03 August 2010

Tim Filene's Job Hunt Experience

Marketing Assistant - Posted August 1, 2010
ABC123 Credit Union is looking for a highly-seasoned Marketing Assistant in its fast-paced, extremely demanding Business Development department. The successful candidate will have a Bachelor's Degree in Business, Journalism, Accounting, Economics, or Ornithology with an MBA or PhD highly desirable, as well as 7-10 years of progressively responsible leadership experience in a marketing role. Must possess superior copy-writing, public speaking, creative, interpersonal, and analytical skills. Mastery of SQL, C#, HTML, PHP, MCIF, BSA, OFX, OFAC, and LOL also expected. Demonstrated community involvement is a must, as is proof of successful appointments/elections to state or federal government agencies. Bilingual or trilingual applicants are strongly desired.

Job Duties
  • Assist with the creation and implementation of all marketing initiatives
  • Answer the telephone when vendors call
  • Make paper copies of things that should be delivered electronically
  • Other duties as assigned

  • Excellent Benefits
  • 401K Plan
  • Salary Up to $25,000 (Based on Experience)
  • Business Casual Workplace
  • Exciting Growth Potential
If you meet these requirements, please forward your resume, a letter describing your interest in this position, five references nationally recognized leaders in finance, government, or mass media, as well as certified results from self-funded drug, alcohol, and pregnancy screening to 123 ABC123 Drive, Any Town, NV 12312, ATTN: Lucy Anderson. No phone calls please.


August 2, 2010

Dear Ms. Anderson:

Few things in my life have given me more pleasure than seeing ABC123's listing for an open Marketing Assistant position. My great grandfather was the late Edward Filene, widely credited as being the father of the American credit union system. It should be no surprise, I know, that credit unions caught my attention at an early age.

By the age of 9, I had organized my first not-for-profit financial cooperative, which has now blossomed into the $3 billion BMFCU in Leota, Indiana. Mother made me leave the credit union six years later because I received the lowest test score in my life: a 94% in 9th grade Geometry. Clearly, I had proven myself to be unable at that point to balance my academic life with running a large financial institution, while fulfilling my duties as Governor of the Hoosier state.

As usual, Mother was right. Stepping down from my role as President/CEO of BMFCU, I was able to focus on, and thrive with, my studies. I graduated after my 10th grade year to attend Yale, where I triple majored in Journalism, Business Administration, and Ornithology. An internship my sophomore year with IDEO got me interested in expanding my horizons to more creative outlets. So, with three undergraduate degrees under my belt the following semester, I turned down a Rhodes Scholarship in favor of admission to Cooper Union's famed art school. Thankfully, I was able to master the requirements of their BFA program while earning my MBA at nearby NYU.

Echoes of my father's voice telling me "reading and learning don't mean a thing if you don't do something with that knowledge" were inescapable, so I decided to help my good pal Mark Zuckerberg get a little project he called "Facebook" off the ground. I learned everything there was to know about PHP, C#, HTML, SQL, and more...Mark insisted on it. What's better, the elementary nature of this initiative gave me plenty of time to start refocusing on the credit union movement that I so dearly love. In my spare time, I taught myself German, Spanish, and Mandarin Chinese just in case a credit union somewhere may need multilingual help.

In 2006, I rejoined BMFCU to put all of my education to use. I was named President/CEO, but demoted myself to Marketing Assistant so I could understand how that function worked within our organizational structure. This was a good move. My experience allowed me to make the department run more efficiently, saving the credit union $487,000 in that year alone. Pleased with those results, I promoted myself to CMO. Under my leadership, we averaged 78% annual membership growth from 2007-2010. Even better, our return on average assets improved from a respectable 3.1% to a whopping 6.7% during that period.

These last six years have been amazingly productive for my self actualization needs, but I have found myself yearning for another opportunity to help a credit union from the Marketing Assistant position. I trust that you will find the attached resume meets the qualifications for your opening quite well. The enclosed references (Debbie Matz, Dan Mica, Barack Obama, Chuck Norris, and Gene Blishen) will also attest to my ability to perform the functions you have spelled out. I also took the trouble of flying to Johns Hopkins University Hospital to submit to four separate urine analysis tests. The results should have been shipped to you already via FedEx overnight delivery.

Please allow me the pleasure of setting up a time during which we can further discuss how ABC123 and I may help one another maximize our potential.

Tim Filene



August 3, 2010

Mr. Filene:

Thank you for your interest in ABC123's Marketing Assistant position. Unfortunately, our job description clearly calls for "7-10 years of progressively responsible leadership experience in a marketing role."

