Let's Talk Work

because there are two sides to every story

BIG little MiS tAkEs, Etc.

See Etc. Below

On my soapbox today…as I am spending a small part of this holiday weekend reviewing resumes received in response to a recent posting.

Candidates, there are a few golden rules to submitting your resumes online. Please consider the following so you don’t fall into that ‘black hole’ or get ‘lost in the shuffle’:

  1. ALWAYS name and save your document with your name or at least your initials. At least 1/3 of resumes just received are named as resume.doc or myupdatedresume.doc or similar. This makes it much easier for us hiring authorities to look through a long list of applicants and sort them by name, maybe alpha, in order to review them. Resumes that don’t have an identifier as their saved document name can indeed get lost in a shuffle of dozens if not hundreds more that do have some identifier.
  2. When you decide to use the template of someone else’s resume in order to copy and paste your own information – don’t forget to RENAME the resume and document to your own. Nothing raises the  red flag at the hiring company like two different names associated with one resume. Most likely, that is all the company will then read.
  3. Don’t associate your resume with a glaring or inappropriate email address for response. Just another Triancular_red_flagto the company about one’s professionalism.
  4. When submitting your resume, seriously, for a job, be sure that you meet some if not most of the qualifications listed. When you don’t, that sends yet another Triancular_red_flag that you probably didn’t even read the posting in full. And, if you take such shortcuts in your own career search endeavors, then what might you do on the job if hired?
  5. Always, email a copy of your resume as both your document as well as a .PDF version. Occasionally, employers will get resumes that have notes entered all over, or have some form of code or template lines on top of the content that was intended. This may say to an employer – he/she doesn’t proofread their own personal work, so we probably can’t trust them to be responsible for any workplace documentation that would be tasked with.
  6. Triancular_red_flag There are often red flags when resumes are submitted through various recruitment websites and aggregators and the intended targets (being the company) may not actually see what you intended them to see.
  7. Consider the level of the position you are applying to. Have you shown, through your own resume format, content, grammar and spelling, that you even meet the qualities required for the job?

And then some…

8.  Always be sure to place your name on each page of your resume.

9. It’s helpful to insert page numbers when your resume is more than one page.

10. There is no need to waste space on your resume with ‘references upon request’ as that is a given. If you don’t provide them ‘when asked’ you probably won’t go further in the process.

10+. Don’t even place the names and numbers of your references on your resume. Most people don’t want their contact information out there on the global resume/job search market – and wouldn’t be comfortable if this got in the wrong hands. On the other hand, have that list available to share (in person) when and if they are requested, most likely during an interview.


Active Searches

The Village of Midlothian is currently seeking to hire various part-time roles, as well as a full-time Deputy Clerk/Executive Assistant.

Please share as you may see fit. Instructions on how to apply are within the link above.

Thank you and have a great holiday weekend.



Several years ago (2002) I met an author – Giovinella Gontheir: RUDE Awakenings. I was first attracted to the title of her book simply because it sounded like the name of a business I once wanted to start (Brewed Awakenings) a coffee and wine bar. I met her during a workshop I was attending on Civility in the workplace, and was able to continue a relationship for a bit of time afterwards.

Gontheir spoke of a systemic change that was required throughout an organization; from the way performance was measured and appraisals conducted; to policies on conduct in the workplace.

Civility is imperative in any business environment: or workplace. Employee and customer retention, productivity and morale – all being impacted by so much Incivility.

Too often, the impact of incivility is felt through many threads of contact rarely thought as being uncivil: one being too casual of a dress code. Now, how can that be in the same vein as being civil? One way is determining what is too casual for a workplace. When could ‘casual dress’ be confusing? Well, beyond suggestive clothing (too provocative or slogans on T-shirts), there is a lack of specificity on such policies in the workplace. Casual ‘Day’ in some organizations may revolve around a theme (such as Hawaiian shirts or support of a local sports team). That actually contributes to camaraderie. However, when the clothing in the office can become too casual without some guidelines. Basically, respect for each other, for the organization and the customers it serves, is often reflected in the attire worn by employees.

Other opportunities that civility is challenged:

  • Meetings. Being civil in meetings starts with being on time. Proper decorum. Balancing your own contributions with that of others, instead of monopolizing the time and effort.
  • Communications. From basic telephone calls to speaker phones to voice mail messages to cell phones to emails; all can be easily misinterpreted or ill-conceived.
  • Body language. How one sits at a meeting or training session: slouching or nodding off of course is disrespectful and shows a lack of interest. Rolling eyes and folded arms and convey other messages, even unintentionally.

Yet systemic change doesn’t happen from the ground up; it happens from the top down – and then it takes a real effort. Leaders need to ‘Walk the Talk’; put things in writing, be an example to others. Beyond dress codes or expectations, it’s in the manner in which we speak to each other. Are we abrupt or attacking when talking with one another? Or, are we addressing someone as they are a brand new contact and we want to make a good impression and give the benefit of the doubt? Can there be a happy medium?

We wonder what your organization has done, at least internally, to promote civility in the workplace. We often talk about improving customer relations and service levels. Why not start from within?

