Shameless vs. Fabulous: Resume, Social Media & Life Etiquette

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“Self-promotion is an art, not a science, because it takes a bit of instinct and talent to tiptoe across the tightrope between tooting your own horn and sprinting down the street at 6 a.m. with an air horn blaring whilst your soon-to-be-former friends roll their eyes and plug their ears and discuss behind your back how desperately they wish you’d just shut the eff up.”  – Brenna Ehrlich, author of blog Stuff Hipsters Hate – see #5 for full article

  1. Don’t be a school snob. You might have gone to Harvard, but if you don’t have an impressive resume or cover letter & think your school will open all doors for you, it won’t…well, it might open some, there are Ivy Snob hiring managers – but mine aren’t generally. And if you do, you’ll end up working for ‘the man’ you profess to hate.
  2. Don’t be a workplace snob. You worked for google? Well obviously you left or were let go, or are on your way out for a reason. Don’t think that will get you your next job.
  3. Make your online profiles & resumes easy to navigate. Viewers should be able to easily, immediately tell what and why you have done what you’ve done, when and where you’ve done it.
  4. FAIL: Shameless Promoting. We’ve all probably done it at some point, but you have to offer value in return for asking for something. Goes back to the ME, ME, ME complex (see for more about me, myself, and I).
  5. Want tips on how to use social media for self-promotion that doesn’t make people gag? Try

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12 Steps to a Career You Deserve

Hi my name is Sharon and I’m in a dead-end career/unemployed/underemployed….
All in unison: Hi Sharon.

Remember that you’re still the seller and that etiquette, manners, and patience will bring you much closer to your career goals than bitterness, laziness or rudeness.

1. Figure out what you’re actually qualified to do that you’d potentially enjoy, and reach within your bounds, overshooting them will be a wasted effort and give burn-out

2. Decide what type of position would suit you ideally, p/t, f/t, consulting, internship, etc.

3. Create a consistent, professional brand and profile for yourself: resumes & cover letters for various industries/target audiences, business cards, online web presence, thank you letters, elevator pitch, etc.

4. Apply to advertised jobs with targeted cover letters – I’ve seen many resumes thrown out because the objective or cover letter is targeted to a different job – make it crystal clear why you want THIS job, and why you’re qualified for THIS job, but feel free to mention what else you’d consider or to keep things broad

5. Send your resume to places you want to work, explaining why you want to work there & what positions you’d like, even if they don’t have advertised positions

6. Network with people in the industry you want to be in

7. General networking: make sure everyone you know or meet knows what you’re looking for and why

8. Follow up with sincere, personally written thank you notes to everyone who does anything for you in the process from introductions to interviews – but NEVER give a deadline or imply one, i.e., “I hope to hear from you regarding your decision by September 1” – it’s in poor taste, and perhaps it takes a month for the company to come to a decision – do you want the company to think you’re not longer interested because they couldn’t accommodate you?

9. Present your very best: have an excellent dark suit, pressed collared shirts, and classic bags/shoes/accessories/portfolios to present at interviews. Have something a little more daring for networking events to look professional but stand out of the crowd.

10. Confidence works: Interview and network like you’re everyone’s favorite person, try to figure out culture of others and tailor all responses and actions to where you are – when in Rome, do as the Romans

11. Realize that different strokes work for different folks: just because a technique landed your last job, don’t expect it to automatically work again

12. Negotiate offer, unless it’s clearly set in stone. Never expect to get more than you’ve asked for previously, and don’t expect much more than a job was advertised or offered at. Most companies figure nowasdays that they can find someone to do the job at the salary they want to pay, and they’re OK if that person isn’t you – but generally it doesn’t hurt to ask if a little more is available due to your extraordianary skills, value and talents you bring to the company. Reinstate why you want this role, why you want to work for the company, but is there any room for flexibility?

It can’t hurt – if a place rescinds your offer because you asked to negotiate you probably don’t want to work there anyway…that’s not nice!

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Generation Y Should We?

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Everyone has their opinion of what each generation wants, what the generation is defined by, and what they’re headed towards. I’ve seen some really interesting articles on this, and I’ve seen some poor ones. The articles run the span from “Engaging Gen Y in the Workplace” to “Bridging the Generation Gap”.

But as I sit in my large, pretty cubicle in my flipflops (ok, thong sandals, but close enough) wishing I had more to do, more challenging work that I knew the purpose of – like most of my friends do as well – I start to think, maybe they’re onto something.

