Thursday, June 12, 2008


I had the weirdest advertising experience today: I went with a colleague to grab a coffee and as we were walking away with our fix, we checked out the posters--hey, I need a new blender--and saw one advertising, Free Cigarettes. Below, in small letters, was a notice for a website called Letterwhiz and a disclaimer, no free cigarettes are offered, just letters. Bee-zarre, I thought.

Anyway, Letterwhiz is a letter template site that has business (moving locations), career (cover letters) and student (scholarship) letter templates. I'm not a big fan of these sites, since I think you should write your own letters, especially after graduate school. However, a cover letter makes us sweat more than a paper, since a paper gets a grade but a cover letter gets a salary and full dental. And sometimes we have never written a certain type of letter before, like a relocation letter, and we just need a glimpse of the form. A template site can help.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


From the makers of Expedia and Zillow, Glassdoor--now in beta--is a site that allows employees to post work place/environment reviews and salary information. The premise: “What would happen if someone left the unedited employee survey for the whole company on the printer and it got posted to the Web?” (From the About Us). Users give a rating up to five and list the pros and cons, as well as advice to the CEOs, about the company they work for.

I think these services can help special library/corporate library job seekers by giving them an idea about the type of workplace, either confirming or denying rumors. (But when it comes to the people posting the information, make sure you aren't posting from work.) These sites are also extremely effective for people looking to work in large corporations or Fortune 500 companies, but I haven't seen a lot of evidence that they help people looking to work for non-profits, privately-held companies, or for companies that have less than 100 employees--most libraries. Actually, their sorts are good--by industry, by approval rating, by job type--but an advanced option with company size and a mashup with LinkedIn or Indeed/SimplyHired might go a long way for users.

One of the Salon bloggers has provided a basic review, including some saucy dishing on Apple's salaries.

Update: WSJ posted an announcement of Glassdoor the following morning, stressing the similar experience of Zillow in collecting accurate data and information. I thought the quote at the bottom was a bit funny, we aren't a recruitment site. Just why do you think people will visit the site? To evaluate stock prices, ok, sure, but the vast majority of users will be coming to the site so they can prep for an interview or evaluate a job offer. Combining research on work environment with links to potential jobs is just one way to increase site traffic and overall stickiness, one of the tools of seduction when your site relies on ad revenue. No job ads for a fee, ok, but a mashup is called for.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Do you know what you look like on webcam?

Have you ever actually watched yourself on a web camera? When I bought my web camera, I ran some tests to see what the camera could see and GE-AH! you would have to pay me to look at my roundish, shiny self. I can't believe people do this willingly and make kissy faces.

But there are times when you will have to do this unwillingly: distance job interviews or if you deliver programs over the internet with the help of a webcam. WSJ has an article about web presentation etiquette--do you want to be remembered as the person who should have gotten cream for that particular itch?--but I also want to to remind people to get a good look at themselves before they plunk themselves down in front of the camera.
  • No jammies for this distance interview. They can see your little duckies.
  • Check the position of your web camera and try not to lean or fidget: cleavage shots do not get library jobs. Ditto, standing up to reach for something and putting your can/ camel toe in the picture.
  • Are you shiny? This seems really vain, but we are unforgiving about video standards and appearance. Who are we measuring ourselves against? News anchors. Now, we can't all have the calm authority of Lloyd, but a good scrubbing can't hurt. At least they can't smell your breath.
  • Where are your hands? No, seriously. If you're a hand talker like me, are you jazz handing through your interview? Does it look like they're getting busy below the desk: out of sight hand-wringing can look like illegal fondling. Put little marks on the table, like dancers do for their feet, and make sure you know what your left hand is doing.
Some forgiveness is nice. How many interviewers realize their pores look like nebulae, too? Many people, especially if they are not experienced IM users, just throw themselves down and don't even check what they are actually filming. You scoff, but I know this is true. I have seen their nose hairs.