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Matt Leverich

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  • Club/Course/Company
    Playbooks for Golf
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    New York Metro / Lake of the Ozarks, MO

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    http://www.goplaybooks.com

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  1. I haven’t delved into technology posts lately on this blog, instead focusing on career topics. It’s been due to not having enough time to offer quality advice in a field that constantly changes. Why, you might ask? Well, I have been working for the last 18 months on a new project for the industry that occupied any free time I had. And it’s finally done, at least version 1. I don’t usually speak directly on this blog about our products, but I think this service is beneficial to both your operation and career, plus it has a lesson in doing things the right way and hiring professionally. Which of course I always encourage on this blog. The message here is to keep trying new and innovative things, they will eventually reward you. The Idea We had an idea two years ago for a communications app for superintendents to communicate daily course conditions to golfers. The problem with all current forms of communication is that they require the golfer to visit them on their own or filtered through a social feed with all kinds of distractions competing for their attention. In particular, maintenance blogs and Twitter have become more of a sharing environment between turf professionals, and golfers get left behind or not engaged. How could we solve this? Through a custom-built app just for supers to send info to golfers, and with push notifications to ensure golfers actually got the message. And Conditions app was born. You would think with tech abilities from our other products that myself and our programming staff would jump on this with ease. Not so fast -- native app development is a completely different computer language than anything we use for web applications. We wanted to get out there quickly to verify it in the marketplace, and decided to use a third-party plugin that was built around a templated app. We would be submitting a slight variant of the app for each course to the App Store. It was the fast solution, and not the right one. Dealing with Problems In less than 7 months after we began building our test apps, Apple released the now infamous (in tech anyway) 4.2.6 guideline that essentially banned templated apps. This meant all our work building out examples and testing with our first alpha clubs was a waste of time and money. We were left with one choice: bring it all in-house, hire, learn a new language, and build a completely custom solution through a singular app. This was what we should have done originally and now benefits the users greatly. I always write that you should hire professionals to assist with your career materials, and it’s no different here. It’s something I should have known better from my advice to you. In the end, the product is now better, built exactly for supers (by me), bug free, and we know a new computer language. Testing It Out Once we had a working version ready, we went to existing customers that were interested in jumping on early in the process. A key with technology is to ensure its reliability, especially when it involves your members. This is important when testing new things in your operation as well. So we spent all of 2018 in a Beta, testing with a very limited number of clubs, tweaking and building until we got it just right. The results from the Beta program were extremely positive from every tester. Golfers love the platform and are more educated as a result. I have received emails like this frequently: Billy Weeks, Houston Country Club: “Our membership loves it! Congrats on a job well done with this app. If you need me as a reference for the app please use us.” Pat Ryan, Sands Point Golf Club: “Everything is working great. Members love the app and a majority have signed up. It has been a huge help with our communications.” And here we are, nearly 2 years later. Finally launching Conditions app at the GIS, fully confident in the reliability and success of the platform. Good things take time as they say. I think Conditions is something that is going to make your job a lot easier in the critical area of communication. Don’t be scared to jump on new tech when it’s done right. My Lesson Learned Never take the quick and easy route, do it right even if it will take considerably more time. Always opt for the professional-grade solution in your operation. Not rushing and taking our time we were able to perfect the functionality so it is ready for launch with no issues or chances of a third-party altering our course of action. The same can be done in your operation by testing out new things on your nursery or research sites, use tech with only your committee first, etc. and only using professional-grade solutions (vs DIY I talk about often). Always be ready to innovate to stay ahead of the curve, even if that innovation takes time and trial/error. Thanks for reading about this process, I felt it was a good way to explain a little bit inside our operation (delayed release of this app) and was an interesting business experience. Next post will be back to career/tech advice. Conditions App Information If you would like to see how the finished product came out and if it might help in your operation, you can visit goplaybooks.com/conditions.
