Friday, December 30, 2011

Good-bye, 2011!


Did you know that a fourth of people don’t get the classic “no loud noises” hangover? No headache, no spacey feeling into the afternoon, no vom.

Not fair, is it?

I am in the one-fourth, but don’t hate me.

Of course, this is where I tell you some neat hangover cures. I won’t even insult your intelligence by suggesting the best of all—don’t take the last six drinks.

Let’s see…well, some people take Tylenol before going to sleep—this is now considered bad because Tylenol and alcohol are some sort of lethal combo, sorta maybe.

So stick to ibuprofen.

Drink a lot of water is more advice—even while at the bar. Not sure on that one—ever done it?

Stick to clear drinks—the dark ones have cogeners, which just sound bad— you don’t want cogenors.

Eat food before toasting and drinking.

Some people swear by peanut butter sandwiches.

And of course, they say not to take the hair of the dog—but you know, I noticed over the years that people who had a Bloody Mary seemed fine in early afternoon.

Anecdotal, of course.

Sooo…cheers, my babies!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

I have a confession to make


I hate it when someone calls me from their car! Yes, I am a half-blind, crippled up mess with no transportation and cell phone and hardly leave my office, but when you call me, I am thinking of you and not traffic, idiots, getting to the destination (gotta go, I am here).

Plus—once you yell at some other driver and I know you are in the car, I am expecting the hideous crash any second.

Can’t you spare me five minutes from home or even your office?

I really hate interviewing sources in their cars---the “Uh….uh….SAME TO YOU, BUDDY!” thing.

Remember when we did not even HAVE these phones—we got to home or office, checked the machine, and called everyone. Maybe it was an hour, maybe 5 hours later—was that so awful?

Anita Bruzzese, CareerBuilder says multitasking is ruining us.

Peter Bregman is quoted. He wrote 18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Thing Done. (Again, guys, those titles—too long.)

He says think of five things to do this year—then maybe a sixth to just do a little—like dessert.

Sounds hard.

Then he says, never keep an issue active for more than 3 days unless it’s one of the five.

Don’t answer emails immediately—three hours is soon enough. I say don’t just table them someplace.

Well, I may not agree with this guy—but the calls from the car—I am admitting, I don’t like them.

Great, now I will never hear from anyone again.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Breaking out of the fat trap


Maybe we need to SHUT our Fat Trap.

That is the term NYT health reporter Tara Parker-Pope uses for the body’s built-in resistance to losing pounds permanently.

You can read the whole sad tale at: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/01/magazine/tara-parker-pope-fat-trap.html

This is all I heard at the holiday parties—“I shouldn’t..” “I am completely stuffed…” “I will regret this…” On and on.

This fat stuff has careened out of control, so to speak. Do this, don’t do that, this person is fat, that one is…you’re doomed, you’re weak, you’re stupid, you can't work as a fat person.

You know a book I loved—Candy & Me: A Love Story by Hilary Liftin. Buy a used copy on Amazon. It chronicles this gal’s love of candy. She goes into each of her favorites and when and where she first savored it.

Candy—the enemy. But it’s this woman’s reason for living.

Life is short, it’s funny, it’s horrible, it’s frightening…sometimes a cookie is not evil.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Should you get into office politics?


I say—yes! People who are “above” this, I found when I had an office job, lose out.

Caity Currey, AZ Republic, Dec 25, 2011, digs into this. She agrees—if you want to get ahead, you need to keep up.

Office politics—she says—help you understand how to fit in. It nurtures relationships.

OK—cliques.

If you are new, sit back, be accessible, pleasant. Be a team player.

Look for things you have in common with coworkers.

If the politics seem to be turning against you—try to solve a problem…This endears.

Find yourself left out of emails, meetings, lunches, layoff rumors, etc.

You are failing Office Politics 101.

Ask yourself—did you offend someone, were you snooty, did you turn down invitations, did you screw up, do you always leave early and never go for Happy Hour…what…what?

Monday, December 26, 2011

Learn to be poor


Come on, we are Americans! The half of us who are have-nots can do a better job of this. I know people who have lost their homes, moved in with relatives, have 2-3 crappy jobs instead of a good one or who have no job…and they still shop in department stores and have a big screen TV.

You need to learn to be poor.

Shop the thrifts.

Have coffee left in the pot by noon—make less in the morning. Coffee is expensive these days!

Coupons—don’t toss them. Day old bread is fine—try it. Canned pasta sauce is better than jarred.

The store brands are made by the big brand companies—be not afraid.

Cheap meat—add crockpot and sliced onion—yum.

Freecycle, ebay, Craigs—get with it! Even sell some stuff.

Cancel those stupid movie channels on cable--Scoobie Do? Seriously? This is always on there! For a family treat--get a Red Box for a buck twenty-seven. As for HBO and Showtime--$140 a year for maybe one show you like?

Want to know a secret--every so often those channels give a free weekend and you can record a bunch of stuff.

Check the back of the closet—it’s like a store in there.

Cut deals—barter—dicker.

Get your medical care from medical and dental schools, your haircuts and nails from beauty schools.

Got more ideas—comment!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Remember joy?


When I was young, I clicked off the years from Christmas to Christmas—that was my high point. Now…the economy, the wear and tear of living…it’s sort of a job. But kids still have that sparkle.

