Find Your Zen: Nervousness vs. The Interview

In the world of job hunting, probably one of the most important things you can do is nail an interview. Pull off a tumbling somersault into the room (without scaring anyone, please) leading into a dynamic conversation between you and your potential employer followed by a layout to nail the landing on the requisite blue mat and leave the interviewer applauding. Ta-da! Now that’s what I’m talking about. (Yeah, gymnastics holdovers from childhood. I will not apologize.) But being serious, there are so many different types of people, both the interviewer and the interviewee alike, with so many different comfort-levels when it comes to interactions with other people. How is it possible to nail that interview every time?

Let’s consider the whole extrovert/introvert thing.

Extroverts tend to get their energy by being around other people and tend to get bored when they are alone. Being around other people gives extroverts a charge – or, recharge. For example, an extrovert may feel “high on life” after spending an afternoon in the company of multiple friends, whereas this type of activity may simply drain an introvert of their energy.

Introverts tend to get their energy when they are alone. Being alone, focused on a single activity, gives introverts a charge – or, recharge. For example, an introvert may feel amazingly recharged after spending a rainy afternoon tucked into a chair by a fire, cup of coffee by my side, a good book…maybe a cat purring on my lap. Oh, wait – I just lapsed into the first person. You caught me.

But there are also ambiverts; people who tend to fall kind of in the middle of extraversion and introversion. Sometimes they’re comfortable with groups and social interactions and sometimes they’re not; sometimes groups and social interactions give them the willies.

Actually, I, myself, probably fall into the ambivert category. I tend to avoid crowds or places that have multiple bodies in a confined or specified space (e.g.: concerts, festivals, carnivals, auditorium/theater events, parties, just to name a few). I enjoy time with a small crowd of close, trusted friends, however (e.g.: work gatherings, church events, family gatherings, outings with The Girls, just to name a few). I described a dream date with myself just a minute ago: coffee, book, fire, and cat. All those things that require one thing: being alone.

I’m sure there’s science involved here. Some tangible data that explains why some folks are one way or another. I’ll leave the actual science-y stuff to my learned colleague, Tananda. She’ll set this all straight in a way that even I can understand it. I’ll stick with what I know: people.

Think about it this way. You have spent a lot of time and effort on your resume. You’ve spent more time and effort searching for and applying to various available jobs. You’ve submitted an application, included your resume, and written an awesome cover letter. You’re hopeful. Any day now. Then, lucky you, someone calls to talk to you about a job you’ve applied for. You chat (amiably) for a few minutes and, hopefully, schedule a time for an interview.

Now what?

Well the first thing to do is: Don’t Panic! Remember, you’re just having a conversation, okay? Breathe. Conversations are usually fine. You can handle this. You introverts are probably having apoplexy just thinking about all the ways a conversation, with another human being, could possibly go wrong. You extroverts are probably thinking about what you’re going to wear and calmly going over your resume in your heads. Ambiverts are probably doing a little bit of both. I imagine a little internal tennis match. Spectator’s heads following the ball of thought left and right, left and right. It’s almost as amusing as it is frustrating.

How about a little more insight into yours truly. While, yes, I tend to recharge in a solitary way, focused inward, I also love interviewing.

You: What? No one loves interviewing! That’s nuts!

Me: Maybe. I never claimed to be totally sane!

Let’s put this another way. Lots of folks in today’s job market have had some sales experience. It could be that you worked in fast food and got super-skilled at super-sizing or had the highest sales of that week’s promotional item: two bacon, egg & cheese biscuits for two dollars. There’s a reason for that. It could be that you worked in retail (clothing, jewelry, handicrafts, doesn’t matter) and got really good at selling the things the store carried that you felt particularly drawn to. There’s a reason for that, as well.

You are selling fast food items for a bargain and with a little oomph you can convince that drive through person that this bargain is exactly what they need. You’ve mastered this skill.

You are selling jewelry items. Jewelry is, mostly, not cheap. How can you convince someone to purchase a piece? You make them love it. If you love it, you can make your buyer see all they reasons they can love it, too, and take it home with them. If you love or believe in the thing that you’re selling, you can hardly lose.

What could possibly be easier to talk about than yourself? You are, for all intents and purposes, selling yourself. (No – not in that way. Please stop grinning and get your mind out of the gutter, we’re a serious institution here.) Theoretically, we love ourselves, right? I mean, we may not always like ourselves very much, but hey, we’re A-Okay. We’ve got it going on. Our resume says so. So why would you have trouble sitting down with a potential employer to talk about yourself? You’ve got skills! You’re a good, hard-working, time-management managing, team player. You get my point, right?

Interviewers tend to ask questions that fall into two general categories: Easy ones and hard ones. The easy ones are most likely as much as an employer can legally ask about you, personally. The “Tell me about yourself…” question is a pretty generic one. They can’t ask you how old you are, if you’re married, if you have kids, if you’re pregnant (that’s a whole other issue)…but if they ask you to tell them about yourself, what might you share?

The hard ones are usually more job-related. “I see that you have background in sales and customer service. Tell me about how you might apply that skill to an administrative position with ABC Co.?” Oh, boy. I can’t tell you how to answer that one (actually, I could, but I won’t), but if you do, legitimately, have sales and customer service experience and are applying for an administrative position, then there’s got to be a reason you can do what you do. You know this. You do it every day. You can make it seem plausible to the interviewer because you know it’s possible and you can make the interviewer believe it.

So what category do you fit in? You should know yourself well enough to at least be able to figure out if you’re an extrovert, an introvert, or an ambivert. Yes, I suppose there are folks out there who really don’t know themselves all that well. But for the purposes of this article let’s pretend you know yourself pretty well.

What now?


  • Tone it down a bit. I’m not saying don’t be yourself. That would be an impossibility. All I’m saying is where you might respond to things with overwhelming enthusiasm, don’t. Take it down a notch and respond with thoughtfulness and respect. An introverted interviewer may not appreciate too much excitement; but,
  • Show excitement. Enough so the extroverted employer gets excited about what you can do for them but not so much that you become overwhelming.


  • Take it up a notch. Again, I’m not saying don’t be yourself. But if you’re natural inclination is to respond with one syllable words and a monotone voice, try reaching into your vocabulary words from school and add some inflections of enthusiasm. An introverted interviewer will appreciate the effort, and an extroverted one will listen to what you have to say with seriousness and reflection.
  • Show excitement. I can only imagine how this must be for a true introvert to show an acceptable level of excitement. But you are excited, right? You’re just more nervous than excited. Consider the ways you could make that nervousness seem like excitement. An introverted interviewer will totally understand that you’re making an effort and an extroverted one will most likely see the side of you that a lot of others may not see.

Here’s what I’m suggesting: ambiversion is what you introverts and extroverts should try to strive for when you’re interviewing. If you’re too bright and electric for an introverted employer, you’ll scare them. If you’re too quiet, spouting monosyllabic answers to an extroverted employer, they’ll pass you over for someone with more personality. It’s going to be a struggle, I get that. A delicate balance. But if you can find that happy medium, that place where you (regardless of your personality tendencies) can feel comfortable in an interview, you’re going to seem more relaxed, you’ll showcase yourself and your skills quite well and knock the socks off your competitors to nail that interview.

