Tuesday, April 28, 2015

8 Points Poetry Can Strengthen Writers and 2 Place Poetry Can Take Your Writing

  1. How to respect the rules Sonnets, haiku, and vienelles are very structured. Next time you're struggling to write a five paragraph essay try adding iambic pentameter with an ABAB rhyme scheme and see if it gets easier. Sure, you might think in poetry the rules don't apply but they do. Each poem has its own unique rules and structure. You might create those rules but there are rules.
  1. How to break the rules Poetry is the chill middle school kid of writing. It welcomes you in with a “Hey, what's up? I have these three rules: follow them unless they don't apply, in that case, please make up your own that work better.

  1. How to cut through crap Poetry doesn't need set up, a summary or a transition. Poems are the easiest way to make a point. You can't render personal, political, or social truth any more directly than through poetic form.

  1. Punctuation, punctuation, punctuation! There are so many rules in traditional formats regarding when and how to use a semicolon vs. colon. In poetry, there is just Punctuation for emphasis. It's fun to see how you can change meaning with a well placed period or a dash.

While poetry won't teach you the proper grammar rules for other forms of writing, it might make you more confident to experiment. After all, who cares if it's a semi colon or colon as long as the reader gets the meaning?

  1. The importance of a visually appealing work Readers want an indication of readability. Lists, quotes, punctuation, and short paragraphs can all indicate readability. Short paragraphs indicate to the reader a minimal commitment of time.

  1. Honesty and fearlessness in writing Poetry is NEVER the time to hold back. What have you been holding back or rationalizing? Let it out in poetry! There is no better confessional, rant platform, or happy jig than a well worded poem.

  1. Your writing style and preferences Poetry can be short and quick to cook up, so you can amass a collection very quickly. By reviewing your work, you'll be able to evaluate your strengths, weaknesses and preferred topics. You'll get a strong sense of who you are as a writer and what kind of writing is going to work best for you.
  1. Who is your primal self Poetry is both a raw and gilded. Expression does not get bogged down in semantics. You create in a natural and intuitive sense. Reviews of your work might lead you to “I didn't know I had that in me,” or “I didn't know how strongly I felt.”

It will take you no time at all to relate these top 8 lessons to other works. Poetry will bleed into standard prose, and your work will be more interesting and compelling for it.

I do have 2 more thoughts on what poetry will teach you, but they are more practiced skills. Only for the ambitious and determined writer.

  1. How to show and not tell Writers take the short cut of telling all the time. What sounds better “the dawn way beautiful,” or “the dawn broke luminous and large in the eastern horizon. Where the pall of darkness festered, warm rays stabbed onto the land. They destroyed all the night's terrors with the warm joyful gift of sight.” Poetics nurtures and encourages this kind of showing.

  1. Introducing more senses. Writing descriptive sounds, smells and touches further engages a reader. Using all four senses to describe when something smells bad is difficult. A smell is subjective with less common experience for the writer to refer to. Often in describing a smell writers will work a back story to lay common ground for the reader to experience the smell. Sounds, smells, and touches will make your fictional world visceral to a reader . Poetry wrings every drop of sensatory experience using the words themselves to create sounds, smells, and touches.

Poetry is not for everyone.

Still, you should create a poem or two. Remember, a quality poem isn't always the goal. Some of the best writing lessons come from works where everything else fails spectacularly!

Is your writing stale? Are you having trouble finding your voice? Do you lack inspiration? Follow a poetic prompt to get your mojo back. Even if your work is a train wreck with chemical spilling out everywhere and an explosion on the horizon, you will have gained valuable insight because the nature of poetic form and creation.   

Monday, April 27, 2015

How To Get the Job: Dress to Impress!!

This series was inspired from my seven years experience listening to the good, the bad and the truly hideous interview.  About half the applicants I turn away could have done the job and done it well.   This guide will lead qualified candidates to avoiding major pitfalls in how they are presenting themselves during the interview process.