It snows and they scream with happiness! When the radio says school is closed, they swoon! They play outside until their little hands are too cold to hold hot chocolate. And forget getting to sleep on Christmas eve!

So… let’s look at it through the eyes of kids—that special excitement.

But…of course…playing outside also works off calories, Healthy Schools reminds us…to wit:

Dashing through the snow—half an hour—330 cals.

Jumping for joy…330 cals

Sledding—220 cals

Decking some halls – 120 cals

Reading stories – 30 cals

Building a snowman – 140 cals

And

Making snow angels—107 cals

Merry Christmas, all!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Do you have a business plan?


I know, I know—hard, boring—but if you want to start a business in this um…challenging…environment, you really need one.

Luci Scott, AZ Republic, Dec 16, 2011, says the Small Business Admin has some tips on creating one---also you may be able to get a retired exec to help (SCORE).

There are not a lot or even any grants lying around out there—loans are hard to get. You really need your ducks in a row. You need to have on hand at least 20% of any amount you want to borrow.

Also—banks hate small loans now.

Drawing on equity from homes is also a problem—many homes don’t enjoy equity anymore.

Venture cap firms want to see a track record.

Ask for a line of credit instead of a loan. Try to get the money from friends and family. Start small, work up gradually.

Be clear on who your customer is—promote where there are large numbers of them. Forget other places.

Mrs Fields is a tough role model these days. You need to be hard-nosed. And let the chips fall.

Even if they are chocolate.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Don't be a Christmas dork


Do I really have to say this—Getting drunk and trying to boink the boss’s girlfriend or even the woman in accounting is not a stellar career move.

Wear something sensible (no nips) and behave yourself at the office party, if your company even has those anymore.

CareerBuilder also says don’t shop online so much it interferes with work.

Don’t overdecorate your cube.

Even if you hate the holidays, try not to Grinch it up too much.

A buzzkill is a buzzkill.

Having said all this, I do recall in the misties of time telling off the president of my company and getting a $2500 bonus for it—but that probably would not work every time.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Slow--but steady?


Are we having fun yet?

Three years of pretty much misery. But hey…maybe everyone will get so sick of this something will happen.

I know—magical thinking.

Anyhow, Anita Bruzzese, Gannett, says one expert says to just accept the market will stop, start, fits and starts.

Unemployment may stay high. Slow development—an idea, financing, some hiring, support hiring, distribution hiring, etc may build a foundation. Just having the govt pay salaries for a year or two to a construction company won’t rebuild this.

Passive candidates—those with jobs and recruited—will still be popular. But some people won’t want to change—this is why you need to network—so that person can recommend YOU!

Also see if there are certifications you can get—sort of mini-degrees.

Keep plugging. Not glamorous…but what else can you do?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Starting a business


Can’t find a job—start a business and pay yourself.

Sounds simple…

The biz gurus Dale Dauten and JT O’Donnell briefly kicked this one around.

First, they basically say this is a long shot—most small businesses fail.

O’Donnell says take advantage of EVERY free resource you can find—SCORE (retired execs who will advise), Small Business Admin, local offices.

Count on needing four times the money you think you will and twice the time you think it will take.

Don’t incorporate right away—would be my advice. Many fairly large businesses are Sole Proprietor.

A small business is not about you, the name you pick, the cards, the flyers—it’s about your customer.

Always think of that. The value!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Time to fluff the office?


I am not big on resolutions. I don’t even make them. But this office needs a once-over.

Maybe a grenade.

Rosie Romero (a guy, if you care) wrote in the Arizona Republic Sept 24, 2011, that some home offices get kinda embarrassing.

He says to take EVERYTHING out and only put back what you need.

Drastic. I need a nap thinking of it.

Maybe you do need to clear space a little. Add another surge protector. Bundle up your cables. What? Lose the spaghetti? No way! He also advises having a safety expert check your electrical. Getting right on that one.

He also says carpet to cut noise. I had my carpets taken up when we had a house fire five years ago. Some of the floors are painted but the office is still raw cement with glue marks. What? You don’t find this loft-like?

Rosie also advises “hiding stuff.” Genius!

Aw—he means well. I may even toss some more files…

And NO—that picture is not my office. But I can dream.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Older but better


Kristin Weisell, AZ Republic, Dec 14, 2011, says older people need to be “strategic” about what they list on their resumes. Limit yourself to the last 10 years. All the jobs and credits make it too long and make you look too…well traveled, shall we say.

Be selective—zero in on jobs you really want and research them like mad.

Show you are tech savvy, a fast learner.

People over 50 usually don’t have to get to preschool to pick kids up and are more flexible.

Also—and I totally believe this—older people are funnier, can hold a conversation, have material to talk about, and are dedicated to working.

They may not even text!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Do the worst first


Elizabeth Newell, Government Executive Magazine, December, writes about Brian Tracy’s book, Eat That Frog! 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time.

Personally, I think some writers could get more done if they had shorter book titles… but I digress.

The “frog” is the worst job, of course.

First, find out what the worst task is—this means a list.

Or maybe a list of lists…this is starting to sound procrastinate-y.

