I’m Back… and a shout out about customer service

August 24, 2009

Long time no talk to my small but loyal group of readers 🙂
I am back and hopefully going to be making more of an effort to keep my blog updated – this time though, most posts will be shorter and more to the point (but for those who know me, know I’m a bit wordy at times too).

But today, I want to shout out about GOOD customer service. I know, so RARE these days, but it does exist at places besides Axis Technical Group.

Last night I had some business to do with GoDaddy.com and spent about $100…. Not exactly the kind of sale that gets corporate America happy these days. So imagine my surprise when a guy named “Robert” called me this afternoon just to thank me for my business, and see if I had any questions. Of course there was the obligatory sales question about other services, but when I told him I didn’t need it, he remained friendly and on point about making sure our GoDaddy experience was a good one.

If only other companies, large and small, were more like GoDaddy or my company, Axis Technical Group, the world would be a much happier place.

Ahhh it feels good to be back – more to come in the days ahead so stay tuned.

Got something to say to me? russellwolf.blog@gmail.com

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No Vin Scully on Opening Day?

April 13, 2009

You can pretty much always count on one thing…Beautiful weather for the Dodgers’ Home opener. For 17 straight years, I attended the festivities that mark the opening of an 81 game (and hopefully more with playoffs) home calendar, a streak that ended in 2007, by choice, trading in the sun and the crowd for a front row seat in front of my nice HDTV LCD.

Times being what they are, and having had a lot of unofficial off days in recent weeks, I planned to work from the office today, to set a good example for my team, and besides, technology would virtually keep me at the game. In today’s world I’m only a video or radio stream away from the action.

True to form, on a beautiful California day on which Vin Scully, the iconic voice of the Dodgers for 6 decades, threw out the first pitch, I looked forward like a little kid, to his harmonious call of the 58th home opener at Chavez Ravine. As I began my hunt for the online radio station that would turn my office into the next best thing to a luxury suite, I learned the sports world lost the legendary voice of Harry Kalas. A moment of reflection and it made me appreciate the fact that we all still have Vin Scully that much more. I was mere cyberspace hops away from hearing Vin Scully again today.

As cliche as it sounds, I spent many a school night staying up later than I was allowed to quietly sneak a listen of Vin spinning tales of guys names Garvey and Cey and Yeager and Sax and Fernando and Jerry Reuss and… . It was storytelling mastery, and it was free and available to anyone who had a cheap am radio. The static sounds of the airwaves only added to the ambiance and delight of a game. So with today’s technology, I’d have no problem hearing Vin Scully visualize the game for me.

A quick click to the KABC radio website, the Dodgers flagship station, and I could listen for free… to their regularly scheduled programming of political know-it-alls. Strike 1, fastball that just nicked the corner.

Google had plenty of results…. And after another umpteen clicks of the mouse, my excitement to hear “play ball” took an inside fastball belt high. Strike two.

MLB.com had the answer. In fact, they were pretty much the only answer: For a small fee, every game of the 2009 season could be mine on Internet Radio (not to mention streaming live video for every game for under $100). I smiled and my eyes focused…that next pitch was going to sail over the center field wall.

And then, giddiness struck out on a nasty curve ball at the knees.

In a time when people are struggling to make ends meet, and for some, to put a hot meal on the table, it’s the simple things, like listening to Vin Scully, that can make you smile for a few hours. Baseball has been heralded in movies and conversation as the glue that has held this nation together. It was America’s past time. But not anymore. Baseball is a business like any other. It’s P&L statements and board rooms and contracts and marketing. It’s not pennant races and head-first slides into home with the winning run in the bottom of the ninth. It’s not Dad’s and their sons finding a common interest to bond over. Not anymore. Now, baseball is simply money.

I paid my $9.95, and I’m sure I’ll listen to countless games online throughout the year. But I won’t hear Vin Scully. Market restrictions limit what games, specifically, what Dodger games, I can listen to. And that doesn’t include home games. “Sorry Mr. Wolf”, no doubt would have been the Customer Service response had I called. “You can’t listen to Vin Scully but don’t worry, you can enjoy Jon Miller on the San Francisco Radio feed of the game.” Clearly that person has never tasted the incomparable difference of a grilled Dodger Dog to a boiled one. Like Jon Miller to Vin Scully, there is no comparison.

Nevertheless, thanks to technology and a nominal fee, I got to hear the game, and enjoyed every minute of the Dodgers’ thrashing of the Giants 11-1. I suppose sometimes you would eat a boiled Dodger Dog instead of no dog at all… but it’s not the same. So tomorrow, I’m going to let technology make sure this never happens again.

