Why I didn’t interview you

I have an opening on my team and so have been staring at resumes all week. Most of these resumes are not going to turn into interviews. Some may think that’s terrible as an interview surely must be a better way to know if someone is right for the role. I get that. As someone who has been refused interviews because I don’t yet have my degree despite the fact that I have 8 years more experience in the field than most with the degree I’m in school for, I get the frustration. But the job I’m hiring for doesn’t require a college degree, it requires strong written communication skills and attention to detail. I absolutely can judge those from a resume, or at least narrow the pool a bit. And while I would love to give people a shot at redemption, the fact is I don’t have time to do so.

Let’s look at this mathematically. My management position takes an average 50 hours a week for my standard responsibilities. Being a person short staffed adds an additional 10 hours a week to my work load, minimum. I then have to set aside an additional 4 hours a week to read through numerous resumes plus 2 hours for phone screens of the top candidates. I’m now working 66 hours a week and I haven’t even started interviewing. Now assume I have to set aside an hour per interview, am I really supposed to interview all 40 candidates I’ve got in my queue that week? No, it’s not possible. Also keep in mind I am at the lower end of management, there are going to be managers reading this going “WHAT? Only 66 hours of work before interviews? I WISH I could work that little!” Hopefully that gives a little more perspective on why your resume needs to stand out as one of the best.

So here are the top reasons that resumes got tossed out this week:

1. Misspellings

This may seem like common sense, but you’d be surprised. I’ll let a misspelling go if the person looks great otherwise (only one y’all. You give me more than that and I can’t trust your attention to detail, sorry). Best way to eliminate misspellings is to read your resume backwards. Forwards you know what you said so your brain fills in corrections; backwards and you’re forced to consider individual words since the sentence doesn’t make sense. Give it a try, it’ll help.

2. Bad formatting

I had a resume where formatting would change mid-sentence. It’s hard to pay attention to a sentence that randomly changes formatting. Just saying. But beyond that, pay attention to the little things. Just because your sentence structure is good and your formatting consistent doesn’t mean it stands out as great. Make sure there is a flow, use bullet points systematically, emphasize your best qualities with strong placement.

3. Plagiarism and lies

I had someone who listed skills on his resume by listing something general like “computer skills” and then following it with what was obviously a description of a course he took in school. “Utilizing computers to learn more advanced tools within Microsoft Excel, Word, and PowerPoint. Must complete CMP102 to take this course.” How this resume got past the recruiter I don’t know. But that was an immediate pass.

Even if not copy and pasted I may still catch you in a lie. I’m especially good at this in interviews, and yes I will have a copy of your resume with me when we meet. “It says here you consider yourself an expert in Microsoft excel. What are some things you’ve used it for?” “Primarily tables and spreadsheets for keeping track of things.” “Nice. Did you make any of these spreadsheets?” “No, they were pre-made, but I needed to understand them well enough to use them. I also trained others on using them.” “That’s great to hear. What are some formulas you’ve used?” “Uhhhhhh…”. FYI, that’s not expert level. Tell me you’re average but learning and I’m thrilled with these answers, tell me you’re an expert and I’m highly disappointed in these answers. An expert should be making spreadsheets, using formulas, and experimenting with macros.

4. Too long

Ideally a resume should fit on a single page. I don’t need your life story, I need to know what skills you have that best fit this position. I interview plenty of 2-page resumes, but when it starts hitting 3 I’m usually done. Wondering why? Look at the math above. The 4 hour estimate is based on no more than 40 resumes, individual resumes averaging a page and a half. Three page resumes doubles my time. Here’s a tip, make your resume a clean looking one and a half to two pages. Then when applying for the job go through and eliminate anything that doesn’t apply. I’m looking for key words, and those key words can be found in the job description. Make your resume match my description and you’re going to be among my first calls for an interview.

5. Listing too much work history

Similar to it being too long, I don’t want to read through all of that. But more importantly, it shows a lack of tenure. I reviewed a resume this morning that was 2 full pages of jobs listed. That’s a lot of jobs. So I started analyzing the dates and the person never stayed with one company longer than a year. I need someone that can be dedicated and last for a while. Now obviously you can’t go back in time and change your work history, so use my lack of time to your advantage. Specify the last 3 jobs only, and format them in such a way that my eyes are drawn from job title to skills and unknowingly bypass the dates. If I don’t have a list of 10 jobs making me nervous about commitment, then I probably am not going to analyze the dates because that takes additional time. Want to emphasize skills that were used in job number 5 and 6? Simply create a “skills” section of the resume with quick bullet points. I don’t care where the skill came from, only that it exists.

