Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Why You Shouldn’t Do Video Resumes

One definition of a video resume is a way for job seekers to showcase their abilities beyond the capabilities of a traditional paper resume. The video resume allows prospective employers to see, hear and get a feel for how the applicant presents themselves. While it sounds like a great way to stand out and attract attention, it really isn’t going over well with HR personnel and hiring managers.

Since my business (and love) revolves around video, this may shock you. In my humble opinion, you should not send video resumes in your quest to find employment. And here are a few reasons why I say that.

1. Most HR departments or those in hiring positions have, quite frankly, not got their head around it, and consequently … it can be an immediate turn off.
2. IT Security & fire walls used by many companies may block videos.
3. Even if videos do make it through the security and firewalls, most recipients are hesitant (to say the least) in opening a video link, let alone downloads.
4. There is the question of where to store the videos and the size of the videos being stored.
5. A written resume provides the opportunity for a quick eyeball-scan for certain keywords and phrases pertinent to the available position, while a video resume takes up valuable time listening and viewing 3-15 minute videos.
6. There are also concerns, especially within the HR community, that video resumes will put discrimination tools in the hands of hiring managers (I wonder how many baby boomers are rolling their eyes at this one …. discriminatory hiring practices …. really?)

Now here is the part that might confuse you. It is my humble opinion that you should use video when sending your resume to prospective employers as often as you can.

The difference being that the video should only serve as a brief introductory greeting and direct the hiring personnel to the attached resume …. nothing more. This really should take less than 60 seconds (unless you have an incredibly long and unusual name, of course.)
Below is a suggestion, serving only as an example:

“Hello, my name is Debbie Barth. I am excited about the position you currently have available at XYZ Company. Please find my resume attached. I look forward to talking with you soon. Have a very successful day, and thank you for your consideration.”

Now that part was pretty easy. Obviously, there is a whole lot more involved with sending a short introductory video along with your resume. Here are a few “shoulds”

1. Always be as groomed and as professionally dressed as you would be if it were a true face-to-face meeting.
2. Know, and practice, what you are going to say before you sit down to make the video. Do not look up or down at cue cards. We are only talking a few sentences here, not a resume of information.
3. Do not use music in the background … of any sort.
4. Reduce all disturbing noise factors as much as possible. Phones off, T.V. (duh) off, and radios off.
5. When using video, lighting is extremely important. Play around a little and get the “best light” possible for your situation.
6. Check you sound options to make sure it is recording through your webcam.
7. Allow yourself plenty of time for mistakes and retakes.
8. Talk slowly and distinctly.
9. Relax. Just take a deep breath, and relax.
10. Smile! Let your smile be the first impression of You!
11. When it is possible, call and let them know that you are sending your resume, along with a very brief, less than a minute-long video introduction.
Obviously, in order to create a video, you will need a video camera, flip camera, or webcam. Your email web host will probably restrict most video files of any size, so you will also need to upload your video to a server. As mentioned earlier, most companies are not going to download and save videos sent to them by applicants. There are a few free services that allow you to upload and share your videos. There are also professional services, providing more options, as well.

The benefits of using a professional service for uploading, storing and sharing your videos are many. You want to make sure the service you use:

1. Has a management tracking system so that you will actually know if and when your video was seen, how many times it was viewed, and if it was forwarded.
2. Provided you with professional-looking templates providing your contact information.
3. Is white-listed with a well-known company, increasing the deliverability of your video.
4. Provides in-house technology and security. You may or may not want the world to know of which jobs you are applying.

In my humble opinion, video does have a place in your job search … if done professionally. Use it wisely and put your best “smile” forward.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Life of and Mysterious Death of Sam Cooke

“It’s been a hard time living, but I’m afraid to die” .....Sam Cooke, song ... "A Change Gonna Come"


The Legendary Sam Cooke died December 11, 1964, but his legacy and his music …. and his very presence … is as much alive today, some 47 years later, as it was so very long ago. Also still very much alive, are the unanswered questions surrounding the untimely and mysterious death of this beloved singer and composer.
Those who were close to Sam, as well as those who grew up with his music, will claim that he was the inventor of soul music, and … that would certainly be hard to dispute. He was one the first black entertainers to found both a record label and a publishing company. He was an outgoing, charming and handsome man with a voice as smooth as spun silk. He grew up in the church, and had already made a name for himself with a gospel group, the Soul Stirrers, before transitioning to soul, blues and pop music. His gospel music is still played to this day. It is hard to hear “You Send Me”, and “For Sentimental Reasons”, without “going to a special moment in time.” It is hard to listen to the hauntingly beautiful “A Change is Gonna Come” and not feel the anguish of the times, but …. at the same time … the conviction in which he sang one of the most powerful songs to come of the civil rights era. He not only sang this song, but he wrote this song, his inspiration coming from his very own experiences, and belief in a “better day” to come.

