Life Business Lessons

Reality 101 Rantings – The Business World

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reality101-flag1The business world is cutt-throat – ever heard of that before? Well, it’s true.

More People Pump You for Information to Do it Themselves

I once heard from a former executive Yahoo! that the way they would make money through Search Marketing was by feeding TONS of information to someone, so much so that the amount would overwhelm the average person. Those people would then tell Yahoo! to do the search marketing for them since they had no time. This strategy apparently worked for Yahoo! and some SEO firms in the past, such as SEOMoz.

The reality today is that people are now more educated, and if you “give away the farm” people can and will use that information in-house and bypass the middleman. It’s cheaper that way.

For example at one of my former companies, a client offered us to pay us $50k: $10k for a specific document that outlined how to properly optimize a huge and complicated website for search engines, and $40k to do it. In the end they paid $10 and gave the actual job to two people in-house to do.

I’m also willing to bet that 99 our of 100 people that visit my Computer Support website or an SEO Company website to take the information and do it themselves rather than ask me for a paid consultation.

Therefore, the trick is to give away SOME information but not all.

“Dog Eat Dog” Often Means Compromising Moral Values

Unfortunately, in today’s competitive corporate world, there is a lot of backstabbing and taking credit for others’ work, simply to get that raise, promotion or job elsewhere with a 6 figure income. People look out for themselves and this comes at the cost of lying, cheating and stealing. Don’t be like that but don’t be a naive idiot, either.

CYA = Cover Your Ass(ets)

In the workplace, there’s a practice called CYA (cover your ass[sets]). What this means is to make sure that all bases are covered when asked about your role. CYA includes CCing/BCCing emails to other people, saying that you did your part and that “the ball is in the other person’s court,” etc.

Women Go to Different Extremes

In my experience with work and school, women would be the ones to go to opposite extremes. Some are very nice and let everything slide by, and some pay way too much attention to detail on items of low priority. This can be to the point where it holds back an entire operation and/or drives someone nuts.

As someone once mentioned to me, you have two people told to sketch a flower. One goes straight to sketching the flower, while the other has to sniff it, look at it from all angles, Google the flower type, etc.

Believe it or not, this is consistent with women in general. The same woman that will fuss over which dress to wear, if the shoes matches her purse, etc., will fuss over little details in every aspect of her life.

Nobody cares more about your business than you

Although hiring employees may sound simple, you’ll quickly learn that no one will care for your company as much as you nor will they work as hard as you. Every once in a while you may find some rock star talent to help you out, but those won’t be the majority of the people that build up your team.

 

Next week I will be covering some tips on what happens at work. Stay tuned.

Reality 101 Rantings – Top 5 Things to Note When Applying for a Job

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reality101-flag1When applying for a job, you will likely get your share of frustrations. Here are some heads-up pointers.

1. Be Prepared for the Standard Interview Questions

Unless you are lucky to find a small, informal company/organization with cultural similarities, be prepared to answer standard interview questions. The reality is, it’s all a game that if you know the right answers, you go through to the next round. Many interviewers doubtfully want to know your answer more than how you answer their questions: an indicator of how you would perform under intense pressure and answering correctly.

An excellent resource I once ran into a few years ago is a bunch of videos made by Denham Resources on YouTube. I’ve personally fallen flat on my face prior to seeing these interview videos, with the standard questions and different answering styles, and passed a number of them since. Again, it’s all a game.

 

2. Don’t Be Surprised About Fake Interviews

Fake interviews are unfortunately all too common. Sometimes an employer will justify wasting other people’s valuable time because he wants to promote someone internally, and needs to either follow government regulations, or feeling out the playing field to see if someone internal is ready for a promotion. It’s unfortunately a fact of life.

My personal favorite one was when I once walked into a headhunting agency and was greeted by the wrong interviewer! The interviewer spoke with me, without mentioning my name, for a good 2-3 minutes before realizing that he was speaking with the wrong assigned person.

3. Job Fairs Stink

Job fairs do indeed suck. Most of the time they are crapshoots as recruiters are looking for someone very specific and only highly experienced people. That’s not to say that there are those that found their jobs at job fairs. It’s just a 1 in a million shot.

In my own personal experience I’ve been 0-for-umpteen.

4. Most Recruiters are Stupid Headhunters, and Are Out to Make Money From You

When I was applying for I.T. jobs, non-technical recruiters didn’t care that I knew database concepts or programming concepts. No, they were given a list of specific languages that a candidate needed to possess at that very moment. This was something that school did not prepare me for. They wanted someone with every skill listed without any variance. On-the-job training was not an option.

Also, from the recruiter’s mentality, if someone goes through them and makes $20 an hour, for each hour that employee works, the agency makes a healthy percentage off of that. That’s how it works.

5. Everyone Wants Someone 21 Years Old with 30 Years Experience

This classic line was stated by the late comedian Milton Berle. It’s true though that’s it’s a catch-22. Someone 21 years old generally will lack the experience needed to do the job for less money, and someone with the experience generally is too old for a job where the employer would like to pay less money.