But I agree with the general idea—instead of futzing around with avoiding a bad task—do it and blow it over.

THEN futz.

I am sort of kidding—I do this. Doing something hard can give you momentum. I am all about the Big Mo.

Amphibians aside.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Elegant, reasonable and fun


OK, you’re out of work, feeling crappy…why not start a Supper Club? This takes eight or 10 people you like who are willing to host, cook, and entertain on a revolving basis—and everyone chips in.

Debri Shawcross wrote about this in the December Costco Connection.

First do a schedule and stick to it.

Share in the preparation—be organized…who brings the main dish, who brings dessert and so on. Usually the host makes the entrĂ©e.

You can “eat” the cost or add up everything and have people chip in.

Introduce new ideas, keep it fresh. Have a theme. Have an ethnic night. Maybe even tailgate.

Sure, money is an issue right now—but you don’t have to take fun completely off the table.

I used to know some people who had a long-standing group called The Fressers--which is Yiddish for sort of rude gobbling. They had a blast!

Monday, December 12, 2011

No money, no job--and someone is sick, sheesh


The University of Medicine and Dentistry of NJ says 70% of the five million people with dementia are cared for at home.

Big job! Stress, anxiety, burnout are never far.

The holiday season can really amp this up.

Some caregivers don’t want help—they don’t want to bother people or appear to wimp out.

So what can you do?

Well, first, call before coming over. If the caregiver always refuses—then show up for a SHORT visit—bring a treat.

Don’t ask what you can do—be specific. “I am headed for the store—what can I bring back?” “Want me to pop in the laundry?”

Be a good listener. Encourage the person to call.

Offer to spend the night.

Do the research for them—services in the neighborhood, including respite services.

If you ARE the caregiver, accept some help!

You are not Superman or Superwoman! Everyone needs a hand sometime.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Come back, bubble, all is forgiven


Oh, goodie, my zip code here in the Phoenix suburb of Chandler has the most short sales of the whole Valley of the Sun.

I watch House Hunters (HGTV)—and know that a short sale is an irritating process in which the bank which really owns your house takes six months to decide on whether they will let someone buy it for less than you owe and eat the rest (oh, and ruin your credit as an afterthought).

Hope you enjoyed your bailouts!

Still, out here in Upsidedown Land, short sales are a necessity if you ever want to move or go to another city or just rent and sleep at night or anything.

First, for the record, not everyone whose house is upsidedown kept refinancing and jumping on cruise ships out of their Hummers. Quit with the disdain—the market crashed. Silly us—we thought we had hired people to mind the store.

Hey, idiots that we are, we pray for another bubble!

Right now, “owning” this house is really renting—it is shelter, which is not to be dismissed these days, but hardly an investment.

Forget me—bad mood today…But I am sick of the asshats in DC with their lobster feeds, vacays, “I don’t know where that $1.2 billion wents” etc.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Bring your A Game


Anita Bruzzese, CareerBuilder, says recent grads may be better at a computer than face to face.

But what about idle chitchat, charm, that stuff?

Many younger people also don’t read body language well or notice when someone is no longer listening. They may cross their arms defensively or eyeroll.

Dianna Booher, author of Creating Personal Presence: Look, Talk, Think, and Act Like a Leader, advises women to wear makeup. A study says women with makeup on are judged as more inteligent and get more job offers.

Dress correctly—wear clothes that fit and don’t strain, don’t show off “the girls,” try to look taller. Taller people tend to get more action in the job world.

Comb you hair, no dandruff, no missing buttons—this gets noticed.

Cover your tattoos—this one is from me—and trust me on this.

Use short, direct words, speak with confidence.

And have some talking points in mind. Don’t ramble on.

Also—don’t ask about money and benefits right away. But do ask questions.

Above all—smile! You youngsters are pretty grim at times.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Maybe not the Dollar Store for this


It’s that time of year again—time to give advice on children’s toys that kill and maim. This is from the docs at Cincinnati Children’s.

First, read warning labels. These are so over the top now that they will mention every conceivable thing that could go wrong.

Buy age-appropriate—obvious.

Look for sturdy toys—ditto.

If there are little ones around under age 3—even if they are not the recipient-- make sure no little parts come off that could get in their mouths. One inch around,, three inches long minimum.

No cheesy jewelry that contains cadmium.

Under age 10? No plug-ins. Batteries only. Watch those teeny button batteries—they can get caught in the throat.

No strings more than a foot long.

Throw away plastic wrap immediately—the kid may run over and asphyxiate.

Now—how do adults get in those blister packs—besides holding a butcher knife and slashing while yelling eee, eee, die!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The work playground


School has bullies—and so do many offices. We never really get off the playground. Some people are better at sports. Others get picked last. Others get picked on. You know where I am going with this. It doesn’t just stop with graduation.

Annie Finnigan wrote about workplace bullies in the Dec-Jan 2011 Working Mother.

One woman was an exec assistant to a mayor. He kept saying—in front of others—that he didn’t need her opinion or this or that was above her pay grade. When she got pregnant, he told her later she looked so much better now that her baby was born. He told people she had “baby brain” and belittled her desire for a promotion.

Fifty-four million adults have experienced this type of behavior.

One woman likened it to being in an abusive marriage. Yet, in one survey, more than half said women were most likely to be bullies…so think about that.

