An interesting LinkedIn profile

A lot of job seekers look at the “Current” line on their LinkedIn profile with a sense of dread. “What am I going to put there?” “I don’t want an empty space, but I can’t, (or at least shouldn’t) well, lie either.

Mitzi has an interesting solution.

I don’t know her, I got her name from a group posting. The text is elegantly simple, accurate, and has the added bonus of keywords for search optimization. What do they say about imitation anyway?

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Sir Linksalot

I’ve been avoiding Smart Brief’s lately, because I couldn’t take another daily dozen stories summed up in a list of 10 items or less. I think my brain is ready for bullet points again, so here’s a list compendium of stories on social media, leadership and business trends. There might even be a job search item or two, but let’s look at the glass half full and read in about work issues.

11 “Commandments” of Corporate Tweeting. Because you all will either be tweeting, or engaged in some form of work related social media. Even Adam.

Online anonymity leads to impolite social media behavior. Easier to call people nasty names under an alias.

Can (or should) you turn down a job you don’t want? Is there really a pat answer for this one?

Skip the awkward adolescent stage of Twitter usage.
Go straight to young adulthood. All the freedom, and no bills.

Community building is better than social marketing. Because you know your customer better perhaps?

You block web ads, publishers block your web ad blockers. Don’t believe the hype. Content may want to be “free,” but producing it is not. Similar to a teenager wanting to act, dress, drink, and party like an adult, without the responsibility. Not gonna happen.

Marketing via video chat. It’ll increase tenfold by 2013, let’s hope the skeezy Chatroulette isn’t part of that mix.

Get your emails opened and read. Like the ones that have your resume and marketing plan in them.

7 ways to build customer loyalty. Fast Company is great.

You’ll make social media errors. Don’t sweat it. This is a field where there isn’t a huge knowledge gap between the users and experts.

Have diverse customer service portfolio. Just like your 401k, right?

CEO’s don’t “get” innovation. Do not be “that guy.”

Why use social media for sales and marketing? Because it works.

CEO’s are optimistic about the future. Especially at current staffing levels. Blech.

How to capture a crowd. Or an interviewer perhaps?

Creative tension encourages innovation. Easier said than done though.

Making managing peers less awkward.

Helping turn around Ford… Powerpoint!

And last but not least, life without Twitter?!?!? Sorry social media Luddites, Adam it may not be Twitter, but social media is here to stay.

Another day…

Another wonderful opportunity in the insurance industry. This one is from United American Insurance, a Texas based company. Apparently they’ve been trying, in vain, to contact me for an interview. Let’s give it up to the Career Builders of the world!  United American does:

“Our ability to search the major online job boards has given us the opportunity to increase our productivity because we can select applicants from a wide variety of backgrounds that can potentially match our requirements for the positions we have available.”

Plain English translation: We troll for new resumes and send everyone who’s close to a match (ie, everyone) a solicitation to come work for us. This way they stay true to their goal of “selecting applicants from a wide variety of backgrounds.”

But what is United American anyway? What do they do? What kinds of policies do they sell? Who are their customers, and who are their reps? Talk to me Professor Google…

I’m going to avoid the autofill, which faithful readers will note always wants to put “scam” in the search. (Bad Google, bad.) The first two listings are from United American, a “premier provider of Medicare supplement coverage.” It’s a big money business. AARP, Mutual of Omaha and State Farm all offer these policies. So far, so normal.

Until listing #3. There’s fresh information too, from March 8th. If the political discussions about health care make you sick, or you don’t want to read dispatches from angry, frustrated consumers, then skip that link. Probably should have put the link last then.  Oops.

United American is owned by Torchmark Corporation, which is a holding company for several insurance brands, such as, American Income, First United American, Globe, Liberty National, United American, and United Investors. Say what? You mean the most egregious (from my experience) Career Builder trolls are all from the parent company? What happens when you check the listings for “Torchmark scam?” This. There’s a mix of responses, though the people complaining far outnumber company supporters. One telling post:

“Recently my brother was hired by AIL and started going through the training. They told him that the customers were already lined up and that all he had to do is go and get them to finalize the paperwork. Once he got the signatures, he would get the commission from it.

