Friday, May 29, 2015

Workarounds can increase your sense of control

Erik H. Helzer, assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School, notes that there is a traditional view of life where you exert "primary control" over events in life by striving for goals and asserting your will.

But--he says--there is also an another method--secondary control--where you adapt to facts of life that cannot be bent to human will.

Both contribute to a sense of well-being.

They set up an experiment where people exerted primary and secondary control. Primary control was the only one associated with negative moods. Viz: Gal in the picture.

Looking at the big picture, they decided, being more reflective promoted more feelings of daily happiness, warmth, and peace--even in the presence of negative experiences.

You can have satisfaction with how you handled things--even if you are not deliriously happy.

Secondary control does not have to be passive, second-best, it is often depicted.

In other words, it's like I always say--"You can't write a script and get people to read it--except in the movies."

Thursday, May 28, 2015

How about this new type health job?

People are always going to be sick--job security. So maybe you should consider becoming a Medical Scribe.

There is a company called ScribeAmerica that recruits and trains people to take notes and keep records during medical encounters in ERs and elsewhere. Instead of the physician hunching over the computer or chart, the Scribe does it.

Often pre-med students sign up--it can be good exposure. Hours are counted toward a Physician Assistant degree.

After you contact the company and are accepted, you complete hours of training tailored to specific client medical facilities--such as ERs, Urgent Cares, doctors' offices, and so on.

Step two is sort of a 4-5 day internship under the supervison of a more experienced Scribe. And Step Three is continuous evaluation as time goes on.

This training--which can be 120 hours or much more--is not something you pay--the clients pay for it.

The initial training includes videos, Medical Spanish, HIPAA compliance, chart reviews and feedback, and similar coursework.

If you don't want to take medical assistant training or the like on your own nickel. check this out.

You need confidence, a sense of responsibility, maturity, ability to multitask, and you must be punctual. Good computer skills are also required.

They do ask for a certain commitment of hours. Sound interesting? Go to

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Color green can improve concentration

Some scientists at the University of Melbourne published a study in the J of Environmental Psychology where they tested the idea of "microbreaks"--under a  minute--and how these can boost concentration.

For these "breaks," they found glancing at a grassy green roof scene restored concentration more effectively than looking at a ratty concrete roof.

They found 150 students carrying out a boring task (watching a screen while numbers flashed on and for each number, pressing the key for it--unless it was a 3).

They got a 40-sec break where they could look at a rooftop scene.

View of the grassy roof led to fewer mistakes and resulted in better concentration to complete the task.

Basically, people like nature--they look out windows at it.

They have even tracked people for five years after they moved to a greener place--not only did the move improve mental health, but the benefit lasted long after the move.

One of my favorite factoids is that diamond cutters keep an emerald on a stand near them and gaze into it--to restore concentration.

Green is just a brain color.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

How to explain unemployment periods

Not finding a job, not finding a job you want, changing career paths, getting downsized, going back to school--there may be gaps in your resume.

Susan Ricker, CareerBuilder, says how you account for this is worth some forethought.

Usually, what you were doing--taking care of a loved one, or going to school, are OK reasons in themselves. Quickly switch to all the job-related things you did. Did you work temporarily for a friend? Did you get certified in something? Manage a household. Corral volunteers and schedule them?

You need to reassure the hiring party that you are reliable.  Don't overdo it--a few sentences.

Stay positive, Ricker advises. Don't bash your past employer, even if you have reason.

Emphasize your passion for the work at hand. Show your readiness--you could start immediately.

Try to talk about the future. Everyone has things in the past that are not so great. You need to put the best face on them.

If you are just a big old job hopper and think you are entitled to this cool job or that one, or maybe the other one, this will not be easy to hide.

No employer is eager to pay you to work out your personal issues.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Worth doing well

I am not cut out to be a homeowner, but I live in a house anyway. This means hiring people (usually men!) to do some chores, such as yard work, plumbing, painting, fixing--that stuff.

Twenty years ago, I was naive about this--I earnestly considered outrageous bids of hundreds of dollars for what I knew to be an hour's work. Everyone, it seemed, was out to play the old gal here.

Now, I negotiate--if they say one hundred and fifty, I say, I maybe could pay a hundred or maybe one-twenty-five--only a few times has anyone turned away and left.

But I do think sometimes they use this as an excuse to do a half-done job. The old adage of "underpromise, over deliver" is rarely in evidence.

Let me tell you from my life experience--don't do that! If you accept a job, do your best.

Why? Because you have integrity. Because that is how you roll.

Clean the job site. Don't leave parts and packaging around and drive off. Don't, as one guy did, lean a broken fence up and drive off with $200 as the thing slowly sinks to the ground. Don't--as did some roofers across the street--put new shingles on top of old and call it a day. (A few weeks later, another company came and tore everything off and started over.)

I once paid quite dearly for some weedeating and asked could they also take a couple of bags of yard waste already stacked up. Sure--for $50. I said well, OK, never mind. They left it there. No way would they toss them on the truck parked next to them--even though I was a repeat customer--without that $50.

You maybe thinking I am a cheap old bat. I have been self-employed my whole life--I know how the game works. But I never did this...barely met expectations and expected to be hired again.

One thing men do without being asked, though, is coil up hoses...what is it about an uncoiled hose they can't stand?

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Govt going for quality candidates

Everyone complains about govt, but like weather, nobody does anything about it.

Well, not quite nobody. Liz Joyce, writing in Government Executive Magazine, May 14, 2015, says more and more people are applying for govt jobs on sites like USAJobs, but this is leading to more work for agencies weeding out the unqualified.

They did a survey recently and only 40% of workers thought their team was capable of finding the right people--down 5% from 2010.

The private sector is also up 30% on applicants per listing.

Bigger haystack--but not necessarily more qualified needles.

Many agencies are trying to shorten the hiring process-push people through. This does not result in better applicants, though.

To get better people:

Expand the job definitions. Help HR understand exactly who is needed.

For hard-to-fill positions, target candidates, rather than letter candidates dribble in. This can improve qualifications by 22%.

Make the agency culture known--be upfront. Don't just say "great place to work." Let people weed themselves out, basically.

Back in the day, when a listing was too detailed, we assumed it was "wired" to a certain person who was supposed to get it--say the person in the job as "acting" director or something. Maybe we can't assume that anymore.

I am sure it still happens, though.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

You need a double grande password

Adam Pasick, Nextgov Magazine, May 14, 2015, says there are many ripoffs of people using their smartphones to pay for Starbucks treats.

First, I have no smartphone--I never go anyplace. But some big name people have been taken for a ride--their phones charged for gift cars that are then sold on the black market.

A thief got one woman's password, changed it, stole her existing balance and then waited for the auto-fill to plunk in more money from her checking acct and stole that.

Apple smartphones account for one in six transactions in US Starbucks.

The company says not their problem--the thieves try other passwords the person has used and sometimes--bingo!

The moral: Use different passwords for everything.

Another crazy nightmare. I need caffeine.