Fluffy Butt

Is it weird that I’m obsessed with my dog’s butt?

Yes? Oh.

Here’s the thing. First of all, she has a really cute butt. It’s fluffy and soft with a beautiful mixture of colors.

Also, she always sits like this, with her legs splayed out behind her that just makes it even cuter.

sandy butt2

However, my current obsession isn’t due to the fact that her rear is so dear. It’s because she’s molting back there.

Let me explain.

Sandy has a lot of fur with a thick undercoat. During the summer months when the temperature warms up, she sheds, like many other dogs. However, she also does this other weird thing.

She loses tufts of hair just from her behind.

My theory is that when the undercoat is ready to come off, it moves its ways to the back of her body and these little puffs of hair bubble up and eventually pop out. She doesn’t have them anywhere else except her hind-end. See the discolored spots at the top of her back legs and going on down toward her knee, that are whiter than the other fur that’s more tan? Those are the tufts that are ready to pop out.

sandy butt3

(Yes, I snuck a pic while she was drinking water. Otherwise she would keep turning around wanting to play and never let me get a picture of her hiney!)

I’ve never had a dog who sheds their undercoat in quite this same way. I think it’s so funny. If left untouched, those little tufts would pop out on their own and I’d find them on the floor or furniture. But I never let it get that far. Instead I tug at them and pull them loose on my own.

sandy tuft2

When she has a whole bunch of them, like in the pic above of her drinking, I become obsessed with pulling them all out (I literally started doing that 2 seconds after snapping the photo). It’s like people who can’t help themselves from picking the peeling skin from a sunburn (guilty) or popping pimples (not guilty) or scraping off chipped nail polish (sometimes guilty). It must be done!

Don’t worry, it doesn’t hurt her and they come out really easily. She doesn’t like me doing it just because I don’t think she enjoys people messing with her butt. She’ll immediately turn around or sit down, limiting my access. CJ laughs because I have to sneak it. Sandy will be sleeping innocently on the couch and I’ll go up and start pulling at tufts. Or she’ll be begging for food from him and I’ll use that opportunity to de-puff her.

It’s oddly satisfying to get several of them at once, especially if they are really big ones.

So there you have it. My obsession with my dog’s butt. Don’t get me wrong, I love every bit of her and her face is pretty darn sweet too.

sandy

If following Sandy around picking tufts of hair out of her butt is wrong, than I don’t want to be right.

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$#*! My British Friend Says

The Brit and I had dinner last night. It was great to catch up!

We were talking about the gym and working out, and how important it is to stay active even with chronic pain or injuries. She said,

I mean, look at you! You’re a f**king cripple and you work out all the time!

She’s not wrong.

30 Day Challenge – The Results

At the beginning of June, I shared that I was embarking on a challenge to try as many new things as I could over the next 30 days, in order to break out of routine and see what kinds of opportunities popped up. Well, now I’m back to share the results!

I have to admit that I was very gung-ho at the beginning of the month, changing up or trying all kinds of things – big and little. As June wore on, I focused on it less and less. I still think I reaped a lot of benefits, some of them rather suprising.

Here are a few of the highlights:

June 1: I had a training class in the morning but we got out early. Instead of going home or running errands, I decided to use my unexpected free time to get a pedicure. I haven’t had a “real” pedicure in years. I usually prefer to save the money and just paint my nails myself. But, this is about doing new things so, to the salon I went. It was actually really nice and very relaxing. I splurged to have her do the extra spa treatment with the hot stones, and to also paint a design. Turned out really cool and it was a nice respit in the middle of the afternoon.

June 3: Sundays in the summer mean going to the lake and playing volleyball. This particular Sunday there was a lot of traffic along our normal route, so we went a different way. This alternate route ended up taking us through the neighborhood CJ lived in when we started dating. The girls have never been there so as we drove through, we pointed out places and told them stories. We then drove around the lake from the opposite side that we normally do and they saw all the big beautiful lake homes. It was a really nice family drive.

When we got there, we picked out a spot on the beach to set up that was over further than our usual. It was secluded and kind of quiet, which was great. We had it all to ourselves until a church group came in and did a baptism in the lake! Had we sat where we normally do, we never would have seen that. A day full of surprises all around!

June 8: CJ and I had a date night on a river boat! It’s something we did when we were dating but hadn’t been on one in years. This particular cruise featured a Beatles cover band. It was hot but we had a lovely time crusing along the river, with spectacular views of downtown Omaha, while listening to some good music. We even ran in to a couple people we knew!

June 10: The girls came down in the morning and announced they were going to have a “Flavored Water Stand” outside and sell cups of water for $.50 each that people could add their own flavoring to. They got to work making signs and pulling everything together. I figured it was just a game and didn’t think much of it. But then after lunch, they wanted to go out and set it up! They asked me if they could and I thought of a million reasons to say no:

  • There wouldn’t be a good ROI (in other words no one would buy anything and then I’d have 2 sad girls on my hands)
  • There wasn’t enough time ( I would have to sit out with them and I had other things to do)
  • The conditions weren’t right (it was too hot to sit outside in the blazing sun)
  • They wouldn’t see it through and I’d end up doing all the work
  • The quality would be poor (and customers would be upset)

But then I looked at my girls who had put all this energy in to creating their water stand – they had signs to post around the neighborhood, colored cups ready, flavoring lined up, and a stand built to put it on. Even though I had reasons why it might not work, there was also a chance it would – and valuable lessons to learn either way. So I said yes.

The result? They stayed out there for 45 minutes and made $12! I asked my oldest what her goal was and she said $3. So she far exceeded her goal and learned a lot (lesson #1: don’t go in to business with your 5 year old sister who lasted 2 whole minutes before going back inside). In the end it was fun for them (and yes I’ll admit, fun for me), taught them some good lessons in business and they made a few bucks too. Glad I opened my mind to something new!

June 12 – 13: It was easy to find new things to do these 2 days because I was out of town for work. We went to Jersey City. The first night we got there we went in to Manhattan to see a show on Broadway. This in and of itself isn’t new for me as I saw a bunch of them back when I lived there. However, I was with a new group of gals who had never been themselves so experiencing it through their eyes was what made it fun. We ate Junior’s cheesecake then headed over to watch Denzel Washington perform in “The Iceman Cometh”. It was a good show, but a long one. We were all tired and got a little bored actually, but it was fun.

The next night we had drinks on a rooftop bar that looks out over the city, and then went to Grove Street for dinner, followed by karaoke. I won’t get in to all the details (what happens at O’Hara’s stays at O’Hara’s) but let’s just say when you combine lots of alcohol with karaoke, it gets pretty interesting.

We also had an run in with some Jersey cops. We weren’t sure where to go at one point. I saw a group of police officers standing on a corner so I walked over and asked for directions. They were very nice and eager to help. They even took a selfie with us! Another fun first!

June 22: played in a volleyball tournament that went for almost 5 hours. I haven’t done a tournament in years because they’re on the weekends and I don’t like to have that much weekend time away from the girls. But this one was Thursday night, during when we normally play. We played well and made it to the final game. In the end, we lost and took 2nd place but it was a fun night, great workout, and awesome new experience.

June 24: the girls and I went to the beach by ourselves because CJ was sick. We ventured over to a side of the beach we don’t usually go to and had all kinds of fun. Then on the way home, instead of going straight there, we made a detour to stop at a playground. Isabella had to borrow my shirt because she didn’t want to be out in just her swimsuit. Fortunately I had a sleeveless dress that I was using as a cover up so I wore that. She told me I looked naked because my shoulders were bare. After playing, we ran to the drive thru and apparently I did look naked because the high school kid in the drive thru was all stutters and then called a friend over and they were both ogling me. They even forgot to give me my drink! I just laughed about it.

June 30: I spent the last week of the month sick with a bad cold. However, on the last day of the month, we made it over to Council Bluffs for the annual Pride Parade. We have marched in the parade before, 2 years ago. The girls were super excited and they decorated the little car Cora was going to ride in. They also made litte notes to hand out that said, “Happy Pride Parade Day!”

Cora handed out the notes, along with candy, as we marched in the parade and Isabella pushed her. They were so proud and everyone thought the notes were very sweet.

We had a lot of fun and it was a great chance to introduce the girls to something that’s full of love and teaches acceptance. They are already talking about doing it again next year!

And that was the end of the month! Looking back, it was a very full and busy month, with lots of new experiences. Some big, some small, but all valuable in their own way. While you can’t always travel to mix things up, you can find simple things to do every day. The results may surprise you!!

PSA: Sarah’s Tips for Applying for Jobs – The Interview

In my last post, I talked about my personal pet peeves, as a hiring manager, for resumes. Based on the feedback I received, many agree or had an “a ha!” moment realizing they might have some tweaks to make to their own resume!

Once you have your resume in a good spot, it’s time to think about the interview. There is no one right way to approach an interview but it is important to do a little bit of planning ahead of the big day. As with everything in life, a little leg work goes a long way.

Think of an interview like a first date – you want to make a good impression in order to get another one!

Preparation

Prepare for the conversation. You don’t know what questions you’re going to be asked but you do know the interviewer will want to know what you’ve done in your work history. Have some examples ready that you think highlight your skills. Having more than 1 example in mind is best. If you use the same one for every answer, it will appear that you don’t have very much experience.

Be ready for anything. I once knew a manager who asked “Which is better, Bud Light or Busch Lite?”. Obviously it’s not really about your beer preference. What the interviewer is looking for is how you react to a curveball and how creative you can be in your answer. If you say, “I prefer Bud Light.” and leave it at that, you’re missing the point. Instead, get creative! Talk about the appropriateness of each one on different occasions and why, or equate each one to a project team member and highlight their strengths. Sky’s the limit (just don’t portray yourself as an alcoholic….in an interview or on a date).

Have conversation starters of your own ready. To be honest, it’s kind of a turn off to me when I open up the interview for the candidate to ask me questions, and they have nothing. There are a million different things you can ask, from company structure to culture to travel requirements to expectations. Have a handful ready! Also, I try to be conversational in interviews to put the other person at ease. But, if you’re really stiff or serious and can’t keep the dialogue going, you’re probably not going to work on my team.

Make sure you know where the event is taking place. Is it a phone or in person interview? Is it in the office or at a coffee shop or restaurant? If it’s over the phone, make sure you have the time blocked off on your calendar and are able to go to a quiet place where you’re free to talk openly. For the love of Pete, please do not participate in an interview from your desk at your current job (or for that matter in a mall, restaurant or park). You’ll be limited in what you can say, there will be background noise and, well, it’s just tacky. If it’s in person, make sure you know how to get there so you’re not late. Drive there the day before if you have to so that you can adjust for construction, detours, parking issues, etc. If it’s at a place with food or drink, plan ahead and know what you’re going to order. That’s one less thing to distract you when you’re there for real.

Research the other person. Find out who the interview is with, their name and how to pronounce it. If possible, find out their position in the company so you are prepared to interview with an individual contributor vs. a manager versus a C-level.

Don’t OVER prepare. Relax. You’ve done the prep work, you’re ready. Don’t psyche yourself out. Nerves or arrogance will all come through during the interview so do your best to stay calm and carry on!

The Big Date

The day is here! Your chance to earn a new job! How exciting! You’ve done all the right preparation steps and now it’s time to strut your stuff. No matter how prepared you are, you can still tank an interview by making silly mistakes. Read on for tips on dodging some potential landmines!

Dress appropriately. Regardless of the dress code for that company, YOU should look professional. I don’t care if the interviewer is wearing jeans and a t-shirt, you should dress up. Also, keep it conservative and neutral. You may have a killer hot pink shirt or sexy studded stilettos or fun suit coat with palm trees on it, but this isn’t the occasion to wear them. Save those for another time. If it’s something you’d wear to the club, don’t wear it to an interview.

Photo courtesy of Univ. of Hawaii

Introduce yourself first and say your name. I mentioned in my resume tips that if you have a hard to pronounce name, it’s a good idea to phonetically spell it out. Anything you can do to help the interviewer and avoid awkwardness is appreciated. Same goes for the interview. Answer the phone with, “Hi, this is Chris” so they know you don’t go by Christopher. If you’re in person, approach the interviewer with confidence and say “Hello, I’m T’Challa, nice to meet you” so they can hear the right way to say your name. If you just say “Hello!” and that’s it, I then have to ask, “Is this T’Challa?” and stumble over how to say it. This happened to me once and it was terribly awkward. I don’t like to feel awkward so we’re already starting off on a bad foot. Sounds like a little thing but believe me, it can go a long way.

Respect the time. Understand that everyone is busy and you only have a certain amount of time allotted to this interview. As such, keep your answers clear but concise. There is nothing worse then someone who talks on and on and on. I guarantee you lost the other person’s interest after the first minute or two and now they’re thinking about all the other work they have to do or what they’re going to have for dinner or replaying that episode of Walking Dead they watched the night before. Be especially mindful of time if they have specifically told you to keep your answers timeboxed. I will actually do this as a test to see if the person will honor the request and follow directions. If you don’t, shame on you!

Don’t be tight-lipped. While you don’t want to drone on and on, you also don’t want to give too short of an answer that misses the mark. I asked someone what they thought were the most valuable skills of a project manager and of those skills, which ones they were the strongest at. The answer I got was, “Communication and planning. I’m good at both.” While technically they did answer the question, they really didn’t give me much to go on. Why are those 2 skills important? What do communication and planning do to benefit a project? What in particular do you do in those two areas that make them a strength? There’s a fine balance between too much and not enough. It’s important to find that balance.

Remember those examples you prepped ahead of time? Break them out! The more you can share real life scenarios, the better.

Know your audience. I mentioned above that it’s important to know who you’re interviewing with. This is also good to keep in mind during the interview itself and with how you answer your questions. I once asked someone what they are passionate about and what they look forward to each day. Their answer? “A good day is when I don’t get an email from my manager.” As the person that could be their future manager, that answer was very off-putting. It also calls in to question why they don’t like hearing from their manager. Are they the kind of person who often gets in trouble by management? Do they need constant supervision? Do they not respect authority? None of these are the questions you want someone to ask about you so be respectful and thoughtful with your answers and your audience.

Be amazingly humble. As with everything, you have to find a balance between being confident but not cocky; humble but not incompetent. An interviewee told me last week, “I’m good at this. It’s what I do.” Bleck. You may be the most awesome person in the history of this profession but don’t brag to me about it. Prove it. Also, while admitting mistakes is admirable, I don’t need to hear in every answer what you’ve done wrong. Save those for the inevitable “What are your weaknesses?” question.

[A tip on the weakness question: find something that is a legit weakness but one that’s not super bad. Like don’t say, “I’m always late and never get to work on time” or “I have a tenancy to lose my patience quickly”. Neither of those can be spun in a good light. And wherever you choose, make sure you speak to how you compensate for that weakness.]

Remember those questions I said to prepare? Use them! Ask the ones that you feel make sense. This is your chance to find out about the job, the company and the manager. Ask them their management style. Find out the company culture. Learn what the expectations of you would be in the first 3, 6 or 9 months on the job. The interview isn’t just about them liking you. This is also your chance to decide if you like them.

When you’re all done, thank them for their time…and mean it. Walk away with your head held high and always leave them wanting more. A recent interview I conducted was like this. The gal was very personable, easy to talk to and it felt like I was chatting with an old friend. I didn’t want the time to end. That’s how it should be. Make them like you so much that they don’t have choice but you bring you back in.


Now that you know my interview suggestions, next time I’ll talk about ways to find a job, a long with tips for working with agencies.

PSA: Sarah’s Tips to Applying for Jobs – The Resumé

Applying for jobs. Writing resumes. Having interviews. We’ve all done it. We’ve all written one. We’ve all sat through those.

As a hiring manager, I’ve posted jobs. Read resumes. Conducted interviews.

I’ve seen some good. I’ve seen some great. I’ve also seen some bad and some REALLY bad.

I’m currently hiring and have spent the last week of my work life combing through resumes, scheduling interviews and doing phone screens. Throughout this process I’ve noted in my head pet peeves and irritations I have. Things that I see a lot of. I got to thinking, why do people do that?! Don’t they know hiring managers hate it? Don’t they see how it makes them look bad? Then I realized they probably don’t know that we hate it! So I decided to compile my list of irritants and share it with the world.

Keep in mind these are all solely my opinion and there could be others who would disagree with me. But I’d bet large sums of money that a majority of managers would back me up on most of these. So if you’re thinking about putting yourself out there and looking for something new, take a gander at these tips. They might just help you avoid a potential hiring landmine!

For this post I’ll focus on the resume only. In subsequent posts I’ll dive in to interviews and working with hiring agencies.

Resume Do’s and Dont’s

Don’t write a novel. Keep it to 1 page front and back. I don’t need your entire work history. I honestly only care about the last 10 years or so and I don’t have time to read page after page after page. Anything older than that is irrelevant now. When I am reading resumes, I only read the first 2 pages. If I don’t see what I need in those 2 pages, I won’t see it in anything after. Visa versa, if I see strong experience up front, I don’t need to read 4 more pages to confirm it. Do everyone and the planet a favor and keep it condensed (yes I print them out. More on that later).

Do list out your responsibilities at each job. I noticed this time around that there seems to be a new trend of resumes which list companies and projects only without saying what a person did on that project. That’s great that you were part of a team that enhanced the client digital experience! What an accomplishment for the team! But – what did you do on that team? I don’t care if your title says “Project Manager”. That can mean a million things to a million people. Tell me the specifics of that job. Did you organize and lead the work? Did you make decisions on the scope? Did you have people manager responsibilities? Did you bring everyone coffee and snacks? Did you order take out? I need to see details of your individual achievements and work responsibilities. Not down to the gnat’s ass but the relevant and good stuff. If I don’t know what you did, I can’t hire you.

Don’t copy and paste someone else’s resume and change the details. I can tell when a “cookie cutter” resume comes across my desk because it looks like 5 other resumes that I already have, with very generic tasks (“Communicated status”) and a lot of buzz words (“Led JAD sessions”). That’s an immediate no. Sometimes hiring agencies reformat your resume in to their template which can be a disservice to you if their template sucks (and because all their other clients have the same one). You end up blending in and you want to stand out. More on hiring agencies in a later post.

Also, Don’t use buzz words. Just don’t.

Do provide examples of how specific actions you took (see #2) led to a win for the company. Not just any win (i.e. “saved the company money” or “came in on time and under budget” <— buzz word alert!) but specific wins. Maybe by adjusting your meeting cadence you were able to free up time for resources and therefore exceed your stakeholders expectations for delivery. Cool! I want to know that!

Don’t inflate your title. I don’t really care or believe that you are the Sr. Executive Vice President of Business Analysis. Likely that role doesn’t even exist. Yes some companies (*cough* banks *cough*) hand out fancy titles like it’s National Donut Day but when it comes to your resume, just list out what you really are and what you really do. If you really ARE the Sr. Executive VP of Business Analysis and you’re applying for a regular old BA job, what does that say? Are you stepping down? Are you not good at the executive level you’re at? If I hire you, will you act like you’re better than everyone else? It raises a lot of questions of doubt that you don’t want a hiring manager thinking. Don’t plant the seed.

Do proofread. And than do it again. And then have a friend do it. And then have your really annoying and OCD friend who always corrects everyone elses grammar, use of terms and spelling do it. You know the one that replies to your Facebook post with comments like “it’s ‘to’, not ‘too'”. Nothing turns me off of a resume faster then one filled with avoidable mistakes. One or 2 I can maybe overlook if everything else is really good. Although in the age of technology, even that is pushing it. But beyond a couple, sorry your out. If you can’t even make sure you’re resume is quality, how can I trust that your work will be? [bonus points if you can find all the grammatical errors I made in the above paragraph. Did it drive you crazy to read it? Yeah, me too.]

Don’t use serif fonts. OK this might be my own personal pet peeve that doesn’t bother anyone else and it’s likely my graphic design background coming in to play. If you don’t know, serif fonts are the ones with the small lines at the end of the characters. To me, it looks dated and messy. Humor me. Look at the example below with the same sentence typed using Times New Roman (first one) and then Arial. Doesn’t Arial, the sans-serif font, look so much cleaner and easier to read? That’s what you want – to make it easy for someone to read how great you are. Keeping the font type clean will go a long way toward that.

fonts

Do provide guidance on how to pronounce your name, if it’s warranted. This will help if you make it to the interview stage (more on that in the next post). You don’t have to phonetically type out your name if it’s ‘Sarah’ or ‘Bob’ or ‘Susan’. I got those figured out. But if it’s ‘Porzia’, I might need help. Do I say it like the car (“Pour-sh-a”) or as it’s written (“Pour-zee-a”). If I don’t know, it could make things really awkward.

That’s it. That’s my main list. See – nothing too outrageous. Notice I didn’t suggest you videotape your resume or send in a box of candy with accomplishments taped to each piece. While that would be memorable (and yummy!), it’s not necessary. Simple is good. Less is more (unless you’re applying for a job with a movie production company or candy store).

Here’s a sneak peak in to my resume review process:

Typically I get a bunch of resumes coming in at once. I will print them all out. I know, I know. Killing trees. Maybe I’m old school but I like to write on them. I will jot down notes with questions that I might want to remember for an interview or note concerns I have. I also highlight key words that jump out at me because they’re skills I’m looking for. As stated before, I generally only read the first 2 pages due to time constraints (and a short attention span). Once I make a decision, I’ll denote “Yes” or “No” on the top. If it’s a no, I’ll write down a few reasons why so that I can give feedback to the candidate or hiring agency.

But before I do any of that, I cover up the name. This is something I’ve just recently started doing and found it very effective. Why do I block out the name you ask? Because I don’t want to be biased by it. I don’t want someone’s gender or ethnicity to influence my decision. Admittedly, I might give a woman more of a chance than a dude. Power to the chicks! But this would be wrong and unfair. So if I don’t know who it is then it puts everyone on equal ground.

So now you know what my pet peeves are for resumes, as well as what could make yours stand out. Again, these are all my own opinion, culled from years of reviewing hundreds of resumes. I hope they are helpful or at least got you thinking.

Now. You followed my tips and lo and behold got an interview! Congrats! But what bugs me in interviews? Click here to find out!