Therefore, the only answer seems to be that someone needs to go through a 4-year program in 2 years, a Masters degree in 1 semester, and working 3 job shifts at 24 hours – all without breaking down – in order to get that job that will pay less than you deserve. Stop the madness!!!

 

Next week I will be covering some tips on the Business world in general. Stay tuned.

Reality 101 Rantings – The Cold, Cruel World in General

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reality101-flag1In general, the world isn’t all peaches and cream. You probably know that, but now it’s time to further state the following obvious facts.

Everyone is Out for Themselves

Nobody cares about you more than oneself. Man is inherently selfish that will do things for money or pleasure/feeling good. Even when one gives charity one mostly does it for ones own feeling of self-righteousness rather than for noble motives. A case in point is to see how you are after giving money either to a faker or a mentally deranged, drug-addicted ingrate. Just saying.

Also, if you aren’t perceived as someone that someone can utilize and serves no purpose, see how fast people don’t contact you. Also, pay attention when people unfriend you on Facebook and Linked-In, as that makes a huge statement considering you’re not even worth being kept on a superficial level.

Most people have their own agenda, and will not hesitate to pump you for free information in order to do things themselves “in-house” or give the work to a competitor, or to leave you “high and dry” by leaving to another company without telling you first.

People Will Be in a Rush to Get Things from You, But in No Rush to Do Things for You

In all my years I have yet to see the above not be true. I would get multiple emails a day from people looking for something from me, but when I ask for a favour in return, either people don’t reply at all or they reply only a few days later. People are “always busy” when it doesn’t serve their best interest. That’s the way things are.

It’s better to either not be in such a rush to do things for others, and/or make it worth the other person’s while to rush something out for you. Most of the time this works, but in certain cases even that doesn’t work.

People Only Call You When They Need You. Otherwise You Are Dead to Them

As stated above, people use other people when it best serves their goals. Rare is the person that merely wants to see how you are. Why do you think people you visit or call ask you “how can I help you?” Simply because they know that there are few reasons you would otherwise come to them.

There are countless examples I can throw, from the time my alma mater practically ceased contact with me when they found that I was laid off from my first real job after 8 months (and therefore wasn’t the success they hoped due to this bump in my road career-wise), to the time that people I would have worked for (and knew personally) stopped contacting me when, for very valid reasons, I stayed at my current place of employment, and didn’t even contact me when my own son was sick and sadly passed away at a very young age.

While there are the few out there that seem genuinely concerned about you, the majority don’t. Get used to it.

People Will Take Advantage of You, and Even Use You, if You Let Them. Learn to Say No and Stand Up.

In every society this holds true. One thing I found was that certain clients, “friends” and co-workers exploited my nice-guy persona and my inability to say “no” to the point where I was feeling over-stressed in “having” to get everything done at the same time, for no pay. We all need to become more firm and say “no” to certain things to the dismay of others. Also remember that no matter how much you try to please everyone there will always be someone not pleased with you. Get used to it.

Promises Are Made to be Broken. Get it in Writing!!!

If I had a nickel for each and every time that someone made me a broken promise, I’d be rich. Talk is cheap. Unless something is written on a piece of paper with a signature, someone’s word is useless.

More often than not, whenever I mentioned the word “money” or “contract” I found people run away faster than the speed of light!

Need Instant Cash? Scare the Pants Off Someone!

More places will sue than follow through. There is a big business in scaring the pants off of people to give cash away. Don’t be stupid and naive by letting those thieves take away your hard-earned money.

There’s something called legal extortion, where companies go after smaller clients claiming that they need to protect their own clients. One such company recently went after me in the amount of $1,130 and, after speaking with a lawyer about it, was advised to ignore such a letter, as for them to escalate the case further into small claims would cost them more than what I’m allegedly being sued for.

However, there are a small number of people that will get scared and pay the money right away. It’s this kind of fear that financially justifies such extortion.

 Two Kinds of People: Those That Get Caught and Those That Don’t

In today’s world, you will be hard-pressed to find too many workers with moral integrity. Therefore, those that got caught were simply too unlucky. If nobody sees the tree falling, then it didn’t fall. That’s today’s mentality. Get used to it.

Nobody wants to be held accountable

Whenever something bad happens, nobody did anything. That’s just how it is. Also, in the event when someone does get trouble, there’s a sense of self-satisfaction from others “well, at least it’s not me.”

While There Are Some Things Money Can’t Buy, Money Can Buy Most Things (Unless, Someone Simply Cannot Stand You)

Don’t think money isn’t a huge motivator. It is. If you want to hire someone’s services, there’s usually a price tag attached.

There are some people in this world that stand up to their values instead of the price tag, but those people are few and far between.

Numbers Almost Always Are Exaggerated

When numbers are brought out in the news, there’s usually a motive. Generally numbers are over- or under-exaggerated in order to make the locals feel good about themselves.

