Category Archives: Uncategorized

Grinding your gears

Steve points out issues in customer service and manufacturing and gets promoted for it. Tom pointed out those same problems last week and gets poor performance reviews and was put on probation once.

Tom said to his supervisor, “I can’t believe anyone is so stupid that they let this happen.  What kind of idiots are running this company?” His supervisor would need to be non-human to take criticism like that without getting offended.

Steve went a little easier. “I think we can save time and money if we make a few changes here. Should I go talk to the supervisor in that department to see if he thinks this would make sense?” Somehow, Steve got lauded when Tom got spurned.

Rusty, Old, Engine, Mechanical, Aged

Keep the business engine running smooth and happy

A Business Engine

An engine needs fuel, but if you let it run forever, you’ll burn out the engine without grease. If you want to destroy it faster, add sand.

Grumpy, accusatory people make the people around them grumpy. The best workers are happy to be there. They’re more productive and get work done. People who want to be at work function similarly to the grumps. They make the people around them want to be there.

Watch your attitude when it comes to problems. Are you adding sand or grease to the problem? Which is more likely to get you a raise or promotion?

Something To Do Today

Check to make sure all the improvements you started are in your job journal. Make estimates of how much money or time you’ve saved. Things like this show why you deserve a raise, and look great on a resume.

Preventing Miserable Non-Competes

Fight over non-competes or they’re go for your throat when you get your next job

Non-competes suck. Not that it’ll keep me from having my employees sign a terrible non-compete, but I still give them options.

A comedic non-compete from a ways back was with Jimmy John’s, a fast delivery sandwich joint, similar to Subway. They had a very strong non-compete that every employee making a sandwich had to sign. They couldn’t work for a competitor for two years, even if they were just making $7.25 while putting together sandwiches. A competitor was effective anywhere that makes sandwiches (possibly your own kitchen?).

It’s just slightly overkill when it’s a minimum wage job, and they can sue your butt off if you forgot about it.

Getting enforced on a non-compete

Depending on the state, anything can happen in a contested non-compete violation. I’ve heard in California, it’s almost impossible to enforce a non-compete. In Tennessee, it’s impossible to get out of one. Even in California, avoid the non-compete instead of contesting it after the fact.

Getting enforced on a non-compete sucks. I had a perfect manager accept a job at a new company, only to get slammed by a non-compete. In a few seconds and a phone call from a lawyer, that opportunity vanished into thin air.

Personally, I want the smallest non-compete I could get my hands on. “You are not allowed to help steal customers you worked with directly for one year after you leave.” Something similar works in most situations.

An extra qualifier I’d want: “If the company cuts my pay, rearranges my bonuses so I earn less, or fires me for anything besides dishonestly, I can work for anyone I choose.”

Sadly, those contracts are never going to appear in a contract. They still give an idea for what to look for in a contract.

Don’t be afraid to cross out the non-compete clause in a contract before signing it, or portions on the clause. Bring a sharpie to any place where you’re expected to sign a contract. For a short video on that, check out our YouTube here.

Getting a friend a job

People, Workplace, Desk, Break, Relax, ColleaguesThis programmer didn’t have any experience using the language and tools the company software was developed in. He hadn’t programmed in 2 years. He was still one of the best programmers I have ever met. He managed to get hired without any of that. Not even an interview.

He started off putting together an excellent resume showing off how he was totally and completely awesome. The key was he had a friend working at the company. His friend took his resume directly to the owner and dropped it on his desk. He said “This guy is better than me. You should hire him. You should also pay him more than me. He’s really good.”

The boss called up the programmer and invited him to show up the next day to take a look. If he wanted, he could sit down and start working immediately. After he proved what he was worth, he’d get his pay adjusted appropriately.

As backup, the programmer had a glowing letter of recommendation from his former employer. Didn’t need it.

If you have a friend you believe in, that’s how you get them a job where you work. They need to be the best. If they really are, your boss will appreciate the help.