I think I’m part of the laziest generation possible. We take little or no initiative, and when we do ANYTHING we expect it to be applauded, because hey, we put in the effort and we didn’t have to.

My birth year is considered the cutoff for generation Y – therefore I’m one of the oldest Y’s. My mom’s a boomer (hi mom!) but my father’s actually considered too old to be in that group – so perhaps that’s why I understand all of the generations and their conflicts. My friend’s older siblings were gen Xer’s, with their huge hair and huge ruffles and huge depression. I never felt part of that crowd. The angst seems a bit much, and perhaps today’s hipsters are an ode to the stereotypical Xer’s – but we can revisit that another time.

Back to ME. Because in gen Y, it’s all about me. We’ve been fostered with ideas that “We can be anything that we want to be, we can do anything that we want to do,” (Yes, actual lyrics from a Blue’s Clues Song), and that’s great. That there are no stupid questions, trying is just as important as achieving, there are no losers, and blah blah blah *insert white noise as we tune out.

Somewhere down the generation line we’ve been progressively losing respect for elders. It used to be believed that the older someone was, the more they knew. But that idea was from back in a day when most people died well before their 80’s.

The stereotypical knowledgeable elder had gray hair, read a lot of books, retired and lived off good investments, and perhaps smoked a piped. Then he died, either from a heart attack from all the rich foods he ate or from an unknown cause.

It wasn’t today’s pitied grandparents living 75-100+, generally with memory decline, poverty, and little to no desire to adapt to technology. No one’s going to great grandpa in the nursing home every day with a notebook to collect his musings on the state of the world. Today’s youth believes that knowledge increases with age, then it plateaus, and then it declines.

We also have lost the respect for protocol. I’ll never forget the trouble I stirred up at my first job out of college. I was bored out of my mind, and had a nasty supervisor. She led a bitter life and took it out on her coworkers. When I was ready for my next challenge, I knew I’d never get it from her, so I went to the friendly owner/CEO of the company who I saw regularly to ask if there was anywhere else in the company that I could move to. I was promoted and given a new assignment with a happier team.

Then next morning as I went to collect my belongings I was greeted with sneers and nasty comments. I had no idea that I might have done something wrong, but apparently it was a no-no to go out of the chain of command (but it was fine to act like an unprofessional petulant teen-ager – I also learned to learn office culture for ‘what flies’ where).

According to protocol, I should have asked my supervisor, who would have brought it up with the manager, who would have brought it to the attention of the CEO at the next monthly meeting, and then I would have been promoted and kept everyone happy…as if that could have actually happened. It never would have made it past my nasty supervisor’s head, and no one would have felt one person at the bottom of the totem pole wanting to do more would have merited visibility at a meeting. Unfortunately this company has since closed, but to me this type of process is seen as archaic to my generation – not logical.

Perhaps that’s where the divide truly lies. When the Boomer’s were in their 20’s in the workplace, they respected and revered those closer to retirement age, and learned everything they could from them. When Yer’s see someone close to retirement, we start fixing up our resume for their position, because we believe we could do their job better and more efficiently leveraging technology – which is often the case.

As was pointed out in a great article from the Harvard Review, the Yer’s are living in the most unstable generation yet. I entered the workforce post 9/11, then saw the tech bubble burst, and now am seeing the 3rd round of mass layoffs with the current recession in my less than 10-year work life-span.

Now for the flip-side, as that I have no pity for my generation – we’ve also seen the birth of start-ups succeeding wildly, and the young getting very rich very fast. It’s now not seen as an unrealistic ambition to start and own your own company well before 30. Write some software, invent an app, get on a reality TV-show & behave disgustingly shocking (*yuck) and you’ve made it.

So learn what you will from those of us under 30 – even those that don’t make a ‘30 under 30’ list, but we want progression. We want growth. We want to work intelligently towards a logical goal. We don’t care for how things always have been done. We get bored quickly (which some of us love and some of us loathe). We want to be allowed to text, tweet, facebook, myspace, and work productively at the same time. We want to use 2.0, if not 3.0 technologies in the office for work. We want our office to be at home if there’s no reason we need to be in a centralized location for it. We want to work flexible hours, not watch the clock – if our work is done, why does it matter how many hours were sat in a seat?

*Sigh* dare to dream…

So now for words of advice to my younger brethren from someone who understands you – respect your elders, not for their knowledge of technology, but learn from their street smarts and experience. Obey the chain of command at work, managers tend to have big ego’s and not like it when you go over their heads. Will you be stuck in a dead end job then? Suck it up and move place of employment, and leave on good terms. Never burn bridges with former employers, or anyone for that matter. Be conscious of everything you post online everywhere, because someone is watching, or will be when you grow up.