Examples:

  • Toronto doesn’t have 250k Jews, maybe 20-25k tops.
  • Wikipedia skews numbers in order to keep the real numbers classified.
  • Not knowing something generally will make you overvalue something. A 4-5 year old child will think that his/her parents are at least 100 years old.
  • Countless more examples.

Many People Will Talk Behind Your Back

In the real world, people will talk behind your back. They will never tell you about you straight to your face. The only people I know that told me the cold hard truth were my parents, my wife, and my academic teachers/professors. Nobody else.

People have their own incentive to tell things straight up to you. Otherwise they’d rather not as to not lose face. Most people are wimps.

People will also say things behind your back, sometimes to hurt you, in order to improve their own self-image. Therefore, watch your back.

Too Many People Are Full of S**t

Many people never “made it” in their real lives, and in today’s day in age of identity theft and RPG, it’s easier for people to more comfortably inflate their egos in the name of embellishment. More people are full of hot air, and the trick is to see how they perform under real life tests.

Do Not Complain to Other People

This leads to one of two things: Either people look at you negatively because you are a negative person, or people will take that information to apply for themselves. Nobody cares about you, they only care about themselves.

Watch Out for Credit Hogs

There are people that will wrongfully take credit for your hard-earned work. You need to stand up for yourself, even if it might cost you your job, or else you will always get recognition taken away from you.

Agenda. Everyone has an agenda.

Never take things at face value. People that tell you something are doing it for a reason and in some cases manipulating you to do what they want. Very few in real life do things because they are genuinely good. In this world, people do things because they want something in return.

 

People will talk behind your back. They will never tell you about you straight to your face.

In my experience, the only people that told me things “straight up” were my parents, wife,  teachers, and Sepharadim. My parents and wife have to live with me, and teachers usually were paid $$$ to do so. Unless it’s someone that has an interest in saying things straight-up to you, people will say things behind your back. Don’t think everything is so cozy.

Everybody’s Busy

The older we get, the more responsibilities we have at work, with family, and everything in between. I have personally yet to meet someone in their 20’s or 30’s that’s bored. On one hand that’s good, but oftentimes we all need a break once in a while.

 

Next week I will be covering some tips on when applying for a job. Stay tuned.

Reality 101 Rantings

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reality101-flag1Some universities and colleges will hire someone in the working world that “made it” to give a lecture in the “real world.” From my personal experience, I didn’t find those too helpful from the ones I attended.

One person called to lecture attended Harvard university many years ago and when he lectured shortly after the dot-com bubble burst, he announced that “there are still jobs out there” when there really weren’t for the average person. Another person lectured the following year and was this big venture (vulture?) capitalist that a) was boring, b) said “uhhhh…..” before every sentence, and c) spoke without any Powerpoint presentation to make it easy to follow him!

With that in mind, on one hand I have half-an-idea to ask for my money back as I didn’t gain the real preparation I needed for the “real world.” Therefore, I, a regular worker, aim to expose people to the realities of this cold, cruel world and how it relates to business with some quick pointers.

So, what credentials do I possess? I’m not some high-powered executive at a Fortune 500 company  or doctor making a 6-7 figure income. I’m just a regular working guy. Chances are, at least 90% of people reading this will turn out this way. This I feel makes me much more qualified to talk about “the real world” than the people I described above as I can more easily relate with most of you than someone “at the top” can.

With this, I hope that people will realize that life is tough, and it’s much easier to live at home. To quote the late comedian Rodney Dangerfield from the video “Back to School” from 1985, “And so, to all you graduates… as you go out into the world, my advice to you is… don’t go! It’s rough out there. Move back with your parents. Let them worry about it!”

That having been said, the following don’t apply to every person and every case. However, the following happens too often to ignore. Also, the below list is far from an “end-all and be-all.” TONS of books and blog posts have been written that elaborate on the following points. This is just a list that summarizes things “as they are.”

I’ve been meaning to get this off my chest for some while and hope that these points will either enlighten someone, or at least strengthen ones own opinion about the outside world. I’m going to go all Jerry McGuire on how I see things since no one else will.

I apologize if my upcoming comments sound like those of someone that’s cynical and bitter, but it’s better to get the truth now rather than find out yourself (which you’re likely to do very soon, anyway). I also apologize if I gain a few enemies by saying what I perceive as “the truth” and “nothing but.”

Here are a list of upcoming articles that address different sections of the world as I see it, from my own personal worldview.

 

The following topics will be covered one by one weekly. Follow up each Sunday to see the next segment.

Internet Trolls, Online Cyber-Bullies, and Making Money by Scaring the Pants Off You

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Internet-Troll

Image source: blogworld.com

I enjoy blogging. A lot, in fact. I generally utilize four different blogs, each one with a different theme, and try to keep the material up to date as possible.

Online Internet Trolls

However, inevitable as it is, internet trolls do exist. Based on some of the posts I have written I have received a variety of mixed feedback. While some have been to the tune of “great advice, that was a lifesaver,” and “great story thanks,” some others have been “I’m surprised at you saying what you do,” meanwhile leaving absolutely no name and phone number. In fact, in one recent case someone created an email address for the sole purpose of talking down to me, and took down that email address shortly afterwards. Strange.

