Why is it that the best dreams always happen right before the alarm goes off in the morning?

Last night I had a dream that I was working for some hotel that was hosting a series of events as a part of a contest.  I was setting up for the Balloon Burst challenge when one of our guests was missing a member of their foursome.  Since the guest was important (I don’t remember why) to the hotel, it was determined that I would join his team.

Well, the guest and the other two members of the team went first and did poorly.  It was up to me to complete the Balloon Burst event perfectly for our guest to move on to the next round of the contest.

There I am running through the course bursting balloons as fast as I can…time is running out…batteries are running out of the gun I was using (no idea on batteries), but I only have a few more balloons to go for victory, and…I hear music.  🙁

My alarm was going off and I will now never know if I made it to the end and burst all of the balloons in time or if the important guest moved on.  Or if through my success the hotel was famous.

I guess that’s just one of life’s annoying things.

Not in the Mood for Christmas…Yet

It’s the holiday season, and I’m not in the mood for shopping yet.  Have you been there before?  It seems like with the weather being so nice that Christmas shouldn’t be here yet. And yet it is just around the corner.

How does one shop when they aren’t in the mood to shop?  I like to buy presents that I know the person will enjoy that I hand picked out for them.  The present may have been requested by them, but I picked it out.

Gradually, I’ve been working up to get into the mood to shop.  First I created my Christmas list…barely.  If you haven’t been thinking about what you want or need, it is very difficult to make a Christmas list.  I’ve been too busy with projects to think of what I want.

Then I requested a list from my parents.  Only one parent has complied thus far.  And for the record trying to get Christmas lists from people this year has been tough, so it must be in the air.

I’ve put the lists I have into a password protected app on my iPhone, and started doing research.  The first two items I looked up cost around $3,000.  There’s no way I’m paying that much for a present.  I doubt that the people who requested those presents knew that they cost that much otherwise they wouldn’t have been requested.  My first two attempts at finding presents failed. <Sigh> I took a break.  The motto is the older the kid (my parents and boyfriend are kids at heart); the more expensive the present.

And then with a clearer head, I searched for some more presents.  I’ve done research on presents, and everything.  Lunch at work is my research facility; since no one I’m buying for can see what I am researching.  The Christmas shopping ball is rolling.  Will everyone get what they want…no, but I hope they like what they get.

As for the Christmas spirit…I don’t have it yet.  I’m simply going through the motions.  I’m trying to get in it by playing Christmas music, but the weather needs to change.  For example, maybe we could have a nice flurry of snow or something.  Snow is what really gets me in the mood.  I think a lot of people are this way.  For the record I don’t want a lot of snow; just enough to get into the spirit.

I always seem to get into the Christmas mood at some point.  Last year it was on Thanksgiving as I was pouring through the ads and seeing awesome deals left and right.  This year, I have no idea when it will happen.  It may be as late as Christmas Eve when family walks through the door with smiling faces and stories to tell from the year or years past.

But I bet it happens as soon as I walk through my parents’ front door and see all of the Christmas decorations that they have put out.  It basically looks like Christmas threw up in my parents’ house.  Christmas is every where…no room or nook and cranny is exempt. This is a good thing because it even makes boyfriend smile as he cracks a joke.  My mother’s tree always looks like it should be in a store.  The people of Rockefeller Center should call her to decorate their tree.  Just thinking of what she could do with a tree that big blows the mind.

Here’s hoping that your holiday season is bright with happiness, and the Christmas Spirit.

Perfume and Women/Cologne and Men

Why in the world do people wear so much perfume/cologne?  I honestly do not understand it.

To make my life easier, I am just going to use perfume in this blog because the primary violators of wearing too much is women.

I always used to notice how much perfume people were wearing, but it has gotten a lot worse since I had sinus surgery and can now smell really well.  Now when I get around one of these foul smelling people, I can barely breathe without sneezing or gagging.