I’m going to Target and getting me a little AM radio. Look forward to hearing you Wednesday night, Vin!

Got something to say to me? russellwolf.blog@gmail.com


Looking for a job? You’re not alone…really, you’re not (1st in a series)

March 9, 2009

Read the news online any day and you are bombarded with stories about unemployment levels in the United States reaching and surpassing record numbers. I venture to say most of us whose jobs have not been directly affected by the economy at least know someone who has lost their job due. Many people still employed are nonetheless dipping their job search toes in the water as they worry about their current employers’ viability.

On a daily basis I am introduced through my network to numerous technology professionals who are amongst the jobless, each seeking some silver lining in what is clearly a stormy job market. What I offer each of them is the plain, un-coated truth of what they can expect and what they need to do to differentiate themselves from the rest of the pack. Often, this is not what they want to hear, but understanding what you are facing in this job market is important if you are going to be successful in navigating through it.

This is the first in a series of blog posts that will share some of that plain truth with you, and offer some of the tools, information and tips that will help you pilot your own successful job search. The series will be geared towards the Information Technology (IT) industry and job market, but really can apply to any job search. The perception in the IT segment of the market is that there are no jobs out there. The reality is quite the opposite as there are still numerous opportunities in IT, but they call for specific skills and expertise, not to mention offer lower salaries and the chance to compete with a stampede of candidates  vying for the same position. Every candidate is facing increasingly stiff competition from other highly qualified individuals and it is those people who are best prepared for the job search that will ultimately find success.

For truly the first time in a depressed market, technology jobs and spending is not the first to go on the chopping block. Clearly budgets have been slashed, and people have lost their jobs. But when you look at the IT marketplace, you see companies realizing that in order to make money now and in the future, technology is the force that is driving improvements in daily workflow, process, and productivity. Therefore, organizations that are cutting back across the board are looking to their technology team last and with a less severe cut than other areas.

So, as a job seeker, what can you do to get the right job for you? Let’s start with your resume.

The Resume

Your resume is your business card; it is your introduction to prospective employers, and certainly should not be your autobiography. It is meant to be representative of who YOU are and there are countless services out there who will prey on your belief that you have to have the world’s greatest resume. They will charge you an arm and a leg, and sometimes your first born child only to produce something for you that looks and reads great, but isn’t you. DON’T WASTE THE MONEY!

Writing and updating your resume is a deeply personal journey that anyone seeking a job must undertake, as it will help you better understand who you are professionally and what you offer prospective employers. What you find out about yourself in this process is also typically the answer to the “tell me about you” question in interviews. Plus, read on and you’ll learn how you can have multiple professionals critique and sometimes help edit your resume for FREE!

Format

What should the resume look like? There are plenty of templates available on the web, or ask a friend or colleague to see their resume as an example. There are many different formats that work well so find one that you are comfortable with. I highly recommend you do not use templates that are built with spreadsheet-like cells and tables. Many companies, and most of the online job boards, use automated software for uploading your resume to internal systems and most can’t recognize tables and sections.

When printing out your resume, use normal plain white paper. You don’t need fancy paper or colors to get someone’s attention. Maybe back in the day of stamping an envelope and mailing your profile to a company this worked, but now I look at such resumes and see someone fluffing and trying to draw attention away from their actual skills and experience. Choose one font (Arial, Times New Roman, Verdana all work well) and do not mix & match different fonts in the resume. You can utilize font sizes to subtly distinguish between different sections of your resume if you choose, but this also can be accomplished through the use of bold and underlined lettering.

Content

The resume has essentially 3 sections: Summary, Experience, and Education/etc.

The “Summary” section is a brief description (2-3 sentences) of who you are professionally, followed by a list of your technical skills and abilities. This entire section really should be no more than a half page.

Next is your “Professional Experience.” Trust me, no hiring manager or recruiter wants to see 4 long narrative paragraphs about each job and/or project you have worked on. It might very well be interesting reading, but no one has the time to read through it in detail and if we wanted to read a novel, we would go to a library. Instead, briefly describe your role and responsibilities and what your employer does/makes/sells/etc. (2-4 sentences). Then bullet-point your specific accomplishments and achievements (I recommend no more than about 5 such items). If you worked with specific technical skills on a project or projects, you can then list that technical environment as well.

Following professional experience, highlight your “Education,” including college and any other programs/courses that would be of specific help in the job you are seeking. Also, list certifications and other accomplishments outside the realm of your work experience that would be an added benefit to prospective employers.

