Friday, May 16, 2014

What Color is Your Parachute? Guide to Rethinking Resumes - Review

Occasionally, Richard (Dick) N. Bolles will release a sort of special focus guide, such as his books on online job search, that are complimentary to the annual What Color is Your Parachute? Like the other Parachute books, Rethinking Resumes is written in the same clear, plain-language style, updated to reflect the times and concerns of his regular readers and any job seeker. The virtue of this series has always been its clarity, the common sense and pragmatism, and Bolles willingness to update and credit other career and HR professionals for their ideas, which this book also possesses.You can read Rethinking Resumes in an evening, and probably go back in a few months and find something new that you glossed over, and both readings will be worthwhile.

However, there will be a few readers who will pick this book up and wonder A resume book with only one sample? Get over it. Even in resume books with one hundred samples, job seekers still struggle with what to do in their individual case and this book will help answer those questions. The 45 Question Starter Kit (pp. 55-63) is something that I will go over with clients when they have questions about how to write a proper Highlights section.

In addition, there is also plenty of good advice on deciding if you want to hire a resume writer or write your own resume, how to find out if a resume service is a scam, what type of resume to post to a job board and the targetting required to give a resume directly to an employer.

I'm grateful for the section on removing empty keywords and phrases on resumes, as well as the list of stinkers provided, and the process Bolles provides for developing better statements about work experience (pp. 45-47), though I think many job postings are still referring to these phrases as key components while the recruiters who screen the resumes in response those postings are distastefully holding their noses while working through the empty text.

Each year we assign reading to our incoming student staff, and I wish I had got my copy of this earlier so I could add it to our reading list. I think they would have gotten a great deal out of it, and I'm glad it will be available to them in this year. Personally, I would put this next to Why Good People Can't Get Jobs: The Skills Gap and What Companies Can Do About It on my mental bookshelf to recommend to people who are trying to put together a resume that will get them an interview.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Recognizing Fraudulent Job Offers Google+ Hangout On Air

So we are trying to incorporate Google+ Hangouts into our educational offerings.

This Hangout on Air on Recognizing Fraudulent Job Offers was the first one that I actually moderated, though I have handled the guest recruitment and production on our other Hangouts.

The guests included Anne-Marie Rolfe, who developed and presents the Legitimate Work from Home Opportunities Train the Trainer course offered by CERIC. My colleague, Jia Jia, one of our Employer Relations Specialists was also on a panelist And thanks to Jason Wong, who also graduated from the same library school I did, who played the guest role of  "Business Librarian", as his real job is Law Librarian.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

School for Startups, book review

When I first started working in the career centre, and in business librarianship, all small business endeavours that wanted to succeed required a business plan. It was the mandatory task, the one requirement for entrepreneurship. Avoid it at your peril.

Currently, business plans are not required: they are "nice to haves"*--necessary if you are looking for money from a bank or have a class assignment, but no longer the ticket to admission. Now, what is necessary is your idea, a good budget, and a swift move to market. School for Startups: The Breakthrough Course for Guaranteeing Small Business Success in 90 Days or Less, covers these three steps.

School for Startups covers self-employment myths, explains what bootstrapping is and gives the reader encouragement to try some different businesses that might be really, really scary for some people, such as opening an online store or starting an import/export business. Though the book argues that startups can be started for $0, or at least the cost of domain name, some of the businesses mentioned, such as the car export business, cost several thousand dollars to initiate. Again, depending on the type of business the reader wants to found, they will have to supplement their initial reading of this book with more in depth industry research.

If you expect this book to have learning outcomes at the beginning of each chapter with summary questions at the end, School for Startups is not that kind of "course". If I was giving this book to a reader, I would not give it to the reader who has a very strict idea of the type of business they want to operate (I would probably give that person the appropriate volume from Entrepreneur Press' Startup series, or resources from the appropriate professional or industry association), but I would give this book to the person who just doesn't want to work from anyone else, but isn't sure what that involves, except maybe a business loan. This book would also work for the person who wants to try self-employment, perhaps as a summer job or to make their own paid internship, but who isn't sure what they would do, or thinks that they need a grant or business loan to get started.

This book is for:

  • The person thinking about entrepreneurship, but who may not have a specific business idea
  • This is the encouragement book for the reader who has a specific idea, but who thinks that only financing, loans and venture capital will secure their business
  • The reader who is thinking about short term, possibly serial entrepreneurship, creating a business that you can sell to someone else for a profit, which completely matches with the "startup" ethos.

Overall, an enjoyable, quick read, but it does not supplant in depth research.

