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The Secret to Decoding a Job Description

decoding a job description - cartoonI don’t like to brag, but in the past year alone, I’ve submitted my resume to more than 500 employers, all of whom had one thing in common: they all shredded my resume after deciding that my stellar qualifications would make other employees look bad.  I have, in the process, unlocked the key to what head-hunters are really asking for in their job descriptions.

The first step to getting an interview is knowing the critical skills employers are seeking. This is crucial so you can position your skills properly, by which I mean totally make things up. Don’t worry that you have no eJava, Javascript, or C++ programming experience when applying for that programmer position at Microsoft. That’s beside the point. Your job is to get in the door.

Recruiters don’t actually want to make it easy for you to understand what the position requires. They insert into every job description a long list of trendy but vague buzz words designed specifically to obscure what the work really entails. This is done to enhance the interview experience, providing prospects with the opportunity to explain how they can perform a job that no one at the company actually understands.

Now, thanks to me, you no longer have to play their devious game. With this simple job description decoder guide, you can peel back the flaky crust of ambiguous nouns and adjectives to bite into the chewy center of what they’re really looking for.

When the job description says: “Must have excellent communication skills” …

When decoded, what it really means is: You must be able to communicate only by means of TLA’s (Three-Letter Acronyms) and condense complex strategic marketing plans into email burps no longer than the 140-character count limit of Twitter.

When the job description says: “Must possess an innate ability to work independently” …  Read More…

  • Sometime HR is out of sync with the manager trying to fill a position. A few years ago a …
    David Fallen
  • Published On Oct. 20, 2015 by TEJ
  • TGIT – Thank God It’s Tuesday

    TGIT - whistleFor several years, every November and December, I experienced three-day work weeks thanks to the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. Due to the shortened workweeks, I had to be extremely focused, making efficient use of my limited time those weeks. I cut way back the amount of time devoted to watching adorable cat videos on YouTube.

    With only three days to get everything done, I dutifully avoided sending our my normal two dozen humor emails a day with links to things like hilarious parody music videos on the Twelve Days of Christmas. I discovered that I accomplished so much in these shortened work weeks that it got me to thinking: Imagine how much more efficient workers would all be if we all had a three-day work week. 

    There are many companies – and even a few cities (El Paso, TX, Melbourne, FL) and at least one state (Utah) that are currently experimenting with a four-day work week. Instead of five 8-hour days, their employees work four 10-hour days, and they really get a lot of things done in these ten-hour days…well, in the first 8 hours anyway. Polls of workers who have shifted to a four-day work schedule indicate that 85% prefer it to the previous five-day schedule and an overwhelming 99% prefer it to the seven-day 80-hour work week with no time off for Christmas.

    The advantages of a four-day work week are obvious:

    • Reduced commuting time and reduced energy consumption by eliminating one day of commuting travel per week
    • Improved energy efficiencies from reduced use of electricity and heating in offices and factories which are closed one more day each week
    • You can get drunk on Thursday night and don’t have to make up transparent excuses for not showing up to work on Friday, like “I can’t make it into work today, boss because my four-year old Nate is sick with the measles again… Yeah, I know it’s the 7th time this year. He has a really crappy immune system…”

    Read More…

    • What a great idea. We've decided to do this at our conglomerate. Our Board of Directors was so enthusiastic about …
      Rey Carr
  • Published On Sep. 29, 2015 by TEJ
  • My Weekly Business Report – Retirement Edition

    weekly report - retirement - on the beachUntil this past July, for the previous four decades, I had always worked in business. I was routinely required to submit reports on my progress: Sales forecasts, pipeline analyses, business plans – you name the report, I made it up, er, I mean…. um …

    My point is this: Just because I’ve recently retired and moved to an island home near an idyllic beach doesn’t mean I plan to stop submitting regular progress reports. Quite the contrary. I’m happy to report that I’ve continued this practice into retirement. The focus of those reports, however, has shifted slightly.

    Here is my business report for the past week.

    Sea Shell Inventory Forecast:

    My collection of sea shells grew by an impressive 11% this past month, due in part to two unscheduled beach-combing field inspections. While sightings of scallop shells were up 14% year-over-year, unfortunately, the projected production of intact sand dollars is expected to be down 18 to 20% compared to the previous quarter, in part due to increased foreign competition (tourists from Japan) which is anticipated to grab significant market share. I plan to diversify my portfolio of shells by investing (my time) in conch shells, tibias and spiny oyster shells. I’m optimistic we will experience a net gain next quarter if beach market conditions continue on their downward tidal trend.

    Read More…

    • I am glad you are taking retirement seriously! Keep up the hard work! Lynn
  • Published On Sep. 14, 2015 by TEJ
  • The joys and perils of working for my wife

    Working for my wife - Tim and MicheleRecently my wife Michele and I started a new chapter in our lives by moving to a lovely, somewhat remote island. We also decided to start working together. We thought, what better way to strengthen our marriage than to spend every waking minute of every single day together – eating, playing, sleeping and now working? What could possibly go wrong?

