Monday, November 30, 2009

Sometimes you need to ask the questions


How can you tell if you are giving good interview. Sometimes you wonder when they suddenly say they are looking at other people and so on.

Usually if you try to ask the interviewer what you did wrong, you will get the old “no answer” answer.

You could ask DURING the interview if there is any way you could be a better candidate, anything you might have forgotten to mention.

Probably, though, they will not say they just didn’t take to you, or you seemed desperate or pushy, or some other reason they just didn’t see you at the company.

Still, the worst thing you can do is sit there and just answer questions as they get lobbed over.

Back when I hired people, I looked for enthusiasm, interest and curiosity about the company. Enthusiasm! And don’t forget to say, “It was a pleasure to meet you, and I am interested in this job and think I would be an asset. May I ask what the next step is?"

Friday, November 27, 2009

10 cheap ways to sell your house


One out of 4 Americans owes more on their house than it could possibly sell for. Isn’t that neat?

Out her AZ way, it’s baaad, babies. No matter how many state dinners, luaus, and poetry evenings they have at the White House, we are hurting.

So, naturally, I watch endless “House Hunters,” “Property Shop,” and “Million Dollar Listing” shows, masochist that I am. On MDL recently, a would-be renter of a posh Malibu house requested the brick floor be replaced with wood—this was a RENTER. And they did it…so things are tight everywhere, even in “The Bu,” as I now call it, too.

But I digress.

Kara G. Morrison (A Republic, Oct 11, 2009) has 10 quick things you can do to your house to buff it up.

Scrub everything. Guess that would include the kitty litter area, huh? DETAIL your house.

Redo caulk—that can look all cracky and weird.

Hide the clutter, which means pix and personal things that don’t make the buyer see him or herself in the house.

Replace light bulbs. An inspector may show that as a non-working outlet.

Manicure the yard.

Oust odors. Smoke, pet stinks—even if it means washing walls, repainting or replacing carpet.

Steam-clean carpet—get rid of stains.

Repaint—cheap and really makes a place seem fresh.

Offer peace of mind—pay for a pre-sale inspection or a home maintenance contract.

If you are underwater (owe more than you can get), you may not want to do big things, but do your best.

Speaking of—I also love a show called “Bang for the Buck.” Snippy “experts” critique people’s home improvements while the homeowners look on and comment defensively. “We THOUGHT of that, but it wouldn’t fit there, whoever you are.”

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Hello, again


One in seven parents says a kid has come back home—or never left. These are called boomerang kids, unless, as is the case with my darling daughter, 27, they never left.

This is all according to the Pew Research Center, a reputable outfit.

In my kid’s case, she disdained college and when I said, “Don’t you want to get an apartment with some friends,” said—You never told me I had to leave. And burst into tears.

Only 7% of adults 18 to 29 live alone—down from 2007.

About a third of the boomerangs did live outside the parental home at one point, but not now.

This is called a “social impact.” I’ll say.

Actually, young people may not be working for awhile. Older people are holding onto their jobs and the younger ones are staying in school.

Among 16-24 year olds, less than half are employed.

Twenty million people 18-34 live with their parents.

Fifteen percent have even put off getting married.

Yeah, that probably would involve moving.

Isn’t this like roommates, though? Blending incomes—making do?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

It's MBA time


Did you know it’s MBA school application season?

Me, neither.

I never get the memos.

Anyhow, if you are thinking of some higher higher ed, here are some tips from Dana Middleton, WSJ, Nov 10, 2009.

The season is from November to as late as April. Do your most coveted school first By the third round, they are looking for specific attributes. Don’t procrastinate.

Discuss your long-term goals with your employer—a recommendation from that person enhances your app. If you feel like the employer would feel threatened about your leaving, write a letter to the school explaining why you have no recommendation.

Work harder at the office, Middleton says. Maybe you can add a new talking point to your app.

Spend three weeks preparing for the in-person interview. Check out www.accepted.com for sample questions you might get.

Wait-listed is not bad—don’t panic. You may get a counselor to watch the list for you. You can also put in more positive info.

If you are going full-time, plan your exit from your company carefully. Leave on a high note.

You may come back—smarter than ever.

Monday, November 23, 2009

What to say to an unemployed person


Aieeee…..Not “think positively.”

OK—that is out of my system.

William Arnold, a former prof at ASU, writes about this in his Strategic Aging column. (What is aging strategy, doesn't it sort of happen?)

