who was an early adopter. A few years later I found myself exploring Twitter and Facebook and secured my handles while they were still available. Since then, I’ve been an active user of the 3, and learned about the most annoying behaviours, what turns off employers, and causes people to unfriend you or disconnect. If you want to stay happily engaged on social media and keep your prospects open to further your career, learn how to behave in cyberspace.

1. Avoid being preachy, whether it’s your love or hate for the president, or your deep religious faith, there is an extremely good chance you’ve got cyber-friends who don’t feel the same way. Some people have told me “I don’t care, it’s who I am and I won’t hide it.” That’s perfectly fine, however if sometime in the future you’re job hunting, you could be discriminated against for your beliefs without your knowledge. It can freak out future HR Managers who fear of politicking and proselytizing in the workplace. Politics and religions should not be discussed in polite company anyway. The same goes for Facebook.

2. Watch the extreme details about your health issues. I understand if you need prayers for an ailment, just keep the dirty details to yourself. For one, it’s illegal for employers to ask if you have any health issues prior to hiring you. So, why would you want to publicize that information? I’ve had people tell me they only share this type of information with a select few (like 100 others!) and then can’t understand that once it’s public, it’s OK to share, and people do! Employers could become skeptical about whether you’re healthy enough to work.

3. Family squabbles need to be kept in the family. I’ve seen husbands and wives argue on a Facebook page! Or worse, a wife berating her husband about what a lazy ass he is. That shows more about your discretion of private matters than it does your husband’s laziness and that makes companies fear you won’t be discrete with their secrets either. Plus, they don’t like a lot drama in their workplace.

Facebbok Dont 9

4. Don’t critique your job interviews. Better yet, don’t even announce you have a job interview. Doing so not only creates competition, and again, it tells future managers you reveal too much information on meetings that should be kept private, even if you don’t mention names. I’ve seen a few (long term) job seekers continuously bad mouth interviewers, some even mentioning the name of the company, and post it in LinkedIn group forums, Facebook, and on twitter.

 

Facebook DONT

5. Posting long diatribes of your inner most thoughts is another way to derail your career. Some things are just made for a journal.
 

 

 

 

 

Facebook DONT 4

6. Don’t post evidence of drug use. Really do I have to explain it?
 

 

 

7. Guilting your cyber-friends into sharing and posting pictures and memes “even if it’s just for an hour” tends to make some people uncomfortable.  Requests for help with moving followed by “we’ll see who my real friends are” may find themselves extremely disappointed.

8. Gaming. If you spend the majority of your time on Facebook playing games, keep in mind that time is trackable. Employers might get the idea you have an addiction to Candy Crush and wonder about priorities or productivity.

9. Complaining about how broke you are, only to post photos a week later of your new car, recent vacation, a new tattoo, or stylish hair and nails. Regardless of how your acquired these things, the perception is you don’t know how to manage your money.

Anything you post on social media can be used against you. So if you’ve been unemployed for a really long time – perhaps it’s time to either shut down your account altogether or at the very least, go in a remove any offending posts.

 

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Linkedin Needs a Preview Page

In my business, it’s paramount that my clients look as good as possible throughout their career. And Linkedin is now included as a “must have” just like a resume. I’ve seen some really good Linkedin Profiles, and some really bad ones. A poorly written profile can cost a job seeker an opportunity, without even knowing it. These are the profiles that are stark, contain bad grammar, or misspelled words.

That’s why clients contact resume writers like me to help out with Linkedin profiles. There’s a lot of behind the scenes work involved from turning on or off privacy and broadcast features, to creating a custom url that can be inserted into the resume. However, the folks at Linkedin don’t make it easy to help their members put their best foot forward. Their rules dictate that no one but the owner of the account can have access. That means no sharing of usernames and passwords or you can jeopardize your account privileges. I get the reasoning behind it, and I’m totally on board with it. But it doesn’t make it any easier for newbies trying to get an account up and running for the first time when they’re on the hunt for new gig.

So may I suggest to the folks at Linkedin a preview page? One that allows the member to send a link to a professional writer for editing privileges, but the profile does not go LIVE until the member approves it and clicks on a button to make it happen. That way the writer won’t have access to the actual account, or private messages, but the client can still have a great looking Linkedin profile without having to cut and paste from a word document.

Come on Linkedin. You know you can do this.

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Don’t Lie About Your Job History on Linkedin

This morning I received my usual email notice from Linkedin telling me what my connections are up to in their career.  I like to know how my friends, clients, and former co-workers are doing and drop them a line when I hear about a promotion or new job.

The note this morning urged me to congratulate “John Doe” on his work anniversary of three years at a well-known company. John was a former supervisor of mine many years ago when I worked in radio, so I went to his profile and started looking through his work history. I found it odd that the station we  both worked at during that time was not even listed. Worse, he listed a different radio station and location altogether! This made me wonder why he would even take that chance. Was it an honest mistake, or did he purposely revise history thinking no one would be the wiser?

Here’s the problem. John had about 50 co-workers during his time at that job so there’s at least 50 people in our industry who could place him there during that time frame and not at the station he listed. Further, he contributed quotes to music publications that linked him to our station. And he was known by competitors in our market, so that adds even more who can refute his Linkedin job history.

Another concern is for those of us who worked with him. Granted, it was 20+ years ago, but if I ever wanted to use him as a reference, Linkedin shows him not working there at all, which brings up the question, “who’s telling the truth?”

You don’t need to list every job on Linkedin, especially those from 20 years ago. But to give the impression you worked elsewhere when you didn’t can easily be challenged. And should his current employer get wind of this, he could seriously jeopardize his job.

Thanks to the Internet, it’s no longer easy to fudge dates or your past. Don’t do it.

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Over 10 years of experience or More than — which is correct?

As a journalist, I learned throughout the years about all the idiosyncrasies of the English language. If you write or say anything incorrectly that goes public, the audience will certainly correct you. And it’s something you never forget. Years ago, at a little station in Lafayette, Louisiana, the news anchor kept me on my toes as a writer, always reminding me which was the most correct term. Is it pleaded or plead? Over 5 years or more than 5 years?

I have seen thousands of resumes / cover letters / LinkedIn profiles that summarize their background as “Over X years of experience.” It made me cringe, because the correct term is “more than x years of experience,” not “over” x years . “Over” describes a measurement, as in 10 feet. “More than” has always been the correct way to phrase it when you’re describing years of experience.  Writing over instead of more than has been the #1 most common mistake I’ve seen on amateur resumes over the past 13 years. But all that is about to change.

Poynter is reporting that the phrase “over” will now be accepted as a correct term because of it’s common use. GASP!

So while it’s been commonly misused all these years, it’s now OK to use either phrase.

And by the way, I learned that pleaded is more correct than “plead” <pled>even though plead is becoming more commonplace.