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Business | Totally Doodgical - Part 2

Business

5 Mistakes in Job Interviewing with Examples

I’ve been thinking about the people who apply for jobs and wonder, sometimes, what they were thinking.  I’m actually shocked at the number of people who run off at the mouth and don’t consider what they’re going to say.  I’m also shocked about the resumes and lack of thought that goes into them.  Seriously, consider your market – what do they want to know about you.  Here are some bad examples to learn from, from hiring people I’ve been talking to:

  • Someone calls up and says something like “Oh, finally, I get to talk to someone.  You know how it is, you send out 8,000 resumes and no one gets back to you.”  No I don’t, and now you’re probably off my list.
  • Someone puts their gradeschool to high school education on their resume.  I don’t need to know that much.  In fact, it actually says that you don’t have enough to tell me on the resume, so you need to pad it.  And it wastes our time.
  • Someone calls up and says they are attending law school and refers to themselves as a law student.  However, the college they are attending does not have a law school.  Maybe pre-law.  But they are not a law student, yet.  Stretching the truth in an interview puts you at the bottom of the list.
  • Someone calls up and volunteers out of the gate, “You know I believe that if you go work somewhere and it doesn’t work out, you just need to cut your losses right away and move on.”  I didn’t ask, and now I’m going to assume that it must be more than what you say because its bugging you more than it was bugging me.
  • Someone applying for the job that lives really far away, but doesn’t mention it in the cover letter.  Look, if I lived that far away, I would hate the commute.  What motivates you to the contrary – tell me in the cover letter.

If I appear blunt, I apologize.  These are all good people.  The hiring people with whom I spoke have a job.  Their job is to pick the most diligent and closest fit to our organization.  If you haven’t done the research or have skeletons in the closet, you need to deal with it before you get to them.  If you resume leaves questions in my mind, predict them and diffuse them in a cover letter.  Its a lot easier to craft it in writing than it is over the phone off of the cuff.

Unfortunately, the people I was talking with can’t tell you why you didn’t get the job because they could say the wrong thing and get sued.  However, look on the internet and the comments above, and learn from other’s mistakes.

–Ben

TiWi in the Car – Big Brother, Big Savings or Helping Teens Drive Safer?

I just saw some information about TiWi last night. Its a little box that you stick in your car that “watches” the car’s movement. It vocally warns of speeding violations, fast corners, seat belts, and leaving parent designated zones through an onboard speaker. And if you don’t listen, it will rat you out to your parent’s cell phone via a text message. In fact it may rat you out to your parent anyways with its arrival notification feature (ie Daughter arrived at school at 8:17 text message). It looks like the introductory price is $599 plus about $30 a month.

Its pretty amazing the reaction it gets from folks. I’d call it pretty polarizing. Some people believe that its too invasive and discourages trust. Others seem to say that it allows them to give their kids more freedom because they know where their kids are. Personally, I’m of the camp that says “You can drive my car, but you follow my rules. Don’t like the rules, don’t drive.”

Now, whether or not I use the device? I’ve got a few more years to decide.

–Ben

Free Droid Apps – Free Recommended Must Have Apps

Just a quick List of my Must Have Apps for Droid

  • (Jan/5/2009 UPDATE: NO LONGER FREE) Locale – Make your phone context sensitive – turn off alerts during sleeping hours, or use gps to turn off the sound, but vibrate when you’re at the grandparents. Totally worth it.
  • WiFi OnOff & SilentMode OnOff – Widgets on your homescreen that quickly turn features on or off, rather than through settings or holding down the home button. Also show status.
  • RingDroid – Make your own ringtones from your music. Talk about Finally!
  • AudioManager – See the status and change the volume settings individually. Has caused my phone to hiccup a few times. May want to be careful. However the status screen of each volume setting makes it worth it.
  • Jewels – Bejeweled clone that works great. However, it now comes with ads at the bottom of the menu screen. Skip if you can’t stand adds.
  • Cestos – Funny multi-player ball game, as in over the internet. Addicting.
  • Color Flashlight – Don’t tell me you’ve never used your cell phone to see in the dark.
  • Where’s My Droid – Send your droid a text message and the volume will kick back on and start ringing. You can even text your phone and activate the GPS. So if you use lattitude, you might be able to find it.
  • Speed Test – I wanted to know how fast Verizon’s 3G really was.
  • Barcode Scanner – Comparison Shop by scanning the barcode of an item.
  • Astro – File Manager and Viewer (why does droid not have this built in?)
  • Toddler Lock – If you let your kids play on your Droid (really?), Lock down your Droid and let them fingerpaint and make shapes.
  • Touch! 4Kids – Animal shapes fly across the screen and the kids have to touch the shape.

