Thursday, February 28, 2013

But I don't WANT a Job in Sales!

Here's a thoughtfully annotated list of the top ten books on selling. 

"But," you say, "I don't want a job in sales! It's the last thing I want to do!"

I'm not asking you to go into sales--at least, not on behalf of another company or organization. But the fact is that if you're looking for a job, you're selling something--yourself. 

You have the same kinds of challenges that someone toting vacuum cleaners door-to-door has. You need to persuade someone who is skeptical that you actually have a good product that is worth its price and then some. Why not learn from specialists in that kind of activity?

A couple of caveats:

  • The books mentioned on this list are not free. You're invited to purchase them from Amazon. I'm not advising you to purchase--but rather, dig them up through our library. Here's a good use for interlibrary loan services that you get free as a student at Niagara University! Try before you buy.
  • The pop-ups on this website annoyed me. I was able to click past them readily, but they did seem a bit more intrusive than most sites' self-referencing pop-ups. 

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Facebook and Your Job Hunt

Use Facebook to find a job?

Okay, it's certainly not the only strategy to use. But Facebook does have some relevance to your job-hunting strategies. Just be sure to keep the "wild" parts of your profile locked away from anybody who is not your close friend.

Strategies include 

  • ways you can showcase both the fact that you're job-hunting, and what skills and passions you can bring to an organization;
  • how and where to interact with potential employers; and
  • what to do to show you are a well-rounded, socially-responsible citizen who would make any company this side of Hades proud to have you on board.

Extra bonus links at the bottom of the article, with more on Facebook, as well as advice about LinkedIn and Twitter.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

What's in YOUR subject line?

Good point, great title! "If This Article Were an Email, Chances Are You Wouldn’t Open It." 

Email is killing productivity; read more about it here: Even without the spam, scam and pfishing--the obviously illicit stuff--we get too much email. It's death by a thousand papercuts. I get stuff from book publishers urging me that I must adopt their textbook; from speakers' bureaus insisting that the people they promote are essential for me to invite on campus; from professional organizations telling me they have resolved all my questions on teaching... I throw out 3/4 of it unopened.

If you're trying to get the attention of a hiring manager, consider how to get your email opened. The article at "Social Media Today" is pitched to those organizations trying to sell or promote something (to my wry amusement--as I keep trying screen those out of my "must read" pile). 

What's in your subject line? Does it avoid puffery, but still offer the reader a good reason to click open? Does it at the vey least give some clue to why you're writing? 

If a hiring manager spends 6 seconds reviewing your resume before making a decision to keep or trash--then that same person spends about 0.5 seconds deciding whether to keep or trash your email. Use your split second judiciously.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Work from Home

Buffalo local television channel 2, WGRZ, has posted this story about legitimate work from home opportunities. 

Is it really legit? Well--I don't know. But it is a major news outlet. And the article does contain some common-sense warnings about what to look for in order to screen out scams--so-called opportunities that will simply drain your bank account rather than adding to it. 

Friday, February 22, 2013

Do the words "Cover Letter" Intimidate You?

Consider thinking of your "cover letter" as a "cover note." 

  • A note is short, sweet, and to the point. A cover thingie-on-paper (whether you call it a letter or a note) is short, sweet, and to the point, drawing attention to your resume rather than blathering on.
  • A note is spontaneous, rather than something agonizingly lugubrious, sounding like it comes from a bad Charles Dickens novel parody. A cover thingie is written afresh each time, not cut and pasted or endlessly recycled.
  • A note is conversational and understated, rather than a grandiose promise that you're the best thing since sliced bread. A cover thingie draws attention to your qualifications and fit for the position, but doesn't bludgeon the hiring manager over the head as a fool for turning you away.

The only thing I question in this blog post is the cover thingie sample that addresses a recruiter or hiring manager by his or her first name. When in doubt, "Mr." or "Ms.," or perhaps even "Good morning."

In Your Face! Networking in Person

From Facebook to Face -- Professional Networking
Tuesday, February 26, 2013
5 to 7 p.m.
Fourth Floor, St. Vincent's Hall
Niagara University

Hey, go to this one... they almost never allow anyone to use 4th floor Vinny's. It's a terrific location, worth visiting because you'll so rarely get an event up there.

For more information, contact NU"s Career Center:

  • Drop in; lower level of Seton Hall
  • Call; 716-286-8500

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

You aren't a Robot

The first link above tells you how to avoid being replaced by a robot. It lists four major skills and capacities human beings have that no robot can touch--and that robots are unlikely to touch within this century. Coincidentally, these are all areas in which English majors can and should excel. These are also qualities you should be promoting in any job interview or resume for work that does not involve asking "would you like fries with that?"

The second link offers tips on networking, one of the strongest strategies in your job-seeking arsenal--and a particularly interesting website with a way to locate specific networking opportunities:

I visited 99Events and plugged in "networking" and "Buffalo, NY." I was impressed with the number of events this engine returned. Mind you, not all of them are labeled "you can get a job if you attend this event." Some were irrelevant--singles aged 40 to 50 playing laser tag? feng shui for entrepreneurs?!