One last thought. Yes, it is a competition. You want to outshine everyone else in every way possible. It may take a little work on your part, but you can do it.

Some excellent follow-up reading:

Tananda Dot Com: The Ins and Outs

What’s Your Personality Type?

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator

Extraversion and Introversion

Attack of the Vapers: Misrepresentation and Hysterical “Science”

So, the internet and the vaping community blew up this week with news of the National Institute of Health (NIH) Addiction Science Award being given to a young woman for her study of “thirdhand” nicotine exposure from electronic cigarettes (NIH, 2014).

I read the report of this study, and while I commend Ms. Lee for her ambitious and timely experiment, I have been compelled to write a response and rebuttal to what I find to be a deplorable attention to validity in hypothesis and methodology. I also have a very hard time believing that her study which beat out two other powerful entries was truly the best design. I fear that the judges were swayed by the amount of attention electronic cigarettes and vaping have garnered in the media and legislation. Did the judges truly believe that the study and results were the best contribution to the fund of knowledge in science, or were they influenced by the legislative and regulatory debates filling the press sheets?

So, let’s talk for a moment about “thirdhand smoke.” In truth, it isn’t truly smoke at all. First hand smoke or nicotine exposure is the smoker or vaper who draws the vehicle of transport (smoke, vapor, transdermal, etc.) into the body where it enters the bloodstream. Second hand exposure is anyone not actively using the device of nicotine delivery inhaling the smoke or vapor expelled by the primary user. Third hand has been defined by Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights (2014) and Tobacco Control Legal Consortium (2013) as exposure to the deposited nicotine residue from combustible cigarette smoke or electronic cigarette vapor. The smoker or vaper breathes out a cloud of smoke or water vapor in an environment where the particulates and residual chemicals will deposit on surfaces. Any person touching those surfaces at a later time may be exposed to the residual levels of nicotine or toxicants that were suspended in the originally expelled smoke or vapor.

Now, we come to the studies done. First, Ms. Lee was not the first to consider this question. In fact, her study and experimental design were almost identical to a study published by Roswell Park Cancer institute (2014). Ms. Lee used a syringe to draw vapor from three brands of electronic cigarettes and then “exhale” it into a room. A syringe was used to insure consistent puffs. After a period of puffing, the surfaces of window sills and items in the room were swabbed and nicotine levels were measured.

Anyone see the problem yet? The vaping community responded in a roar on various forums pointing out the lack of validity in the study, the overblown “significant increase” description of results, and reminders that the chemicals deposited by combustible cigarettes were vastly worse (E-cigarette Forum, 2014). The problem that I am baffled by is that the judges failed to notice that Ms. Lee did not measure what the title of her study claims to do. That’s right. That is what I said. The study is invalid. It does not measure what it says. The researcher used a syringe to draw the e-cigarette vapor. High school biology teaches us about lungs. If that is the way they worked, the oxygen exchange that delivers that gas to our blood streams would not work, and we would not be inhaling air containing oxygen (among other elements) and exhaling predominantly carbon dioxide. When a vaper or smoker inhales the products of their respective nicotine delivery devices, they are using their lungs to get the nicotine into their bloodstream. In other words, the majority of the nicotine stays in the body of the smoker/vaper. What is exhaled may have some residual nicotine, but nowhere near the amounts that merely pumping the vapor of the electronic nicotine delivery system directly into a room would have.

What Ms. Lee measured in her study was not third hand nicotine exposure. It was first hand nicotine exposure. Incidentally, third hand nicotine exposure is real. Anyone detailing a smoker’s car can prove it by wiping down the dashboard and other surfaces. It is real. However, if you are going to give a prize for a study measuring it, then shouldn’t it be measuring what it claims to measure? Kudos to the young lady for thinking of this and picking a politically hot topic and media worthy. She definitely has achieved the goal of getting attention. I just wish she had remembered enough about biology to produce a valid study.

Contrary to some of the claims of vapers in the forums that nicotine in the residual levels measured are completely harmless (E-cigarette Forum, 2014), I will say that third hand nicotine exposure can still be dangerous to sensitive populations. However, I also believe that vaping produces less residue with lower nicotine levels and fewer dangerous toxicants than combustible tobacco. Others in the scientific community concur, and more people are acknowledging that electronic cigarettes are 60% more successful in smoking cessation efforts than over the counter methods and pharmaceutical smoking cessation products (Kelland, 2014). Bottom line: It appears that there are still a lot of people who are letting hysteria lead the way in the media. Poorly informed and invalid science should not be the basis for regulation decisions or legislation. Regardless of what we don’t know about long term effects, we do know that electronic cigarettes are still safer than combustible tobacco. I would hate for decision makers to be influenced by ignorance and hysteria driven “science.”


Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights (2014). Third hand smoke. Retrieved from

E-cigarette Forum. (May 17, 2014). Forum thread responses to Study of third hand nicotine from e-cigarette. Retrieved from

Kelland, K. (May 21, 2014). Study: E-cigarettes very effective at helping at helping smokers quit. Reuters. Retrieved from

National Institute of Health. (May 16, 2014). Study of third hand nicotine from e-cigarette exposure wins top NIH addiction science award. Retrieved from

Roswell Park Cancer Institute. (February 7, 2014). Roswell Park researchers present findings of 2 e-cigarette studies at SRNT meeting. Retrieved from

Tobacco Control Legal Consortium. (2013). Thirdhand smoke: A select bibliography of recent studies. Retrieved from

Physical Fit: The consequences of a momentary madness

So, madness overtook me in a screaming fit of angst Saturday before Mother’s Day. Yes, indeed. It was something akin to full on psychopathic mania or possibly demonic possession, because I know that had I been in my correct cognitive state, I would never have been compelled to do what I did.

I joined a gym. Good heavens! What was I thinking?!? How could I have possibly been influenced? Yes, friends are consistently talking about going to the gym. Swimsuit season is upon us. The pool in the backyard is nearly ready for occupation by other than algae and other debris. However, I am still going to blame demons… or possibly aliens. They are always a good scapegoat. After a rather enjoyable dinner with friends from work, all of whom talked about various physical activity, and at least one works out regularly (and is the visual aid promoting said practices, I will say), I felt my jeans to be tighter than I would like. The constant reminder that gravity has impacted my physique in ways not pleasant to me, and the fact that diet alone does not appear to have any sort of impact at all these days has resulted in a desperation that could lead to pacts with evil entities… and that never works out well.

I have been asked multiple times by friends to join them in their workout routines. I have also been the recipient of workout propaganda that would have already been more efficacious than waterboarding except for one small thing… very small: My bank balance. Many people would say, spend the money for a monthly membership, and you will go because it would be a waste of your money to not go. That never worked on me. I hated going into the gym. I could always talk myself out of it, and before I knew it, months of membership fees had passed and along with it, many, many dollars. And, so, I told all my so very caring companions that it would be throwing good money after bad for me to even consider joining anything. I would just be wasting money I did not have. At one point in my life, I considered myself rather fit, and despite the continued learned commentary of several of my acquaintances on what I need to do to improve my physique and health, only one thing has ever worked for me: Aerobics. Sadly, and with shame, I admit I was one of the lycra clad women bouncing around to music with and without props (weights, bands, steps, etc.). I never was one that could lose myself in continued reps with free weights or a nice long jog on treadmill or elliptical. There was a time when I could ride miles on an actual bicycle, but to sit on a stationary bike pedaling away while watching inane talk shows or anything else was something that made me want to stab my own eyes out. Therefore, I would continue to do my progressive squats, crunches, push-ups, and such in the privacy of my own home where I would not feel shame comparing my own over-40 body to the myriad of spandex wrapped hard-bodies blithely climbing their invisible mountains on stair step and elliptical machines.

