Tag Archives: FaceBook

Choctaw Bowman

Choctaw Bowman - Military ManMy Grandfather (on the left) during WWI

At one time, it was easy to conceal your past. We have all heard stories of men who went West for a new beginning. It was easy, 100 years ago, to leave your past behind. Actually, it was difficult for your past to follow you.

When I attended my first defensive driving class (in the early 1970s) the instructor wanted to make a point about how we all had different degrees of training for operating a motor vehicle. He asked if anyone had received a drivers license without a formal test. Today, we would see this as a “set up” for calling in the officials to make an arrest, but in the 1970s, if we’d done everything by the book, we had no concerns. An old man in the group raised his hand and stated that he received his drivers license by filling out a form and paying 75 cents. That was it. No test, no training, no background check, no ID, no birth certificate to prove he was of legal age. 75 cents and a short form got him a drivers license.

We have all heard stories about Civil War veterans who joined the cause by lying about their age and joining their army of choice. This continued well into the 20th century. My Grandfather, Charles Bowman, lied about his age to join the infantry in World War I. I have to wonder if he questioned the wisdom of his decision. He saw plenty of bloodshed on the fields of France as a bugler in the infantry. However, he followed Black Jack Pershing, after the war, into the battle against Pancho Villa on the Texas border. He was a military man.

Eventually, he moved to Austin, TX with his young bride and became the first trolley car driver down the streets of ATX and continued his career with Austin Transit Company, eventually becoming the Vice President of Charters for the bus line. All of this under the name of “Charles Bowman”.

We did not learn of his duplicity until 60 years later, when he was too feeble for my grandmother to take care of in their home on 1509 6th Street. My older brother drove him from his home in Austin to the Veterans Hospital in Temple, TX. While checking him in, and presenting his enlistment papers to the administrators at the VA hospital, my brother noticed that “GrandDad” had joined the infantry under the name of “Choctaw Bowman.” The man I had known for 40+ years as “Charles Bowman” was, in reality, born “Choctaw Bowman”.

My grandfather had spent all his adult years under an assumed name.   Sometime after his military career, he decided that “Choctaw” was not a suitable name for a young man with career aspirations. At that time (1920s), all you had to do was to fill out paperwork with the information you wanted employers to believe was true. I guess they could have checked his military record and “outed him” but they did not. He continued his life under this new name, with impunity.

Things are not like that now. If  you were arrested in 1970, there is an on-line record of that. It is easy to find all the dirt on you that anyone might want to find. This brings me to a recurring theme. Your future employer will look for information on you on-line. If you are not found, they will dig deeper. If there is information that you do not want them to find, make it easy for them to find good information about you. Get your LinkedIn profile up to date (there is little reason to go back more than 20 years with your work history….no one cares that you bused tables in grad school).

Post updates about your good work and “good works”. If you wrote a published article, include a link to that on-line article on Facebook and LinkedIn. If you were awarded a patent, put that on LinkedIn. If you volunteer at the homeless shelter on Thanksgiving Day, post a picture on Twitter and an update on Facebook and LinkedIn. If you are not doing good things, start doing them. Earn new certifications. Update your programming skills. Brush up on Spanish at the community college. Do things that make you employable and make sure to broadcast that on social media.

If your future employer can find dozens of things about you on pages 1 – 20 with a Google search, there is little reason to continue on to page 21 where they may find images of you dancing the Hula with a giant Mai Tai in your hand. Make it easy for them to find the information that will make them want to hire you. Social Media is just as effective in getting news on the Internet as a press release. Make it work for you.

Good Luck and Godspeed.

Frozen Pipes


When my wife and I were married less than a year, we decided to buy a house. It was a bit fool hardy as we were barely making any money, but we lived in a marginal neighborhood on its way back up from hard times. Houses were going for cheap and renting did not make sense. The houses in our neighborhood fell into two categories: beautiful and expensive or cheap fixer-uppers. We bought a wonderful Victorian cottage in dire need of fixing up.

Our first winter there, I learned more than I wanted to know about frozen pipes. It was a particularly cold winter and previous residents had done little to insulate the water pipes. I tried all sorts of things to “unfreeze” the pipes, but the only effective method was to wait for the temperature to go back up. I opened faucets around the house so I would know the second we had running water again. When our pipes finally unfroze, I discovered three bad things: our kitchen faucet had been damaged by the freeze and would no longer turn off the running water, the substandard plumbing had no water shut offs underneath the sink so there was no way to turn off the water in this sink and the drain in the kitchen sink was also frozen shut. I had water quickly filling up my kitchen sink and no idea where the water shut off was. I called to my wife to get a neighbor to come over and shut off the water. I was madly bailing water out the kitchen window.  It was only the next morning that I discovered that I was bailing water out the kitchen window and into the old VW Beetle parked in the driveway. Some neighborhood kids had broken the back window so I was forced to drive the car, in the dead of winter, with a missing back window. Soon I could add mildew to the list of problems that poor Beetle had.

At times like these, you can either laugh or cry. We chose to laugh and laughed many times as we retold this story over the years. We were young and assumed that we would never be this poor again and that these hard times were only temporary. Good times would come and we would love to tell the stories of our hard early years. Stories such as the times we would go into a laundromat, pull the agitators out of the washing machines and get the spare change that accumulated there (I replaced the agitators. This is a story of ingenuity, not vandalism) then we’d eat dinner at McDonald’s.

But what happens 20 years later when you lose your job and your next job is hard to find? Can you still look at this situation as temporary and as the basis for good stories in your future? The hard truth is, we can not be as confident that things will get better as we were in our 20s. There are many people in their 50s and 60s that are having to make some hard decisions because things have changed and they have limited runway left ahead of them to make the adjustments.

When the great recession took me out of circulation, it gave me an opportunity to take a look around and see what was happening in the rest of the world while I was busy working. I discovered that digital marketing had come a long way since I first discovered the magic of email and web pages as marketing tools (circa 1995). It gave me a chance to learn new things that would help me get back into the job market. I formed a Social Media Lab for people my age who had no idea what a Tweet was. As you can see from the following picture, we were able to muster that sense of adventure that you will need to navigate your way back into the job market. We pulled each other up when one was down, explained the esoteric changes to Facebook and made sure everyone was able to create and update the social media platform(s) of their choice. You may be on the sideline now, but now is the right time to learn those things you never had time to learn while you were heads down in a cubical.

Good luck and Godspeed!

MAGC Soc Med Lab

James Snider
Engstrom Trading, LLC
VP Business Development
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My wife is a substitute school teacher. After 10 years of teaching public school in Fort Worth, she took off 20 years to raise children. With our youngest in college, she has returned to the classroom. She told me a story this weekend about an incident in her classroom last week.

There was a second grade boy in her class who just could not get with the program. He spoke out instead of raising his hand. When he did raise his hand, he made all sorts of pained noises. He was always talking to a neighbor, getting out of his seat, fidgeting and dropping things. My wife has a special tolerance for this sort of thing. Our own son was like this. She home schooled him for 5 years to make sure that no one mistook him for a bad kid and crushed his tremendous creativity, affectionate self-confidence and passion for learning.

As it turns out, the class she was teaching needed to borrow rulers from another teacher. My wife is very serious about taking perfect care of borrowed things. She is loathe to lend her carefully maintained property and frustrated when people return it damaged. She stressed over and over to her little second grade class that they needed to be careful with these borrowed, plastic rulers.

The active boy I mentioned was happily working away on this assignment, talking up a storm and bending the ruler constantly as he worked. As could be foreseen, he broke it in three pieces. With dread visible all over him, he brought the broken pieces to my wife.

With a voice full of compassion, she informed him that he needed to do the right thing and take the ruler down the hall to the owner and tell her that he was sorry but he’d broken her ruler. He beseeched  my wife, with tears in his eyes, to not make him do this. She asked him if he knew what the word “gallant” meant. “It means to be brave and do the right thing. I need you to be gallant and tell the teacher what happened.”

Slowly he walked down the hall with the pieces of ruler in his hand. With shoulders stooped, he explained to the teacher what had happened. She listened with a soft heart and thanked him for telling her, then sent him back to his room. My wife thanked him for being gallant and had him return to his desk. She saw little second grade hands reaching out to him as he worked his way back to his desk. Everyone wanted to express their admiration for the brave boy who did the right thing.

When the project was completed and the rulers were collected, my wife asked the active (gallant) boy to take the rulers back to the teacher who lent them. She received them from him warmly and thanked him by name. She did not know his name before that day but since returning the broken ruler, she knows his name and his reputation is fixed in her mind as a brave boy who does the right thing.

Maybe you find yourself looking for a new job because your reputation was not everything it should have been. If some of your past life is alive on the internet, social media is a great way to move it off of page one and to page 15 of Google search results. Take some classes, learn some new skills, work on your greatest weaknesses and update LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc to reflect the new person you are working to become. Become involved in causes that help other people and promote those organizations via social media.  Now is the right time to be brave and do the right things. The people who meet you now will know you for who you are and not who you were.

Good Luck and Godspeed!

James Snider
Engstrom Trading, LLC
VP Business Development

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The Fukushima 50

As we approach the one year anniversary of the 4th strongest earthquake in recorded history, I am hearing stories about the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. More specifically, the events following the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami and related series of nuclear accidents last March 2011. In one story, the “Fukushima 50″ was mentioned in passing.  This was a small group of volunteers who stayed behind to do what they could to bring the crisis under control. Actually there were 200 volunteers who worked in shifts of 50 people.  These brave, self-sacrificing people, who largely remained unknown, sparked a flame of curiosity in me, so I did a little research.

The daughter of one of these men stated, “I heard that he volunteered even though he will be retiring in just half a year and I my eyes are filling up with tears…. At home, he doesn’t seem like someone who could handle big jobs…but today, I was really proud of him. And I pray for his safe return.”

These were highly experienced technicians who understood how the plant worked. They could troubleshoot and resolve a wide range of problems. It was risky, not only for them, but for the future of the power plant. If this small group of highly experienced workers were to die as a result of exposure, the best people for solving the myriad problems facing this nuke would be gone. Consequences would be dire and long-lasting.

Sometimes compared to the fire fighters who rushed into the World Trade Center on 9/11, the Fukushima 50 were lionized by the worldwide press. March 11 (the day of the earthquake and ensuing disaster) is referred to as 3/11 in Japan. These men worked with little food or sleep for days on end to restore the plant to a stable condition and save their country and their loved ones. Most of them had no idea if they had family to go home to or if they’d been washed away by the tsunami. However, they continued to work on, around the clock.

Astonishingly, these men are now caught in terrible predicament, somewhat like the veterans who returned from the Vietnam War. Heroes who were treated badly by those who owed them so much. According to a recent article in Newsweek:

As the nation prepares for the first anniversary of the tsunami, the Japanese are preoccupied with radiation fears, the anti-nuclear debate, and bashing the operator of the Fukushima plant, Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), for its response to the crisis. The workers who risked their lives remain faceless and nameless. Increasingly, they are also voiceless, because they fear being associated with the now-vilified power company if they speak about what went on in the plant. Six workers spoke to Newsweek on the condition that their real names not be used so they could provide a rare firsthand account of the fear and courage of these men…

As is the case with so many stories about heroes, the truth is not so glorious. Some men responded out of a sense of duty, some out of fear of shame, some were pressured or even tricked and others just needed the money. As time went by, more people showed up beyond the initial 200. These men were exposed to dangerous amounts of radiation and are still waiting for the results of the tests run on them to determine how badly they were damaged.

Once the imminent meltdown was controlled, the world lost interest but the clean-up was difficult and protracted. Today, these heroes live in fear. Fear that they will be vilified by their fellow countrymen and fear that their lives will be cut short by cancer, if they live long enough to develop it. In the Chernobyl disaster, some workers died within a matter of hours. In Japan, we do not know the extent to which these workers were exposed.

In closing, I will relate a few comments from an American worker at the Fukushima plant who was within minutes of getting off work when the earthquake hit. He worked on the turbine deck, which I can relate to. Last year, I was on the turbine deck at the Ginna Nuclear Power Plant in Rochester, NY picking up some extra money. He was the first person to feel the earthquake among his co-workers. The rest did not notice it at first but the earthquake increased in intensity and continued to rumble about 6 minutes. The spinning blades inside the turbines started to give off a “demonic scream” as they lightly touched the inside of the turbine and became increasingly deformed. A turbine deck is an enormous open room so that anything that falls, falls from a great distance. It is one of the worst places to be in an earthquake. The lights went out and they were trapped in total darkness with objects crashing around them.

On LinkedIn this week, I have been involved in a discussion on a crisis of a different sort.  Companies are using Facebook to size up potential candidates, but they are going beyond what they can get from a casual Google search. There are horror stories from MSN about government agencies, colleges and even employers who are insisting that prospective employees or students give them their Facebook password before making the offer. They are snooping into your private life, as chronicled on Facebook, to see if they want your kind around. I had one MIS professor tell me that companies can get into your Facebook account without your password.  “Even a so-so MIS or Computer Science undergrad can hack in in 30 minutes.”

There is an Onion News Network video which pokes fun at this, but what they have to say is disturbingly on target.

Facebook has actually become a treasure trove of information about you when it falls into the hands of a prospective employer. Forbes has carried a couple of articles on employers using Facebook to size you up as a good worker. Supposedly, they have moved beyond just checking for drug references or complaints about your boss. They can tell if you are going to fit in and how hard you are likely to work.

The living victims of the Fukushima disaster are dealing with their crisis by keeping quiet. They are staying as invisible as possible. In your case, as a job seeker, you can not afford to do that. This is not the first time I have alerted people that prospective employers are looking at their Facebook accounts. The reaction is almost always hostile with most people dismissing the warning as rubbish, but the evidence is mounting. The workers on the Fukushima turbine deck could not afford to simply hunker down. To survive, they had to take action. They were guided out by a dim sliver of light coming from under the door which took them out of the cavernous room. Doing nothing is not the answer. You must educate yourself about what employers are looking for when they look at your social media accounts and fill your accounts with the right sort of information.

For the Fukushima 50 interview, I refer you to the Daily Beast: http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2012/03/04/heroes-of-japan-s-nuclear-disaster-all-but-forgotten.html

Good Luck and Godspeed.

James Snider
Business Development Director
817 203 4944

Pinning for a job on Pinterest

Perhaps you have been hearing a lot about Pinterest recently. It has become the fastest growing social media site ever. It grew to 10 million users in just 9 months and is currently enjoying hockey stick growth. Marketers have been scratching their heads to figure out how to use it to market products. Pinterst is pretty blunt about not wanting their site to be overrun with “Billy Mays” pitchmen. They encourage sharing and discourage selling. As a result, the selling is very artistic and subtle.

However, your concern is how to use it to enhance your job search. Before I address this, let me tell you a little bit about Pinterest.

It is like Twitter but it is image focused not word focused. You would follow people because you think they will post images/webpages/videos that you will find interesting. Maybe you love pug dogs and you will follow people who will post things about pugs. They will post cute images of pugs and maybe videos, but mostly they will post links to web pages about pugs.  This is a social bookmarking site where you share interesting links with people who follow you. However, keep in mind that this is image based. You will not attract much attention with text about “This is the best site for treating heartworms in pugs.” You will attract much more attention with an image of a pug in a zebra pattern snuggie. A web site without a show stopper image does not make a good post on Pinterest.

Like Facebook, the content stays there and doesn’t scroll off the screen in 20 seconds as it does with Twitter. Pinterest users can sort content into categories. These are called “boards” and when you post content to one of these boards, it is called “pinning”. It is as if you are pinning really great pictures on a bulletin board for your friends to see. If you are like me, you find that cluttered Facebook format to be annoying. You have to scroll down past all the stuff your friends think is interesting to find those few things posted by people who you care about or who really are interesting. With Pinterest, you can go straight to boards with content which interests you. If someone has a board called “Cats” and you are a dog person, you will skip that and go to “Places to Visit” or “Cakes” or “Bucket List” etc.

A great feature of Pinterest is the ability to follow only the  boards that interest you.  There is a general Pinterest section called “Pinners you follow” which is somewhat like Twitter. You can get a quick glimpse at all the newest stuff to be pinned by the people you follow.  If you are following a person who posts something you find objectionable, you can simply unfollow that board on her Pinterest account. You will still see the other stuff she posts without having to see her “Politics” or “Humor” boards. You do not have to “unfriend/unfollow” her completely as you would with Facebook or Twitter.

You will notice that I used female pronouns. That is because most Pinterest users are 18-34 year old upper income women from the American heartland. This did not start out among the techies on the east or west coast. According to TechCrunch:

The Pacific and North East regions contained the most Pinterest users in May, now its strongholds are in the East South Central and West North Central States, such as Kansas, Missouri, Minnesota, and Mississippi.

If you have a product or service which could be interesting to this target market, there is some marketing potential for Pinterest. I have a client who imports cookware from Sweden. His biggest issue right now is lack of awareness. People just don’t know about the product so they walk right past it in stores. With his Pinterest account, I pin incredible recipes and images of crazy impressive cake competitions. As I build followers, I can occasionally slip in information about the product….but will keep it light. I am building brand awareness among his target audience; cooking professionals and hobbyists.

As far as job seekers are concerned, I can not see the usage model unless you are in a field where your work can be demonstrated visually. If you are a photographer, interior designer, architect, baker, wedding planner, jewelry designer, graphic artist, etc. you can use Pinterest as a free web site to show samples of your work. It is a alternative to using a free, basic site like Weebly.com but it does not give you the same option to include a paragraph describing your work. Pinterest is fast to assemble and very visually rich. It will give the viewer a concentrated look at your work. If you have a lot of good stuff, you will blow them away.

If you are in marketing or communications, you need to be aware of this platform. You should create an account and give it a test run. You are going to look pretty bush league if you can not talk intelligently about this social media platform. Smart people are predicting that this will replace Facebook and will have a major impact on the Internet.

If you need an invitation to join Pinterest, drop me an email.

Good Luck and Godspeed.

James Snider
Business Development Director
817 203 4944

Peanut Butter and Dill Pickles

I was talking to a friend the other day who is having money problems. As a result, he has started bringing his lunch to work. That day, he’d had a peanut butter sandwich. Being a Texas boy, I figured it was a peanut butter and banana sandwich. To my total disbelief, he told me that it was a peanut butter and dill pickle sandwich. He assured me that it was good and that I should try it. So I did. Not bad but not great either. I’m going to stick to peanut butter and banana sandwiches but I did, at least, give it a try.

That started me thinking back to something my sister-in law told me. She and my favorite Aggie brother-in-law expatted to England a few years ago. He works for a British company and they made it worth his while to spend a couple of years in Cambridge. The friends they made at church and in the neighborhood found certain American eccentricities to be marvelous fun. For example, each time a new person visited their house, they just had to see the enormous “American fridge” (refrigerator). The British use refrigerators about the size of a dorm refrigerator.

Not everything they observed at my sister-in-law’s house was typically American. For example, she loves flavored creamer in her coffee.  When she would invite friends over, she would hear them make reference to “American coffee.”  These Brits came to believe that every American drinks coffee with vanilla, hazelnut or caramel macchiato creamer in it.

I’ve come across a number of odd instances during my visits to the UK which show a funny perception of Americans. For example, I went out to dinner one night and ordered a cup of tea. The waiter brought me the water, a tea bag and a timer. He then explained to me how to brew a cup of tea.  I guess they thought that the Boston Tea Party was the end to our drinking tea in the States.

One thing the Brits just can not understand is our love of peanut butter. They can not imagine spreading that “ghastly stuff” on perfectly good bread. When my sister-in-law mentioned that we occasionally put a banana on it, nausea was clearly visible on their faces. Not being at all deterred, she added, “Or sometimes we put jelly on it.” With clear dread registering in their voices, they would ask, “What… sort… of… jelly?” The horrific answer, “Grape” was far beyond their wildest expectations. What sort of creatures are these Americans?

We can not really understand a culture until we have spent some time there.  Some people would be much happier watching a TV show about England or Egypt than to actually experience the country and the culture first hand. The problem is, you just don’t understand it if you have not been there.

I have often said that the problem with a resume is that we are so much more than a two page Word document. This is like seeing the pyramids on TV rather than riding the camel up to them, going inside them, wandering around through the dimly lit walkways, finally making it back out into the daylight and being ripped off by the old guy who just stands at the exit with his hand out like a tour guide (even though he has nothing to do with the pyramids).You can not experience the pyramids on TV. Can you know anything about me from my resume?

This is where platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn can be very helpful. Share a little bit about who you are. Help me to get to know you.

Business Insider had a great article on what the top high-tech companies want to see in your LinkedIn profile. In addition to the usual stuff such as a complete profile, lack of worn-out buzzwords and specific skills they also want to see what you are passionate about. If you are a social media marketer, do you have anything about social media marketing on your LinkedIn profile? Are you reading books about it? Are you going to the Social Media Club in your area? Are you connected to social media experts? Do you belong to the social media LinkedIn groups? Do you update your network with the latest social media news? Does your LinkedIn profile connect to your Twitter account….and do you Tweet social media stuff? Do you have a link to your personal blog….and does that show any passion for your field?

Your resume may get you in the door but your personality is what will get you the job. Show me that before I pick up the phone and call you. Give me a reason to keep your resume instead of deleting it. I really can not understand much about you from a two page overview of your career. Your resume may make you look like an uptight stuffed shirt. Show me a little passion, a good sense of humor, an interesting person and an intelligent person and I will be more inclined to give you the benefit of a doubt.

Good Luck and Godspeed.

 James Snider
Business Development Director
817 203 4944

What I learned from the Royal Wedding

As a job seeker, do you feel like you are always the bridesmaid and never the bride? The Royal Wedding last Friday has given me some food for thought as I considered the elegant bride and striking bridesmaid.

In the current job market, it is not enough to be excellent. You must be perfect. And even then, sometimes, that is not enough. Let’s look at Kate and Pippa.

Both were impressive during the wedding. The bride was not getting all the attention. As a matter of fact, there were several headlines asking if perhaps the bridesmaid had outshone the bride. This unknown Middleton daughter was getting more Twitter traffic than anything else in the wedding. Facebook Fan pages for Pippa started popping up. UK gossip magazines were having a field day.

Kate was nearly flawless in her role as bride of the prince. She was beautiful, elegant and poised. She never looked hesitant or uncertain during her long walk down the aisle. She appeared to have genuine affection for the throngs of adoring onlookers. She looked at ease and happy.

In the televised interviews with school friends, her perfect reputation remained in tact. She was a strong student, great athlete and rule follower. She never “snuck up to the roof for a smoke” or dabbled in underage drinking. Her former headmaster said, “If she ever broke any rules, we never caught her.”

Pippa, who did a splendid job as bridesmaid, has not fared as well. When the press dug into her past, a reputation as a party girl emerged. She was characterized as the more aggressive of the two sisters.  When one looks at the two of them, one might tend to believe the stories. Kate just looks fresher and a bit more genteel than her younger sister.

Kate acts as if she has been groomed her whole life for the role she is now playing. We forget that the beloved Diana had to grow into it. Kate is already there.

Can anyone be this perfect for the job?

How about you as that “perfect match” for a job? I’ve been perfect for several jobs and came in second. One such job had lengthy requirements.  I matched them all, right down to the MBA. The candidate, who was eventually hired, had an MBA from Harvard. My MBA from the University of North Texas was no match.

Perfect, but not perfect enough.

I was a nearly perfect match for another job and I had an ace in the hole. Only on one point was my experience a bit “iffy.” On that one point, I had the experience but it was an inch deep and a mile wide. However, my brother-in-law worked for the company and was well respected. Additionally, he knew the hiring manager and got along well with him.

Despite his best efforts, he had to tell me that I was not in the running. The hiring manager had a dozen perfect candidates with years of perfect experience. Any one of these candidates would have been an automatic hire under normal circumstances. In today’s job market, the hiring manger has more perfect candidates than he can interview.

The thought occurred to me, “There will be several people wondering what went wrong. They were perfect matches and didn’t even get interviewed.”

As you know, this job of getting hired is serious business.

Check your social media profile. Not only should there be no “party girl” information but you need to concentrate your efforts toward a goal. Kate was that perfect match, but that was almost not good enough. At one time, William dropped her. Pippa plotted to get them back together. It was the younger sister who made sure that Kate was seen in clubs with other men. A ploy to get the paparazzi to snap photos which William was sure to see.

It worked.

Have that single mindedness. If you want to work in the medical field (for example), concentrate your tweets about medical things. Follow medical professionals on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Study medical articles and make your updates about them. Informational interview people at target organizations. Seek out speaking engagements where medical professionals will be. Do not shotgun your job search. Focus.

Even perfect Kate had to make sure she remained visible to William.

You are not going to get a job by accident.

You have to be perfect.

You have to be visible.

In my next post, we will discuss Princess Beatrice’s hat.  

James Snider
Business Development Director

Corporate Marketing Department…one hour at a time

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Only kidding about the Beatrice post

Well…maybe a brief note. As you may know, Beatrice and her sister, Eugenie, are the daughters of Prince Andrew and Sarah, Duchess of York (the former Sarah Ferguson). Sarah was out of favor with the royal family even before her divorce from Prince Andrew. She was not invited to the wedding of William and Katherine. As the rumor goes, she conspired with her two daughters to get even with the royal family by having them wear outlandish hats. It was known that Beatrice and Eugenie would be seated right behind the Queen. Mission accomplished.

And for some added irony,  pictures from the 1950 Disney Classic, Cinderella … compared to the recent royal wedding.  Actually, the last image was Photoshopped…but funny all the same…

What I learned from an arrogant doctor

Several years ago, I traveled with a fairly arrogant PhD. No matter how modest the hotel, he always walked up to the registration desk and stated, “I’m here to check in. You should have a reservation for Doctor Martin Jennings.” (Name changed to protect the guilty)

After witnessing this routine several times, I finally asked, “Martin….we are staying in a one star hotel. What do you think they are going to do for you because you’re a doctor? Do you think this modest hotel has a Presidential Suite or something?”

His matter-of-fact response was, “You never know. Sometimes it gets me a little something extra.”

A week later, I decided to give it a shot. I registered for a hotel in Nagoya, Japan as “Dr. James Snider.” When I arrived, I walked up to the registration desk and stated, “I am here to check in.  You should have a reservation for Dr. James Snider.” I’d sold the fiction by putting on a sport coat and tie before entering the hotel. The hotel staff was exceptionally attentive, even by Japanese standards. They hustled me up to my room with maximum efficiency, chatting excitedly to me all the way and then opened the door to my immaculate corner room with a gorgeous view of downtown Nagoya.

Bear in mind, I’d been traveling for business for around 10 years. I had achieved “gold” status at this particular hotel chain for five years straight. I was aware that there must be corner rooms at hotels, but I’d never been given one before.

I thought, perhaps, I was on to something so I mentioned this to a friend about a month later. He laughed at me and said I was full of baloney. We happened to both be in San Francisco for a seminar. That night, we got away late and hit the maximum dinner crowd at a popular restaurant. The hostess told us that the wait would be an hour and a half. My friend, puffing up with some false pride, responded, “OK, party of two for Doctor Bryan Lawson. We’ll be waiting in the bar.” We were still laughing about the “doctor” statement when a well dressed man approached us and said, “Dr. Lawson? Hello, I’m Robert Perkins, the restaurant manager. I’d like to show you to your table.” We’d only been waiting for 20 minutes.

By now, you are probably seething. You have probably waited the full hour and a half (and longer) at restaurants. You have been stuck in shabby rooms at hotels where you were a frequent guest and had no way of getting a better room. You are probably wondering how many “doctors” have been seated before you or got the room that you, by all that is right, should have received.

So, what are you going to do about it? Start lying? I hope not. My research at the Nagoya hotel was the only time I tried this little ruse. It was amusing and enlightening but it made me a little bit ashamed. When it comes to the job search, your lies will find you out. You need to stick to the truth but that includes promoting your great value to a potential employer. You have a limited number of characters with which to make an impression in your LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and other social media profiles. Why are you wasting them with things like “Sports Fanatic” “Seeker of Truth” or “Sarcastic wit with plenty of attitude”? Last time I looked, I was not seeing much of a job market for “Chief Smarty Pants.”

Tell me quickly what you do very well and grab my attention. “SQL server super geek” is much more useful than “Devoted father of 3 rowdy boys.” “Eat, drink and breathe SEO” is much more compelling than “Digital marketing fan.” “Certified Guerrilla Marketer” catches my attention more than “MBA, humorist and friend to many.”

My friends caught the attention of people quickly and got what they wanted. Make it hard to ignore you by making it clear why I should be paying attention to what you have to offer.

James Snider
Business Development Director

Corporate Marketing Department…one hour at a time

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What “Two Spaces” Tells Me About You

If you put two spaces after a period in a sentence, it tells me that you learned to type on a typewriter. With the advent of word processors (and personal computers) people started using just one space after the period. I was totally unaware of this until a professional writer reviewed my resume (a friend…. don’t you dare think I paid someone hundreds of dollars to write a professional resume for me!)

So here you are with your Twitter account all tweeted up….and your Facebook account with dates carefully hidden and a profile picture of you from 15 years ago…and only the last 15 years showing on your LinkedIn profile and you think you have hidden your age. If you are in the habit of putting two spaces after every sentence, you might consider removing that extra space from your resume.  It is dating you.

My advice, make friends with a professional copy writer and have them review your resume. You will be amazed when they focus in on that one sentence that you thought read a tiny bit rough and say, “Why didn’t you say…” and they will come up with that perfect wording that has been evading you for months. They will also move those commas where they are supposed to go and fix your “there, their and they’re” errors (and remove that old-fashioned comma before the “and” in a list).

They will give your resume the face lift it needs.


This post has sparked quite a controversy. Some readers have flamed the narrow mindedness of a recruiter who would comb through a resume in such detail. However,  Google “resume typo” and see what you find. 25% of hiring managers will throw your resume in the trash if it has just one typo.

I was told by a local recruiter last November that she is not seeing any discrimination when it comes to hiring except for age discrimination. The problem is, older workers are stuck in the past and refuse to change. If your resume makes you look like you have not kept up with things, you are falling into that stereotype.

There have also been some questions as to if my statement is true. One reader indicated that the AP style still specifies two spaces after a period. I am no expert, but my friend specifically mentioned the AP style when she told me to remove the extra space.

Additionally, a reader made the following comment:

The same is now true in the publishing industry. Want your compelling manuscript instantly rejected? Insert two spaces at the end of each sentence.

—-Second UPDATE—-

A reader provided me with this article from Slate. The author is pretty emphatic that one space after a period is accurate.  http://www.slate.com/?id=2281146

James Snider
Business Development Director

Corporate Marketing Department…one hour at a time

Connect with us on Facebook or Twitter

What I learned from the Penny

I heard a discussion on NPR recently (Dec 16, 2010) concerning the new “penny.” I was amused to hear that a penny actually costs 1.7 cents to make and that, officially, there is no US unit of money called a “penny.” The correct term is “one cent piece.” The original “one cent piece” was about the same size as the British half-penny. Our forefathers, being familiar with British coins, dubbed the “one cent piece” the “penny” and the name stuck. Once “penny” came into common use, there was no way the US Treasury was going to get people to switch over to using “one cent piece.”

When it comes to building your brand on social media, it is best to select a name and stick with it. I always go by “James Snider.” On LinkedIn, I do add “MBA Marketing” to my name and that would not be a bad brand…”James Snider, MBA Marketing,” but as a general rule, I am “James Snider.” I am not “Jim Snider” and “James B Snider” and “JB Snider”…I stick to “James Snider.” There are not a lot of “James Sniders” out there in marketing and I am able to overwhelm the others with my name by my frequent use of social media.

If your name happens to be “Bill Jones” then you might have a challenge getting found. You might want to brand yourself as “Bill Z Jones” assuming that your middle name begins with “Z.” You could brand yourself as “Bill Jones PE” or “Bill Jones PMP” or “Bill Jones MBA.” Whatever you select, use it consistently on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, your blog, comments you make on-line and any other place where you are building your digital footprint.

Do it early, do it frequently and do it consistently. If you do not, then you may end up like the “one cent piece”; everywhere but still unknown.

James Snider
Marketing Consultant
Anyone can give you social media.  I make sure it’s marketing.

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