Throughout my life, I’ve held a variety of jobs – from Sales Director to Director of Sales and everything in between. Given the chance, I could have been a superstar selling advertising, life insurance or legal research to anyone from astronauts to Aborigines, had my employers not fired me for poor performance and incompetence. So, you can imagine my excitement when I recently heard about an opening that sounded right up my alley: Working the BINGO booth at our local county fair.
When word got to me that a local non-profit needed help with the fair’s BINGO operations, I knew I was the perfect candidate. When the BINGO Boss man called, I was totally prepared. I had updated my resume to reflect relevant skills that made me uniquely qualified for this challenge – most notably that I was adept – even under pressure – at differentiating most letters from numbers.
I was surprised at how few questions the recruiter posed during the interview. His opening pitch was, “Are you willing to work the BINGO booth at the fair this weekend?” From the get-go, I picked up on serious buying signals. Not to appear immodest, but I am a tenacious negotiator. I asked him what the base salary was. He said there was no salary. I interpreted that to mean it was commission-only. No problem, I thought. That just means the sky’s the limit.
I asked about stock options, how the health insurance plan worked, whether the job came with a matching 401K and when I’d be eligible for my four weeks of vacation. In the end, we reached what I feel was a fair compromise: No salary, vacation, stock options or health coverage. But I wrangled free entrance to the entire fairgrounds – including behind-the-scenes access to the rabbits exhibit and the tractor pull competition. Continue reading “My Short-Lived Career as a BINGO Announcer” »
[The following is a true story.]
The year was 1977. I was 22, just out of college, and working minimum wage for a top-forty radio station in Charlottesville, Virginia – WCHV.
I completed a grueling course to earn my Third Class Radio Operator’s license, qualifying me to be on the airwaves – and make photocopies for the other disc jockeys. Perhaps because I broke the copy machine and spilled coffee on the radio control panel, the station manager wouldn’t let me near the microphone – except to read the T & T (time and temperature) on Christmas day when everyone else was at home for the holiday.
My big break came the following Spring. It was 11:30 on a Tuesday night. I was in bed, unable to sleep because I lay there hacking and sniffling. I was sicker than a dog. Then the phone rang. It was the station manager: “Tim, Chris Furlong is under the weather and can’t do his midnight shift. I’ve called literally everybody, and nobody is available. So, what do you say? Want to be on the air?”
“Tonight?” I wheezed. However sick Chris Furlong might have been, I was feeling ten times worse. So naturally I answered: “Abso [cough] lutely, boss! [cough]. THANK [cough] YOU!”
“Sure you’re feeling all right, buddy?”, he asked? “Never felt – ahhhhh-choooo – better. I’ll be right over,” I sneezed.
I arrived at the station at 11:50 for the 12:00 to 6 am shift. At the stroke of midnight, the previous shift’s jock raced out of the studio, like Cinderella fleeing from the Ball. At that moment, it suddenly dawned on me: I was totally alone in the building. The fate of WCHV was upon my shoulders ALONE.
Continue reading “NIGHT OF THE DEAD (AIR)” »
I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but, begrudgingly, I may have to put my island life retirement on pause and return to work. That’s because odds are I will be selected as the next president of my alma mater, the prestigious University of Virginia.
You see, I received this email from some guy named Louis something-or-other, whose title is “Rector”, whatever that means. Sounds important. So, Louis informs me the University of Virginia is seeking my input as an esteemed alumnus as to who should be the school’s next head honcho. He even included a survey. I love surveys.
Naturally, I was deeply honored by this personal invitation he sent to me and 27,000 other alumni. I sure hope he overlooks that my last donation to UVa was in 1985. I was short on cash then, so I sent a $25 Starbucks gift card regifted to me for Christmas.
The more I looked at Louis’s questions, the more obvious it became that I was the perfect candidate. Check out the survey and my responses below.
Dear University of Virginia alumnus: Identifying the right leader for our future will depend upon the collective wisdom of the University community, so we appreciate you sharing your thoughts via this survey.
When you think of the University of Virginia, what sort of community do you envision the next president fostering?
MY RESPONSE: As your next university president, I envision a community that believes in effective communication. That’s why I would give special funding to Speech Communication, my extremely lame major, which only qualified me to flip burgers for a living or go on to grad school. It’s time we make Speech Communication the major of the future.
Continue reading “Meet the Likely Next President of My Alma Mater – ME” »
I know a thing or two about job interviews. I’ve had more than my fair share over my career. On more than a few occasions, the employer even wrote me a personal note saying they would “keep your name on file” if a more suitable opportunity arose or whenever Hell froze over.
Of course, in most cases, your goal in any job interview is to make a good impression. At last count, there are 15,473 different advice books out there pitching strategies to help you prepare for job interviews. These experts offer time-proven, practical tips like Don’t forget to shower before you show up or this useful suggestion: Arrive at least five minutes before your scheduled appointment time, but not seven hours before, as that just comes off as creepy.
But there are no advice books out there on how to blow the interview. That’s where I come in. Say you’re in the middle of a high-stress interview, and it suddenly becomes clear the people at this company are a bunch of a-holes. You conclude you’d rather sit through a three-day insurance presentation on the benefits of whole life over term than ever work for these jerks. What are you going to do? Oh sure, you could just endure the rest of the interview, making steady eye contact, extend a firm handshake, thank the recruiter for her time and exit gracefully – just like every other lame job candidate would do. But since when did you just follow the crowd?
The next time you’re faced with the job interview from Hell, and you know you’d rather take a job as a great white shark feeder with one of those underwater metal cages as your “cubicle” than work one minute for this toxic employer, don’t go walking. Start talking. To help you out, I’ve crafted some handy responses to frequently asked job interview questions, designed to ensure they’ll never invite you back:
Interview question: Why should we hire you over any of the many other highly qualified candidates we are talking to?
Your response: Well, for one thing, can any of them belch the National Anthem on key? Also, if you hire me, your other employees will start to look outstanding by comparison, and that will really help their morale. By the way, I’ve checked into the backgrounds of some of your other candidates. I’m pretty sure I saw the previous interview candidate on an episode of To Catch a Predator. Hey, not to brag, but I have a totally clean criminal record – because they never could prove the arson charges. Also, I never say ugly, racist comments. I always keep those thoughts to myself. Continue reading “How to Blow a Job Interview” »
I 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.
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” … Continue reading “The Secret to Decoding a Job Description” »
For 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…”
Continue reading “TGIT – Thank God It’s Tuesday” »