    Okay, I know what you’re about to say: What were you thinking? But before you question our wisdom, I should point out that our skill sets are remarkably complementary. On the one hand, my wife is an extremely talented portrait artist. And on the other hand, I am the husband of an extremely talented portrait artist.

    My job will be to market my wife’s portrait business. I am an experienced professional marketer. For example, remember the pet rock – a crazy, fun idea from the 1970s that generated millions in sales simply by packaging an ordinary rock in a box with funny instructions about how to care for it? Brilliant marketing. No, that was not actually my idea. But the idea for selling a 25-pound box of litter for your pet rock was mine. Sadly, it never made it to market. Okay, perhaps this isn’t helping make my point about being a marketing guru.

    My wife wanted someone to oversee marketing so she could spend more time painting – and shooting down every marketing idea I came up with. (I still think my idea for her to parade the sidewalks of Seattle in a sandwich board handing out coupons for $10 off a portrait would have worked. But alas, we’ll never know because she squashed that idea, too.)

    Read More…

    • Luckily, Michele's gorgeous work markets itself, so you can enjoy reruns of "Modern Family." Congratulations on life's changes!
      Lynn Gaertner-Johnston
  • Published On Apr. 22, 2015 by TEJ
  • A Survival Guide for coping with air travel

    Airline travel - delaysWhen Orville Wright first took flight over the beaches of Kitty Hawk, NC in 1903, he couldn’t have imagined that a century later, millions of people the world over would be getting into shouting matches with ticket agents, security screeners and baggage handlers over the nearly universal frustration caused by his invention. Thanks for the 12-inch gash in the side of my Louis Vuitton suitcase, Orville.

    Singapore, New Delhi, and Buenos Aires are just a few of the famous world cities I will probably never get to visit because I refuse to put up with the headaches required to fly there. Also because, like most Americans, I’m not sure exactly where those cities are on a map. (I think New Delhi might be in Belgium.)

    But sometimes air travel is unavoidable. If you simply must book a flight, here are a few helpful tips to reduce your stress level. These just might help you resist your urge to strangle the Delta Airlines ticket agent in Concourse C.

    Booking your flight – Choosing the right airline 

    The first rule of air travel is simple: Don’t fly if you can possibly avoid it. But if you absolutely must fly, for example, to attend a family reunion, I recommend Qantas, the official airline of Australia. The last time Qantas had a fatality was in 1951. Of course, if your family reunion is in say, Chicago, you may need to make a couple connections through Sydney, Tokyo and New York. But you will arrive there safely, albeit two days later than the rest of your family, who opted for the nonstop on United.

    Read More…

    • i should never have read this 3 days before flying cross country. Now i have to explain to my family …
  • Published On Jul. 08, 2014 by TEJ
  • Memo to our kids: The family has decided to downsize

    [Author’s note: The following is a memo I plan to send our daughters in three years, when both of them will have graduated from college, informing them that they are now officially responsible for their own lives – and phone bills.]

    Family downsizing - you are firedMEMO TO: Junior members of Jones Family Enterprises

    FROM: Senior Executive Team

    Congratulations to the junior members of Jones Family Enterprises [henceforth JFE] on your recent completion of your undergraduate studies. The Senior Executive Team is confident that your long-term economic forecast is bright. We wish we could say the same for your near-term economic outlook. This memo is to inform you of an important decision the executive committee has made regarding your status on the JFE org chart.

    After a series of challenging years in which JFE has experienced steadily declining economic growth and spiraling costs, primarily in the area of our educational assistance program, the senior management has decided to implement some immediate cost-cutting measures in order to preserve the organization’s long-term cash reserves. This decision has forced us to make difficult personnel decisions to improve efficiencies and eliminate waste.

    Effective immediately, JFE is announcing a 50% reduction in force. As a consequence, we are forced to terminate your roles as fully-funded dependents of this organization and re-classify your status as “non-essential employees.”  We considered all other viable options before coming to this decision, including a recommendation by our firm’s Co-CEO, Ms. Jones, to eliminate my position on the executive steering committee. But that recommendation failed to receive the necessary two-thirds vote required for passage by the two-person executive steering committee.

    Read More…

    • A pre-warning to both the affected persons from their Grandmother. I agree with Mr Ralph Volk's comments. Said pension …
      Eleanor Rushworth (Yer MiL)
  • Published On May. 22, 2014 by TEJ
  • There’s no better time than RIGHT NOW to start PROCRASTINATING!

    [Note from the staff at VFTB: This post was originally scheduled to run in September 2012, but Tim  didn’t get around to it. He was extremely busy attending to more pressing matters, by which we mean trying to break his record score in Angry Birds.]

    Procrastination - TV setDo you wake up some mornings feeling overwhelmed by all the things you need to get done? Do you sometimes wish you could just stay in bed for another hour? Another six hours? The month of April?  Wish you could avoid all the items on your never-ending to-do list? Well, then what are you waiting for? There’s never been a better time than right now – right this second – to start PROCRASTINATING!