Cyber Bullies

Cyber Bullies also exist. How they differ from Internet trolls is minor, but there is one difference: cyber bullies try to push you around to get you to do something for them, internet trolls just want to make your life miserable for the sake of it, then disappear. Neither one has much of a spine in my humble opinion.

Recently a major digital photo company tried to scare the pants off of me by mailing me a letter stating that I had stolen one of their images, attached a screenshot, and demanded that in addition to taking off the photo, I had to pay them $1,130 in “damages,” though those damages never were specified. Therefore, in a cowardly manner without prior contact, they decided to try to hit me with money that I don’t have. I thank Gd have expenses like everyone else and need to address those before I can wrap my head around such stupidities.

internet-troll-20110516-102141

Image source: getsatisfaction.com


To an ordinary person this would have scared them enough to pay the money, but it’s amazing how brave one gets when one simply doesn’t have that money floating around. I basically replied to this company that, while it’s practically impossible for them to prove that they own a specific image, as a courtesy I took the requested image down. However, I explained, I initially took the image straight from Google Images which indexed it from another site (which I no longer remember). That site, from what I remember, had no copyright issues on it, and there was no “image source: MajorDigitalPhotoCompany” specified. Therefore, the photo was fair game. I then told them to sue Google rather than pick on the little guy. Their reply though (yeah, they actually replied) was that it was their responsibility to protect the maker of the photo, and the amount is what they perceive in damages (let them come to that amount, I dare them) Google was doing their job as a search engine and therefore could not be sued (I’m still not too sure on that). When they replied that they will continue to pursue their case with me, I told them that I will have my lawyer contact them. And yes, I do have a lawyer for these matters.

I highly doubt that they will continue to pursue this case with me as $1,130 is simply not worth pursuing when the plaintiff is in a different country and 3,000 miles away.  Not only that, the digital photo industry is a wishy-washy one to track. For arguments’ sake, I could take/purchase an image from the internet and upload it anywhere and on any site. Nowhere does it say  that I don’t have the right to post the image anywhere once I purchased it. Not only that, but in the documentation, the photo company couldn’t even get my email address right!

And I’m not even a lawyer. Imagine what a lawyer could come up with!

Nonetheless, I’m almost certain that there is a small percentage of people that pay money when threatened with “legal action,” and hey, money is money.

Making Money by Scaring the Pants Off You Apparently is a Big Industry

Apparently there is a big industry in trying to scare the pants off of you. In another case, a year and a half ago I inquired about a hosting plan from a major hosting company for a Magento site. They basically tried to scare me into paying $8,000 a month because only they have an infrastructure where you won’t get audited by the Feds for keeping the database on the same server as the files, something to that effect.

This is nothing new. For thousands of years, healers, shamans and false prophets have made a TON of money by exploiting peoples fears.

While I’m posting about Internet Trolls and the Pants-Scaring industry, let’s paint another person with the same brush: Lance Armstrong. In a recent interview with Oprah Winfrey, “Armstrong chuckled that he had sued so many people, he couldn’t remember if he brought legal action against [a certain person] as well.”

Comments

All the above having been said, the internet is a vast, open space where a lot can go on undetected. However, there are actual rules of netiquette, found on albion.com.

I personally want anyone messing with me to fill out this form below (found it on Facebook):

apology_form

Bottom line, don’t get scammed. And yes, even the big internet companies aren’t all that big, and try to be more than they really are.

I’m just a guy trying to get some points across, and find that blogging provides me with the best forum to do so. Nothing more.

Work is Stressful for Everybody – Nobody is Satisfied

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teachers-toronto-strikeA few weeks ago I saw a group of teachers going on strike in front of a local public school. They were holding signs up about being overworked and underpaid, like the rest of us. They also felt that they weren’t getting enough respect from parents and students. This in a way made me laugh as we all think we have the most stressful, underpaid jobs in the world.

The reality is, work sucks for everybody. No matter what profession you work in, there’s always different levels of stress. Not only that, many clients are whiny and ungrateful – that’s simply the nature of the beast. In the academic field, your job is to feed information into dense students’ minds in an attractive manner, and negotiate with parents and administrators. As a computer server administrator, in the event that a server is down, every second feels like a day. As a computer programmer, the same applies when a website is down for whatever reason – especially if it’s the company’s website. With politicians, whenever the slightest thing goes wrong, (s)he is held responsible.

The Case with Sports Players

940-nhl-players-8colSports players that play a game for a living also undergo lots of stress. This applies to professional Baseball, Football, Basketball and Hockey. In baseball, there’s a need to win 20 games or hit safely every 3 out of 10 times. In Hockey, the more goals, assists and saves the merrier. In Basketball, points sell tickets. With Football, yards and touchdowns sell tickets. Sports players need to work very hard to stay competitive, and when one works out 24 hours a day to play a 2-4 hour game, it makes one question if what he’s doing is worth the millions of dollars. The added stress may even lead him to take performance enhancing drugs in order to quicken and ease the time it takes to work out to be in competitive shape. Better shape means more numbers means more money and more years playing.

