Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Hunting the Most Dangerous Game

Unless you're one of the lucky few who find no problems talking yourself up, lying a little, and being super charming around strangers...job hunting sucks. I should know, I've been doing it for years! To be a successful job-hunter, you have to know how to apply. While I might not be the authority on interviews, I can churn out resumes and cover letters like nobody's business. Here I have given you a few templates and listed the better advice I've received from the internet, from my former career adviser, and from friends who have landed kick-ass jobs.

Part 1: The Resume
If you've ever written a resume before, you probably know the standard format. While some companies might enjoy a bit of artistic expression in the resume, the most important aspect is that anyone can quickly and easily find the most important details.


Your Full Name
Mailing Address  -   Email Address  -  Phone Number

Name of School                                                                           Dates of Attendance/Date degree earned
            Degree earned                                                                                                   Location of school

Name of School                                                                           Dates of Attendance/Date degree earned
            Degree earned                                                                                                   Location of school

Name of Company                                                                                                               Dates worked
Title of position                                                                                                                        City, State
              Action word and explanation. 

Name of Company                                                                                                               Dates worked
Title of position                                                                                                                        City, State
              Action word and explanation.

Name of Company                                                                                                               Dates worked
Title of position                                                                                                                        City, State
              Action word and explanation.

Name of Company                                                                                                               Dates worked
Title of position                                                                                                                        City, State
              Action word and explanation.

Skills and Awards
Here you will include other languages you speak and/or read, technical proficiencies (Microsoft Office package, HTML coding, etc.), artistic pursuits (have you played piano for 10 years? this may not help you get the job, but it will prove that you are dedicated and maybe will make you stick out in the employer's mind). Also include any awards you have received professionally, including scholarships or stipends in college.

Here you will list any non-professional accomplishments. Have you served on a committee? Were you a DJ at your college radio station? Have you studied abroad or had summer training? Have you performed a professional skill in the private sector? This is where you want to mention those things.


Quick Tips: 
Do make your resume attractive and clean, surround most important aspects with white space.
Don't make your resume more than 2 pages (1 page front and back if you are sending a physical copy.)
Do write more for your most recent job than your first job - you want to imply that you have been given more responsibility with each job you take.
Don't type paragraphs to explain work duties, instead use quick sentences that start with action words.
Do allow time (30 minutes to an hour) for formatting and printing.

Part 2: The Cover Letter
Below is a basic form for you to copy and paste and fill in the blanks. This is just to get you started, read the tips below the letter for more on content!
Your name
City, State  Zip

Company name
City, State  Zip

Date you will send the letter (Day, Month, Year)
Dear Mr/Mrs. Name or To Whom it May Concern:

Thank you for taking the time to review my application for [complete title of position]. My experience in [----] and my education in [----] make me an ideal candidate for this position.

More about why you're perfect for this job.

I look forward to hearing from you / I am excited for this opportunity.

Thank you,
Your full name
email address
phone number


Quick Tips: 
  Do write a separate letter for every application.
  Don't copy and paste the job posting, but do use similar action words to explain what distinguishes you from other candidates.
  Do be concise.
  Don't just re-write your resume.
  Do use SHORT anecdotes or metaphors (2-3 sentences) to explain all pertinent aspects of your personality/work ethic/experience.
  Do name drop - if you know someone in the company, were referred to this position by a friend, or have worked at the company in any capacity before, now is the time to mention it!

Part 3: References
Requesting and providing references can be one of the trickier aspects of the application process. Most companies require three professional references. They may ask for a letter from the reference, or simply for their contact information. If a letter is required, be sure to notify your reference about one month in advance.

Quick Tips:
Do chose someone who likes you and can attest to certain aspects of your work ethic and ability. This does not have to be a supervisor, but it could be a teacher or co-worker. If you are applying for a supervisory position, try to get a reference from someone who has worked for you.
Don't give out personal emails or phone numbers, instead use professional contact information.
Do let your references know they may be contacted. Most often, a potential employer will not contact your references until after they schedule an interview, so you might want to wait until you are sure you are a candidate for the job.
Do give details of the job you are applying to and what aspects of your work you would like them to highlight. They are probably very busy, so you want to make it as easy as possible for them to talk you up.
Do send thank you cards/emails to anyone who provided you with a good reference.