Hopefully this sheds a little light on the importance of your resume and how to format it to work for the hiring manager. Always remember that your resume is your first introduction, so make it a good one.

Sometimes you’re paranoid for a reason

Just over a year ago I posted this. A description of my fears into the void in hopes of easing my own mind. My husbands blood work came back with some abnormalities. He was doing monthly blood work at the time to keep an eye on his response to a new diabetic medication, so to have abnormalities show up suddenly within a month was concerning to say the least. His GP referred him to a hematologist, whom we quickly discovered was actually an Oncologist. Fears grew. He was also scheduled for some additional tests and scans. I continued to “accidentally” find my way to WebMD through google searches, and continued to find he had symptoms of a few serious illnesses including colon cancer. I kept reminding myself that if we diagnosed purely through WebMD we’d all be diagnosed with cancer. So I pushed back my fear.

Day of the appointment came, tests results from the few they did were available, and the Hematologist/Oncologist showed no concern. “It’s just Anemia, the other abnormalities are from the lack of iron. Sometimes this pops up suddenly, don’t be worried we just need to get you on iron supplements.” He went on iron and followed up exactly on schedule. No change. “Your body just doesn’t absorb it well. We’ll put you on a higher dosage.” The next follow up appointment showed the iron in his blood went down. “Don’t worry, we’ll get you in for an iron infusion. It’ll take care of it and you’ll feel much better.”

So hubby walks into the office the day of the infusion and they explain that it’ll cost $5000. He asks what kind of payment plans we can do and they say none. The amount must be paid in full before any treatment is done. He continues to try to work with them as we don’t have the money and the doctor had said he needed this. “Sorry, but we don’t do these infusions until paid in full. We’ll go ahead and cancel the appointment and reschedule for when you are ready.” The doctors office continued to call for a while to explain he needed to go in for the infusion. Once he did they would schedule his follow up with the Hematologist. He stopped responding to the calls after a while as they still wouldn’t do a payment plan. He continued to work with his GP, continued to do blood work, always was honest when describing health and symptoms. The GP never seemed any more concerned than the Hematologist/Oncologist, so we trusted them.

April of this year his GP bumped up his iron supplements again as he still wasn’t absorbing it and a week later the occasional stomach pains he’d had for so long grew more severe. After a year of unspoken fear and trusting the doctors instead of my instincts I finally got him to agree to go to the ER. He had been unable to move for 3 days because of the pain of what he assumed was iron poisoning from the increase. The admitting nurse said “well, that could be it, but they’ll run some tests I’m sure to determine the cause.” She looked concerned. The ER doctor listened to his symptoms and asked questions finally asking “And your doctor hasn’t looked into this further?” She got him in for a CT scan. The scans showed dark spots on his colon. She said he would be admitted for further testing, but until they get the results from a biopsy there is still room to think positive. She too looked concerned.

Within 5 minutes of getting to his hospital room he had a gastroenterologist, hospital GP, and his previously seen hematologist/Oncologist standing in the room. They all looked concerned. As the first two spoke on what tests they would do and then left to go schedule them the Oncologist stayed and said “this is why you were supposed to do the iron infusion. So you wouldn’t end up in the hospital.”

Five days, two biopsies, three iron infusions, two blood infusions, and one major surgery later we had answers. Colon cancer, stage 4. A year ago I feared his symptoms were colon cancer or similar, but I choose to trust the doctors instead of speaking my fears. He now has no chance of remission from one of the most treatable cancers because it took too long to diagnose. It is so easy to beat myself up for not pushing for more tests, but that takes energy away from a family that needs me. It is even easier to be furious with the doctor, but he doesn’t care so why bother. Instead I focus on treatment, on hope that doesn’t exist, on taking care of my two young children while my husband lies in bed suffering the symptoms of cancer, surgery, and chemo.