Also, with sports players, most of the time performing means less time to make/spend with family. That’s why some players will retire early so that they don’t see what matters most to them pass them by. Yes, playing on such a level really can be hard work and this is something we don’t always see. They may make tons of money but how much do they appreciate it in the end of the day?

City Sanitation Workers

news122105002In both New York City (2005) and Toronto (2009), city workers went on strike for different reasons, and picked the right times to cause the most damage. A number of years back, in 2005, New York City MTA employees went on strike for three days due to low pay, etc. They chose the cold Winter as the opportune time to go on strike, thereby crippling much of the city’s population. In Toronto, the sanitation workers went on strike due to low pay, no increase in titles, etc. They chose the hot summer to leave garbage rotting for weeks!

Also, a couple of years ago, the NYC sanitation department silently went on strike when one of the biggest blizzards hit. Same thing – not enough respect, not enough money.

Work is Stressful for Everybody

Also, in general, everyone has crazy deadlines. Any time 3 weeks of work has to be done in a day is a time of immense stress where half of ones hair turns gray, and the other half falls out in clumps. Combine that with other responsibilities such as family, earning an advanced degree, etc. and you get the idea.

Work-Stress

Therefore, it’s easy for many people to think that “their job is the worst.” The reality is, that the nature of the work can be very rewarding. It’s moreso the work environment that determines ones job. And, this can be in any capacity. The trick is to be happy what you’re doing and seriously weigh the pros and cons to switching to what seems to be greener pastures.

 

WAL-MART SENIOR GREETER FROM THE ARMY

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You just have to appreciate this one.  Young people forget that we old people had a career before we retired……

Charley, a new retiree-greeter at Wal-Mart, just couldn’t seem to get to work on time.

Every day he was 5, 10, 15 minutes late. But he was a good worker, really tidy, clean-shaven, sharp-minded and a real credit to the company and obviously demonstrating their “Older Person Friendly” policies.

One day the boss called him into the office for a talk.

“Charley, I have to tell you, I like your work ethic, you do a bang-up job when you finally get here; but your being late so often is quite bothersome.”

“Yes, I know boss, and I am working on it.”

“Well good, you are a team player. That’s what I like to hear.”

“Yes sir, I understand your concern and I’ll try harder.”

Seeming puzzled, the manager went on to comment, “It’s odd though your coming in late. I know you’re retired from the Armed Forces.

What did they say to you there if you showed up in the morning so late and so often?”

The old man looked down at the floor, then smiled.

He chuckled quietly, then said with a grin,

“They usually saluted and said, ‘Good morning, Admiral, can I get your coffee, sir?’”


One of my favorite stories, ever!


Note: On a more somber note, I did a search on Google for “charley walmart army” and found that a Charley Albert Larsen, matching the story , passed away on December 22, 2010. The world lost yet another person with a healthy sense of humor despite his serious career.

11 Reasons You Didn’t Get the Job

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Here Are the REAL Reasons You Didn’t Get Hired
By 

Sometimes It’s Not Them — It’s You

We all have friends (or maybe YOU are the friend and just don’t realize it) who have been job-hunting for what seems like an eternity. They look through the help wanted ads, scour job boards and go on their fair share of interviews, each time thinking they “nailed it.” But their optimism is soon broken by the hammer blow of rejection, and they’re still unemployed.

Which begs the question, why?

There are a thousand different potential reasons. Some are valid, others arbitrary. But even though employers will likely never reveal the true reasons behind their hiring decisions, we’re giving you our list (in no particular order) of the most likely reasons you didn’t make the cut.

11. Arriving Too Early/Too Late

The people interviewing you are busy. Even if they aren’t, you should assume they are. And the very first impression you can make — even before they see you — is to judge you based upon what time you arrive.

We shouldn’t have to explain why being late to an interview is a bad thing. Obviously, if you’re trying to impress somebody, making them wait at the outset is not the smartest idea. Even if you have a good excuse, the only thing some hiring managers will remember is you were the candidate who was late.

But what some people don’t realize is while showing up 5-10 minutes early is what you should aim for, getting there too far ahead of schedule can be viewed as equally disrespectful of someone’s time. Even if they leave you sitting in the lobby, now they feel rushed to finish up what they’re doing and tend to you. If you get there half an hour early, wait in the parking lot and go over your notes for a while.

10. Looking Like a Slob

In the hours (and maybe days) before a first date, men and women spend an inordinate amount of time picking an outfit, doing their hair and caring immensely about how they look. And just like a first date, looks matter in a job interview as well.

