Tuesday, May 26, 2009

General tips for any career fair

Some general tips on what to do / not to do at a career fair for those looking to get hired:
  • Show up on time, don't come rushing in 5 minutes before it closes. 85% of the companies will be packing up and view you as a nuisance. Moreover, you are showing people off the bat you are not prepared and don't take this seriously.
  • Wear a suit. If you don't have one, wear a nice clean shirt with a nice clean tie (or equivalent for a female, I have no clue what this is). If you don't have a suit, then only under the most dire of economic situations can you not go immediately buy one. It doesn't have to be from Brooks Brothers. It just needs to fit you reasonably well, and not have visible stains or holes.
  • Bring your resume. I can't believe people need to be reminded this, but bring a lot of copies. Sure, you may want to get a specific person's email address so you feel like you made a stronger connection. But when I'm talking to you I'll want to look at your resume, I'll want to take notes on it. Make it easier for me to hire you.
  • Don't be angry about your current or last employer. This sets off a lot of warning bells for anyone talking to you. Maybe you have perfectly reasonable complaints (I did), but keep them to yourself. When asked why you are leaving, either say you are looking for more opportunities or say you are unemployed. If you tell me your current boss is a jerk, I probably won't be too excited to hire you.
  • Be specific. Don't come up to me and say you are interested in every opportunity my company is hiring for. Sorry to say, but you're not qualified for them all. If you are a programmer, tell me so. If you are a security specialist (like say Information Assurance) say that. If you are a consultant tell me so. You can elaborate and let me know of any specialties or specific skills. If you don't want to be typecast/pigeon holed give me 2 or 3 examples of different work you have done. But at some point you need something special. You need to be a <fill in the blank>. If you can't be a <fill in the blank> then you have some career issues you need to address.
And it doesn't hurt to know about the company. Our's is small, we're not a household name, so I can't blame you. But those people who did know about us and clearly had done research, they left a great impression.

And for those looking to hire:
  • Be non-specific. If you are looking for people, be clear what skills and experiences you want. Don't show up and say "We may need an accounting / financial analyst type person soon." This is not only a waste of your time, but cruel and unusual punishment for those looking for a job.
  • Send people who aren't aware of needs. Nothing worse than hearing interviewers say "I'll have to check and see if we can use someone like you." You need to know, off the top of your head. If you don't then you either need a cheat sheet, or to go home.
  • Snide comments. Be polite, but honest. Don't be cruel. Don't make disparaging comments about attire, resumes, potential of being hired etc. This is thoroughly unprofessional.

Objective statements on resumes?

I attended a corporate recruiting event last week, which for the most part was successful (the lunch was even ok, though their description of the sandwich was by far better than the actual food itself; somewhat like a lot of resumes I read?). One intriguing trend I continue to see is the abismal use of "objective" statements on resumes.


Here's an example of a bad objective statement. The set up is someone looking for an IT job: "I am seeking a position doing IT work."

Yes, I really saw those, a lot. This is not only a horrible use of space on a resume, but an indicator that you were either using it as filler because you lack good experience or you are truly just that bad of a candidate.

Here is an example of a modestly decent objective statement. Same set up, someone looking for an IT job: "To use my IT skills and experience in an environment where performance and productivity are rewarded."

The person at least mentioned their skills and experience, so now I am at least drawn to scan the rest of the resume to see if they are lying to me or not. It was an ok teaser. The second half of the resume is where they lost me. It either indicates that they are a go-getter or are disgruntled (and you can usually figure this out by looking at the rest of the resume and talking to them for 12 seconds).

An example of a good objective statement on a resume? I don't have one. I have never seen one, and I firmly doubt I have ever written one.

The sad reality is most people who spend time looking at resumes think they are really REALLY good at it. I know from a lot of past experience they aren't. I've interviewed, hired and worked with people whose resumes were initially overlooked. I've also not hired people who I have interviewed who had glowing resumes, and worked with abject hiring failures who had amazing resumes.

To me, resumes are like the SATs. They can get you in the door, but unless they are near perfect don't guarantee admittance. Even if you have a bad SAT score (resume) you can still get accepted if you show tenacity, have other great bona fides, write a strong cover letter, interview well, etc.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Strasburg's competition

As the Nationals careen through this season at a sub .300 pace, they have the #1 pick in the upcoming MLB draft. And they are poised to pay a record amount to San Diego State University's Stephen Strasburg.

Here are his stat on the year, pay attention to the competition:

12-0, 1.34 ERA, 0.76 WHIP, 94 1/3 innings, 18 walks, 174 strikeouts. (Strikeouts & Total Pitches)
  1. vs Bethune-Cookman 11K & 105
  2. vs Nevada 16K & 115
  3. vs San Diego 18K & 116
  4. vs UNLV 14K & 116
  5. vs BYU 15K & 97
  6. vs TCU 14K & 101
  7. vs UC Davis 6K & 93
  8. vs UNLV 13K & TBD
  9. vs New Mexico 14K & 129
  10. vs TCU 14K & 121
  11. vs Santa Clara 12K & 105
  12. vs Air Force 17K & 115
  13. vs Utah 10K & 116

Friday, May 15, 2009

The most classic get off the phone line ever "I'll let you go"

Universally known to mean "I'm tired of talking to you, I have more important things to do, but I'm willing to put in the effort to make it appear as though I am not doodling on a pad of paper as you ramble incoherently."

And yes, someone did just say that to me.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Another new phrase "Green is good"

Gordon Gecko would be proud, right?

Another new phrase "Green is good"

Gordon Gecko would be proud, right?

I just coined a new phrase: Green Nosing

This is "brown nosing" done aroung any "Green" business.

Lot's of that here at the USGBC Federal Summit.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Why aren't there reusable assets for LEED?