We will keep your resume on file for the next six months in case a suitable position opens up.

Lucy Anderson
HR Generalist
ABC123 Credit Union


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Andy Janning said...

It's right to expose, and occasionally satirize, rigidity and narrow-mindedness in all their forms.

And while HR departments are sometimes guilty of those sins, I should point out that employee recruiting and hiring doesn't happen in a vacuum. HR frequently partners with the hiring manager to define the requirements of the position, push back when the manager is being unrealistic in their criteria, and then screen accordingly.

More often than not, a rejection letter like this one isn't the fault of the HR employee who signed it. Much of the fault lies with the hiring manager, who simply wants HR to find a fully-functioning clone of who just walked out so the manager won't actually have to develop and lead the new person walking in. Forward-thinking HR pros who suggest another direction find their counsel minimized, rejected, or criticized because they're "just HR" and aren't qualified to challenge the wisdom of the folks who sit at the grown-ups table.

While HR is the easiest target for short-sighted rejections like these, they're not always the right one. The truth here, as in most cases, lies much deeper.

Matt, the Credit Union Warrior said...

@Sample Resume I know you're a SPAM post. Please know that the entire reason I moderate comments on this blog is to make sure comments like yours don't get published. However, in the context of this post, your comment made me laugh. Thank you (and your bot) for that.

@Andy How do we fix this? There are way too many instances in credit unions where the wrong people are in the wrong seats. Worse, amazing talent that is just out for the taking gets overlooked. We can talk about marketing campaigns, operational efficiency, pricing, and branch strategy all we want, but unless we take recruiting and development of staff more seriously, we're fighting a losing battle.

Daryl said...

Not to oversimplify, but any HR pro who allows themselves to be "criticized because they're 'just HR'" is an unacceptable argument. We diminish our value when we do not stand up for our expertise and demonstrate what we can accomplish.

Faulting the hiring manager means that we as HR have failed to onboard them to our hiring practices. You say they won’t listen? Well then we need to change the talk track to fit their agenda while also accomplishing our goals.

HR is supposed to be ‘people persons’…so surely this is not an insurmountable task.

Denise Wymore said...

Beautifully written. I've often questioned the role of the HR department. Onboarding, benefits administration and compliance for sure. Recruiting? Not so much. Why? Because they can't possibly understand the nuances of the many positions that need to be filled. And the resume' (sorry Spam bot) is perhaps the worst tool to introduce a candidate.

Can you imagine if Young & Free recruited with this archaic tool?

Bill Clancy said...

@CU Warrior - Bravo, Matt, your points are masterfully communicated. And, unfortunately, this type of failure cuts across all industries.

@Daryl - The problem isn't HR - how do you fight an unwinnable battle? At that point, do you even fight knowing the potential ramifications to your own ethos in the eyes of executive management?

Daryl said...

@Bill - I suppose my idealistic nature extends itself to the true role of HR, in addition to credit unions. I don't believe it's an unwinnable battle. And yes, I have gone head-to-head with executives on several occasions. ...Perhaps that has limited my own 'advancement', but I'd hate to accommodate status quo just to keep the peace.

Andy Janning said...

@Matt – It starts with humility, as best explained by Jim Collins’ “Level 5 Leadership” model. Humble leaders who value people and continuous performance development, and not their egos and org chart position, are the ones who make the best hiring decisions. They share their own expertise, yet seek out and value the expertise of others. That’s just the beginning, though.

@Daryl – You’re right...“you’re just HR” is an unacceptable argument. No one survives long in HR or business in general by letting that criticism stand. The more important point for me, though, is that the best hires happen when both the hiring manager and HR regarded each other as equal partners in the hiring process. They both owned it. Neither tried to position themselves as knowing more than the other. They had one goal – to find and retain the best talent. When a new hire succeeded, both sides celebrated and learned from it. When a new hire flamed out, both sides took an appropriate share of blame and learned from it. And if I may add one word to your definition, I think HR should be the ‘people performance persons’. That’s certainly not an insurmountable task so long as they’re not wasting time fighting the perception of being second-class citizens of the business world.

@Denise – HR folks who care only about the minutiae of payroll have no business in recruiting. No argument from me there. I have a slightly different view on business-minded HR folks in the recruiting process, though. Even though we disagree on this, will you still be my muse?

Bill Clancy said...

@Daryl I believe in that same idealistic vision. Perhaps Andy is capturing it best when he states that all parties need to take ownership of the decision?

Food for though: what if that "fight" impacts member service, creates departmental silos, creates disengaged employees, etc. Rhetorial questions at that point is: "Is the decision to fight still the 'right' decision?"