And then, it happened. I honestly cannot say what did it. Was it the conversation with my very fit friend? Was it the over tight feeling in the waistband of my jeans? Was it the unwelcome reflection in the mirror reminding me of time’s passage, or was it (most likely) my resistance failing in the face of too much peer pressure that resulted in my fingers, as if by their own accord typing in the pattern of key strokes that would make me a “joiner?” Before I realized what had happened, I had my very own gym membership. Hell hath frozen over.

Faced with Armageddon, there was only one thing left to do. I printed out the emailed version of my contract and took it down to the temple of fitness to get my “key” and free t-shirt. On a side note, I truly believe that we can take over planets with free t-shirts. Anyhow, the deed was done. I have been assimilated (Someone please tell me that I will soon have the physique of Jeri Ryan, Seven of Nine). Thus ends the tale, right?… not quite. You would think that purchase of membership and having the courage to walk in would be sufficient to insure the end of days, but no.

Working out is not exactly a simple matter of physical activity. There is apparel to be considered. No, I am not so vain as to require designer gear to be a physically fit clothes horse. However, appropriate clothing and footwear is necessary, because this facility is not in a nudist colony, and I don’t want shin splints. Once I had established my susceptibility to peer pressure, it dawned on me that I had no shoes that would actually protect my feet and joints from damage. I had a representative pair of tennis shoes that appeared to come from an archeological dig. I also (to my abject mortification) have a pair of platform sneakers advertised some years ago as able to firm your backside merely by having them on the feet and walking around. Needless to say, attempting to wear these for a regular workout will not only look ridiculous, it will also result in an injury to my lower extremities and/or me plummeting to my death… from humiliation. So, at the very least, a new pair of sneakers were in order.

Have any of you tried to purchase athletic footwear these days? I think I’ve bought a set of tires that cost less. I have been truly amazed at the prices on these things. At first, I thought it must be a matter of fashion again, noting the bright colors and brand names. Given the size of my feet, I tried the men’s section instead, naively hoping that the less fair sex might warrant less dear prices. Boy, was wrong! Men’s athletic shoe prices make the women’s shoes look like a yard sale find. Granted, the reason for the increased expenditure is that allegedly the construction of these beastly shoes provides the support and cushion that prevents injuries, like shin splints and compression fractures. That being said, I truly resent being charged triple digits for shoes, especially shoes that look like alien technology in neon colors. Thankfully, I was able to find clearance racks that provided a more reasonably priced alternative.

With my feet taken care of, my mind turned to the rest of my body. As a friend said, just wear a t-shirt and a pair of old sweatpants or shorts. A very reasonable and logical idea. Have I mentioned that working out in any public venue has not been part of my life for more than ten years? It isn’t an issue of being fashionable. I sincerely could not care less whether I match or have the latest thing on my body. However, my old clothing fall into three categories: Inappropriate, uncomfortable, or damn near pornographic due to strategically placed ventilation (not part of the original design). I felt it was necessary, therefore, to supplement my wardrobe with a few pieces to have at least three or four decent outfits that could be rotated through laundry, dresser, and wearing.

It is a testament to the amount of time it has been since I last purchased so much as a pair of sweatpants. I was again gob smacked by the sheer digits involved on the price tags attached to tiny pieces of stretchy cotton or spandex. Thank goodness again for the clearance bin without which I would not be able to afford so much as a tube sock. Three bins and six clearance racks later, I was sweating and exhausted, but I was able to find sufficient covering for my bottom half without depleting my checking account… well, at least not more than I already had. Making my way to the checkout, I saw other women already clad in color coordinated leggings and fashionably layered sports bras with tank tops. I clutched my meager purchases and timidly went through the check out. I made my way through the outer doors to my waiting vehicle and drove the rest of the way home.

Walking through the door, I found that my physical and emotional limits of the day had been reached. I sank down on the couch with my hard-won purchases resting on the floor at my side. Well… my journey of physical fitness has begun. I am sweaty, exhausted, and completely emotionally spent… and I didn’t even have to get dressed out. Let’s hope that my next outing is a bit more productive physically and less draining financially.

A Make-it or Break-it Resume


I’ve written a couple other articles now and have alluded to the fact that I had lots of stuff to say regarding resumes. So below, please find said stuff I have to say. Sorry – writing introductory paragraphs makes me twitch, especially when I am feeling decidedly decaffeinated at three-something in the afternoon. But aside from all that, I actually do need to preface this article by saying a few things.

First, this is not the end-all be-all of resume information…which will be totally obvious when you get to the end. I have researched these things until the cows came home (and they did…come home, that is) and have included a few links to great sources of information on resumes at the end of this article. This is simply my take on the matter, having used this system, or a variation of it, for years. It works, it really does. But there are others out there who will disagree with me. And that’s okay. That’s why we all have these awesome things called opinions coupled with free will.

Second, I am writing from the heart, but also writing in a somewhat conversational form. I apologize ahead of time if it gets confusing. Please bear with me. Also – you can feel free to comment if you think I’m a dunce or if something is so confusing to you that you need further clarification. I will answer.

Thirdly, take it slow. There’s a lot of information here and while I think it’s mostly good, I refer again to the dunce comment above.

And…away we go.


This is something that others may have thought of – so I cannot claim that it was my idea – but I have been thinking about this for many, many years and for all I know, I could be the inventor of something awesome.

The idea of the Master Resume is simple: Put every, single thing you’ve ever done – job/career-wise – down on paper. Include the company name, the dates you worked there, the title you held, the name of your supervisor, your supervisor’s email address and phone number (preferably direct, if possible), the address of the company or, at the very least, the city and state. Then list, in as much detail as possible (without getting wordy), your job responsibilities.

You: Whoa! Okay…hang on. Every. Single. Job. I have ever done?

Me: Yes.

You: But why? What is the point?

Well, think about it this way. Just imagine for a moment that you are sitting there, at some business establishment or other, preparing to fill out a paper application simply because you inquired about a job. This is great! They handed you an application! You get to fill it out right there and then and show this business establishment all about your work history! Except, if you’re anything like me, you don’t have any of the important dates in your head, like when you started and when you left previous employment. Oh, you could fudge it a little because you know generally when the comings and goings occurred – but would it be accurate? Do you remember how much you were paid when you started? How much you were making when you left? You know they’re going to check up on you, right? They do, actually contact your previous employers – you get that, don’t you? So why not make an effort to be accurate?

All that to say that a Master Resume is a great idea, and here’s why.

So, imagine you’re still at this business establishment, standing there with your pretty paper application, excited that you have the opportunity to fill it out when you realize that though you don’t have dates (or addresses, or phone numbers, or salary info…these things do fade with time, it’s okay) in your head, you do actually have a copy of your Master Resume in the car. You excuse yourself for a moment, run to the car to grab said Master Resume, and come back armed with exactly the information you need to accurately complete the application at hand. 