    Hi, friend. This is Tim Jones – professional procrastinator and author of the book Why do today what you can put off till forever (a future best-seller – if I ever get around to finishing it). That’s right, friend. Now you can discover my proven techniques to put off completing even the most urgent, unpleasant project.

    Tired of your spouse nagging you with her “Honey-Do” list? I know I am. Well here’s my first tip: just keep stalling. Before too long, I guarantee that your spouse will stop nagging you once and for all. (Of course, her attorney may pick up where she left off.)  Keep reading for more time-tested tips.

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    • Here's my two cents worth.....oh! I forgot Canada has stopped making cents. I'll finish this next
      Eleanor Rushworth (Yer MiL)
  • Published On Mar. 27, 2014 by TEJ
  • Don’t just grow your business. OPTIMIZE YOUR REAL-TIME ROI YIELD!

    marketing - chalkboardI’ve spent the better part of the past 30 years (as well as the worse part) in sales and marketing. One thing that has always impressed me in perusing the web sites of the industry leaders is how I have absolutely no idea what they actually do.  Smart marketers learned a long time ago that when it comes to beating the competition, you don’t have to build a better mousetrap. You just have to sound like you build a better mouse. trap. That starts with the words you use to describe what your mousetrap does.

    No industry has mastered this technique more than high tech. Ever heard of a little company called Computer Associates? Here’s what they do, in their own words: “CA Technologies provides robust management solutions utilizing closed loop orchestration of provisioning and configuration across physical and virtual resources.” It’s just that simple.

    Or how about the 800-pound gorilla in the world of routers, switches and network systems, our buddies over at Cisco Systems. I wonder what they do. Here’s a description any seven year-old (with a graduate degree in Linux computer programming) could understand:  “Cisco’s Borderless Network Architecture is implemented as a five-phase plan that moves from baseline services to advanced policy management and integration that ultimately delivers the borderless experience for users.” 

    Read More…

    • Well done Tim. Do you want a marketing job in our "firm? " I love the .... well, …
      Janice Strong
  • Published On Nov. 28, 2013 by TEJ
  • Business Lesson #74: Build team loyalty with self-guided mobile spy robots

    robot bosses - TimIf there’s one thing nearly every American can agree on it’s that having aerial surveillance cameras capable of eavesdropping on our every move from outer space is a wonderful thing. Oh, sure, sometimes surveillance cameras can be used for evil, like the time they caught me doing 45 in a 35 mph zone. But video technology can also be used for good – say, to observe remotely whether employees are wasting time at work playing video games, when they should be wasting time pretending to make sales calls.

    That at least appears to be the thinking behind a new, state-of-the art mobile video robot called the Ava 500, a name most experts consider a far better selection than the original idea: the Self-Navigational Operations Observational Prototype (SNOOP for short). The Ava 500 is the world’s “first self-driving business collaboration robot,” according to the manufacturer’s cheery marketing brochure. Now, business executives can collaborate with employees without leaving their corner office, using a mobile robot with a two-way video camera that lets them roam the halls or join in on team meetings remotely. Employees will love it.

    Want to check in on your crew of illegal Mexican factory workers to see if they are keeping pace with their production quota of 1,500 sneakers per hour? No problem. With the press of a button, you can remotely walk along the assembly line floor to inspect the quality of their work, without leaving your yacht in the Caymans. Hey, looks like it’s already been ten minutes and Pedro’s still not back from his five-minute lunch break. Uh oh. Looks like Pedro’s got some ‘splaining to do.

    Read More…

    • The people I used to work for didn't need robots. All of the employees were reporters, so we were …
      Drew Fisher
  • Published On Jul. 31, 2013 by TEJ
  • Business Lesson #58 – Help your employees make better decisions. Start by removing all restrooms.

    Periodically in this column, I don my business consultant hat (a stylish Italian grey fedora) to share innovative business strategies to grow your business and improve your employees’ productivity. As a sought-after business process improvement expert and author of the popular business handbook, Stop Tasering Your Team – and 50 Other Strategies to Improve Employee Morale, I can help businesses prosper – if only they’d stop and listen to me for once.

    I have frequently been approached by executives from Microsoft to to Ninja Ned’s Car Stereo & Hot Tub Emporium on South Aurora Avenue – all asking me the same question: How did you get past security? But as soon as they discover who I am, they are often surprised to learn about my out-of-the-box business strategies (usually as they are escorting me out-of-the-premises).

    In this installment, I share the thought-provoking conclusions of a recent Dutch study published in the scholarly journal, Psychological Science. The study tested people’s decision-making ability when their bladders were full and found that people with full bladders tended to make better decisions and were better able to control and hold off making impulsive, costly decisions, leading to better judgment. (I swear I’m not making this up.) Other findings included that Dutch researchers appear to have way too much time on their hands.

    Read More…

    • Tim Where was you brilliance back in the 60's and 70's? As a sales person back in those days I could …
      Jim Hayden
  • Published On Mar. 22, 2012 by TEJ