And get a job, move out of your parents’ house, support yourself, and figure out who you want to be. Don’t let anyone else do that for you. Stop wearing jeans, sneakers, and t-shirts to work. And stop playing Farmville & do something productive!

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Throw Down Your Professional Gang Signs

So this morning on my usual miserable commute to Brooklyn from Queens I was dangerously cut off by a 10+ year old red Ford Explorer. What’s the only thing worse than that? It had stickers on the back that it was part of an SUV driving ‘riders’ group like motorcycle gangs have. I forget the actual group name, but the car was named “Apple Bottom,” as in the trashy clothing line.

Wow, there’s a group of people who have banded together because they recklessly drive SUV’s for kicks? Then about 20 minutes later I see another one, guy driving a different color SUV, also not a nice or new one, different SUV club.

So in today’s salute to trash, let’s learn a few things – like drive safely or you might end up being called out on someone’s blog (or killing yourself or someone else, but don’t let that stop you, ride on sister, ride on).

And learn and harness the power of groups. Gather a gang of your own that supports you and your goals. Most people have friends and family, but a lot of times these people may be knowingly, or unknowingly sabotaging your current or future happiness. These people may have known you most of your life, and they may love you more than anyone else ever could – but they also may be holding you back.

When you’ve played a certain role in your life, those around you expect you to keep filling the same role – and that can be hard to break free from, especially if you’re looking to make any change that involves an element of risk – which most major changes do.

So if you know you’re ready to start your own business or practice, or want to change careers at the age of 50 – start slow and try, and find people to help and support you with it. By the way, I’m not saying it’s OK to be reckless and throw away a career on a whim and ignore everyone around you either. You may have resistance also because you’re embracing a really bad idea – so heed warnings of those close to you, but don’t let them hold you back if it’s a logical decision.

Luckily nowadays finding people to bond with is easier than ever online. From, facebook, myspace, or whichever industry you’re looking to bond with people from – there’s an online group. and also have specific types of meet-ups for different industries and hobbies all over the world as well.

So if you’re ready for change, but those close to you aren’t onboard – join or start a new gang. Find people who also love and believe in your mission, and embrace it. Just screen them really carefully before meeting in a public, well-lit area. You want to cover your bases in case the crazy comes out.

Now you don’t need gang colors, gang names, or gang signs, but hey, why not. It’ll help you bond and identify others just like you. I doubt the dangerous jalopy SUV drivers’ mothers are thrilled with them ‘riding’ for kicks. But I’m sure it makes them happy, or they wouldn’t be doing it.

Once you have a team to support you, it’ll be easier to pursue your dreams.

Get a Great Career – Buy a Book

Lion Cub Job Search: Practical Job Search Assistance for Practical Job Seekers by Lavie Margolin

Without reading this I can comfortably recommend it to job seekers as that Lavie provides sound, logical advice on his blog for job seekers & career changers that I completely agree with.

Lavie’s blog helped inspire my own – so if you’ve been enjoying you’ll love this.

$20 is a small investment in finding a long-term career.



This is Why I’m So Wonderful & Why YOU Can’t Live Without ME!

Your cover letter and resume should politely but obviously convey this message for every single position you apply to – albeit with decorum and honesty.  This does bring me back to one of my most important rules to present everything in the best possible light – but with integrity.

Someone recently pointed out that one of my online profiles seemed to have a tagline that was a bit too much: Young brilliant dynamic creative overachiever with unlimited ambition.

As per Chaim Shapiro, he referred to this as the, “Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound statement.”

And he just might have a point. Actually, make that, yes, he does. Never make statements that you can’t uphold. Exaggerating is about on par with white lying. Don’t let yourself be quoted as saying you’ll “Double profits within a year,” if you can’t necessarily follow through.   

Now back to my tagline: while it might be boastful, and I’m not sure how many more years I have to refer to myself as young (30 sounds like a good cut-off to me), however if I don’t brag about myself & have a headline that gets attention – no one will write one for me. I do have stellar recommendations to back up all that I’ve done, and who will speak to my potential, but this is my own out-there spunky assessment of myself. 

What’s your attention-grabbing assessment of yourself? What do you have written on your taglines, at the top of your resume, and prepared to say in an elevator speech that toots your own horn?