Alright, so yes, I understand that what I described above is, for the most part, a retail establishment practice – but can you take it further? Of course you can! Think about all the business establishments with an online presence and how most of the time those same business establishments have a careers/jobs/employment (pick your poison) section on their web sites. You search for a job, you find one that interests you, and you choose to fill out the job application online, which is a much more common practice these days. You are going to be faced with the same questions (and more) that you would find on the paper application at a retail establishment. (Actually, most retail establishments have an electronic application process now, too, though some still use the old-fashioned paper kind.) Again, that light bulb pops on brightly above your head indicating, if others could see it, that you’ve just had a brilliant idea. You go grab your Master Resume and get started on the electronic application.

All your dates, names, places, email addresses, phone number and salary and job duties are there for the picking. All you have to do is transfer it appropriately, and click Submit.

You: Wait, wait, wait, wait! I’m confused. I mean, I understand what you’re saying – I think – but…

Me: What? You want me to walk you through the Master Resume Concept from start to finish?

You: <sigh> Yes! Please?

You understand now the brilliance of it because I described it above, so here’s how it works.

Most resumes only list job history for the last 7-10 years. Anything more than that and it starts getting overwhelming for prospective employers.   Prospective employers want to see that you’re working, they don’t want to see gaps in your work history, and they do want to see that the previous work you did is applicable to the job you are applying for.

So what do you do? You give them everything, without giving them everything.

See, a Master Resume is where you keep everything – but when you’re applying for a position, you pull out the key pieces that are relevant to the position you are applying for and enter that into the application.

You: But that means that I could possibly show gaps in employment, and you just said that was a bad thing.

Me: Bear with me, I’m getting there.

You: Okay.

Most electronic application processes allow you to attach a resume along with all the important information you’ve already filled out online. This is where you attach a modified copy of your Master Resume, that you create specifically for the position for which you are applying.

This is what a job-specific resume should look like (please locate and use your imagination):

Resume of:      John Q. Jobhunter

Address:          123 Anystreet, Anytown USA 12345

Mobile:            (123) 456-7890


Summary of Qualifications and Related Skills: [Type out a paragraph explaining how your qualifications and skills relate to the position for which you are applying; use the job description as your guide.]

Employment History:

CURRENT EMPLOYER: Start Date to End Date (Start Date or Present, if still employed) – Your Job Title – Company Name – Company Address – Supervisor’s Name – Supervisor’s Title – Supervisor’s Phone Number – Supervisor’s Email Address

Job Duties [be clear and concise. In fact, bullet-pointing is an excellent idea.]

PREVIOUS EMPLOYER 1: Same thing – keep going and include job duties.

PREVIOUS EMPLOYER 2: Same thing – keep going and include job duties.

PREVIOUS EMPLOYER 3: Now let’s say that this job was one that does not relate to the position for which you are applying – but it shows you were working. All you do here is enter the start date, end date, your job title, the company name, address, and supervisor’s information – then move on to the next employer.

When you get to a point where you’ve got 7-10 years of experience clearly completed, stop. Now, save the document as something you’ll remember – something, maybe, that indicates which position or company you’ve created it for – and then attach it to the electronic job application!

And you’re right – I suppose this could be a somewhat confusing and complicated concept, but if used correctly it could be such a wonderful tool. And yes, it means that you could, at any one time, have a saved copy of your Master Resume, and multiple position-specific resumes.


 My research tells me that there are varying degrees of thought on this particular portion of one’s resume. Some say to yank it altogether, that it’s an outdated thought and what good does it really do? Your objective is to get a job, right? Enough said. Others say to keep it and make it “employer-centric” – meaning not to simply say that you’re looking to, for example “build your editing skills and leverage your interest in journalism” but to explain what it is that you can do for them. Remember, they’re the ones hiring you and though they care about what you can do, they want to know how you can apply that to their company’s specific needs and the position they are looking to fill. Ultimately, though, I personally believe it’s up to you whether to keep the objective or do away with it.

I tend to land somewhere in the middle, clearly stating what skills and experience I have related to the position I am applying for and building off of that. I call it Skills and Related Experience. How many years of experience do you have in your field? What programs or applications have you used and do they jive with what the potential employer is looking for? What applications are you comfortable with? How fast can you type? Do you have experience answering phones? Handling mail? Things like that.


Ah – the all-important, “Do I put References on my resume,” question. My answer is: That depends.

You: What? That’s so wishy-washy. Why am I even listening to you in the first place?

Me: Would you, kindly, give me a chance to explain my reasons behind that so-called wishy-washy answer?

You: Um…OK?

You see (I say kindly) there are times when submitting a list of references is totally appropriate and there are other times when it’s just…well…not.

You: How do I know the difference?

You’ll know. No, really – you will. Sometimes the specific electronic application (or any application, really) you are completing asks you to include references and, therefore when you are prompted to attach an electronic copy of your resume, it should, by reason of consistency, include those same references. Sometimes, it’s just not appropriate to attach a list of references; you can save that for the physical interview when you hand your potential employer a hard-copy of your resume and say professionally, “I brought you a clean hard-copy of my resume, along with a complete list of references.”

 As a general rule, I recommend having anywhere between three and five professional references and two or three personal references on hand, ready to go. It’s common courtesy, however, to let these people who you’re using as reference know that you intend to do so. Make sure you have all their contact information correct. Also, you will want to list next to, or below their names whether they are on the list as a Professional reference or a Personal reference.

For example:

Davy Jones                  Executive Director – Under The Sea, Inc.

(Professional)             123 Mermaid Lane, The Ocean, The World, 12345 ♦ Mobile: (123) 456-7890 ♦ Email:

 Arial Mermaid             Owner, Voice Studios

(Personal)                    456 Mermaid Lane, The Ocean, The World, 12345 ♦ Mobile: (123) 654-0987 ♦ Email:


  • Try not to make your resume more than 2 pages long. In fact, it’s better if you can keep it to one page, or two pages printed on both sides of one sheet of paper.
  • Bullet Points are your friend. Paragraphs work, too, but you want to make it easy for employers to see, at a glance, what you’ve done at any one job. Use this only in the job-duties section under each current or previous employer.
  • Formatting is also your friend. Formatting and fonts are important because these things draw your potential employer’s eye to key pieces of information. You want them to see what your job title was? Make it bold.


5 do’s and don’ts for building a winning resume

How to Handle These 5 Common Weaknesses on Your Resume

Resume Writing: How to Write a Masterpiece of a Resume (Rockport Institute)

Attack of the Vapers, Part duh… The Empire Strikes Back

My apologies for the long delay in what I thought would be a quick follow up to the first Attack of the Vapers (AOTV). However, if you have been reading along with the program, you have seen that there has been a big dust up recently with the proposed regulations and legal ramifications of using alternative nicotine delivery systems. However, given the timeline of the Federal Food and Drug Administration decisions, I decided to stop procrastinating and get this out there to maybe provide some information and encourage individuals in the vaping community to use their voices to impact the future of the phenomenon while there is still time to do so.