Companies and HR depts need to be mindful of this. Have a policy on it. Create formal enforcement procedures. Make repeat offenders go to anti-bullying clinics.

Employee evaluations of bosses is also an idea whose time has come.

I used to have a boss who fired people all the time—but he forgot, so they came back to work the next day.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Hey--you're worth it


If you get a job offer—remember salary is only one element.

Jessica Von Schell discussed this in the Arizona Republic, Dec 4, 2011.

If the money is too low—think about perks.

Some perks are: signing bonus, performance bonus, title, vacation or sabbatical time, hours, telecommuting, expense account, car.computer, health benefits, retirement plan, administrative support, education, child or pet at work.

Compile a list of WANTS and a separate list of NEEDS. Go after what is most important.

Be sure to get the offer in writing.

If you are going to negotiate on benefits—bring all your desires at once. You won’t get everything.

Be flexible. And be polite.

Now…have a plan…

Friday, December 2, 2011

Considering a career change?


I used to run an employment group and we told people they would have seven careers over a lifetime—not just seven jobs.

Now to make ends meet, you need all seven at once. We call them “revenue streams.” This has resulted in not knowing what the heck you are doing anymore.

I have a friend who decided to quit the grant business and teach English abroad. Ooops—they wanted younger people.

How about those cruises—give a lecture. Turns out you pay them.

Oh.

CareeerBuilder says this takes a lot of research and networking.

You need to really hone down your edge—what can you uniquely offer that makes it worth taking a chance on you.

Be willing to move or travel.

Let your passion show in interviews.

Plan, implement ideas, maybe start a website of your new ideas…think!

Why not go to Vistaprint.com and design a business card with your new career on it...Get in the mood.

Hey--lots of military people returning home--how can you help them find jobs...

Think!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Don't go extreme to get noticed


Anita Bruzzese, CareerBuilder, says people who do wacky things to get noticed by companies may get FB friends or Twitter followers, but says this is not really a recommended way to get a job.

This also goes for writing outrageous blog comments—these tend to get around.

Pretend you have a job—would your boss love what you just wrote?

One man told of saying something negative about someone’s lifestyle—that quote was still following him around.

If you want to operate on the internet—do a site about your field with helpful info.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Not for all the money....


Say one idea you had for coping is to find a mate and you hire a “matchmaker.” Say that matchmaker is Patti Stanger of “Millionaire Matchmaker.”

Are you nuts?

First, in five years of watching I can barely remember any couple hooking up. Oh—yes—“Sex Toy” Dave, a mumbling adolescent manchild who sold, well, guess, who actually found his own mate someplace.

And Patti is 50 and dresses so hootchy! My gosh, gal—longer skirts and put the girls away. All she thinks about is her surgically enhanced or dieted self.

What is UP with the guy with the Mohawk and his wife with the cerise bangs who work in her office—and Patti SCREAMS at people for inappropriate looks and clothing. Hello?

And those meltdowns—cutely called Patti Melts—“Get the eff out of my effing club.” But once she also yelled—no refunds! That was funny.

Soooo….what is my point. I watch, don’t I? I guess that is all that counts. Oh—and I feel really good about being single—any man, no matter how rich, who makes me surf or go down a zipline or put on a bikini on the first date…well..I can think of a place for that checkbook.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

When you set off for OWS


I am not a fan of these grungy latter-day agitators—but they may have a point on some gross over indulgences from our friends the richie riches.

Molly Jong-Fast, The Fear of Flying gal’s kid, is even shocked by the fripperies of her Upper East Side neighbors.

She knew of one woman who sued a fancy preschool because they would not take her son in addition to her daughter—thus, according to the lawyers, ruining his life.

Apparently Mayor Rudy cleaned up NY so much now they don’t worry about muggers and can concentrate on after-school activities, intelligence testing (one group charges $450 an hr to help tots get into preschool), and multi-thousand dollar parties with customized gifts for each child.

And you know the pampered little darlings will end up dancing on bars or trying drugs—just like everyone before them.

I also read a story in the NYT (where else) about how New Yorkers have everything so they can’t find things to buy each other for gifts. One store sold salt—salt from every corner of the world.

Hey- at least the person who worked there got a job out of it. I try to think of these people as job creators.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Learning curve shortening


Time was, you had an advantage if you had years or even decades of relevant experience. Now this is not the norm—everything is jumbled and in play.

Some employers even think really experienced applicants may be stuck in some old situation and not be current and flexible.

If you keep up with the latest thinking and technology, these employers may also think you want more money for doing that.

So some people sort of downplay their experience.

It’s best not to do that and let the face-to-face rule. The long experience may mean you know people the interviewer knows—or can reminisce a little…this can be productive.

Sometimes I say, “I know what works and what doesn’t—and the second is most important.” This can be intriguing.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

What if everyone only walked 10 feet to eat?


Yup, we are going Third World—and it may not be a bad thing. Save money, built-in babysitters, elderly wisdom being dispensed…

The average of a first marriage is now 28-ish.

Immigrants also like the big happy thing.

Multigenerational living was big until World War II. Then came the generation gap—Vietnam etc. People boxed into separate residences in the burbs.

