Tracy's blog

I’m Tracy Au and I have graduated from the Professional Writing program from university. I am an aspiring screenwriter, so this blog is used to promote my writing and attract people who will hire me to write for your TV show or movie. I write a lot about writing, TV, movies, jokes, and my daily life and opinions. I have another blog promoting my TV project at

Sunday, December 20, 2015

"My cheatin' employee"/ "flip past cover letters"

Sept. 27 "My cheatin' employee": I cut out this article by Wency Leung in the Globe and Mail back on Mar. 30, 2010.  This article is about how employees work at this company and use their rival's products.  There are some solutions to it like asking how to improve the product so that the workers actually want to use it.  Here's the whole article:

Tamara R. of Vancouver was craving a latte from the Blenz Coffee chain during a recent work break. The trouble was she works at a rival coffee company.

So Tamara, who declined to let her full name be published to avoid reprimand from her employer, sneaked out the door and walked two blocks down the street where she bought the competitor's coffee, concealing the cup with napkins before returning with it to her own store.

It wasn't a one-time occurrence. Tamara never drinks the coffee at her own shop, preferring the competitor's product.

"The flavour of the espresso tastes better," she says. "I just find that ours is too weak."
Call it corporate cheating. The reality is such treachery occurs at companies of all types, at all levels. And whether its McDonald's employees who prefer Wendy's burgers or Ford workers who'd rather drive Hondas, business development experts say brand infidelity is a serious problem that employers need to nip in the bud.

Microsoft Corp. employees witnessed the repercussions of using rival Apple Inc.'s iPhones last fall when, according to a recent Wall Street Journal report, chief executive officer Steve Ballmer snatched one of the devices from a worker's hand and pretended to stomp on it in front of thousands at a company meeting.

Understandably, Mr. Ballmer prefers to use mobile phones that run on Microsoft software, the Journal said. But his employees don't appear to have the same loyalty; close to 10,000 iPhone users were reportedly using Microsoft's employee e-mail system last year.

In the product development world, the rule is to "eat your own dog food," says Lorne Trudeau, a software designer from British Columbia who works in Santa Monica, Calif. "If you're going to build something, you'd better be able to suck it up and use it."

Still, Mr. Trudeau acknowledges he has fed on a competitor's offerings in the past.

While applying for a previous job at Yahoo Inc., Mr. Trudeau swapped his Gmail account for a Yahoo e-mail address, specifically to communicate with his prospective employers. After he got the job, he remained an avid user of rival Google and continued using his Gmail account for personal correspondence.

"I definitely preferred the threading of e-mail conversation [in Gmail] and … I just found the Yahoo interface was kind of slow and busy," he says, noting he wasn't the only one at the company to use the competition's services. "We all used Google."

Dana Lengkeek, a spokeswoman for Yahoo, says there is no rule that employees must use only the company's products.

"From a business perspective, employees should be familiar with competitive offerings," she says.

But Ted Matthews, brand coach and founding partner of Toronto's Instinct Brand Equity, says there is a clear distinction between being familiar with the competition and making a competitor's brand a regular choice.

Making sure employees use their own company's products is crucial in today's marketplace, he says, since brands are now built by referrals rather than solely through advertising.

"There's nothing more powerful than going into a store and having … the clerk say 'Oh yeah, I have this pair of pants. They're fantastic,' or … 'I have this at home.' "

Similarly, he says, employees who use rival products and services can cause serious damage to a company's reputation.

"If you have somebody who's working for a company and they're not even using the product, then that is abolutely diametrically different from what we're looking for in terms of a referral. … It's [a] complete negative endorsement and no company can afford to have that in this day and age."

Mr. Matthews says he coaches employers not to hire anyone who won't be an advocate and ambassador of their brand. If a product is costly, he encourages companies to introduce discounts or other financial incentives to make it more attractive for employees.

If employees still aren't willing to commit, the consequences should be severe, he says. "In my recommendation, I'd move them toward the door."

