Thanks, Jobfox…The Writing Spider Hates You Now

Dear Jobfox’s Resume Critiquer Madeline Willis,

You know I just lost my job right? And that’s why I searched for new jobs on your website. Mind you, it took me a good two hours to get through uploading my resume and filling out a couple of stupid questionnaires before I could actually LOOK for anything.

Seriously?

Can you make it more difficult to find jobs on Jobfox? Because I got nothing but time, sister. Time to fiddle around on your overly-elaborate site.   Jobfox asks you to “register” on their site which includes uploading a resume and filling out questions about your work history and it takes EONS. It is NOT USER FRIENDLY.

So once I did finally get all my little ducks in a row, I didn’t actually find any jobs worth applying for.

Believe me, Madeline, I’m a pro at search words for jobs.

Can you imagine my feeling upon waking this morning to find an email from you, Madeline Willis Candidate Service Consultant, detailing in 1,900 words (I counted) exactly how crappy and horrible my resume is? Madeline! I submitted my resume around 3 pm yesterday, EST, and according to the time stamp on the email you replied by 1:53 AM. You must have stayed up all night combing my resume and writing nearly two thousand words about it!

Bless your little heart.

However, Madeline, turnabout is fair play and I’ve provided a resume critique critique for you here so you can indeed become a better resume critiquer. Best of all, I’m not charging you FOUR HUNDRED DOLLARS to do it. I’m doing it FOR FREE. How’s that for customer service?

(*Author’s note: I am listening to Pandora now, on my Baroque Chamber music station {don’t hate} and you know what’s on? Beethoven’s FIFTH. HOW APPROPRIATE.)

Madeline, I think you’re sabotaging your message here by saying things like:  ” I didn’t find [your resume] to be exciting, and it didn’t make me want to run to the phone to call you. In short, your resume is effectively sabotaging your job search.” Sabotage? Is that really a good word to choose? I suggest investing in a thesaurus to help you find more appropriate words. Frankly, I’m glad you don’t want to call me. You’re a robot.

Now, this was really hurtful.   “I’m concerned that your resume is selling you like a generic, and that it’s not likely to get picked among those of other candidates. The ideal resume design is airy, clean, and uncluttered, with the effective and strategic use of white space.”

White space?

Madeline, I really believe

that this email letter I got

was a generic auto-response generated from Jobfox to make me feel bad enough to pay you to “fix” my resume.

I

think

Jobfox

PREYS on people who’ve just lost their jobs.

Moving on.

“From the way the resume is worded, you come across as a “doer” not an “achiever.”” Thou dost wound me, lady! As a card-carrying member of the Overachiever’s Club of America, I don’t see how you came to this conclusion. Perhaps I should fax you copies of my middle school report cards? I reviewed my resume after reading your letter and truly – it’s CRAMMED full of ACTION VERBS, RESULTS, and OTHER FANTASTIC STUFF. Here are some verbs I used: planned, facilitated, organized, supported, wrote, edited, proofread. Those are verbs, Maddie.

But I guess since you’re probably an autobot….NAY a DECEPTICON…you can’t really read.

Here’s where we come to the crux of your letter. See how she repeatedly uses my name to show that it’s a Personalized Letter to Me?

Sara, it was difficult for me to evaluate your resume because there was so little information and this is a big problem. You would really benefit from working with one of our writers. They have a way of helping you articulate your strengths and identify accomplishments that will transform your resume into an impressive document. My clients tell me the process also helps to prepare them for interviews.

I would REALLY benefit huh…? Tell me more!

To encourage you to make the investment now, we are offering our best price on our resume writing services in the first 5 days after you view your resume evaluation. Save $100 off our price of $399, a 25% discount. In addition, we are the only resume service that offers the option to pay for your resume in installments. We spread the cost over six months to make our service affordable for everyone.

If you purchase in the next 5 days, you have the option to make a one-time payment of $299 (a $100 savings), or six monthly payments of $53.29 (a $100 savings). Either way, you will still have your new documents back in 4-5 business days so you can improve your chances of getting hired quickly.

Egads a discount! What would I do without that discount? The ONLY service to offer payment in INSTALLMENTS? So you’re like the QVC of resume rewriters!?

I felt badly about my resume after I read this letter. Well…until I realized it was a cleverly disguised marketing ploy designed to prey on the panicked job seeker who wandered into the Jobfox’s den…

In short, Madeline, and Jobfox – shame on you.

In conclusion, I feel my time at Jobfox has been wasted. I feel manipulated. I’m also sorry for the unwitting who pay you money to do anything.

Best regards,

The Writing Spider

PS – How’s that for a generic no-talent self-sabotaging copywriter?


Short Story: Tree Farm

Well, the tree stand that inspired this story has opened for the season, so I am posting this short story I wrote about Christmas trees. Hope you enjoy it.