And, it is hard not question the “official report” given to the public concerning the mysterious fatal shooting of this legendary icon, son, sibling, husband, father, and friend … in December 1964.

Join co-hosts Debbie Barth and Linda Alexander, with special guest Vincent Graves ... Thursday, January 27, 2011 at 2:00 pm EST, as we celebrate his life, and speculate together as to what really happened that cold December night Sam Cooke was fatally shot by Bertha Lee Franklin. You can listen to us live at
http://www.blogtalkradio.com/threewisegirls. We welcome you to participate with us in the chat room, or call in at 347-994-3835. We want to hear your insight on Sam Cooke …. favorite songs, or stories … and what you really think happened that night at the Hacienda Hotel. Was justice really served in court, or was a very special dish of conspiracy served up instead. Was Sam set up by an alleged hooker Elisa Boyer and hotel manager Bertha Lee Franklin … or were they recruited by someone or something bigger … that would put a different “spin” on the entire record industry, should the real truth be known.

Unless this case is re-opened, we may never really know the truth. And to be clear, the scenarios discussed on this show concerning that night are mere speculation and hypothesis. But one thing that is very clear is that the investigation was botched the moment that police entered the room and found him on the floor. Reading the “official report” clearly left more questions than answers. And, the two “witnesses” giving testimony were Elisa Boyer … an alleged hooker whose “source of income” was not allowed in testimony and who, in 1979, was found guilty of second degree murder in the shooting death of her boyfriend … and Bertha Lee Franklin ….the shooter.

We welcome you to visit the links and resources we used as the basis for this show, and again, invite you to join us in conversation.



Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Devaluation of Recommendation

Online social networks and communities have become a very real way for many to build relationships, and to do business in much the same way as it is done offline. We browse the communities for people and groups of like minds, we introduce ourselves, and we connect with other people. As relationships grow and members feel comfortable with each other, the chances of being asked by a member to write some sort of recommendation is more likely than not. This is an opportunity to feel honored that the person thinks enough of you that your recommendation of him/her would be respected, and it gives the member requesting the recommendation the credibility he/she is seeking. Or .... it can devaluate the value of recommending fellow members, altogether.

One definition of recommend is "to praise or commend another as being worthy or desirable". If there has been no communication, or interaction, or experience with the person requesting the recommendation, just how valid or valuable is the recommendation being made? The other concern is for those giving the recommendation.

We base what we buy, who we hire, what movie to watch, which organization to join .... and so on ... very often, on the recommendations of others. We do that because we believe and respect their opinions ... and their "word" that they have enough experience to give a valid opinion or recommendation. When people simply "dole" out recommendations for whoever makes the requests, the value of that person's "word" simply becomes less valuable.

There is an "art form" of requesting a recommendation and giving a recommendation.

As the person requesting the recommendation:

  • Have something concrete upon which to base your request. This could be in the form of blogs, articles, verbal communication, and other materials related to what it is you actually do.
  • Ask for recommendations from those who have actually experienced your work, service, or products. At the very least, those who have had some kind of interaction with you at some point. The more the interaction, verbal or written, the better.
  • Don't concentrate on the "request." Concentrate on building relationships first. If they have no interaction with you, and there has not been some kind of relationship built between the two of you, don't put them in an uncomfortable position of writing something that is not based on actual fact, or having to say "no" to your request.
  • Don't minimize the value of someone else's "word" or opinion/recommendation by thinking that "It's just a short paragraph, so what's the big deal?"
  • Be prepared for people to decline your request. Especially, if you have had very little or no interaction previously. If the request is declined, you owe it to them to at least thank them for their time to respond. The smart thing to do would be to ask them their reason, and ask what you would need to do to help them reconsider at a later time.
  • Give them a reason to want to recommend you.

If you are the person receiving a request for a recommendation:

  • Think first about the value you place on what you say, your opinion, and who you feel should be recommended for what they do. Have valid reasons, easily backed-up, for making the recommendation.
  • Hopefully, you have some kind of relationship with those making the request, (even if it is that you have read their book, or subscribed to their blog, or you are in the same groups, etc.), and you can find valid reasons why you would personally recommend this person. Look for the good, but do keep it honest.
  • Refrain from doling out recommendations in hopes of building a list of your own recommendations. This does become transparent at some point, and doesn't do much for your own credibility.
  • Should you decline writing a recommendation for someone, do it in a way that is respectful of the other person's feelings. Never attempt to humiliate that person. You can send a positive message back to that person, stating that you would, at a later time, be interested in reconsidering the request, but you don't have enough information at this point to give an honest recommendation. Let them know what it would take to make them feel more comfortable.
  • Do not compromise your own values at the sake of losing a follow/friend/connection, or making someone mad. This is the very person you probably should not be recommending in the first place.

