Posted on February 28, 2007 by Steve C Wilson
Many people have a few blemishes on their credit history, but few job candidates are aware that a low credit score can prevent them from getting a job. It is becoming increasingly important for job candidates to polish and protect their credit scores in the same way they do their grade point averages and other resources.
This is especially true for recent college graduates, many of whom live on credit cards and student loans for several years. Upon graduation, they discover that the mountain of debt they incurred to get a great job may be a reason for them not getting a job. While bad credit alone is not disqualifying, when given the choice of two equally qualified candidates whose only differene is their credit scores, an employer will likely opt for the candiate with the better credit score.
A candidate’s credit history reveals his abilty to manage his finances and resources effectively, which is very important in positions that require working with money — such as banking, accounting, and finance. But more and more employers are viewing money management as a strong indication of character, and may be concerened that a high debt load could interefere with a person’s abilty to focus and perform job functions effectively.
According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), thirty-five percent of employers used credit checks as part of their pre-employment screening process in 2004, up from nineteen percent just 8 years earlier. And there is every reason to believe that this trend will continue. Consider:
- The Internet provides increasingly easy and inexpensive (as little as $10 in some cases) access to credit information,
- Since 9-11, employers have become much more sensitive to workplace security, and
- With employees changing jobs more frequently, there is an ample supply of candidates allowing emloyers to be more selective.
Job candidates should know their credit score before they start job searching. You can get a free credit report once a year at AnnualCreditReport.com. A score of 620 or higher is generally considered good, and 700 or higher is considered excellent. If your score is less than 620, you should be prepared to address those issues with prospective employers. If they ask persmission to check your credit history (they must ask permission), be upfront about any credit problems you’ve had and explain what you’ve done to correct them.
And finally, job candidates should understand how to protect their credit scores. Just because you’ve paid your bills on time, you may still get dinged if you’ve just applied for a car loan and several credit cards, for instance. Even closing inactive accounts may have an adverse affect on your score. For more information, you may want to look at the “Credit Score Tips and Advice” blog. It is written by a former credit counselor who has a heart for helping people manage their credit.
Filed under: *, Careers, Job search | 1 Comment »
Posted on February 27, 2007 by Steve C Wilson
Your audience is most likely to remember what you say first, and what you say last.
Learning how to communicate effectively is essential for your career growth. What good are your ideas if you can’t communicate them? Whether it’s your presentation to the to the executive board, your two-minute elevator pitch, or an interview.
In her research on short-term memory, Elizableth Hilton observed
“A person has a tendency to remember the first and last few items being presented because the brain will start to rehearse the information that was presented first and last, and have an inclination to forget the middle items.”
Don’t bury your ideas in the middle of a your presentation. If you want people to remember them, state your ideas clearly at the beginning, and repeat them at the end.
Filed under: *, Communication, Presentations | Leave a Comment »
Posted on February 26, 2007 by Steve C Wilson
We’ve all heard the admonition: “It’s not what you know. It’s who you know.”
Indeed, a recent Hudson Survey found that more than half of all employees found their current job through someone they know, suggesting that it does in fact boil down to…
Who you know.
I’ve heard many job seekers complain that “It’s all about who you know” and “You can’t get a job if you don’t know somebody on the inside.”
While there is some truth to this, I do not believe it is the whole truth. In some cases, “who you know” may be enough to secure the job, but in most cases it only gets your foot in the door. The people you know can help you get you the interview that others can’t, but it is “what you know” in the interview that secures the job.
Truth #1: Who you know gets you an interview.
Truth #2: What you know gets you a job.
Filed under: *, Careers, Job search, Networking | 1 Comment »
Posted on February 21, 2007 by Steve C Wilson
Seth Godin has an itriguing proposal in his blog today, suggesting that customer service move from real-time to asynchronous service. He writes:
“I think the single factor that is killing this process and that is under the company’s control is this: the desire to perform all customer service in real time.
In fact, most customer service can be done quite well overnight….Given the choice between amazing, guaranteed service with a one day wait or interminable waits on hold with people who can’t really help you right now… well, the choice is pretty easy.”
While this may work in may cases, it assumes the customer already has a well-defined problem or very specific question that can be answered in one response. Unfortuanately, customer service is often iterative, requiring some back-and-forth dialog to properly identify the root cause, which is best done in real time.
If there is a charge on my cell phone bill that I don’t understand, the customer service represenative has to first explain that charge to me (first iteration). Only then can I decide if I want to dispute the charge (second interation).
If an asynchronous customer service model is going to be successful, the company needs to make it exceedingly easy for customers to self diagnose their issues in advance in order to reduce the number of iterations… or even eliminate the need to contact customer service.
Yesterday, I had a question about a charge on my Cingular (ahem… the new AT&T) bill. The bill was higher than I expected, so I printed my online statement to review it. I finally found the culprit on my son’s account detail — a GPRR transfer using the MBRA rate code. What?! I did not know what a “GPRR transfer” or an “MBRA rate code” was, but I thought it would be a no-brainer to find this information on their support site. No such luck.
I finally resorted to calling customer service. She pointed out to me that the codes are included within the header. I did not see that information because the header does not print at the top of each page, and thus was four pages removed from the detail I was looking at. Perhaps I should have been able to find the information, but it was not obvious to me.
If Cingular had made it easier for me to answer my own question, I could have avoided the customer service contact altogether.