Also, note that there doesn’t need to be an opening to do this. If there was, they could have just applied online although this gets bonus points for being extra dramatic.

Something To Do Today

If you want to get a job this way, be way above mediocre, and have a perfect resume. Work on both. As a worker, you should stand out. Your resume should stand out as well.

Age discrimination in job openings

Old Age, Man, Elderly, Cold, Wrinkled, Character“I have completed all objectives as an executive for 37 years and was just laid off due to an industry downturn.”

To the wrong person, you just told them you were laid off for being an old worker who’s waiting to hit retirement. They wanted some young-blood go-getter with more energy who works harder. You just told them to discriminate against you because of your age.

In my experience, age discrimination is much more common than other discrimination based on race, sex, religion, or any other factor, though all happen. That’s reality. No one wants to hire someone who is marking time until retirement.

Regardless of age, you need to prove that you’re not just a place holder. Show off on your resume what all you’ve gotten done at your previous job. They need to see your enthusiasm. In particular, your enthusiasm for the job you’re applying for.

Don’t lie about it

The purpose of your resume is to get you an interview and no more. If you don’t want to show something on your resume, don’t! It’s a personal advertisement, and you shouldn’t put your downfalls on your personal advertisement.

If you don’t want to show that you worked the same job for the last 37 years and then got laid off, break it up. Instead of one long position, create a new entry for each different position or division you worked with. That gets the older dates off the resume, even and makes it easier to read.

Age discrimination isn’t nice. Any discrimination isn’t nice, but you have to consider it. Make your resume an effective advertisement for what you can and will contribute to the new job. Don’t show off how old you are unless you think it will help you get the job.

The same stands for anything else they might discriminate for. Race? Lots of discrimination against Asian-Indians in the US. Gender? Disability? Sexual orientation? Religion? Accept that you’re going to have to deal with it. Work harder, shine brighter, and they can’t ignore you.

Don’t make a big deal out of those characteristics. In 99.87% of cases, it will not change how you will do in the job. Not everyone needs to know everything about you.

Something To Do Today

Are you over 40? Start to consider age discrimination. Over 60? You are going to deal with it in every job you apply for. Make sure you deal with it properly on your resume.

Best companies to work for

I made over 150 survey calls in one week. In the end, I accidentally got a list of the best companies to work at in the industry.

See, in the end, most top level companies aren’t just the best at one thing. They tend to be the best at several levels. Lowest turnover rates, highest revenue per employee, et cetera, and even the best treated employees.

The owners of the best companies trust others, as well as the managers. They’re not worried about losing employees or keeping their numbers up as much.

The worst companies are trying to prepare for the worst scenario because they frequently are in the worst case. They’re losing employees and clients to competitors. In the end, they have to work much harder for every dollar they earn.

Everyone already knows the top companies in their area. The best and the worst already have their distinct reputations. If you’ve recently moved, you lose that sense.

It’s not hard to ask a few questions to a handful of workers in your area. “What companies are the best in our industry?” or “Who is your toughest competitor?” will give you a healthy idea of where companies stand.

I made 150 calls and got a lot of information in my niche, not that I spoke to every one of them. Asking those questions to leaders or managers in your industry can give you an excellent idea of where companies stand in relation to each other. There is little reason you should be employed by any but the best.

Something To Do Today

Make a list of companies in your geographic area that are in your niche. Start taking notes on comments you’re hearing about them. You should ignore comments from jerks and bad workers. If they are a great person and hard worker, pay extra attention. You’ll see which are the best companies.

Double your pay ASAP

Money, Money Tower, Coins, Euro, € Coin, SpecieA ways back, I had to tell someone they were critically underpaid.

How would you feel if you were told you were earning half of what you should be earning?

I called up another company near her home and they said they’d pay her double what she was currently earning. It’s rare, but this happens.

The new company then did NOT pay double. They paid the exact same as the previous company. Her pay was expected to grow to double over the next year or two. Her pay would increase as she hit specific goals to prove that she was worth that much. Over a short time span, her pay raise reached double.