First, I will start by saying that there are a lot… let me repeat that… a LOT of rumors and speculations flying about the internet and the various vaping shops. Everyone has a perspective and a perception. I am going to give you my best, objective summary, and I am going to give you a bit of my opinion (as well as some I have gotten speaking with shop owners and enthusiasts in my local area). However, I am also going to provide you with a list of my references with links. Read what is available, and not from only one source. Educate yourself, and be knowledgeable about what is being proposed. Then, get involved. And now, I’m getting ahead of myself.

What Is Going On?

Since the first patent on the electronic nicotine delivery system in 1963, there has been resurgence in the evolution of the electronic cigarette. Since 2008, the number of electronic nicotine delivery system users has increase exponentially. In part, this is due to the indoor clean air regulations and non-smoker rights activists. There are fewer and fewer places for smokers to light up. People turned to alternative methods of acquiring nicotine. In 2009, the FDA was allowed by law to regulate tobacco products. However, that did not apply to electronic cigarettes. Additionally, the regulations imposed by the FDA were targeted to prevent smoking in the youth population of the country. Tobacco companies were restricted from using pretty colors, cartoon characters, and “candy” flavors that were seen as marketing to a younger user (Whitcomb & Gorman, 2014).

Tobacco companies complied. However, with the change to the cigarette prices, flavors, and restrictions, adults sought other ways of meeting their nicotine and behavioral desires. The original e-cigarettes were cartomizers with primarily propylene glycol and polyethylene glycol and tobacco flavoring in a system looking much like a cigarette. Many former smokers tried these, but in truth, they were found by and large to be a poor substitute to the smoking ritual and flavor. However, innovation is fed by deficits in the system, and smokers can be very innovative about getting their nicotine. While some chose to use the smoking cessation alternatives, the gum, patch, and medication routes were successful in approximately 6% of the population. Additionally, not every smoker actually wants to quit. That generally comes as a shock to the anti-smokers of the world, but some people enjoy their smoke. That being said, the removal of some of the flavors allegedly used to market to children was essentially punishing adults who may also enjoy flavored cigarettes, cigars, pipes, and now, vapors. In response, nicotine vapor alternatives became more and more prevalent, and they grew in popularity.

Several things occurred. Cigarette sales decreased as more smokers switched over to electronic nicotine delivery. Vaping does not carry the same taxes as the tobacco products, and there was a decrease in tax revenue as smokers switched to the less expensive vaping options. Anti-smoking activists were alarmed by the increased number of people mimicking smoking behavior regardless that it merely produced water vapor. Public health concerns about the long term effects were raised. Because there were no regulations, there were significant concerns about sales to minors. Lawmakers claim that e-cigarettes are a gateway drug to draw children and teens into smoking (Hunt, 2014; Moskowitz, 2014). Complaints are that marketing uses celebrity status to make e-cigarettes attractive. Additionally, free trial offers and samples concern critics. Critics also claim that e-cigarettes keep people from “quitting altogether,” neglecting to acknowledge the fact that people may not want to quit (Moskowitz, 2014).

What Does the Law Say?

Initially, the regulation and ban of vaping indoors was left to individual businesses, but more broad legislation has been proposed and ratified to restrict vaping indoors (Opfer, 2013). Currently, there are precious few clearly stated laws about vaping, but that is changing with each passing cloud of fragrant water vapor. In March of this year, Los Angeles joined New York, Boston, and Chicago in banning vaping from public venues such as restaurants, bars, and nightclubs (Whitcomb & Corman, 2014). The map of legislation is currently in flux. More and more states are scrambling to understand the phenomenon and regulate use in a meaningful way. There are varying laws in the U.S. restricting sales and use of e-cigarettes and their vaporizing counterparts, but there are still surprisingly few that forbid sale to minors (License to Vape, 2014). There are no regulations on the chemicals used or the disclosure of ingredients that could be potentially dangerous to vapers. However, beware vapers! A man in New York received a citation for vaping while driving. New York has a law that prohibits the use of electronic devices. Though electronic cigarettes are not specifically named in the law defining the devices, the judge ruled he had violated the law (Sherwood, 2014). We won’t actually discuss how distracting dropping a lit cigarette in the crotch is while driving, but apparently that is still legal.

What Is Proposed By the FDA?

The FDA proposed regulation April 24th, 2014, that while not as restrictive as feared (Craver, 2014; Sullum, 2014), still concerns many in the vaping community. The released proposal expands the definition of tobacco products to include electronic cigarettes, pipe tobacco, hookah tobacco, dissolvables, gels, and some cigars. It also covers products that could be considered paraphernalia, such as papers, tubes, charcoals, and hookah flavor enhancers (Langley, 2014). The FDA is proposing required health warnings on products (including addictive properties of nicotine), ban on sale to minors, prohibition of free samples, and disclosure of chemicals used in e-cigarettes (Burton & Esterl, 2014). Additionally, the FDA proposed that manufacturers of e-cigarettes will have to substantiate claims that they are safer than traditional cigarettes. Manufacturers may be required to register with the FDA for products and submit to premarket ingredient review, inspection, and approval (Devaney, 2014; Langley, 2014). Though Senate Health Committee Chair Tom Harkin is pushing to ban “candy” flavors, claiming it is marketing to children, the FDA stopped short of banning sweet flavors (Moskowitz, 2014). The primary focus of the language in the proposed regulations appears to be the e-cigarette devices of the cartomizer variety, such as Blu, NJOY, Logic, CB, and Nicotek (Burton & Esterl, 2014; Craver, 2014).

What Is Tennessee Proposing?

According to CASAA (2014), Tennessee is proposing a bill that would identify vapor products (e-cigarettes, vape pens, etc.) as non-tobacco, and therefore not taxed as such. They would also not be subject to the Tennessee Clean Indoor Air Act. This means that while smoking in certain indoor venues is banned, vapers would still be free to puff away. While the vaping community would be pleased with this outcome, the non-vapers and anti-smoking activists in Knoxville have expressed displeasure. Some people are still very sensitive to the residual PG or nicotine in some of the high nicotine vapor expressed by those using devices, and some are merely fearful believing that the water vapor is “just like smoke.” The bill proposed in Tennessee legislature mirrors one proposed in Oklahoma on April 16th, 2014. The law would also prevent proposed “sin” taxes such as that attempted by Vermont on April 7th, 2014 for 92% (honestvape, 2013). The proposed Tennessee law has met with some opposition from tobacco lobbyists for revenue and tax concerns, according to local vape vendors in Knoxville and e-cigarette enthusiasts.

Arguments Get Heated

Electronic cigarette companies such as NJOY expressed concern that a push to ban vaping is a deterrent to individuals switching from combustible tobacco. Instead of changing over to electronic cigarettes or their vape counterparts, people may choose to continue smoking rather than quit (Whitcomb & Gorman, 2014). The claims that strict regulations will encourage people to quit nicotine entirely ignores the fact that some people still enjoy their vaping after tapering down to zero nicotine. Critics feel that the FDA is not aggressive enough (Burton & Esterl, 2014). Many critics still feel that the flavors, ads and internet sales are a targeted marketing towards children and teens, again neglecting to recognize that adults favor flavors in their e-liquids much like they do flavored beverages.