While writing about yourself can prove to be difficult (they say women seem to have the most issues with this) your profiles are your stages. If you don’t get the point across quickly that you’re wonderful and special, few will keep looking for reasons to believe so.

So today’s action item: brag about yourself, just a little, if needed. Some people naturally think the most of themselves and have no issue with this, but if you do, a good place to start might be asking a smart close friend or family member (try grandma even!) what they think your best attributes are, and play those up if they can be a professional asset – which most can.

You’re the best – now convince me of it!

Action: Aspire

Today’s Action Item will be an excerpt from a long post on my blog (one that every mother should read if you haven’t already) that may have been lost at the end of a very long train of thought, but I hope people can appreciate, be inspired, and focus on this excerpt:

My way to find more, to aspire to do better things, is to dream. Everyone once in awhile both on my own, and with my husband, I make us sit down for a brainstorming session. We discuss our dreams and goals. I ask him to let his creative mind wander, and ask the following questions of ourselves:

  • What would we do if we could do anything? If money, time, and resources were of no issue.
  • Where would we live if money, politics, and family weren’t keeping us where we are?
  • What would our ideal lives look like?

By focusing on those main questions every few years, we come up with a mental list of unofficial goals. I have yet to write them down. This way they stay in our minds and hearts, and stay flexible. Our wants and goals evolve and grow as we do – as should yours.

Take some time to dream, even if it’s only one hour once every few years – so at least you know why you’re hustling, what your working towards, and what will make YOU happy (oh yeah and your family/friends too).  Don’t let yourself become the aimless rat in the wheel – run for a purpose, and pat yourself on the back for all that you do.

What Goes Around Comes Around – Don’t Sue.

Taking the blame when you don’t get a job you felt you had coming can be difficult. It’s much more enjoyable to assume the employer wrongly didn’t hire you, and that you can make money off this mistake.

It’s sad to say that we all have to live in fear of getting sued – so allow today’s post to be my disclaimer.

I keep all records, interview notes, and documentation for at least three years out of fear that one day someone will wake up and say, hey, I’m X sexual orientation and really wanted that call center representative position I interviewed for. I bet they didn’t hire me because of that. I’ll sue so I can make lots of money off the city because they have it to spare.

Then I pull my notes.

 Their resume had spelling errors and they could not describe what they did at more than one place of employment, they cursed 3 times during the interview, which they showed up for 40 minutes late. They chewed gum, didn’t take off their blue sunglasses, and didn’t take off their Bluetooth. Their phone rang during the interview, which they did not apologize to the hiring manager for, even when they took the call, to tell the caller they would call them back later. Their clothing was disheveled and stained, hygiene issues noted…

Wow, and this person’s suing. That’s why we keep notes. But save yourself legal fees. It’s very hard to prove you weren’t hired for a specific role for a specific reason – but worse than that, you’ve now burned a bridge. You will never have another interview with the place you’re suing, or its parent companies or affiliates. You never know who owns whom nowadays, or when you might want to be considered again by the employer in the future.

I once had an employee cut due to budget cuts, and then someone voluntarily left the department. I knew the employee was still job hunting, so I recommended to the department’s director that he rehire her. And his answer, “I probably would have, but she’s suing us, claiming she was let go for discrimination, so I can’t.”

So next time you’re thinking of suing over being let go or over not getting a position, why not instead invest those dollars you’d have spent on the lawyer on a career coach, to help you figure out why you’re not getting the positions you want.

They’ll tell you to shut the cellphone, take off the Bluetooth and sunglasses, spit out the gum, show up on time, oh yeah, and apply for position’s you’re qualified for.

I’m very sorry to all people who lose their positions or don’t get the ones they’re after, it’s happened to all of us, but suing isn’t the solution. You’ll just end up in years of conflict with bad karma and a bad name. Maybe you will make some money, but probably not as much as if you had put all that time, money, and effort into finding a better career.

You Lost Me At Hello – Interview Scheduling Manners

If I see one more article called “Acing the Phone Interview” I’m going to scream. These are my Top 5 Pet Peeves.

Think of trying to get a job like you would blind dating. If you don’t make a good impression on the first phone call, you won’t get to the first date. Don’t make mistakes of turning off a potential employer at the start, because it can easily be done. If the call ends in, “actually the hiring manager’s calendar is really full at the moment now that I look, we’ll call you if any availability shows up,” then you’ve already blown it. Attempt damage control (will visit that topic another time) and keep your dignity. There are other fish (*ahem) jobs in the waters.

