Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Overqualified--some quick responses

Women for Hire, as I said before, is a cool website. Check it out at

They had a little story on how to respond to the overqualified gambit.

If you are over 40 and trying to put food on the table, you may hear this.

First, according to this, probe a little. Ask, “What is your specific concern?”

If the interviewer is afraid they will train you and then you will get bored and find something better, say, “Anyone might change jobs for something better, not just people who are overqualfied. I am experienced enough to know better than to apply to a position that would bore me.”

Try to inject humor…you could say, “Wouldn’t you want to get a Cadillac for the price of a Chevy?”

I would advise deciding if the person is humor-impaired before trying that one.

Try to turn “overqualified” into “exceptionally qualified.” Send a thank you note for the interview, maybe a clipping about the industry. Stay in touch without annoying the person.

Try all these—what do you have to lose?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Bold job idea--Secret Service

Being a member of the Secret Service is not all standing around with a beige receiver in your ear scanning the crowd for wackos.

I read about a woman named Lea Bauer, an agent based in Washington, in the booklet Women for Hire (, a fun site).

Bauer had been a psychotherapist researching places that did behavioral research and found the SS’s National Threat Assessment Center.

She says people often think agents are superhuman, but she is a person working a job. She does have to travel a lot. She is married to a special agent, which compounds it. No kids. “That would be difficult, if not impossible,” she said in the story.

She says people are surprised when she says what she does—most of them think of agents as men in sunglasses.

There is a lot of that, of course, but the SS also investigates counterfeiting schemes and does a lot of behind the scenes work. Pres Clinton used to attend our church and the SS would be on all the rooftops around the church and bringing in heavy bags of arms that almost dragged on the ground. In a church. Oh well, Washington is like that.

If you are going to try for it, Bauer said, get in shape first. The physical requirements are the same for men and women—including the pushups.

The SS has 125 offices worldwide. Maybe one near you?

Check out

Monday, March 29, 2010

Neat idea for keeping people in their homes

Dave Dziedzic, owner of RealCore Realty International in Phoenix, is starting a program called Housing Angels, to create partnerships between investors and home owner-occupants.

It’s designed to prevent foreclosures through designated short sales. Basically, the investor buys the home, leases it to the homeowner for a few years, and allows that person to buy it back at a lower price.

Out here in Cowboy Country, half the homeowners owe more than the houses are worth, including your humbleness here.

It’s good for the investor because the investor has a tenant with a stake in keeping up the home.

The test case homeowner has a $300,000 mortgage, now worth $120,000. The bank agreed to let him short-sell it to a Canadian investor, who will sell the house back to him at $160,000 in three years. In the meantime, he pays rent.

Of course, things can go wrong. Either the landlord or tenant could back out, or the tenant could fail to get a mortgage at the end of the time period.

Check out

Friday, March 26, 2010

Female hair loss--not just from pulling it out

Stress, age, automimmune problems—darn, this Recession—can cause hair to kiss the head good-bye—even in women.

This can take a toll and is not what we need when we are already freaking out.

The American Academy of Dermatology recently had a meeting and some docs kicked the subject around.

Often, women losing hair suffer in silence. Female pattern hair loss is treatable, though.

You can inherit the tendency from Mom or Dad. Unlike in men, women usually don’t experience a receding hairline—they see thinning on the crown or top of the head. This can start as early as the teens.

You can first notice it as a smaller pony tail or widening of your part.

The approach is the same as for men—Rogaine or minoxidil 2%. It prolongs the growth cycle of the hair—so it doesn’t just come in like wispy forearm hair and then fall out.

It can take four months of more to see a difference. You can still perm or color hair—these things are not the culprit.

If your hair loss is from too many male hormones (people have both), you may see a receding hairline like men do. Sometimes this is treated in women with oral contraceptives.

Women also undergo transplantation.

Bottom line—ask your doctor. Don’t just look at the brush full of hair and sigh.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Body language can "tell" you a lot

Anita Bruzzese, Gannett, says it’s important to watch for signs in a job interview or business meeting.

