Decode Job Search Jargon

Before Pinterest, to create a bulletin board, you had to cut out magazine articles and photos. I used to stuff these clippings into folders and when recently cleaning out a closet came across a job search folder from 2007. In it was the above gem.

While the original article in the November issue of Self Magazine by Janene Mascarella translated five of the most common corporatese into plain language was directed at interviewing, you can use the same tips and suggestions in your cover letter. Keep the job description in hand when you write the letter and underline key phrases and repeat them (if applicable). Then if you do score an interview, get out the job description again and review it once more.

In case you can’t read the scan, the details are below. Italics are additions to the original reporting.

  1. Meticulously detail-oriented means “you always follow through and not just follow up,” says David Nour, a consultant in Atlanta. Think: putting ideas into action after a meeting. Prove you’re it by asking about the company’s challenges in the interview, explain how you’ll meet them.
    This is still really good advice. By asking about the challenges and providing solutions or at least how you’ll work within those challenges means your interviewer will be picturing you in the company. 
  2. A team player means you care less about personal glory than about seeing the company succeed. If someone is slacking, you’ll forgo blaming and offer to help. Prove you’re it by including a collaborative project in your portfolio and specify how you contributed to it.
    You can also explain how you work with different personalities and contribute to the team environment in your current or past positions. 
  3. Strong analytical ability means you can glean valuable insights from raw data and use them for the company’s gain by, say, seizing on a trend before the competition. Prove you’re it by describing a work situation in which you brilliantly solved a thorny problem or blazed a new trail.
    It’s finally cool (at least in most circles) to be good at math and analytics (thanks to social media!), don’t be afraid to show how you created a spreadsheet that displayed a trend or gave you the proper insights to make a decision. You don’t have to be working on a budget to use numbers.
  4. A dynamic go-getter means you’re high in stamina (but not hyper), motivated and focused. You will channel your energy to the work hustling to get it done. Prove you’re it by underscoring your drive by describing how your responsibilities have grown with each position held.
    Don’t be afraid to say you look at deadlines like a challenge and always strive to meet expectations. Explain how you find workarounds for the inevitable roadblocks that come up in projects. You can also give examples of how you work well independently or with minimal supervision. 
  5. Superior interpersonal skills means you’re ubertrustworthy and intuitive. Understanding a client’s needs and collaborating to meet them come naturally to you. Prove you’re it by showing stellar people smarts on the interview by asking at least two sincere questions.
    You can start with the challenges question from the first tip. You can also reiterate how you’ve worked on sensitive (without divulging too much information) projects or with a large team. This is really code for minimal drama. The company wants to hire someone who won’t make interpersonal waves and will strive to get along with everyone.

What do you think? Are these tips still relevant?

Butternut Squash and Fried Sage Pasta

If you told me 10 years ago, I’d be eating squash, I would never believe you. But I am! And I’m loving it! I had no idea these fall vegetables could taste so lovely! I’m always looking for new recipes and when a friend recommended this Self Magazine butternut squash recipe, I jumped at the chance to try it. It was super easy (once I figured out how to cut the squash) and very filling.

8 oz whole-wheat penne
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 fresh sage leaves (Do not substitute dried, it doesn’t taste the same!)
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 medium butternut squash (about 2 lb), peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup grated Parmesan (it’s ok to omit this, but it does enhance the flavors)

Cook penne as directed on package (we used spaghetti because we were out of penne, it worked just as well!). Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Fry sage, turning once, until crisp on both sides, about 1 minute per side. Transfer to a paper towel. Add onion and garlic to skillet. Cook, stirring frequently, until soft and golden, about 3 minutes. Add squash, 3/4 cup water, salt and pepper. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until squash softens, 5 to 7 minutes (this took about 10 minutes for us). Drain pasta, reserving 1 cup cooking water. Return pasta to pot and add squash mixture; stir over low heat, adding some reserved cooking water if necessary, until pasta is coated, about 1 minute. Serve, garnished with cheese and sage.

My Opinion:
I didn’t expect this simple dish to be as flavorful and wonderful as it was. The only two changes I’ll make are to add more onion and garlic. A great late fall early winter dish. Not to mention a wonderful introduction to the world of butternut squash. What new vegetable should we try next? Parsnips?

Favorite Summer Risotto

I cut this recipe from Self Magazine seven years ago and it’s still one of my most favorite summer dishes.

