A Dear John Letter to HR

 Dear HR,

I’m truly sorry to be writing this to you; really I am, but you’ve left me no choice.

As you are so fond of saying, *You’re just not a good fit.*

Here’s my story:

After I’d finished typing up applications for the content writing jobs you sent me, I saw that my resume was so chewed up it was unrecognizable. I was told by your proof reader that I needed to change mine a bit to get it past ATS. He wanted $50 to improve my resume. So, I paid him.

I thought ATS was one of the bosses. The night I found out that ATS stands for a computer program called, the Applicant Tracking System, and that you don’t even read resumes before stuffing them into that system, I drank half a bottle of wine and then cried myself to sleep.Dear John image

Why did you keep pitching me writing jobs where there was no salary stated? You knew that the pay rate would turn out to be less than 5c a word. It took an hour of my time to formulate a cover letter specific to each job and then sort through and attach appropriate links to my work. You’re the big shot in hiring. Why don’t you tell people they must post salaries? I’d rather clean houses than accept those stupidly insulting rates. (I have cleaned houses to keep myself in wine and chocolate while writing a novel.)

In retrospect, I think you were using me to meet your target number of applications for the week.

How could you be so dishonest, HR?

More to the point, did your ATS chew up my cover letters like it did my resume. What the heck did those employers get? There could be a dozen marketing directors out there who think I’m an illiterate nutjob.

Why do you and your friends insist on qualifications like a BA, and in some cases an MA, in journalism or literature for a content writer? You would probably throw out an application from Steinbeck or Hemingway because they didn’t finish their degrees. Have you even bothered to read the work of any writers who applied to you?

Using a computer to do 90% of your job is just plain lazy HR.

Has it occurred to you that I’m not the only writer who’s fed up? In the process of shredding the hopes and dreams of creative people, you’ve done a terrible disservice to your employers. Your job is to help a company get people who can write good content for their website, blog, emails, brochures and advertising.

We writers are not people you can plug into a computer system. Writers are round pegs and you only have square holes. We are individuals who have the exceptional ability to speak through our writing to a client’s customers. We care. When you’re able to differentiate between good writing and bad writing, you’ll know who we are.

You don’t write much, do you HR?

But then, you don’t really have to care about the company customer. You find out that your hire didn’t work out after a year or so when sales statistics show that the writing done by your guy/gal is crap. (See Doug Kessler on Crap Content.) That’s when you add another idiotic qualification to your job posting instead of understanding what good content writing really is.

*The difference between the right word and the nearly right word is the same as the difference between lightning and the lightning bug,* Mark Twain.

I am going to keep writing my blog and in the future, I plan to ignore you completely. I’ll do what some of my writer friends have done – go directly to the bosses. It’s the business owners and the corporate CEOs who value their customers enough to know what it costs to lose them through bad content.

You almost cost me my self-respect, but after a few kudos from some real readers, I’m plunging forward again…without you.

Truly,

Eliza Lippschitts

(Images compliments of FreeDigitalPhoto.net)

Contact Susannah: writersusannah@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Has Your Mind Been Hijacked?

Have you noticed that some opinions become common rather quickly? While interviewing different people, I’ve listened to one person citing a thing as being bad and then a stranger to the first person, in a completely different walk of life and educational level, spouts the exact same words on the subject.

The source of those opinions might be traced back to a well-engineered Public Relations campaign.

Simply put, Public Relations (PR) is a battle for your mind, fought in the public arena using armies of media ads, films, front groups, public speakers, cell phone texts and mail that gets you to buy something, be it laundry soap, beer, or a President.

The precursor to a good PR campaign is data collection, known as Data Mining, which regularly finds out almost everything about people like us who use cell phones, email, or post on public sites and buy groceries with a credit or debit card. Facebook, as one example, posts ads on your page that have been geared specifically to your interests.

Data mining is defined on Investopedia.com as, “A process used by companies to turn raw data into useful information. By using software to look for patterns in large batches of data, businesses can learn more about their customers and develop more effective marketing strategies…”

In other words, data miners take millions of consumer purchases of beer, chips or soft drinks, for instance, and analyze the data for patterns. Do people buy one bottle or two; a case of 12 colas or 6, three bags of chips or one, what day of the week do they buy the most, is it women or men, what age groups? If it turns out that the majority of women under 30 buy chips on Saturdays, the supermarket can start a campaign to attract young women to other products in the chips aisle on Saturdays.

