Saturday, October 29, 2011

22 Secrets...

Earlier this year, Reader’s Digest published an interesting list titled “22 Secrets HR Won’t Tell You About Getting a Job”. That list is posted below. Starting next week, I’ll begin unpacking and commenting on the 22 Secrets. As a general statement, and this is unfortunate, I think the list is pretty much spot on. If that is the case and you’re looking for a job, then what do you do about it? That will be the focus of my blogs over the next few weeks.


1. “Once you’re unemployed more than six months, you’re considered pretty much unemployable. We assume that other people have already passed you over, so we don’t want anything to do with you.” –Cynthia Shapiro, former human resources executive and author of Corporate Confidential: 50 Secrets Your Company Doesn’t Want You to Know

2. “When it comes to getting a job, who you know really does matter. No matter how nice your résumé is or how great your experience may be, it’s all about connections.” –HR director at a health-care facility

3. “If you’re trying to get a job at a specific company, often the best thing to do is to avoid HR entirely. Find someone at the company you know, or go straight to the hiring manager.” –Shauna Moerke, an HR administrator in Alabama who blogs at

4. “People assume someone’s reading their cover letter. I haven’t read one in 11 years.” –HR director at a financial services firm

5. “We will judge you based on your e-mail address. Especially if it’s something inappropriate like or” –Rich DeMatteo, a recruiting consultant in Philadelphia

6. “If you’re in your 50s or 60s, don’t put the year you graduated on your résumé.” –HR professional at a midsize firm in North Carolina

7. “There’s a myth out there that a résumé has to be one page. So people send their résumé in a two-point font. Nobody is going to read that.” –HR director at a financial services firm

8. “I always read résumés from the bottom up. And I have no problem with a two-page résumé, but three pages is pushing it.” –Sharlyn Lauby, HR consultant in Fort Lauderdale, Florida

9. “Most of us use applicant-tracking systems that scan résumés for key words. The secret to getting your résumé through the system is to pull key words directly from the job description and put them on. The more matches you have, the more likely your résumé will get picked and actually seen by a real person.” –Chris Ferdinandi, HR professional in the Boston area

10. “Résumés don’t need color to stand out. When I see a little color, I smirk. And when I see a ton of color, I cringe. And walking in and dropping off your resume is no longer seen as a good thing. It’s actually a little creepy.” –Rich DeMatteo

11. “It’s amazing when people come in for an interview and say, ‘Can you tell me about your business?’ Seriously, people. There’s an Internet. Look it up.” –HR professional in New York City

12. “A lot of managers don’t want to hire people with young kids, and they use all sorts of tricks to find that out, illegally. One woman kept a picture of two really cute children on her desk even though she didn’t have children [hoping job candidates would ask about them]. Another guy used to walk people out to their car to see whether they had car seats.” –Cynthia Shapiro, former human resources executive and author of Corporate Confidential.

13. “Is it harder to get the job if you’re fat? Absolutely. Hiring managers make quick judgments based on stereotypes. They’re just following George Clooney’s character in Up in the Air, who said ‘I stereotype. It’s faster.’”–Suzanne Lucas, a former HR executive and the Evil HR Lady on

14. “I once had a hiring manager who refused to hire someone because the job required her to be on call one weekend a month and she had talked in the interview about how much she goes to church. Another candidate didn’t get hired because the manager was worried that the car he drove wasn’t nice enough.” –HR professional at a midsize firm in North Carolina

15. “Don’t just silence your phone for the interview. Turn it all the way off.” –Sharlyn Lauby, HR consultant in Fort Lauderdale, Florida

16. “If you’ve got a weak handshake, I make a note of it.” –HR manager at a medical-equipment sales firm

17. “If you’re a candidate and the hiring manager spends 45 minutes talking about himself, the company or his Harley, let him. He’s going to come out of the interview saying you’re a great candidate.” –Kris Dunn, chief human resources officer at Atlanta-based Kinetix, who blogs at

18. “There’s one website that drives all HR people crazy: It supposedly lists average salaries for different industries, but if you look up any job, the salary it gives you always seems to be $10,000 to $20,000 higher than it actually is. That just makes people mad.” –HR director at a public relations agency