But I learned from my paranoia mistake. The Oncologist wasn’t answering our questions, and was ignoring other symptoms. I didn’t ignore my instincts this time, I changed doctors. The new oncologist had the same reaction as the ER doctor. “He didn’t look into these new symptoms? He didn’t run more tests after your diagnosis? He started chemo that soon?” Turns out the original Oncologist did not preform standard scans to find a baseline which would show the effectiveness of chemo, he started chemo two weeks sooner than he should have after surgery, and he ignored pain that showed possible signs of spread to the bones and spots showing possible signs of spread to the lungs. He also omitted information on a more cost effective way to do chemo that has the same results.

Hubby got all the scans done with the new Oncologist and he has tumors covering his liver and lungs, but fortunately none in his bones. He now has a baseline and while they can’t switch chemo types yet they will with his next round to save him both time and money. He now has a pain specialist, a new GP, and a psychologist who all partner with his new oncologist. He now has the treatment he needs. Too late because of my ignoring my instincts, but hopefully soon enough to elongate his life.

WebMD won’t always be right. It’s usually not cancer. But it is better to ask and push for tests. Be sure to rule it out before assuming the doctor is always right. Trust your instincts even if they turn out wrong. I learned a hard lesson and my husband will now pay the price for that. Beating myself up steals energy from my family but secretly I may never forgive myself. Don’t make the same mistake I did.

Potentially Unpopular Opinion

I’m seeing the Sarah Sanders kicked out of restaurant story all over. Before making a decision on it I tried to get the facts.

  1. The Sanders party was polite before and after being asked to leave.
  2. The owner was polite and private when doing the asking.
  3. The owner was attempting to protect employees whom she understood may feel discriminated against.
  4. The Sanders party is in league with someone who would actively discriminate against said employees.
  5. The Sanders party did not pose discriminatory actions while at the restaurant.
  6. Had a single employee not made the stupid move to post this on Facebook then both sides may have left it at that instead of the social media shit storm that followed.

I understand the thought process on the side of the restaurant. It is hard to provide service when you feel attacked. But the attack was not happening at that time. There are so many instances of people being kicked out of a restaurant because they are different. The difference does not make a person dangerous. These are not the same situation, but they are similar. Which makes this a tough call. I do not agree with someone being refused service because of their political affiliation any more than because of the color of their skin or the gender they love. However, I do not approve of someone being forced to serve a person who has outwardly defended a person that is attacking their rights. Again, a tough call.

In the restaurant owners shoes I think I would have gone a third route. Serve the party myself. When there is a difficult customer, or a customer that makes an employee feel uncomfortable I take over so my employee can remove themselves from the situation. I have done it many times. A customer can make an employee feel uncomfortable even when they are not actively doing something wrong at that time. I do not make my employees suffer that situation if I can step in and help. But I also don’t kick the customer out.

As a manager I feel the great responsibility of protecting my company, my customer, and my team. And sometimes that means making tough calls. There are times that I put my team first, but I do so in a way that makes it invisible to the customer as much as possible. And ideally without one of my employees posting my decisions to Social Media for all the world to see and judge.

Conversations with a 7 year old

7yo “This is not a joke”

Me “Okay”

7yo “Why are squirrels on land called land squirrels?”

Me “I don’t know”

7yo “It’s not a joke”

Me “Correct”

7yo “Why is it a land squirrel?”

Me beginning to laugh “I have no idea”

7yo “Why are you laughing? It’s not a joke!”

Me “Sweetie, I don’t call them land squirrels. I call them squirrels. I have no idea why we would call them land squirrels.”

7yo “Are there such things as sea squirrels?”

Me “I don’t know”

7yo walks away thoughtfully.

My boss has Borderline Personality Disorder – Part 2

Every month the amount of people coming to the blog to find out how to deal with their BPD boss grows. For every one of you coming here to try to find out how to deal with someone that has BPD I want to hug you! Part of that may be my overly sensitive emotions and tendency towards inappropriate relationships, but more so it’s because I can see you’re going through a difficult time with someone you’re stuck with all day. That is an extremely difficult thing to deal with.

Something I mention in my first post about this topic is that you can’t change the person. That if it gets too bad then maybe look for a new job. Which is entirely unfair. I can hear the “that’s ridiculous!” and “That’s unfair!” and “Why should I be the one to change?!” screams coming through as I read my own words. And to these I respond, “yes” and “it is” and “you shouldn’t”. So why then do I leave that advice there?

The fact is we can’t control other people. We can only control ourselves. I’m not saying that the tough manager shouldn’t be held responsible. Everyone should be held responsible for their actions. But you can’t control your boss any more than I can control you. So then the question may come up of why their manager isn’t doing something about it. Maybe you can’t control them, but certainly their boss can hold them responsible, right? To which I argue, who says they’re not?