Tree Farm

The air crackled in the cold December evening, little glitters of snow swirling around Emmett Beale and his herd of firry green giants. He rubbed leather-gloved hands together in anticipation. The parking lot was starting to get full and people were wandering into the corral areas. He took a sip of his coffee from the thermo mug – fully loaded with enough precious Irish Tyrconnell but not too much that would scare the kids – and pulled his hat down a little more firmly.

Buddy, the kid Emmett had hired to help this year, was busy turning on the holiday music and counting out the change in his apron.

It was going to be a good night.

A couple with two children, a boy and girl, were standing by the balsam firs, which shuffled docilely at one corner of the pen, every now and again rustling their branches. “Now, kids, this is the perfect tree for you. We don’t want anything too big,” the mother said, leaning down to the children’s level. “I think my first tree was a balsam.”

“It’s a good fifteen branches high,” the father said. “That’s just about right for you two.” The kids squealed, clapping their mittened hands.

Emmett smiled as remembered his first tree. A balsam, too.

When they paid, the father pulled Emmett to the side. “Now, I don’t really want to have to clean up after this thing for long,” he said. “Do you people come take care of the…remains?”
Emmett’s warm feelings turned frosty. It irked him that people don’t normally do their homework before they go bringing another living thing into their lives. Puppies, horses, plants – just grab and go nowadays, you can always “get rid of it” later.

“If you just keep it watered good, she’ll last you on past Christmas and if you don’t want to keep it and replant in your yard, give me a call. Just be sure you keep it watered,” he emphasized.  The man smiled, relieved.

“Thanks, man. I’d like them to be a little older before we have the where-trees-go-when-they-die talk.”

At the other end of the lot, an older couple and a young man smoking a cigarette stood contemplating the Alberta spruces, a lively stamping bunch nearly too large for the pen. Emmett chuckled to himself at the woman’s luxurious fur coat, glad she couldn’t see him roll his eyes in the dark.

He sauntered up to them. “Nice night to find a tree, eh?” he said, smiling, his breath foggy in the chill air.

The woman turned to him with shrew eyes. Emmett’s first wife had shrew eyes and he knew no good ever comes from a woman like that. He looked to the man.

“We need a few, um, larger trees,” the man said, gesturing somewhat apologetically. These city folks, Emmett thought, don’t know what they’re getting into.

Emmett took a sip of his coffee.

“Well sir, you look like the kind of guy who has a lot of experience with trees,” Emmett said. “What do you think of the Alberta here?”

Within minutes, Emmett had discovered this couple was a well-known neurologist from town and his wife, and their handyman. They wanted three large trees – two to plant on either side of the front door to their home and one for the foyer. “We’re having a Christmas soiree,” the woman said. Emmett but he just smiled and nodded. They’d never had Albertas before and Emmett could see there was a delicate situation brewing here – the wife wanted big interesting trees to impress her friends but Emmett didn’t think these were the sort of folk who could really handle a wild Alberta spruce, much less three of them.

“I understand your situation and I think I can help you out,” Emmett said. “Care to step this way please?” City manners, Emmett reminded himself as they moved through the corrals of Douglas fir and Scots pine. The ones he wanted to show them were in the back in the largest pen of all. Thank goodness they were generally good-natured or he’d have had to build the corral out of iron posts instead of wood.

The woman gasped. The man grinned in spite of himself.

“But they said nobody in town had these,” she said, eyeing Emmett. “Are they the real thing? I’ve read about them on the internet, you know.”

He ignored her. “The Leyland Cypress might be just what you’re looking for. These here are about nineteen branches each. They’re generally low-key trees, good for folks who don’t have much time to mess with ‘em. All wild-caught, of course. Looks great with lights—“

“We’ll take them. Two big ones and a slightly smaller one for the foyer.” She pronounced it ‘fwah-yay.’ “I’m going back to the car,” the woman said, pulling her fur closer around herself. The man shrugged and looked at Emmett as his wife crunched across the snow in high-heeled boots. They’d driven in their own BMW and the handyman had a flatbed truck. Emmett had Buddy help the guy while he counted warm crisp bills from the man’s pocket.

A good night indeed.

“Sir? Are you Emmett Beale?” The girl was dressed in an expensive outdoor jacket and lots of makeup.

“Yes, ma’am, I am.”

“I’m Rosie Parker from WLKY news. Care to chat for an interview? We’re just out visiting tree farm stands tonight, talking with folks, getting in the spirit.” Rosie Parks was probably new at this, Emmett suspected.

“Sure,” he said.

She gestured to the cameraman who flipped a switch on the bright lamp. Emmett answered most of the questions squinting.

“This is Rosie Parker coming to you live from Emmett Beale’s tree farm stand in St. Matthews. Emmett, how many trees do you have here tonight?” She might’ve been looking at Emmett expectantly but he was still blinking in the light.

“Well, this year we have about eighty trees, all varieties,” he said. “And some you don’t find too many places around here.”

“What kind of tree are most people looking for?”

