Friday, 18 May 2001

Newsletter Issue 23, May 2001


Sam Young Newsletter

Issue 23, May 2001
Hi guys,
Well, here we are in the merry month of May. Dunno why it's supposed to be so merry - I guess it's that northern hemisphere spring hangover! <groans for bad puns>
Well, the topic for this newsletter is CVs and the reasons to have a good one. I have struck a number of people recently who took a bit of convincing as to why they needed to have a CV and how good it needs to be, so putting this together has formalised my ideas... all the better to argue with you, my dear (she said, toothily). 
And, just in case you think that I have gone completely batty, there is some stuff in here about technology. Check out Marketing Yourself Part 1 and Outlook "Agent" below.
Don't forget, if you want to be taken off my mailing list, click here to send me a reply e-mail and I will remove your name.

Marketing Yourself Part 1

Going for a new job is an OPPORTUNITY. It is a chance to reinvent yourself. We get to reassess where we want to go in life, and make changes that are of great value to ourselves in the longer term. We actively reach for new challenges. 



So why prepare a CV? 

A CV can help you;

  • get you an interview for the job you want. A CV does not get you a job. A CV gets you an interview
  • win a place on a course. A good CV will demonstrate that you have thought about why you want to enter the course, and should contain all the relevant skills to show that you will be able to complete
  • get a bank loan for a business idea. A good CV will show that you are a good risk. 
  • introduce you to potential customers. This is a very good way of showing what you have done when they do not know you or know of you
  • take stock of where you want to go. Working through the process of creating a CV often clarifies or crystalises what people want to do with their lives
  • REAFFIRM your value. Again - working through the process makes you realise that you have accumulated a lot of skills

Preparing a CV is a MARKETING exercise. The product you are marketing is your skills, abilities, knowledge and expertise. 

So as with any marketing exercise, to create a good CV you must first take stock of what you CAN do. You take stock by going through planning, research, compiling, reviewing and finalising. 

We can then build a good CV that clearly demonstrates your skills to your potential employers, financiers, acceptance boards and customers. 



First things first - Plan

What do you want to do with your life? 

Long Term? This is 5 to 10 years into the future. 

Mid-Term? This is 1 to 5 years out. 

Short Term? What do you want to do in the next year? 

Think about what you need to do to achieve these goals;

  • Do you need retraining? Do you need to go back to school? Is there a diploma that you really need to work in your chosen field? Do you need to take a couple of one-day courses to formalise your training? Have you got incomplete qualifications? 
  • Do you need to relocate? Is the area you live in going to provide you with the job satisfaction that you need? Are there the resources locally that can support you? If say you want to live in Nelson, you may have to compromise your goals for lifestyle. 



Information you will need 

Job Descriptions & performance reviews. These are great for getting hard facts. Performance reviews in particular often detail what percentage of completion you obtained - how much below budget your project came in at - what percentage of customer satisfaction there was with your service. Very good for including in your CV, then at the interview, you can show the interviewer your performance review to prove what you are saying. You need your job description for your key tasks. 

Chronological Paid Work Summary. You need to sit down & go through your references, old calendars or tax returns, and work out where you worked, and for how long. It often helps to remember the time of year that you started or finished a job, which will then bring back the month. You don't need to be too exact, but just putting a year down looks a little suspicious. Certificates for qualifications & courses. You need these to get the name of the course correct, and possibly to include the year of completion and the learning provider. Voluntary Work details. Again - dates, key tasks, name of the role held and the organisation it was with. It is always great if you can include a referee from the organisation that you are currently working for. Voluntary work is great because it is what you do for love. 

Referees. Try and nail most recent employers, business partners, or customers; people of good standing in the community, who has known you for a while. Referees generally attest to your character as relates to your work ability and are usually telephoned at work. You no longer need hard copy references (and most employers no longer provide them).

References. Don't need to bother. Generally refers to old  hard copy letters of reference - work references. The rules are changing, and phone work references get called referees these days. 



Structure 

Your first two pages should contain the key reasons for the employer to want to interview you. You need to be punchy, clear and individual. The first page should contain the most important ones.

Contact information - The rule here is KISS. The employer only needs to know how to contact you. Do not waste space on the front page telling the employer how many kids and donkeys you have. 

Functional Skills - Think of the four main attributes that you must have for the employer to give you the job. Such as Communication. Teamwork. Technical Knowledge. Computer Literacy. Financial Analysis. Administration. Project Management. Management. Write all your key skills from ALL your roles into each of the areas.

Work History - Work out who you worked for, what your title was in the role, and when (month and year) you started and finished the role. You need to compile a summary list to put in your CV.

Qualifications - Track down copies of your qualifications. You need to compile a summary list of these also. You may want to combine qualifications and courses. 

Chronological vs Functional experience - Chronological CVs are great where you have had strong career progression and good experience in your field. Otherwise stick to a Functional CV.

Personal interests -  Keep it short. Three or so sentences or short paragraphs that demonstrate how you spend the other 16 hours of each day. Give an example of how you deal with stress and keep fit, how you unwind, and how you like to spend the time in-between. 

Referees - Track down customers/previous employers/business associates whom you did a great job for. Ask them if they will be willing to be phone referees. Let them know who is likely to be contacting them and what the reason is for the contact. Then they are prepared and will give your prospective employer/lendor/course administrator a more considered opinion.



Next time we will be looking at the compilation of all your information. 


Outlook "Agent"

Microsoft is currently working toward an Outlook email software "agent" that will be able to prioritise emails and forward them to a desktop system, web appliance or cellphone if they are important enough to interrupt whatever the user is doing. 