19. “On salary, some companies try to lock you in early. At the first interview, they’ll tell me to say, ‘The budget for this position is 40K to 45K. Is that acceptable to you?’ If the candidate accepts, they’ll know they’ve got him or her stuck in that little area.” –Ben Eubanks, HR professional in Alabama

20. “You think you’re all wonderful and deserve a higher salary, but here in HR, we know the truth. And the truth is, a lot of you aren’t very good at your jobs, and you’re definitely not as good as you think you are.” –HR professional at a midsize firm in North Carolina

21. Be careful if a headhunter is negotiating for you. You may want extra time off and be willing to sacrifice salary, but he is negotiating hardest for what hits his commission.” –HR professional in New York City (Oh it’s on now…I look forward to commenting on this one)

22. “I once hired someone, and her mother didn’t think the salary we were offering was high enough, so she called me to negotiate. There are two problems with that: 1) I can’t negotiate with someone who’s not you. 2) It’s your mother. Seriously, I was like, ‘Did that woman’s mother just call me, or was that my imagination?’ I immediately withdrew the offer.” –HR professional in New York City

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Occupy This

“The ultimate decision about what is accepted as right and wrong will be made not by individual human wisdom but by the disappearance of the groups that have adhered to the "wrong" beliefs.”- F.A. Hayak


“Power to The People” is alive and well, boldly manifesting itself in the “Occupy Wall Street Movement”. It hasn’t quite reached Grayson County Texas yet, but down the road in Dallas I hear there are protests. Nothing so far in my hometown of Fort Worth where the local authorities tend to be less tolerant of free speech without a permit or at least a property tax receipt.

From what I can gather from various articles and surveys, it seems that the OWS crowd is mostly pissed about the rich being too rich and having too much influence on our government. Beyond that they are all over the place with regard to proposed solutions. As I pick through all the stuff they are throwing up against the wall, I find myself in agreement with them on three major issues: (1) The most wealthy among us should pay more taxes, (2) There is too much money going toward influencing political decisions and (3) Our Free Trade policies are not free, nor are they fair, nor have they been without negative consequences for many working Americans. Frankly, these are not new issues. They have been the subject of much debate and discussion for generations. And, I think most Americans are in general agreement about the need to address these three issues.

What concerns me about the OWS crowd is that they are, for the most part, advocates of socialism over capitalism. Again, this is a debate that has been going on since the middle of the 19th century. While we have bastardized our capitalist system to the point where it has major problems, it still beats the hell out of any form of socialism. Many of our problems are the result of government getting involved in areas they should not be involved in or bad policy in those areas where they should be involved. Many tea-partiers and libertarians would disagree with me, but government DOES have a role to play ensuring that we have a properly functioning economy.

I recently re-read F.A. Hayak’s classic book, “The Road to Serfdom”. It was written back in the 1940’s and remains one of the best books ever written in support of individual freedom and capitalism. Hayak, like Adam Smith, does an excellent job of describing the role of government in supporting a capitalist system. Moreover, like Smith, he eloquently describes the economic reality and power of individualism (capitalism) vs. collectivism (socialism).

I’m not sure how we bring the left and the right together to solve our problems. I’ve stated before that congressional term limits would be a great first step. We don’t need lifetime, career politicians running this country. I also think that our media has a role to play. We simply don’t get unbiased information. Much of it is leans left and what doesn’t is so far to the right that it’s even worse. Most Americans simply don’t know the facts when it comes to our economy or our government. Points of view tend to develop out of need and circumstance and are validated by ones channel of choice. Once developed they are surveyed and political strategies formulated to capture the votes. Our government has become the largest non-profit business in the history of the world and it is totally failing to achieve the purposes for which it was created. And that, my fellow Americans, is on us.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Hey Buddy, Can You Spare a Dime?

I hear that now over 46 million of our fellow citizens are living in “poverty”. I hear that our system is unfair. That poverty and unemployment are the result of the rich getting richer. In fact, the rich are just too rich. And to make matters worse, at a time when we should be spending to help the poor, conservatives want to cut spending. What are they thinking?