Dress professionally. Iron your clothes, run a comb through your hair and make yourself presentable. Zip up your zippers, button your blouses and wipe the crumbs off your shirt. If you have pets, make sure you pack a lint brush and give yourself a once-over before the interview. Are looks the most important thing? Certainly not. But that saying about first impressions is definitely true, so try to make the best one possible.

If it comes down to two candidates with equal work experience, skills and education, make sure you’re doing your best to win all the tiebreakers.

9. Bad-mouthing Former Employers

Your old boss was a jerk and your former company treated you like garbage. You gave them years of your life and they rewarded you by unceremoniously giving you the axe just before bonus-time and days prior to being fully vested in your 401k. They’re horrible, we get it.

But even though all of that might be true, we recommend keeping it to yourself.

When your interviewer asks you why you left just bite your tongue and say something along the lines of “I’m grateful for all the opportunities I had there but in the end I wanted to work for a company with more opportunities in line with my career goals.” Besides, bad-mouthing your former employer to your potential future employer just isn’t a very intelligent tactic. Take the high road and show them you’re a class act instead of a mudslinger.

8. Your Resume/Cover Letter Stinks

Your resume will determine whether you’re even worthy of a job interview. So if it isn’t up to snuff, you won’t even sniff the dream job you’re trying to get.

Start basic: is everything spelled correctly? This should be common sense, but hiring managers have recycling bins full of resumes from people who claim to be “intellegent” but obviously can’t tell the difference between “there,” “their” and “they’re.” And while you don’t necessarily have to keep your resume to one page, it generally shouldn’t be more than two. Keep all the relevant job experience and nix the stuff that is outdated and useless.

Furthermore, make sure your cover letter is specifically tailored to the company to which you’re applying. You’re probably up against dozens — if not hundreds — of other jobseekers, so a generic form letter isn’t the best way to set yourself apart.

Your resume should speak for you. If you’ve carelessly thrown it together without proofreading it, then it is all but shouting that you don’t deserve the job.

7. You’re Not the Right Cultural Fit

Experience and skills are important, but so is chemistry.

If you’re someone who craves structure and a formal work environment, that funky start-up you applied to might not be the best fit. Sure you have all the qualifications, but if your personal style didn’t resonate with the hiring manager then you might lose out to someone with fewer skills but the right attitude.

A collection of superstars on a sports team might self-destruct despite being the most talented group on the field, and the same goes with business. That’s why it’s important to research the company beforehand so you have an idea of what to expect prior to the interview. Skills can be taught and expertise gained, but personality styles are usually set in stone. If yours doesn’t match, that’s probably why you didn’t hear back.

6. Not Sending a “Thank You” Note

Yes it’s old-fashioned, but good manners never go out of style.

Even if it’s not as popular as it once was, following up a job interview with a thank you note is always a good idea. A handwritten note with personalized stationery not only shows you’re courteous, but that you’re taking your job search seriously. And if you’re competing against similarly skilled and experienced candidates, a gesture such as a thank you note might just be the thing to put you over the top when decisions need to be made.

Not acknowledging your interviewer’s time with a quick “thank you” is inexcusable. Even if it’s just an email instead of a handwritten note, something is better than nothing.

5. Being Discourteous

When you have a job interview, it’s more than just the people with whom you’re interviewing that you need to impress.

Many employers will seek out opinions about you from anyone with whom you had contact while visiting. Were you dismissive of the receptionist? Did you come across as a little snarky to one of the people you met in passing? If so, it could be your undoing.

To avoid this trap, be overly polite to everyone you meet from the CEO to the janitor. If you’re equally respectful and show everyone the same amount of courtesy, you can’t go wrong.

4. Not Reading the Job Listing Carefully

How many times have you seen a job listing online, applied for it, and never heard anything back? If so, it might be because you didn’t read the listing carefully.

Hiring managers know who they want and what skills they need. Although many companies are willing to train in certain areas, other positions require specific knowledge needed to hit the ground running. So when you’re reading the listing and see “MUST BE AN EXPERT IN EXCEL!” written as such, you’d better truly be an expert if you apply. Because if you do get a call back and for a phone or in-person interview and you don’t know the first thing about Excel, you’ve not only wasted everyone’s time but also ensured you won’t be considered for future job openings at that company. And possibly others depending on how connected and influential the hiring manager is.

3. You Botched the Salary Issue

“How much money does this job pay?” is almost always the most important question to any jobseeker. But it’s also the subject that can potentially disqualify you from the running the fastest.

If the very first question you ask is about pay, you could be in trouble. Namely because it shows your potential employer all you care about is the money. You’ll be in a much more advantageous position if you put off asking the question until they show genuine interest in hiring you, or make you an offer. Sometimes hiring managers want to know what you’re currently making or what your salary requirements are. If you can, avoid this trap because you could end up either lowballing yourself or pricing yourself right out of the job if your demands are too high.

Use our Salary Wizard to find out how much the job pays in advance, so when you do talk salary you’re prepared and ready to negotiate.

2. You’re Just a Bad Interviewer

Sometimes it comes down to the simple fact that they didn’t like you.

