How I Became a Better Candidate This Week

It’s been somewhat– make that *definitely*– frustrating to be a week from turning 58, and seven months into search for employment, without a lot to show for it. ‘The Great Recession’ might officially have been over a while ago, but you wouldn’t be able to convince my bank account of that.

There’s an old adage about ‘with age comes wisdom’, and while I’ve locked in several important facts of Life years ago– never guess a woman’s age; don’t drink and drive; forget playing one more game of basketball after a shaky left knee has signaled ‘time to go’– the factors about becoming a better candidate for career Next’s shouldn’t have been major revelations.

The Reality is, I ABSOLUTELY knew this stuff, and though I’m not generally a List Guy, three specific ‘oh, rights!’ that support the premise have come through crystal clear.

1) However its phrased, look ‘I could never do that’ in the eye and accomplish one small step towards a goal anyway.

2) Stay in touch with those who really count in your search (including ‘cheerleaders’)

3) SSDD (same stuff/different day) won’t get what you desire, even assuming you know what that is

On the first point, I’ll give a shout out to Jeff Haden; I read two pieces of his thought-provoking philosophy on Monday, and I’m going to make it a habit to continue feeding my mind similarly going forward.

The most obvious change I made was putting my book, ‘CARDS & CONSEQUENCES: Return of Marlena the Magnificent’ into a book contest (please check link at the end), and then posting that fact in two places, as ‘currently happening’ on LinkedIn profile and in ‘LinkEds and Writers’. The question I had to ask myself was, why DIDN’T I think I could do those simple and obvious things to publicize something I’d put so much effort into achieving? Even if I’m not chosen for a share of Bookbzz’s $$ in first contest, $25 on the credit card *should* get me some level of reviews, and thats kind of important in a bigger picture. The ‘C’ in CDTalent Enterprises stands for Confidence, so you have to believe in yourself/the product at least that much.

I sent a short note to the artist who’s supposed to be working with me on a children’s read-along book for the South Carolina Hugh O’Brian Youth organization. Without his production, the two years-plus of material I’ve written is left in limbo. Our last meeting was late August and I hadn’t seen a single thing more from him; I needed to push things, get concrete results. My first boss out of college told me (as a ‘road guy’/regional rep for TIME, Inc.) that nobody would throw People magazine out of their stores if I pushed for getting it displayed at the register; what did I have to lose if the artist didn’t produce after I asked him to come through with what was needed/expected?

Staying in touch, especially with recruiters and references, definitely counts. To show how serious I was about entering home solar power industry in the sales area with a major energy company, I found a relevant article about real estate industry financially recognizing solar on house as an asset, and e-mailed it with a short note to person I’d done a phone interview with. Then I cc’d several references, including Charlotte Works counselor, to let them know what I was considering, sales being a very different idea from administrative areas that have been my focus.

I talked to a recruiter from a temp agency about re-taking some tests, because I know my home equipment contributed to lower than expected scores, and the possibility of getting short term gigs HAS to go up when you’re perceived as being more capable, right? Why not take the obvious step?

As for SSDD, doing same things and expecting different results is supposedly the definition of insanity, and I’m a writer, not crazy. Okay, I’ll always consider myself a writer no matter what I do for a regular paycheck, and blogging 3x/week like this (and LinkedIn contributions) was a New Years resolution; I also fixed old information on three job boards, so I’m taking righteous small steps in that direction.

I’m also figuring out how to do links: http://bookbzz.com/cards-consequences-by-glenn-shorkey

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High School Journalists on PBS: Obviously a Different Ballgame

Yesterday, PBS brought three students from T.C. Williams HS and their journalism teacher on the show, and it was almost impossible not to cast a somewhat disparaging eye regarding projects they put together to gain that exposure. The bone of contention is they essentially *reviewed* media from this past year, while HIGHLIGHTS, the school newspaper Ray Patterson rode herd on at Linton HS during the tumultous ’70s, produced an 8-16 page product every two weeks.

Frankly, as dramatically different as the technology of multiple outlets/’platforms’ in the world of 2015 is from 1975, its apples and oranges between CREATING (including 2-3 days of actual physical pasting of copy onto waxed tabloid-sized sheets) an award-winning paper and compiling memorable stuff others produced.