In her story, she talked with Joe Navarro, author of “Louder Than Words” (Harper).

If people like what you are saying, they lean forward.

Someone who squints may be hearing something they view negatively. Large open eyes? They like it! (Exception--Nancy Pelosi.)

If you get more time to answer questions—the interview is going well. If you keep getting cut off--bad sign.

To send some signals yourself, watch the interviewer or boss. If they get right to it, don’t derail them by interrupting.

Watch the person’s face. A furrowed forehead and narrowed eyes mean tension.

Always share good news with the boss, along with bad.

Never sit right flat in front of anyone…angle in. It’s seen as less aggressive.

Keep your shoulders squared and don’t entwine your fingers. Keep hands above the table. To show great confidence, steeple your fingers.

You can tell when a vibe turns negative. You have lived on earth a long time.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

You're broke--not naked

Spring is in the air, time to get some new clothes, something cute, light, bright. Wait—you did that last year. Time’s are tight—you can make do.

The site says to shop in your closet—ever so much cheaper, darlings.

Stylists Phillip Bloch and Elle Werlin follow the 3 R’s.

RECYCLE: See what you can tweak or modernize. Put those shoulder pads back IN! Put in some studs or beads. Change out buttons.

Boho is back…shorten your peasant skirts to minis. If you have those pre-ripped pants, put on patches. You can still look shabby. (Eyeroll.)

If you can’t sew or tailor, go to the trendiest boutique and ask who does their remodeling.

REPAIR: Mend leather from shoes to belts (search on shoe repair on this site). Resole sandals. Werlin resoles before wearing sandals, even. Lengthens their life.

Reweave cashmere—don’t toss.

Store your winter things cleaned and mended. Moths love body oils—yuh-um! Use professional wooden hangers. Use cloth garment bags so air can get in.

RENEW: These are the cheap new things added to the mix. How about a chunky necklace or belt that goes with everything (unless you are chunky, too). Werlin says get something flashy or printed. Maybe a military item—khaki or olive. Maybe a bright-colored bra that can peek out.

I go on ebay. So what if that shirt was in someone’s closet. It’s new to YOU!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Old job makes a comeback--insurance salesperson

Leslie Scism, WSJ, Mar 19, 2010, says the old has become new again—selling life insurance.

New York Life added 3,610 agents, Northwestern 2,340.

Wasn’t Robert Young a life insurance guy on Father Knows Best?

Companies used to consider these agents too expensive to train and subsidize—then they began to rely on stockbrokers and the internet to sell insurance..

Now—whole life is a better investment (whole life means paying more in than the fave value and accruing cash value).

It’s a sun-up to sundown existence of hustling, according to one source in the story. Most agents earn less than $35K. Fewer than 20% last more than 4 yrs. You can make north of $100,000 if you stick, though.

There were some scandals with whole life a while back—and new agents must sell harder to overcome the stigma.

Whole life—which no longer is pitched saying interest on the savings part would pay to upgrade the coverage (it didn’t happen and people were upset).

At first, new agents can sell to friends and family, but eventually those people must refer other customers. That’s where a sales mentality comes in.

One agent carriers brochures whevever she goes. You have to be willing to get out of your comfort zone, she says.

Some people have a selling skill, though—it’s kind of a talent. If you do—they are hiring.

Monday, March 22, 2010

"Jobs" initiiatives--blah and slow

Supposedly, this admin is all about jobs, as unemployment rises in practical terms way above the 9.7% they try to claim—and many more people slide into the cash economy.

We have a lot of that out here in AZ—off the books, temporary, comes and goes, it’s money. A lot of people don't have bank accts--they buy money orders.

Apparently, the president just signed a $17 billion tax break bill for companies that hire the unemployed. Seventeen "bill" just isn’t what it used to be, is it? A mere bagatelle.

When they get done with this health mess, which of course will send more small companies out of business, thanks so much, they will “do” jobs again.