If you missed it, here is:

Dress For the Job you want, not the job you are Applying for.  Cliche but true!  When I see someone in ripped jeans or a mussed t shirt, all I can think is that they didn't really care about this job.  

The price of  admission are clean khakis and a polo or button up shirt.  I won't be impressed with this outfit. I won't think of fast tracking you. You will merely be an acceptable.

I write down what kind of effort the applicant put into their appearance on the application.  Effort counts a lot.  Remember even if this is “just a job” for you, the interviewer and hiring manager think of this as a career.  They really care and they don't want to hire you if you don't match their intensity.

The Outfit:
  • Wear dress pants or a knee length professional skirt/dress.  
  • Suit or sports jacket is preferred
  • All apparel  should be clean and in good condition.   No buttons missing, no hems hanging, no frayed cuffs, no holes.
  • Pressed
  • All apparel should be well fitting.  Not too large or too tight.   Too long or too short.   
  • Shoes clean and no athletic shoes or sandals especially flip flops

This outfit will make your interviewer happy and start you on the right foot.   The EXCEPTION:  high end dining, entertainment, and hospitality demands higher standards of dress.  You're going to have to be comfortable rocking a full suit to dress at one level above the job you're applying for.

Once the outfit is in place here are some additional grooming points everyone should be aware of.

For Men: I want to see a button up shirt and tie. This is preferred just not by me but most hiring managers.
  • Traditional plaids, even though the shirt technically buttons up, are NOT acceptable. Gingham, gentle plaid, and windowpane are all styles that hold some similarities to traditional flannel plaid, but may be appropriate for an interview with the correct accents.  Please check out this guide if you need examples of the pattern styles 
  • Some people are going to tell you ties are optional: they aren't.  If I expect women to pick out appropriate jewelry and make up you better be 100% certain I'm looking for ties on men!  I'm not alone here, most of the male managers I've worked with want ties, and while we hire people without ties, every owner or manager I've worked for Notices and Laments over a lack of tie.
  •  I've seen some awesome bow ties recently, and I love how neat and stylish it's made candidates appear.  If you want to stand out a little and your outfit allows, a bow tie could be just the thing.   Some hiring managers may be put off by this so it is a risk.

For the Ladies:
  • Wear a blouse or button up shirt.  
    • Avoid showing cleavage
    • Don't let your bra show
    • Don't wear anything too sheer,  
    • DO NOT go sleeveless without a jacket.  
    • Absolutely no mid-drift.
    • If needed discreetly pin closed any gaps that may show your bra
  • A suit jacket is a positive addition with a dress although a simple cardigan can complete an interview outfit.

Take it from the Top: Faces and Hands Are KEY.


Neat Hair: Your hair should be neat.  The messy bed head look is a style, but we can tell if there's gel in your hair and it's intentional or if you're just too lazy to put some water on it to flatten it.  If you have long hair please take the time to style it. Wash it, pull it back, or take the time and product to make it look nice when it's down.  I can promise you won't work a service area I'm in if your hair is a greasy mess when you come to interview.   

For Ladies:
Please, no messy buns. Natural hair might be best if you pull it back into a neat pony tail )prevents weather from effecting your hair before an interview) or spray the fly aways down.  Curly haired ladies: you have a choice to either flatten you hair or really refine the curls for the interview. In very conservative interviews curly hair is a risk. I have had hiring managers ask me “you accepted her/him with hair like that?!” when it was perfectly styled because they just don't get how curly hair works. Consider very carefully the kind of place you're interviewing for, how often you may be in the public eye, and if you can go to the physical building and see how other employees look. Remember, they have the job and can look less than perfect, but there may still be one or two uniform preferred looks. Not matter what type of hair you have it should be neatly and conservatively styled.

Men with LONG Hair: Do not wear it down. If you have shoulder length hair pull it back in a neat ponytail or bun for the interview.

