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Archive for the ‘recruiting’ Category

Does your email make you look like a 3rd grader?

Posted by Vivian Wong on April 23, 2010


I love the convenience of modern technology – including text messaging and instant messaging.

While I still enjoy phone conversations, I tend to text people when my reason for contacting them is short and sweet, such as “C u in 5 @ XYZ”. I find texting wonderful because it is less intrusive than a phone call and I don’t need to beat around the bush especially with people I know very well.

But it’s one thing to use shorthand and abbreviations in a text message, it’s another when you to use them in official business emails.

Today I received an email from a candidate I interviewed last week. Let’s call him “Fred”. Fred  interviewed well but his email today did not leave a positive impression on me:

“Hi Vivian,I hope you have reached a decision for the job posting. Do u have any updates either way for me?? pl. Let me know. thx

This is the very first email Fred sends me, and he can’t be bothered to spell out “you”, “please” and “thanks”?

I couldn’t help but wonder if Fred has adequate written communication skills?  Does he code the same way he writes his emails? Fred could very well be a top notch employee, but his “half and half”  email-text message made him look sloppy.

Perhaps I am just old fashioned and prefer business emails to look like… well business emails. Not text messages.

What about you? What do you think about sending or receiving “text message like” business emails?

Posted in candidate, recruiting, social network, Uncategorized | Tagged: | 14 Comments »

Why should we hire you?

Posted by Vivian Wong on July 23, 2009

Team Photo

Today’s article by CNN 43 weird things to say in job interviews was pretty funny. Here are some of my favorites:

“I would be a great asset to the events team because I party all the time.” – Bill McGowan, founder, Clarity Media Group

“I get angry easily and I went to jail for domestic violence. But I won’t get mad at you.” – Pechstein

Last week I interviewed an experienced software developer who made a long lasting impression on me.

First Impression

Me: What do you know about this position?

Mr. XYZ: Nothing. I spent no more than 3 minutes looking at the job description when I applied.

Are you a people person?

Five minutes later, sensing that Mr. XYZ may be difficult to work with:

Me: Have you ever had conflicts with others at work?

Mr. XYZ: Oh yeah. You can call them conflicts or disagreements – same thing.

Me:  Can you please give me an example? How did you resolve the issue?

Mr. XYZ: (shrug) They wouldn’t do what I said and I told them their designs were wrong. They were stubborn.

Collaborating in a Global Environment

Me: How do you feel about working with a global team?

Mr. XYZ:  There is just nothing good about working with teams in India. It takes twice as much time to communicate to get stuff done and then they are never done right. We have to deal with them. We have no choice.

Closing the deal

Me: Hmmm… Actually we have teams in India and we enjoy working with them. They can bring a lot of value to our projects….

Mr. XYZ: You are not hearing me right. You are just being an idealist. What I said is that it takes so much time to communicate with them and then you have to wait a long time for things to turn around and they don’t give you what you need. Global teams just don’t work.

At this point, I thanked him for his time and ended the interview. Frankly, I’d rather hire someone with no technical skills but has the “right” attitude and willing to learn than the other way round. It’s much easier to learn hard skills than soft skills.

Later when I compared my notes with other interviewers on my team,  it was clear that Mr. XYZ was most outspoken and least respectful to me. (We wondered whether he simply treated me differently because I was the only female interviewer?)

What were some of your most memorable experiences either as an interviewer or interviewee?

Posted in candidate, global, recruiting, Uncategorized | Tagged: , | 9 Comments »

Firsts and Worsts

Posted by Meg Bear on June 19, 2008

I’ve been finding myself reading a lot of blogs these days.  What I find interesting, is what kind of posts I respond to.  I find the conversations on “firsts” and “worsts” fun, they make me smile and remember and then they make me glad I’m past it.

Laurie recently posted a worst interview and Gretchen posted a look back at her first Onboarding experience in a “real” job.  Then yesterday, a collegue asked me the age old question, “tell me again how exactly did you get into Tech, Meg?“, which I’m sure he intended to be a compliment, on just how wise I am in the ways of my job, and thus a blog post was born.

Let me first say, that I have been receiving a formal paycheck since the age of fourteen and have had all kinds of horrible (and some not so horrible) jobs prior to (and during) college.  Like most I didn’t think they really “counted”, since they were not “real” jobs.  They were ways to make money. 

After college, is when you get a real job. 

I had it all planned out.  I would go to college, I would get a great job, I would live happily ever after.  So it was some shock at the end of my college experience that I realized I hadn’t actually figured out *how* I would get a job.  Nor did I know what kind of job I wanted (turns out that they weren’t putting fresh college grads in charge, who knew?).   In a panic, I started to consider the options that would allow me to delay paying back my student loans, grad school? peace corp? while also pursuing the campus recruiting process. 

Most of my interviews were unmemorable (I’m sure for all involved), but one had me talking to someone who stepped out every 5 minutes on his [at the time still novel and quite large] mobile phone as he was “expecting a call to close some funding”.   I left the interview unimpressed and not completely clear as to what they did anyway.  I did make it to the second round with that company, which required both an aptitude and a personality test.  Being just out of college, I didn’t really find that odd, but I will note I have never had to do either since.

After some time passed, I started to catch on to the idea of being a candidate and while I did get more rejections then I had ever experienced in my entire life, I also started getting a few offers, most for jobs like insurance sales, a “manager” position at Lady Footlocker and an offer to do “sales support” for a Manufacturing ERP startup (of course at the time it was not ERP yet, it was MRP II but I digress).