Oh, and maybe rebates are coming for energy efficient home changes. “Cash for Caulkers.” Well, I looked at those improvements—spendy, spendy, rebate or no.

They also may take some of the TARP money, which is in play, amd put it into lending to small business. Why can’t they make the banks they bailed out do that? No one seems to know. Also, the TARP money may not be as sloshy a slush fund as they thought—Congress may be to approve its repurposing for this.

At least now if a company hires someone who has been out of work two months, they get a tax break. Should be no problem to find those workers.

I heard today that Dunkin’ Donuts is hiring near us. Don’t tell the First Lady or first thing you know, “bad” companies won’t get the tax break.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Retraining is no instant answer

Justin Lahart, WSJ, Mar 17, 2010, says even going out and getting new skills is not necessarily a ticket to a new job.

One woman got laid off, took an office technology course, and has still been hitting the bricks since July.

Retraining should pay off eventually—if only to zip up your brain—but when no one is hiring, the skills aren’t the deciding factor.

In Feb, there were 54 workers for every opening. Time was, 90% of career-trainees found work—now it’s 40%.

One gal even switched from semiconductors to health care, figuring that sector would be okay. She looked a long time. One health care co said they used to get 2,500 apps a month, Now it’s 5,000.

Yes, it’s a numbers game, but as always I come back to: ALL YOU NEED IS ONE. That is the number. One job--for you.

So stay close to home, even look for HELP WANTED signs. Don’t depend on Craigs or CareerBuilder or whatever. Newspapers still have wants ads—ever check those? At least while we still have newspapers.

And if you want to take some courses, do it. It will give you structure in your day, you’ll meet new people, you’ll use parts of your brain you weren’t using, and you will learn something.

Eventually, it will pay off.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Contribute to employer's bottom line everyday

Anita Bruzzese, Gannett, writes about how success in a job starts at the bottom—the bottom line.

Most businesses aren’t too interested in how you can do a complicated job or get along. They want to see the bucks.

Always emphasize how what you do saves or makes money.

If you are making the company money, they are less likely to see you as expendable. In her story, Bruzzese quotes Larry Myler, author of “Indispensable By Monday.”

Before you submit a proposal, Myler advises—cost it. What will it take to do it?

Always look for ways to cut costs.

Catch mistakes the company is making that is costing it money.

If you are high in the company and “cost” a lot yourself, try to find new business or generate savings.

Document your suggestions—maybe in emails.

New ideas and innovation--also a winner. If they are doable at a reasonable cost.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Buying a house--2010 style

I watch “House Hunters” and “Property Virgins” on HGTV all the time and see these young people squinting at gorgeous bathrooms in half-million dollar homes and saying, “The tile will have to go.”

Is the recession a joke—is it over?

People will still quit a job and people will still buy a home. It happens.

Ilyce Glink, Tribune Media Services, says housing is still on life support. But the $8K stimulus wad for first-time home buyers is still good until the end of June. I hear you need to jump through flaming hoops, but it’s there.

You could even somehow get a $6,500 credit if you’ve lived in the home you’re selling for five yrs.

More than a quarter of Americans, though, are basically renting—their homes are worth less than they owe. It may be 20 yrs before they regain the value they supposedly had.

The government lending organizations are borrowing like mad to stay in the loan business. Freddie Mac, Fannie May, and FHA are making 90% of the loans—and they are shaky.

Investors bought 40% of the homes last year.

On the only bright side—interest is low. Just try to get lower interest with a loan remod, though--good luck.

If you are taking the plunge, get your finances in order first. You need a credit score above 760.

Know how much you can afford to spend. You will need a ton of documentation to show you can put the monthly. A ton!

Be sure the neighborhood is not dotted with foreclosures.

Interview at least three brokers. Get the best. Ask how many transactions they have closed and who their customer is.

Read everything! A few little problems have arisen from people who just initialed and signed, initialed and signed.

As for buying a house in short sale—I learned from HGTV that the bank can take months to move or never respond at all. At least the house hunting shows have that right.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Kids at home with parents and vice-versa

The New York Times health blog had yet another thread on caring for aging parents at home. It was the usual—heaven forfend “strangers” should care for your beloved, or my spouse is out of control and tried to strangle me and I had to do something.

