Saturday, July 31, 2010

A Teachable Moment

Aside from being innately hilarious, I consider myself an educator. Yep, I do. Sure, I am a well-known member of the Grammar Police, but only in hopes to make people better. Why? Because people judge you; as the Facebook group's title reads, I judge you when you use poor grammar. And, especially when it comes to me reading job applications, cover letters, and résumés.

Aye, but that's for another day. Today's -- this week's -- tale does not stem from me judging people, per se. It comes from an overly-ambitious job applicant who, many have felt, stepped over the line. To assert his interest for an open position, he did a little research to discover the personal e-mail address of the hiring manager... me. Our story begins:

Mr. White,
I know this is somewhat out of the ordinary to send an email like this to your GMail account; during my job search I tried to use any potential resources to make sure my resume was seen about jobs I really cared about. In this case, the only email resource I could find was this email from your blog. I would really enjoy this position, so I decided that was worth taking a chance on sending an email to you.

It's nice to have a reader. Take 'em how you can get 'em, some would say.

I understand that any organization always needs motivated and hard working employees.  I believe that describes me perfectly, which is why I am writing to express my interest in a position with [company], specifically as [position].  I have recently finished my internship and graduated, and am looking for an organization to begin my career with. I have always enjoyed [industry of work], and gained a strong love of [line of work] while researching my senior thesis.  I will also be pursuing my MBA part-time at [university] beginning this fall.

And such. I should point out that from the above paragraph on, we've entered a verbatim copy-and-paste from the originally-submitted cover letter. After my first read, I wondered why it seemed familiar.

I'll share just the following bit of the letter, as it becomes relevant later in our tale:

I also earned a first-class education during my time at [university].  In 2008, it was ranked by U.S. News amp; [sic] World Report as one of the top ten most promising schools in America.  

And, no, I'm not just including that because of the fun fact; I am curious, though, how he knew I only read applications from alumni of the top ten most promising schools in America. No, no... that's not true. I did enjoy the inclusion of the statistic, but really, isn't that like winning the MTV Video Music Award for Best New Artist -- a veritable kiss of death? Or, perhaps more aptly, receiving an award for "Most Improved" Anything? Don't you have to suck and improve a skosh to get such an honor?

Again, I promise that the above -- the quoted text, not my tangent -- will become relevant shortly.

So, anyway, this was all received on Tuesday. After processing my incredulousness and letting it simmer, I opted to attempt turning this into a teachable moment earlier tonight, and sent the following belated reply:

After thinking about this for a few days, I thought it would be a nice gesture to provide some constructive feedback here: 
Firstly, in the future, I do not recommend following up in the way in which you have -- that is, writing a potential employer at their personal e-mail account. As it was, I had received your application, cover letter, and résumé from our Human Resources department earlier in the day on Tuesday; reaching out in this manner certainly didn't yield the positive response that was likely expected or intended. Especially of note is the fact that the position is in the environment of customer service: While some employers' reaction may be, "He's a real go-getter", I can't help but think, "If he'll go to these lengths to contact me, what could he do in relation to our customers and their privacy?" While I feel the necessity of this concern is probably low, the thought is triggered, all the same.
Additionally, rather than go through the lengths to which you went to obtain my personal e-mail account, time would have been better spent by contacting our HR department -- for which the phone number and e-mail address are listed on the application page -- and asking for the hiring manager's name and work e-mail address. (If you did attempt this, but did not receive said information, one would be best served to take that as a hint.) While your ultimate method of contact was somewhat unorthodox and not well-received, it would have been less off-putting had it been directed to a work address. Furthermore, naming conventions are not too horribly difficult to guess for business e-mail addresses, especially with having my middle initial at one's disposal. (Receive a bounce notification? Try, try again.)
Finally, in your message, you noticeably copied and pasted your cover letter from the receipt confirmation e-mail you received, as it reads, "U.S. News amp; World Report" (ampersands are converted to "amp;" by the text-only application page). By overlooking this, it does show a lack of attention to detail. When it occurs in the submitted applications, I overlook it, as there is no way for an applicant to know; in this instance, it stands out.
With all of that said, I wish you the best of luck in your job search, [name]. I do hope that this feedback is well taken, and is implemented in the future.

Micah White

I do and do for these kids.

Within the half-hour, he replied:

Mr. White,
Thank you for the feedback.  I will take it to heart, and appreciate the help.  I apologize for this obvious mistake that I made;
I let the stress of a prolonged job search get to me and did something I would normally never do.
I'm sorry.

Teachable moment -- complete.

I mean, "creeping" ("cyberstalking", in its true definition, seems a bit harsh) has its proper place and time. But, instead of the above application, I say, save the information gained for an interview setting, to name-drop some of my personal favorites: "That reminds me of something David Letterman said the other night!" Or, "You know, I was just at Chick-Fil-A/Jamba Juice/Five Guys! Boy, are those nuggets/Pomegranate Paradises/regular burgers with a bag full of fries tasty!" Get to know me, then tug at my heartstrings! All the same...

