Dear Telus

So I have been receiving many sales calls over the last few days.  The dreaded pause before going ‘live’ usually allowed me to hang up before the scripted conversation started.  But a time or two I waited too long, and the sales pitch began.

Dear Telus.  Here’s some free advice.  You’ve made a choice to saddle up the poor people in your phone rooms to call out to all of your existing customers and annoy them by upselling their current phone services.  Perhaps you would want to take care that the phones/lines your people use are not so static-y and broken up and delayed that the person being sold to can not understand a word your people are saying.  Just a thought.

I did not buy the exciting bundle and lightning fast internet service.  I do not care if I get a free HP laptop.  I am very glad I am not a phone salesperson.


Employment Status – Getting By

I was out the other day, doing various official things – passport renewal, car insurance etc.

Several forms required me to provide my employment status – either by giving my employers for the last two years, or indicating whether I worked full time or part time, was self employed etc.

And what is the answer to that question?

I have the same problem when someone asks the social question “where are you working these days?”  or “are you working?”.

I find myself tripped up.  I have several consulting projects for which I am very grateful.  They pay the mortgage, keep the lights and cable on, and allow me to sleep well at night.  A new one was referred to me by an old friend just this week.  So I’m working.

But I’d like to be employed full time.  Working for one organization, contributing to their long term plans and progress.  And I’d like people to know that.

So I check the form “self employed.”  When asked I say something along the lines of “I’ve got some really interesting consulting work on the go while I’m looking for the next full time job.”  Meh.  I tend to think that’s the worst of both worlds.  Someone who’s looking for a consultant isn’t going to think of me, because I might be gone when a job offer turns up.  Someone who might have a position doesn’t think of me a “looking” for work because I’m busy consulting.

And so it goes.  The real answer?  I’m getting by.  Which, as they say, is better than the alternative.

Nonsensical job posting of the day

The posting, edited slightly:

The Executive Director …leads and directs centralized strategy development, performance measurement and policy development to support trade and market development and expansion initiatives. An advanced researcher with considerable business acumen, you utilise technology to advance business development projects and lead research initiatives for the entire Division, including the development of market entry strategies by sector. Skilled at business transformation and change management, you lead the development and implementation of an essential Division performance management framework. Visionary and results oriented, you provide strategic direction to Division programs… If you are an experienced business leader with the ability and policy development skills required to drive and support international trade and market development initiatives … we look forward to hearing from you.

Hmmm.  Complex job. Seems to require both an academic and entrepreneurial bent.  Business development as well as Division leadership and management.  Interesting

So why is the next line of the posting “Do not submit a cover letter with your application as it will not be reviewed. Please ensure your resume has all the information applicable to this competition.”

Really?  The same resume that I am going to have to fit into the form fields in your automated “Career Centre” system?  The same system that asks me whether I have graduated high school and know how to use Microsoft Word as part of my input?  This will allow me to convey the breadth of experience you’re looking for in what seems to be a senior position?

Why not just be honest and say you want an MBA and a VP or C level experience in a multinational organization?  That’s how the resume scanning software will sift through the applications, so why not just get to the point?

Congratulations, Government of British Columbia

Here’s the email I received today from the Government of BC.  The application deadline was in May.  The interview was six days ago.

The email is from a person I did not encounter during the process, but fair enough.  They were tasked to send out emails to the “sorry” list.

Thank you for your interest in a new opportunity with the BC Public Service. We are writing to inform you that our process is now complete, and another candidate will be appointed to the position.

If you would like more information about our selection process or have questions regarding feedback, please go to Our Hiring Process or view the Help section found in your Career Centre.

Your participation in the selection process has been greatly appreciated, and we encourage you to apply for future employment opportunities with the BC Public Service.

Giving praise for a generic email advising that you weren’t the successful applicant might seem like setting the bar exceptionally low,   Not so.

I would say that for positions where I’ve had a face-to-face interview, I have heard back from only about 50 per cent of the organizations.  This, even after the polite follow up email, phone call etc from me.  50 per cent.

So, congratulations to the Province of British Columbia.  You are in the top 50 per cent.

Interview Countdown

Are you familiar with this scenario?  You see a position that looks interesting.  You get in touch and send in your resume.

The application deadline passes.  By weeks, if not months.  Out of the blue comes a phone call.  They’d like to interview you.

You spend hours briefing yourself on the organization, the position, the industry…news stories, business stories, financial filings, annual reports.  You phone people who know people who work there.  You collect intelligence like a squirrel getting ready for winter.

You suit up, go for the interview.  It goes well.  Accomplishments are highlighted.  Knowledge is shared.  They are pleasant.  They are interviewing five people and hope to make a decision in the next few weeks.

That deadline passes.  By weeks if not months.  Emails are not returned.  Phone calls go unanswered.

Welcome to Interview Countdown, the game you don’t even know you’re playing.

How do you think HR staff and managers explain this behaviour to themselves?  I would say this has happened to me on a slim majority of the interviews that I have had in my job search, so it’s not a one-off thing.

Welcome to interview countdown.

Sunshine Slowdown

I love radio.  All radio, whether via podcasts, live over the air or via the interweb.

So this morning I was listening to a Seattle Washington pop station, and in among the ads and Rhianna songs they give regular traffic reports.  Seattle seems to have epically bad traffic, which I’m happy to avoid.

However, it sounds like there are some Seattle traffic problems that really could be avoided through a little public education.  This morning the biggest issue seemed to be “Sunshine Slowdowns” on various major highways.  This means that  people in Seattle are so startled on those odd occasions that they see the sun that they slow their cars to a crawl, causing region-wide traffic chaos.

It brought back happy memories of a Bill Cosby routine where he talked about Seattle’s weather.  It’s the first part of this clip: 

Is this an emergency?

I admit it.  I don’t always put in my expression of interest for jobs in the most timely manner.  There’s lots of reasons for that…more on that later.

It explains why my email to a local non-profit went out today – on the last day of the posting.

  • Check that letter makes sense and demonstrates that I know they have a new Chair and updated mandate and are looking for someone to rein in the budget while also keeping things moving forward?  Done.
  • Double check resume to highlight non-profit leadership?  Done.
  • Spellcheckspellcheckspellcheck…check spelling?  Done.
  • Talk my self into their “next month” starting date in a city 100 miles away?  Done.

Press “send”.  Get automatically generated response goes went pretty much like this:

” Hi from Lauren’s desk!  Hope everyone had a great weekend.  Joe and I are embracing the new economy and having a ‘staycation’ close to home, so we’ll be curled up with the dogs and busy in the garden for the next few weeks.  We’ll be thinking of you :).

To all contractors, please submit your invoices as usual and I will process them when I return.  If this is an emergency please contact Emily at emily@emily’”

The good news?  My email arrived.  The bad news?  Although I sent it to the address in the posting, and they said they wanted to hire someone to begin next month, clearly Lauren is not going to be reading it any time soon.  Is someone else checking her email to deal with applications?  Should I break the standard “no calls or emails please?” instruction in the posting?

Is this an emergency?