*Yes, you can disagree with me about the need for business plans.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Inside Higher Ed 2013 Survey of Human Resource Officers Webinar

Inside Higher Ed is hosting a free webinar on the release of the 2013 Survey of Human Resource Officers on November 13, 2013. If you are interested in post-secondary positions, this should be of interest to you.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Wanted: Adoring Female Students from Inside Higher Ed

And more handmaiden complexes...

Inside Higher Ed looks at a Twitter thread started by a blogger asking respondents to
please share with me all your stories of the male professors you had in college who thrived upon and demanded female admiration to function

and the resulting tweets, including messages about how this was not part of their student experience and pointing out that the Other Sex professors also enjoy adulation.

Again, it is this idea that women do not show up to work/study, or that getting sexual attention from professors is just part of the experience. To be fair, this is also a part of exploiting youth, of either gender, to quench a midlife crisis.

I also liked this quote from Allison Kimmich, executive director of the National Women’s Studies Association, where she stated that,
“Men are overwhelmingly the majority of full professors by rank,” she said, noting recent data from the National Center for Education Statistics. “So that means male faculty by definition have greater power and authority on campus by virtue of both rank and numbers.”
She continued: “Does that mean every male faculty member abuses that authority (as the Twitter [thread] suggests)? Obviously not, but clearly there are structural issues at work in higher education that lend themselves to potential abuses of authority.”
I also don't want any comments about how students dress that invite such flirtation. I went to school in Canada and staying swathed in a parka to fend off the chill of the classrooms does not dissuade the most determined perv, since they want verbal, but sexually charged, adulation, at a minimum, and for you to disrobe, at close to the maximum access. It's not about clothing, it's about attitude and self-control.

Friday, October 25, 2013

The Handmaiden Problem

One of my co-workers passed around this article from the LA Times, Sexism a problem in Silicon Valley, critics say, and in addition to the overall breathless tone of Newsflash, gender issues an issue in the workplace, and some weird statistics, I also had a problem with this comment:
Speaking before a gathering of women in technology, Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg recalled an uncomfortable exchange with two men on a different stage discussing the scarcity of women in the industry.

One commented that he would like to hire more young women but not all are as competent as Sandberg. The other said he, too, would hire more young women but his wife fears he would sleep with them and, he confessed, he probably would.
I would like to call this The Handmaiden Problem; in other words, the urge this male executive has to visit one of his female colleagues and say, I'm so glad you brought your lady parts to work today! Let's take them on a test drive over lunch! and that the female person would, of course, screaming with eagerness, copulate with him until his nuts fell off. Or lunch was over. Whatever came first.

I'm not sure what Sandberg said when trapped with this nugget in an enclosed space. Hopefully, it was along the lines of, most of the men who worked in harems were eunuchs with some seriously potent stink eye. But her husband telling her, they told the truth and that now she has to deal with it, is ludicrous. I think I'm not here to have sex with you, no matter how nicely you ask, Mr Married Executive, should be a given.

This is not about anti-romance in the workplace, either. This is about how all females supposedly swish their tails aside when the alpha male arrives. The women he would have hired--once his wife gave him said permission, of course--were not obliged to sleep with him, even if he really, really wanted it. The assumptions are not only, "career girls" are available all the time, but also, women are just making time at work, but not really working. Handmaiden, come hither and service me.

I do think most men understand their female co-workers are a) here to work, b) are competent, c) are not obliged to have sex with them, but the persistence of this belief annoys me.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Crowdfunding has always existed?

Someone in another discussion posted the dismissive comment that "Crowdfunding has always existed" when discussing the use of crowdfunding to buy and sell shares in a company. I have used this "it has always existed" argument myself (we were mean before the Internet, the Internet did not shave off 2 I.Q. points from everyone, etc.) but in this case, I don't think that this current form of crowdfunding could exist without the Internet, nor without our belief that businesses and individuals will deliver the products that they promise.

Yes, you have probably crowdfunded in the past. You may have stopped at your bank and contributed to a local fund for a family that lost their house to a fire or you might have raised money for your trip to Uganda by holding a bake sale, but these were mainly localized efforts that relied business services and demonstrably prepared goods available in exchange for your cash.

Unlike online crowdfunding, you didn't solicit funds in advance from people on the promise of brownies. At least, I never went to a bake sale where I gave the money to buy all of the goods needed to put the products together with the hope that my half dozen oatmeal cookies would be waiting for me. Cookies were promised, they were there, I bought them. I did not have to trust that a stranger would use my cash advance to pay for ingredients. They took the chance that all of the product they created would be bought, so they could at least recover their costs, and counted on their cookies and brownies to make a yummy profit. In addition, as a consumer, I can also afford the luxury of cookies, not to mention cookies on spec.