–Ben

Total Cost of a Droid vs. iPhone vs. Palm Pre vs. My Touch

BillShrink.com has a good graphic they gave permission to repost on the cost and features of each “App Phone” as it seems that the new classes of phones are called. Personally I would get an iPhone or a Droid. I love my Droid except for the stupid back battery cover. The reason I have a Droid is that I’m stuck on Verizon because of the free mobile to mobile to family (switching them was out). Anyways, see below for the comparison.

Motorola Droid vs iPhone 3GS vs Palm Pre

Find the best cell phone plans and more graphics at BillShrink.com

–Ben

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2009 Xmas Price Index – Christmas is up a Small Amount

PNC has just released their Christmas Price Index again. The cost of one full verse is up 1.8% to $21,465.56. While the True cost of Christmas is up to $87,402.81 with all verses, a gain of 0.9%.

You can get just the“Xmas Stats” if you want.

–Ben

Time your Email Marketing Well

One thing I’ve learned recently is that I become really annoyed with people who send their bulk email out at 4am. See I just a Motorola Droid and have been loving it. However, I also connected it to my work account. I like being able to respond to my clients quickly with an “I got it” or a “I’ll look it up” such that they know that I’m on their side.

But, if I forget to turn off my ringer – my phone would give a notification at 3am or 4am when some companies send out their bulk mail. I was not pleased

Guess what? I just opted out of emails that I had previously opted-in. All due to their poor timing. Merchantcircle – I’m looking at you.

There is another option for Droid users like me (or other android versions). I’m now using the app “locale” to shut my notifications off between 11:30pm and 6:30am. Its disappointing that I have to do that, but email marketers seem to be clueless. Seriously, consider whether anyone wants to receive email at 4am.

–Ben

Microsoft injunction by i4i stops MS from selling Word or using XML in DOCX file formats

Wow.  Just read that Microsoft can’t sell or support Word, including its XML DOCX file format.  MS has 60 days to get relief or it kicks in.See the full article on Consumerist or SeattlePI.Seattle PI links the injunction document.

What is Your Message? – Wrong Answers

One of the most important things you can do is decide what your value statement is to your market.  Once you have a value statement, you have an idea of what you want to communicate to your customer.  Each message should support that statement.

Apparently, these people didn’t get it:

1.   “They’re more than lawyers. They’re people!”

You’ve got to be kidding me!  You just told everyone that your industry is a bunch lower life forms that will slime you if they get the chance.  Now, why would I believe one of these slimy lower life forms that says its not really a slimy lower life form!  These people did such a good job that they took their industry down a few notches with them.

What they wanted to say is that these attorneys looked beyond the legal resolution to a personal tailored solution for the client.

2.  Diorshow Iconic Mascara – The patented angled brush is replicating emblematic couture techniques: oblique lines and the bias cut, an art of fabric cutting that magnifies curves and amplifies spread.  In one quick stroke, with no special application method necessary, the brush acts like a brushing on lashes.  Enriched with a unique lifting formula, Diorshow Iconic sculpts, stretched and curves the lashes with extreme hold and high definition.

What in the world is “emblematic couture techniques: oblique lines and the bias cut, an art of fabric cutting?”  Oh, this is mascara, not a pair of scissors with a side of BS?  If the consumer cannot understand it, the consumer is going to have the red flag of BS rise up the mental flagpole.

Seriously, they just wanted to say that it gives a beautiful curve to your otherwise pitiful lashes, just like every other mascara.  However, they just said so much junk that the BS association has stuck.

 Seriously people.  Consider your message.  Ask yourself if your message talks about your basic value to your customer.  Ask yourself if it is consistent with your prior messages.  Branding is about building an all-around image.  Anything that cuts against that by denigrating yourself, your industry or is inconsistent with your prior message is likely a problem.  The rare exception is humor – and that can even backfire.  I’ll follow-up with that in a future post.

Organizational Knowledge – Are you dead in the Water?