  2. For a large part of the country, we are entering the so-called “off-season” in golf. This means you might actually get some time away from the course. Add to that, now through early January is when many people slow down, work less, and spend more time with family and friends for the holidays. Which is great, but it’s also a prime opportunity to get your career materials up to date. Once early January comes, you’ll be focusing on plans for the new season, attending seminars and conferences, and Spring will be here before you know it. While it’s easy to just relax and let these next couple months pass by, now is the time to get motivated and get your materials up to date. I’ve said it before many times to those that know or work with me, you have no idea when your dream opportunity is going to present itself. You have to be ready, today. To that end, here is a quick checklist to help with getting materials up to date: Is your resume ready for today's trends? Obviously, your resume should be up to date with the latest information about your current position. But it should also reflect the latest trends in both what clubs are looking for, and overall technology trends. This means a couple things. You should really consider how your resume is formatted so that it displays well on mobile devices. The vast majority of hiring people now view your resume the first time from their phones. Proper formatting for phones can be a big “jump off the page” moment for your resume to them. I recently wrote about a solution I have developed for this issue here > Think about the hundreds of resumes a club may receive for a superintendent position. A wall of bullet points is not the best way to stand out and garner a closer look. Consider more unique layout options, ditch responsibilities bullets for “skills and achievements” sections, and keep the resume shorter than you think it should be... trust me. I have written about resume techniques quite a bit on this blog. Check earlier posts for details on some of those points. Do you have a career website that helps? Let’s face it, the golf course maintenance industry is graded heavily through subjectivity. Every golfer views conditions differently based on their skills, expectations, and price and pride of membership. How you show them your skills is key to their interest in you. A website for your career allows you to showcase your very best conditions in an environment you can control. It really is a must-have to increase your chances for attaining interviews on a consistent basis. Plus it can be updated easily as your career advances and is even useful as a marketing tool to your current members if tweaked properly. But be careful, a poorly built website with DIY design can work against you, making your career look less that professional or how you run an operation. Money spent here is a sound investment in your career that will pay off year after year. Is your portfolio interview-ready? If you are granted an interview, a huge majority of clubs will then ask you to send them your portfolio, either digitally via a website or PDF, or in print. If you have a website, obviously that is great. A supplemental PDF version of your website serving as a portfolio document is a nice touch though. For one, you can send both your URL and a PDF file they can distribute as the want. Then, you can delivery hard-copies of your portfolio at the interview. It’s a formula that works. That portfolio file should again be professional looking, and match the look of your resume and website. It shouldn’t be a theme from PowerPoint or Word. It should take the best of the website, and expand your thoughts on agronomics, course presentation, communications, leadership, etc. Things like that, you wouldn’t want displayed for the entire internet to see (read: rip off), so they are great for an offline document like a portfolio. Is your content hitting the target? If you have a website and portfolio, you need to ensure that whatever is in them actually gets your career highlighted in the proper way to the target market. Guess what – the target market is golfers, not turf guys. They don’t care to see 30 pictures of the drainage installation process. All they see is dirt. Golfers want to see the results of a project, the conditions/design/setup they will play after the project is complete. The best content you can use are before and after images. They show exactly the changes in the course and conditions, and how you brought about that transformation. When they are laid out in a professional manner, they are critical to golfers understanding your ability to bring about change, which is honestly a driving force behind a lot of open positions. After images are fairly easy to obtain, before images are a different story. Very few actually have them. So here’s a good tip: go out today and take pictures of the course. Now you’ll have “before” pictures in case any projects or conditions improvements come along in the near future. Also be sure that your content is telling the right “side” of the story. Golfers don’t want to hear about drill and fill, graden, tine sizes, etc. You are better served mentioning that you use the latest in agronomic practices to deliver a course that is “insert what you want golfers to think” here. They again want to know the results of the practices and not the process, especially at the initial application. They may ask specifics later on. There are many subtleties to content strategy; take time to consistently review it for the best angle. Do you have a network outside of turf? I don’t want to spend a ton of time on this, as I have written about it twice on this blog - the original idea is here > Many opportunities for new positions are found not through job boards or superintendent networking. They are found through connections outside your peers. You should have a strong network with golf pros, GMs, chefs, and most importantly, golfers at other clubs. The above link provides some strategies for this goal. Make time now to plan a path to achieve this for next year. Answering yes to all of these means you are ready for that next great opportunity, today. If not, work to get things updated and ask for help to move things along in a professional manner. People like me are available to become your partner for career success. Reward your career this holiday season... and it may very well benefit your entire family.
  3. I don’t have to tell any of you that smartphones have changed how we work each day, especially from out on the course. From chem/fert apps like Coverage, to Twitter and labor software, there have been vast improvements to the daily operation because of mobile devices. It doesn’t just stop with our side of the industry. Any hiring person at a club or firm is now extremely likely to view your resume the first time from their phone while on the move. What does that mean? You had better be sure it looks good from a phone. There’s not currently a perfect solution for this without a personal website, but we at Playbooks are currently developing such a platform for resumes for those who don’t want a full website. In the meantime, here are some key tips to at least make your resume a little better for mobile: Save Your Resume as a PDF I’ve said it before that sending your resume as a Word file is a terrible idea. Computers have different versions of Word and read the formatting differently every time. Margins, tabs, etc. can and will show up wrong, resulting in a resume that looks shoddily put together. This holds true for phones too. A Word file opened from iOS or Android mail apps will reformat the text and the tabs, especially for bulleted files like resumes, resulting in jumbled and hard to read text. Saving the file as a PDF ensures all formatting remains how you intended it. You can do this from most new versions of Word or through an online conversion tool. No Columns, Big Text, and Watch Your Width Since most people will be looking at their phone screen vertically, you want to avoid things like multiple columns that won’t read well. Columns are great for desktop websites and printed materials but do not translate well to phones. Get rid of them if you have them. Following this thought more, you have to be careful on how wide your resume is. While you can’t format your resume file completely for phones, keeping the content width under 5 inches would be a good compromise. You should also be sure that the font size is plenty big. Anything less than around 11pt is near impossible to read on phones. This leads to the next important tip… Avoid the Wall of Text Resume The mobile age has made attention spans shorter than ever. Your lengthy resume with dozens of bullet statements that are more like paragraphs just does not translate well anymore when you usually only have seconds for the hiring person to review your resume. Try to keep text at less than 3 lines before a space, 2 lines is better. Keep your bullets to 4 or less for each job you list. In fact, abandoning actual bullet points or hyphens is a good idea as they create formatting issues on phones anyway. Just list them as sentences without an indention or character to begin. Don’t be afraid to use white space to help create separation between sections and jobs. It is well-known in the design world that white space works fantastic. Too much content causes a “glaze-over” effect. Create Links for Contact Information Since we use phones with fingers and not a mouse, it’s not easy to copy an email or phone number. Make sure that your phone number and email are formatted properly to be one-click actions on phones. This can be done from Word quite easily. Also, be sure to make the contact information available at both the top and bottom of the resume so there isn’t a need to scroll all the way back up on a phone. Test From Your Phone A final tip is to send your email to yourself and open it on your phone. If you have a hard time reading it, so will the hiring person. Check the contact links as well. Doing all these tips should result in an improved resume for the mobile age, yet not ideal. A Look at a Better Way As I mentioned at the beginning, there’s not a perfect solution without having a website that is responsive for any device. And even then, you still have to attached your resume as a file to the email when applying. Which means they might bypass the web link to your PDF file that isn’t formatted for phone very well. As part of my service to clients, I have developed a way to create a resume that responds to device size so the resume reformats best for the screen, plus it can be attached as a file, solving both problems we covered and exponentially increasing your odds of a closer look. Here is an example of a fully formatted resume for phones, showing the last bit of content and the contact info, along with an anchor to take them back to the top for easy access. It also shows as a normal width file when opened from desktop. I can do this coding manually for a certain amount of people but it still takes time so there are limits to the service obviously. We are working on creating an automated process for this so anyone can do it themselves from a webapp we create. More on this in the future, but if you are interested in the manual aspect be sure to let me know as hiring season is nearly upon us in the golf industry. Best of luck on your next job opportunity.