Now, the Arizona Republic is back to the "evergreen” subject of young adults moving back home.

How about this—we throw you kids some bread crusts in your 20s if you need it, and you change our drawers when we lose it. How’s that sound? .

By the way, this used to be called “extended” family. Now it’s called too broke for separate houses.

One in 10 adults from 18 to 34 are back with Mom and Dad. I have sen higher stats.

Fifteen percent of adults under 35 have put off marriage. Fourteen percent have put that first baby on ice (you know what I mean).

These aren’t slackers, said one authority (mine is). They are people in transition.

Don’t expect adult children to leave any time soon, one source said. Even if they find work, it won’t support them.

You just incorporate the kids into your life, said one parent, rather than stop living.

I guess.

And of course, with all this good treatment long after HS and college, they won’t mind taking care of us, I am sure.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Older workers, watch the language

First, if you are older (say above 60), aim for jobs in general administration and health. As I have said many times—people will be getting sick, count on it. Just writing this is making me sick.

Check out—which I have found to not be too helpful, although you experience may differ.

Arizona has one call—google for your state. AZ is also starting up a big jobs database—keep current in your state.

Don’t forget staffing agencies. Or look for part-time.

Public sector (those govt jobs we all love) tends to look kindly on older workers or at least will not subtly discourage you.

If you are older, avoid phrases like, “The Internet—isn’t that some tubes?” Or “Tweet? You mean that bird that always tormented that cat?” Ah-kidding—I know you know all this. Oh, another one: “You look so much like my grand daughter.” Or do not as I sometimes do, which is remark, "I am old school." Calling the interviewer dear or sonny--don't.

How about you—do you like the term “mature workers”? Sounds to me like the person will just take a lot of abuse and in a saintly way not flip out.

Come to think of it…

Friday, March 12, 2010

Are you nonprofit material?

For the last time—nonprofit does not mean “no money.” It just means they can’t have any left over. Sort of. Anyway—another hallmark of most nonprofits is that they must depend on unreliable money streams like grants and donations—so that is a factor of the culture in many nonprofits..

Anita Bruzzese, Gannett, says if you decide to try to get into the nonprofit world that you not say, “I can help you run this like a real business.” They will hate that!

Usually, they are more focused on their mission or cause. And they often have a lot of work to do—staff can be overworked and even at decent salaries, underpaid.

They also may be subject to volunteer boards and the members may have all sorts of agendas. This means all sorts of masters to please.

Check out the place thoroughly. Are you in tune with their goals? Google them—are they in disputes? You can even find tax forms on

You might volunteer first.

Above all, make sure their cause feels right to you.

It may be a calling more than a job once you get into it.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Here come the teen job hunters

Great—more job hunters. Still, we want these nice, able-bodied kids to do something useful and earn their own cellphone bill, don’t we?

Sue Shellenbarger (WSJ, Mar 10, 2010) says few people under 25 can even remember a good year.

Last year, only 28% of 16-19-year-olds found work—this year is expected to be worse.

Still, Shellenbarger says some myths abound and are happily or unhappily believed by youngsters and parents. First, there is a feeling that it’s not even worth trying. They hear there are no jobs and quit.

Kids get jobs the same way anyone does—by trying and not giving up.

Look in government-run youth programs. Resorts. Places that have a lot of people coming in summer. Child and elder-care places are often looking.

And despite what people think, jobs do look good on college apps. It can even beat going to Wall Street Boot Camp or someplace.

Some kids think fast food is beneath them. These places hire.They give face-to-face customer contact experience. The cooking experience? Well…

Kids can even have their own babysitting businesses—or lawn mowing.

Lawn mowing! We can never find a nice kid to do yard work anymore! Where are they?

