Saturday, April 15, 2017

Fire and ice

As seen on the 92 bridge today.  Aff and I felt the blast of heat as we drove past.  There were cop cars but they just watched everyone drive past.

Local ice cream with homemade strawberry jam!  

My avatar.

Monday, January 16, 2017

then vs now, disney & sherlock

I read a book about Walt Disney.  In the 1930s and 1940s, people were much more honest in their quotes to journalists.  During the press for opening weekends, he said things like, "We were really rushed on this project." or "This isn't quite as good as Snow White, but it's pretty good." and "I hope people will enjoy it -- we'll find out next week!"

Nowadays people have to say hyperboles like, "We are doing things never before done in the history of television." and "This is the best script I've written in my career."  Then you watch the episode (Sherlock season 4 episode 3), and it's a tame episode that's just like other episodes.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

friendship, dissected

Today I was talking to Azer.

Me: "Sometimes I end up in a friendship that makes me unhappy.  It would feel really awkward to explicitly tell the person I don't want to be friends any more.  But ghosting or always saying I'm busy makes me feel guilty for a long time."

Azer: "I had a friend tell me that the friendship wasn't working for her.  She said that she didn't want to invest more time in it.  I really respected the way she was honest about it."

Me: "Wow, really?  Was it someone you dated?  Did you ever run into her again?"

Azer: "Purely platonic friend. I did run into her later, and it was a bit awkward but basically fine."

Me: "I'm afraid I'd run into them again.  I've ended a couple friendships and then it's so awkward when mutual friends want to hang out together."

Azer: "Cascade delete is always tough."

Me: [lol]

Azer: "Maybe you need to have a stronger filter, to prevent from getting far into these friendships.  Treat it like interviewing for work.  If you were hiring for your startup, would you have hired any of the people?"

Me: "Oh God, no.  One of them invited me to lunch with her fiance the third time we met, and then got into a shouting match with him and threatened to break up with him at that lunch.  I felt so uncomfortable.  Another person met me and spoke to me for ten minutes and then went home and added me on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, my blog, and emailed me.  My inbox had eight emails in a row with his name, and it creeped me out.  A third person would go into these multi-day bouts of self-criticism after every bad date, and it was so draining for me to hear about."

Azer: "If this stuff happened after the first or third time you hung out, why did you ever hang out with them again?"

Me: "Sometimes I did stop, but then I'd run into them after a couple years, and they'd feel familiar.  I'd forget that I had previously been bothered."

Azer: "Familiarity does have that effect.  There was this one guy I worked with, Joe, who I hated.  I ran into him after four years, and talked to him for 30 minutes even though I hated him.  He felt familiar.  But you should have higher standards for friends than for who you hire at work.  I do."

Me: "You do?  I have very high standards for work hiring decisions, but I feel like I should be more supportive of friends.  Everyone goes through tough times and does weird stuff.  I feel like I should be understanding."

Azer: "Sometimes I have to work with people that I wouldn't want to be friends with.  But if I'm going to actively make someone my friend, there's a higher bar."

Me: "Wow."  [mind blown]

Azer: "You fire people at work, right?  You don't ghost, or end things by exploding.  You explain the situation calmly."

Me: "Yes, of course."

Azer: "You already know how to filter and fire at work.  Just apply this to friends."

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Resume Advice: Whether to List Interests

Should you list non-work-related interests in your resume?  Does it add flavor and make you stand out, or is it a distraction?

My stance is that you should add it if one of the following is true:
  1. it conveys a positive work trait such as self-discipline, perseverance, teamwork ... OR ...
  2. a job related to this interest would be your dream job
I once interviewed a finance person who listed on his resume that he had won an Olympic medal in track and field.  This immediately made me think that he has patience, and the ability to withstand mental pressure.

When interviewing applicants for my company Evertoon, I'd love to find people who have a passion for moviemaking.  If a job related to moviemaking would be their dream job, that's a great match.  If they enjoy movies but only to the same extent that they enjoy 20 other things, then it doesn't need to be listed.

Sometimes people list interests that many others share, and are passive activites.  e.g. 