The idea (and Microsoft has been saying this for years) is that the user is in control. Sometimes you might be interested in when a cheque clears or when an account comes in. The most valuable resource is the user's time. 

Microsoft researchers are building intelligent agents that can learn things about a users'  habits, that can deal with uncertainty and that can deal with the context that tasks fit into. The agent's ability to rank email messages improve by observing who the user communicates with most often and which emails the user reads first. The agent then comes to understand - and duplicate - the user's sense of urgency. 

A test version of email ranking is available as part of Microsoft's Priorities/Notification add-on to Outlook Mobile Manager. The product should be available later 2001 and of course will be included in future versions of Microsoft Office software (and what version number will that be? What can possibly come after XP?!).

Employee Screening

I read about this interesting case recently in the New York Times. Thought that you might all be interested in yet another earache from me this issue:- make sure you screen your employees! Don't necessarily discount those with dodgy backgrounds, as they could be the most dedicated company person you have. Read on...

Last September, several days after James Baughman, Director of Recruiting for Lucent Technologies, was pronounced dead of a heart attack at age 47, Baughman's colleagues memorialized him as a tireless, even obsessive, worker. They described him as compassionate, with a drive to excel, to improve the company and to please other people. 

After his death, a routine audit by Lucent disclosed discrepancies in an employee-search firm contract that Baughman had negotiated. The discrepancies resulted in a multimillion-dollar billing dispute.  Lucent says that the resulting investigation has found no evidence of wrongdoing by their deceased employee. 

But from this audit, Lucent has also discovered that Baughman had the kind of past that would have normally prevented a manager from being authorised to sign large contracts, oversee the hiring of thousands of employees, or have even worked for Lucent at all. 

And why? Because Baughman was a convicted felon. Beginning in late 1993, he had served four months in jail after pleading guilty to five felony charges, one count of forgery and four counts of grand theft. According to court records, Baughman had lied about holding a PhD from Stanford and had embezzled money several years earlier while he was a high school principal...  and failed to pay his taxes for 11 years.

"We didn't know about Jim Baughman's criminal record until after he died," said Kathleen M. Fitzgerald, a Lucent spokeswoman. "Everything indicated to us that he was a good, capable executive." 

The Baughman case raises the question of whether companies adequately screen incoming employees — and whether any company can ever truly know who the people are in its employ. Mr. Baughman came to work for Lucent through company acquisition, and Lucent were;

  •  working on the assumption that the acquired company had done "due diligence" before hiring all their employees
  • hesitant to demoralise newly-arrived managers and lower-level employees by conducting background checks. 

I am not trying to say that once a person has served their time for a crime, that past mistakes should be held against them forever. It is just that forewarned is forearmed... giving the company the opportunity to put additional checks and controls in place.

In the end, from Lucent's point of view, they had a good guy working for them who went above and beyond the call of duty. Maybe Baughman changed his work ethics to those of a "company person" was because he was challenged and trusted by Lucent, working in a role that actually engaged and fulfilled him. 

....And perhaps if Lucent had watched him, Baughman might have returned once more to putting his obviously considerable talents to personal, rather than corporate, gain. 

Virus Warnings

Two virus warnings this time. Both are about. I have had a brush with both, but luckily - phew-  my antivirus is completely up to date. Read on...




Keep your eyes peeled for the Matcher virus. 

Matcher is an e-mail worm written in Visual Basic. It was first discovered on April 18th, 2001. The worm's file is a PE executable about 29kb long. The worm file is not encrypted or packed. 

The worm needs a file "MSVBVM60.DLL" to be present on your PC before it can run. When the worm's file is run, it installs itself by copying itself as MATCHER.EXE to the \Windows\System\ folder and modifying a Registry startup key so that it is always run with Windows. 

Then the worm connects to Outlook, reads all your email addresses from your Address Book and sends itself as MATCHER.EXE to all your contact addresses. Ouch.

In some versions of the virus, the worm repeats sending itself every 1 minute... resulting in mail servers being overloaded with Matcher messages.

w.32.Magistr@mm (see W32-Magistr@mm (Magistr))
Magistr is a very dangerous combination worm / virus found in-the-wild in the mid-March this year. The virus spreads via infected Internet emails, infects Windows executable files on your PC and spreads itself over local networks.

The virus has an extremely dangerous payload, and (depending on different conditions) it erases hard drive data, CMOS memory and Flash Bios contents in the same way the Win95.CIH (aka Chernobyl) virus does. 

Once this virus is run, it installs itself into your PC memory and then runs in the background, sleeps for about three minutes before running its routines, infecting the PC and any networks, Win32 EXE files and spreading itself via email.

The virus code is activated on each Windows restart because it gets a file (usually the first file) in Windows directory, infects it and registers that file in Windows auto-run Registry key HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run and in the WIN.INI file. And that's just the start.

MAKE SURE YOUR ANTIVIRUS SOFTWARE IS UP TO DATE. THIS ONE IS A KILLER.

Hot Linx
For all of you who haven't seen this, check out Sodaconstructor. This site contains weird & curious line designs using springing, tension & all counterbalancing that are extremely clever. Go see at http://www.sodaplay.com/zoo/index.htm 

Check out this site for all the things that a CEO is supposed to know... http://www.ceoexpress.com/

Want a spot of movie nostalgia? Remember The Breakfast Club? St Elmo's Fire? Go to: http://www.fast-rewind.com/ 

The Citizen's Advice Bureau has a great Web site. Check out http://www.cab.org.nz/

And those of you who know me will also know how keen I am on supporting New Zealand films. The Price of Milk is coming!!!! Check out the site for the movie at http://www.priceofmilk.com/indexsound.html 


                                Catch you again soon!! E-mail your suggestions to me here