  4. 2018 marks Playbooks for Golf’s 10th year in business, and it has been my busiest year yet. Through those years, we have morphed from a basic map company to a full-fledged software and website provider. I would like to personally thank all superintendents who we have served over these first 10 years, I am grateful every day that I can be a small part of your operation and this industry. It’s a tough job being a superintendent and I’m glad to assist where needed. While serving you, the consistent feedback I get is that I don’t do enough to help get the word out about everything that we can do to help other superintendents. They just don’t know all Playbooks offers. While I don’t normally post purely commercial things on this blog, I thought with our 10-year anniversary I would try to explain exactly how and what we do to assist your operation, and hopefully save you time and money. That way if any readers didn’t know, now they do. COVERAGE SYSTEM This is a chemical and fertilizer software solution that actually makes it easy to plan and track. While there are many options on the market, and DIY spreadsheets, you won’t find a more turn-key, limited-effort solution with world-class support. You can begin using the application log in under 30 seconds and over 95% of the products you use are typically already loaded and ready. Inventory, Cost, EIQ, GDD, AI, Nutrients, etc. -- it just does it all automatically, no work on your end besides filling out your normal log. I personally support users 7 days a week at all hours. Most users see significant saving in labor in this area, and you should see a reduction in costs if inventory/cost/planning are used. The system is also compatible with third-party labor software like ASB TaskTracker, and governmental agency requirements. EZPINS This is a newer solution I developed in partnership with ezLocator founder, Jon Schultz. It allows you to move hole locations through use of the software, and provide either a daily pin sheet or mobile app with that data to members. As you can guess from the name, it is extremely easy to setup and use. Nearly every customer comments on how awesome it is to have and wishes they knew of it sooner. This setup is guaranteed to save you labor on course set daily, it takes the guesswork out and it’s like you are setting the course each day yourself. I developed a process to gather all information required without ever visiting your course, which means it is highly affordable and we can usually get you up and running within several days if desired. As a golfer, I only wish more courses had it installed for less hole location issues and knowing exactly where the flag was when I played. Golfers love it, supers love it. IRRIGATION AS-BUILTS We still do mapping, and the majority of it is for irrigation. We have taken old treasure maps and converted them, while others we have made a lot easier to view on the course. Like ezPins, we never have to visit the course to do the work which means it’s a fraction of the cost of GPS. You can hand-draw or digitally notate any changes you want and send back to us for updates. Over time, we are significantly cheaper than whatever you are doing now for irrigation mapping and updates. Our maps are compatible with Toro and RainBird central control systems, plus you get easy to use digital copies for phones and tablets. We still do hard-copy laminated Playbooks of hole-by-hole irrigation as well – sometimes old-school is still the way to go when you are out trying to water on the course. OTHER MAPS While these aren’t created as frequently, we still get orders for them from repeat clients, and would like others to know in case you are in need for a special situation. Yardage – Send us the data or we can come gather it. We create hole by hole diagrams with all cap yardages for use in replacing them or for actual yardage books. Can order caps for you as well. GPS – We can travel anywhere for on-site GPS of new irrigation, drainage, new features, etc. Routing Map – Full rendering of your property with each hole easily identified. Golf shop can use it and it can also be used on club website. Great for new employees too. Base Maps / Notepads – Simple digital renderings of each hole with square footages for communication with staff and club officials. All data is gathers remotely so extremely affordable. CAREER MATERIALS I am sure all of you know about this as I cover career materials in great detail on this blog. Cover letters, resumes, websites, print portfolios, interview reports and more. If you are not finding the time to do them on your own or want a professional look, I can help. I do limit the number of clients I take on each year though as it is quite time-consuming and try to be as affordable as possible. CLUB PROFILESThese are websites that highlight your turf operation in an effort to attract interns and assistants. It’s a very effective way to stand out from other clubs and really showcase your operation. They also create a very professional image of your operation to club officials and members. Any more to find talent you need to be doing more than just posting an ad, and this is a must-have tool for finding the right people. ASSOCIATION / BUSINESS WEBSITES We are a full-fledged website development company. With in-house design and programmers, we can build nearly any website needed. In particular, we have started assisting local GCSA associations with their websites. Not only do we rebuild them, we also manage the content for them so those who volunteer their time on the boards can save time and have a great online presence, making members happy with easy to use features for event signups and more. And new to the market this year:COURSE CONDITIONS This is a brand-new platform that we have spent years developing, and I think it is going to be big