As I've delved deeper into LEED, I've thrice now had this question.

When a company is doing its own internal feasibility assessment for any of the LEED certification paths (mine being Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance [EBOM]), you will inevitably produce a long list of practices you don't have in place, policies that are missing, and data that will need to be derived.

For the programs and policies, you should be able to go to USGBC.org, go to a virtual library, and find workable templates that any organization could readily adopt.

My favorite example when explaining LEED-EBOM and how policies are a heavy component is "integrated pest control". It's a very commonsense thing to have in place, is a cost effective way to reduce pests, and is inherently safer to occupants than toxic chemically based pest control measures. Shouldn't you be able to find 2-4 templates for an integrated pest control program, as well as 3-8 examples that the USGBC found to be exemplary when reviewing all the submissions?

This seems like no-brainer to me.

Or, as a business opportunity, some smart consulting company out there should start a "plug and play" LEED services program. In the facilities world, this is more often described as a "turnkey solution".

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Old fashioned barbershops are the best

I go to the little barbershop in the area of Westover in Arlington, VA (Pete's). I first went there when I lived up the road back in 2003, and have gone back ever since (it's also across the street from Lost Dog, a fantastic local sandwich shop, so I used to get sandwiches with ever haircut).

What does a real barbershop have to have?
  • Random assortment of magazines; usually golf, something with ladies on it, and maybe a GQ to class the joint up
  • Minimum of one old timey barber, an accent is an added bonus. The owner of this shop is the old timer, he's Greek, and hilarious. He and another old timer discussing how you have to look at women yesterday was a trip
  • Old timey patrons. Gotta have a few guys who have been going there for 3 decades or more. Bonus points if they have very very little hair. Triple bonus points if they get a scalp massage, or ask for exotic looking oils.
  • Random oils and rubs that no one uses. I guess people used to like these, but I'm not asking for any mint oil to be put in my hair.
  • The old foam dispensing machine. They still use it to do the 8 second shave of your neck and sideburns. This is a holdover from when they used to do a lot of shaves.
  • A near never ending stream of conversation, preferably with some arguments. Politics, lots of sports, and any local issues that may come up. The barbershop is always good for catching up on the local flavor of things. If your lucky, you'll hear some honest to goodness gossip.
Bonus points if they still have the old timey massage/vibrating machine. The other barbershop I used to go to in College Park, MD (it burned down and never reopened) had one of these. I remember the original owner giving a scalp massage to an old timer patron. It was great.

What I have found challenging about LEED so far

Since recently learning that I'd be managing/coordinating a LEED certification project, I have experienced the following challenges -

  1. I have no buildings experience, no mechanical engineering experience, no civil engineering experience. It's a new world of terminology that is foreign to me.
  2. The benefit of it being all encompassing is a double edge sword. You have to coordinate with a LOT of people. Unless your organization is magically organized around the LEED certification contstruct, the information you need is squirreled away in 15 different places.
  3. There's math involved. If it were financial math, I'd be modestly ok (I have an MBA, but let's just say finance has never been my specialty; same goes for accounting and statistics). But this is some engineering like math that is fairly complex (see #s 1 and 2 for elaboration on why this is hard for me).
  4. There are a number of assumptions that must be made, and it makes you feel like you can go horribly awry is this. Assume a certain peak load level of parking in your facility in order to calculate how you have reduced commuting impacts. Create some highly complex model for the average potable water use for water efficiencies (see #s 1-3 for elaboration).
  5. I am not a LEED Accredited Professional (AP) and don't have time to get certified. We need to start the process now if we're going to achieve this in a timely manner (which is never a good reason to hurry up and do bad planning).
  6. If people aren't willing to help you out, they can really cripple you. I don't foresee this, but it is going to be a group effort for sure.
  7. Just because there are LEED AP's around you, doesn't mean they know about "LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance" (LEED-EBOM), which is what I'm focusing on.
  8. With no experience in this, it is challenging to set a path forward. It is much easier to set up a schedule when you have a solid idea of what you are doing. Having a construction background would help.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The most important blog/RSS feed you can subscribe to


The Washington Post updates that page when names of those who have given their lives serving our country are made known.

You don't have to click on every name, but you should at least take the time to read each name as they are released. I have gone through and read every single name for every single service member, it's the least we can do.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Garden results - lettuce

Two shots of the early results of or garden.

We have an assortment of "lettuce", some of which I'm sure is also growing as weeds in the front yard. Not sure what it is, but something in there is a little spicy...

We use the garden lettuce at least four times a week, which is great. We've almost broken even, and we have another yield coming from our lettuce seeds (current lettuce is from semi-mature purchased plants).

What is LEED for Existing Buildings?

LEED stands for "Leadership in Energy Efficient Design"


"LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations and Maintenance" (LEED-EBOM) is a LEED rating system developed for existing commercial and institutional buildings (especially office buildings). It was created by the USGBC. Here is the best overview of LEED-EBOM I have read to date.

Another great question is "What ISN'T LEED-EBOM?"

LEED for existing buildings is not a quick fix scheme for addressing the short-comings of a building. It is rather perscriptive, in a good way, about best practices and standards to use when assessing a building.

It isn't easy. If you have not been grounded in efficiency efforts in earnest as a matter of regular business practices in your facility for a few years then this is going to take effort.

It isn't impossible. What I view as one of the best components of LEED-EBOM is that it heavily gives credits to having and using specific management practices (integrated pest control, Cooling Tower Water Management, Solide waste management policy, etc). If you establish and follow these practices, not only do you get points towards your certification, not only are you making an impact on the environment around you, but you're also improving your building's financial bottomline and making it easier for you to adopt other more agressive beneficial practices.
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