He quotes one expert as saying what to tell the person depends on whether it is a man or woman.

Men often think of the old paradigm of themselves as the bread winner. They feel they are not doing their duty, what they should be doing.

Unemployed women have a different set of demons. Sexism may be declining (according to this), but women will still run into it—as in “her husband makes a good living, she doesn’t need the job.”

Women often have a strong support group of friends and men may not. This can be a job hunting network, as well as a supportive one.

If you know a man who is unemployed, emphasize the “challenge” presented. But understand, he may feel he is failing in some basic way.

Best of all: Listen and don’t give a lot of detailed advice.

Incidentally, one thing people say to me which is losing in appeal: "You will think of something."

Friday, November 20, 2009

Mothering invention


With the high cost of everything and the conspicuous lack of cash in most pockets, the WSJ says people are tinkering more, some even buying formerly high-end milling machines to make parts.

Justin Lahart, Nov 12, 2009, discusses how this trend is leading to inventions such as a device to twitter how much beer is left in a keg or surgery robots.

Engineering schools say their students are tending to like the hands-on work

Spark Fun Electronics is one place that sells parts to tinkerers. Their business has almost doubled.

People like hands-on—it’s real—not like finance. Computer numerical controlled tools—that cut metal or other materials according to a computer program--are a tenth as expensive as 10 yrs ago.

One guy bought a mill to make bike sprockets for $7,000.

At the schools, it’s not enough to get an A. People ask what you are building.

Some entrepreneurs even thought up the idea of equipping a shop with equipment people can use by the hour.

Always thinking, Americans!

Keep at it—this is what makes companies that then hire people.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Wanted, sort of: Health care workers


Guess it wouldn’t be too reassuring to be a mammogram tech these days, what with the preliminary foray into cutting medical services to cut costs, but according to Ken Alltucker, Arizona Republic, Nov 13, 2009, pharmacists and certified nursing assistants, to name two, are in demand, although there is competition.

Mayo out here in AZ is seeing three times as many applicants as before.

As for nursing, sometimes experienced (meaning expensive) nurses are replaced by new grads, but most places try for a mix.

The market for pharmacists is tightening—but like other health care pros, they are trying to branch into corporate wellness and disease management.

Instead of “pick, lick, and stick,” they are counseling patients on their medications, sometimes by phone, and monitoring drug use within companies.

Big Brother in a white coat? Did I type that out loud—naw.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Speed screening, anyone?


Emily Maltby, WSJ Nov 17, 2009, says companies are desperate to weed through the enormous responses they get for each job these days.

One company invited all respondents to their “open house.” Only a percentage attended.

Then they sort of did a “speed dating” thing—short interviews. They removed people who weren’t enthusiastic.

That left 68 people—these will be called for group, then individual, interviews.

Other cos are giving personality tests using 15-min questionnaires.

Yet another company has top candidates hang around the office four a few days, even attending some meetings.

I guess that would be slow hiring, not speed hiring. Whatever works. It’s certainly a buyer’s market.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Low-cost staging--digital-style


Watch “Million Dollar Listing” or “House Hunters.” Putting some furniture in an empty room makes it look better—and this “staging” can add thousands to house value.

But staging companies can be spendy.

Kara G. Morrison, AZ Republic, Nov 15, 2009, writes about a company in Atlanta (www.virtuallystagingproperties.com) for people who don’t have $2400 for their 3-mo staging plan.

Instead, they add the furniture and accessories, digitally—imposing them on photos of the empty rooms. For $225, customers have these pix for a couple of days to add them to their MLS listing and make it look more enticing.

The stager will not change ugly wall colors or anything like that.

Another company, Virtual Enriching Homes (www.virtualenrichinghomes.com), offers staging advice via computer—four rooms for $69.

The owner of this company emails a list of proposed changes—tells clients what should be removed, how furniture should be repositioned, what accessories should be added.

Another company, PMC Interiors (www.pmcinteriors.com) offers a 90-minute consultation for $150.

I guess it’s OK if you don’t have Chad Rogers to bring an orchid plant ("Million Dollar Listing") or Jeff Lewis ("Flipping Out") to move your bureau an inch to the left…Ah, perfection.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Women dragging home the bacon


For the first time, there are more women in the workforce than men, not that they are making the money men are.

Kelly Evans writes about this (WSJ, Nov 12, 2009).

Boom times, some women can stay home, bust, they must dust off the resume.

One woman in the article was married to a homebuilder…uh-oh. Homebuilding not so great—she was back on the job front.

