Monday, January 31, 2011

Now for something completely different


We have to quit the SSDD approach. Same…Stuff, Different Day.

Miriam Salpeter, writing in On Careers on the US News website, says just slapping another resume on Monster is not enough.

First, how about doing some speaking? The local Chamber, Rotary, Jobs Group, Church, someplace. If you hate speaking, join Toastmasters.

On LinkedIn—add Events to your profile (add an Application) This will send notices of meetings your way.

Go on Quora.com and answer some questions—become known. (I went there and found it to be hard to register...)

Create a website about yourself—include your social sites…Talk about what you do, maybe even blog—but not just what you had for lunch.

Join a group that is outside of your usual area. If you are a computer type, join a genealogy group or a writing group. Mix it up!

I woke up and decided all my LinkedIn groups were sort of random—and I deleted them and got others.

That could happen again.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Brain drain


And now—science pubs!

Tracy Loew, USA TODAY, says you can get some pretty decent info while having a nice cocktail at a science pub.

Hey, we’re going to drink anyway in this economy, right? Might as well learn something.

Loew cites Brown’s Towne Lounge in Salem, OR. A hundred people came to hear about behavioral endocrinology while quaffing a brew.

Welcome to the science café movement. One hundred fifty cities have these. Some get going through meetings.org, so check that out.

The restaurateurs fill up non-peak hours with paying customers and the smarties get time off for good behavior and get to go out.

We used to have a weekly meetup for people who worked at home. This was back in DC. The pizza joint threw in a couple of pies and charged Happy Hour prices.

That was fun. I miss it. I tried it out here in AZ, but the members all got “real”jobs. This was years ago, when people got jobs.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

This should go without saying


CareerBuilder says some job hunters are still clueless.

DO NOT:

Hug the hiring manager on your way out.

Eat all the candy in the bowl.

Bad-mouth your spouse (or former boss).

Blow your nose and line up the used tissue on the desk.

Bring a diploma with the name whited out. (Or bring a diploma at all.)

Wear a hat that says, “Take This Job and Shove It.”

Talk about how you had an affair in your last job and got fired for it.

Throw an empty beer can in the receptionist’s trash.

Have a friend stick his or her head in and say, “How much longer?”

Answer a cell or text during an interview.

Appear uninterested. 69% of managers said they had seen this one.

Chew gum.

Ask stupid questions. I was once asked, “How long is lunch hour?”

As I said, why did I have to do all this typing, but I guess I did.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

We don't need no stinking morale


Some companies care about their employees and actually try to lift their spirits.

I KNOW. Weird.

Anyhow, some companies seem to kind of miss the mark. For instance, Publicis Dialog, as described on Spark Media Solutions, tried to get people to work overtime by issuing “Passion Points." Any employee, say a supervisor, could give these to any other one. Get 10 of these things and you could maybe get a totebag from the company.

Another company at the last minute decided to give a big donation to charity—the owner’s favorite, complete with giant check. This was instead of bonuses.

At another company party, some people got little certificates printed on the laser printer. No check.

One company brought in a clown. Hello?

Big reward for top sellers? A trip to Vegas! If your spouse didn’t come, you got a roommate.

If you think your company’s morale needs boosting, this could mean it does. Be very, very careful. Sometimes the best morale-builder is for the boss to quit.

I remember back when I had a real job, they put in a Suggestion Box. That boosted morale. Three weeks later they removed it and the subject was never discussed.

I often wonder about that.

Here’s tip: Money boosts morale. If the boss is a lunatic, getting rid of that person is also good.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Looking up?


Bob Tita and James R Hagerty (WSJ, Jan 21, 2011) says some industrial sectors may be perking.

Parker Hannifin, Johnson Controls, and Rockwell Collins posted healthy results for 2010.

Three down…I mean, up….

They also report having orders in 2011.

Still, according to this, some analysts weren’t thrilled—making more stuff, but making less money on it due to materials costing more.

Are they hiring? Are present employees working more for the same money? Will this keep up or are things finally wearing out and needing replacement?

These are things I would ask.

But I would also advise job hunters to read the business sections (have I mentioned this a few hundred times)—see who is doing better and put in an application.

Monday, January 24, 2011

"Bring me the fresh wine!"