What they didn’t tell him was that he was responsible for paying for the training and testing to get certified in all these different fields. The tests were around $600 a pop. If you failed, you had to pay another $600 to re-test. He had to pay everything out of pocket.

As he got into the field training with a coach, he found out that these customers had NOT agreed to anything and while they were interesting in getting more information, they were not ready to sign. Not only that but it was his job to get them to sign up for more benefits. The job was completely misrepresented.

After a month, he was never home and wasn’t being paid for his training and if he and his coach finalized a contract, he would only get a small part of the profits. He went to his boss and said that he needed a consistent paycheck as was promised and he needed a better schedule so that he can spend time with his family, the boss said, “You need to focus on your job and not on your family. The job comes first.”

Pay for training? That should always be a conversation killer. See ya, bye, end of story. Prospective employers should not be reaching into the pockets of future employees.

There are a lot of Americans out of work right now. Even low paying jobs get hundreds of applicants. People want to work, regardless of what Tom DeLay says or thinks. If these jobs are that lucrative, and provide the benefits that they are purported to, isn’t it fair to ask why Torchmark’s recruiting efforts are so aggressive, and indiscriminately pitched via the mega job boards? Why is there so much turnover? Do you believe that it’s because of “explosive growth?” So much they NEED more reps to service demand?

Or do you believe what your gut is telling you?

LinkedIn invites to pass on

I swear I am not grumpy this morning, even though yesterday evening could have gone better. The hockey squad sleptwalk its way to a 6-5 loss yesterday to an opponent that only had 8 skaters. No excuse for that. Grrrrrrrrrr. There is an immediate chance for redemption tonight though with my other team. I’m telling you because I know you care about my self-esteem.

Got on LinkedIn this morning and had a new invite from someone I had never met before. Hope springs eternal. A recruiter perhaps? Someone that wants to discuss a job outside the insurance industry? The journalism 5W’s popped in my head, except maybe “when.” The result? Teased again.

It was a pitch for an “interview opportunity.” These are common in the news business. There’s an endless supply of PR and Marketing pitches to wade through on a daily, sometimes hourly basis. Authors, experts and opinionators of all political ideologies use every communication method possible to get their message on “out there” on tv, radio, web, etc. Most are useless, some actually provide value and make air, (depending on how busy of a news day it is…) but the quantity is relentless. Now that process has found my LinkedIn account.

The join-my-network request was from someone who claimed they had “done business with me” at a website I had never heard of before. Strike #1. The customized greeting began with “would you like to interview…” Strike #2, and this one should count for two. Aaargh. It was an interview request. “Hey join my network so I can further pitch you for promotional interviews that will benefit ME more than you.” Who could resist that? Me, and just about every other media/news person anywhere. The only saving grace, however slim, was that they’d also like to add me for “strategic reasons.” So it wasn’t a total, blatant, obvious pitch. Just two of three.

What sucks (technical term) is that personal LinkedIn networks are fair game for marketing attempts. Perhaps they always have been. Recruiters might feel the same way when they are cold called with resumes or job application requests. Same goes for LinkedIn groups. Most serve their intended purpose of professional communication, outreach, expertise, contacts, news or information related to a specific topic. Others are inundated with off-topic, promotional nonsense that degrades the conversation and the group overall.

I’ve spared mentioning this person’s name, because I am a softy at heart. I wasn’t going to respond, but since one of the biggest issues during job search is a lack of communication, it would be bad form to let someone (potentially) stew without response. So off to the high road I go, carrying a polite response of no, and that I don’t have the ability to put your guest on the air now anyway.

Another bait and switch?

They come fast and furious actually, but some seem to be more egregious, or slicker, than others. Today’s example: TravelHost magazine.

I received an email from “Roger T—-” that my resume was a MATCH. Yay!

“Your resume matches some of the success indicators that I am seeking, and I thought you might be interested in a unique entrepreneurial opportunity in Georgia with America’s #1 travel magazine.”