The current online model of crowdfunding relies on trust in fulfillment and delivery and in globalization to get as many people buying in as possible, beyond geographic limits and time limitations, such as business hours.

For crowdfunding on the Kickstarter or Indiegogo model, you need the Internet:
  • To market your product outside of your location. You don't have to take international contributions, but you get a wider, national range.
  • To assemble your diverse contributors and collect their pledges. Since crowdfunding on these platforms is global, which is not possible with localized fundraising through bake sales or just passing a hat, gathering the funds on this scale is not possible without the Internet, as well as the Internet payment services that can translate and process a variety of currencies.
  • You need to have a reliable service that can process small payments from disparate contributors into a lump sum. In the past, you could go to the bank, one entity, and get your money. You could get a patron, perhaps two or three, whose entire contributions could pay for your effort. Unlike diverse pledges, patrons can interfere with or attempt to shape your art, or direct where your product is available. Through online crowdfunding, you can smother the patron and get more money than the bank may have been willing to give you. You also don't have to repay Kickstarter, while a bank gets pretty upset with you if you don't pay them back.
You also need access to consumers who can afford luxury goods or ephemera, as well as consumers who can buy on the promise of a return--they trust in manufacturing and in the creative process.
  • People who trust that if they give you money, they will get their goods. We need faith in manufacturing, a culture that believes that products can be made to order and delivered, for us to give our money. Many people do not believe a product or item will be made unless it is currently in a store or a theatre. 
  • We can afford to buy these goods, especially ephemera--or can use the Internet to get access to these people. You need consumers who can afford to buy experiences, such as attending a festival, or supporting a book, and these people are a particular type of first world consumer.
You could argue that a subscription system to a theatre is crowdfunding and those have been around for a while. Kickstarter has just allowed this model to penetrate more sectors of the arts and manufacturing. However, I still think you subscribed to a theatre because you lived in the region and you knew where the theatre was that you were going to attend. A local trust system was in place that you could participate in and you had money for this type of good.

Lotteries are also crowdfunding, but the reward system is different. There is also an element of chance in a lottery that you don't have in online crowdfunding--what reward I purchase is the reward I get. I will admit that the element of chance does come with the fulfillment process.

So, I think we have been primed for online crowdfunding but this iteration is fresh in the way that it relies on technology, consumer trust and globalization to fund products, services and experiences.

You can disagree with me on this, and I am happy to learn about more services that the Kickstarter/Indiegogo platforms have plagiarized, but I do think that online crowdfunding is a grandchild to bake sales, but unique in it's own way from its ancestors. An iterative innovation, but innovation nonetheless.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Kickstarter Handbook: Real-Life Crowdfuding Success Stories

Have you thought about running a crowdfunding campaign, specifically on Kickstarter, and wanted to come up with a plan, or at least get an introduction to the platform? The Kickstarter Handbook should be one of the books that you pick up for your research, especially if you have not contributed to a campaign or have only a vague Veronica Mars or Double Fine Adventure vision of how the site works and how much money an entrepreneur can raise on the site.

This book provides a good overview by looking at the platform itself, the types of projects that are eligible for Kickstarter funding and by interviewing actual fundseekers. The author looks at what methods have succeeded and failed. Readers should keep in mind that there is no process or recipe for Kickstarter success and that a project can be snatched from the jaws of defeat with a concentrated final effort--or can fail despite the creator's best efforts and reputation. I also liked the simple worksheets that compared projects and their funding needs based on reward tiers and the actual cost of using Amazon payments and the platform to secure funds. I'm sure that quite a few people who plan to use crowdfunding have confused Kickstarter with an ATM, forgetting that they actually need to deliver--including writing all those emails and mailing labels, not to mention paying the shipping--on all of the rewards they have promised. Don't skip that chapter. I would have liked a chapter on what has happened to people who Kickstarted and didn't deliver, but this is a book about success stories, after all.

The Kickstarter Handbook is a quick read to introduce an entrepreneur to the platform and how it might work for their project. It is not industry or product-type specific, so the reader will have to do additional research into how a designer or a musician can use Kickstarter effectively. The author is a journalist, so it has that Business Insider/Forbes-style of writing, which does make it a  breeze to read; however, it is only the beginning for determining if crowdfunding is the right way to proceed for your project. It may also have insights for the reader who has tried crowdfunding and failed, as well as for the reader who just wants to understand what Kickstarter is and the role it may play in small business finance.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

How to Write a KILLER LinkedIn Profile...and 18 Mistakes to Avoid by Brenda Berstein

At work, we are currently updating our resources on using LinkedIn and shaping our LinkedIn policy. This is one of the books on my reading list on that topic. I originally read about this book in this article from Forbes and decided to pick it up for research, even though we can't use it in our library (available as Kindle book only).