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs implemented an organization-wide cultural change initiative more than 10 years ago. After receiving feedback from employees that low levels of  employee feedback that low levels of civility affected their level of job satisfaction, it has since been utilized by over 1,200 VA workgroups to establish a culture of respect and civility throughout their entire organization.

Civility  is an essential behavior of all employees in all organizations. These are the interpersonal “rules of engagement” for how we relate to each other, our customers, and our stakeholders; the fundamentals of courtesy, politeness, and consideration.

Respect connects us at a personal level. It reflects an attitude developed from deep listening and understanding, cultural and personal sensitivity, and compassion. It honors all the participants in an interaction by creating a safe place to have difficult conversations and leads to an environment of honesty and mutual trust.

Engagement is the result of respectful relationships within an atmosphere of trust. It provides all staff with the charge, the parameters, the training and the support to make decisions “on the spot” in the best interest of the veteran.

Refer to References…

people under magnifying glass

First, a note to those looking for and interviewing for jobs. Presume that your references will be verified, and maybe some others uncovered in the process. Read this article to learn more. Red flags are raised when individuals document one thing on their resume and another on their job application form. Your signature is the claim that ‘everything’ you’ve written is absolutely true. Remember that.

Employment Background Checks – Legal Rights

Employers – you must do your due diligence before making any job offers. Don’t rely on just a personal reference or recommendation. When someone is in your employ – you, and your company, are now responsible for their actions, in particular – those that could be found illegal (i.e. theft, harassment, violence).

Read this publication on negligent hiring

At home, you may take your time evaluating a painter, a housekeeping service, a landscapers or others you hire to help you with your responsibilities as a homeowner. Not only do you evaluate costs, but you may look at reviews on Yelp, Angie’s List and other resources that track satisfaction rates and help buyers to beware.

So, if you are in a position of authority in your organization to hire people – due diligence needs to take place there as well.

There’s a term ‘backdoor references’ which I became all too familiar with many years ago – when a manager was screening people through mutual connections, without the individual even knowing they were a ‘candidate’ for the job. This is absolutely wrong.

Never check someone’s references without their prior consent. Always look at their documented authorization on their application to allow you (or not) to contact their ‘current’ employer. Imagine the predicament you could put someone in with their current position/company when this is a surprise inquiry. Worse, if you do not hire that individual (for any reason) and now they are seen in a different light in their current work situation.

Never ask for information that could be used to discriminate. If you don’t know what type of information that might be, you shouldn’t be in a position to make hiring decisions.

Always dig deeper on a negative reference. Could this have been a cultural or more in relation to performance?

In those cases where a negative history may overshadow a current more positive history – be sure to ask more clarifying questions…and don’t assume people stay the same. They can improve; life circumstances may impact their past performance – as well as their future.

As found through solid interview and recruiting practices – past behavior usually predicts future behavior.

And a look at a recent event, spurred by a lack of references conducted which translates to negligent hiring.

April, Busy times

Tis the seasons. Tax season. Election season. Yard work. Spring cleaning. More hiring going on, temporary or otherwise. People and businesses have enjoyed the extra hour of daylight in recent weeks as it perks us up and energizes most of us.

Much is going on in today’s workplaces. Even if you are not in the accounting business or working for a government agency, somehow this high energy, overly busy time of those professionals may be impacting you as well.

Accounting professionals may or many not welcome extensions by their clients. It just delays the work and the payment. We’d like to hear from them on their reluctance to process extensions – how and if it really matters to them one way or another. But we know that through April 15th, not a whole lot of personal time is on the calendar for those who do tax work.

Then it is local election season as well in so many communities. People waiting on decisions to be made, that might be on hold – until new officials are in place, or not. Projects nearing completion may need final approvals in the workplace of these environments yet, the focus is on the future, not so much the now. While that ‘future’ could be the same as the ‘now’, a lot of uncertainty remains.

Landscaping businesses. Should they get a running head start because of all the mild weather the Chicago area has enjoyed this winter; or should they ‘wait and see’ in case there just may be one more big snow? Should they hire more people today, or delay that until needed? However, back to the west coast – this is a year round business in warm climates so steady-as-they go.

Spring breaks bring R&R to families but hectic times in the hospitality industry. Car sales may increase as people who filed their taxes early, may use their refunds to purchase another vehicle, or two.

Other businesses/industries pick up during these weeks: the big box stores with gardening centers; retail stores with spring clothes; and at home – some spring cleaning with or without the help of a 3rd party.

On the west coast, they are known for eating healthier all year-long, than those of us in the Midwest. We seem to wait until ‘salad season’ is upon us, and where the comfort food of the past few months are now showing their true colors.

So, we have a little patience and understand the stressed that occur in some workplaces and industries during these months as the 1st quarter of the year is now behind us.




90% of Recruiters use Social Media

It’s February and I’m already behind in my posts. Yet, I attended a seminar and thought the information I gathered would be helpful to those active in their job search or soon-to-be.