For example, after my sinus surgery, I had a follow-up appointment that boyfriend drove me to.  This doctor is really good, so you have to wait.  We are sitting in the waiting room and the door opens and a lady walks in.  Not more than 10 seconds later, I smell it…tons of perfume.  It was really bad.

After a cry of “Jesus” escaped my mouth before I could stop it, I looked around and everyone…and I mean everyone was staring at this lady.  Some people were covering their noses or scrunching their noses up; others were just dealing with it.

The lady in question was oblivious to our discomfort.  I was called back, and after a huge thank you to the nurse, I went on with my appointment.

When I finished, boyfriend and I left and got into the elevator.  OMG, it was bad.  Boyfriend says, “She left 10 minutes ago, how can it still smell.”  Unfortunately, this elevator was real slow, so after holding our breaths for the entire ride, we escaped to huge gulps of fresh air.

So my question is how did this lady not know that she was wearing too much perfume?  Did she know and not care? Did she know, but left in a hurry to fix it?  Did she not realize that just one spray is plenty? Was her sense of smell too warped to notice the smell?  Did she not have any true friends who would pass along that her perfume is on too strong?

I work with a guy that wears so much cologne that when he had a conversation on his cell phone in a small room, the room smelled like his cologne for about a half hour.

Is there another reason that people wear so much perfume?  Maybe they are trying to cover up another smell?  Are they rewearing unwashed clothes?  Is it dry cleaning that was worn once and had more perfume added to it?

If so peeps, wearing so much perfume is attracting more attention than you probably want, and it is probably the wrong kind of attention.

Please take a second before you spray yourself with perfume and think to yourself “Will one spray work or do I really need to spray multiple times”.  Please be aware of others around you and the discomfort you are putting us in by putting way too much perfume on.

The Next Generation is Interviewing for Jobs

I recently attended a Leadership Conference at work on Interviewing Techniques, and was extremely surprised at the next generation that is entering the workforce.

We were told that some of the next generation that is graduating from college and starting to enter the workforce is bringing mommy and/or daddy to their job interviews.  Let me just ask, “Really?”

For those who are interviewers, you can tell mommy and daddy that they cannot be in the interview with their little baby because mommy and daddy are not the candidates for the job.  If you choose to, you could ask mommy and daddy in the lobby why they think they should be there and what information are they looking to help their little baby with obtaining.

Other than that, throw them out the door. 🙂 Well, not literally, just give them a magazine and tell them that you will bring their precious little baby back to them.  Well, maybe not in those terms, but that’s what I would love to say to any mommy or daddy that arrives at an interview with their precious baby.  I would also like to ask the precious little baby if they need a pacifier.

I mean seriously little babies, you expect me to give you a job when you can’t even show that you can go to a job interview without having your hand held by your mommy and daddy?  Forget it, it shows to me that you have no backbone and cannot work in a group environment where you need to speak up for the betterment of the team without someone holding your hand.  I have no respect for you or anyone regardless of age that brings mommy and daddy to the interview.

Please don’t even apply for a job until you can stand on your own two feet and wipe your nose yourself.  Nobody who interviews you will respect you and if for some reason someone hires you (doubtful), you will be always thought of as the baby.  People might not say it to your face, but they will be thinking it.  You will have no respect among your peers.

And yes, I used mommy, daddy, and baby as terms for you on purpose because that is what you all are; a bunch of overprotective parents and little brat.

I know interviewing can be scary and nerve racking, but everyone goes through it and by bringing your mommy and daddy; you are just making things worse.  Everybody flubs an interview or two.  I did, my friends did, but you know what?  We took it as a learning lesson and did that much better at the next interview.  Learn from your mistakes because they will make you a better interviewee in the long run.

As for mommy and daddy, your precious little baby is growing up and it is time to finally cut the cord. Let go a little and let them grow.  It’ll be OK because your precious baby will not get their dream job if you show up at the interview with them, but if you aren’t there, they at least have a chance.