Now “Georgia” was bolded, in the time honored tradition of auto-reply emails. Man, and I thought I was special. But the opportunities, they are endless, no?

Uh, no. Or at a minimum, probably not.

“We are looking for four “take charge” individuals to open and manage new local editions of TRAVELHOST Magazine in
Atlanta and Suburbs
Athens / Gainesville
Macon / Warner Robins
Augusta / North Augusta
There are also some opportunities in other selected growth areas across the nation – please call for information.”

Take charge, as in, do everything. And pay up front, assuming all risk. Nothing against middle/central Georgia, but I’m going to guess that a travel magazine in Macon/Warner Robbins is not what the market craves, or can support. Unless the territory covers Milledgeville, and they are expecting a post-Big Ben bar tourist rush. Professor Google, what have you to say about this opportunity?

Auto-fill does not likey. “Scam” comes up before I can finish typing “TravelHost.” Looks familiar. There are a couple of entries from a website called “Ripoff Report.”

Bitter, party of #1.

The poster shares his story about TravelHost, and it’s not pretty. Keywords: huge ripoff, unsuspecting, mislead, failure rate of 90%, turnover, scam, sorry. Not promising. But a TravelHost fires executive fires back. Keywords: CMO, rewarding, disenchanted, blame, blog, proud history. It’s a long, detailed post and does not reflect favorably on the complainer. Confused? The next post from “ex-employee” starts with, “To be blunt, I wouldn’t advise investing in Travelhost to my enemies.”

Bitter, party of #2.

The twist in this post is details (or opinion) on the business model. “They are simply in business to print magazines at a higher rate than a normal commercial printer.
You get very limited support with regards to sales, promotion or running a business. You are left on your own to flounder your way through. They make sure they get their money up front so they are covered when you don’t succeed. Research all the turn over of distributors.

So, if you want to publish a magazine, you are better off finding your own designer and commerical (sic) printer and doing it from the ground up.

Out of the business
Heart of the USA, Colorado
U.S.A.”

There’s a follow up post from the CMO, who is obviously busy playing whack-a-mole with disenchanted former franchisees… with another from a former employee saying stay far away. But my emailer is on this thread!

Roger T—-
Senior Regional Manager

Except on this site, he’s listed as “Director of Expansion.” Perhaps he was promoted in the past week. (The post was on March 1st.) I was probably called a lot of things in previous jobs, but I never had two official job titles. (Even when I had two different jobs at the same time.) Could it be that “Director of Expansion” does not look good to potential publishers/partners that you are blindly soliciting via CareerBuilder? Or is that me being cynical?

I’d go on, but it is honestly kind of depressing. The CMO (who is also a regional publisher) got into it with a blogger on this site. The comments are more measured than usual, they are passionate, but it’s not a flame war.

I think I’ll pass on this one too.

Job site trolls and make believe people

I had long avoided the big job sites like Monster and Career Builder because of their sheer size and needle in a haystack odds of success. In hindsight, that was an excellent reason to opt out of anti-targeted sites. The real reason you, or anyone else, should treat them like raw chicken on your kitchen counter is the sheer amount of garbage that will pollute your Inbox, lots more, and always unwanted spam, and because of that spam, relevant emails getting unnecessarily trapped and unseen.

The speed of which these scams opportunities present themselves is breathtaking. Mere minutes, and when you’ve been out of work for awhile, it can cruelly lift your spirits. Then as always, reality takes over.

If you take the offers at face value, your long slog against the tide of joblessness has turned a corner. You are now WANTED, by official sounding, honest-to-goodness American companies. Liberty Mutual, American Income Life Insurance, and the oh-so-official sounding First Command Financial Planning. (Sir yes sir!)

Ever heard of First Command Financial Planning? Nah, me neither. So being the tech savvy bunch we are, first stop is the Google, and before we can even finish typing First Command Financial Planning, the autofill feature adds “scam.” Not a good sign. On the first results page is a review from Yelp, giving it one star. It’s not a pretty story…

“I was nickle and dimed for everything under the sun. The cost of the planning was 300 per year which was very good to me. BUt then I was forced to do my taxes with them and then home mortgage, and more and more, but I finally realized they did nothing…it was all outsourced to other companies. They do not have their own funds either. They use the same thing for everyone.” The writer of this post also says they primarily sell to members of the military. Nice. Thanks for your service.

