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February 15, 2010

Tips for the job applicant

As a Customer Service Supervisor for 5 years, I saw my more-than-fair share of staff turnover. This was to be expected, given I supervised a department of entry-level positions who were often "stolen" internally by other departments. (I personally viewed this as the ultimate compliment to the team and my leadership!) Because of the high turnover, I averaged about 1 new person per month during this time-frame; this meant I had MUCH opportunity to review resumes & cover letters as well as interview applicants & call upon references. Now, I'm in a position of offering help or advice to others entering the work force and I would like to share a few pointers/observations on the job applications process.

-Present yourself positively and professionally from the first interaction, whether picking up a job application, dropping off a resume or calling in for inquiries. Located on the "front line," my Customer Service team passed along less-than-desirable traits along to the appropriate supervisors. If someone was rude or dressed inappropriately, we shared these observations when needed.
-Include a well-written cover letter that's interesting, grammatically correct, free from typos or misspelled words, that shares depth about your experiences. Anyone can copy a form letter - instead, use these templates for ideas to best promote yourself.
-There are some questions you should expect for every interview: why should you be hired for this position? and what are your long-term goals? The only wrong answer to these questions is not being prepared. Of course, there are always better answers to provide, and that is your challenge to determine those answers.
-Don't fall asleep while being interviewed, list every computer skills gained annually since Kindergarten, forget who you are to interview with or what position you applied for, or skip the interview altogether because you've been thrown in jail (yep - this stuff really did happen!)
-ALWAYS ask References beforehand if they will provide you a good reference. Two points to this statement: simply putting someone's name down on paper without prior approval shows poor judgment and inconsideration. Not knowing whether someone will say positive aspects about you is too risky.

Let me end with the best advice I ever received from my mom: just be yourself. The interview process is a two-way street: the company is interviewing you to see if you have the skills, aptitude, and desire to work in their environment. Likewise, you are also interviewing them to see if the position duties, office culture and business philosophies are aligned with your skills, passion and goals.

May the best applicant win!

10:01 pm cst          Comments

February 14, 2010

Happy V-Day

Today, I don't just celebrate Valentine's Day, I also celebrate the joy of seeing life complete yet another of its magical cycles. It started by getting a simple basketball-depicted Valentine from my son. His eyes sparkled with love as he handed me the card made to Gerard and Tammy Wellbrock (last name included "because there might be other Gerard and Tammys who might think it's their card") and with a misspelled school mate's name scratched out. Unlike Christmas where the focus is on what he will GET, today I saw Garrett enjoy GIVING the gift, the love, the attention. My heart swells with love on this Valentine's Day unlike many others - and I can't help but think of past V-Days of other times.

For instance, I remember my first "real" Valentine from a boyfriend in 7th grade - oh, how I cherished that handmade heart pillow that his mom made for me! As a high school Freshman, I was astounded by the flowers from friends and the first dozen red roses I received from yet another boyfriend. Four years later as a college Freshman, I received the sweetest gift from my twin (who had a girlfriend while I was still single). I remember he gave me flowers, chocolates, balloons and a card that shared how he hoped that I would someday share a love with someone as special as the love he found with his then-girlfriend, now wife. Later, I would have 2 different beaus break up with me on this day (the jerks), to really sour me on the day (I started wearing black annually as a statement) only to have a coworker friend at my first job remind me with a simple heart box of chocolates that Valentine's Day is more than just a day for romantic love - it's about showing everyone you care for how much you love them and that you are glad to have them in your life.

I now am married to my best friend, who amazes me with a depth of love beyond my childhood dreams. The best gift he gave me sometimes stinks, sometimes sings off-key, sometimes gives an already-used Valentine, but I love every sports-filled, crazy, loud, joyful moment. 

12:52 pm cst          Comments

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