On buying my first iPod…

I am sure this sounds comical, but I bought my first iPod this week.

This is from someone who is technically part of Generation Y. An iPod is supposed to be standard issue along with an inflated sense of entitlement.

This is from someone who has been blogging well before the term was invented and before software was widely available.

I honestly don’t know what took me so long. And it isn’t even that I am ashamed of it. I really appreciate all of the things you can do with the iPod right now. Between the podcasts, audiobooks, video, picture and presentation capability (I keep think I am forgetting something…), I have a nice setup for a small dollar amount.

This is a lesson to me that being a late adopter isn’t always bad. Sure, it isn’t sexy. And yes, friends laughed at me. But I have a great system that has been tested over six product life cycles. That’s why copy cats are successful.

Being on the cutting edge of (job seeking, recruiting, HR theory, leadership, management) can be rewarding and can give you a competitive advantage when you need it. And if that’s what you need, that’s what you do. But for those who need tried and true, there is no hating for copying techniques (or using products) that have been vetted.

Happy Holidays, I got you spam

While it is the thought that counts, spamming me with your resume is not going to get you a job.

Not now.

Not tomorrow.

Not ever.

I hate spam. I hate the mentality behind spam (repeat it over and over until you get a response because spam is virtually cost free).

I also hate e-mail in general but that is for another post altogether.

Back in the “good old days,” it took a lot more time and effort to apply for jobs so spamming was less of an issue. Now since fax machines and then electronic applications have taken over…well, it has become more of an issue.

Here’s a clue: you aren’t going to annoy yourself into a job. I am not going to relent because you’re a pain in the ass.

I’ve had a rec up for two weeks and will often see multiple apps. I have had people that applied every single day for the same job.

How much will do they think I have? I am in the business of telling people “no” all day. What makes them think I am actually going to not say “no” to a person that gives me a good reason to do so?

All of this ties back to the holidays because consumerism is all the rage and spending truck loads of money is cool instead of figuring out what I “really” want, you’re just going to throw whatever at me. I am flattered. You should go for quality, not quantity though. It only take one right resume to get a job but a hundred bad ones won’t get it done. Ever.

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Don't checkout for vacation until you leave the office

I have found that there are roughly two types of bosses in the world:

  1. This boss is totally cool with you mentally checking out of work on Fridays and before major holidays. Heck, he or she may be doing the same.
  2. This boss is not pleased with people slacking off before the weekend and/or holidays.

Guess which one is more common?

I know, I can’t believe that bosses could be so mean as to require employees to work steadily the entire week and not change expectations simply because of a particular holiday. Here’s the deal though: it is tough enough to get work done during this time of year. It is frustrating trying to get a hold of people and to get business transactions completed that would normally not be an issue were it not for the holidays. The problem is compounded when your own employees fall into this trap.

Some people will say these bosses need to lighten up. After all, it is the holidays, things are slower so just ease up a bit.

Unless you’re working on the holiday though, I don’t think you have a cause to complain.

That’s what your company is more than likely paying you for on December 25th. Remember paid holidays? Yeah, those cost money too. And if you need a few extra days off, then request time off from work.

RecruitingBlogs.com Best Blog Award

This blog has been nominated as one of the best blogs in the world HR/recruiting space. If you enjoy this blog and have a quick minute, I’d appreciate your vote. I am in the HR category and also up for the “Best Blog.”

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Follow up on your first kiss or don't even bother

So you finally get the courage to ask the guy or gal of your dreams out. It is a fantastic day because the stars have aligned and they have accepted your invitation. You make all the plans as to what you are going to do, what it is all going to involve, times and dates. On the date, everything is going good. You both love sushi and are die hard Patriots fans. You complete each others sentences. It is a match made in heaven. As you take him or her to their doorway, you make plans to go out in two week (when you’ll both be available). They give you a goodbye kiss and your heart is racing. This is an awesome thing.

If everything was going great on a date and you had to commit at a later date, wouldn’t you follow up in a couple days and say that you had a great time? Just to emphasize everything that happened on your first date. Even if it is only five minutes.