But you’re skeptical. It’s Yelp for crying out loud, how do you know it’s not just one unhappy customer? Because three results down is the headline “Class Action Lawsuit Against First Command Financial Planning.” Oops. Further down still though, the BBB in Charlotte gives them an “A” though. Confused? Don’t be. CEO’s do not write personal emails in response to unrelated job applications via Career Builder. Good CEO’s of reputable companies do not allow their name to be used as spam either.

As Billy Mays would say, “wait there’s more!” Another email from one “Theresa Roberson” put my Gmail account on high alert: “Warning: This message may not be from whom it claims to be. Beware of following any links in it or of providing the sender with any personal information.” The Google has your back.

“Jonathan Prince” says… “if you are still seeking a rewarding opportunity with a highly-reputable company, please give me a call at your earliest convenience at 7709333897 to schedule an interview.” He’s allegedly with Liberty National. The Google on this number connects to “United American Insurance,” and wow it’s right by my house! As Pee Wee Herman would say “Am am I lucky or what!” Mr. Prince gets points for patriot titles. Liberty, American, United, National. Oliver North might even approve of this operation. For multiple reasons.

Cheryl Ann Dagata is another CareerBuilder.com troll. She might actually exist though, because the Google shows her as winning a $200 bonus and being among the “top performers” on selling pre-paid legal services. (#17, with 431 “memberships” sold) I feel bad for her victims customers, though they probably sleep better knowing they covered in case of future legal entanglements. But really. How much can you trust an organization that spells success, SUCCE$$? http://www.mooresuccessteam.com/about/

Melinda Wickham is also a persistent email suitor of mine. She sends me so many emails it might make my wife angry. This “relationship” began after I made the mistake of putting my resume on JobFox, which opened the floodgates to a tsunami of spam, some of it flat out mean spirited. Apparently my resume sucks. Bad. And they were not afraid to tell me so directly. Let’s hear it for tough love! The good folks at JobFox, and Ms. Wickham in particular, can HELP ME! All I had to do was call this toll free number and I would be on the road to employment bliss. Unlike the CareerBuilder trolls, I don’t think Ms. Wickham exists, unless there everyone in the JobFox call center answers to her name. She doesn’t have a LinkedIn profile, unless you count this one from an Australian lobbyist in Queensland. Sorry Aussie Melinda, your virtual namesake is a bloodsucking leech on the backs of already vulnerable and confidence shaken unemployed people.

That’s not ME you say. I have marketable skills. I don’t need the megasites, I’m a premium seeker of paid employment. Are they really better though? Premium job sites have the same recruiting techniques and sign-up policies as health clubs. “Come in for a FREE 7-day trial.” Just leave a credit card, sign this document that commits you to a subscription unless you cancel within a short period of time, and we’ll put the full court press on you to become a member. Good luck canceling.

The Ladders differentiates themselves as being ONLY for 100k jobs, and of course, the kind of quality people that qualify for them. Like you and anyone else that comes up with the $15 or so a month to subscribe. The Ladders was my first sign-up mistake. The Free Trial hooked me. Canceling was not too onerous, but the daily emails from Marc Cendella can be. They do have useful information, but clicking on them through the emails are a road to nowhere. (Or sign-up, take your pick.) Use the Google and search the title and author’s name. Voila. You now have the information, without the subscription. Marc writes (or his PR staff does anyway) in a folksy, friendly style. Just me and you bud. So what happens when you email back? This. But hey, someone actually reads, and responds. Just not the guy sending the email.

All is not lost however. You don’t have to dig deep in recesses of your mind for that power for positive thinking session your previous company made you attend for a silver lining. Just read, or practice some of the techniques on this site.

Fun for the unemployed.

Top 10 Management Practices To Avoid

You’ll all recognize #2, with a connection to Kafka no less.

From Businessweek.