The PR coup of our time was the brain child of P.R man, David Axelrod. His campaign got Barack Obama elected to the United States Presidency.

Axelrod needed a candidate that looked good, was a good talker, and was appealing to young voters. Enter Obama, a hip young community organizer from Chicago with a Harvard law degree. First, an Axelrod and company P.R. campaign won Obama a seat in the US Senate and then, barely eight months later, Obama entered the 2008 Presidential race.

At that time in 2008, David Axelrod had been plotting wins for politicians since 1985. He specialized in crusades to bend public opinion to the will of his clients. He’s famous for a technique called “Astroturfing,” – a stealth marketing campaign that falsely makes it look like something or someone is widely accepted through a spontaneous grass roots action – hence the name Astroturf, or fake grass.

Front groups are formed to protest or rally in favor of whatever the client wants. If there’s a fight to ban dogs from city parks and a P.R firm is in charge, there could be a group called something like, “Citizens Against Pets in Parks,” protesting loudly in front of TV cameras on the steps of City Hall.

Journalist, Sharyl Attiksson describes astroturfing in her recent speech at the University of Nevada:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-bYAQ-ZZtEU Bravo Sharyl!

Axelrod created and staged venues, and paid rock bands to play free public concerts. In Germany, Raemonn and reggae singer Patrice, two of Europe’s top names at the time, performed before Obama spoke. Two hundred thousand people turned out. While it looked to some like an imitation of President John F. Kennedy’s famous Berlin speech; it got international press coverage. In the US, Bruce Springsteen tickets can run hundreds of dollars, but for Obama, his shows were free.

Here’s a formula for a PR campaign geared to change minds:

  1. Define the goal. (Sell a million widgets, get a politician elected.)

  2. Do thorough surveys of public opinion, broken down into demographically similar groups, to get the words that bring forth emotion on a subject, also known as, “Button Words.”

From ASGK, a David Axelrod company web site: “Commission solid, thorough research to gauge public opinion on specific issues and test potential messages with targeted audiences.”

  1. Concoct the message to push those buttons. (Example: In the 2008 recession where a large percentage of the working population were unemployed or underemployed, and thousands of jobs were being lost monthly, “Hope and Change,” Axelrod’s button words for the Obama Presidential campaign won the day.

  2. Select an acceptable candidate or spokesperson to deliver your message.

  3. Approach every possible press and media contact to support your campaign.

David Axelrod’s media connections go back decades from the 1970s when he was a political reporter for the Chicago Tribune. From ASKG, an Axelrod company’s website: “Our team knows how to draw the right media attention for clients through unique events and background briefing with influential journalists, creating opportunities for media coverage around our clients’ key issues and campaign messages.”

  1. Now comes the interesting part; manipulate the press and media to get the message out. A good campaign needs to encompass these things: Controversy, Big names, Money, and an Attack on someone or something. While not always necessary, Sex will send it viral.

From the ASKG website: “Our job is to activate the messages of our clients through immersive campaigns that shape public debate and influence policy.”

  1. Give the potential buyers something for nothing to make your guy or thing the good one. (Free rock concerts did the job in the Obama campaign.)

David Axelrod is now retired but his company carries on. Today, numerous PR firms engage in changing public opinion, yours and mine, to sell a product or elect a public official. ASGK boasts of clients including, Allstate, at&t, Cargill, Citi bank, Ticketmaster, General Dynamics, the US Olympics, and Zerox, to name a few.

The next time you read an article, or watch ads on TV, see if you can spot the agenda – what are they trying to get you to believe? Are certain button words repeated? Did you have your mind made up against something, only to wake up one morning to find yourself in favor of that very thing? What influenced you?

It doesn’t matter what your politics are; it does matter that you know when and how someone is trying to hijack your mind.

 

 

 

 

 

 

L.A. Law

*The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of those depths.* – Elizabeth Kubler-Ross.

Some people think that lawyers have no soul because they appear emotionless, without empathy, as though a person’s loss or impending doom is irrelevant. The really good ones train themselves to focus entirely on the legal points in any given case, burying their true selves behind a wall of written law in their offices and the court room, to emerge as loving Dad or Sweetheart only at home.