If you are going to bother to go on another date more than a week out, you should probably just call to say that you had a great time and to confirm plans for the next week. That may seem like common sense to a guy that has already sort of wrapped things up in the dating department but come on.

So why do you think that the amazing employee you just hired isn’t worth the same effort? HR capitalist is right in pointing this out: you can’t teach some people to date and sometimes, you can’t teach them to be effective in ever step of the onboarding process.

Employees get counter-offered all the time. I hate them if I am the recruiter. I hate it so much, I could scream. But I love it if I am the HR guy trying to retain the person so that my bonus stays healthy. And I can play any game in the book if you like (used car salesmen beware). Obviously these sorts of things backfire. If someone was looking for a job before, you have to get to the root cause of that. But yes, I can go from hating counter-offers one minute to loving them the next. It is a bit conflicting but it can be handled.

I am going off on a tangent though. If you have a great person in line for a job, you have to assume they will be counter-offered at their current job. You need to do your best to talk to them before they start and say “Hey, we’re looking forward to seeing you. Here are some of the things we want you to get started on as soon as you get here.” You have to prepare yourself for what you will do in the case of a counter-offer.

These things aren’t difficult if you think about them but they are easily lost in everything else we have to do.

LinkedIn sends Sponsored InMail to Paid Members?

If there is one thing I love about internet/web 2.0, it is the lack of advertising.

I kid of course. Web 2.0 is full of advertisements. I am not the worst offender but I have certainly included advertisements and I will continue to do so until servers and bandwidth are free.

What is usually great about Web 2.0 companies is that once you give them your credit card number, they generally cut down the amount of advertising you receive (sometimes to nothing except to remind you to renew your subscription). Being a paid member of LinkedIn, I figured I was doing my part to support the growing social utopia.

Not so much. I received this InMail over last week’s holiday:

Sponsored InMail from Starbucks

Dear Lance,

It’s that time of year when we’re stumped over what to get clients and business contacts. And paperweights and pens have all been done before. So what to do?

Well, this year, why not pass the cheer with a Starbucks Card? That way, everyone on your list can pick out the perfect gift, from a cup of coffee to the latest CD.

So don’t let procrastination get the best of you. The Starbucks Card is quick and easy to order for everyone on your list. Order 15 or more cards and receive free shipping. Click here to get started.

Happy Holidays from Starbucks!

First of all, I don’t like giving gifts. I have a hard enough time finding the right gift for my wife much less other members of my family and co-workers. And yes, I just grouped co-workers in with family. Sorry mom, dad. It is tough to find you good gifts without resorting to the cowardly “what do you want?”

Second of all, I’ve never given a co-worker pens or paperweights. That is simply ridiculous. If I wanted to give my co-workers something they hated, I would certainly go to much more effort and make its disposal much more visible.

Third of all, 15 cards for free shipping? What is that? Two stamps?

I don’t think I can possibly give these gift cards to anyone. Unless it is one of those people that goes out of their way to avoid Starbucks. Then I think a $20 investment is well worth the weeks of observation of seeing them try to sneak in and grab a latte without feeing guilty about feeding a venomous organization like Starbucks.

Every day is different on Woot

Woot.com is one of my favorite sites on the web. I visit it at least once a day and sometimes multiple times per day.

Why do I love it?

Every day is different. But… (here is the clincher) it is predictably different.  After all, I go to the site at 10:00pm my time and there is a new deal for the day. If it is something I want, I can buy it and be assured a consistent buying experience (fixed shipping costs, expected customer service, etc…). If not, a new deal will be up in 24 hours. I never know what that new deal will be but I know enough factors to keep me enchanted at odd hours of the night (yeah, 10pm is getting late for me).

I am relating this back to work because I think everyone likes to have variety at work. I think the key there is to create an environment where there is unpredictability within a controlled environment. So, you may not know what the top priority for the day is until 8am but every day at 8am, the priority is revealed to you. You can count on that and you can trust and even when things do change out of that structure, it goes back to it as soon as possible instead of abandoning it.