1 pint cherry tomatoes (I use a little more)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic (I use about 4 cloves)
1 small onion, diced (or medium, depending on how much you like onions)
2 cups diced zucchini (feel free to use more!)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 pound arborio rice (I just make one recipe, which is about 1 cup dry, otherwise it makes WAY too much rice)
1 cup dry white wine (Chardonnay is my favorite)
2 cups chicken broth
6 tablespoons grated Parmesan (I omit this)
18 sea scallops

The original directions have you roasting the tomatoes in the oven for an hour. I skip this. I cut the cherry tomatoes in half and put them in a medium pan with some olive oil and salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil on medium heat in the same pan. Cook garlic and half the onion until translucent; add zucchini and cook about 5 minutes. Puree zucchini mixture in a blender with lemon juice and 1 tbsp oil (I only puree about 2/3). Season with salt and pepper. Set aside. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a medium pot on medium heat and sauté remaining onion until translucent. Add rice and cook 2 minutes. Pour in the wine, stirring until rice absorbs wine. Add broth 1 cup at a time until absorbed, stirring continually for 20 minutes or until rice is tender (add more broth if necessary). Once rice is cooked, stir in zucchini puree, butter and cheese (if using). Set aside. In the same pan you sauteed the tomatoes, onions and zucchini add another tablespoon of olive oil. Salt and pepper one side of the scallops. Put the seasoned side down in the pan. Sprinkle the tops with salt and pepper. Cook about 2 minutes then flip.

My Opinion:
I’ve made this dish so many times and each time it gets a little better. I’ve learned not to rush the risotto and to not wiggle the scallops to let them get a good sear. This dish reminds me of summer so much that in the middle of winter when I miss summer, I make this dish.

Resource: Self Magazine, Think You’ve Got Horrible Bosses?

I’ve mentioned before that Women’s Lifestyle magazines (see this post inspired by Shape Magazine) are beginning to include how to have a healthy career right next to the latest workout and eating trends. The advice isn’t just for women.

Self Magazine is no exception. They recently featured an article on bad bosses and how to stay on their good side.

Their go-to expert is Anita Bruzzese, author of 45 Things That Drive Your Boss Crazy. She suggests enlisting co-workers for help and to watch your back. This is excellent advice, but you must choose your confidants carefully. You should choose to include those who have taken an interest in you already. Ones you have already gone to lunch with or taken a brief break. They don’t need to be your best friend, but you need to know you can trust them.

Bruzzese next encourages you to find a mentor. This person can be in your company or outside it, your age or older. Don’t discount those in the same organizational place as you. They have a different perspective. Find out what professional publications your mentor reads and how they stay current on trends that affect your position or industry.

For more excellent tips on working with various kinds of bosses, read the full article from Self Magazine here.

How have you handled less than wonderful working conditions or bosses?

Self Magazine’s Shrimp and Orzo (modified)

(Note: this is a guest post from Matt LaCasse. He and I have traded recipes since before he started #cookchat.)

If you follow me on Twitter, you’ve been seeing me use the hashtag #hawaiidiet. As a part of this diet, my wife and I get 8 ounces of meat a day, but that’s limited to seafood, chicken or turkey. Up to this point in my life, I’ve had a saying that goes something like, “If it’s from the sea, it’s not for me.” I’ve had to get over that since one can only eat so much chicken and/or turkey. So, I turned to the one place I knew I could get a fantastic shrimp recipe. The host of this here blog.

God bless Aurora. She sent me this recipe for shrimp. I’ll give the recipe (from Self Magazine) as it’s supposed to be made first:

  • 1 cup dry orzo
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1 can (28 oz) whole, peeled tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
  • 1 pound medium shelled and deveined shrimp
  • 1/2 cup feta

#Hawaiidiet also bans dairy products, so the feta was out, and I’d never heard of capers before this, didn’t have any on hand, and so ended up substituting cilantro. Orzo was also out due to the no carbs aspect of the diet. So, here’s what I ended up using:

  • 2 Tsp olive oil
  • 1 cup green onions (Didn’t have an onion on hand, used these instead, worked great)
  • 1 Tb garlic powder (Thought I had garlic on hand, but I didn’t. This worked OK)
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar (Again, didn’t have any white wine on hand)
  • 1 can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 2 tbs parsley (I used dried parsley)
  • 1 tbs cilantro
  • The rest of the ingredients I used as listed

This was a GREAT recipe. It was a bit spicier than I had expected, but that wasn’t a bad thing. There’s LOTS of flavor here, and I really wish I could have used feta and orzo as I have no doubt that makes this taste completely different. It was a little over-tomatoey, but I’m chalking that up to the lack of feta and orzo. The cilantro added a little citrus twist to it, which I really enjoyed and would add to the original recipe; then again, I’m a cilantro freak.

Thanks to Aurora for passing along the recipe! This and a tilapia recipe she passed along have been big hits at Casa de LaCasse and will become a part of the regular rotation.