Be Rested: Get a good night's sleep before the interview if you can.  I don't let bags under the eyes or a haggard look count against a person, but it doesn't really help either.  Likewise: take care of your teeth.  Again I've hired folks with dental problems, but I know a lot of people find this a turn off.

Tattoos: Know both corporate and Franchise policy on tattoos! If ink is not allowed, go on and cover it up before the interview. If you need make up, bandaids, or clothing with sleeves, wear it. It's better for the hiring manager never be aware of a tattoo, as they will start to discount you as soon as they know it could be a problem.

Groomed Nails and Hands: Your hands should also be clean and nails should be short and of even length.     Applicants whose pinkie  and ring finger nails are a lot longer than the rest of their nails suggests either a drug habit or a lack of attention to detail.  I don't want either in my work force.   Beware if you are applying for a job in food service Federal Government regulations require clean unpolished nails.   No artificial nails at all. Wearing them to an interview is fine, but you will be asked if you are prepared to remove them before any hiring process can move forward.

Clean faces:  Make sure your face is clean.  
For Men, if you have facial hair make sure it's trimmed and neat. Clean shaven gentlemen: please make sure you have a fresh shave. Some jobs will require you to be clean shaven. While it's easier to maintain food safety with a fresh shave, it's usually a styl-istic choice on the part of management. The hiring manager will inform you at the interview and want a positive response so be ready.

   For Women:  Your face should be clean and neat.  You should wear light make up.  It's safest to go with neutral natural highlights.   Remember you want the interviewer to see you not your makeup.  Now is not the time to experiment with a new cosmetics.

Additionally for Women: Jewelry should be simple.   If you wear earrings studs are best but small dangles are also acceptable.   Likewise, only wear discreet necklaces.  Make sure your necklace doesn't fight with your neckline.  It should fall either well about the neckline and settle closely around the neck, or well below the neckline and showcase the shirt.

For Men Jewelry should be limited to a watch and a ring.  Bracelets, chains, and earrings are not appropriate for most interviews.

So now you look like the perfect hire!  Next time, we'll start discussing how to put your strengths forward in a way that will carry the most meaning to your interviewer.

Let Me Know:
-Anything you felt I missed or glossed over?  
-Was my advice helpful?  
-Do you have further questions or concerns?

Was this guide helpful?  Help a friend and help a friend: share it please and thank you!

See the next Part of this series: Questions An Interviewer Should Not Ask

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

How To Get The Job: The Dreaded Phone Interview

This series is inspired from my seven years experience listening to the good, the bad and the truly hideous interview. About half the applicants I turn away could have done the job and done it well. This guide will lead qualified candidates to avoiding major pitfalls on how to navigate the interview process.

If you haven't, feel free to check out part 1 of the series.

You got the call now what???

The Phone Interview:
First, congrats! You filled out the application correctly. You are a “YES” or a “MAYBE.” The stack of “No” is way larger than the stack of “Yes” and “Maybe” combined, so this IS an accomplishment, even if it doesn't feel like it.

Some Advice for the Phone Interview:

  • Know How to Sell Yourself. You may be truly qualified in every way to work at this position. That's awesome and we want you to have a chance to show it! The phone interview is NOT the time to be too diverse.
    • Pick 1 Amazing trait that gels with the job You will overwhelm the note taker on the other end if you say to many different things. He or she might not record the right parts of your sales pitch.
    • This is a Gate Keeper: The person calling you for this first pass is not the decision maker. It's possible they are 100% in tune with what the boss wants, but it's just as likely they are guessing. A clear message takes all the guess work out of it.
    • Make sure your Connection is Good: Your actual connection could be bad. Repeating the same message over and over gives it the best chance of being heard.