Between 2005 and 2011, the percent of men living at home went from 14% to 19%.

Now, one in five people 25-34 live with other generations.

I do—it’s not so bad. Someone to be mad at.

Aw—joking.

Sort of.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Are you a decent conversationalist?


I thought—I am not telling anyone how to have a conversation! Then I realized I know people who aren’t great at it.

In a job or networking context, being clunky, vague, irrelevant or irritating can hurt you.

Dean Newlund, president of Mission Facilitators International, thought it was important.

Conversations run marriages, friendships, teams, companies—everything—Newlund notes.

Try this—evaluate your next conversation. Determine the other person’s style.

Is the person analytical? Does he or she talk slowly—work on getting the facts right? With analytical, you need to reassure them that they have the facts.

The Driver is fast-paced and results oriented. They like to move things along and not listen. Spell out how you will get results.

Expressives like the big picture, dislike a lot of detail. Use words like “gut” and “intuition” with them.

Amiables are slow-paced, build relationships, share their personal life. Be informal with them.

This goes for giving a speech, too—if your audience is analytical, don’t wax on and tell personal stories.

All this is called “mirroring.” I guess it is important.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Are you a brand?


This is the new buzz—become your own brand. Whatever that really means.

I guess I am one with my daily sites, loud mouth, and of course, world class skills (heh). But the other day, I got a email from some twit implying I should not sell anything, that I was a hustler who would sell my used underwear.

So…being a brand can have a dark side. Make that a funny side.

Stephanie Snyder recently wrote about branding yourself, AZ Republic, Nov 20, 2011.

Your brand is all your strengths.

They said branding means you will be sought out instead of seeking others.

First, evaluate all your experiences. Decide which areas you liked and want to be an expert in.

Create a website showing that.

Then flog yourself as that brand on all the social sites.

But….be careful. Overpromoting can be tiresome. Don’t imitate others. And don’t change brands all the time.

Would an underwear site do anything for me? Probably not.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Teaching "get up and go"


Judy Cresanta is a spokesperson for New Vistas Center for Education in our burg, Chandler AZ.

She wrote in the Arizona Republic on Nov 11, 2011, about the Handy Helpers Fair held here—like a job fair for youngsters.

It sounded sort of like Career Day with adults spieling about their professions. To preschool and kindergartners.

Hold the phone—preschool?

Anyhow—an aerospace engineer at Boeing taught the 3-yr-olds to read words like helicopter and airplane.

A karate instructor taught them how to deal with conflict.

A Kia dealer brought toy cars. Two firemen came. A Zumba instructor. A nurse.

This sounds like fun to me! Why not?

Some schools for older kids even set up banks. Do they still have Junior Achievement? I remember that.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

What if the boss is never available?


CareerBuilder discussed this recently. An absentee boss can be a blessing for some, but could hurt your career.

Maybe the hands-off boss thinks you don’t need supervision or want it. You need to communicate—ask him or her to prioritize projects.

You can “manage up”—bring this up yourself . Invite a conversation about your role and what you are doing.

Be sure you are doing what you are supposed to. Figure out what needs to be done while the boss is traveling, say.

Try to think what should be done—think like your manager. If you career bombs, you can’t just say, “Well, you were never around.”

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Thought college was a good thing


Dale Dauten and JT O’Donnell are business gurus. Someone asked them should they “hide” their MBA or not put it on their resume.

Wait a hot one—everyone is saying we need MORE education, etc

Dauten even wonders if a grad degree in business (MBA) can hurt you. He says put it on your resume.

…If the job requires one…

If the job does not require one, “slide it in” under “Other Experience.” He says!

Really? This is absurd to me! You might want to lose dates of service so no one latch onto your age first thing…but hide your degrees?

O’Donnell says nooo, and in fact, decide who wants an MBA—maybe another MBA from the same school you went to. She even says call the school for ideas of who might be hiring. These schools have employment offices—milk them.

Incidentally, I do the order of resume categories in descending order of impressiveness—if the companies you worked for were big names, put experience up top. If your college was huge and not too long ago, put education first. As we get older, education tends to slide toward the bottom. And if that education has an MBA, that degree may be less current.

That’s as far as I will go with Dauten’s advice.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Watch out--blues sneaking up


First, get this straight. If your family is more Jerry Springer than Rebecca at Sunnybrook Farm, you are not alone.

The holidays are tough, because family members are thrown in a room together sometimes. The big wad-up, as one woman I know calls it. Alcohol may be served. Uh-oh.

Also, you are supposed to be cheery and thrilled. You must be! What is wrong with you?

Uh, no money to buy presents, age-old gripes, perversity, who knows.

Too much sugar, food tox from rich delicious stuff, too little sleep, stomping around malls…it adds up.

Then when it’s formally over, you feel let down. Drat—not even irritation and exhaustion to look forward to.

Some tips from Banner Hospitals in Phoenix:

Remember, it’s about a birth, a great past moment.

Don’t expect much to change from last year.

Invite people who will pitch in and help. Let the slugs go to their own party (Banner did not say that, I did).

Go look at lights other people put up if you don’t feel like doing it.

Yes—it’s the end of the year, a natural time to sort of sum up and if the sum isn’t what you want, well, regroup.