I love that feeling.  That uncertainty within the structure makes me feel like I am not fulfilling the same ten requests every day.

And really, I just wanted to plug one of my favorite websites.

Happy Cyber Monday

Your boss probably doesn’t care about “Black Friday” (the day after Thanksgiving where retailers typically put on a barrage of sales). Unless you work in a handful of positions, you probably had it off and it probably gave you a good reason to come in this morning. After all, your credit card won’t pay for itself.

What your boss might care about is online shopping on the Monday after Thanksgiving. But how concerned should they be?

Business Week says you shouldn’t pay it too much attention to it. According to them, Cyber Monday is a “made up marketing term.” I am shocked! Made up you say?

Yes, Shop.org made the term up to generate excitement.

For someone who is so used to seeing honesty from retailers, I simply couldn’t believe this. Since Business Week is fairly reputable though, I probably should consider it pretty factual.

When do most people online shop? Usually either before Thanksgiving (whoops, missed that boat) or in the middle of December. How many of those people will use time at work to get some of that shopping done? The stats aren’t terribly reliable but you can probably guess my answer: too many.

So happy Cyber Monday.  Shopping under your bosses nose is almost as exciting as fighting some greasy haired jerk in a Jeff Gordon T-shirt for the last Tickle Me Elmo ROFLMAO edition.

Happy Thanksgiving…you're fired

I was thinking about the holidays and how people who have been fired right before a holiday get more sympathy than just a normal firing.

I don’t get that. There is no good time or even better time to be fired. That’s of course is leaving out the possibility that you were fired after winning the lottery.  I think that would be fine by me if I had won the lottery. I can’t think of too many situations where it would be better to be fired.

So why the extra sympathy?

Maybe being fired before a major holiday can put a major damper on that celebration. I can accept that. But that’s pretty much it, isn’t it?

Ah, well…all this hating on holidays makes me tired. Have a great thanksgiving, don’t get fired.

Your HR Guy hates holidays

Okay, maybe “hates” is a strong word.  And really, I don’t personally hate holidays. But something has got to change.

“So how can you hate holidays you sick jerk?”

My readers are polite so maybe they wouldn’t ask something like that. In reality, holidays kill momentum in regular businesses* with the assuredness of a Dick Cheney hunting trip. And while regular holidays are usually strategically placed at the beginning or end of a week, the holidays in November, December and January give us no such luck. Thanksgiving is on a Thursday and Friday is often included. Even if you do require workers to come in on Friday, what are they going to get done? How many are going to bail on you?

This year, Christmas and New Years Day are on Tuesdays. Tuesdays! How inconvenient. So basically you get the Monday off (or you take it off) and you come back the day after and have three days. Then the next week, it is the same deal. The only days that could possibly be worse are a Wednesday or Thursday.

And during that time between Thanksgiving and Christmas, sales and productivity goes down in most sectors except retail and grocery. Speaking from experience, working retail during the holidays is like getting bludgeoned to death by a wiffle bat. Not deadly at first but the constant barrage of hits leaves you bruised every single day.

Meanwhile, we are making fun of the French for taking an entire month off. Which would be fine if they didn’t pick a better time to take off than we do. And hey, at least they aren’t pretending to get work done.

I am not suggesting we turn into bagel eating business robots like Penelope Trunk (man, I really hope google picks up on that) but it seems like if I want to take a couple weeks off, I want to do it during a nicer time of the year. Really the only advantage to holidays is that everyone else has them off too. If I could just get that time and use it throughout the year, I think I would pick better days and assuming the wife could have the same advantage, we would coordinate that too. Assuming our entire family had that advantage, we could schedule a family get together at a much less stressful time. And we could assure more uniform productivity throughout the year.

Not that I am going to refuse the holiday though. My wife and I are going to one of the most beautiful places in the states to go hiking, see a museum, see a replica of a wonder of the world and probably drink our share of wine. But it isn’t because of the holiday, it is because of the common time off. And believe me, I would pick a better time of year to go if it were up to me.