I wish I didn’t have to say these things, and wish we were all perfectly courteous all the time, but we’re human, and in my geographic case, we’re New Yorkers, and we’ve got attitude. Just be sure to curb it until your first year or so or until you have the big office in the corner. Then you can bite off whoever’s head you’d like and take the years of frustration from holding back out on your inferiors. Ignore my advice, and you may never make it to the cubicle!

1. Mind your ringback tone and voicemail. If I hear cursing in the song on your ringtone, or on your answering machine, you’re not getting an interview.

I’ll never forget when I called to schedule a director interview on speakerphone in front of the executive director they would have reported to, and their ringtone was Kanye West’s “Heartless.” Needless to say the ED decided he didn’t need a Director who was hurting so badly over a breakup that they’d be that unprofessional. They disqualified themselves without ever knowing it – we didn’t leave a message.

2. Always answer your phone politely! Obviously a call from a company that you applied to will be either an unknown caller or restricted number. It might be a telemarketer, but it also might have been your future boss who disqualified you due to your rude or suspicious tone answering the phone.

I find it entertaining when I hear someone’s tone change from apprehension to excitement when they realize they’re getting called about a position they applied to. Just be cool people, it’d be more impressive.

3. Always feel comfortable to ask questions about a position, but never let salary be question number one. No one likes a gold-digger. Let conversation flow towards benefits & compensation, and hope the scheduler shares it with you. If they don’t go on the interview anyway, interview experience is always great.

4. Learn from your own mistakes. If a call or interview goes poorly or if you are not invited on to the next stage of gaining employment then try to troubleshoot yourself or with a trusted friend. Figure out what to do next time to make a better impression.

5. Remember that you’ve got the lower hand. You want to make a good impression and sway the person calling you to like you. You never know who they are within a company, and whether or not they have influence. The same for those who sit at the front desk when you come in, the first round interview and the HR folk in general. Say or do one inappropriate thing at any time, and you might even find an offer of employment rescinded if you offend anyone.

Do I know you? “Opportunity knocks once in a lifetime.”

My Name Is

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– Lose Yourself, Eminem

Who to & not to connect with is entirely a personal choice, but you only get one shot to make a first impression, and it will be remembered.

My opinions for Linkedin, Facebook, Myspace & Twitter.

Some people are open networkers (LION = Linked In Open Networkers, thanks Lavie for clarifying) which means pretty much they’ll connect to anyone hoping that a wide net of a network will help them professionally. This is a great tactic probably for sales people, executive recruiters, marketing professionals, etc. that need to get their word out to a large crowd – however this can easily backfire. In this way you’re also competing with all the other LION people for attention. Buy my product! Hire my friend! Join my pyramid scheme (don’t worry, it’s not a pyramid scheme!)!

Delete, delete, delete. Oh, delete from connections too. I’ll even leave groups we’re in together if that happens.

(I’ll go more into networking manners & protocols another post.)

Linkedin: Link with everyone you know that you respect from schools, friends, workplaces, and one degree away that you know of. Always write a message to someone when you want to connect with them unless you speak with them on a regular basis. Remind them that you went to elementary school together, that you were both on the college chess team, or that you both barista’s at the same Starbucks…and you want to connect professionally.

You don’t want someone asking, hey, do I know you? Not the worst thing, but not the best impression to give someone that you are asking to welcome you into their network. You’re asking to be brought into their professional circle, not the other way around.

Facebook: I recommend keeping things private, settings private, and only friending friends. Moderate your friends into groups for the amount of access to your photo’s and info that they can see.

You just opened a headband store online? That’s beautiful, open a fan page or group. Do not request to be my friend, that’s called spamming, my un-friend.

 I keep seeing these articles about WHAT TO NEVER POST ON FACEBOOK: why not to post you’ll be away for a weekend, that it’s welcoming robbers…but I feel like if you only are connected to those you trust, this shouldn’t be an issue. No one else should see that you’re going to Hawaii besides people you’re close to. Even some of your facebook connections that you have but aren’t close with shouldn’t see this. That’s what privacy settings are for.

Myspace: Do whatever you want, friend whomever you want, act like whomever you want: but make sure that in no way can it be traced to being you. Keep things anonymous always. Never post personal info there (even like screen names) because google will easily direct an employer researching you then to your linkedin, and there goes your candidacy!

Twitter: I’m using it for public things. As I recently Twittered: Twittering feels a lot like facebooking with strangers without the creepiness of strangers on myspace.

 Don’t Lose Yourself!

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