You get another try.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Two-family homes


In case you were thinking or hoping the “kids at home” thing was going to end, I learned that some builders are reconfiguring new houses to contain two separate living areas for the grandparents and the kids and their families.

One homebuilder, Lennar, out here in AZ, is debuting NextGen, for extended families. It’s almost 3,000 SF, three BRs, Den, Great Room, with a two-car garage. The NextGen suite has its own garage, laundry room, dining room, kitchenette patio and outdoor grill.

The company surveyed 1,200 families out west here and one-third were already sharing with extended family. Go to lennar.com.

One family sharing a house with parents remarked that everyone got along.

Very important!

Interesting, though, that this kind of living arrangement is being planned for, not just adjusted to.

Friday, November 11, 2011

How's your self-confidence?


I was moping around earlier about how every decision I ever made—a mate, a kid, a place of residence, this, that, certainly a profession (now dying)--has been clobbered by unexpected consequences and made me afraid to take even a baby step.

Then I read a story by Elizabeth Newell in Government Executive, Nov 2011, about how self-confident people tend to make better leaders.

This assumes you want to be a leader.

But say you do…

Timothy Bednarz, author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It, and What You Can Learn from It (not a great title, in my humble, but whatever), says you need self-belief more than just surface bravado. This means knowing you can do whatever realistic thing you set your mind to.

You need a strong sense of optimism (oops for me).

And you have to be able to overcome the failure that comes from taking risks. Yes! This is the problem.

Most leaders fail a lot! But their self-belief brings them through.

Thomas Edison once said, “What do you mean I don’t know anything—I know 5,000 things that don’t work.”

Okey-dokey, Tom. Settle down.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

We can't afford our beloved vices anymore


According to Loyola, the US is winning against the evil smoking habit. Fewer people are starting, a 3 million quit a year. Still, a fifth of adults smoke. My kid is among them. She apparently started when she was 12—love those parochial schools chockful of naughty peers.

Anyhow, now that we are struggling economically (she is still at home), I took note of the fact that a pack a day runs $3,300 a year!

And it’s bad for ya as you might have heard—cancer, heart disease, blah blah.

A year after quitting, the excess risk of heart disease is half that of a smoker’s.

Twenty minutes after quitting, Loyola said, your heart rate and blood pressure drop. Twenty minutes? That makes no sense…

Moving on…

Eighty percent of lung cancer is thought to be from smoking. Quitting even 25 years before does not help ya.

That Chantix stuff can really cause you problems…

This is a mixed picture. It’s best to try to quit, I guess…think of the money if nothing else.

But I also get irritated by the national nannies who won’t let you work for them if you smoke at home and otherwise try to mind your business.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

When the headhunter calls


Haiyan Feng, writing in the AZ Republic, Nov 9, 2011, says more companies are besieged by applications and are hiring recruiters to thrash through them or reach out to qualified people at other companies.

Recruiters specialize—some are communications, some IT, some engineering.

Some do charge the job candidate for their services, but most charge the company. Some get paid only if a company hires their candidate—so they are picky.

If you get in to see a recruiter to introduce yourself, be sure you know their specialty.

Be realistic—if you do not fit the qualifications they recruiter is seeking, he or she may drop you. Just say OK, please keep me in mind for future opportunities.

If you get lucky and the recruiter brings you a deal, you can negotiate. If you don’t ask, you don’t get.

Yes, the recruiter is going to make a ton on you. Forget about that.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Future of work


Bob Nelson wrote in the October 2011 Costco Connection about the factors shaping work in the future.

You remember work.

Recently, we honored five young entrepreneurs here in Chandler AZ—four had cos that marketed things and did not make them.

I think one trend will be that the US is sliding away from manufacturing.

Nelson says also there will be a shortage of skilled workers. This means specific training for specific jobs.

The Millennials will be taking over—they were born after 1980 and before 2000. This crowd thinks differently and is motive differently. They don’t want to pay dues. They want to sort of scramble over a lattice of interesting jobs—not climb a career ladder.

Temps will be a huge factor. By temp, I mean people like me, who bring a lot to the table in terms of equipment and experience, but don’t have to be paid for all of it.

Many more people will work online rather than in an office.

And of course—we will be part of a worldwide labor force. This means competing with highly educated Indians and others and also with people working happily for $10 a day.

Oh—and the economy here is not going to snap back to what it was.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Will you ever work again?


Five and a half million boomers 50 and over are looking for a job—or a couple of jobs.

Some people retired and then found their money would not last. Others were laid off in The Troubles here and now can’t get back on.

Often older people don’t have the skills. Insufficient piercings might also be a problem.

Often the hiring people don’t believe you really want to work—gee, this is half of what you made, how can you take it?

Howard Stone, author of Too Young to Retire, says form a job club. Brainstorm with others in the same boat.

You can do mock interviews, check each other’s resumes. Even take courses at a local community college.

Or hire a tutor at one house to help you brush up on computer skills—split the cost.

These ideas came from William Arnold, who writes the Strategic Aging column in the Chandler Republic, a tabloid within the Arizona Republic.

Speaking of boomers—I hate this riff about how boomers are selfish, never contributed, are takers not givers. Yeah? Well, we raised you younger people and kept food on the table.