How to Write a KILLER LinkedIn Profile describes eighteen steps, as well as some bonus tips, that you can use to build your LinkedIn profile and increase your likelihood of being found in LinkedIn searches--though the tips could also have an impact on your Google visibility, depending on your LinkedIn privacy settings. Overall, I thought the tips were useful and straightforward and contained enough screen captures that a LinkedIn newbie would be able to find where in the LinkedIn profile the author was directing them to update.

However, this is not a basic book so this is not LinkedIn from the Beginning--and it doesn't have to be. This is written for the LinkedIn user who has a profile but who hasn't made the most efficient use of their content or who hasn't thought about how best to profile their content on and select keywords for LinkedIn. And not everyone is going to agree with all of the tips, such as the recommendation to get more than 500 connections--I accept her reasoning, that the more connections you have, the more likely you are to appear in internal searches in LinkedIn--but I can see some of my hesitant colleagues or clients balk at that. And you don't have to use all of her suggestions to improve your profile overall--making better use of the Summary field and updating at least once a week so your contacts don't forget about you could make an improvement on what you get out of LinkedIn.

I would recommend this one to advisors who have been asked to comment on LinkedIn profiles, but who aren't sure how people make an impact on LinkedIn, coupled with Jason Alba's I'm on LinkedIn...Now What? if you have only cursory LinkedIn experience.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

A zero hours work contract also means some very imaginative statistics

"No work" job contract cast shadow over U.K. labour market refers to so-called zero-hour work contracts which means that some days you have work and other days you have no work--but you still have a job and can be counted as employed in the labour market analysis.

Though the article does state that 1 in 5 jobs are affected by these contracts, I wonder how many librarians (and other library employees) in the U.K. have their work governed by these contracts?

Friday, May 31, 2013

But I don't want your Glasses on me

Recently in a locker room of a local public swimming pool, I was changing from my swim suit back into my street clothes, naked from the waist down, when I looked up to see a cell phone camera pointed at me. My heart actually stopped. When I followed the camera back to its user, two women were crowded around a cell phone presumably sharing pictures of an event that they had just attended. I asked them to put away their phone and that it was really inappropriate to do that in a change room.

The person holding the camera told me to f*** off. But she put the camera away and they both left offended.

I actually asked people, Am I crazy to not want a camera pointed at me in a change room? Everyone I asked said I wasn't. But according to this blog post from Bits, I'm going to have to get used to it, since the landscape has no feelings.

Now, I will have to contend with Google Glasses roving around in the change room and I'm not pleased. I also don't agree that a private change room in a public facility is public, and I don't feel that I have to get used to it. I do think that the majority of people are generally decent and that they can successfully monitor themselves. However, it only takes one indecent, cruel or ill person to make a lasting impact on a person's life and fortune, so we should take steps to protect everyone from harm. I'm also among a group of people who feels they are out in public to accomplish their goals--shopping, dining, changing clothes--which does not negate their personal rights and turn them into your landscape or background noise.

I think it might be time for facilities to have disruptors that they can turn on so people who can't control themselves with their devices in public spaces don't impinge on people who don't want a camera (or other recording device) pointed at them. I also want to automate the disruption of recording devices so as a person who works in a public space, I don't have to constantly navigate fights between clients as to what is appropriate or not. For example, I did not bother to tell any pool attendant about what occurred because there are no signs barring the use of cell phones in the change room--and a significant minority ignore those signs anyway and complaining in the past has only gotten me a dismissive shrug. I would like the option to turn the disruptor off in the case of an emergency, such as a tornado, so people can use their Google glasses to find shelter, but sharing cake recipes on Pinterest does not qualify as an emergency.

In the meantime, until a company comes along that makes a localized or personalized device that I can use to disrupt Glass, which I think should be an option for people just as purchasing Glass is an option for other consumers, I think masks may be coming back into style, or we may all engage in everyday cosplay to vanish into people's recordings--or to take them over completely as individual landscape disruptors.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Get Biking Directions in Google Maps

Since it is summer, time to make use of biking directions in Google Maps. It is very useful to chart safe routes, which include bike paths, for clients who use the library and access it on bikes. Could also be used by businesses who want to highlight their bike-friendliness. In the workplace, it could be used to promote active commuting--and, at least according to this study, if you co-workers actively commute, it could influence you to make your exercise for the day by walking or biking to work.

You might also want to see if you can submit bike path data with Google Map Maker and include it in your using Google media literacy program.