Vendors, manufacturers, and enthusiasts are concerned that innovation and industry growth will be stifled in the newly regulated market (Craver, 2014). Individual manufacturers, such as small to mid-sized companies will be unable to afford staying in business and “Big Tobacco” and pharmaceutical companies will be the only entities capable of paying for required approvals (Craver, 2014; Moskowitz, 2014; Opfer, 2013). Without the ability to expand and the creativity of the community with the ability to experiment, devices proposed by medical and technology professionals inspired by the new vaper devices for smoking cessation and abuse resistant medication delivery devices may never come to light (Clark, 2014).

One of the proposed regulations is that the FDA would require proof of claims that there are health benefits to switching to e-cigarettes from traditional combustible tobacco (Burton & Esterl, 2014). Currently, the FDA claims there is no substantiation for claims that vaping is healthier than smoking. However, the FDA arguments appear to be primarily founded on first generation devices, and enthusiasts and vendors feel that there is more current research that shows the positive impact of vaporizing devices over combustible tobacco with regards carcinogen production and combustible toxicants (Toole, 2014). Anecdotal evidence from those who have switched indicates improved taste and smell, becoming less winded after activity, and overall feeling better (Moskowitz, 2014). These narrative reports from vapers are supported by positive evaluations from medical professionals that indicated not only are those who switch over feeling better, they have measurably increased lung capacity (Toole, 2014). Contrary to arguments to the contrary, e-vapor appears to be less addictive than the smoke of traditional cigarettes, as vapers tend to decrease their nicotine levels over time, often continuing to vape at zero nicotine levels (Craver, 2014). Oliver Kershaw of the E-Cigarette Forum worries about the selection and availability of products for vapers in future as he believes most of the current products will not qualify with the FDA approval requirements (Sullum, 2014). Public health professionals indicated that the FDA proposals are a victory for “Big Tobacco” as smaller players in the market could be driven out of business due to cost of earning approval for any new or existing products, and individuals losing their flavor options and expense benefits may return to combustible tobacco products (Craver, 2014; Moskowitz; 2014, Sullum, 2014). Still, the proposed regulations seem to be of little concern to the “Big Three” tobacco companies who have their own foot in the door of the electronic cigarette market (Mangan, 2014). The new federal regulations are not expected to make any impact on the expanding e-cigarette phenomenon. Industry giants acquiring existing lines may be the only way for certain juices and devices to stay on the market (Moskowitz, 2014). Bill Godshall of Smokefree Pennsylvania says, “What it will do is effectively give the entire industry to big tobacco,” (Opfer, 2013).

Safety is the biggest consideration in the argument for regulation. Spot tests conducted by the FDA claim to have found that nicotine levels and labels were vastly inconsistent with zero nicotine liquids still showing evidence of nicotine content (FDA, 2014). Many distributors refuse to disclose their ingredients claiming proprietary recipes. For people with allergies, this is a red flag and possibly a deterrent to purchase from said vendor. Strangely enough, the FDA is not trying to ban traditional cigarettes which have been shown to be far more dangerous (Sullum, 2014). The FDA and public health officials claim that “we just don’t know the long term effects of electronic cigarettes.” Well, we didn’t know about cigarettes for 20 years either, but they haven’t banned them yet. By the same logic, nicotine gum, dissolvables, patches, and inhalers are still on the market, despite somewhat poor outcomes for smoking cessation, and they are already approved and regulated by the FDA as pharmaceuticals (Sullum, 2014).

There are hopes that FDA regulations with “spike the guns” of various states imposing much stricter regulations (Craver, 2014). With broader federal guidelines, it would normalize the laws across the board and give less opportunity for wide variance of infraction from state to state.

Word On the Street

Local vendors and customers alike are worried about what the proposed regulations will do to their ability to vape inexpensively and have access to the same quality of products to which they have become accustomed.

One patron of Knoxville Vapors stated that government involvement will reduce options and access to quality e-juices and increase the cost. He agreed that regulation is needed to prevent sale to minors, but he is concerned that regulation won’t prevent unscrupulous vendors from selling to whomever they please. “It will only be the good folks who wouldn’t sell to kids in the first place who will be hit, and we will all be hit in the wallet.”

Vintage Vapors Knoxville owner echoes the concern, elaborating that producers of their most popular juices cannot compete with the big companies with an added cost of FDA approval which can cost between $5000-$10,000 per flavor per nicotine level. “The only ones who can afford it will be Big Tobacco or Big Pharmacy.”

Where Does This Leave Us?

People are still woefully ignorant of the science and the proposed regulatory legislation. It is time to read up, people. There are 75 days from the time the FDA proposal was released during which arguments and public comments will be heard.

Regulation is needed to prevent poor quality, sale to people less than 18 years old, and preserve safety to end users. From my own perspective, I want to know what is in the e-juice. That doesn’t mean I want a detailed list of their “secret special recipes,” but knowing the percentages of VG or PG (which can aggravate respiratory conditions or other allergies) is important. I believe knowing what ingredients have contributed to the flavors is reasonable. Again, people have allergies! Health warning labels are always a good idea, and child-proof caps, PLEASE! Nicotine is still a poison, and no one wants a child accidentally exposed.

So, my suggestion? Get involved in your local vape community, organizations, online groups, etc. Get educated. Voice your opinions to the FDA and your government representatives. If you do not want the government or large corporate entities controlling your vape, you need to heed the call to action and speak up to the people making the decisions.


Burton, T., & Esterl, M. (April, 2014). E-cigarettes face first regulations. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from (February, 2014). Call to Action! (UPDATED) SUPPORT Tennessee Bill that Excludes E-Cigarettes from Smoking Bans and Tobacco Taxes. Retrieved from

Clark, T. (May, 2014). E-cigarettes become an unlikely inspiration for new medical devices. Huffington Post Business. Retrieved from

Craver, R. (May, 2014). Reaction mixed to FDA e-cig regulations. Winston-Salem Journal. Retrieved from

Devaney, T. (April, 2014). FDA proposes regulations for e-cigarettes. The Hill. Retrieved from

FDA. (April, 2014). E-cigarettes: Questions and answers. Retrived from

honestvape. (August, 2013). E-cig state laws: Current and pending. License to Vape. Retrieved from

Hunt, A. (April, 2014) Marketing rules too lax on e-cigarettes critics say. USA Today. Retrieved from

Langley, A. (April, 2014). New FDA regulations affect vape pens, e-cigarettes and other smoking products. Summit Daily. Retrieved from

Mangan, D. (April, 2014). E-cig makers say proposed FDA regs should keep sales smoking. NBC News. Retrieved from

Moskowitz, E. (April, 2014). FDA e-cigarette plan brings complaints from both sides. The Boston Globe. Retrieved from

Noll-Marsh, K. (April, 2014). FDA regulation of e-cigarettes: huge costs, little or no benefit, says CASAA. Retrieved from

Opfer, C. (November, 2013). Coming Soon to the E-Cigarette Regulation Debate: A Sliver of Clarity. The Atlantic Cities. Retrieved from

Sherwood, J. (March, 2014). Electronics cigarette lands a man a traffic ticket in Upstate New York. The Examiner. Retrived from

Sullum, J. (May, 2014). Will FDA regulation preserve or destroy the e-cigarette industry? Forbes. Retrieved from

Toole, J. (April, 2014). N.H. health officials pleased by U.S. regulation of e-cigarettes: E-cigarette regulation praised by health officials, questioned by retailers. Eagle-Tribune. Retrieved from

Whitcomb, D., & Gorman, S. (March, 2014). Los Angeles moves to ban e-cigarettes, joining NY, others. Reuters U.S. edition. Retrieved from

Honorable Mentions

Knoxville Vapors.

