Hi, Virginia-resident internet people! Having just completed the form to sign up for my election officer refresher training, I’m primed to share what I know about the Commonwealth’s 2020 primary elections. To wit:
- There are separate primaries in VA to choose Democratic and Republican candidates for national offices. You can vote in either primary regardless of your party affiliation (or lack thereof), but you can’t vote in both.
- The Democratic Presidential Primary is March 3 and the Republican Primary is June 9. Important: GOP nominees for President will not be on the ballot for the June 9 Republican Primary. The Republican Party of Virginia is hosting its 2020 Quadrennial Convention May 1-2 at Liberty University to decide on their preferred Presidential candidate. The June 9 GOP primary will select Republican candidates for House and Senate seats in the November 3 General Election.
- Check out the Virginia Department of Elections website for your Virginia voter status (or to register to vote, or figure out where you’re registered to vote, or request an absentee ballot).
Well, that didn’t work. My pickled cabbage tastes great, but the stench it emits is such that I’m afraid to try the pickle juice. The kombucha was a lost cause. I let my second attempt (the effort to fix the first attempt) sit too long and wound up with a giant SCOBY and a liquid that smelled like nail polish remover. Nope, nope, nope. I threw the whole thing out and started over last weekend with a bottle of store-bought kombucha and some sweet tea. The new SCOBY is forming now, as the wisdom of the internet foretold.
This time I think I’ll keep the cabbage and the kombucha away from each other. The internet tells me that’s a good idea.
Liz Ryan is one of three HR writers I follow on Twitter, and I agree with all of her picks for “Ten Phrases That Are Killing Your Resume” on Forbes.com. Here is another resume formulation I’d like to see less often:
- “Seeking to advance my career”
Not that I begrudge anyone the opportunity to advance, but that’s not why I need to hire someone. I need to hire someone because I have an unmet need in my organization. Candidates who demonstrate awareness of that fact and pitch themselves accordingly warm the cockles of my bureaucratic heart.
My pet peeve as a federal hiring manager is when I can’t figure out from a narrative descriptions of position duties what someone actually did at a job or how they demonstrated the knowledge, skills, and abilities* I’m looking for. Five thousand characters gives you enough space to simply say what the job was and how you did it before you start plugging in all the key words and phrases from the job announcement text to satisfy the Hiring Manager Algorithm.
For federal employees, I recommend keeping a human-language version of your resume on hand. It will give you something to share when a prospective boss or mentor wants to see your CV. It also helps in customizing your USAJOBS resume(s) when you’re applying for positions.**
*Yeah sure, they say they got rid of KSAs on federal job applications. What they really did was eliminate the KSA essay you had to include along with your resume on each job application. So instead of having a resume you could use for multiple job applications …
**Now you have to weave the KSA language from the job announcement into the narrative for “position duties” for each job on your resume. In other words, you have to customize a resume for each and every job application. Thanks, OPM!
In the midst of more process-building and re-building in my office (October and November have lasted a long time) and parenting at home (Mouse on the mend but still seeing therapist twice a week for the foreseeable future), it has been a month of Improving Literature (my preferred term for self-help books) here in the Dino Nest. This is partially an outgrowth of my reading the month before for the philosophy essay that didn’t happen and partially the result of my Facebook correspondence with a college friend on the topic of self-loathing. Somehow I went from continental philosophers‘ views on fame and the self to revisiting The Second Sex and The Feminine Mystique while mentally arguing with a bunch of old Camille Paglia interviews. Then I read When She Makes More by Farnoosh Torabi because I was looking for popular models of new-fangled Salary Mom marriages. What I took away from the book was that Salary Wives are more likely to stay married if they don’t go out of their way to defer to their husbands and that the most marriage-protective way a Salary Wife can keep from being overwhelmed by disproportionate demands for domestic and/or emotional labor is to outsource that sh*t to the greatest extent possible. Thinking about how useful that advice and some competent financial decision-making might have been in my life circa 1996 plunged me into a place where I was particularly open to Unworthy: How To Stop Hating Yourself by Anneli Rufus. And I have to say, it helped. So did Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin.
This morning I embarked on my first live-action procurement class. It’s two weeks long. The instructor is much livelier than Procurement Woman and Procurement Man, plus the school has a nice break room with generous refreshments. (Someday a bureaucrat blogger will review the private sector purveyors of training to federal employees and their amenities. Input welcome in the comments.)