for your operations. It is an app platform that allows you to communicate directly with golfers. Your patrons aren’t on Twitter for the most part, and they rarely read blogs. Those are great for communicating with peers, but fall well short in member communications. Course Conditions is an app golfers can download for free, and you populate the content with our easy CMS website. It is extremely simple for you and golfers will be informed in a professional format. Conditions works seamlessly with clubhouse/F&B apps too, which are steadily on the rise of implementation. You can send Push Notifications at any time to all app users to engage with them and generate traffic to your latest updates in the app. It is one central solution for communication, and will make your work life so much easier, guaranteed. While we announced this platform in 2017, we are finally coming out of our beta testing and development period and are beginning to get the word out about our live version this summer. We have special pricing for early adopters that will be lower than retail for as long as you use the platform. ------- In summary, I hope that if you are in need of any help in these areas you now know of a partner you can turn to for help. Thanks once again to all who support Playbooks for Golf, and who read this blog. TurfNet has been a great partner for us and I appreciate the opportunity to share information on this blog through TurfNet. The next blog post will return to offering the latest tips and tricks on careers and technology.
  5. For many of you winter is the only time you are able to really spend much time in the office. So, I thought I would include a few things we've covered at different times over the last several years that you can take action on now... when you actually have some time for it. By doing these tasks, you'll quickly be on the road to advancing your career and technology skills for the next challenge your career faces. Acquire Photography of Your Course If you haven't had any images taken of your great course conditions, now is the time to schedule it for 2018. This above article outlines why professional photography is a MUST for your career. I cant stress this enough, such a critical component to outstanding career materials to showcase. Create a Course-Set Strategy Consider this as a New Year's resolution or simply as a gift to yourself and your staff: create a set of SOPs (standard operating procedures) for course set up. This document of procedures can be distributed to your green chairman and his committee, to the golf staff and caddie group if you have a caddie program. Network with Beyond Your Peers This can't be repeated enough -- you need to get out of your comfort zone and network with those outside of turf. Golfers, GMs, even accountants and realtors. Anything you can do to create a more diverse network helps your odds of cashing in on a connection at another club who may be hiring. Talking to superintendents is great, but for finding a head GCS role there is way more value in various club members, GMs, golf pros and the like. Just in my last article I highlighted the need to be knowledgeable in golf, which is related to this topic. Its worth revisiting if you missed it: Add Technology to Your Operation I dont have a specific article to link to here, but the last several years advances in industry software have really made it easy to save time, labor and money in your operation. The cost of the software is usually easily offset by your time savings. Plus many club controllers/CFOs are leading the charge to include more analytics in your operation. I am getting more calls from them weekly so best to be ahead of the curve here. There are many leading options for various functions of your operation. Some of the ones I have experience with and can recommend are Playbooks Coverage System, ASB TaskTracker, TurfCloud, ezPins, POGO, and of course the updated Toro and RainBird irrigation suites. Promote Yourself and Your Value at your Current Club A career website is rarely used at one's current club, but it should be! Most golfers or members at your club have no idea what you have done, where you have worked or even that you went to college for this most-demanding industry position. Instead of leaving them in the dark about you, a better strategy is to actively educate them on your career and what you have done at the club and other clubs. In addition, I have been working on a new platform that serves to promote you much easier with golfers, called Conditions App. Youll be hearing more on this in 2018 as it releases fully from Beta. Add TurfNet on your device as an App As much as I think that people know about saving websites as apps to their Android or iOS devices, the more I am wrong about it. At least half of the demos I provide for Coverage System, one of the club staff doesn't know how to do this. So this is a very good article to check out because TurfNet works very well on your device and makes it easier to stay up to date on the industry. Plus, once you know the process for TurfNet, it can work for any other website as well. Create a Letterhead for Your Career With a little help from a designer, you can easily create a powerful document that can serve as letterhead, cover letter and even a customized notecard for hand-written notes. And yes, that is still a lost art that is totally underutilized. Check out my article on that here. Job Application Basics It you are venturing out in the job market on your own, be sure to utilize these strategies and tips included in the article. I didnt include anything on building a career website. Which you should. But that is an ongoing series and too many to list here. If you need help getting started on one, Im happy to offer some guidelines. Best of luck in 2018 and thanks for reading!!