Maybe the key is to look for work--like during the last Depression--not a job per se.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Cover letters should cover some ground

Sarah E. Needleman (she has lots of interesting stories, doesn’t she, WSJ, Mar 9, 2010), says some hiring people toss cover letters, while others read them.

Me, I would read them—the resume can be done by someone else, but usually to make sense, the cover letter is the applicant’s “own work.”

Still, many people don’t use them—and so using one can set you apart.

The letter should he tailored to the company and the job requirements.

Point out content on the company’s website to customize the letter.

Comment on a trend in the industry.

Maybe check the hiring manager’s Facebook or LinkedIn page.

If you have gaps in service—explain. One applicant even said he had spent 18 mos trying to launch his own business. Obviously, since he was applying for a job, it hadn’t worked out—but the admission showed he was honest and entrepreneurial.

Oh—and about making each letter personal? Hiring managers have software that can compare letters now.

Oh, it’s a mean old world out there.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Things NOT to do at a networking event

Say you do go to a chamber of commerce mixer, business luncheon, or seminar about your old industry—what should you not do?

Do NOT expect to find a job.

Do NOT bring fistfuls of resumes to hand out. Don’t even offer to email yours.

Do NOT even ask people if there are jobs open at their company.

And do NOT deliver some blabby short pitch about yourself and what you are looking for.

Also do NOT drink a lot and violate these laws.

Instead, see if you can find out who will be there. Research the speakers. Be ready with a question. Introduce yourself to the speaker afterward if you feel like there is compatibility.

Be low-key if a speaker or someone you talk to agrees to tag up for coffee. This is a break for them, too—they don’t want a hard sell. But keep it short, be fun to talk to.

If you see an article or something the person would be interested in—email that.

What does this amount to? A nice relationship. People like to work with people they like.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Networking still underused

I remember when we used to go on “informational interviews.” We would talk someone into letting us come over for 15 minutes to shoot the breeze about their industry—not to get a job, just to exchange information.

No one has time for that anymore when people are clawing their way in the door.

Times have changed in a million ways.

Yet, all business is people—it’s all about the twits, not the tweets.

I mean “twits” in the nicest way, of course—the humans.

Just putting your res “up” on some site or cruising free ads does not a job hunt make. You need to let your family in on the game—do they know anyone who knows anyone? Check the nabes for “Help Wanted” signs—people are cheap and not everyone loves technology—those signs are still out there.

In one survey, the average job seeker only talks to or emails eight people a month.

Only 38% ask for an introduction each month.

We have covered this before—but go to local meetings, chamber of commerce mixers and the like. Some formal networking groups can be expensive, but check them out in the calendar section of your paper, if you still have a paper.

Dress neatly when out in public. If you ask someone for a job lead, ask the contact if there is anything you can do for him or her. Send paper thank you notes, while we still have a postal service.


Friday, March 5, 2010

Good or bad--it's all yours

Anita Bruzzese, Gannett, writes on CareerBuilder that real accountability for one’s actions has two sides. On the bad side, you’re to blame for bad results. On the good side, you own the good results!

The trick is you have to take them both—the positive and the negative.

You have power—your intellect and power caused the results, good or bad. Don’t give away your power.

Try to define your expectations—of yourself and others.

Deal with the present. You can’t change the past.

Do you always tell the truth? Covering up a mistake multiplies it.

Police yourself—check constantly to see if you are in the center of events and results.

Stand tall. Who’s better than you?

If you find someone who is, get rid of that person…aw, just kidding. I can only take so much rah-rah stuff, no matter how true and useful.

How about you?

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Especially now, treat your employees right

Those dopes in DC are really having a field day, aren’t they?

So I decided to write about something nicer today: Companies that are trying to alleviate stress in their remaining employees—hope of a better world to come.

Sarah E. Needleman, WSJ, Jan 14, 2010, says one business owner who hired a new salesperson was pounced on by her other employees, whose hours had been cut and who were furious.

She quickly called a meeting—she was bringing the company back to life, she explained. The next employee added, though, was part-time out of consideration to her staff.

Employees need to feel more valued is the message. Statistics show that under half of employees are happy with their jobs these days.