Life lesson of the day: sweat and sunscreen can really highlight lady whiskers. Second life lesson of the day: olive oil really soothes the delicate skin of the upper lip and chin post-waxing. Much better than the awful chemical they package with the little Sally Hansen facial waxing kits.
Time is coming to decide whether to sign up for next semester of biology. I am trying to be financially responsible because we have some increased expenses to deal with (taxes, Babushka move to apartment in Alexandria, Podrostok graduation) and the class is like $700. So I think maybe I should wait til fall or even spring. But taking classes makes me happy and it is a wholesome endeavor which supports my mental health. What should I do, internet?
The Protosaurs arrived Friday night. Their visit has gone pretty well. The Dino menfolk (Spouse and sons) wen shooting with Pa Protosaur to the testosterone-laiden delight of all. (Much appreciation to the nice people at Sharpshooters in Springfield; there is significant speculation as to Dino Spouse’s true identity in light of his success hitting targets.) Pa Protosaur has effectively galvanized the kids as working party on the projects I gave him, with only limited grumbling.
(Note to any sad soul searching this blog for marital tips: make sure your father only undertakes home-improvement activities involving the kids when their father is out of the house; alternatively, never let dudes who’ve been at the shooting range undertake domestic labor immediately thereafter without adult supervision.)
Mad love to the Government Executive online venue, GovExec.com, for great content. My only complaint is that I hate hate hate online video and audio podcasts. Maybe this is one the subtle differences between me as a Gen X early adopter of information technology and a proper digital native. If I wanted to hear or watch things, I would turn on the radio or the TV. I want still pictures and text out of my internet experience, by gum. When I find out that the headline I’ve clicked on is trying to direct me to watch or listen to content without offering me a transcript instead, I turn up my nose and click away.
What broke my resistance to multimedia content was the promise of a discussion of how managers can use their anger effectively in the workplace without being stupid. This is a topic near and dear to my heart since I have only seen one or two leaders manage to channel their wrath productively over the course of my government career. “Why Leaders Need to Learn How To Get Angry Without Being Stupid” was the headline that got me to listen to Scott Eblin interview Harry Evans, co-author of Step Up: Lead In Six Moments That Matter. In case you are likewise podcast-averse, the upshot of their conversation was that there are “moments” in any organization that make or break leaders, and a big one is what leaders do when they are angry. Controlling anger is critical, but using it effectively can serve as a catalyst for growth and improvement. To avoid doing dumb things with anger, Evans advises three things:
- Admit that you’re angry. You lose credibility if you lie.
- If others fail to share your anger, don’t take it as a sign that they don’t care enough to be angry. Lobbing accusations about others not caring is a sure way of making people defensive. Instead, explain what makes you angry in a way that invites others to share in your passion.
- Direct feelings toward ideas or actions, not toward other people
This sounds pretty smart. Worth listening to people talk on my computer, even.
At work, I’m on the board of an organization that supports the advancement of women into senior positions in my federal agency. Some time in the next month, I am supposed to host an informal brown-bag on the topic of failure. Failure is a topic near and dear to my heart. Professional and personal failures have taught me lots. Sometimes I imagine developing an instruction manual for failure akin to the Handbook For The Recently Deceased in “Beetlejuice.”
There were two posts this weekend that piqued my interest in this regard. One was the Washington Post item April 25 about Martha Johnson, the former director of the General Services Administration who resigned in 2012 in the wake of a scandal. The other was a recently released study of professionalism in the U.S. military circa 1970. Two thoughts occur to me:
- Encountering professional near-death experiences at the beginning and middle of your career is a blessing, assuming you learn from your mistakes and the reactions of others. I am eager to read Martha Johnson’s book to see what her experiences were earlier in her career. The people I know who have suffered the worst from career catastrophe have been people who never crashed and burned until they were already in senior positions.
- Failing to analyze mistakes and missed opportunities is a major source of future failure. I recall participating in an exercise at the Army War College in 2000 and being blown away by the military culture of after-action reviews, in which all parties were encouraged to discuss what went right and wrong in a given activity. I don’t know how many of the recommendations from the study were implemented, but I wonder how many federal agencies have undertaken similar studies.
I would love to hear about personal or institutional episodes of failure and recovery from your experiences. Will you share?