  6. With each passing year, the golf industry is changing. Gone are the days of new course construction and crazy numbers of rounds. However, at the top clubs most of you are aspiring to work at, something different has happened these clubs are transforming their course through large-scale master planning, and at a very high rate. In order to maximize your value to these clubs, it is imperative to be knowledgeable in the game of golf, its history, architecture and network. You need to be able to speak on these aspects of a potential renovation plan and how your insight during a project can help make it a better end-product. This is especially important during the application and interview process. Including a section on golf knowledge is required material, in my opinion. Not only does it let the club know you can lead them through a difficult project, it also shows them you are passionate about golf just like they are. Understanding how golf architecture and strategy work can allow you to offer insight into how a particular feature or project will affect maintenance. So be sure to mention these things in all materials, and certainly speak on it in your interview. There are many ways to gain this knowledge, here are just a few suggestions: Build Your Library of Golf Books. This is the easiest way to begin your studies. There are lots of books out there about all aspects of golf. One of the basics is The Anatomy of a Golf Course by Tom Doak. It's good to understand classic vs. modern and how that can play into a possible renovation objective. There are also interesting reads about specific architects, like Discovering Donald Ross by Brad Klein. Become a Master of the Rules of Golf. As a superintendent, it is extremely helpful to know the rules of golf inside and out. Only then can you see how course conditions can relate to rulings and setup of the course, possibly avoiding member complaints and issues. The USGA has a great resource they call Rules Hub that can help you get started easily: Network with Golfers, and Play Golf. You don't have to be good at golf to be knowledgeable. Expand your network outside of peers into golfers to enhance your ability to speak to customers. It really is enlightening to spend time with those who aren't employed in golf but instead are passionate about the game. I wrote an extensive article on how you can do this a few years back, it is a good first step with some tips. Follow Industry Professionals. Social media has allowed you all to share operations with one another. Be sure to include architects, golfers, club finance experts and more in who you follow. Read periodicals like GolfWeek, Golf Digest, Golf Inc., Club Management, etc. Dont get stuck just listening to fellow turfgrass guys. Challenge yourself with perspectives outside of your own. Understand the Rating System. Most golfers don't understand rankings of courses. It's a complicated process and certainly subjective at times so it's a great asset to possess some understanding of how it works. Brad Klein at GolfWeek offers quite a bit of insight into the process through various presentations throughout the year. Be sure to listen in on him if you get the chance. My partner at Playbooks, Greg Wojick, rated courses for years at GolfWeek and wrote an extensive piece on his experience with rating courses for the MetGCSA. I think it should be required reading for this topic of ratings, and it is available here. Read Online Forums. The main architecture site is Golf Club Atlas. While it can be frustrating if not outright painful to read at times from our perspective, it does offer a look from the other side. I'm not advocating or promoting some of the things said there, just that you should read it now and then for rounding out your education in this area. There are other sites as well that tie into following professionals, like Geoff Shackleford, but also allow comments from readers/golfers where you can again gain insight from their opinions. In business, it's generally good advice to know your customer and market thoroughly. As a superintendent, you would be smart to know everything about what your customers are buying -- golf. Youll be a more rounded professional and it may be the small difference that helps you land your dream job.
  7. We have covered various resume topics throughout my time here at TurfNet. This time around I'd like to look at a somewhat different angle. Usually I recommend that you have a professionally built website and portfolio to complement your resume. But for this blog, let's consider how you can use just a resume, nothing else, and still garner attention from employers. It's not ideal, but if you are in a jam and haven't had your materials built, here are five things that are critical to include if you are only applying with a resume: 1. Add a Headline or Header Image. This goes along with my article last month about sending the application email properly so your "brand" is noticed and stands out among the competition. If I were only using a resume (no website or portfolio), I would add this same header image to the very top of my resume. As a reminder, you should hire out this header image to a professional because its too critical to DIY it. Using a headline at the top of the resume is a great tool as well. Instead of just listing "Qualifications" as your first section, consider using something like: "Turfgrass Excellence with Financial Efficiency". Also consider adjusting your job titles to be more compelling like a headline. Instead of listing Golf Course Superintendent, switch it up to "Superintendent - Course Conditions Expert". 2. Put Your Most Important Information at the Top. Reading a PDF resume is no different than reading a website or newspaper. The stuff at the top gets the first look and most attention. Don't waste it on an Objective or your Education, they aren't nearly as important. Instead use it for 4 or 5 key statements about you and your career that differentiate you from the competition. These shouldn't be complex sentences, just short and to the point using as many action words as you can. By keeping this short, you can then list your current work experience towards the top of the page as well. 3. Ditch All the General Bullet Points. You do not need to list your job responsibilities. All of your competition have the same ones; total waste of valuable space on a resume. Instead, only include bullet points in your experience that actually differentiate you from that competition. What have you done better than peers? Have you saved the club money? Gained memberships? These are far more critical than responsibilities and you don't want them lost in a wall of text from too many bullet points. 4. Keep Your Experience Recent. I know, it seems counter-intuitive to cut content if you are only applying with a resume. But a lengthy resume just creates reader fatigue in this initial part of the application. You have time during the interview process to go into more detail. This listing of every single work history on the resume is not going to make a positive difference in getting a closer look. So, limit listing your experience for the last 10-15 years, or the 2-3 best clubs if you have been at the same place a while. There's no rule you have to list dates of employment so it doesn't have to fill in every date in time. Just list your time at the club like this: "3 Years of Tenure". 5. Consider an Online Supplement. If you just can't possibly cut your content enough to keep the resume around one page, you can link to something online. This article is focusing on not having a website, so a possible solution to this is having an expanded resume saved on your Google Drive or Dropbox. It's easily sharable and viewable on any device from one link. Simply add some text like "Deep Dive into My Career" or "Expanded Career Highlights" and link out to your file. Then if someone really does want to see more information at this stage, they can. These tips are essential if you don't have a website yet (you should in our industry). While it's nowhere near as effective as a website, it's better than nothing and should really help in your application. Good luck!