Remember that line from "The Jerk"?

David Kesmodel, WSJ, Jan 21, 2011, says today’s wine drinkers are getting pretty unpicky.

Apparently the industry was recessed, but is now coming back—but people want to pay less. Well, duh!

Many wineries switched to cheaper vintages and are staying switched. Nine to $12 a bottle is a popular range.

One vineyard owner says the market will never be what it was.

By volume, consumption is up 2% over the year before, but the money isn’t there. Restaurants and casinos may be buying more, though.

Still, eateries are selling more by the glass.

To one place, this meant no hiring until more people started springing for the pricier bottles.

If this gets too down to earth, I will miss the snooty descriptions. Instead of swirling and saying, “Ah, quite precocious…with a hint of leather” will connoisseurs say, “Hmmm, needs another year of preschool…and is that peanut butter I detect?”

Friday, January 21, 2011

Bosses and raises


Jonathan Ingram, CareerBuilder, says sometimes you need to ask when it comes to money. Many people are still working—they need money—deserve merit “bumps.”

Ingram says the time to bring this up is review day.

Ramon Greenwood, author of “How to Get a Raise and Not Shoot Yourself in the Foot,” says if the review went well, you need to strike. Be armed with examples of how you have made or saved the company money and advanced its goals.

Still, they may say no—or “later.” But making your case puts you in the forefront.

Don’t cry hardship—this never works.

Know whether the company can afford it.

Never “demand.”

Be nice. Be diplomatic.

I would add—Never say “Jim Jones just got 10%.” They hate it when employees compare notes.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

No Espanol?


I sort of wanted to learn another language (my taking German in HS and college did not end prettily).

My sister and I bought a course—"South American Spanish." She doesn’t want to do it because it isn’t Mexican Spanish, if there even is such a course…Spanglish? Anyhow, there it stands.

If you do speak more than one language, though—it’s an asset in this economy. Spanish and Chinese are going to be huge!

The University of Phoenix Institute interviewed 511 worker and 419 employers. The employers were asked what skills would be in demand in 10 yrs.

42% of the employers said Chinese would be in moderate or high demand.

Nearly 70% said Spanish!

But—don’t get too excited. When the workers were polled, 80% said it was somewhat or very unlikely they’d be learning enough Chinese to conduct business. Nearly 60% said no to Spanish.

A coach said it’s easier to find jobs for people with non-Romance languages, such as Chinese or Russian.

They get paid more, too.

Well, caramba!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Here come the headhunters again


No, don’t be scared—this is good! Or could be.

Joe Light writes about this in the WSJ, Jan 18, 2011.

Recruiters are getting off the computer and the third-party job boards like CareerBuilder and Monster, and instead of sorting through tons of online submissions, are actively seeking candidates.

Of course, they may be seeking on Linked In or another site.

They are trying to find people that suit the opening.

Monster is not hurting, though—because others out of a job are coming back to life and posting. In fact, the site may start matching resumes better with the needs of recruiters.

You know all those apps you sent in and never heard back? Apparently, some brain trusts figured out you might be a customer of the company and being ignored might tick you off.

I don’t really know the significance of all this—what do you think?

Remember—if a headhunter does contact you, they are not like an agent for you—they work for the employer and if you won’t fit the opening they have, they will drop you.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Recession fears coming out in dreams


Marilyn Elias, LA Times, Jan 17, 2011, says anxiety dreams are swarming us in this recession.

I know they are getting to me. People trapped actually underwater (from all the writing about underwater mortgages and how we will become Waterworld Without the Water?), chasing, freezing and can’t move, endlessly wandering through rooms, malls, and hotels I have never seen or been in. Wandering, wandering.

How about the school dream—you are new on the job or in a class and everyone except you knows what to do, how to find the room, what was said all semester.

Deirdre Barrett, editor of Dreaming, says these dreams are on the upswing.

Other “recession” images include cracked or crumbling walls, interlopers moving into your home, A threat to your home represents your basic security.

I have dreams where I am opening bills I cannot pay.

A woman in the article tried to pay with Portuguese money—no one would take it.

Survivors of other traumas often dream of water, tidal waves, brought on by the recession and finally drowning them.