It’s about Social Media and how you may be viewed in advance of an interview and/or job offer. A few points of reference:

  • Over 90% of recruiters use social media to vet candidates pre-interview.
  • 56% of HR and recruiters say some of their best candidates are sourced via social media

A few facts about Social  Media Screening:

  • Over 43% of hiring managers  have uncovered material online that has resulted in not hiring  an individual.
  • 48% of applicants indicated drug or alcohol usage.
  • 24% of applicants lied about their qualifications.
  • 50% of candidates posted explicit or inappropriate photos.
  • 28% made comments discriminating on the basis of  race, gender, religion, etc.

Sources: CareerBuilder Social Media Recruitment Survey, 2016

One of the things I want you to consider is your privacy settings on any of the social networks you regularly participate in. While the U.S. is a bit behind the U.K. in how data is viewed and used when sourced online, I’d like to stay ahead of the game whenever possible. I advise my clients of the same.

I realize some people just don’t care what they post. However, while a company may follow certain rules about social media screening, the people inside may resort to their own vetting process. Whether this takes place before an applicant is even contacted, or after an interview takes place – one never can be sure who is looking in on you and at what point.

According to various sources, the top social networks used by Job Seekers are Facebook (83%); Twitter (40%); Google+ (37%) and LinkedIn (36%).

Those networks most used by Recruiters include: LinkedIn (94%); Facebook (65%); Twitter (55%) and Google+ (18%).

So if these are current and accurate ratings – something seems upside down. If 94% of Recruiters are using LinkedIn for recruiting, why are only 36% of Job Seekers?!

So without preaching to the choir – just take a moment to be smart. If you do your best to keep all your social media profiles smart, hooray for you! Set your privacy settings accordingly.

Here’s a bit of a safety net: While you may be careful when job hunting – one of your own contacts could tag you on something you are sure is inappropriate or just too risky for a hiring organization to see. Officially, something like that should not be held against you, as you did not originate it. But perception does not necesarrily mean reality. And we just can’t be sure who’s lurking.

Resolutions or…maybes

noun: resolution; plural noun: resolutions
  1. 1.
    a firm decision to do or not to do something.
    Synonyms: intention, resolve, decision, intent, aim, plan

Personally, I don’t make New Year Resolutions. They seem to set me up to fail. Whether diets or just chocolate, it reminds me of Lent, when we are supposed to give something up.

Instead, I choose to do something. Whether for myself or for someone else. Often, a silent resolution but one that is reasonably achievable. When preaching to the choir here, I promote personal and professional development; something that should be going on whether you are seeking a new job/career or actively employed. It keeps our minds open and operating.

In my case, I have registered for two webinars and one seminar for the month of January. Can I achieve all 3 of these? One in person but quite local, and the other two from the comfort of my office — so I should be able to. I intend to.

During the past year, there have been too many webinars I’ve missed because something came up. Those damn somethings!  I’ve realized that when something is offered ‘free of charge’ we become less committed to it. But we really miss out on something we were most likely very interested in. Even when free, no one wants to dedicate their time in advance to something that won’t benefit them. Time gets away from us all, work and personal distractions, the news, social media. Who loses? We do.

Maybe inviting someone else in the office to sit-in on the webinar with could help us stick to our schedule. Furthermore, the intended message or training will more than likely last beyond that one hour time slot when you have a colleague to continue the conversation with.

In a sense, I’ve made a professional resolution. To stick to my calendar of webinars/seminars. When I don’t, I always regret it. So maybe in a way – a personal resolution of sorts – to stop having regrets.

Would love to hear from you, on your plan or resolution, how you stick to your plan – particularly when it comes to your work life. Please share your comments or insight with the rest of us. We could all use a little nudge on occasion, to help us uphold our own commitments, even when no one is watching.

Happy 2nd week of 2017.






End of an era

To the Chicago Southland Career Network:

December 6, Tuesday was our final meeting of 2016. I introduced this new format of a Roundtable for job seekers and for those in career transition alike. The intention was to provide a more structured and thereby effective forum for those in career transition; beyond directives by the facilitator, each participant gaining insight and experience from others who are experiencing similar circumstances.

We never had to turn anyone away, not meeting our maximum participation, yet we’ve had to cancel more than once for a lack of. So, it is with lack of interest or availability that I have decided to put this group as it is, on hold. Not simply for personal reasons as it was two years ago, yet to permit me to continue to provide affordable coaching in this small group format, I would require more regular participation. Individual fees may not affordable for some, particularly when unemployed which is why I have continued in this path for the past eight (8) years.


The good side is, many people are finding their way to new jobs and careers. I believe there will always be a need for such support among professionals like yourselves. I hope to continue to provide some satisfactory support through the BLOG -Let’s Talk Work and through our GROUP on Facebook. The day may come where I integrate those two online resources.

I have often felt that “I am doing what I should be doing” when I meet with and discuss your concerns and conundrums; your aspirations and your accomplishments. It’s been an honor to get to know so many of you over these years. I am sure our paths will cross once again (they often do) and that you have felt that our meetings have been valuable and worthy of your time.

All the best to you and yours, in this holiday season and beyond,

Respectfully, Donna Mazalin


December 1st meeting, final of the year

PLEASE HAVE A SEAT – at OUR ROUNDTABLE. Click here for details.

RSVP however, by 6pm today! Thanks.

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