That said, I read the NYTimes online version with a first cup of coffee this morning, and while perusing the weekly Creative Loafing in Charlotte, NC is a regular habit, picking up an actual newspaper is perhaps a once-a-month event, the holy grail that TIME magazine was is now an annoyingly thin red-bordered periodical that can be done without.

Since year-end is the time for reviewing all manner of ‘Best of’ or ’10 Events That Shocked’, admitting the significance of the change is legitimate. This piece is being done on an iPad, and if a tone signals something has landed in an electronic mailbox, that can be examined immediately with the push of a button. That immediacy is a singular important difference between ‘old’ journalism and any 2015 version.

The Vietnam War ended with a roar in 1975, after years of having TV deliver graphic video and body counts of dead-wounded nightly, dividing nearly every demographic in America– especially older “its a duty to your country” WWII or Korean War veterans/fathers and young-enough-to-become-part-of-‘Nam’s-meat grinder-ugliness males. Half a world away, we waited until 6:00 for Walter Cronkite, or a similarly serious news anchor, to watch the final helicopter depart the rooftop of the U.S. Embassy in Saigon, barely unlucky enough final figures trying to jump on-stay attached to its skids. As seminal an event as that was, who in 2014 didn’t know an unarmed (if aggressive) black man named Michael Brown was shot to death by a white police officer in the small town of Ferguson, Missouri, or see the as-it-happened “I can’t breathe!” video-taped final words of another black man (Eric Garner) being choked to death by another white officer in New York City?

In 1968, Bobby Kennedy made the dangerous, incredibly courageous decision to address a largely black crowd in Indianapolis the night of Martin Luther King’s assassination in Memphis, and many of those people were only becoming aware of that event hours after the fact. Would ANYONE in their right mind step before a similar crowd under similar conditions today? That city was one of the few that was unscarred by rioting that erupted across the rest of the country. Kennedy’s absolute sincerity, delivered with the reminder he had suffered exactly the same incredible loss– the well-documented assassination of his brother, President John F. Kennedy, in 1963– was personal, unfiltered, and amazingly, not a fact he ever brought up again in public. Those present understood this was a time to mourn, not senselessly rage.

‘Journalism’ has changed, as has much in this country. Woodward & Bernstein’s efforts, still the gold standard in investigating and writing so much of what became the Watergate scandal for the Washington Post, took *months*, even years, to unravel the presidency of Richard Nixon. Today we know about a cop jumping out of his patrol car and– within two seconds, fatally shooting a child waving a toy gun– and every aspect of that is available immediately on a device we can talk about or send to someone else.

‘Disparaging’ eye of comparison might be harsh; if the opportunities were available 40 years ago (Geraldo Rivera’s ‘bushwhack journalism’ style was just beginning), how many j-majors would’ve wanted their faces in front of people vs. ‘just’ a byline? We know about an almost overwhelming number of things around the world *as they’re happening* now, and shaping that tidal wave into some format, including the terrifying ‘sound bite’ reduction, should probably still be regarded as a legitimate function.

It’s also still apples and oranges to compare a class project to having everyone in school with a newspaper in their hand as ‘real’ journalism.

Glenn Shorkey

The ‘Awww, Sweetie’ Worked Well, Too

Having successfully negotiated a days worth of communication, I’m satisfied people still know how to get from Point A to End of a situation. Most productive part was 1-1 resume counseling session with Mr. Ross, a volunteer with CHARLOTTE WORKS– between us we nailed necessary presentation changes and a one sentence core statement of myself as a candidate. The far end was new friend Alfie’s ‘awww, Sweetie’ comment, which both comforted about a physical inconvenience and caused me to quitmybitchin’, RELAX about non-crucial situation, and acknowledge the Good.

Besides knocking out primary statements for resume, I also got tickets to SYR-Clemson game Saturday night, a nice social extra. I’m taking one of my brothers; Instructions with ticket are we have to root for Syracuse during intro to the ACC. I understood.