Having recommendations, testimonials, and referrals is more important than ever .... especially as the internet becomes an integral part of our lives. We most certainly should ask for recommendations and testimonials, in which to build our credibility. And most of those whom we ask will more than likely want to contribute to our success. There is, however, a right way to go about it, and a wrong way to go about it.

Here's a concept to consider, as well. Rather than wait for someone to ask for your recommendation, why not send someone you know a well-deserved recommendation or testimonial, and make their day a little brighter. Who says we have to wait to be asked for a recommendation, in the first place?

There are several online communities that offer special tabs specifically for recommendations or testimonials. It's a perfect opportunity to make someone's day, and to also be able to share what others think of you, your products, and your services, as well as to recommend you for employment. The value of what's being "said", however, is still in the sincerity of the person offering the recommendation. And that's saying a lot ... or nothing at all.

Friday, August 13, 2010

You Ought To See The Other Guy

Unless you live on another planet and don't have a satellite dish, you have more than likely heard about ex-flight attendant Steven Slater and his "slide to fame". However brief his "5 minutes" may be, I doubt if he will be forgotten. Just two days after his meltdown and surprising (and a tad bit unusual) antics on a Jet Blue plane that had just landed, he is now a folk hero to many. T-shirts with his likeness and comic remarks are already being worn by his supporters. There are already several different ballad versions on YouTube in attempt to immortalize him in song.

In fact, there is probably nothing that I could put in this blog that hasn't already been said about Steven Slater. But this blog isn't about him ....it's about the other end of customer service ..... it's about the other guy.

Most have seen the bump, cut and bruises on Slater's forehead caused by a piece of luggage that got in the way of Slater and a passenger, while in the heat of confrontation. But has anyone seen the other guy?

It's my understanding that the whole incident started just after the plane had landed. A passenger stood up to take his bag out of the overhead storage area while the plane was still moving. Slater told the passenger to sit back down and the passenger refused. Now clearly, we know that we are not allowed to move around the cabin while the plane is in motion. And, we know that luggage flying from the overhead area can definitely do some damage. I am wondering why this particular passenger thought that he was excluded for this very sound and basic rule of "flying the friendly skies." Personally, I felt it was a very selfish and foolish act on the part of the passenger.

I just recently came back from a trip, and I have to say that the attendants on all the flights were friendly and very pleasant. I will also say that has not always been the case. However, I feel it is my responsibility to give them the respect and consideration that I feel I should receive.

This holds true in any customer service communication that we may have. I do feel that really good customer service is lacking in so many areas. But I also know that being in a customer service position is really stressful, and can sometimes be a very thankless job. I believe that most sincerely want to help their customers and make them happy, but do have to adhere to certain guidelines and policies as defined by their employers. In the case of flight attendants, they have some very severe and strict guidelines that they are responsible for enforcing. Some are not obviously convenient for the passengers, but hey, I'll forgo a little inconvenience for a safe flight, any day.

I will also admit that I have called customer service to complain about my disappointment in a product or service, or to dispute a bill, with my game face on, and ready to do battle. I'm sure I don't always make speaking with me a very pleasant experience for them. I also believe there are those who are arrogant and just a bit over-the-top in their demands (not me, of course).

Bottom line, I think really good customer service is reliant on two main factors, a customer service representative who is sincerely concerned for his/her customers satisfaction, while adhering to company policy: and, a customer who recognizes that the customer service agent is trying to help to the best of their ability, and deserves the same amount of respect and consideration expected from them.

As for Steven Slater is concerned, I've seen the cuts, bump and bruises on his forehead .... I'd like to see the other guy.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Are You Hall of Fame Material?

I love the game of football, and I am one of those who did watch the 2010 NFL Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony held on August 7, 2010. I was especially excited because two of my Favorites, Jerry Rice and Emmitt Smith were being inducted. It was the most inspirational two hours that I have spent in a long time. I thought about a motivational event I had attended last year. The experience had been expensive, and I suppose I did come back somewhat inspired … but not nearly as much as listening to the speeches of three inductees. Emmitt Smith and Floyd Little were literally power-houses of emotion and inspiration. Jerry Rice’s speech was more toned-down, but his message was as inspirational.

All three men spoke about their long journey to the Hall of Fame, and what it took for them to get there. All three agreed that being gifted, alone, was not enough to make them Hall of Famers.

While each speech was different, the message was being delivered echoed the same principles of what it takes to be a Hall of Famer.
Anyone can have a dream, but not everyone fulfills that dream. Fulfillment requires a plan and action. It takes dedication, perseverance, and determination. Emmitt Smith suggested that you write down your dream. Once you write it down, it then becomes a goal. It is the goal that requires a plan and execution.