Got questions? I've got answers!

Monday, January 2, 2012

a woman's work is never done

Because I am still baffled by the number of people who are totally clueless when it comes to handwashing dishes, I decided to do a more detailed description. Some of this stuff seems totally basic to my thinking, but I have realized (having male roommates) that I take a LOT of cleaning know-how for granted.

How to Properly and Efficiently Handwash Dishes

  • Dish drainer
  • 2 tubs that fit in your sink
  • Soap and sponge
  • Scrub brush (optional)
  • Hot water
  • Plastic gloves

Step 1:
Before you start fooling with gross dishes, make sure your clean dishes are put away, the dish rack should be empty and clean. (Rinsing your tray about once a week will prevent moldy build up - keeping it clean is much easier than cleaning it!)
Step One

Step 2:
Rinse out the dirty dishes. I have a scrub brush that I use to get caked-on food off of dishes and pots. (I also use it to clean out the sink at the end of dishwashing.) Getting all the gross bits off of your dishes before you start washing them will conserve water and make the whole thing a lot easier.
Step Two
Step 3:
Arrange the dishes on a counter or table in a way that makes sense to you. I gather all my silverwear into a plastic cup and arrange cups and mugs closest to the sink, dishes behind them, and pots and pans behind that. This is the order in which I usually wash things.
Step Three: Dirty dish found art
Step Three: Silverwear tower

Step 4:
Prep two wash tubs. These cost anywhere from $1 - $7, but as long as you don't bang them around too much the cheap ones hold up just fine. On the dirty dish side, fill the tub halfway with scalding hot water. On the clean dish side, fill halfway with lukewarm water. Those yellow plastic gloves are worth their weight in gold at this point. Not only do they make touching gross caked-on food bits kind of fun, they allow you to use super hot water without damaging your hands. 
Step Four: left = hot, right = cold

Step 5:
Start washing! My routine starts with glasswear because spots and stains show up best on glass. For this same reason, I put glasses on the far side of the drying rack, so that stray splashes won't leave spots as they dry. Then I wash mugs (to balance the rack...mine tends to tip over into the sink if I'm not careful!), then bowls, plates, silverwear, and pots/pans. 
Step Five: First layer of drying, everything is resting on
something else, plastic cups are used as barriers between
 glass and porcelain items.
Step 5.1:
I used to hate washing silverwear, but since I started tub-washing my dishes it's kind of fun. I dump the whole cup into the hot water, and (starting with steak knives for obvious reasons,) quickly scrub each one and plop them in the rinse water. 
Step Five-point-one: Silverwear dumping
Step 6:
Finish up with the dirtiest items - usually pots and pans. These can rest on top of the other dishes, again using plastic as barriers when possible and necessary. Notice in the picture below that I never put wine glasses in the dish drainer unless it will be virtually empty. I can't tell you how many stems I have broken from carelessly sticking those in the drainer (usually when trying to empty it), so now I just stick them off to the side to let them dry, usually on a clean towel or rag. 
Step Six: Two layers of dishes here, be careful unloading!

Step 7: 
Clean up after you clean. Seems annoying, but cleaning up after yourself will make your supplies last longer, not to mention it will be less daunting to do the dishes next time they pile up. THE MOST IMPORTANT thing to do when doing dishes is to keep your sponge clean and dry. Remember that episode of Family Guy where Stewie meets the cast of Star Trek? "A dry sponge is a happy sponge." It is absolutely true. Never leave your sponge sitting in a tub of water. Squeeze it out and put it off to the side somewhere that it can air out.
Step Seven: "A dry sponge is a happy sponge."

When you rinse out your tubs, first dump the nasty water, then empty your drain catcher or run the disposal. Then dump our your rinse water and clean up the sink. Be sure to rinse off all food bits and soapiness from the bottom of the tubs and set them aside somewhere they can dry.

Step Seven: Waste Water Services
That's it! This whole process takes me about 30-45 minutes to do a whole rack-full of dishes. They aren't as painful as you might think, and its kind of meditative in a weird way. So do some damn dishes already!