Vintage Vapors Knoxville.

Smokey Mountain Vapers.

Vapor Boss.

Savvy Job Hunting: Tricks of the Trade

Did you know that finding a job is, in itself, a full-time job? I’m just going to lay that right out there, up front, so you don’t get any ideas. There are no shortcuts on this one, folks, I’m sorry – you must do the work.

For the purposes of this article, let’s say you’ve been laid-off.

You’re angry because, let’s be honest, it was the last thing you expected and you feel like you’ve been hand-picked for the pink slip you’ve just received. It’s tough to take into consideration things that may have lead your employer to decide on layoffs in the first place and even harder to realize that it isn’t personal, it’s financial.

You’re scared because you’ve got bills to pay and the bills don’t auto-magically (yes, I said that on purpose) stop coming just because your regular source of income has suddenly ceased. You’ve got a cartoon-esque tornado over your head which is rotating a constant barrage of thoughts: mortgage or rent, utilities, phone bills, car payments, doctor bills, money, money, money…and these crazy question marks that, for some reason, look like they are morphing into what could be interpreted as ultra-sharp scythes. <shudder>

You’re hurt because, let’s face it, it does feel personal even if it really isn’t and it’s hard to separate how you feel from the facts that led to the decision that led to you ultimately losing your job. (gasp!) You gave those folks lots of good years of your life, by golly. You worked hard. You dotted every “I” and crossed every “T”. How could they do this to you?

You feel worthless because…well…all of the above.

If you’re a Harry Potter fan I’ll bet you’re thinking the same thing I am, right? That part, in Order of the Phoenix, after Harry kisses Cho and has gone back to the common room. Hermione is trying to explain to Harry and Ron how Cho must be feeling:


“Well, obviously, she’s feeling very sad, because of Cedric dying. Then I expect she’s feeling confused because she liked Cedric and now she likes Harry, and she can’t work out who she likes best. Then she’ll be feeling guilty, thinking it’s an insult to Cedric’s memory to be kissing Harry at all, and she’ll be worrying about what everyone else might say about her if she starts going out with Harry. And she probably can’t work out what her feelings toward Harry are anyway, because he was the one who was with Cedric when Cedric died, so that’s all very mixed up and painful. Oh, and she’s afraid she’s going to be thrown off the Ravenclaw Quidditch team because she’s been flying so badly.”


“One person can’t feel all that at once, they’d explode.”


“Just because you’ve got the emotional range of a teaspoon doesn’t mean we all have.”

 (Credit to J.K. Rolling, author of the Harry Potter series of books)

I’m not making light of this no job thing, but you get the correlation, right? There is just so much stuff is going on inside your head you feel like you’re going explode. Also…you are not worthless.

But, what do you do now? Well, in my opinion it’s okay to take a couple of days to refocus. For me, that means cleaning and music because those two things focus me and allow me to think objectively about any given situation. Don’t take too long, though, because then the refocusing thing simply becomes an excuse. After a while it just turns into laziness and apathy and the next thing you know you’re six, eight, twelve months down the line, collecting unemployment and still feeling sorry for yourself.

WAKE UP! (Sorry – I didn’t mean to yell. I know, I’m on my soap box right now and I feel very passionately about this, but you’re awake now, right?)

Let’s look at some next steps:

  • Update your resume. Break out the old resume and start updating. If you don’t have one, make one. Look it over carefully and think about not just the content, but how a prospective employer is going to view it. Proof-read, spell check, and make certain that all your dates, facts and information are correct because I’m telling you, attention to detail within your resume is a big deal. Print out several hard copies of your resume and keep them with you at all times.You never know when you might need to hand one to somebody. (For me, it’s hard not to go into a ton of detail with regard to resumes because I feel very strongly about them and the magic they can work. I am also writing an article about resumes in which I get to go into a ton of detail and which I promise I’ll eventually post.)
  • Treat finding a job as your job. Make it the first thing you think about when you get up in the morning and the last thing you think about when you go to bed at night. I know that life gets in the way sometimes, but you have to make this your priority. Finding a job, even when you’re diligent about it, can take a while. But you don’t have to prolong it and, in fact, can speed it up by focusing on that one pursuit.
  • Call the local Chambers of Commerce. Huh? Why? Well…call them and ask them if they have a list of all the businesses in the area. Sometimes those lists are online, which is great; sometimes they’re not. Ask them if they would be willing to email, mail, or fax these lists to you. You don’t need to explain why – unless you just want to. Sometimes, though, explaining your situation (I’m unemployed and seeking a job and would like a list of area employers that might be hiring) can unstick a hesitant person.
  • Talk to your friends. Seriously? Talk to my friends? That’s the best advice you can give me? Well, no – not the best advice, but certainly sound advice. Here’s the thing: Your friends (most of them, anyway) have jobs, know people, have contacts you may not have. Your friends may know of available positions you are not aware of. Listen, you’re going to talk to your friends about this anyway, right? So why not network with them? Plus, sometimes a friend is just the foot in the door you’ll need to your next job opportunity.
  • Update your social media profile. Yes, this one is touchy and my learned counterpart, Tananda, is writing an article as we speak about what your social media profile says about you – but update it anyway. LinkedIn, Facebook, maybe your personal blog… I won’t say any more about this right now, though. Tananda has that covered here:
  • Pound the pavement. It’s an old term – and it still applies – but maybe in a more, ah, virtual way. Think about it. It used to be that when you were looking for a job, you got up, showered, shaved (hopefully), shined your shoes, put on a suit and tie, slicked back your hair, grabbed your briefcase (because, hey, it looks awesome with a suit), walked out your front door, got in the car, and started quite literally pounding the pavement looking for work. Knocking on every door of every business you were qualified to work for and then some. And, while that still works and is definitely something to consider, there’s this wonderful invention we have now called The Internet. Oh, and email, too! Remember that list of area employers you got from the Chamber of Commerce? Do they have an online presence? If they do, check it out and see if they have a Careers section. (Alternately called Jobs or Employment, too.) Check out their available position and apply for everything you could possibly be qualified for. If there isn’t a website, or if you cannot immediately find a careers section, is there a Contact Us page? An email address? Draft a strong, introductory cover letter and email them a copy of your resume. Even if there are no available positions, send them an unsolicited inquiry. Sometimes employers don’t get around to posting available positions right away and your unsolicited inquiry, containing an awesome cover letter and a well-thought-out resume could be the key to getting you in the door.
  • Don’t let the moss grow. Huh? What does that mean? Simply this. The longer you wait the harder it’s going to get. It’s a market people, and every market runs out of stuff every now and then…including jobs. So don’t wait. Look every single day and sometimes twice a day. 

Stuff to take with you when you go:

indeed – one search. all jobs.

This one is great because you can enter your search parameters and it remembers them every time you visit. And the next time you visit it will tell you how many new jobs are posted under that category! It pulls from all available, posted positions from all the major job sites including Monster, Career Builder, and more…plus it pulls directly from individual employer sites that have posted positions as well as temporary agencies with available positions.