Unemployment for men 16 and over is 11.2%.

In 4 out of 10 households women are the sole wage earner or make more than the man.

The bright side? Men will have more experience in the home and this could carry over to doing more at home when this recession ends, if it does. (Hold your breath starting NOW.)

One husband said it was a luxury for his wife to have a decade off. Back to workies!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Budget hair


Paradi Mirimirani, MD, assistant prof of dermatology at the Univ of California San Francisco, says you can cut back on hair care—and be better off, not frazzled.

Go to the salon less frequently. Cut back on products. You will still have healthy hair,

Hair is made of fiberlike structures packed together and wrapped with a hard outer cuticle kind of like singles on a roof. If this outer cuticle gets damaged, the inner fibers fray and look frizzy or lackluster.

Lose the boar bristle brushes, Mirimirani advises. They are supposed to be the best. They aren’t. Buy a brush with wide-spaced plastic needles.

Shampoo is a detergent used to remove dirt from the scalp. Most people over-wash. Cut the shampoo days if you have fairly dry skin. African-Americans can get away with once a week. Their skin tends to be drier.

Salon shampoos cost a lot but are in most cases no better for your hair. You should look for a special shampoo for color-treated, if your hair is color-treated. If hair is damaged, use a conditioner. Try a 2-in-1 shampoo/conditioner, followed by more conditioner. Use the conditioner only on the tips of the hair.

Be cautious of heat and chemicals. Never use a flat iron on wet hair. If you use a hot blow dryer, use a styling product that protects against heat.

Store-bought color is not that much different from salon color. Test it for rashes behind your ear for 24 hrs.

Perms at home can be tricky. Maybe a salon for those.

Blow-dry hair upside down for more volume. You may not need a volumizer shampoo.

As for regrowing hair—see your dermie. Did you know I was going to say that?

Also—Remember "Rinse and Repeat"? Don’t repeat.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

No--not permanent Santa


Sarah E. Needleman, WSJ, Nov 10, 2009, says holiday hires can get a full-time gig. The Christmas thing can be an icebreaker.

In a small percentage of cases, the temp can even come out from behind the cash register into HR or finance,

One woman was a gift-wrapper in HS, went back to Macy’s as a human resources manager and is still there.

You need to be on the inside, she says, to see what’s available. Look at the seasonal job as an audition.

Employers like to recruit from within.

No matter what your job, be punctual, take on extra duties, keep checking the bulletin board or website.

And tell you you sure would like to stay on. Don't keep it a secret.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Grrrrr, sonny


No work, idiot economy, blah, blah…sometimes even I wish I had a nice hunk to talk to.

I am way too old to be a “cougar.” Maybe a sabertooth.

Associated Press’s Megan K. Scott writes about the phenom of old(er) woman, younger man.

First, one of the young’uns says women his age don’t know what they want—hey, maybe marriage.

Cougars certainly aren’t marriage bait. Only 1% of marriages in 2008 were between a woman 10-14 yrs older than hubs.

Still some older women look a teeny hot. One source said it’s like traveling to an exotic land for a young guy to date someone older. You mean, like a trip to Mexico or something? Sheesh, these kids can dream, can’t they?

One matchmaker said more women are requesting younger men, but not the other way around.

Still, older women have more time, more money, more sense of adventure, and more pentup energy.

Well, sort of.

Have you seen that show “Cougar” with Courtney Cox? If I were a younger guy I would be embarrassed to be seen or HEARD with someone as giddy as Cox.

Show some maturity, woman.

OK--Now, Ashton, though--anyone have his twitter?

Come to think of it, though, I saw him on Rachel Zoe and he has a website for teenage girls while being married to Demi.

Never mind. I like dogs. I'm good.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Yo, techies


Writing in the AZ Republic (Nov 8, 2009), Andrew Johnson says technology companies are seeing a teeny pickup on sales of electronics and defense items.

If you have skills in the semiconductor, software,, and aerospace fields, you may have an advantage.

There are even some tech startups.

One company looking out here in AZ is InfusionSoft (www.infusionsoft.com/careers).

General Dynamics is also looking.

Make sure you can qualify for a security clearance.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Are you too productive?


Companies can do just as much or more with fewer workers. Wall Street is creaming over the productivity numbers.

Employers are more efficient—wages are flat or falling.

As long as companies can wield the whip and get more out of the people they have, the fewer they will need to hire.

