EditorialsBy Matt Bud, Chairman, The FENG

This is probably just a lucky guess on my part, but I have the very real sense that the high technology tools we have to conduct a job search are here to stay. (To quote Larry King, “High technology, what will they think of next?”)

Friends, Al Gore invented the Internet a long time ago. And, even if the Federal Government declares it to be a public utility, chances are good that you would benefit significantly by developing a mastery of its many intricacies.

And, to bring you back to the beginning of time itself, I’ve had a computer in my office since the early 1980’s! Should I mention cell phones?

It is honestly high time that all of you figure out how these amazing things work.

Here are some areas I would suggest you strengthen your skills:

First, email. Most of the email I see looks like a kidnap note. Within the email cover notes there typically are several different type sizes and sometimes several fonts. Everyone should have at least 2 email addresses so you can write to yourself. (This way you can always get some email. Just kidding.) The reason is so you can test your messages. Outlook is a great product, but due to its huge capabilities you need to “tame” it so that you can properly paste in things you have written in Word. Pasting using “Merge Formatting” will get you through most of the issues, but do some testing so you don’t look foolish. The extra line breaks from those who should know better are particularly annoying.

Phones. When I need to speak with someone, I need to speak with them. What I tend to do is call ALL of the phone numbers I have for them. (I am totally relentless.) I am always surprised that MOST people don’t have a message set up. (You’re kidding, right? I only wish I was.) Is it really that hard to set up your answering machines? Friends, the phone is one of your lifelines to the outside world. The system message fills me with dismay.

I suppose I should have put this under email, but dare I once again mention the importance of outgoing signatures? The explanations I hear about why folks don’t have one, amaze and astound me. They include things like “This is an address I use for my personal mail.” “Everyone knows how to reach me.” (Dream on.) The best one is “I don’t like to share my personal information with strangers.” Friends, privacy is dead. And, it is over rated anyway. Make it easy for others to reach you, and they just might. If you don’t know how to add an outgoing signature, I can assure you that it won’t take more than 5 minutes to learn. At a minimum, your outgoing signature should include your name, email, phone number(s) and a city/state so others will know your time zone.

Word. In a word, most people don’t know how to use it. Don’t “fake” your formatting. Learn how to do it properly. On your resume, make sure your name is on every page at the top. Force your page breaks. And for goodness sake, let me know who promotes having a 3rd page with just your education. (If you share with me who it is, I will gladly whack them upside the head with my electronic baseball bat.) Resumes need to be two pages, or at worst case 3 pages. They should never be 2 ½ or 1 ½.

Back to email again. Your first and last name should properly show in the From box. And, it should be either your given name or your greeting to use. Your call on that one. It should also be properly uppercased and lowercased.

If you want to prove the case that you aren’t too old to work, demonstrating a facility with all the “new fangled” technology is one way to make that happen.

Here is a joke shared with me by the New York/New Jersey B2B CFO Partners that highlights my point:

A young executive was leaving the office late one evening when he found the CEO standing in front of a shredder with a piece of paper in his hand.

“Listen,” said the CEO, “this is a very sensitive and important document here, and my secretary has gone for the night. Can you make this thing work?”

“Certainly,” said the young executive. He turned the machine on, inserted the paper, and pressed the start button.

“Excellent, excellent!” said the CEO as his paper disappeared inside the machine. “I just need one copy.”

If you’re hoping you won’t have to learn the technology around you, think again. It’s only going to get worse. (Or is that better?)

Regards, Matt

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