  8. This post is a quick and easy, yet very effective use of your application email for making an impact in your job application right at the start. First off, there are a two things you should know about sending your application email: You should state your sincere interest in the club or company and mention why their organization is worthy of your interest. It almost always serves you well to flatter with a statement about them, instead of solely focusing on you. This is a great way to start off the application process. The content of your email should be very short, and your cover letter should never be included in the text of the email body. Why? Because your email will get forwarded to others and the text will get lost in the email chain for users down the line and make it more difficult for them to read it. You want to make it simple for them. Having the cover letter as its own file is perfect for this. It also allows the hiring person to download your documents and collate them into a report or folders much easier. With those out of the way, here is a way to consistently get attention to your application email right away: EMBED A HEADER IMAGE AT THE END OF THE EMAIL This serves to showcase your brand right away, and hopefully a very professional look. You can hire a designer to do this for minimal cost. If you already have a website or portfolio, it's as simple as taking a screen capture of the home page with your name and image there. The benefit of using this image is to have your email jump off the screen. Instead of only seeing text and links to websites or PDF files (never send Word docs, as they can be altered!), they see a visually pleasing picture of the golf course with your name typeset with it. When I build career materials, I always use the same header layout (same font, title, style, image) across all platforms (resume, letter, website, portfolio) to create a unified brand for your career. So this same look is simply carried on to the header image for this email. I would not recommend using this image tip unless you have someone design it for you who knows what they are doing, otherwise it can have the opposite result and actually hurt your chances. There are a few things to know to ensure it looks right: Use an email client like Mac Mail or Outlook, or a provider like MailChimp online. These clients can embed images directly in the body of the email through use of hidden HTML coding, just by uploading the image after a line of text in the email body. If you go to Gmail from a browser and try it, the image will not be embedded, it will just show as a small attachment. To embed the image, type out all the text of your email. Then under your name, leave a couple of blank lines and when the cursor is in that position, select the Attachment option and upload the header image. Then upload your application materials after the image so the user must scroll past it to get to them. This scroll is their initial look at your brand and sets up what is to come in your materials. That's it! It even works for opening email on phones, and while the image isn't as big, it's still highly impactful on mobile where a lot of email is opened initially. Here is a mockup I put together to show how it can look. This is the entire email zoomed out: This is the normal view when scrolling: This is from a phone:
  9. One of the things you should always try to include in a career website or portfolio is a biography. It can help the hiring person get to know you quickly and hit on some points of interest for them to add your application to the yes pile at the initial stages of the process. The problem is that a biography can get out of hand in a hurry and actually work as a disservice to your application if done wrong. To this end, here are a few tips to the beginnings of a well-crafted bio. 1. Shorter is better than longer. Its a good rule of thumb to keep a bio to no more than 5 or 6 paragraphs. Any more and its a wall of text most people wont spend time to read. I dont mean 6 huge paragraphs either, 2-4 sentences in each paragraph is the goal. 2. Limit your work history. Going into detail about every single place you have worked is not a good idea, it just becomes regurgitation of your resume. Instead, briefly mention your overall work history and focus on 1 or 2 major accomplishments at work. These should be things that a hiring person would want to hear, not a turfhead. Things like: saved money, increased rounds, improved conditions. The results, not the actual process. 3. Include your passion for golf. While your passion might truly be for turf, the hiring person and members are focused on golf. Let them know you understand the game, its architecture and work to provide an experience first and foremost. Also, very few hiring people know the names of other superintendents (sad but true in most cases), so dont bother mentioning you had this mentor or that mentor superintendent. However, most in the club world know architects and golf pros. If you have a good relationship or history with one, definitely mention it. This will help facilitate your commitment to golf in addition to turf. 4. Keep personal details to a minimum. Sometimes a club is looking for a very specific candidate at the onset of a search (whether its legal or not). This can evolve if they see an interesting option come to light. Because of this, you want to be careful not to overexpose yourself personally at the beginning where this bio will be in the process. Generally mentioning that you are happily married, have kids, etc. is a positive if mentioned briefly, however including hobbies, other passions, etc. can work against you in my experience. 5. Focus more on recent work. Its natural to want to talk about college, interning at a big-time course and your first big Assistants position and what you did at them. However, as I mentioned earlier, content should be limited in length so you are better focusing on things youve done recently. A brief mention of where you went to college is certainly important, but just mention it and why you got into the business and move on to other things. In general, the main idea for the bio is to be an expanded me section from your cover letter, dumping the bits about a specific club you are applying to and focusing on what in your career makes you the ideal candidate. Following these tips will start you on the path to a well-written bio that works to augment your application instead of limit it. This ties in with a previous article about how you should be creating professional career materials. Check it out here.