So, kids grow up, stand on your own two feet without assistance, and interview for a job on your own.  You can do it!

Quality Assurance (QA) Resume Advice

I am currently and have been in the past involved in reviewing software QA resumes to determine who I recommend we interview, and hopefully will hire.  I don’t claim to be the best writer out there (probably not even close), but I do try to use as proper of English as I can.  I grew up in the Midwest where ending with a preposition is required even though it is not proper English. 🙂

My background:  I have been in the Software QA industry since 1998, and I enjoy doing manual testing.  I would love to learn an automated test suite, but I feel that the software QA industry is flooded with automated testers.  I have an Oracle programming background which makes me a valued commodity in the QA industry.  I mean how often do you see a QA person with a programming background that enjoys manual testing and is good at it? Plus I can write a SQL query that puts the database administrator to shame. 🙂

At some point during my tenure at most of the companies I have worked for, I will get asked to review software QA resumes.  It absolutely amazes me at how many resumes I receive with misspellings, typos, grammatical errors, etc.  I circle each and every one of them with the dreaded red pen.  This is my very first impression of your abilities in the software QA position, and you just failed…big time!  I won’t hire you because I just realized that you have no attention to detail.

The other thing that baffles me is reading an objective that is meant for a programming position when you are applying for a QA position.  When writing a resume, you should tailor the objective to the position being applied for or make it very generic.  I’ll forgive a generic objective, but not one meant for another position because if your resume is for another position, then I know you plan to leave as soon as you find something else.  This is a point that I feel many people see recommended, but don’t take the time to do and then wonder why they aren’t called in for an interview.  We saw a lot of these during the recent recession where people were just looking for any job.

To help you get your resume past people like me and called in for a job interview where you can plead your case, here is some advice:

  1. Use a Spell Checker – It’s there, it’s free, it’s easy to use, so why in the world would you not take advantage of it?  If given a format without a spellchecker, I will copy your resume and place it in MS Word to check it myself.  I do not ding for alternate spellings like ‘e-mail’ or ’email’ as an example, but I will hold it against you if you “have a typo”.  Also, for people where English is not your first language, this holds true for you as well.  English is the language of the United States of America, and I fully expect you to be able to communicate with the people on your team in both written and verbal form.  If you show this to me in your resume, you are one step ahead.
  2. Read your resume backwards – Believe it or not, this works.  Why you ask?  Well, reading a resume backwards makes your mind read each word rather than when reading normally, your brain sees what it wants you to see and not necessarily what is there.  I know because I found typos in my own resume this way.
  3. Have someone else read your resume…preferably another QA person – I did this and the QA person ripped it apart, but for good.  This person also told me why certain lines were a problem and suggested ways to make it sound better.  On some of the items, I had to explain where I was going with a thought in order for the person to give me a suggestion.  The result is an awesome resume that has not one iota of a problem.  If you don’t know another QA person, for pete’s sake don’t ask a developer as they are, in general, horrible at writing documents.  🙂 There are exceptions to every rule though.  🙂 Also, don’t just have a significant other as your only reviewer.  A significant other will help you with selling yourself, but not necessarily with the information that you need to provide regarding your job.
  4. Tailor the objective and the job experience to the position you are applying for – If you will take any job in the software industry, you should have a resume tailored to each job.  A person who is currently a developer, but is applying for a QA position, should take their job history and find QA qualities that they exhibited in each development position that they held.  This will show that you have always had a QA mind while working in another position.  Then write a simple objective to cover the position you are applying for.
  5. Tailor the cover letter to the position you are applying for – Don’t forget to keep the cover letter to one page as most people don’t need a recitation of your resume.  Look at the attributes that an employer is looking for in a candidate, and briefly (and I mean briefly) describe how you think you fit each specific attribute and use brief examples.  I usually pick at least three different attributes from the job description to use and I find an example in my past where I have exhibited the attribute.
  6. Give full contact information – There was one resume that we received that had only the candidates’ first name and an e-mail address.  There was no phone number, address, or last name.  Why didn’t they want to give out their contact information?  Are they hiding something?  I have no idea, and the candidate did not make it past my desk.
  7. Suggested: Use MS Word formatting in your document – Please note that this is a suggestion only.  I always look at the resumes using the “Show/Hide Paragraph Mark” option.  There was one resume where instead of using bullet points the candidate typed it all including each and every single carriage return. 🙂 This person also did not use a table format (you don’t have to put a border around it) which would have helped with the indention.  I told my boss that there is an easier way using MS Word bullet points that you can configure and tables to accomplish what probably took them a long time to format.  Note that I did not necessarily ding the person for this, but I knew from looking at the resume that they probably wouldn’t be writing any documents for me.