I constantly have people who want to get a raise or a promotion. They also want to be paid to get the training it would take to get that raise. That’s not how it works.

You PROVE you’re worth a promotion or a raise, and you get it. No sane employer will pay you more because you said “If you pay me more I’ll work harder.” You have to work for the raise first and be worth that much before you get the raise.

Be worth the raise before you get the promotion.

There are a few ways to increase what you deserve to get paid.

  1. Gain experience

If someone had to train you to do your job, the hours your trainer was working with you were coming straight out of your paycheck, even if your “trainer” was the internet.

  1. Expand your skillset

Learn to do something new. It can get you started on number 3 below, and opens up a lot of new opportunities.

  1. Work on what your company needs the most

If your company needs help in an area, learn about it and use it. One of the simplest ways to climb the ladder is to help a manager with their duties.

Invest in yourself. YOU are your greatest asset. Treat yourself like it. You are worth it. Invest in yourself and you’ll become worth more. Then you only have to find someone who will pay you what you’re worth.

Something To Do Today

Who is way ahead of you in pay? Are they doing what you want to do? Who is not just earning a little more, earning a lot more? Invite them to lunch. Ask them how they got there and what you need to do to get there.

Reality check while job hunting

Stamp, Rejected, Document, Reject, Rejection, Decline“I applied for hundreds of jobs and no one even looks at my resume!”

“How many of those jobs were you already qualified for?”

“I could have done any of them with some training!”

“But you weren’t already really qualified?”

“Well… no…”

“If they have a resume for someone who could already just walk in and do that job, why would they want you?”

____________

I’ve had that conversation way too many times. The conversation continues, they’ll argue they’re a fast learner and hard worker. I’m sorry, but that doesn’t always get you a job intended for someone with 10 years. At best, it makes you a shoddy candidate for the job.

Businesses and interviewers don’t pay attention to the bulk resumes. They want the best person for the job, or occasionally the cheapest person who can do the job. However cheap you may be, if you’re saying you can “learn quickly” then they have to pay someone who is more than qualified for the job to teach you from scratch.

Do a reality check: would you really hire yourself for this job?

Yes, you should apply for jobs you are only barely qualified for. No, don’t get upset when your resume isn’t noticed. Applying for those jobs are how you take steps forward and get raises. Don’t wait on a response for those jobs.

Being exceptional at their current job is how most people get raises and promotions.

Being the best is how you get considered for the next level up. It proves that you are capable of more. If you are average or less, no one is going to be in a hurry to hire you.

Something To Do Today

Keep a list of each job you apply for. List how well you are (or are not) qualified for the job. Step back and try to take a look from someone else’s view. The most potential comes from jobs you’re barely qualified for.

What to do if you don’t want to put something on your resume

Brass Knuckles, Iron, Wrought, WeaponsMy dad was in court defending a man accused of using a dangerous weapon. The weapon was brass knuckles. Dad pointed out that the law very specifically defines the weapons to which it applies. The law mentions a brass device that fits in the palm of the hand for support and goes around the fingers or knuckles to protect the holder and do harm to an opponent.

It was ALMOST the weapon used in this case. Unfortunately, the defendant’s brass knuckles were made of aluminum. The judge had no choice but to dismiss the charges.

Don’t be precise and misleading when you are applying for a job. Even if you get the job, you’ll be in trouble later. There are expected degrees of precision and disclosure in resumes, interviews and job applications.

On resumes

These are personal advertisements. You do not need to disclose anything you don’t want to. That said, lying on a resume is a firing offense. Moving dates or claiming titles, responsibilities and accomplishments you don’t have are lies. Leaving out irrelevant jobs is fine (If you’re applying to be a senior programmer, no one cares about the 6 months you spent as a Walmart greeter), but don’t move the employment dates around those jobs.

Putting a brief and accurate summary of your job responsibilities in place of a title is acceptable because hiring authorities will use the title you put down as a summary anyway.