Two other moments with words were getting a first writing critique
(not so happy) and an easy couple minutes of jawboning across several sports in laundry room. Oh, and of course, a text. The laundry talk and text are the simple stuff– two guys apparently well matched in sports background talk about local stuff and Joe Frazier; my brother informing me where borrowed-five-days-ago bicycle pump was so I could take a ride after fixing my flat.

The writing event came off a little tricky, but not because my writers ego and Israeli as first language reader didn’t agree about point of view violation. Her ‘can’t know this is how she feels’ comments about a 1,000 word sample confused me, because I *know* the book is written in proper tense, but it made me dig for an explanation. The difference wasn’t hard to find– there was no set-up of character as POV in that sample; critic was assuming I was narrator voice. No problem– I sent her the summary and first chapter. That ‘seek to understand, then be understood’ axiom works, we should be on same page in the future regarding ‘voice’.

Good inter-personal communication gains results, regardless of group age or desired goal, and then there’s communicating where the result simply ‘Is’. In a day worth of getting information sent, received, acted on, some commanded closer attention, and as a professional who values that ability to articulate a point, and even gain action, I appreciate it in others.

That counselor showed me about seriously working one word at a time towards a specific statement that will hit viewers of my resume in a precise and hopefully more positive way, and that friend’s ‘awww, Sweetie, this too shall pass’ comment when I’d been fussing over a particular inconvenience, was almost Mom-ish. It delivered all-encompassing sympathy, plus the implication I wouldn’t have to endure whatever all that long. In the mix of higher and lower communicating, succinct and nice aren’t always the most-heard styles, but Good is Good. You won’t get an ‘awww, Sweetie’ that often, so recognize good thoughts when they arrive, and get your own messages out clearly for the best results.

Like a thank you to Mr. Ross, and an excellent Fall afternoon bike ride.

Glenn S.
http://www.Cdtalententerprises.com

That’s What LinkedIn Should Be For

Getting a private, positive response yesterday as a direct result of an online discussion (Global Executive Assistants) validates what I’ve believed LinkedIn was supposed to be about. While there are still too many ‘PLEASE read my blog!’ type messages on writing sites I utilize, articulating my objections about what should-shouldn’t be included on CV-resumes got a specific unfairness off my chest as strongly as I wanted. Based on comments from others and that indicator of attention I needed, it hit a righteous chord.

Given that *everyone* says recruiters only give resumes a scant 6-8 seconds attention, and resumes aren’t supposed to go past 12-15 years at the max, my point was 6.5 years of retail work that paid bills-put food on the table-gas in the car-allowed for occasional road trip vacations during The Great Recession was apparently DQing me from consideration for executive assistant level positions handled prior to 2007. That contract work, which was my case from 1995-2000 after leaving regional sales rep positions, of less than six months shouldn’t be included– even if it involved learning a significant skill– was a deal-killer many applicants recognize. Most recruiters, and even a *computer generated notation* for one application I labored on, still pick at EVERY TIME GAP, making for a Catch-22 situation.

Having illuminated that frustrating situation won’t change 99% of recruiters methodology. When I first changed from being a ‘windshield warrior’ to getting results driving a desk in 1995, it was mandatory that you do alllll the paperwork with an agency (it still screws up applications to put ‘multiple agencies’ under Employer, because who remembers origin of each assignment ?) and test on software before anyone would talk to you. Now, even after going through online on-boarding process for a major temp-placement operation, the recruiter stonewalled an office visit 3x in one phone call because “there’s no sense WASTING your time or mine” to determine how jobs that barely made it– no description or dates, just the position– onto a page might make me a better candidate. *I* sure wouldn’t think its a waste, not when most EA ads involve ‘Exceptional verbal- written communications skills’ in the description, something barely scratched on Page 1 that is a HUGE strength of mine, much higher order than being current on learnable software.

I’m going with the positives though. I’ve followed that particular lady for a while, and now I’ve done something that attracted her personal interest; a guy whose house I’ve played several Hold ’em poker tournaments at is a recruiter and he’s also looking at my material. That recruiter who said “all we have” is a survey situation for a Republican project and a tele-marketing deal up-selling dating site users to full membership, wow, his whole office must be starving. Guess he should have some extra time to read deeper into resumes then, right?

Glenn S.