Some people are born to work a room, while others are inherently uncomfortable under pressure. So if you spent your job interview fidgeting in your seat, sweating profusely, tapping your foot or twiddling your thumbs, you didn’t do yourself any favors. Skills and experience are great, but at the end of the day people generally hire people they like. A candidate who was conversational, friendly and easygoing is more apt to get the job compared to a nervous person ill at ease the entire time.

While being cognizant of your body language and memorizing some responses to classic interview questions seems like a good idea, just be wary. An experienced hiring manager can spot canned answers a mile away, and all that research could end up hurting you.

1. You Didn’t Ask Any Questions

Obviously, job interviews exist so companies can learn more about you and decide whether or not they want to hire you. But make no mistake, you’re also interviewing them.

If hired, you’re going to spend a minimum of 40 hours a week at this place. Probably more. Would you buy a car without test driving it? Would you purchase a new home sight unseen? No, of course not. So why wouldn’t you ask pertinent questions of your interviewer? Believe me, they’re not only hoping you will, most of them are expecting it. And if you don’t, it could raise some serious red flags.

Ask about the company’s organizational philosophy in relation to your own. Find out what the atmosphere and dress code is like. Or, better yet, do some advance research. See what a Google search turns up about the company and ask some relevant questions. Not only does it prove you’re inquisitive and involved, it shows them you’ve done your homework about the company.

Recommended Reading

We hope you enjoyed this article. As an added bonus, the Salary.com editorial staff has compiled a recommended reading list regarding this topic. Enjoy:

 

Why Are Constant Disturbances At Work So Mainstream?

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Constant disturbances are very commonplace where there is more than one manager and there’s no communication between one and the other. The same goes with employees that talk a lot without getting a whole lot done.

This however is a big problem, since how does someone with tight deadlines requiring 100% concentration, as well as employees to train, answer questions “on the spot?” If anything, that’s non-productive as less work ends up getting done. This becomes frustrating for everybody.

I firmly believe that the source of these disturbances is in employees not being busy enough. This especially applies to insensitive interns and junior level employees who don’t care but think that you’re so smart that you can afford to waste time and that their time is more important. Sorry, that’s not living in reality, sweetie.

In a way, I can relate as I was once struggling in a work-atmosphere similar to that. When I started a job at a certain Internet Marketing company in Richmond Hill, I initially impressed everyone with my ability to learn quickly on instruction. However, when it came to learning a certain website framework, I became stuck and started asking questions, an apparent taboo there. My trainer, who was rather overworked himself, got wind of this and eventually chastised me, calmly, about not being able to continue figuring things out on my own. This frustration mounted further when I was literally thrown into a particularly overwhelming project that heavily involved this framework. I was so poorly trained that I literally felt worthless. This led me to job-hunt once again and leave that company after a very short period of time. The owner couldn’t believe it, said I was something else, and that he saw this coming a mile away. Believe me, I “get it” as I was once one of those disturbances.

How to Reduce Disturbances At Work

So, I guess I’m getting what I deserve in many ways. However, this also wizened me up. Here’s what should be done:

  1. Set aside special times to train an employee each day, for a half-hour-to-an-hour time at the very least. The time invested will be worthwhile in the long run.
  2. Notify the employer(s) about this time and that all emergencies need to get pushed off until after the training session has ended.
  3. Be clear and firm with the employee(s) that all questions that they have, long after the session has ended, need to be written down and brought up during the next session. Calling out “help I cannot do this” is unproductive for both the trainer during his production hours, and the trainee.
  4. For mainstream (not proprietary) products and frameworks, Google is your best friend. If Google doesn’t have what you’re looking for and your product is under support, then technical/customer support is your next option. Those are places where I usually go when in doubt, so there’s no reason you cannot do it yourself. However, again, with proprietary, do #3.

The 10 Worst Partners For Your Start-Up

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Don’t give away equity or authority to these characters.

Partnerships can turn out to be a blessing or a curse. For every thriving partnership featured in Entrepreneur, there are thousands that end up stagnant, dissolving, dysfunctional or worse–in court. More often than not, performing basic due diligence can keep you from ending up in bad partnerships. So, have you done your homework? Are you ready to trust your financial security on someone else’s personality, work ethic and business acumen? Before you drink the partner Kool-Aid, here is a list of the top ten worst business partners for your start-up–along with some tips to help you avoid this cast of characters:

  1. Mr. Employee Mr. Employee is a first-time entrepreneur with a pristine resume and an abundance of references. He enjoys collecting a weekly paycheck, health benefits, and eating dinner with his family nightly at 7 p.m. Unfortunately, Mr. Employee isn’t really self-sufficient and doesn’t know how to move the business forward without you instructing his every move. Plus if your investment deal doesn’t pan out soon he is going to need to find a “real job” to pay the kids’ college tuition.Tip:Risk-adverse individuals who do not share your priorities will not be productive partners. Pass up individuals who cannot commit equal time, energy and financial resources.
  2. Mr. Perfectionist (also known as Mr. Procrastinator): Mr. Perfectionist needs every “i” to be dotted and “t” to be crossed before he schedules an official product launch date. He enjoys researching competitors, building industry case studies and improving his 150-page business plan. Mr. Perfectionist really wanted the new business to be up-and-running by now, but still feels something isn’t quite right. He plans on putting together another comprehensive survey to send to all of his colleagues, friends and family in the next few weeks to help flesh out the concept further.Tip:A good plan today is always better than a perfect plan tomorrow. Steer clear of excuse-prone procrastinators. Seek out self-starters who run with the ball and make things happen.
  3. Mr. College Buddy Mr. College Buddy had a stroke of genius while out at the bar one night, wrote it on a cocktail napkin and asked you to help him “make it happen”. He enjoys bragging about his great idea and giving you directions on how to execute (he’s not into the “heavy lifting” thing). The issue: he’s moving across country to start med school in the Fall. But fear not, Mr. College Buddy will make himself available by phone when he’s not studying, working, in class or on a date. He’ll be sure to forward you the address where you can mail his 50% of the profits.Tip:Never assume all of the risk in exchange for half the reward. Ideas are worthless without proper execution. Before you bring a co-conceived idea to fruition, make certain that your partner plans to be around for the long-run. Napkins are not legally binding. Always execute an operating agreement.
  4. Mr. Inventor Mr. Inventor thinks he’s created the next billion-dollar widget. He enjoys giving two-hour dissertations on Chinese electrical engineering standards to investors and making business decisions based on ‘nice people’ and ‘gut feelings’. Mr. Inventor doesn’t really understand the phrase ‘in the black’, but feels it’s imperative to spend all of the company’s investment proceeds on research and development.Tip:Brilliant academics are not necessarily brilliant businessmen. In lieu of a partnership, first consider licensing deals or strategic partnerships. If you decide to go ahead with a partnership, be sure your agreements clearly distinguish the differences between product control and operational control.
  5. Mr. Right Mr. Right will be the first person to tell you that he is never wrong. His favorite phrase is ‘my way or the highway’. He will rarely discuss his decision making process because he views such discussions as a weakness. He enjoys demeaning partners who don’t agree with him and making decisions without telling them. Funny thing about Mr. Right: he always seems to blame everyone but himself when his plans don’t pan out.Tip:Communication is the key to a successful partnership. Find a collaborator, not a dictator. No one is always right.
  6. Mr. Dreamer You’ll hear Mr. Dreamer say this line a lot: “One day, when we’re millionaires.” He loves talking about retiring by 29 and how he intends to spend his hypothetical millions on a gold plated yacht that he’ll dock off the coast of his private island. One small problem with Mr. Dreamer: he doesn’t seem to know how to keep the business above water next month.Tip:Big paydays come from years of hard work and persistence, not excessive rambling and daydreaming. While it’s important your partner be both positive and optimistic, it is equally important that he or she is grounded and focused.
  7. Mr. Spender Mr. Spender can’t possibly survive without a six-figure salary, lavish office and an in-house cigar roller. Price is no object when it comes to entertaining a client or flying first class. If you’re lucky, Mr. Spender might even invite you to one of the extravagant dinner meetings that he charges on your company’s corporate card.Tip:There is no such thing as the unlimited checkbook. Partner with fiscally conservative, financially responsible individuals who strive to make every dollar benefit company growth and development–not their personal lifestyles.
  8. Mr. CEO Mr. CEO feels compelled to tell everyone that he is a CEO within 30 seconds of meeting him–even if his company is worth less than the paper on which his business card is printed. He loves cocktail receptions, his name written in fancy fonts, and stacks of luxury car magazines neatly piled on a coffee table in plain sight of customers. The only thing he doesn’t seem to like: real work.Tip:Successful companies are not built on titles, talking and toys. Keep away from selfish, egotistical individuals who want to talk the talk versus walk the walk.
  9. Mr. Vacation I’d tell you more about Mr. Vacation, but I don’t know much about him. He never seems to be around.Tip:No-shows are dead weight and eat away profits. Make sure that your operating agreement clearly outlines partner responsibilities and vacation days.

    And the partner to avoid like the plague is.

  10. Mr. Personal Issues Mr. Personal Issues always has a sad story. On the same day as your company’s keynote presentation at the big conference, his son’s wisdom teeth need to be pulled and his dog died of pneumonia. He would love to attend next week’s investor meeting, but his divorce hearing might tie him up all day. Unfortunately, Mr. Personal Issues can’t afford his legal bills, so he’ll need to pull a little more money out of the company this month to avoid his ex-wife from taking 50% of his equity in the settlement. Thankfully, this will be the last time he needs money.Tip:You’re not in business to be a babysitter or a psychiatrist. Know everything there is to know about a prospective partner before you sign on the dotted line. Discuss everything from business to politics to family life to finances. If a potential partner seems to have a few screws loose, run as fast as you can in the other direction.

Post originally found on Entrepreneur.com