Tag Archives: common misconceptions

Playing Powerball: What the Numbers Say About Us

powerball-lottery-winning-numbers-879614Playing Powerball tells us a lot about how some people use math, rationality, and education in general when buying lottery tickets. (source: The Week, February 12, 2016)

  • 54% of ticket sales come from 5 percent of players who tend to be poor and uneducated.
  • “Buying lottery tickets exacerbates the very poverty that purchasers are hoping to escape,” Emily Haisley, financial expert.
  • In most states, 60% of ticket revenue goes to jackpot, winners surrender 40% in taxes, lottery company and ticket retailers get a cut, and the remainder – about 25 to 30% go to the state’s coffers.
  • State governments use lottery proceeds for the general fund, despite the promise of state officials promising to pour proceeds into education.
  • People with household incomes below $25,000 spend an average of $583 a year on the lottery; people with household incomes over $100,000 a year spend $289 on the lottery. (1999 Duke University study)
  • College dropouts spend about $700 on lottery tickets; people with degrees only $178.
  • Studies show that poorer players are 25% more likely than richer players to consider a lottery ticket a genuine investment and to greatly overestimate their chance of winning.
  • State lotteries have become viable sources of state’s budgets whereby lawmakers consider it political suicide to do anything that interferes with that revenue stream.
  • “Politicians view lotteries as a victimless source of revenue,” says tax expert David Brunori.

But if you must play…

Here are some suggestions on maximzing your chances of not having to share the jackpot if you do get lucky:

  • Don’t pick numbers between 1 and 31 (something about the statistics favoring higher numbers)
  • Don’t pick obvious combinations, such as 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.
  • Be sure to check your tickets: $2 billion worth of prizes went unclaimed in 2015.
  • Create a Limited Liability Corporation (LLC) to avoid having to publicly identify yourself as a lottery winner and avoid the harrassment from long-lost friends and relatives, financial “advisors.”
  • Buy early in the lottery cycle so you can “extend the pleasure of anticipation.” I could say more but I have to finish entering the HGTV Dream Home Giveaway…

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Former Fortune 500 hiring manager Donn LeVie Jr. is the author of Strategic Career Engagement (September 2015), and the book that reset the rules for successful job and career strategies:  Confessions of a Hiring Manager Rev. 2.0 (June 2012, Winner of the 2012 Global eBook Award and Winner of the 2012 International Book Award for Jobs/Careers). He leads career strategy seminars at conferences, business/trade schools, colleges and universities, and U.S. military veterans organizations.

Does your conference need a keynote speaker or a career strategies seminar for conference attendees? Donn’s 2016-2017 engagement calendar is starting to fill up…contact him directly at donnlevie@austin.rr.com.

Don’t miss out on Donn’s blog posts…follow him now on Twitter @donnlevie and join in the jobs/career conversations at the Strategic Career Engagement LinkedIn discussion group.


Why Using Social Media for Job Searches is a Trojan Horse

facebook-donotliketrojan horse

Last week I presented several talks at the 26th Annual Fraud Conference sponsored by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners. One of my presentations was on using social media for job searches, but from a former hiring manager’s perspective. There are social media proponents who enthusiastically endorse social media sites (SMSs) for job searches, but most hiring managers will not drink the Kool-Aid. Instead, many if not most hiring managers will recommend networking sites, such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and perhaps Google +. But let’s be clear–according to a recent survey of hiring managers, 50 percent use SMSs to exclude candidates from further consideration. While SMSs happily present your persona when everyone is watching, we want to know: who are you when no one is looking? Are you the same person on paper (cover letter, résumé) or in the job interview that you are on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and WordPress? The very nature of social media makes this a difficult task.

What’s the rest of the world doing for job searches? Ray Van Es, an international placement consultant, followed many professionals from university graduation into their professional careers. He found that:

  • Most who are successful and continue being successful are not active on the Internet.
  • Many do not have a LinkedIn profile, and the ones that do are not very active; social media use is restricted to interacting with a very small group of friends they know personally.
  • They are not jumping on SNSs for career purposes, but like to explore career-related apps on smartphones and other devices.
  • They build a strong profile (brand) before graduation and continue adding to it once their careers begin.
  • They prefer face-to-face networking to virtual networking

A report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences described a computer program that was able to better assess subject personalities based on Facebook “likes.” The software actually did a better job than the subjects’ self-ratings on predicting four outcomes: (1) Facebook use; (2) number of Facebook friends; (3) use of alcohol, tobacco, and drugs; and (4) field of study.

This research has important implications for data analytics playing a more comprehensive role in the hiring process, particularly in up-front candidate screening. The results of predictive analytics–and not individual content and posts–may drive hiring decisions in the future because…

SOCIAL MEDIA IS A TROJAN HORSE; it is a personal information capture industry where the front end is packaged as a free social interaction application while the data/metadata you provide is the prize to advertisers, marketers, and hackers.

