Monday, January 31, 2005

Uncle Mike's Old School Guide to Interviewing

I've been in hiring mode lately. Screening candidates through their resumes, phone interviews, one-on-one interviews and group interviews. I don't understand what is happening, but people have just lost sight of some of the most basic and fundamental principles of job hunting. Here are my quick and easy (maybe not) tips to help you get in the door and stay there:

  1. Edit your resume. In fact, have two other people edit your resume. Fix the spelling mistakes, the typos and the really bad grammar. I am not asking you to write a good resume. Just make sure that the one you put in front of me doesnt force me to get my red pen out and channel my inner English teacher. Putting accomplishments instead of duties and tasks on your resume will earn you bonus points. Help me understand what you can do to help me and my business.
  2. Get a real email address. It can be a Yahoo or even a Hotmail address. I do not want to receive emails from though. Get serious. Create a more professional account name. Use HotMama to im your girlfriends. Just don't email me with it. You'll look like a slacker.
  3. Dress professionally. Wear a suit. Men...wear ties. Collect some cans and buy one from Wal-Mart if you must. Borrow one. Even if it is out of style. I'll think you are trying to be "retro". Shoes are a must. No sneakers. No workboots. 18" of snow is not a reason to wear your Eddie Bauer moon boots. You are trying to impress me. Don't roll in here wearing cargo pants and Skechers. You'll look like a slacker.
  4. Get a real handshake. When you shake my hand, give me a nice firm but not a crushing grip. Ladies, do NOT give me the thumb and tips of your fingers. This isn't Victorian England and you are not the Duchess of Webster. When you do shake my hand, LOOK ME IN THE EYE! Do not give me the look away. We are attempting to build a relationship, you and I, and if you can't bring yourself to look at me, then I cannot trust you. I am not that hideous. You may gaze upon me and not turn to stone.
  5. Look at my website. I don't need you to do a comprehensive search for everything ever committed to print about me and my company. But I do expect you to read the "About Us" page on the website. Bonus points if you know a little something about the industry. The first question I am going to ask is: "What do you know about us?" Have an answer.
  6. Have some questions to ask me. Be interested in my pain. When I ask you if you have any questions for me, make something up if you have to. Ask me where I bought my tie. If you don't have questions, you will seem un-interested and I will think you are a slacker.
  7. Write a thank you note. After you meet with someone, send them a note of thanks for their time. You don't even have to reiterate your expertise and tell me how much your skills and experiences relate to my business needs. Even though that helps. Just a simple thank you note.

If you follow these steps, I am not saying that you will land a CEO position out of highschool. I will guarantee you a decent shot at a gig though. Unless of course, you run into a hiring manager that doesn't have a clue either. At which point you are assured of a position.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Taking Care of Business

Karen, official wife of Diligentia, turned me on to a show on The Learning Channel (TLC) that is so firmly rooted in my demographic, it scares me. The show is called: Taking Care of Business. Based in Manhattan, this reality show targets small business owners (so far we've seen a bed and breakfast, a barber shop, a small coffee shop and a skateboard shop) struggling to stay afloat. Struggling to stay in business. The show offers a team of 4 consultants: a designer, a manager/finance guy, a marketing guy and a former entrepreneur/jack of all. The team deploys to the site and proceeds to offer a makeover. They break down each business into the four components. The show seems to highlight the lack of marketing and design effort that all of these businesses have in common. The other element they seem to fixate on is pricing. All these business are niche-y, unique shops. The best piece of knowledge I've taken away from this show is: There is retail value in expertise.

This show is officially on my Tivo's season pass at this point. We don't miss an episode.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

The Top Ten Ways To Improve Your Leadership Skills

I really like The CEO Refresher. Once a month, I receive an email covering a wide array of management and leadership topics. This month, I particularly enjoyed the article from Ronya Banks, The Top Ten Ways To Improve Your Leadership Skills. Its a short, bulleted primer listing a set of ideals and philosophies to guide you along your path of leadership enlightenment. It is a high-level road map. The ten items are as follows:

  1. Have a clear vision of yourself, others, and the world.
  2. Know and utilize your strengths and gifts.
  3. Live in accordance with your morals and values.
  4. Lead others with inclusiveness and compassion.
  5. Set definitive goals and follow concrete action plans.
  6. Maintain a positive attitude.
  7. Improve communication skills.
  8. Motivate others to greatness.
  9. Be willing to admit and learn from failures and weaknesses.
  10. Continue to educate and improve yourself.

This is a great outline to get anyone started down the path to improving themselves not only as a leader, but as a person.

Monday, January 10, 2005

More Marine Corp Thoughts of Leadership and Management

From The Ceo Refresher, this article takes a look at the age old discussion of the difference between leadership and managment. I don't recall ever seeing some surmise that the two are inherently different. Sometimes you need a leader. Sometimes you need a manager. need both.