One company tried to address this by amping up job titles.

Other bosses allowed some employees to work remotely or set their own hours. A company that gave no raises instituted incentives.

Another boss met with each employee for a one-on-one each week—it pepped them up, he reported.

And this one was good—a company served a big waffle and bacon breakfast every Wednesday.

Food is always a plus. It doesn't beat money or a promotion, but it's a plus.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Lighten up on pre-interview tooth whitening

Especially these days, with job interviews looming, consumers have been using a lot of tooth whiteners.

According to (Feb 2010), we drop millions on bleaching the choppers.

Too much of a good thing? The American Dental Association says these can damage gums and teeth if you don’t use them right.

Getting teeth too white can also mask diseases (such as celiac disease) that make teeth dingy.

European regulators said the products should contain no more than 6% hydrogen peroxide.

None of the American products lists a percentage.

To be safe, maybe use them no more than twice a year. And don’t use them at all if your front teeth have veneers, caps, crowns, dentures or white fillings—the whitening only works on real teeth.

Brush after meals and stay away from coffee, tea, red wine, smoking and soft drinks—yes, even the clear ones can contribute to staining.

I read in Entertainment Weekly that some starlet said whiteners can hurt your gums. See? Movie stars know this stuff.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Kids can help you save money

Diana Griffin, of, says you can bring kids in on the economic discussion without scaring the diapers off them.

Just tell them we don’t have as much money as we used to go to the movies, but don’t worry—we will always take care of you and we will be all right.

Don’t say scary things in their hearing, such as “we may be out on the street if we can’t make this payment.” They see people in the streets in Haiti and Chile and may get the wrong idea.

Children may have to cut back on lessons—they may not mind this too much. Give them a voice on what to cut.

Put kids in charge of turning off lights. “When not in use, turn off the juice.”

Explain that you can’t leave the refrigerator door open—to decide what to get before opening it.

Maybe a neighbor needs a dog walker or mother’s helper—this can augment allowances or replace them.

Pack a lunch. My kid said I did a bad job and packed her own lunch.

Don’t rent DVDs—get them from the library.

Kids want to help, they may even have some good ideas.

Do you watch “Real Housewives of Orange County"? The Dad there papered over his financial problems and the marshal handed the teenage kid the eviction notice. This led to many recriminations—too late by then to bring the kids in on suggestions.

You never know how much of those nutty shows are “real” reality, but your situation certainly is real.

By the way, I would not take the kid's money as in this picture. You want them to save--for the next disaster or as a habit for adulthood.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Refrigerator economics

Don’t you know how hard the refrigerator people are working to help you? They invented a shelf with so many indentations it can soak up a can of soda, should one spill or keep it from sloshing all over the place anyhow.

Anali Athavaley wrote about this in the Feb 24, 2010, WSJ.

We are bad at cleaning the fridge out, let’s face it. The average person does it once a year. I can’t even remember when, though I did wash all those weird-shaped dividers and stuff at least once. You can put them in the dishwasher.

One approach has been to put in more lights—as many as 10. I guess if you can see the mess better, you will get going.

First to save money and keep from eating spoiled food, you should organize how to jam things in.

Don’t put meat and soda into crispers! Are you nuts? Wrong temp!

Don’t put milk in the door shelves. Ditto.

No one “gets” that cheese cubby. We put the butter in and close the trap door.

Sub-Zero created a video explaining all this.

Do not pack everything in tightly—air needs to circulate.

Clean one shelf at a time so you don’t burn out.

Be esp careful of raw meat goo—can be toxic.

Some manufacturers are putting in positive and negative ion doohickeys to kill bacteria. I am not sure I want some big war going on in there.

They also tell you to vacuum the coils on the back to save on electricity--fuzz can cost ya. Do you do that? I can't pull the thing out. It's scary back there, anyhow.

I do see through the empty bins that there is some…substance…on the bottom. Oh, why did I ever read this? By the way, if the door is the hottest part—why do my eggs freeze in there and no place else?