Monday, January 24, 2005

Job Fair Woes

Aaaaaaaugh! Sorry, I’m a little frustrated. You see, I’ve been working with a career counselor to make my job search more efficient and appealing to prospective employers. Because of the ever-widening gap (not working seems to be the reason for this) in my employment history, my counselor suggested that I go with a “functional” resume. For the uninitiated, a functional resume should always begin with the heading “I’m Desperate,” because the fact that you went functional is generally interpreted by hiring managers as “This Person Has Something to Hide.”

In theory, a functional resume is a good thing. Rather than list the jobs you’ve held with employment dates and responsibilities under each job (the usual), you spice things up by focusing on your skills and background up front and leave the employment history for last. The idea is that recruiters and managers will take a look at all the wonderful things you’ve done over the years and focus less on issues like gaps the size of Leon Spinks’.

So, today I walked in to the ballroom full of recruiters looking for talent and made my way over to the booth of a company I would like to work for. I smiled, turned on the charm and proceeded to explain to the woman who greeted me why I thought I would be a good fit for her company. So far, so good, until…

Her first question to me was “Have you gone to our website and posted your resume there?” I responded that I had not and was then told that creating a profile and posting my resume online was the first step. I wanted to ask why her company was participating in a career fair if they’re just going to smile, shake hands and refer people to their website, but I held my tongue. She barely scanned the first page, which contained all of my accomplishments, certifications and education.

Turning to the second page, Ms Recruiter noted (here’s the shocker) that I didn’t list any duties underneath the positions I’d held (this being a functional resume and all). Then, she suggested that when I visit the web site, I put something under each job to explain what I did! Well, all that information was right there on page one (again, I held my tongue), but I guess the format didn't convey the message I'd hoped for. So much for going “functional.”

I did find a bright spot, however. There were two people there from Dell: a woman who was sharing information about Dell’s new plant in NC and a man from Corporate who discussed Dell jobs on a national level. Both took their time with each candidate (which made for a long line, the only downside), whether they seemed like a fit or not. I remarked on this and thanked them both for treating us all like people, rather than cattle. Oh yeah, and I got a free Dell T-Shirt, woo-hoo!

Today was a good learning experience. The next time I see Ms Recruiter Lady at a career fair, she’ll be forced to continue the conversation when I affirm that my standard resume is online and fully accessible to her and her staff. I learned a few other things too, but if I share them with you, you might steal my technique, you filthy moocher (don't worry, it ain't workin' so good). Good luck to all you other job hunters out there, and to the companies with openings: Just gimme a chance - you won't be sorry and there's a free Dell T-Shirt in it for ya!

Thursday, January 20, 2005


If you were in the Raleigh area yesterday, you witnessed the devastation that can occur when winter weather strikes. Businesses and schools closed early, creating an early rush hour in the midst of an unexpected snowfall. During the 3 mile, 45 minute trip to pick up my daughter from school I was glad to have 4WD and skill on my side.

Those less fortunate found themselves unable to pilot their SUVs, minivans, Mercedes and BMWs through the deluge. They slid every way imaginable, making it virtually impossible to get through (except for Mr. Winter Driving Pro here). Hundreds of elementary students spent the night at their schools because the buses couldn’t get through and neither could their parents (big kudos to the dedicated teachers who stayed with their kids!). Every major road and many of the lesser ones were choked off.

What caused all this chaos? The Weather Service described it as ‘almost a full inch of snow.’ Well, hell – now I understand! Not really, but it was fun to watch folks in their big ol’ SUVs and expensive cars staring wistfully at me as I wove around and through them to my destination. I would have stopped, honest, but there were too many to help and I knew the longer I hung around the worse it would get.

You’d think with snow in the forecast (flurries), the DOT would have at least put their salt truck fleet on alert. By the time they finally got out, it had stopped snowing and the damage was done. I guess they believed the weather forecast and didn’t feel any preparation was necessary. The other people to blame are the drivers. I’m sorry, but if you can’t drive in 1 inch of snow, you need to go back to driving school. We get that much at least 2-3 times every year!

I know all you Northerners are cracking up over this. One inch of snow up there is like a fly landing on your car.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

My New Cover Letter

Dear Clueless,

I’ve spent the last year and a half sending my resume out and contacting people like you at companies with job openings in my field. During that time, I came to realize that you have no interest in my background or the fact that I was promoted to higher positions in every company at which I’ve worked. You’re more concerned that I haven’t worked in some time, so when you see the gap in my employment history you assume I’m useless.

This couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, I possess a quality which places me heads above the majority of people in the world: I’m tall. I call this quality “Altitudinal Supremacy.” According to the Bureau of Vertical Statistics, my height of 6’5” (as measured on the Stanley Powerlock Scale) places me far above average in terms of height worldwide.

My height offers numerous advantages:

  • Ability to store items out of reach of most people and retrieve said items.
  • Spying on cubicle neighbors.
  • Huge presence on your company volleyball and basketball teams.
  • Intimidation of enemies and underlings.
  • Easy to pick out in a crowd.

Now that I’ve brought this to your attention, you may wish to retrieve my resume from the trash bin and un-crumple it. It took you three tries to get it in there in the first place. Please contact me to arrange an interview. I believe my chances will be ‘heightened’ when you see how I tower above the others!

Vertically yours,

N.C. Steve

Monday, January 03, 2005

Reggie's Cleats

In your mind, picture the worst football player you’ve ever seen. Now, think about the guy who was 3rd on the depth chart behind the worst football player you’ve ever seen. That was me. You didn’t picture me in the first place because you never saw me in a real game.

The only reason I made the 9th-grade team was so all the other guys, no matter how horrible they were could point to me and say “Hey Steve, you suck!” I even earned the nickname “Killer.” I think it’s because the whole team almost died laughing whenever I took the practice field.

But it wasn’t entirely my lack of speed and coordination that kept me down. It was cleats. Reggie’s cleats. Reggie was a great kid, blessed with mammoth size and coordination. I was about the same height as Reggie, but only half the width, which put me at a huge disadvantage whenever I went up against him in practice.

One day, the coaches decided to pit Reggie and me against each other in a little drill called “Root-Hog.” This drill involved 2 players taking their stance facing each other in a mud pit, the object being to move the other guy out of the pit (kinda like Sumo in pads). It required a fair amount of leg strength, which thankfully I had. Everyone figured Reggie was a lock, so this was my big chance to prove myself. The coach blew the whistle and we both dug in, locked shoulder pads and proceeded to push with all our might.

I surprised the coaches by hanging in there as long as I did, but couldn’t get enough traction to avoid the inevitable. As Reggie pushed, I slid backwards on my feet and eventually lost the match. From then on “Killer” kept the bench warm, never to realize his dream of becoming the next Willie Lanier.

I knew I deserved better. You see, it was only the 2nd or 3rd practice of the season and I hadn’t harassed my father enough for him to buy me a pair of football cleats! Tennis shoes are worthless in the mud, especially when you’re trying to move a 220-pound 9th-grader out of the way. It’s even worse when he’s got cleats and you don’t.

9th grade was my first, last and only time playing organized football, but I have no regrets. At the time I was in the marching band, so I knew I’d be on the field one way or another (cool uniform, no cleats required). Besides, band caused fewer injuries! But to this day I wonder if my football dreams would have been realized if it weren’t for Reggie’s cleats!

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Winter Driving Tips

It’s time for everyone to work on their cursing and middle-finger deployment. Yes, you’re going to need these skills now that the winter driving season has started! But that’s not all. Being a capable winter driver requires actual driving skills, which ol’ Steve here is going to help y’all out with. Because cursing and gesturing alone won’t get you out of that snow bank.

I learned everything I know about winter driving from my father. He prided himself on being able to drive his car through a wintry hell (commonly known as “Missouri”) and passed his secrets on to me. Here are the basics:

  1. Always have candles, blankets and rock salt in your car (for the people who don’t know how to drive and get stuck).
  2. Never park your car on an icy slope, unless your car sucks and you need the insurance money (ok, that was mine).
  3. Once you start spinning your wheels, you’re not going anywhere.
  4. If conditions are dangerously slippery, begin applying the brakes about 6 blocks ahead of where you plan to stop.
  5. Everyone else on the road in these conditions is a moron (see #1).

4-wheel drive, all-wheel drive and traction control were nonexistent on the old ’64 Chevy I learned to drive. That car had a special rear differential known as a ‘floating axle’ (at least that’s what my Dad called it), which allowed only one rear wheel to drive the car at a time. In this configuration, power was applied to whichever wheel was getting the least traction! Driving on ice was an adventure, to say the least.

Fortunately, the driving skills passed on to me by my father sunk in. There were many other lessons that didn’t stick with me, including how to get girls (or maybe he left that one out). Left to my own devices there, I watched most of my friends score while I dreamed of a certain cheerleader. Now, if I could go back in time, I think I’d prefer it the other way around. After all, being stuck with a cheerleader in a cold, desolate spot with candles and a blanket would’ve been a whole lot more fun!

In case you really care, the key to this whole winter driving thing is simple: Get a car with traction control! If you’re stuck with an older car, never, ever start spinning your wheels (see #3). When you need to go up a hill, make sure no other “morons” are in the vicinity and get a running start. And if you get stuck, hang in there – I’ll be by with the candles, blankets and salt in a bit…