If one of four people didn’t show up, projects would stall at my previous employer.  One guy ran the back-end/operations, another constructed the prototypes, I did programming and IT support, and my boss did programming and sales.  All the passwords and network configurations were located in the operation’s guy’s palm (I didn’t set-up the network, I just inherited it and would write down stuff as I worked with it).

I soon discovered that we could live without a programmer for weeks, without an IT person as long as the infrastructure didn’t break down, without a prototype person for days, without a sales person for a few days, but never without operations.  The operations guy had probably only taken a handful of sick days and even fewer vacation days in the 10+ years he worked at the company.  Every time he was gone, due dates got moved back, customer orders were late and we lacked the passwords and information to fix IT issues.  It was insane, and very stressful for the operations guy when he returned.  It’s almost as if he had to make up on nights and weekends, the hours he took off.

As I look back on the situation, I note there was a lack of Organizational Knowledge.  Every person had their fiefdom and when someone was gone, the people who covered had to make it up as they went.  Organizational Knowledge is the howto of the business world.  It is the time saver and organizer of the company.  It’s the encyclopedia of how things get done around here.

My friend, who was the operations person had to order supplies and parts, gather production kits from inventory, ship orders and debug prototypes.  Not only did this require knowledge of the production planning software and store, it required knowledge of SED’s (export declarations) lead times, parts distributors, channels of contact for the distributors and a process to complete each task.  It was overwhelming to jump into his shoes for a day (and I was next in line!).

The problem was that we never took the time to write down the process.  There were so many other things to do.  Yet, we would have been far better off, had we known how to cover for him.  The hour of process mapping would have saved at least a half day of thinking through it (and still getting it wrong).  We need organizational knowledge.

Some companies take it to the other extreme.  A handbook/manual is only as good as it ability to communicate.  I’m not going to read 200 pages of how exactly something was done unless its a project that requires significant investment.  Give me the guiding principles and bullet point summary.

When I google on how to fix something, if it is a multi-page article or string of text, I skip it.  The knowledge of how to fix the problem has to be clear, concise and organized.  The company Organizational Knowledge should be the same way.  The better the access, the more people in the organization will use it. 

Think of Organizational Knowledge as the path of the least resistance.  If it is accessible, understandable and digestible, people will use it.  Most people do not like to reinvent the wheel unless they think there is a better way.

We make Organizational Knowledge by giving the people in the know the tools, the motivation and the time to create it.  The tools can be anything from a blog to a content management system.  The motivation can be monetary, recognition or both.  The time taken must be encouraged and rarely, if ever, punished as a bad decision.  What’s more is that a content review before publishing can be given as a positive because the company cares about what is being written and cares enough to read the organizational knowlege before publishing.

Organizational Knowlege gives employees the tools to succeed, be recognized and feel good about their legacy.  Organizational Knowlege gives employers an increased productivity and employee satisfaction, when implemented correctly.  Sounds like a win-win to me.

Consumer Psychology – Differentiating without Change

One of the most interesting and scary courses I took during my JD/MBA career is consumer psychology.  I learned a great framework for describing how I interact and reinforce my purchasing habits.

One of the points that really hit home to me is about differentiation.  It seems like a lot of my entrepreneurial friends work hard to make new points of differentiation that the consumer can see between themselves and others.  My education hammered home the importance of differentiation avoiding commoditization.  My friend Stormy started Maoomba.com with such differentiation in mind.

The strange piece is that the consumer only need perceive a difference between you and the competition (think store-brand vs. brand name medications).  That difference need not be tangible or apparent.  It can simply evoke a feeling.  And the crazy part is that consumers want you to reinforce that difference.

What this means is that a company can take an internal look at itself, an external look at its competition and then look for differences.  These differences can be thrown at a panel of people and see which ones don’t stink (ie which ones people see as smoke and mirrors).  These differences can be highlighted in marketing campaigns to consumers.  The more (frequency and length) this message reaches consumers, the more accepted it becomes (familiarity breeds acceptance).

I see this play a lot in ads that play on the past.  Ads in this category often use trust, parent’s habits and experience.  Consumers value these ideals, but the organizations didn’t change to get them.  They’ve just communicated them to the consumer as part of their offering.

Following this recipe, the company has now taken an intrinsic part of its product or organization — without change — and turned it into a competitive advantage because the consumer sees it as such.  I was shocked not because I knew a good marketer could do this, but because the recipe was so easy.