Some of us are still doing that for you.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Skyping it


Jahna Berry, AZ Republic, Nov 4, 2011, says more employers are using Skype and video conferencing to tag up with prospects.

This may not replace the in-person interview, but it would be the “phone” interview on steroids.

According to this piece, University of AZ’s medical school uses this for out of state candidates. Intel, too—recording the exchanges to be pecked over later.

There can be glitches, of course—in one instance, five people interviewed the person and only three of them fit on the screen.

How can you prepared to ace this.

First, figure out what Skype is. Then tell me.

Test the equipment. Avoid rooms with an echo.

Dress nicely. Avoid weird patterns.

Make sure the room is quiet and the dog is someplace else.

Look right into the camera.

You could even rehearse with a friend who has the setup.

Relax—you’re home, you’re safe. And so smart! No gas!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Holiday gifts--keep it local


Vicki Mueller Roudonis had a neat idea going around the internet. Instead of Chinese cheapies (Dollar Store, etc), make sure your gifts help local people.

I do this—I get so much off eBay, over-the-counter meds, jewelry, clothes. This helps small entrepreneurs with eBay businesses (although some big cos sell on there, too).

Vicki had some great ideas. First, how about a gift certificate for a haircut or massage. Local!

Pay to get someone’s car detailed or oil changed--it won’t get sent to Taiwan.

How about 6 hours from a local handyman for the Honey-Do List.

Owner-run restaurants near you—do they give certificates.

A computer tuneup?

A hand-knitted scarf? Check Craigs to see if anyone is offering. Etsy.com also has American-made stuff.

Avon—she is nearby.

Or maybe a pet for adoption—pay for the spaying or neutering and first shots. (Ask first on animals.)

THINK LOCAL. THINK HELPING YOUR NEIGHBOR.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

"Big job" a big pain?


Most of the writers I know need and want MORE work, but Anita Bruzzese, Gannett, says a significant portion of women would rather have a “smaller” job and more family time.

Back in the day, we women used to want the Big Job—the CEO slot, directorship, certified association exec job.

But MORE mag did a survey and 43% of the women surveyed said they were becoming less ambitious.

Seventy-three percent said they would not apply for the boss’s job if it opened up.

The stress, the hours, the politics, the travel, the commute…not so appealing.

One woman said middle management was best—a paycheck and no one checking on your every move.

I can see both sides of this. A second earner, though, is very handy when you are thinking of a “medium” job.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Quick--do something wacky


The clicks on Monster, the endless emailing, the calling…how about trying something offbeat?

I had an idea for my kid. I said go to Vistaprint.com, design a colorful business card with your number and some line about you—such as Part-time Assistant or Fill-In Available—and hand them out all around the small businesses.

People, I told her, don’t like to throw away a card. They may hold on to it and call you and you can get a day’s work if the owner has to go someplace or someone does not show.

She was not impressed.

Still, we have to try different approaches.

How about going to a nearby office building and trying to leave a resume at every office. It’s not the job or if there is a job—it’s the building.

Think out of the box…

Oh, that stupid box. I am sick of it.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Toxic bosses can make you sick


A mean person with no boundaries and power over us. Ah—what a dream. Madeline Vann, MPH, Everyday Health, says bosses who throw things, screamers, people who crave chaos in order to excel, all can hurt those under them.

Bullies—a lot of them—bullies with no playground. They can “correct” you in front of others, steal your ideas, talk behind your back, the possibilities are endless.

Lynn Taylor, author of Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant, is quoted as saying people spend 19 hrs a week worrying about the boss. Six of those hours are on weekends.

This can cause depression, heart problems, overeating, asthma attacks, insomnia, and the consumption of tons of sick leave.

What can you do? First see the problem for what it is—them, not you. Write everything down.

Think of the boss as a toddler—is he or she hungry, tired, overwhelmed…Maybe a juice box?

I added the juice box.

Find a trusted sounding board-OK, person who isn’t sick of hearing about this.

Or—look for a job.

The juice box sounds easier. My advice? One tantrum at a time.

Also--the bosses commented on this--and they had their own complaints--lateness, malingering, stealing, slowness, you name it.

There is unrest in them thar cubicles.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Don't have to do these things--relieved?


Do you like that Suze Orman person—who stridently yells DENIED at people when they want to spend a buck? I am not a fan. But I do think we need someone to say yes or no on things. Just not her, with her orange canvas outfits.

I saw a story in Working Mother (Nov 2011) about things you can take off your To Do List. What a great idea to cut stress!

The magazine says you can remove:

Zumba Class
Scrapbooking
Learning to knit
Hosting a dinner party

These come from The Happiest Mom by Meagan Francis.

Now, I have some…

Learning to make scratch piecrust
Cooking all meals on Sunday and freezing
Dog obedience school
Weedeating

And that’s just for starters! Got some more, readers? Let’s go easy on ourselves.

By the way, Working Mother is such a good mag I still get it and my kid is almost 30. I am dropping it, though, because they went to a new design that yellow-highlights things for me in the stories.

How dumb.

The best advice EVER in Working Mother--if your kid won't get dressed in the morning, let him sleep in his clothes.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Huge resume no-nos


Comedy relief time—at least I HOPE my readers would never do any of these.