Hopefully, you have seen some of the tricks that are used to gather information about you just from your resume and cover letter.  In the software QA world, everything you do from the time that you apply for the job all the way through the interview process is evaluated to determine if you have the QA skills needed for the position you are applying for.

Happy job hunting!!

Map Pet Peeves

Ok, it has happened again, and I just have to say something.

If you are giving someone directions, please use the name of the street that appears on a map like maps.google.com or mapquest.com.

I have run into this many times by people who have been around an area for a long time and by traffic announcers.  When I first moved here, I had no idea that route 562 was the Norwood Lateral.  Back then the exit sign over the freeway only had route 562 on it.  All maps used route 562, but the traffic guy said Norwood Lateral.  If you aren’t from around here, the alternate name doesn’t help much.

At least in Indiana we actually name the road “Old 231 South”.  That’s the name of the old road, seriously.  The new road is simply called “231 South”.

Here in Cincinnati we have a marathon called “The Flying Pig Marathon”.  When the marathon runs, they close off a bunch of streets for the runners.

We also have an ECHL hockey team called the Cincinnati Cyclones.  Our Cyclones are the best professional sports team in Cincinnati.

Normally, I have no idea when the marathon is running as I don’t participate or care to go down and watch a bunh of sweaty people run by.  I just don’t get the spectator part.  This year has changed all of this.

On Wednesday we found out that the Cyclones have progressed to the next round of the playoffs and that the next round starts Friday at home ice.  Hooray!!  On Thursday a note was placed on the Cyclones website stating some roads will be closed due to the marathon.

Now we are the type of people who literally take the same route to the parking garage and back out.  So, I’m reading the text stating the road closure and it states the following:

“To allow for setup of the finish line, the following street will be closed on Friday April 30, 2010 at 7 AM until the race completion on Sunday May 2:

E Pete Rose Way- from Broadway to Old Broadway. One southbound lane of Old Broadway will be maintained coming off Ramp LL from Second Street. A detour will be in place directing motorists back to E Pete Rose Way.”

OK cool! Not being well versed in the streets downtown, I took a look at maps.google.com.  Hmmm…no Old Broadway. So, I tried mapquest.com.  Hmmm…not there either.

I took a hard look at the map and took a guess as to where it was based on the information, but decided to check with the powers that wrote the above road closure to try and get them to understand that using a street name that is no longer in use doesn’t help people who try to help themselves.

I wrote a very nice e-mail simply asking where Old Broadway was located and I gave our usual route to and from the Cyclones arena.  I was extremely polite, but by the same token by sending the e-mail I was hoping to trigger that using an old street name makes work for you.

I received a very nice reply and the guy even included a screen shot of downtown Cincinnati with the old street names over the streets.  He gave me the route I needed to take to and from the arena.  Nice job Cincinnati on that hire!

What I am trying to get across is when writing directions, giving traffic reports, or giving out road closures, think of your audience.  It might be better to do something like “Second Street E (Old Broadway)” in your notes to handle the case of existing and new people to the area.  New people can look up the road based on the new name and existing people will simply know where it is.