Thursday, August 08, 2013

Deitz: "Congratulations: You Just Got Hired": Former government "spook" has brief but scalding advice for new hires in the workplace

Author: Robert L. Deitz
Title: “Congratulations: You Just Got Hired

Subtitle: “Don’t Screw It Up”

Publication: 2013, appears self-published (no publisher named;  there is mention of “CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform); ISBN 978-1481944298, 33 pages, paper, 5 chapters
Amazon link is this
I can recall, early in my mainframe information technology career, that a few companies were quite picky about dress code.  First it was just IBM, with stories that young men were sent home if they didn’t have long socks and garters under their suits.  That sounds so prudish!  Then H. Ross Perot’s EDS was the sartorial bully, demanding dark suits, perfectly fitted, and ironed white shirts.  Customers will not understand data processing, one 1972 memo that fell before my eyes said;  so dress is what sells their confidence. 

A few decades ago, John T. Molloy put out his infamous “Dress for Success”, which somehow reminds me of another book by Scott Meredith, “Writing to Sell”.   Molloy continued the prudishness, even regionalizing it (the customs in the Deep South were somehow different), and telling young men moving into management that they should add gray to heir temples to look old enough for the job.  Don’t tell Mark Zuckerberg that.

Dietz has worked in the NSA, DOD and CIA arenas, and his advice certainly shows a “pay your dues” mentality.  The five chapters are naturally divided enough: work habits, dress, etiquette, “E-stuff”, and resumes.  And most of the advice seems like common sense.

On the “e-stuff”, he does spend some space (in this very short booklet) on what should be obvious now: your employer has every right to control what you do on work computers, and your employer probably will.  But he precedes that discussion with a brief warning about what you do on the Internet, “even at home on your own time”.  Since about 2006, the media has reported incessantly about employers checking personal use of social media, more often for job applicant than established associates, and has plenty of stories of people being fired for what they say on Facebook, even with privacy settings turned on.  Dr. Phil even had a program called “Internet Mistakes” a few years ago (TV blog, Jan. 15, 2008).  Frankly, I wonder how relevant all the attention to checking credit reports and scores (often tainted by inaccuracies) and formal background investigations is, given the ease with which employers can check social media.  The biggest problem is that it’s easy to find the wrong person (with the same name), and easy even to misidentify people in photographs online.  No one has much a handle on this, still.

Michelle Singletary discussed this book recently in her Washington Post column, and mentioned the stuff about online reputation (link).

I find it interesting that Deitz advises workers to stay abreast of current events and the news.  

I do think there is something lacking in a “one size fits all shoes” approach as in this little tract.
Deitz would probably snicker at some recent episodes in the NBC soap "Days of our Lives", when the character Jennfier has to put up with a do-nothing young female employee.

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