  • Pause and Wait for the Questions: Give your interviewer space between answers! They are writing down what you said, so give them time to do it. BE COMFORTABLE WITH SILENCE. You will be prompted if they want more information.
    • Keep it Simple: Too much talking muddies your message and you risk the interviewer writing down the wrong thing
    • Rambling is when people get into trouble. I was about to offer a person a job. I was just finishing writing my notes, but the person wasn't comfortable with silence while I wrote and said something negative about management at their last job—Huge Mistake. Sometimes less is more.
    • Silence shows confidence and control in stressful situations. The single BEST non-verbal que you can give that you are right for the job on a phone interview is wait to be prompted. It shows patience and a willingness to take direction.

  • Know Something about the Company. Know about the company you're applying to and how they like to run business. Are they most proud of efficiency, friendliness, quality product? Their web presence will give you a clue.
    • Be Positive about the job “Don't say anything along the lines of “it's a service job, they're all really the same” or “anyone could do the job” or “what you want is simple/easy”. If you do this you probably won't get brought in for a face to face.

  • Be prepared for situational questions over the phone. A few years ago we used to only ask generic questions, but present day we'll dive into the open ended “Tell me about a time X happened to you”
    • The answer doesn't have to be amazing but you DO need an answer
    • Feel free to use “off the top of my head” and other phrases that will allow time for you think of an answer.
    • Also feel free to say things like “give me a moment” or “I'm thinking” don't rush into an answer if you think you can do better.

  • Have some questions ready. They might include:
    • What does the interview and hiring process look like?
    • How many positions are open?
    • What is your ideal candidate’s availability?
    • I got the impression that quality x was most important to you is that correct?

Do this in the phone interview and Congrats, you'll get to move on to the in person interview. Feel free to celebrate! Next time We'll Talk about What to Wear for the best possible first impression.

Let Me Know:
-Anything you felt I missed or glossed over?
-Share a story of a memorable phone interview!
-Was my advice helpful?
-Do you have further questions or concerns?

Was this guide helpful? Help a friend and help a friend: share it please and thank you!

Update!  The Next Part of my Series Dress to Impress is now up, please follow here to read further.

Friday, April 10, 2015

How To Get The Job: Part 1 Trying Get A Dreaded Phone Interview

This series is inspired from my seven years experience listening to the good, the bad and the truly hideous interview. About half the applicants I turn away could have done the job and done it well. This guide will lead qualified candidates to avoiding major pitfalls on how to navigate the interview process.

Getting Started: How to get a Phone Interviews:
Applications are read and sorted into three piles, “Yes, No, or Maybe”

An application falls into the “Yes” pile if there is:

  • Open availability—in the service industry this is the BIGGEST impact to whether we consider you.

  • Relevant experience. Corporate/franchises see candidates will little to no experience as a risky investment. Labor/training is the most expensive factor in running a business. Managers want to minimize this major “controllable” cost. A Candidate with no experience might apply at a “Mom and Pop” store where managers are more willing to train an inexperienced candidate.

  • The Position is Open. If the openings are for sales and you apply for HR assistant even if you are qualified for sales you go to the “No” pile.

  • Versatility and Flexibility: Demonstrating on your resume willingness to do more than one job shows you are eager. We want eager people and applying for more than one job position shows you're eager. It also says you’re versatile and able to handle more than one thing—all good traits in high demand.

If the resume outlines these traits, congrats, you're hire-able. The human resources gate keeper will call you with a few follow up questions and a quick phone interview. The yes pile is not a sure thing.

You might get a phone call because you are in The Maybe Pile:
You got to the “Maybe” file because:

  • Your availability happened to be the time slots needed to be filled.

  • You have no experience but there are no experienced candidates available so we will train.

  • Your experience, while not directly related was in seasonal work of some sort or was some kind of part time school work related gig. Finding this information out takes more time on the reviewer's part and since he or she is usually skimming, you're lucky they caught this tidbit.

  • You didn't apply for an available position but for some reason our applicant pool is low and we decided you might fit the job available. If you fall into this category you put A LOT of faith in the the gate keeper and honestly, most of them are not very thorough so you are really really lucky.  

