Should I ever retire to do stand up comedy, I can assure you that I have more than enough material to keep any audience in stitches for hours.
As Chairman of The FENG for the past 23 years, I have to tell you that I always thought that things would improve, but now I know (sadly) that they won’t. Here are a few things that fall into the category of either “I don’t know whether to laugh or cry,” or “You can’t make these things up.”
1. Some people don’t know how to spell their own names. Hard to believe, but every week there is at least one new member applicant who is incapable of completing their information without at least one or more typos, and one field that is particularly astonishing is their last name.
2. Incorrect phone numbers in outgoing signatures. If you are wondering why no one is getting back to you, this could be the reason. I had two last week.
3. A phone number is provided, but you actually need an extension to reach the person in question. This source of amusement is usually provided by recruiters at search firms or corporations. I suppose they have never actually had to call themselves and are unaware of the problem. To add to the fun, their phone system alternately requires you to enter either their first name or their last name (followed by a # or *) and rarely provides you with their actual extension so the next time you call, you have to go through the drill again.
4. Not knowing how to properly do a copy/paste from Word into Outlook. Yes, I know that computer and email are new to your world, but wouldn’t you like to look like a professional? When you paste from Word into Outlook, you either want to paste using “Keep Text Only,” or “Merge Formatting,” so that Word doesn’t inadvertently add extra carriage returns. You would think that people would realize they are double and triple spacing between paragraphs, but you would be wrong. They either don’t know how to fix the problem or don’t care. Perhaps they never write to themselves. All I know is that if I want to print a copy of their message, it takes two pages instead of one.
5. Voice mail that doesn’t announce the person’s name. Again, I know that email and computers are relatively new in the greater scheme of things, but the telephone was invented in 1878 and voice mail became available in 1980! Sometimes I can actually see on my phone that I dialed the right number. What I don’t know is if I actually reached YOU. I realize it could take as long as 15 minutes to get your voice mail set up, but I would suggest to you that it will be time well spent. A friendly message would also be in order.
6. The “From” name on your email. This is another of those many “set ups” that you blasted through when you first got your email account. Now I’m not suggesting you get a “brain cramp,” but just so you fool me into thinking you are technologically proficient, could you change it from john smith to John Smith? (By the way, if John Smith is not your name, it would be a good idea to use YOUR name.) Another thought is that (here I am appealing to your inner accountant) since email addresses are for the most part free, sharing an account with your spouse for your job search is an all around bad idea.
7. Really tiny fonts. Yes, I know you have more information to share about your many skills than will fit on the normally allowable two pages of 12 point type, but 8 or even 6 point type on a resume is another very bad idea. When the type gets that small, most people will assume it is a smudge. This is another of the many reasons that the “delete” key on most keyboards used by members of the search community is so worn.
8. Why is your “greeting to use” a secret? Most of the people I hear from on a daily basis are in my address book, but I’m unusual. If your name is Robert, do you go by Bob, Rob or Robert? If it is William, do you go by Bill, Will or William. I’m pretty good at these guessing games, but honestly, is it a military secret or are you just trying to embarrass me when I call?
9. What is your time zone? Of course, I could once again beat the drum about FULL outgoing signatures, but I would be “spitting into the wind.” (As a good sailor, I would never do that.) If you are uncomfortable about putting down your full address, would it be possible to at least provide a city/state? With people taking their cell phones across the country and not getting a local phone number, my cell phone app isn’t as helpful as it used to be. Don’t complain about someone calling you at 5AM if you have taken your NYC (917) area code to Los Angeles. If you are concerned about strangers knowing your address, type your name into Google and see if it comes up. If you really want to scare yourself, go out to Google Earth and find a picture of your house from the air and from the street.
10. Does anyone return phone calls anymore? I have been doing more cold calling in recent years and I am at times astonished and/or dismayed that the bulk of those I call don’t bother to return my phone calls. Don’t they know how important I am (or at least think I am)? It gets a little lonely here at world headquarters, and usually I am actually trying to do a favor for those I am calling. I have heard reports that members of long standing who extend themselves by calling a few new members every week don’t get returned phone calls either. Will this insanity ever stop? I always believe that anyone who calls me may have a check they want to send me. Unless I call them back, I won’t get the money. (It is a risk I am not prepared to take.)
11. Some people type in all CAPs, and others in all lower case. If this is you, please know there is a Caps Lock key on the left side of your keyboard that you can release. In addition, there is a shift key on both sides of your keyboard that you can use to upper case and lower case things you write. As far as I know, e.e. cummings died in 1962. In any case, (upper or lower) you are not a famous poet.
If any of you have some “amazing things” you would like to share with me, I would be delighted to receive them. I can always use more material for my next career in comedy.