Filed under: *, Customer service | Leave a Comment »
Posted on February 19, 2007 by Steve C Wilson
In honor of President’s Day, I’d like to share some of George Washington’s wisdom from his own words:
“Associate yourself with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation. It is better be alone than in bad company. “
“Let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.”
“To be prepared for war is one of the most effective means of preserving peace.”
Filed under: Quotes | Tagged: George Washington | Leave a Comment »
Posted on February 19, 2007 by Steve C Wilson
In honor of President’s Day, I’d like to share some of Abraham Lincoln’s wisdom from his own words:
“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”
“The probability that we may fail in the struggle ought not to deter us from the support of a cause we believe to be just.”
“I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming convictio that I had nowhere else to go. My own wisdom and that of all around me seemed insufficient for that day.”
Filed under: Quotes | Tagged: Abraham Lincoln | Leave a Comment »
Posted on February 16, 2007 by Steve C Wilson
Interesting quotes by Peter Robinson, former speechwriter for Ronald Reagan:
“The value of work lay not in the kind of social position it provided or, beyond the obvious need to cover the bills, in the amount it paid. The value of work lay in allowing you to develop your talents and build up your character.”
“Work is the way human beings worship God by collaborating with him in the ongoing process of creation.”
Robinson, Peter, “How Ronald Reagan Changed My Life,” (Regan Books, 2003), pp. 63-65.
Filed under: *, Work | 2 Comments »
Posted on February 15, 2007 by Steve C Wilson
Virgin America has a new business partner — a two-year-old upstart ad agency aptly called Anomoly. The agency did not win the contact by pitching a traditional marketing campaign of slogans and 30-second commercials. Instead, the agency offered to “partner” with Virgin America by offering product design, strategic consulting, and other services in exchange for a cut of the sales. (See the full story in the January/February 2007 issue of Business 2.0.)
According to Spence Kramer, Virgin’s marketing chief,
“They never even mentioned ads. They were telling us how we could make more money.”
“Anomoly is in it to share risk. They’ve become a business partner.”
I was already mulling this over and wondering about the implicatons for the industry when I read Seth Godin’s surprisingly similar comments in his blog post:
“What ad agencies ought to do, in my opinion, is not focus on selling ads anymore. And instead, focus on getting in deeper within the clients, and help the clients make products that people want to talk about.”
This has implications not just for advertising agencies, but for any professional who offer services to businesses. No longer is it good enough for consultants to be tangentially related to their clients. Those who will succeed must be willing to get some skin in the game. And become business partners.
Filed under: *, Consulting, Marketing | 1 Comment »
Posted on February 15, 2007 by Steve C Wilson
Thanks to DUST!N for drawing my attention to this site, an online whiteboard where people can move letters around. After a mind-numbing few minutes of watching this insanity, it occurred to me that this a perfect example of art immitating life. The process reminds me of how we often behave in meetings and on project teams:
- In one of the rooms I visited, there were more than 100 people participating. Far too many people form a cohesive team.
- Nevertheless, there seem to be a few sub-groups that form to work on a pet project. None of these projects have any real relationship to each other — just pockets of self-interests.
- The sub-groups band together to vigilantly protect their turf and agenda, while outsiders in the room take pleasure in wrecking their progress. In fact, it appears that there are some people who come to the room just to see how much pain they can cause for the others.
- There seems to be a lot of people in the room, but relatively few people are doing anything productive. Most are just observing, wondering what the heck is going on.
- People pop in and out all the time. There is no commitment to the room (i.e. project).
If this sounds like I’m cyncical about human behavior, I’m not. Rather, it’s a commentary on how we form and lead teams. We tend to put way too many people in a room to solve a problem; the brilliance or creativeness of the solution is often inversely related to the number of people trying to solve the problem. I think an interesting social experient for wannaspell.com would be limit the number of participants in one of the rooms (to, say, ten or so people) and see how much more creative and productive the team becomes.
Filed under: Leadership, Teams | Leave a Comment »
Posted on February 5, 2007 by Steve C Wilson
Profanity in the workplace used to relegated to dimly-lit smoke-filled testosterone-raging boardrooms, but has become more mainstream in recent years. Call me old-fashioned, but this strikes me as an unfortunate trend. Those who habitually curse and swear are not gaining respect and influence as they might imagine, and may in fact be hurting their careers. The following quote from President Ulyssis S. Grant sheds some light on the folly of swearing:
I never learned to swear. When a boy I seemed to have an aversion to it, and when I became a man I saw the folly of it. I have always noticed, too, that swearing helps to rouse a man’s anger; and when a man flies into a passion his adversary who keeps cool always gets the better of him. In fact, I could never see the use of swearing. I think it is the case with many people who swear excessively that it is a mere habit, and they do not mean to be profane; but to say the least, it is a great waste of time.*
The problems with swearing:
- People who curse are relying on the effect of the curse words to give power to their message rather than the idea itself. If the message is worth listening to, it does need to be laced with curse words to get the other person’s attention.
- Excessive swearing rouses anger and makes contructive debate more difficult. The “cool head” usually wins.
- Excessive swearing demonstrates that a person is either incapable of self-control or is insensitive to the feelings of others.
All of which begs a question: Can “excessive profanity” and “effective leadership” co-exist?
* Kaltman, Al, “Cigars, Whiskey and Winning: Leadership Lessons from General Ulysses S. Grant” (Prentice Hall Press, 2000), p 10.
Filed under: Leadership | 1 Comment »