I recently fired someone, and ya know what? It took over a year. In a large corporation an HR department needs strong documentation of what the issue is, how it effects the team, how it effects the business, and proof that the employee has been made aware and given all necessary tools to change. If that can be proven and the changes have not been made, then the person can be let go. I was stuck in a situation where the employee did not work in the same office as me and I had to rely on others to provide feedback. If they didn’t then I had nothing to go off of. I needed proof that the employee was not improving despite the additional discussions, warnings, and trainings she had received. There were people who wondered why I wasn’t doing anything, but refused to provide feedback at the same time. I was doing site visits, asking for feedback, documenting everything possible. I was assigning training classes, following up, and more. I was stuck with a system that needed people to speak to me and people that refused to speak.

The manager of your BPD manager might be doing things that you aren’t aware of. Maybe they’re tying to document and people aren’t speaking up. Maybe they don’t know. Maybe they’re in process providing new trainings and looking to see if it helps. We don’t know what’s happening behind closed doors. We can’t assume.

So along with taking ownership of your actions, make sure to document things and speak to your bosses boss when needed. Do so tactfully and in detail. Don’t speak on mental illness, that will make things far messier. Instead speak on specific examples of things that took place. It may take time to see improvement, but that doesn’t mean that the person isn’t being held responsible for their actions.

Here’s some examples of how to provide feedback:

Instead of “She just doesn’t understand boundaries” say “I stated last week that I am uncomfortable with her hugging, and yet she has continued to hug me.” Notice how the first statement is vague and could mean she walked past you too close for all we know. That will barely get a reaction from the big boss. The second statement, however, is an ethics violation and potentially sexual harassment. The person you report that to has to immediately follow up with some form of action.

Instead of “She has a bad temper” say “She began yelling at me in front of the team yesterday. I felt embarrassed and struggled to focus on my work the rest of the day.” The first statement could be her temper or your thin skin, no way for an outside party to know. The second statement is clearly her reacting poorly to a situation in a way that negatively impacted your work and employee moral. The first statement makes a manger want to say “work it out” while the second is likely to prompt a verbal warning if it’s the first documented offense or written warning if it’s been documented before.

Sometimes this still won’t make things change. I don’t know why, I’m not there. And it may still come to a point where you have to leave because the environment isn’t getting better. I get that. I’ve been there. I had a boss that had extremely high turnover and had a way of making her boss believe that it was because she had developed them for great things, when everyone who worked for her knew it’s because we’re all trying to get away from her. I attempted to provide feedback, my manager knew I might so never had anything in email. It was my word against hers and hers always won. I tried to switch teams and was told that I needed to learn how to work with others, and would not be allowed to work for anyone else. Meanwhile this boss was treating me and many others horribly. I left the company. They lost my skills and experience because of her. I was not the first, nor will I be the last. Last I heard from a previous coworker, her relationship with her boss doesn’t seem to be quite the same. She’s not on such a high pedestal, she’s not getting to run her team however she wants anymore, and her work is being more closely monitored. Enough people provided enough similar, and constructive, feedback that it’s finally being looked into. But not until after I had to get out.

Also keep in mind the potential for your boss to change. I recently called an employee “sweetie”. A habit of mine outside the office that accidentally slipped at the office. He reported it to my boss who mentioned it to me. Not only am I being more careful what I say to him, I am more careful what I say in general. I need to change to ensure my team feels comfortable at work. Whether the change is before or after an employee leaves, it is possible.

I’m wishing you all the best in your career! Please remember that things can get better and less stressful even if it requires tough choices to be made.

Which dinosaur had nipples?

So my son was imitating a dinosaur and asking “what dinosaur am I?” He was upright, walking with large steps and had his arms tucked in with pointer fingers pointing forward. So I guessed T-Rex. He sighed and said “No Mom, these are not short arms. They are nipples.” He was dead serious, I of course was laughing my ass off. He began to get frustrated and said “I’m serious! I can’t remember the name of the dinosaur but it is big and walks like this and has long nipples!”

I have always encouraged the scientific questions of my children so was ready to explain that there were probably a lot with nipples cause they need them to feed their young. Then I remembered that no, that is how mammals feed their young and dinosaurs are reptiles. Then I remembered we were sitting in McDonalds and this probably wasn’t the place for a lively discussion on dinosaur nipples. So I changed the topic.