Employee infidelity can signal deeper problems with a company itself, says Cheryl Stein of Montreal's Stein Consulting and Coaching, which provides consulting services to family-owned businesses.

"It should be a wakeup call. If you have people whose paycheques are reliant on this company doing well and you can't get them to use your product, you should be saying to yourself, 'We've got to look into this.' "

Companies may find that their products need improvement to match their competition or that their employees don't feel valued, she says.

To enforce company loyalty, she advises that employers set clear rules against using rival products when hiring, even writing those rules into the contract if necessary. If an employee is caught, a stern and immediate rebuke, such as "that's not allowed in here," is in order, she says.

Policing employees' brand preferences outside the workplace is much more difficult, however, and Ms. Stein warns against a Big Brother approach. Instead, she says, employers should ensure that their employees feel proud to work for them.

"When people feel like they matter, they feel like they have a stake in the outcome and their contribution is valued, you're not going to have to force them to use your products. They're going to want to use your products."

"Sure bets to employment": I cut out this article by Linda White in 24 News on Oct. 3, 2011.  Here are the following industries that are hiring:

Human resources and healthcare
Financial and marketing- financial analysts, accountants, event coordinators, project managers
Languages- French, Cantonese  

"Many hiring managers flip past cover letters": I cut out this article by Sarah Grant in the Edmonton Journal on Sept. 26, 2015.  Here's the whole article about how cover letters are pointless.  I would say have a cover letter if the company asks for one:

A recent study confirms what many job seekers have long suspected: You are wasting your time writing that cover letter. Hiring managers now use other methods to get a feel for applicants without leaving their desks. That makes the four-paragraph missive about passions and key skills superfluous at best, and a liability at worst.

Only 18 percent of managers think cover letters are an important part of a job application, according to a survey of 505 hiring managers released last week by Chicago-based consulting firm Addison Group. Seventy-four percent said the most important factor in hiring is the interview. Nearly half said soft skills—the ability to hold a conversation and appear normal—were important to consider throughout the process.

Some companies have found alternative tools for learning about candidates. Businessolver, a Des Moines-based benefits technology company, asks candidates with strong cover letters and résumés to submit a video of themselves answering questions like "What would your co-workers say about you?" That helps companies target the information they want, and guides digitally savvy millennials through a process they're comfortable with, said Marcy Klipfel, senior vice president of human resources at Businessolver. "We find that the person's authenticity pulls through in a video interview, often better than it can on the page," she said.

Video interviews, which offer deeper information than cover letters but demand less of managers than in-person interviews, are rapidly becoming integral to the job application process, said Jason Reagan, regional vice president for the Addison Group. Checking in over Skype is "more efficient than reading through a cover letter or, depending on the position, spending the time and money to bring someone in for a physical interview," he said.

Other methods, like scouring social media accounts, have proved useful in figuring out who a job candidate really is, particularly for younger managers. According to the study, 45 percent of millennials—people born between 1980 and 2000—trust Facebook as a source in vetting a job candidate (28 percent trust Twitter), which is double the rate at which Gen-Xers rely on the site, and triple that of baby boomers.

Among millennial managers, 23 percent considered a cover letter to be an important part of a job application while 69 percent said the interview was important. "Millennials put a little more weight on education upfront, in conjunction with proven work experience," said Addison's Reagan. As millennials take over management roles and rely on a broader set of methods for getting to know potential employees, "To Whom It May Concern" seems to be fading out.

The takeaway here may be that a cover letter can only hurt you. Of the hiring managers surveyed, 55 percent said typos were the biggest turnoff. Why risk a typo when a cover letter is unlikely to help you get the gig?

On the other hand, if your cover letter is really stellar, you may be able to stand out just by being one of the last people writing one. Martin Yate, author of Cover Letters That Knock 'Em Dead and other job guides, says establishing a connection with the person doing the hiring is the most important thing. "Building a bridge to that human being in charge of hiring is in your best interests," he says. Yate even suggests going old-school and writing your cover letter by hand. "It's called contrarian thinking," he said.

Just make sure you've triple-checked it for spelling errors.


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