With the advent of phony Facebook and LinkedIn profiles, “click farms” (digital middlemen) purchase “Facebook likes” (1,000 “likes” will run you around $30.00 U.S. while 1,000 Twitter followers costs about $12) and sell them to business to boost their online ratings. There’s even software to disable Facebook cookies so the suspicious activity can’t be tracked.

In 2005, 5.5 million people were Facebook users; 6 months ago, that number grew to 1.4 billion. If social media is the power behind today’s internet, then the reliability of that power is suspect. With the Facebook spam market worth between $87 million to $390 million, advertising on Facebook (and other similar sites) with a high percentage of phony likes, fans, and followers could threaten the entire business model that’s the back end of social media.


  • Realize the business truth behind the social media model—don’t embrace the groupthink that SM is the “new hiring model”—professional networking sites are but one tool to help you get into the hiring process
  • Limit your exposure to only a couple of sites frequented by most hiring managers and become an expert in their use
  • Build a solid profile and build a strong presence with your choices and drill down deep and wide by:
    –Joining forums and participating
    –Posting links to articles about your industry/your blog
    –Getting endorsements from your trusted network.
  • Recommendations:
    –LinkedIn and Twitter (and/or Google +) are where hiring managers troll
    –Add a Facebook business page if you are self-employed/own a business

(some information about Facebook spam and click farms came from an article in The New Republic.)

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Is the Job Market Dysfunctional?


Some career management consultants believe that the job market is dysfunctional because the likeability/personality dimension of hiring is rarely addressed as a requirement in job postings. They claim this omission in job postings places candidates at a disadvantage. I disagree. Who goes into a job interview—or any social interaction—not aware of this aspect of interpersonal communication?

The human factor plays a significant role in every hiring decision, whether or not the required interpersonal skills are highlighted in job postings. Any dysfunction, when it occurs, may lie with either the candidate or the hiring manager, each of whom might fail to understand the importance of personality and likeability as they influence both the first impression and the final hiring decision.

The subjective nature of the hiring process in today’s job market is what it is, with each facet (objective assessments, intuitive reflection, subjective preference) providing the hiring manager a unique perspective on a candidate’s potential for on-the-job success.

In the grand hiring scheme, improving flaws in a cover letter and résumé are relatively easy tasks compared to eliminating personality and behavioral issues that could impede a candidate’s progress. A job interview is, after all, a social interaction, and the most salient behaviors exhibited by an applicant in such a situation are his or her social interaction skills.

Likeability is your first and last hurdle for any job or career pursuit. Likeability relates to friendliness, relevance, empathy, and “being real.” Likeability works best when it’s not forced or seen as an attempt to manipulate others. Likeonomics is simply a new term to describe the interpersonal and economic currency that connects people with other people, to new ideas, and to organizations where they share a variety of similar preferences. Likeability is connection driven. It’s a new global currency that isn’t made of paper or coin (or bitcoin) but whose denominations come in different types of relationships.

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Understand the difference between “accomplishment” and “task completion” for your résumé

I offer cover letter and résumé evaluations as part of a career strategies benefit package I provide to associations, colleges and universities, business and trade schools, corporations, and branches of the military (veterans exiting the military). One of the most common misconceptions people have is failing to differentiate between an accomplishment and a task completion.

An accomplishment is some strategic contribution to the higher objectives of an organization that could take the form of revenues generated, costs avoided, revenues recovered, percent improvement in some process–something above and beyond your normal day-to-day duties and responsibilities. Now, those daily duties and responsibilities may be tactics that support the strategic contribution; however, hiring managers reviewing résumés want to see the bottom-line contribution. They want to know whether you are a problem solver, solutions provider, game changer (as evidenced by your accomplishments that are highlighted on your résumé)–or just another employee (as evidenced by bullet list after bullet list of “duties and responsibilities”).

An “achievement” is in the same category as accomplishment and is evaluated by hiring managers the same way. Hiring managers do not consider any task completion as an “achievement”–it must stand out as a strategic contribution to the higher objectives of the organization.

Here are a few examples of task completions I have seen being passed off as accomplishments:

  • Generated reports for management
  • Developed training program for new hires
  • Ensured activities were in compliance with applicable accounting laws

So what? says the hiring manager. It’s always better if you can assign some quantitative assessment ($$ or %) to an accomplishment, but if your job doesn’t allow such a measure, then after each task completion ask this question: “and this task completion (or duty, responsibility) led to what higher level result for the organization?” This will take some time and thought; however, in most cases you will be able to reshape a task completion into a strategic contribution by asking that question, which will help the hiring manager assess your potential to perform in the future in his or her organization.

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