All Three spoke of faith and their spiritual beliefs … and the faith they all had in themselves, against all odds.

Floyd Little spoke on responsibility, finding good mentors, and then becoming one. He said it was important to never believe the nay-sayers …. ever … but to believe in yourself, despite all the odds against you.

Jerry Rice spoke of hard work and discipline. He spoke of taking pride in all he did, whether it was catching bricks (while working for his dad) or catching footballs on the field. He spoke about respecting his fellow teammates.

While all three speeches were different in content to some extent, the one main common denominator was that they had all proved everything they said in their speeches about what it took to be a Hall of Famer . Standing there, being inducted that day in front of their peers and fans, family and friends, they are all living proof of what it takes to be a Hall of Famer.

Yes, it was a great induction ceremony, and it did get me to thinking about what I’m doing about my dreams. This might be the question that turns your dreams into reality …. are you Hall of Fame material?

Friday, August 6, 2010

Segway to Gate D-38

I recently flew down to visit my mother for a few days. The flights going and coming back were uneventful ... that is .... once I was actually onboard. I'm not sure who actually sets up flight times to specific destinations, but I suspect this person(s) has a perverted sense of humor.

The first legs of both trips (going and coming back) were stopovers in Atlanta. My flight to begin my journey was 15 minutes late on taking off. This was a bit disappointing since I only had 35 minutes to land in Atlanta and get to another gate (in a far, far away land.) The flight from Atlanta to where I was going was late, consequently I did make that flight (barely).

On the trip coming home, the plane to Atlanta left a couple of minutes early. I was celebrating (quietly) because, again, I only had 35 minutes to catch the flight back to my home city. The plane pulled away ever so slowly from the gate and then stopped. Then came the announcement from the cockpit. Due to traffic in Atlanta, the crew had been directed to remain on the tarmac for twenty minutes before actually taking off. Again, I got this sinking feeling that I was going to be doing yet another 2-mile sprint though the airport upon landing. Once we did take off and land in Atlanta, I was happy to find that I wouldn't be changing gates. However, the sprint was still on as I was at gate 15 and the plane was leaving from gate 38. I got there in time to show them my boarding pass and board.

So here's the thing. I wouldn't find my trip truly "blog worthy" if this had been a one-time experience. But, this happens almost every time I fly. Ok, I use to complain about long stopovers, but what with Starbucks, good restaurants, and of course mobile devices for computers, it's not really so bad. At least my dignity remains in place and I am not sprinting through an airport with a computer bag on one shoulder and a purse half my size on the other shoulder, dodging people, and chanting ... "My legs have wings .... my legs have wings."

So here's my solution .... Segways. I believe that there are airports around the world that are providing Segways for their security personnel. I would love it if when I'm checking in online, just after the field in which I put the amount of bags I will be checking, they had a field asking if I am requesting a Segway at the gate, when I land. Then when I land, I could jump on the Segway and away I'd go. Of course Segway lanes would need to be constructed (I'd hate to think how many innocent bystanders I'd take out on my way to the next gate, otherwise). It's either Segways or I'm going to have to explain the pair of roller skates I have strapped over my shoulder on my next trip.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Hang On Mary, While I Swipe My Phone

You are sitting at a lunch counter talking with a client on your smart phone, checking your email, and tweeting about the great sandwich you've just eaten. And then, with one swipe of your phone, your lunch bill is paid.

This is the vision of three unlikely rivals, now in alliance to change the way we pay our bills. AT& T, Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile USA are exploring a joint venture to develop a mobile-payment service that uses cellphones. This, according to The Wall Street Journal dated Tuesday, August 3, 2010, in the Corporate News section.

The owner enables the phone for wireless payments by inserting a small card with a radio chip or by affixing a sticker with an electronic ID tag. The cellphone is swiped in front of a wireless reader that connects to a credit card or bank account and withdraws money for payment. Some cellphones may have the ability to display information at the end of the transaction such as account balances.

Phone companies in other countries, (Japan and South Korea, to name a couple) have been successful in rolling out payment services. However, the U.S. has had it's technology problems, as well as regulatory issues. There has also been a lack of demand by U.S. consumers. Once the challenges have been met and resolved, however, the demand by consumers may change.

Looks like smart phones may be getting just a bit smarter, but personally, I'm not ready to turn a smart phone I purchase (still using a "dumb" phone until my current contract runs out) into a credit card. I wonder just how much the cost of the "smarter" phone will go up in price for the consumer. And, of course, the most obvious concern would be in how companies will prevent fraud. Until a phone becomes smart enough to eradicate fraud and identity theft completely, I think I'll pass on this one .... at least for now.