Interests: traveling, reading, eating amazing food

 This is not going to make you stand out.  Can you imagine this conversation:
Interviewer A: "What did you think of Elizabeth?"
B: "Which one is she again?"
A: "The one that likes eating amazing food."
B: "Oh, her!"

No, that is not going to happen.  So don't put those interests on your resume.

I also think there's a lower relevance bar for interests that you put on your LinkedIn.  It's fine to list these passive activities there.  Recruiters might be sourcing LinkedIn and use this information to strike up a conversation with you.

The resume demonstrates your ability to be concise.  Don't squander it by writing interests that are cliche.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Resume Advice: How to Handle a Gap in Work History

Yesterday I gave advice to a former classmate about his resume.  Specifically: how to deal with a 5-year gap in work history.

It made me think about two years ago, when I was advising a friend Sally about her resume.  She kept mentioning a 6-month gap that happened because she was waiting for a work visa.  Should she proactively address the gap and explain it?  Should she not mention it, and hope the interviewer doesn't spot it?

I've never heard the word "gap" said so many times in one conversation.  The only type of gap that causes more obsessive worry is the stupid thigh gap.

The only type of gap that causes more worrying than a resume work gap.

Here's my advice.  First, understand why a work history gap is problematic.  A work gap can make the interviewer worry that:

1. You're not serious about working.
2. You might be rusty at the skills needed for the job.

A number of people in this world are flaky when it comes to working!  They'll do things like suddenly not show up to work for a day, without letting anyone know, and without making plans to cover their tasks.  Or they abruptly quit halfway through a critical two-month project, leaving their teammates stranded.  Or they make it known that they think work sucks and anyone who enjoys work is a fool, gradually poisoning the team attitude.  When I interview people, I'd estimate 3% of applicant are like this.  Out of people with big gaps in their work history, maybe 15% are like this.

When reading the above paragraph, if you felt horrified and thought, "People actually do that?!", then the situation is easy peasy.  I'll show you below how to reassure the hiring manager.

If you read it thinking, "I feel so understood!  Of course anyone who enjoys work is a fool.  Can you teach me how to get away with suddenly not showing up to work?", then please close this browser tab, and never apply for a job at a company I'm affiliated with.

Now, onto solutions.  If your work gap was for less than six months, don't worry about it.  It's unlikely anyone will mind, or even notice.

If it was longer, the most optimal solution (which addresses both concerns of the hiring manager) is to list any work-related projects you did.  Do this even if the project was unpaid, or if it only covered a fraction of the time period.  e.g.

2012-2014 Wrote python for open-source coding projects RecipeSearcher and DogPhotoAnalyzer. 
2012-2014 Read 20 books about improving my sales skills.

The hiring manager will think:

1. This person is so serious about working that they did unpaid work!  They had enough self-discipline to make progress on their own.
2. They were using their skills during this period, so their abilities will still be current.

If you didn't work on any projects directly related to work, but you did things that required being organized or teamwork or self-sacrifice for the greater good, put those.

2012-2014 Volunteered for Habitat for Humanity and built 4 homes.
2012-2014 Took care of an ill family member.
2012-2014 Competed professionally in ultimate frisbee.

While this does not solve concern #2, at least it somewhat addresses concern #1 because it shows you care, and are responsible.

If all you did during the gap was to passively consume entertainment, or sit around feeling sad, then just don't mention the gap.  The worst is to specifically call attention to it, while saying something that exacerbates the worries.

2012-2014 Traveled the world, sampled amazing cuisines, hiked Machu Picchu.

The hiring manager will think: If this is so important to you that you're listing in your resume, how do I know you're not going to complain every day that you're at work instead of traveling?  How do I know you won't suddenly drop an important project to go sample amazing cuisines again?

Hiking Machu Picchu doesn't signify that you can commit or be dependable.  It only signifies you can commit for a 4-day hike.

Just leave that gap off your resume.  When it comes up in the interview, say something like, "I thoroughly enjoyed traveling, and now I'm really eager to find a company that I can commit to for the next X years."  (assuming this is true)