Lastly, your contact information at the top of your resume is extremely important. DUH! But many people make the mistake of over or under doing it. List your home address (at least city of residence), along with the best number to reach you at (don’t list multiple phone numbers) and one email address. That email address should be something simple that includes your name. If your email address is something like fridaynitepartier@anymail.com, you might want to get a new email address for your job search.

The Review

After you have a draft of your resume, go back and re-read it. Then do it one more time and correct any spelling or grammatical errors. Nothing turns an employer off faster than someone who couldn’t be bothered to spell-check their resume before submitting it. It also tells the employer you are not someone who pays attention to detail.

Once you are satisfied with your resume draft, ask friends or family to review and edit it – you’ll be cross-eyed from looking at it yourself so many times that a fresh set of eyes will notice any grammatical or other errors you and your computer missed.

Now you have your resume but would like a professional to look at it. Go ahead and post it on a few job boards, and in no time, you’ll have recruiters contacting you. We will talk all about recruiters in a later posting here, but recruiters work with resumes every day so who better to know what does and doesn’t work? Pick a recruiter or two that you trust (better yet, get a referral for a good recruiter from a friend or colleague) and most of the good ones will review your resume and offer you strong constructive feedback. In some cases, recruiters and headhunters will actually offer to rewrite your resume for free!

Check back soon as we discuss marketing yourself in a jungle of job seekers, recruiters and websites all promising to get you that great new job.

Got something to say to me? russellwolf.blog@gmail.com


Haven’t you ever changed your mind?

March 4, 2009

First, I cannot even believe that this is what I’m writing about. Second, I openly admit that I watched the first season of “The Bachelor.” Yes it’s true. I may even have caught a few episodes of the second season. But, I haven’t watched a single minute of the show since – why would I when train wrecks like the Bret Michaels Love Bus (or whatever it’s called) and those other wacky VH1 shows (how can you not love the “ikki twins”??) are so much more entertaining?

Ever since last night all I have been hearing and reading about from friends and family alike, is what a schmuck this guy on “The Bachelor” is. (And thanks to my friend Sara for explaining to me how the Bachelor himself, during the reunion show last night on National TV, broke up with the woman he proposed to on the show’s finale, only to then turn around and profess his love for the woman he originally spurned on that that same. Got all that? (It took her a couple of explanations until I did).

So what’s all the broo-ha-ha about anyway? My sister says she “hates” the guy. Others have called him an idiot, a loser. But WHY?

OK, granted, maybe national television isn’t the most appropriate place to break up with a woman on. But isn’t that the WHOLE point of the show? All of these women, and men, know exactly what they are getting in to and the exposure they will face. And, considering anyone going on fantasy dates in places around the world would fall in love (or think they did) under the false pretenses that all these dating shows offer, isn’t this exactly what they should expect? Isn’t it exactly what all the viewers should expect? Isn’t this exactly what happens on every soap opera-like show on TV?

And from the guy’s perspective, I say good for him. Bravo – if you’re going to go for it, go big.  So he broke the woman’s heart. She’s a former Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader for crying out loud – she will not have a problem meeting someone else, under real-life circumstances. The guy (OK I checked, his name is Jason) was undoubtedly under incredible pressure, both self-imposed and nudged upon him by the shows producers. Of course the producers and ABC wanted a dramatic proposal for their finale. And of course they wanted fireworks on the reunion show that started all this hooplah in the first place. Should this guy just stay with a woman for whom his feelings have changed so that America loves him?

And does it even matter?

This show, like every single show on tv, is about one thing. Money. The producers don’t care if someone’s heart gets broken. Are you kidding? They WANT hearts to get broken. They want them shattered. Stomped on. Chewed up and spit out. After all, it makes great TV, especially to all the same people who are all over the Internet ripping this poor guy a new one because he actually is trying to be true to his heart. Good for him.

And while you’re all chastising the guy, the producers are sitting in their office thanking him, and counting their money. Good for them.

So it seems to be, in “reality, everyone got exactly what they deserved for doing these shows in the first place. Good for everyone.

Got something to say to me? russellwolf.blog@gmail.com


the time has come

February 12, 2009

I’ve been threatening for a long time to write a blog. But what to write about? For those of you who know me, you know very well I’m never at a loss for words. For those of you don’t know me, this blog will give you a little insight to my professional career and life in the IT Services industry, with occasional random comments mixed in. From life’s little moments to sports to random thoughts of senselessness, you’ll get a little bit of this and that here. After all, it’s from The Mind of Russell Wolf…. Stay tuned and enjoy…….

Got something to say to me? russellwolf.blog@gmail.com