  10. From time to time, we delve into the greater world of technology in this blog. There is an enormous amount of tech and platforms available out there; I certainly don't pretend to have an understanding of even a small percentage of what's available today. But I do know what seems to work best, and easiest, for most of us in our industry and in my daily experience working for many of you and what the knowledge level tends to be. That said, here are five things you totally should be doing in 2017. If this is old news to you, congrats! You're in good company in the industry. 1. DUMP INTERNET EXPLORER IMMEDIATELY Microsoft has discontinued Internet Explorer in favor of a new browser called Edge. It's not great either in my opinion. But Internet Explorer (IE) is now obsolete. In fact, it doesn't even work with many newer websites and can cause security issues as well. There is no reason that any of you should continue use; the very few people who have a legitimate reason to keep it has to do with dated software outside of our industry, and it should only be used to visit that particular software. While there are various browsers to switch to, the best choice is Google Chrome. It is what most new websites and applications base standards on due to its webkit build structure (Safari on Mac does as well). It's a simple download, and the trick is to make sure to make it your default browser, so all links load in it instead of IE. Here's a link to doing just that: 2. CLEAR YOUR BROWSING HISTORY AT LEAST WEEKLY You're now on Chrome, awesome! You also need to upkeep on your browsing history. Websites and online applications constantly archive and track your history. They add cookies, store old pages, app data and much more. It can slow down your experience and also create issues with security in many instances, not to mention create functionality issues over time with web applications (I have experience here with our software). Be sure to clear your browsing data weekly, at a minimum; I do it every day. It will improve your online performance and protect you from threats. Here is a guide on clearing browsing data in Chrome. 3. UPLOAD ALL YOUR CRITICAL DOCUMENTS TO THE CLOUD This seems like old news but still needs to be covered. You're out in the field most of your day. Why not have access to all your critical documents at any time, anywhere. Services like Dropbox and Google Drive make this a breeze. You can organize files and folders in a multitude of ways and make sharing them very simple. There are numerous guides on these with a quick search for full details. I use Google Drive myself and it is great for keeping shared documents synced up and accessible anywhere. 4. ORGANIZE YOUR DAY WITH TECH I have covered this topic in detail before because it is so critical to running a well-organized operation. I do this with two concepts daily: Wunderlist and Inbox Zero. Wunderlist is an excellent piece of software that you can create various lists, tasks file reminders and so much more. I would have needed an assistant long ago without it. Inbox Zero is a concept (not an actual product) where you always clear out your email inbox by responding to emails at set times and creating action lists from those emails through a service like Wunderlist. Again, this is a wonderful way to be professional and organized, and honestly stand out from the crowd when it comes to communication. In addition, there are tons of new tech products specific to the industry you can add to your operation daily that can streamline things: chemical/fertilizer software, labor boards and tracking, hole locations, moisture meters, GPS sprayers, on and on. I'm happy to cover any questions you have on these products, just reach out if you need guidance. 5. GET YOUR CAREER ONLINE Sending a resume just isn't enough anymore. With the ability to display your work through imagery available through websites and online portfolios, there's no reason not to do it. You used to be ahead of the curve and stand out if you had a website, now you are behind if you don't. And there are ways to restrict access if you are worried about your current club so there's no reason not to be prepared for your next opportunity. Be careful putting your career online through social media though, it can cause more harm than good if not done properly. For a complete rundown on this, checkout a previous post here. Meeting these 5 simple guidelines will make you a well-organized and tech-capable superintendent in today's marketplace. Again if you need any assistance or have questions feel free to let me know, happy to help.
  11. This topic isn't specific to the turfgrass industry but we are all adding more and more technology into our daily operations, which typically means new logins and passwords for various software or websites. Add to that your personal accounts for bills, family activities and more, and it can get frustrating to remember all of them. As of today, I have over 50 logins! When it comes to daily organization, I have written in the past about my use of Wunderlist, a free app for making lists and a lot more. I honestly couldn't function without it and would have had to hire an assistant long ago. If you missed that blog post, you can check it out here. Why am I talking about Wunderlist when this article is about passwords? For years, I kept a list in Wunderlist of all my usernames and passwords. I used to use Apple Keychain as well, but keeping them in Wunderlist was easier for me as I have it open constantly every day, and Keychain didn't work for my PC or phone. Wunderlist was a simple solution, but not very secure and I still had to reference the list every time I needed to login plus keep it updated manually. So, recently I stumbled upon a great series from a tech blog I follow, 9to5Mac, and software called 1Password.It has really made my online password management a breeze and has made it extremely secure. The premise is pretty simple - login with one password and it works for all of your other ones. You can add all secure information too, like bank accounts, alarm codes, etc. and it works on any operating system or device. You'll quickly see how amazing it is to just have the one password that works for everything, and their encryption is extremely well done. They even have a feature called Watchtower that alerts if a site has been hacked and can reset your password for you with their Strong Password Generator. There are options to add it for your whole family as well which is very convenient. That's it. Seems silly to me I didn't know about it until now but it has worked so great for me I wanted to pass it along to you as well since this blog covers technology now and then. You can check out full details on it at https://1password.com/. Note: Just in case you don't know - its not a good option to just have your browser save your logins/passwords on websites because it's not that secure, and more importantly, you should be clearing out your browsing history and cache frequently for a faster experience and for security purposes.