Holster It: A coming of age tale


So, those who know me in the real world outside the “interwebs,” have heard my tales of woe as my own decrepitude and mortality was shamelessly flaunted before my very eyes in my quest for convenience. I shall share with you my pain, but this is not only a revelation… it is also a cautionary tale for the astute professional.

I do not know about the rest of you out there, but despite my best efforts to resist, I have become completely attached to the evils of technology. By this I mean, of course, the mobile phone. Yes, sad as it is, I seem to have forgotten what it was like in the days when you left home or office and people would just have to wait until you came back to speak with you on the phone. Other elements of my life have been impacted, however, in addition to just the communication-from-anywhere-at-anytime phenomenon. I no longer wear a watch. I rely upon my clever little mobile device to provide that information and be correctly matched to time zone (since the time is received from the closest tower). It is a right handy trick, especially for those of us who might be in multiple time zones on any given day. It truly was a bit of a challenge to keep appointments and meetings straight when merely relying on the timepiece secured to the wrist. Not to mention, there was always the issue of returning to your home time zone only to forget to set your watch back… ah yes, much like the Daylight Savings Time, there was always the risk of missing a meeting or showing up ridiculously early upon return from a different zone. But I digress…

Unlike many of my technologically savvy and technology-adoring friends, I firmly resist getting the latest and greatest every time something new comes out. I am not criticizing the impulse to get the newest shiny on the market and try out the latest updates. I am just not one to be always on the cutting edge. I will leave that to my dear ones who are always happy to provide me with unsolicited reviews of “Look What It DOES?!?” and “Oh my, they will need to fix that bug on the next firmware upgrade…” It helps me avoid any of the less successful technological advancements. However, as logical and appropriate as that sounds, I’m totally lying. I anthropomorphize my equipment. It’s true. My fear of change and resistance to same stems in many ways from my feeling deep down that my poor gadget will feel abandoned and cast aside for the younger model.

Regardless, the time came after four blissful years with my iPhone, that my formerly reliable equipment was no longer so reliable. It just no longer worked. It would reboot at random, never get a good signal, and froze up regularly. Sadly, the day came when I could no longer give the excuse of “It works just fine for me.” I had to bite the bullet and get a new phone.

I will not go into the details of that painful drama. With shaking hands and sweaty palms, I discussed and made arrangements with my telecommunications provider to get a new phone. Those of you out there that relish the excitement of new tech in your life cannot possibly understand my anxiety and stress over what must seem to most a very simple, though costly, transaction. However, by the end of the day, the deed was done. A new phone was mine. Herein lays the unexpected snag…

I have for many, many… I shan’t say how many years carried my mobile device in a holster. This is a pouch that attaches to a belt or waistband and into which you can put your phone. I found that it was also handy for carrying the most frequently used of my wallet denizens, driver’s license, ATM card, insurance card, etc. As you might expect, the holster was in about the same condition as the old phone. Sure enough, it disintegrated shortly after the new phone came into use (possibly died of grief, who knows).

Now, these days, it seems most people have their phones surgically attached to their hands. Seriously, this is merely from observation that no one seems to be able to put the darn things down. I have noticed that some folks pocket phones or maybe have them in voluminous purses, but primarily, the devices appear to be constantly in use or held in the hand. How do these people go to the bathroom?!?

I am not of the ilk to have phone in hand at all times, and not all of my fashion choices have pockets. I ceased carrying purses long ago as I had a tendency to leave them wherever I hung them over a chair or happened to set them down. Needless to say, I have been reliant on my handy holster for many years. When my old one disintegrated, therefore, I had absolutely no suspicion that this was the serious loss that it became. I figured, “I’ll just buy a new one.” Oh hell no… Did you know that there are about a metric blue-billion different colored, designed, bedazzled, blingged-out Otterboxes on the market? Did you?!? There are. I walked into the first store, and the young man working there became completely baffled when I asked for a holster. With his head on one side like an inquisitive dog, he proceeded to show me the varying array of rubberized phone condoms that I could choose. “No, I want a holster.” I was told that they had nothing like that, but wouldn’t I like a nice fuchsia Hello Kitty Otterbox? I managed to escape minus Hello Kitty, rhinestones, or glitter. I continued my search in a variety of office supply and technology gizmo stores. With every stop along the way, my spirit became more and more dejected. The lowest point of the day was when a store employee shortly out of his infancy and looking no more than 12 years of age informed me that he didn’t believe anyone made holsters anymore, because no one of the current technology age used them anymore. He hadn’t seen one in “ages,” and wouldn’t I like a nice Otterbox?

Now feeling even more like a relic of a bygone age, I was close to tears as I approached the last bastion of hope. I dared not meet the eyes of the staff who were likely young enough to be my offspring. However, I recollected myself enough to notice that a nice gentleman (who looked to be at least past puberty) holding the door open for me. I meekly asked if they carried holsters… AND they DID! I was giddy and in tears as I purchased my lovely leather holster and found that it fit my new phone with space for cards. It seems that despite my advanced age, I must not be entirely alone in my quest for an efficient carrying method for my phone.

Why, you may ask, is this particular article in The New Cheese? Isn’t TNC supposed to be about professional stuff? Yes indeed it is. Here is why. It is not only to free up my dexterity that I prefer to use a holster instead of a colorful rubber phone condom.

It has become common practice to keep your mobile phone permanently in your hand. People sit in social circumstances with their devices constantly before their eyes, consulting them approximately every one or two minutes. Sadly, this is the status of our society today. We spend every moment incapable of being separated from the electronics.

Most professionals holding positions of responsibility in any organization will have one or more electronic devices connecting them with the plethora of information sources on the internet, their staff, and their customers. Today, the instantaneous access to any individual has created the expectation that all employees, managers, and leaders have their phones on at all times. Phones remain in hands or on conference tables immediately visible to anyone present. However, many individuals in the modern workplace believe this expectation gives them license to have their mobile devices permanently attached to their hands in all environments and situations.

True professionalism involves basic civility and manners. What do mobile phones have to do with this? In interviews, meetings, business discussions, and trainings, people deserve the attention of their target audience. Distractions such as incoming phone calls, text messages, and social media notifications detract from the interaction and give the impression of disinterest, immaturity, lack of focus, and unprofessional conduct.

Be a professional. Presenters, trainers, and potential employers or employees deserve your respect and full attention. Holster the phone, iPad, or personal assistant device unless using it specifically to take notes or perform a function related to the discussion at hand. Use the silent mode. Turn off ring tones and notifications for the duration of the meeting, interview, or training. Use the “airplane” mode to suspend all potential signals until after the meeting. In the event of forgetting to silence your phone and receiving a call or message, remedy the situation by switching on silent mode and in one on one or meeting situations, apologize concisely and move on. People lived without instantaneous access for many years. You can always check messages, texts, and Facebook at a more appropriate time when you are not infringing upon the valuable time of others.

So, the moral of the story? The appearance of the professional is not enhanced by a constant barrage of incoming electronic communications on a rubber encrusted mobile device permanently ensconced in your hand. To all those currently holding or hoping to hold a professional position in some organization, with regards to your mobile phones, literally or figuratively, do yourself a favor. Present yourself in a mature and professional way… Holster It!