Recently some managers were polled and told CareerBuilder about some stupid things they saw on resumes.

One man said the more he was paid, the harder he worked.

Another said he wanted a chance to show off his new tie.

A dog was listed as a reference.

Moonwalking was listed as a special skill.

Another said she had versatile toes.

Some used an email address with “ShakeMyBooty” in it.

Someone else asked for money to interview—because his time was valuable.

One manager got a resume in a box with a lemon and the statement that “I am not a lemon.”

And…someone noted that he had assaulted his previous boss.

Noooo, people…noooo….don’t make me stop this car.

Of course, I did once hire someone because she said in the interview that she had once had lunch with Mick Jagger…but that was the INTERVIEW. Very different.

@@@@ (eyeroll symbol—like it?)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Time to buff up the reference list?


What if you have been out of work so long, your references are dead or have also been laid off and you have no contact numbers? What if the companies you worked for have gone to corporate heaven?

My kid is in this position. She said, “Mom, all these places are gone…” I said, “All you can do is explain that when you get an interview.”

CareerBuilder riffed off on references recently. Are the ones you are offering showing you to best advantage?

Do they want to see you succeed as much as you want to succeed?

Can they talk about your strengths. Do they know your strengths?

If they are with a company, they may not be allowed to talk about your time there—only that you did work there.

Always ask them before listing them. Bring them up to date on you. See what they are doing.

Keep them in the loop—“I gave out your name…” That sort of thing. Do this when you first hear a prospective employer is going to start checking refs.

If you think someone is trashing you—yank them off the list. You’d be amazed how often people don’t even think about this.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Who gets to be Bea Arthur?


My sister and I oversee our mother’s care in assisted care—and have for 17 yrs. She cannot manage on her own.

She can pay $3000 a mo—we will never be able to when it comes our turn. And our turn is sort of here, we are both quakier that she is.

So….My friends and I jokingly talk about banding together and taking care of each other—maybe with a cute employee to fetch our prescriptions, cook, clean the pool (a must), and mix the Cosmos at twilight.

Could this happen, though? I guess it’s sort of a Golden Girls scenario with diseases and disabilities.

Could we swing it on SS? We need to do a budget.

It would have to be someplace warm…

And unlike the communes of yore--no lentils and garden weeding.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Time gaps in your resume


Jahna Berry, AZ Republic, Oct 23, 2011, writes about big gaps in your resume—and not just the ones for being out of work in this mess.

The key is to neither obsess over such lapses or ignore them.

What if you needed to take care of your kids? Or a sick relative? Or you went to Europe?

It has come up lately that employers won’t talk to people unless they have a job. Outlawing this has been proposed and some states have passed such bills.

The White House even wants people not hired because they had been unemployed to be able to sue. This could backfire—fewer could even be considered.

If you have been out of work for a year or more, you may need to take lower pay. You may also need to learn new technology PDQ.

Mention the work gap. But also show how your skills fit the position perfectly.

You are not alone, that’s for sure!

Put the best face on it, say you are interested in the job, be enthusiastic, and hope for the best.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Just for fun--cheapie changes


Fluffing up the house can give you a lift.

Nah—it doesn’t have to be expensive.

I have been taking a box or a handful or armful out of the garage each Wednesday.

That helps.

You can also paint one wall a contrasting color.

Get a new lampshade for the old tried and true.

How about pillows—go to Cost Plus World—they really add a dash of difference.

Do a photo wall—why leave those pix in the closet.

Look at clearance posters in the craft store…could be something.

Or go on Craigs—look under antiques. People are motivated to sell these days. Want a Laz-E-Boy—we have one available.

Us? Laz-E?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Credit despair or credit repair?


I hit the wall a couple of years ago when some geniuses on the net decided writers were only worth $5 a story, instead of $500. Big difference, as it turns out.

Reputable publications followed suit and either died, cut rates, or went to the Web, meaning they could justify paying less.

Way less.

I declared bankruptcy more than a year ago. I had to. I am disabled and don’t drive—so can’t run out and get a so-called job—oh, and those are lacking, have you heard?

The BK process was very inexplicable. Here in AZ, you have to have less than $150 in your accounts (total) on the day you file. You cannot just take it out and put it back. You have to buy groceries or use it somehow.

Also—the lawyers want two grand to file your paperwork. My guy did not even show up in court to stand up for me—another guy he sent did.

But it worked—and after 15 mos or so, I got it paid off. So no credit cards.

Am I eager to get back on that merry-go-round? Not really. But if you are interested—I have learned of a site with a lot of basic info on rebuilding credit. It’s called AAACreditGuide.com.

The owner of the site makes the point that people will need credit to get the economy back up and running.

There are a lot of weird scams out there—companies that say they can negotiate lower rates or balances with creditors and just send them the payment and they will do it…sometimes those are bogus. Other times, though, these are legit nonprofits doing this.

Other companies offer to challenge all your listings with the credit bureaus—and if the creditors don’t reaffirm the debt as legally required, it must be removed. This is legitimate, although you can look into on this site and even do it yourself if you want.

AAACreditGuide does say one man got his BK removed from his record. My understanding is that this is not possible, but I guess I need to follow my own advice and check into this.

Anyone heard of this?