Those are the factors in getting your first phone interview.  Seems pretty simple right?  It's not,  the "no" pile is far larger than the "yes" and "maybe" combined!  

Next time, I'll cover the phone interview plan.  For now let's hear from you!  

Let Me Know:
-Anything you felt I missed or glossed over?
-Share a story of a memorable phone interview!
-Was my advice helpful?
-Do you have further questions or concerns?

Was this guide helpful? Help a friend and help a friend: share it please and thank you!

Please check out the next part of the series here.

Monday, April 6, 2015

3 Things Baristas, Don't Want to Discuss & 9 Brighter Topics of Conversation:

When I'm on the clock, it's all about the job. Who I am, what I think and believe,has to fall away. I need to provide a premiere experience for my guest. Of course, there are topics my guests should know are off limits. These things include:
  1. Saying hateful things about other races, religions, or sexual identities. I'll try not to be a jerk, but silence is tacit agreement.

  1. Trying to convert me to another faith. There is literally no polite way to tell someone “No”. Even if I personally appreciated the injection of faith into my work day, I'm responsible for other employees who may be uncomfortable with this.
  1. Trying to sell makeup, jewelry, or any direct sales item to me or my co-workers. Why are you pressuring someone who has to be nice to you to buy something they probably can’t afford?

Friendly reminder: please avoid the above three subjects with hospitality, food service, and retail staff.

Now you know, we don't want to hear about controversial subjects particularly when our jobs prohibit us from contributing to the conversation. Some suggestions I have when you want to make conversation with your serving staff:

  1. Keep it light and breezy with some smooth weather conversation.

    1. Talk about you. I like hearing about your kids/grand kids/ nephews or nieces /pets. I like hearing you have a promotion or that your friend is visiting .

    1. Tell me about a trip you took. This is especially popular if you did something on a thrifty budget I might be able to mimic.
    1. Tell me about your new diet, sugar substitute, milk substitute, or update me on how your pursuit of gluten free is going. Personally, I know a lot about healthy eating and different dieting techniques, but more generally, service people are always running into special diets and allergies. Most of us are interested in hearing more about why we're making drinks a special way. If it's a diet we want to know if it was effective. Hearing about your allergies or struggles can help us deliver a safer allergy free food to you.

    1. Talk about a food or product you like. I'm in retail/food service. Stuff like that is kind of my wheel house.
    1. Tell me about a book, movie, or TV show. We're all watching popular media, chances are good I've seen it or heard of it. Even if I don't know it, you might be introducing me to something new I could be enjoying.

    1. Tell me about something local that's going on. There's always a farmer's market, fair, play, or some other local flavor I'd like to know more about.

    1. Feel free to talk about your holiday plans. This is a way to positively share your faith and include us in a way that doesn't pressure us to make any statements about our faith. We all want to hear about a fun party! Graduations, weddings, and birthday parties are fun celebrations we also like hearing about.

    1. Give us a complement. I love recommending my hair stylist (Cost Cutters all the way!), telling you where I got my $1.50 eyeliner, or how I like my brand of khaki pants. My one caveat is to be careful NOT to slide into hitting on us. Personally, I've never enjoyed this kind of attention, though the jury is out on whether this is generally welcome in the industry.

Finally, please look for your best opportunity to speak with us. There's quite a few regulars I enjoy talking to, but no matter how curious I am about their trip to Alaska or how long it's been since I've seen them, I'm way too stressed/busy to chat with them if there is a line. When traffic is heavy please refrain from starting a conversation with us. If you're enjoying a chat but new guests arrive: please understand if we have to cut you short. It's not you, it's the job.

Join the Conversation:
-Has someone ever said something inappropriate to you while you were working and what did you do?
-Are there any places you visit regularly to say “Hi” to the team? What did they do that created that feeling of connection for you?
-Did I miss another fun light topic you like to bring up with service workers?

Enjoy this post and want to read more like it?  Try: The Dumbest Question You Could Ask Your Barista