In the meantime, I had found a summer study abroad that I really wanted to do.  It was some ten countries in six weeks studying the European Union and the Euro.  Now this was exactly what I wanted to do (travel and geek out studying European economics), and I needed to figure out how to find a job offer that would let me start in September vs. June.

Yes, I’ll say it again, I chose my career based upon which job would wait for me to come back from a trip to Europe

Upon returning from my summer off, getting my stuff out of storage and beginning my first day at work I found out a few interesting “real world” realities

  1. Startups, can have challenges in the area of workforce planning, and, when they miss their numbers are inclined to freeze hiring
  2. Positions that you are hired for might not still exist when you start six months later
  3. When you find yourself starting a new job, for which the actual position has been eliminated, it is good to be a fast learner and to project flexibilty — quickly
  4. Tech guys are easy to bribe, if you are nice to them they will teach you survival skills for the fee of a few lunches (editors note, I suspect I had a bit of an edge being female here)

So, due to an adequate score on the aptitude test and the fact that I had a job offer in writing, they decided to place me in the support organization where I spent my first months doing QA for a new release. 

It took me a good six months to have any idea what the company actually did (native applications in Oracle forms and Sybase APT), what my job actually was (first and second line support) and how to gain the skills to do that job before they realized I didn’t have any skills (see bribes mentioned above).   

For the geeks reading this post, I will share my first technical training session to give you an idea just how poorly suited I was, to be fixing software bugs.  I was thrown out for being “difficult” and thus my black-market approach to knowledge acquisition was born.

Un-named trainer: Are you familiar with Unix?

Meg: No

Un-named trainer: Do you know vi?

Meg: No

Un-named trainer: You’re going to hate it.

Meg: Oh. (editors note, in fact I did not hate vi nor did I find it difficult)

Un-named trainer: ok, so you are going to go into vi and write this create table statement

Meg: why?

Un-named trainer: because you need a table

Meg: what for?

Un-named trainer: You’re just being difficult aren’t you.


And the rest they say, is history.  I will say, that having such a strange start to a career, has proven to be very helpful to me over time.  Jumping into jobs I’m not skilled to do, to meet challenges I have never done before, comes very easily to me.  Sometimes I succeed and sometimes I fail but I am never afraid to try.

The industry term for that is agility and it is a competency that I think is a good one to claim as your own. 


Posted in candidate, competency, personal, recruiting | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

How to recruit badly

Posted by Meg Bear on May 29, 2008

 I should start this post saying how much I love the town where I live.  Really.  I have wonderful neighbors and I feel strongly about my community.  I expect this relationship to grow as next year my oldest begins kindergarten and I learn more about the school system my tax dollars have been supporting all these years. 

I am fortunate to live where I do, and I am still a supporter of my community, but I have to say their recruiting process could use some fine tuning and that is the nicest way to put it.

In the “what were we thinking” category of life, my husband and I decided that it might be a good idea to re-think our professional focus as a family, and see about shifting his career from a monetary focused strategy to a more community-based one.  We had this idea, that maybe shifting to a schedule that didn’t have travel, was part time, and that helped our community would be worth the one-fifth salary.

I know.  I know.  REALLY —  I do know.  You want to understand what we were smoking.  I have no defense there.  It was a moment of weakness what else can I say?

So we went down the path of applying for a job with our city.  I say “we” but I think we all recognize that my role was the “have you submitted that application yet?” kind of role.   As an observer from the side, I was horrified at just how badly the whole process was executed.  A real embarrassment to the Recruiting profession.  Being the kind person I am, I decided I should share this experience as a “what not to do” when recruiting in the 21st century.

To say that applying for a job with the city was different then applying for a software-based professional job is to understate the situation.  Here is the summary of the process from the candidate point of view

  • Upon inquiring about the job paper application form was sent to us in the mail – of course I almost threw it out as junk mail.
  • He was able to fill out the application online, not that the experience was great, but having some personal experience with development of online applications, I am very careful not to throw stones here, no matter how much I want to.
  • Of course, the waiting for confirmation and information was exponentially longer but this wasn’t surprising to me, I guess I was expecting that.
  • The first round of interviews was a panel and here is where the situation went down hill.  No offer of a beverage, 45 minutes of questions and never was there an opportunity given for any question to be asked.  Seriously, they fired off questions like an inquisition and then escorted in the next candidate.
  • The follow up from the panel interview process was again in the mail, and that was to tell him he was one of the finalists.  I’ll say it again, the candidates they thought they wanted to hire they informed via snail mail.  Talk about positive impression.  Yup, I really want to work with these people, they can’t be bothered to call the 3 finalists to come back for a second interview.  So, by now, as you can imagine, our enthusiasm for helping our community was seriously being threatened but we decided to stay in to see how the process completed.
  • The second round of interviews was slightly better, and by better I do not intend to imply that the logistics and human side were well covered BUT the interviewers did appear to have some experience in conducting an actual interview.
  • Then the waiting process began again.  After four weeks without any notice coming via the US Postal service we decided that maybe a follow up on our side might be appropriate.  After sending an email we got a response that said “oh didn’t we tell you?  We filled that position already, but we’ll keep your application on file for another year

To that I can only reply “well thanks for that“.  I guess I can be grateful that our experiment in community-based employment really only involved a few poorly executed interviews and some wasted postage.  I shudder to think what the actual employment experience might have been. 

I personally have decided, that in the future I’ll limit my altruism to volunteer work and as far as employment goes I think we will focus more on channeling Gordon Gekko in our decision process.


Posted in candidate, recruiting | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »