Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Let's Start a Revolution

Hey  You,
Yeah, you. You, with the big heart. Or brain. Or wallet. Or voice. Or all of the above. Or even just some of the above. I’m talking to you.
I have a proposition for you.
I have no idea if it will work.
So let’s call it an experiment.
An experiment of hope.  An experiment of help.  An experiment of progress.
What do I want, you ask?
Right now, I humbly request some of your time and attention.
You don’t owe it to me. In fact, you don’t owe me anything. You know nothing about me.
Well, please allow me to introduce myself.
My name is Chrissy and I’m 23 years old. I’m married to an amazing man, live with my gracious parents, and currently have 2 ½ jobs. I haven’t always been so blessed in the employment department though. In spite of having 9 majors and an Associate Degree in marketing, I was unemployed for almost a year before I upgraded to the ‘working poor’ status I currently boast.
This is not a sob story. Nor is this a plea for attention or pity. Like I mentioned, it’s an experiment.
My lack of employment allowed me a lot of free time. In that time, I came up with a revolutionary idea for helping our homeless problem here in the United States. I won’t get into the statistics because we know how many people are struggling right now.
What you may not know is the effects it can have on a person. I’m not talking about the obvious ones like being forced to live on the streets with no protection, warmth, or comfort. I mean the mental effects of not having a place to call home. They are immeasurable and far more long-lasting than the physical effects.
My proposal will not change things overnight. If successful, it will merely serve as a model for cities to adopt nationwide.
My plan will rely heavily upon donations, not just monetary but time, wisdom, furniture, food, and heart.
If you’re still with me, I’ll give you a brief overview of my vision…

Picture it: USA, 2014.
You drive up to an acre of land with 10 tiny houses. Each of them has a fenced in backyard and rocking chairs on the porch. Some of them are painted conservatively. Some of them are painted with wild and bright colors. Some have kids playing in the back yard. Some have animals. Some have both. Upon further investigation, you see these tiny houses are powered by solar power and there seems to be a rainwater collection system in place in the side of each yard.
Behind the rows of houses, you see a huge building. The sign in front says “Community Center” and welcome residents and visitors alike. Inside, there is lobby and a long hallway. As you enter the hallway, you see an open computer lab available to residents for both job searches and personal use. Across the hall, there is a laundry room. You keep walking and come across two more large classrooms that will be used to teach people how to manage money, create resumes, and many other basic life skills to the residents as well and the general public. Lastly, there is a huge recreation room ready to host events that will promote support and fellowship within the community.
You follow the sidewalk to the back of the building, walk past the large shelter with the huge grill and picnic tables, then discover an even larger building. This one is for storage. It stores furniture, clothes, toys, cribs, blankets, building supplies, and anything one would use on a daily basis that people have been kind enough to donate.
You run into the operator working hard here and she takes a break to explain how it works.
“This is considered transitional housing. Everything is self-maintained down to our compost toilets so once the houses are built, there are no long-term bills such as electricity or water. People can stay here as long as they have proof that they are actively seeking employment. Once they are employed, they can continue to live here for up to a year for free to save money to get (re)established in a safe and supportive environment. We want this to feel like home and give them a sense of independence and security. However, this is just a means to an end, not a permanent solution.  We just strive to make sure our residents won’t be back on the streets. They must submit to drug tests at our discretion since nothing that will hinder anyone from getting or keeping a job is allowed. The whole point of this place is to provide an opportunity to improve and a chance for people to (re)gain their independence. Once that opportunity has been declined, it is grounds for dismissal. If they can adhere to our simple policies, they’re welcome as long as we have room.”
You’re so stunned by the brilliance and simplicity of it all that you’re speechless. After this brief but powerful talk, you leave with a tear in your eye and the urge to write a check. A big one. Or clean out your closet. It’s long overdue anyway.

…And, we’re back. Thanks for taking that short journey with me!
Seriously though, I would love to make this happen and I need your help to do it. Please send back your thoughts, ideas, opinions, suggestions, and questions and I will gladly get back to you really, really quickly.
Like I said, I have no idea if this will work.
But I’d like the opportunity to try.
Thanks SO MUCH for your time and consideration.

To view the proposed floorplan for this idea, please visit:
Due to potential disabilities and limitations, I propose using the one-bedroom version for ease of access and usability. The loft can be used for storage or a children’s bedroom. 

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Friday, February 24, 2012

"If it sounds too good to be true..."

Apparently, that saying applies to the job world now, too.
I just wanted to share with you a scam that recently targeted me in hopes that the people behind it aren't actually successful with it.
It started with an email that looked legit (other than the email address it came from - red flag!).

They used CareerBuilder's name in the message subject and a knockoff logo even though there was no correlation between the company and the website. (I have a resume posted so I'm sure that's why. It's easy to scam people when they use a trusted source to build credibility. Too bad it potentially ruins their reputation in the process. Legitimate emails from CareerBuilder end in @Site.CareerBuilder.com.)

This is the email:

Job Snapshot
Employee Type:Home-Based
Industry:Customer Care
Manages Others:No
Job Type:Part-time
Experience:Not Specified
Base Pay:Salary rate + commissions
Relocation:United States
Ref ID:BFB - 1329771840

We are looking for an energetic, enthusiastic Courier/Sales Asst. to join our team!!
Duties include:
* stay at home 9am to 4 pm to receive deliveries of orders
* prepare the orders for shipment
* ship the packages from the nearest P.O. or request a pickup
Successful candidate must have:
* communication skills written and oral
* Able to build strong relationships and influence decision makers
* Computer proficient Microsoft Office Suite
This is a salary position.Starting salary is $30k year plus benefits health, dental, vacation, commission and paid expenses.
Due to the number of anticipated resumes for this position, we will only be able to respond to those individuals we intend to interview. Thank you for applying!
POSITION NAME: Courier/Sales Asst.
HOURS: 9am-5pm Mon-Fri Full-Time Telecommute
SALARY: 28'000 - 32'000 per year
 If you are interested and would like to apply for this position, email us your resume and your possible questions at csa-job@gmx.com

Red flag: the company name is NEVER mentioned. So I emailed them. (Another red flag: gmx.com is a free email hosting website like hotmail. How often do you see reputable companies that don't have their name in their email address? Their need for such extreme anonymity is a huge sign to stay away!)

The reply came from a totally NEW email address (but the subject had "Re:" as if it were a direct reply. Most legitimate replies are "RE:" meaning it was manually typed incorrectly.)
Here is their reply.

Thursday, February 23, 2012 
Dear Chrissy,

My name is Steven Murphy. I am a representative of the HR Dept. at 3D Computer Supply.

Our company provides customers worldwide with best products at best prices. Our goal is provision of the best quality goods and logistics service to our clients worldwide. Our clients take advantage of receiving products on time and at best price ever.

In case you are interested in the description of the company, also have a look at the description of the position we offer. Attached is a job brochure.

If you feel this job might work for you, please fill out the online application form: 
 In case you are selected we will provide you with a contract and full information on how to start working with us. 

We are looking forward to getting your response ASAP! 
Sincerely Yours 
Steven Murphy 
Email: hr@buy-comp.com 
Phone: 1.800.763.3919 ext 32 
147 East Vine Street Redlands, CA 92374

First of all, "Chrissy" isn't my legal name. I have never in my life used it from the first point of contact professionally. Secondly, (but not as importantly) how did they find me from California?
The website listed in his signature is "BUY-COMP.COM" so I visited there first. It looks legit and has the Better Business Bureau seal so I'm not sure if it's even actually related.
I clicked on the link to go to the application...
If this company found me through CareerBuilder, WHY is it sending me to a site I've never heard of to enter my information? 
...and waited for my antivirus software to spaz. No phishing scam, whew! The site it leads you to has two options and no job description or company info: "Upload Resume" or "Create Resume". FISHY! So, I clicked on the link that said job search. It's a dead link that doesn't lead anywhere. I erased all of the link until it just had the original home page link and tried the links that way. NONE OF THEM WORKED! The whole website is a trick to get your personal information. They did an excellent job of making it look legitimate. There is even a job search box. It doesn't work but at first glance, it is pretty convincing.
(I definitely do NOT recommend clicking on links you're unfamiliar with because just clicking on a link allows nasty viruses to attack your computer.)
3D Computer Supply is also listed as a business so I looked that up. Nothing related to an actual company comes up... until you add "scam" to your search.

Ripoff Report (CareerBuilder actually responded to this report!)
Better Business Bureau (BBB states this company is NOT Accredited.)

These websites are a wonderful tool to help protect yourself so definitely utilize them!

Since he requested a reply "ASAP", I was a little bit nasty and sent back a short reply:

The 'application' website is bogus which made me do a little research. 

I'm hoping you grow a conscience.
Good day.

Luckily, I've got enough computer knowledge to see some of the red flags of a scam. If you are ever unsure, by all means, send me a message and I'll do my best to help you guys out. Call me naive but I hate to see people taken advantage of, especially when so many are already struggling.
The moral of the story is use caution when applying for jobs online and posting your information. More and more companies require you to have a strong online presence which makes it easy to be a target. Please be careful! Most companies do not contact you first but if they do, research as much as you can.
Good luck everyone!

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Monday, February 20, 2012

GoodSearch, GoodShop, & GoodDining

I stumbled upon the greatest website tonight.
What is your favorite charity?
Want to help them earn money by doing what you already do now? 
All you have to do is search the Internet, shop online, and eat out. 
For real.
I've already signed up for GoodSearch, made the search engine my home page, and added the search bar at the top of this page - super easy installation, BTW. (The local food bank was my charity of choice.)
There is also a section within GoodSearch called GoodShop. They offer coupons and a percentage of your online purchase benefits your chosen charity at no additional charge to you. Say whaaaat?
I started to sign up for the GoodDining. Unfortunately, no restaurants in my area are affiliates just yet. (I e-mailed the company though and asked if I could try to help change that. I'll keep you guys updated if I hear anything back.) I highly encourage you to find out if it is offered in your area and sign up. Again, it's no charge to you and a donation is made simply for eating out - no cooking and you're giving back!

I am SUPER excited about this opportunity to make a difference. It's minimal effort and you're helping. Does it get any better than that?

So, who are you going to support?

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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Why Can't I Add Glitter to My Resume?

I'm still trying to find a job. I've applied for two that I really had my heart set on. I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "Wait, they didn't see the value in hiring bubbly and smiley, yet still professional and capable you?" Shocking and appalling, I know.
The thing that bothers me most is that I haven't even been able to get an actual interview. I really want to follow up and ask the hiring managers what they're looking for in a potential employee.

I've got a degree.
Granted, it's not a bachelor's or higher but I worked hard for that thing just fighting to get the classes I needed! (Working to get that seemingly meaningless paper made me cry more than the cancellation of Girlmore Girls!)
I've got more than three years of experience in customer service and commissioned sales.
I built a customer base that loved me and still ask about me. I didn't steal sales from other employees OR money from the company. That should show company loyalty, too! (I never had my business card burning ceremony like I wanted!)
I exceeded my sales goals.
No, I can't give you numbers. I'm pretty sure that's confidential. I also can't give examples like "raised revenue by 10% while motivating my coworkers to do the same" It was part-time retail. (If you think that point needs further explanation, you haven't worked part-time retail and wouldn't understand anyway, sorry!) We ran on a gain over the previous year in our department. Did I have something to do with that? I'd like to think so but again, our numbers were confidential.
I can get along with anyone.
The person that I liked the least in the department (because I thought she was stealing sales and therefore part of my paycheck) was the person that gave me one of the references that got me my seasonal job. That is pretty impressive, right?
I've got extra Certificates from the Small Business Administration.
You can't tell me the knowledge that I've gained from courses such as Crime Prevention: A Guide for Small Businesses, Introduction to Accounting, or Technology 101: A Small Business Guide isn't beneficial!
I go out of my way to help people.
Okay, so I don't have "pays for gas for random strangers instead of supporting their potential habit" or "loans cell phone to people unsuccessfully trying to use a payphone" on my resume. Do you?
I know how to add and subtract.
This is useful when working with cash and I'm always surprised by how much of a dying art it seems to be. I can also use "your" and "you're" properly without being a complete snob about it (most of the time).
I can spell and choose to do so correctly.
In one of my college classes, we heard about one of the marketing professionals for said college who intentionally misspelled words to see if people were paying attention based on the feedback from the errors. I don't see how that could be an accurate depiction (or look very professional when trying to promote a college.)
I know how to be (and look) professional. 
...and that you're not legally allowed to ask about potential plans to have babies during an interview. (Plus, my hair isn't blue!)


So, I'm doing the best thing I can think of short of actually calling these companies one by one and asking them directly: reading articles on how to improve your resume.
Unfortunately, the first thing I came across has me a little apprehensive.

10 Resume Red Flags: 
1.) It's Covered in Glitter - Literally

I can't use glitter on my resume to give it that extra sparkle and shine? That's like telling me adding smiley faces would be frowned upon... What kind of company wouldn't want their employees to be smiley and happy?!

I guess that means camping out in front of a potential job with this sign and refusing to leave until I'm hired would be a bad idea, too?

*sigh* Maybe I'm not cut out for the business world after all...

P.S. If my ramblings related to unemployment didn't entertain you, maybe this will!

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