Charles Parselle is an exemplary lawyer. The epitome of a gentleman, he’s well dressed in an upscale L.A. with a hint of Savile Row kind of way, polite, attentive, and a charming conversationalist. With a dab of self-effacing humor, he can make you feel comfortable enough to share confidences.  Perhaps it’s his soft spoken manner and upper crust English accent, but you find yourself wondering what the heck he’s doing in Los Angeles amongst a multitude of loud-mouthed legal sharks.

No shrinking violet, Parselle has volunteered for a one night stand as a comic at the famous Comedy Store and gamely hosted a couple of Piers Morgan – type talk shows that failed to get off the ground. From his legal background, Parselle appears to have developed attributes that Morgan lacks; he listens and understands, his comments are unbiased and lacking any personal agenda,  and he does not talk down to his guests.

Educated at the prestigious Oxford University in England, Charles Parselle, Esq., has credentials spanning the globe with decades of successful cases. He’s been a Barrister-at-law in England, Judge pro tem in the Los Angeles Superior Court, a practicing attorney in California since 1983 and has been a member of Bar Associations from Italy to Beverly Hills.

Since the year 2000, he has been the Mediator of various local and international disputes with millions of dollars at stake, lectured on mediation at the Institute for Conflict Management in Santa Monica, CA and authored a book titled, The Complete Mediator. Married to the lovely and feisty activist, Charlotte Law, who has recently been leading the  crusade to outlaw revenge pornography, Charles is now in his 70s and looking forward to retirement.

He says, “Quite simply, Mediation is the settlement of disputes.”

Charles Parselle Esq.
Charles Parselle Esq.

And Parselle writes, “Why does conflict persist? This is like asking: where does love go? It touches the human condition near the core, a place where great thinkers give gloomy answers…Personal and historical experience tells us the conflict does indeed persist…Questioning our persistent tendency to beat up on each other, two qualities stand out as integral – entanglement and identity. We live entangled lives yet we strive for personal identity. Our entanglements threaten our sense of ourselves. Conflicts are about entanglements gone wrong. “

In an article titled, Negotiation and Death, Parselle compares the five stages of grief made famous by psychiatrist Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross in her book, On Death and Dying, to the process people go through during mediation.

Dr. Kubler-Ross changed the way many think about death. Her theory that grieving has five stages was born out of her work with terminally ill patients.

Parselle writes, “A successful mediation is both death and rebirth, as the mediator facilitates the disputants through the stages of denial, anger, bargaining and depression to acceptance.  Acceptance means closure; usually it’s a good feeling.

“Life prepares us for death in many ways; entanglement in conflict is one such way. Kubler-Ross shows us the sequence that accompanies the knowledge of imminent death – a dying person needs help at such a time. Every negotiation is a petit mort (small death); a chance also for growth – disputants need help at such a time. This is what mediators do.”

While he says that wife Charlotte does not want to leave her work, her dogs and yes, her chickens, Charles intends to travel to London, England and Budapest this summer. If you want Charles Parselle to mediate your dispute, he may or may not accommodate you. In any event, he can and will refer you to a mediator whom he considers worthy of you.

Read more about mediation on the Parselle Mediation web site:

http://www.parsellemediation.com/Parselle_Mediation.html

(law library photo compliments of FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

I’m always happy to talk to you. Please contact me using the form below.

 

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Lust, Greed and Kindness

Las Vegas, the city where scams are born and matured into cash cows, is nonetheless a wonder-filled “Never Never Land” for adults the world over. World class entertainment and restaurants support an ever flourishing tourist industry. Didn’t see it on Broadway? Chances are, you can catch it in Vegas.

When the massive advertising campaign to turn Vegas into a family vacation spot fell short, hotel owners reverted to calling the city an adult playground. The catchy phrase, “What happens in Vegas; stays in Vegas,” became a new mantra. It’s the mecca of choice for dozens of major business conventions every year.

In spite of abundant security cameras on the streets and in the hotels, criminals try every which way to cheat the casinos, steal credit cards and disguise themselves from their photos on black lists. Identity theft was so successful a few years ago, that an hour’s drive from Vegas in the little town of Pahrump, located in Nye County, the Sheriff at the time had his identity stolen.