Now my brain is curious as to whether this is a real dinosaur and if it had nipples but I am afraid of what bizarre thing may appear from the depths of the Internet if I search “dinosaur with nipples”. So I shall ask you. Do any of y’all know what dinosaur had long nipples sticking out its front? Is there even one like that? I would consider this part of my sons imagination but he is almost always right when it comes to creatures I don’t know about.

Let’s cut off half that compliment, thanks

“You’re doing so well considering all you’re going through!” I’m hearing that non-stop at my new office. I’m trying to take the compliment but it’s frustrating. Am I really doing well? Or am I doing only ok but getting more credit since I’ve got life junk going on?

Part of my problem is that I entered this job with imposter syndrome in full force. I kept hearing “I’m so glad you’re here!” And “you’re exactly what we need!” And “we’ve been counting down the days until you could start!” all through my first couple of days. That’s a pretty high expectation to walk into. So my brain kept wondering how long before they realize I’m a fake, that I’m not good enough, that they made a huge mistake on me.

As the compliments grow, so do my doubts. Which means they try to praise me for doing great things in spite of the insanity of my life I hear only that they’re making excuses for me not doing all that great. The nasty voice in my head should leave me alone. And I hope eventually people will cut off the “considering” part of their compliments.

I’m back… kind of

Sorry for my sudden disappearance. Life went a little crazy all of a sudden. And by “a little crazy” I mean we moved, I started a new job, and my husband was diagnosed with cancer all within the span of a week. I’ve spent the last few weeks trying to focus and keep things moving. So I plan to get back to posting on a semi regular basis, but things will be a bit slow.

You’re asking me?

I rarely feel like I’ve got my shit together. Most of the time I see the shit and no togetherness whatsoever. Yet at work I’m fairly good at faking it, you have to be as a manager. So this morning one of our newer employees began asking me at what point does a job become a career. Wow, now that is a tough question to be greeted with before the second cup of coffee!

We chatted for a bit and it turns out he is at a point in his school that he has to choose a major and he’s second (and third, and fourth) guessing himself. I explained that that is entirely understandable. I changed majors 3 times before finally completing school (less than a year ago, and more than a decade older than he is). I explained that to me a career is about having growth opportunity. It’s about knowing that there is a path and you’re not stuck. That maybe job vs career means something different to others, but that’s what I needed for me.

It was not what he was expecting to hear and seemed to really make him think. I asked what he did and didn’t like about his work. What he did and didn’t like about his current classes. And then gave him a few things to consider where studying through that path left options open as he fine tuned his skills and desires. But I think what he needs to know more than anything, and what I failed to properly explain today, is that no matter what he’s very likely to succeed. I’ve seen how fast he learns at the office, how calm he is regardless of situation, and how he actively works with his team. As long as he keeps this dedication and work ethic nothing will hold him down.

So to everyone wondering the same thing please remember that your wonderings prove desire and dedication. Your thoughtfulness on these questions shows determination and intelligence. And that is what will bring you far in your career, more so than anything else.

Oh, and one more thing to remember. That manager in the office who you think has her shit together so can answer these questions and help guide you, yeah she’s lost too. You’re not alone in your fear and confusion. But I guess that means I’m not alone either.

Sometimes the best explanation is none at all

I just started to listen to Stephen Kings It on audiobook. When Georgie meets Pennywise at the beginning and then suddenly turns from clown to monster the description of the monster is so freaky. Why? Because it’s not a description. It is a feeling and thought process from the point of view of Georgie. It is an explanation that the monster his imagination comes up with to fear in the cellar is nothing close to what he saw. And to hear this makes you fear this Pennywise creature more than just about any character in a book.

Once I got over the shock and tears of the scene I was hearing I realized, this is much like mental illness. Why is it so hard to describe to those who don’t have it? There really are no words for how terrible this illness can be. And the fact that science is still early in understanding it makes it that much harder. I often speak of my mental illness as the monster in my mind. And sometimes that monster is a creepy clown lurking in the shadows and I can mostly ignore it. And sometimes that clown turns into something so horrifying and overwhelming that it cannot be put into words. I suppose I’ll take my mental Pennywise over the one that Georgie faces, but that doesn’t mean my mental one doesn’t terrify me sometimes.