In interviews

A lie is any communication given with intent to deceive. You don’t have to confess something unless you are asked about it or know it will normally disqualify you completely. Don’t lie. Shrugging your shoulders can be a lie.

The difficult thing is picking the relevance of your revelations. Figure out what they need to know. Give them the short and simple truth. When your background or claims are checked out, no one will remember precisely how you worded an answer. You’ll get fired for skirting the truth in an interview. Be clearly understood.

During applications

Be precise. Answer the exact question asked. Don’t embellish. Don’t add explanations. Tell your problems in as few words as possible. Don’t leave out any jobs on the application. You can leave them out on the resume, not the application. On the application they want all your recent jobs. Put your exact and official job title where it asks for it. Applications demand very exact and precise answers. Don’t lie by being incredibly precise and misleading. Be precise and understood. In many cases your application is never read carefully anyway (If it’s read at all. Computers take care of a lot nowadays).

A resume, interview and job application are supposed to help them get a feel for who you are. Those are not the places to try and get away with highly technical definitions. They are hiring the person you are presenting. If that person isn’t you, you’re going to get fired.

In Dad’s court case the judge was bound by a strict set of laws. When you get a job, your boss and coworkers are going to quickly start calling you a liar if you rely on word tricks. You may technically have been accurate but you will still get busted.

Something To Do Today

If you have a blemish on your record, decide when and where it needs to be talked about or shown.

Showing your potential

Attic, Empty, Wood, Abandoned, Old, Dark, Dirty, Dusty

Don’t hide your skills in the attic

We had a little trumpet up in my mother’s garage. I have no clue where it came from. We took it to the band teacher who said “That’s a nice old German trumpet. It should be cleaned up and fixed.” We still don’t know where it came from.

That trumpet could play amazing music. We didn’t know. To us, it took up space and makes noise when you blow into the small end. When the right musician comes along, they can make amazing music.

What to take from this

  1. You have potential. Most people are content where they’re at. You’re not. You want to grow. All too often, you’re too blind to see it.
  2. Additionally, other people can have untapped potential that you can see. If there is an issue, look around you to see who can help, or even wants to help. There are a lot of people who only need a little training and an opportunity.

Let people see what you’re interested in and where you’re interested in growing. Ask around about new projects and jobs or roles that need filled. Ask your boss what you can help them with beyond what you normally do.

Don’t hide in the attic.

Something to Do Today

Take a fresh look at your skills. What do you learn the fastest? What makes sense to you that confuses everyone else?

Similarly, look at the people around you. What can they help with?

I’m worried I might get fired

What is the connection of these 3 job disasters?

  1. A director of accounting went to the SEC with evidence of fraud. Several executives were put in jail. He was told by the new managers, “Trust us. We’ll take care of you.” Exactly a year later he was on the streets looking for a job.
  2. An industry downturn was coming. A merger happened. The worker trusted that his 20 years of service would save him. He was laid off. It was too late to get a new job. The people who were laid off first got them all.
  3. Hurricane Katrina destroyed New Orleans. FEMA came in to help a few days later. It was too late.

    You can see disaster coming. Get ready

You are in charge of your life. You are in charge of your career. If you think you won’t or can’t be replaced, think if you died. If you died tomorrow, you’d get replaced. It might be hard, but they could do it. If you think your reputation and history will save you, are the people who care about your reputation and history still around?

If you’re scared you might be fired, be proactive about scouting out other opportunities. If your performance is fantastic, you can find another job. If you’ve been getting certifications and networking, it helps a ton. No matter what, you have to go looking.

It’s your career, your life. Watch for warning signs and respond appropriately, even just to let a recruiter know you’re keeping your eyes open.

If you don’t accept responsibility for your own actions, then you are forever chained to a position of defense. (Holly Lisle)

Something To Do Today

Write in your job journal who would get to replace you if you die tonight.

Now write who YOU would get to replace if they died tonight.

Which of the two of you has more job security?