Probably the same thing I’ve been thinking for a long time. That over the past 50 years, welfare programs have helped create a “poverty” class of citizens having neither the hope nor the incentive to strive for something better. To get a perspective on this I suggest you read Robert Rector’s congressional testimony, April 2011, titled: “Uncovering the Hidden Welfare State: 69 Means-tested Programs and $940 Billion in Annual Spending”

Now admittedly, Mr. Rector works for The Heritage Foundation, an ultra-conservative think tank. And while his report certainly represents one point of view, I am inclined to believe that the information he uses is essentially correct, give or take a $100 billion. The reality is that a lot of those 46 million folks living in poverty are effectively living on the equivalent of $50,000 or more annual income for a family of four (assuming they have earned income near the $22,350 poverty line.) Do I want to trade places with them? No. Do I think they are living the “good life”? No. But do I think that the majority of these 46 million poor are suffering severe hardship and deprivation? No.

When you peel back the welfare onion and add in all of the other charitable programs (food banks, churches, charities, etc); what was once a “safety net” has become the subsidy for a marginal standard of living that is now a way of life for 1 in 7 Americans. It may or may not be poverty. But it’s not good and it’s not sustainable. Since LBJ started his War on Poverty back in the 60’s, we’ve spent over $15 Trillion dollars on welfare. No doubt some of that money has been well-spent. There are thousands of success stories out there. Children who grew up in poverty, survived with government assistance, succeeded and are now productive, tax-paying citizens. But I think it’s fair to say that we are still way “in the hole” with regard to a payback on that $15 Trillion investment.

Saturday, October 8, 2011


I once spent a year in Philadelphia, I think it was on a Sunday.
W. C. Fields

This past week I was in Philadelphia for the Council of Supply Chain Management Professional’s (CSCMP) Annual Global Conference. With all due respect to W.C. Fields, I enjoyed Philadelphia. I’d been there several times, but never really had the opportunity to see the city. It’s a great place. While it’s not New York City or Chicago, or even Boston for that matter, I’d still rate it as one of America’s best big cities to visit.

The CSCMP conference was worthwhile as well. Well attended, good networking opportunities and useful information. Mostly, the information just confirmed what we already knew. The economy is slowing down, but not as bad as the headlines would have us believe. In fact, there was general agreement that companies are struggling to find enough qualified people (not just truck drivers and warehouse workers, but managers and executives with supply chain management/logistics experience.)

However, the underlying and consistent theme of the conference was how to manage in the midst of so much uncertainty. Most firms have the tools and expertise to effectively manage their supply chains IF enough key variables have reasonable levels of predictability. Today we just don’t know enough to effectively plan for anything other than uncertainty. And that’s really tough.

As Donald Rumsfeld once said: “There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don't know we don't know.”
John Stewart and other pundits had a lot of fun with Rumsfeld’s “unknown unknowns”….but the truth is that Rumseld was right. (I just wish he’d paid more attention to his own words of wisdom…but that’s another subject.)

We find ourselves in a world of uncertainty including “known unknowns” and “unknown unknowns”. And to make matters worse, in some instances we are living with “unknowables” whether we know it or not. And some of what we know isn’t good enough for planning purposes. For example, it’s likely that over the next five years oil prices will be between $75 and $150 per barrel. For supply chain planning purposes, that range is too broad. I can also predict that governments, industries and individuals will take steps to reduce debt, but no one can accurately quantify what impact that will have on the global economy. And there are some really big “unknowables” out there. What if an earthquake and tsunami were to hit the western coastline of North America? What if the Mexican drug cartels gain control of their government (if they haven’t already)? What if the U.S. Congress becomes even more dysfunctional?

The supply chain models we’ve developed over the past 25 years have played a major role in creating a global economy. The world would be much poorer and much worse off without these efficient, global supply chain capabilities. Yet it would seem that the more we know about moving stuff around our planet, the more we have to be worried about. As a result, it is quite likely that our planning models will become even more complex. (Some scary smart people are using Game Theory based models these days in ways that will make your head hurt.)

But when it’s all said and done, humans will have to assess the risks and make choices. My greatest concern about the future is analysis-paralysis and fear of failure. There are always risks. Look at history. Many of the world’s greatest accomplishments were faced with overwhelming odds and incredible risks. In business, one cannot afford to ignore risks, but totally avoiding risks is even more expensive. I think that would qualify as “a known”.