Was I right to react as I did? Or, was the lad simply "taking initiative", as has been suggested? (Or, both?) And, was my response justified and/or generous... or should I have left it as it was? I ask you, my dear readers.

-- Mr. White

Monday, July 26, 2010

The ONLY Songs That Matter - 7.26.10

Well, this is as momentous of an occasion as we're going to have on this here blog. Behold the return of The ONLY Songs That Matter™, as previously seen on Facebook. I figure, hey, if we're going to be doing this blog thing, we might as well dust off this chestnut, with hopes that it may actually be permanently revived to a regular appearance basis.  For our newcomers, I started this list on January 8, 2007; my most recent edition was this past February 1, when we left off on song #1014 (Supertramp's "Breakfast in America").

Now, we may have some new viewers, so I'll run through the brief ground rules, here:
  • I don't take requests for this feature. Why? Because, I don't choose the songs; the songs choose me.™ (That is, to make the list, a song  -- old or new -- must generally pop up on my radar organically and make me go, "Huh... that really is a heckuva tune." For better or for worse.)
  • The list can be tongue-in-cheek; the feature's title can be a bit of a misnomer, you'll find.
Additionally, the only new rule this week is that all artists on the list must be undeterred by pigeon poop.

Now, generally, I'd rattle off all of the songs that were accumulated since the last update (16 total, in this case), but on this occasion, I'll take what may or may not be the best-of-the-best (10), and save the rest for next time, once you're already hooked again.

On we go...

1) "Everything Zen" - Bush

2) "Moving In Stereo" - Cars

3) "Mountain Man" - Crash Kings
- I enjoy the simplicity-yet-memorability of the chorus' circle-of-fifths-ish chord structure.

4) "Salvation" - Cranberries

5) "Two Weeks" - Grizzly Bear

6) "Porcelain" - Moby
- Met him once. He's short.

7) "Magnet and Steel" - Walter Egan

8) "Never Tear Us Apart" - INXS
- A fantastic song, basically.

9) "The High Road" - Broken Bells

10) "The Tracks of My Tears" - Miracles
- I saw Smokey Robinson sing this live on Tuesday, with a full orchestra. That's about all you need, there. Sounded just as good, if not better, than it did in 1965.

That's that -- week 186, and songs 1015-1024. Discuss.

Also, so everyone can catch up, I've posted the updated list of all 1024 songs here. Bon appetit!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Mmmmm! (TILIL #1)

Doesn't that logo just bring a smile to your face? I'm tellin' ya, there is nothin' wrong with Chick-Fil-A. Nothin'. One pickle on a sandwich, and a smile at the counter. I've said it numerous times before, but I love the fact that the workers say, "My pleasure", instead of, "You're welcome". It's so subtle, but so sweet.

Seriously -- I love Chick-Fil-A. Maybe I should create a "Things I Love In Life" feature. Consider this entry #1.

I just created a new poll, even. Take it!

And now, I'm going to Chick-Fil-A.

UPDATE [6:52pm]: While eating at the Chick-Fil-A in Alexandria's Landmark Mall, something happened that hasn't happened to me in a mall food court in all of my decades of life: Jose, the nice, young, Chick-Fil-A employee, came out from behind the counter and checked on us. He asked if he could refill our drinks, or get us anything else at all. As if I needed another reason to love those folks!

Rate of success?

I will never cease to find this amusing: Yenny shared a tactic of her Healey's (her roommate) with me the other week, and I shared it with Linwood, who has officially made the move.

That's right: Adding "TIME's 2006 Person of the Year" to the ol' résumé. Hey, it's TRUE! Ish.

Have you put it on yours over the past 3 1/2 years? Did you get comments on it? Dying to know.

It all begins with square burgers.

Dear DDOT, Dave Thomas Circle doesn't work. Also, it's going to kill me/someone.

The end begins now.

So, I decided I wanted the first word of this new blog to be "So". Check and mate.

I'm back to blogging. I've been inspired by various folks:

  • WashingTina, who is an entertaining blogger, and has received an amount of deserved press recently;
  • Robby Quarles, who just compared me to Perez Hilton, on Facebook (I'm choosing to infer that as a reference to my e-output, rather than anything else Mario has to offer, though I wouldn't mind trading bank accounts); and,
  • Matt Garber, who pointed out that it wouldn't really take any more effort than I'm already exerting, and could one day be profitable.

I may, eventually, get back into more long-form writing. Or, I may aggregate things that entertain me and thoughts I have. I tweet a lot, so maybe this will replace it. More likely, it'll just supplement it.

Basically, no promises -- just content.

Look out, Huffington Post.