Prostitution is illegal in Las Vegas, but high rollers who gamble fortunes there on any given night can find a gorgeous woman to soothe away their losses or celebrate their winnings. In Pahrump and all of Nye County, brothels are legal. Shiny black limos transport pleasure seekers from Vegas over the mountains far into the desert to the famous Chicken Ranch or the elegant, Resort and Spa at Sheri’s Ranch where coyotes are their only neighbors.

Beautifully landscaped subdivisions are home to a growing number of families in both Pahrump and Las Vegas. When the Nevada building boom started decades ago, people came for the work and stayed to take advantage of inexpensive home prices and good schools along with the many parks, lakes, hiking trails, movie theaters and great restaurants.

Away from the hotels and casinos, everyday living in Southern Nevada is a surprising study in American normalcy. Families go to church every Sunday and enthusiastically support their kid’s activities.

In the midst of the stories of lust, greed and gluttony said to be inspired by gambling, 67 year old Realtor Vickey Decker lives her life through her heart, her God, and a quietly relentless pursuit of the good in people and situations. Although she’s no stranger to personal heartache and loss, her invincible joie de vivre can brighten any room. A majority of her real estate clients for the past 25 years have become her friends.

vickey decker

“I try and see the good in people. I normally trust them until they prove they can’t be trusted. Some people think that’s naïve and stupid; I don’t. But that doesn’t mean that I always made right choices.”

Vickey moved to Vegas for the work in 1987, got hired as a change girl at one of the casinos and was soon earning over $100 a day in tips. With family to help support, it took her two years to save enough money to pass the Nevada State licensing exams in 1989 and get her real estate salesperson license.

Working only on weekends at first as a real estate rental consultant, she soon graduated to helping people buy and sell homes. “It’s not about the money; it’s about the people, but I earned more money in real estate that year than I had in any of my full time jobs,” she smiles.

Born in San Bernardino, California, Vickey spent her formative years in Stillwater, Oklahoma. She says she found God at 15 and has lived her life by Christian principles ever since. You can hear the Oklahoma twang in her voice when she talks about her love of her job. As she recalls her rocky road to a successful real estate career, you get a hint of the cast-iron backbone behind that gentle gaze.

She quit school in grade 8 to help support her family by working as a Car-hop at the Sonic Burger in Stillwater, Oklahoma. Years later, she got her GED. By 17 she was married and pregnant. At 19 she discovered that her husband had been cheating on her.

“He spent three days with prostitutes and came home all drugged out. He raped me and that was that.”

With $200, one suitcase and a baby in her arms, Vickey left Stillwater and took a bus as far away as she could get, to Tacoma Washington, where she landed a job as a housekeeper.

One day, she came back from work to collect her daughter from the sitter to find that her husband had followed her from Oklahoma and kidnapped the baby. Vickey travelled back to Stillwater, moved in with her Mom and filed for divorce. She was awarded custody of her daughter by the Court.

Unyielding in the search for her daughter, she says, “I spent four and a half years tracking down my ex-husband. Our family attorney helped a lot using DMV records. I just missed him in St. Louis Missouri, then Arkansas, and finally found him in Fort Worth, Texas with his new wife. I went in and took my daughter back from the baby sitter while he was at work.”

Married again at 32, after 12 years living with her second husband, Vickey found him cheating on her with other women and left him. “It’s a matter of the covenant of marriage talked about in the Bible. Adultery is just not okay,” she states.

Vickey moved to Pahrump, Nevada with her third husband. After 21 years of marriage, her husband’s increased drinking and drug use led Vickey to AA meetings for the spouses of addicts to try and understand the disease.

She says, “I went to Alcoholics Anonymous to understand my husband and ended up understanding myself.”

Although that marriage ended in her third divorce, Vickey rose from the proverbial ashes and continued on. Her life hasn’t been easy, but personal tragedies have left her with an acute awareness of the need for kindness in this world.

“I believe in living a purpose-filled life. 30 years ago, I realized that my life’s purpose was to help others,” she says.

Whether it’s the 70 year old couple who needed help moving into their new home, the friend whose marriage collapsed and needed a bed for a while or the cat in need of a home Vickey Decker is the angel who rescued them. Nobody’s been able to clip her wings yet.

(Vickey works at All Star Real Estate in Pahrump, NV. Phone: 702-378-2575)

Las Vegas Photo Compliments of: http://www.pachd.com/

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