Our friends the economists say this can’t go on forever, but it seems like it.

So productivity was twice what was expected—and unemployment went to 10.2%, more in many areas.

Why don’t we all move to China and get a job!?

I know—I am a big grump. But I am so sick of this insane spending on these lame, convoluted bills that won’t do anything for anyone for years and probably not then. Just as this admin is leaving or long after they have been voted out, these measures will be shown to be a total, crippling crock.

Let’s see an industrial policy. Let’s help companies innovate and hire—pay them to, if we must. At least not tax them down to their socks if they try to.

We are running out of rich people.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Eat up


My Dad worked hard and only ate with the rest of us two nights a week, Thurs and Sunday. I remember dreading those meals—it was when all our wrongdoing would be hauled out and discussed. Ick!

Now, my kid and I are on different schedules—I know this sounds weird, but I eat dinner at about 2 PM. She eats at 10 PM.

Still, Karina Bland (AZ Republic, Nov 5, 2009, says of all the things families can do to stay close and prevent drug use and so on, eating a family dinner is the easiest and best.

Studies show that eating dinner together as a family is linked to less drug use, including alcohol abuse. Eating disorders are less common in families that eat dinner.

Yet—the family dinner is vanishing, and along with it, the bonding conversations and the common ground—everyone knowing what is going on.

Of course, this presupposes Mom and Dad can get home from work at a reasonable hour, or if laid off, are in a decent humor to chitchat over the day’s events.

Ironically, in these crazy times, dinner is more of an oasis than ever. Who is setting the table? And can we have as much wine as in the picture?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

If you freelance during this mess, be creative


Job security—you never had it, but you never knew it. Now….

If you are thinking of branching out and maybe trying another field in your off-work hours, pick one different from your own.

If you love to plan and have a project manager certificate—how about party planning, for instance?

Don’t be shy—tell people what you are doing. Have cards printed. Make sure your bosses know this is strictly in your spare time.

Diane Porter writes about this in the WSJ, Nov 3, 2009.

Set a schedule—don’t just do the second job any old time. Have a plan.

Try to build a brand. A website is very important for part-timers.

Make deadlines of your own goals—find five contacts, get the website up, that sort of deadline.

I once wrote a story for the Washington Post on Food Moonlighting—people who had baking or cooking skills and went on to start food or catering companies. That story stuck in my mind all these years—the woman who started Just Desserts trying to carry piles of cheesecakes across icy yards.

Life’s little adventures.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Job hunting getting so old


What’s a 55-to-70 yr old to do? Can’t retire, can’t live on air, can’t find a job, can’t Twitter with twits.

Even if you have a skill and lots of experience in marketing, you must add social networking.

For older workers, one expert advises—specialize. After 58, say these experts sadly, you can all but forget about full-time with benefits, though.

So why not do something completely different!? Pick an office building near your home—or a store—whatever. Keep checking for openings in it. Don’t be a stalker, but target it...

Look at nonprofits, such as churches, trade groups, chambers of commerce, charities. Non-profits don’t mean no money—it means the money they get they give to workers.

Take part-time or project work. Get known.

Why not apply at the local assisted care center—they probably appreciate older people.

Be creative!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

H'ween over--time for that holiday job


Max Jarman, Arizona Republic, November 1, 2009, says those holiday jobs are going to be popular—because they will be many people’s only job.

Downside—employers are skittish about hiring a lot of people.

Seasonal applications usually go in in October, so you may already be late.

Most companies take apps on line—so go to the sites of stores near you—Target, Walmart—some even have terminals in the stores.

The big box stores are your best bet.

If a company is opening a new store now—that is good.

Check call centers, too—they need help during the hols.

Only followup with a call if the ad does not say, “No phone calls.”

Still—I have found—the old no-answer answer rules almost everywhere. So rude.

Ho-ho-ho.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Was college worth it?


Chad Graham, AZ Republic, Oct 18, 2009, says the AFL-CIO thinks this is a lost decade for young workers…Bleak, my babies.

Not only has the plight of the young worker not improved since 1999, it has worsened considerably.

Income, health care, retirement money, and confidence—off the cliff.

33% live with their parents

31% make enough to pay bills and save (53% in 1999).

55% more hopeful than worried (77% in 1999)

44% making under $30K and no health insurance

47% with workplace retirement plans (down 6% from 1999)

My own offspring skipped college and can’t even find a dead-end job out here…Yes, she’s still in her room.

Sometimes she goes out on the patio.