But others looked promising, with a big dash of fun mixed in, like the organization MoMondays at They describe themselves as "a cross between open mic comedy and TED Talks, but with professional speakers and other great people like you with a story to share."

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

What's on Your Graduation Bucket List?

Interesting way to think about graduation--sort of like dying?

Anyway, if it feels like that, here's a tongue-in-cheek list of 50 things you should consider doing before you walk across the stage to get your diploma.

None seems to be either as terminal as the title "bucket list" implies, nor as grandiose as the things Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman did in the 2007 film by that title. (Climbing Mount Everest?)

All are the sorts of things that will feel a whole lot less scary if you do them as a lark, a break from studying, a diversion from the last days of your very own Pompeii, college.

"Adama," Must-See Film 3/19/13

I am very excited about this upcoming event! I suggested it to Brian Murphy of Communication Studies after meeting one of the people who worked on the film.
  • When: Tuesday, March 19, 2013 from 5-8 p.m.
  • What: Screening of a 60-minute documentary film, "Adama"
  • Who: Presented by Communication Studies, part of their annual Media Awareness Week
  • Why it's Exciting: The filmmaking knocked my socks off; the questions raised by the film are serious, timely, heart-wrenching 

"Adama," directed by David Felix Sutcliffe, chronicles the arrest and detention of a 16 year-old East Harlem NYC girl on charges of training to be a suicide bomber in the wake of 9/11. Although she was exonerated, her family was disrupted; she continues to be detained when she travels.

Sutcliff and Adama herself will be present at this event. Everyone from the NU community and the western NY area is very welcome to attend.

Film clips, more info at

Friday, February 15, 2013

Career Fair, Hospitality

Hospitality and Tourism Career Fair
Wednesday, February 20, 2013
1 to 3 p.m.
Castellani Art Museum, Niagara University

Find a job in a warmer place!

For more information, contact NU"s Career Center:

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Deaf Culture event Feb. 18

A Glass Class presentation, sponsored by MISA, ASL 310, and American Deaf Culture
Monday, Feb. 18, Sue Wantuck will speak in the Gallagher Center multi-purpose room at 4:30 p.m. Sue Wantuck is Deaf since birth; a mother and wife in a completely Deaf household; a teacher at St. Mary's School for the Deaf; and a cochlear implant wearer.
Sue will share her experiences; her family is deaf as well. We will also learn an interesting aspect of the deaf culture. As a cochlear implant wearer, some Deaf people view her as a sellout. Come learn more about this full and vibrant culture that most of our society ignores.

Spend or Save?

What is your long-range goal about money and the "good life"? What is "good" and desirable, and what is painful? Do you want to have a fancy house, cars, exotic vacations, clothes, bling? Or do you want to live modestly now so you can be assured of a secure future, which may include financial stuff that you just cannot see coming down the pike?

These may be questions you're trying to sort out. I know I am, at 57 years old. It's always a work in progress. And it helps to hear other people's thoughts--not so much because I really want the advice of other people, but because sometimes the discussion itself helps me clarify my own thoughts. There are no right answers that anybody else can give you. Money is one of the 3 things you don't talk about over dinner with anyone but the absolute best of friends (along with God and politics). And it's one thing you jolly well better talk about with a prospective spousal unit.

In that spirit, here's a thread from Reddit with gazillions of comments, opinions, and real-life, from-the-gut experience. (Here's a link to a blog post earlier this year, where I briefly described what Reddit is:

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Don't Go to College--?

Or maybe, don't think of college as the be-all and end-all of your own or your kids' education. Don't think of it as a guarantee.

You may very well need the formal college diploma to be able to wedge a foot in the door of most organizations when you are looking for a job. Or, if you have an entrepreneurial spirit, you may well find that you can take the same money you would have sunk into college and started your own business. 

If you've got kids, there may be more important experiences you can give them with a little bit of money; and if your priority is stashing that money into a college fund, perhaps it could be better spent.

Finally, don't assume that simply "showing up" at any college (Podunk Community College, Niagara University, Harvard--any college) is going to make you into something you weren't when you first enrolled. You have to invest energy, thought, a sense of direction in your own education. You may not always know what direction is going to pay off in a rich, deep learning experience; but you should find ways beyond sitting in class, taking notes, earning Bs (or even A-plusses), and waiting for a magic transformation.

Bonus: a free, downloadable pdf on how to start up a business doing stuff you like, while making a reasonably decent living at it, The Incredible Secret Money Machine 2nd edition, at (Does it work? I don't know! But I do trust the referral source, Kevin Kelly's Cool Tools blog; here's the review:

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Just Stop, Already!

Yes! As English majors, you should all be attuned to the advice in this article. Stop cluttering your mouth, your resume, your cover letters... with superlative glop. With the lousy economy, we've all gotten into an arms race--trying to use the mostest bestest and highestest praise about our own uniquenesses. Person #1 claims to be "the best," so person #2 promotes herself as "the best ever," and person #3 tries to leapfrog over this pile-up with "the absolutely, positively best ever in the entire history of the world." (Blech!)

Find a way to phrase your message in a way that is direct, clear, and avoids sounding like your audience should call an ambulance because you're that out of breath.