“It depends. Most folks want a smaller tree, for the kids, you know, they aren’t used to handling the big buckin’ ones, the Grands and the Nobles and the like. But we’d like to find good homes for all the trees this year.”

The interview was cut short when a splash of green paint suddenly appeared across Rosie Park’s expensive jacket. Her mouth dropped open as she uttered an expletive that Emmett hoped the censors had caught before it aired on live prime time television.

The protesters had gathered just outside the main corral’s gate. Emmett whistled to Buddy who nodded and moved to check the perimeter – one year those darn kids had let a whole pen of Ponderosa pines slink off into the surrounding parkland. By the time they discovered the break, they couldn’t tell their wild Ponderosas from the ones already growing in the park.

“CHRISTMAS TREES ARE SLAVES TO THE AMERICAN CAPITALIST CONSUMER MACHINE!” a young man hollered from the edge of the group.

There were maybe five or six, college-age and high school, bound up in multicolored scarves and knit caps with ear flaps. They waved homemade signs:

KEEP WILD TREES WILD

TREES BELONG IN THE FOREST NOT YOUR LIVING ROOM

LEAF TREES ALONE

THERE WERE NO TREES AT THE BIRTH OF CHRIST

Rosie Parks was now ignoring the splotches of paint dribbling down her chest and was hastening with her cameraman toward the knot of protesters, her microphone pointed right at them.

Emmett sighed. There wasn’t usually much trouble but these days, people get all up in arms about taking wild things and putting them inside, then letting them die, all for the sake of a holiday. Truth was that the people who bought from Emmett asked him to come back after Christmas and take the trees back, which he did and replanted them at his farm out in the country.

Emmett stood off to the side, watching Rosie question the crowd, an amused look on his face. Buddy was making rounds, checking the live stock.

“Sir, can you tell us why you’re here tonight?” Rosie’s voice was full of reporterly concern.

“That man,” he pointed at Emmett, “kills innocent trees every year, just so people can keep up this stupid tradition of the ‘real’ Christmas tree.”

A skinny young woman with waist-length blonde braids stepped forward. “I made a flyer with all the reasons you should use a fake tree,” she said, hiking up her shirt. “I wrote it here so I didn’t have to waste paper.” Her flat pale stomach was covered in smeary blue ink which Rosie Parks wouldn’t even try to read, but her cameraman was giving it the old college try.

The police car arrived shortly. Officer Flowers was a good friend of Emmett’s, always kept an eye out for him.

“Evening, y’all,” he said. Emmett smiled and shook his head, and went back to the lot as Officer Flowers strongly encouraged the protesters to find a better place to practice their first amendment rights.

Rosie Parker came back to where Emmett stood.

“Care to comment, Mr. Beale?”

“I think you all should know I will take back any tree that is unfit for your home, that is unstable or uncontrollable, that sheds more’n you’d like, or that has fulfilled its purpose for the holiday season, and I will personally replant it among its own kind on my two hundred acre farm.” He pushed his hat back a bit. “How many tree shop owners around here can say that?” He smiled.

“And this has been Rosie Parker coming to you live from Beale’s Tree Corral.” She froze for a moment, and then turned to Emmett. “Thanks, Mr. Beale. This will air again tonight at 11.” She walked off, the cameraman struggling with the piles of equipment.

By the end of the night, Emmett had sold twenty trees. Buddy’d made a date with Rosie Parker to drive around and look at Christmas lights together, and Emmett was feeling the effects of his Irish coffee’s holiday cheer. The trees were resting quietly, having been fertilized and watered. He relaxed under the down comforter on the cot in the trailer he stayed in for the weeks before Christmas to keep an eye on the trees.

“Merry Christmas to all,” he said, drifting into dreams of scantily-clad lady-elves.

NaBloPoMo #4 – Networking Girl

(Ok this is for yesterday, #5 is on its way)

I went to a Networking Event last night. If I want to be a proper freelance writer, well, I’m going to have to hustle. The event was sponsored by a local law firm and put together by an an eclectic group of folks whose common goals include wanting to foster small businesses, and encourage women-owned and minority-owned businesses. I enjoyed it immensely and made what I hope will be some great contacts for my freelance career. It was a three-hour local networking event. 7-minute presentations by local business owners were sandwiched between1-minute speed-networking when we were encouraged to meet someone with whom we had not already spoken.

There’s more to this event for me than just finding clients. If you don’t know me, or you haven’t known me for long,  you might not know that I am, by nature, an introvert. Change = scary, meeting new people is like totally panic-inducing. I’ve worked for many years to overcome my shyness and build confidence. It surprises people to hear this – they can’t believe it! All I can say is, fake it ’till you make it. I took a Meyers-Briggs test last week that indicates I am no longer an INFJ, but an ENFJ. I have morphed from Introvert to Extrovert. Years ago, I might’ve gone to this networking event and simply stood back and let people come to me instead of working the room, business cards in hand.nablo1109.120x200