  12. The very first article I wrote for TurfNet back in 2013 covered the many potential dangers of an online presence. I'm sure most of you have forgotten it and it's only gotten more important in the years since as social media continues its rise in our daily lives. As 2017 starts, now is the time make sure your online presence is working for you in a completely positive way. Here are some key things to consider: Ensure your security settings in Facebook are heavily restricted. Great info on this at https://www.wired.com/2013/08/facebook-privacy-settings/ Lock your Twitter account down so only those who you approve can follow you and the tweets aren't public. I can't stress this enough for job opportunities, it really is a major factor I have dealt with in the industry. Be very careful what you post. The world of golf has a certain view of how one should behave and, like it or not, compliance leads to better future opportunities. And while it may be fun to commiserate with peers about member antics or turf-care difficulties, it is probably not a good idea for success long term. Have your maintenance blog hosted on the private members' website. This ensures only members can view it and you can freely communicate about issues on the course without worrying about other clubs seeing it. This gets very critical if and when you decide to apply at another club. The committee will scour your information for any sign of distress, trust me. Even if your blog shows you communicated an issue very well, it still has them thinking that you are not Mr. Perfect candidate who never has issues. If you don't have an option for a private blog, make sure the public one is clean of any bad course conditions or issues and send those out through email blasts instead, which will reach more members anyways. Do promote your career website or online portfolio with your membership. This is one area where you can work to push your online presence because it has been carefully crafted to make you look your best. A large percentage of your membership really doesn't know much about you and your career at the vast majority of clubs. Why not get ahead of any future issues by creating a more professional image of yourself and educating members on your extensive background and education? Once you have your career materials complete, leave a small notecard with a link to them at the front desk, send an email with a link to all members, include in a blog post and many other ways as well to show members your career background. Using these five tips will ensure that when it's time for your next career opportunity, you'll be ready and protected from potential online harm.
  13. I would estimate that close to 100% of superintendents have and use Microsoft Word for creating various documents for use around your clubs, and personally as well. While there are limitations to the software, one thing that works great is how it handles headers. There is a little bit of process to it, but in the end you can have a very nicely designed document that you can then edit on your own. Let's say that you have had TurfNet design a header for your blog and you'd like to use it on some documents as well. Or you had someone design a custom look for you. As part of my career services we create a custom header for resumes anyways and we include it in the Word file for the base cover letter in this manner. Yet another option would be that you want to have your club logo with your name in large text at the top of any notes to the membership on course conditions, articles, green speed, etc. These are all easily set up as headers in Word. I've created a stock header image for myself to use as an example in this tutorial. Here's how it works: 1. Hire someone or find a designer friend to create a professional header image. This will allow you to have the best look that reflects your professional career properly. The image can be various sizes, but if you want it to be really easy, have them set up the image as an 8.5 x 11 file in jpg or png file types, at a minimum of 150 dpi. 2. In Word, click on the Insert tab and select the Header section. Then select Edit Header. 3. Select the Picture section in the new set of sections available at the top. This will open a dialog box for you to find the file you want to include. Navigate to where the header image is located on your computer or drive. 4. Once the picture is inserted, it must be sized properly. Click on the very bottom right of the top sections where there is a small arrow in the Size box. 5. In the Size tab, click on Absolute and enter 11 for the height and 8.5 for the width. 6. Click on the Text Wrapping tab and select the box for Behind Text. 7. Click on the Position tab and select Alignment: Left and related to: Page from the drop down menus in the Horizontal section. Do the same for the Vertical options as well. Exit from this dialog box. 8. The head has now been sized properly. Click on the Design tab at the very top right of the menu list. Then select the Close Header and Footer option. 9. Now you can adjust the margins for the text areas. In my example I have lined up the text with the edges of the header layout for a unified look. You can alter the margins by moving your arrow over the rulers on the top and left of the document where the gray and white meet. 10. Save out the file. As you can see in my example, the header image shows up as faded out or semi-transparent. This is how Word handles it. The header will display properly (not faded out) when you export the file to a PDF. I covered the importance of exporting to PDF in my last blog. That's it. You now have a professional look for any document you wish to create.
  14. I have covered this topic very briefly before in a larger article about cover letters, but it's worthwhile to include this as its own feature in our goal of providing excellent and easy to read career materials. Portable Document Format (PDF) preserves document formatting and enables file sharing. When the PDF format file is viewed online or printed, it retains the content and format that you intended. Out of all the career files I view each year, over 50% are still sent in a non-PDF format, usually in a Word file (.doc) format. The message here is pretty simple: ALWAYS CONVERT ANY FILE TO PDF BEFORE YOU SEND IT. Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, etc. do some funny things to text margins depending upon the version and computer. Especially if you are using tables, I can't tell you how many times I have tried to view a resume in .doc format and I can only view the first page of a tabled resume; everything else is missing. And with mobile devices so prominent, it gets even more complicated to ensure your file retains its original formatting. Each version of Word seems to have it's own variation of save/print commands, but generally speaking you can export to PDF from Word using File/Save & Send/Create PDF File/Save As/ change "Format" from .doc to .pdf File/Print then Save as PDF from the small PDF dropdown at lower left Export/XPS Document or use a free online converter if your computer cannot export to PDF. Microsoft has instructions for creating PDFs from each Office application and version here. By converting your document to PDF, you are certain that your margins, text formatting and overall page are laid out the way you want, and that all pages will show up no matter what computer or device is used for viewing. The hiring person will appreciate the format and while it's a small thing, it can only help to give you a better chance at success.
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