Psychologists think such dreams can actually slowly bring resolution, recovery. The part of the brain governing dreaming can devise new ways of thinking.

“Focused, waking thought can get us in a rut,” said one source.

When I wake gasping, my one thought is, “At least I finally fell asleep.” Then I get up, walk around, play part of an audiobook, anything to make sure I don’t go right back where the monsters are.

Monday, January 17, 2011

A failure to communicate


The internet has brought a screaming welter of English as a second language communication—even from people who speak only English.

Stupid, confusing, cliched, jargony, and SHORT—140 characters.

And this is just the business stuff.

Anita Bruzzese, CareerBuilder, asks if you have ever written the phrase “multiple regression analysis.”

If so, wash your computer out with soap!

Poor writing means people aren’t thinking the same thing—and then will make poor decisions.

Many companies do not think this is important—itself a poor decision. They don’t offer writing classes.

Get a book called Be a Brilliant Business Writer by Diana Young.

Think about making your first sentence answer, “So what?”

Include only relevant content. Just because you know it, Bruzzese says, doesn't mean it belongs in your memo, white paper, or email.

Make the paper visually appealing--no big gray blocks of prose clumping down the page.

Forget the ten-dollar words. Don’t say aggregate-say total. Use instead of utilize.

Keep sentences under 28 words.

I have done something to my MS Word under Tools that tells me the reading level after it spellchecks. Sixth grade is fine, even for physicians, I have found.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Social networking changing housing biz


Ilyce Glink, Tribune Media Services, says social networking has changed house-buying and selling.

More than 90% of buyers begin online, she says.

This can give you mortgage rates, listings, and tons of statistics, but it can’t give you what your friends think and what experiences they have had. That takes Facebooking or tweeting.

People are more likely to follow a friend than a professional, she says. There is even a book out called Social Networking for Home Builders by Carol Flammer.

This is a problem for realtors, she says—it shifts the power to the consumer.

She recommends every builder or realtor have a website, blog, online PR, and social networking sites.

You know…in case, your friend is giving bum advice.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

What should you do if someone is acting crazy?


We have so many workplace shootings, mother-in-law and the kids sprees, and of course, the latest.

Mental illness is so misunderstood, so hard to pin down, so scary, people tend to try to ignore it even in their families.

You may not know your legally adult child is posting things on the internet about how he could eat a dead body whole.

Or plotting for years to kill a member of Congress who had sort of brushed him off.

Someone you know may be withdrawn, in tears all day, saying irrational things, hearing things, seeing things you don’t see, or holding ideas that are not mainstream or which do not make “sense.”

Mental illness is from imbalances in the brain, made worse by stress. It’s like someone put tainted oil in a car—it won’t work correctly. The commonest types are depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and anxiety disorders.

Someone in your family may be acting threateningly or strangely. At least see what you are looking at. Go to: http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/go/information/get-info/mi-and-the-family/recognizing-warning-signs-and-how-to-cope.

It’s a start. You may have heard you cannot commit someone to treatment as easily as before a lot of programs were cancelled a few years ago and the hospitals emptied out into the streets. Or you may think your insurance won’t pay or you can’t pay.

This may all be true—but you know if you need to do something. And today’s the day. You do not ever want to go through what those Saturday morning shoppers did in Tucson—and you can’t want to be the family saying you are so sorry, but you just can’t think of any words that will help.

That's because there are no words. Just actions--and before trouble can strike.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Wacky, but what if you want to buy a house?


Ellen James Martin, AZ Republic, Jan 9, 2011, says some people still want to buy—and they want bargains!

The nerve.

Anyhow, A real estate agent quoted was bullish on prices heading up for planned communities with gates, presumably, and pools, fitness centers, and schools to go with.

Be warned, though—buying in this market means a longer process, more paperwork, a big down payment. A short sale can take up to nine months. Even longer sometimes.

The advice is to move right along—get your bid in.

Winter is a good time—more competition in spring.

Watch for homeowners under pressure to sell—say someone moved to get a better job or was transferred. They might have two mortgages.

Realtors will tell you things like this now.

If you are waiting to sell your home for more before buying, see if the discount you can get on the purchase is more than what you might get by waiting.

Also look at spec houses builders have—they will often deal.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Jobs that can't be outsourced


Lest you conclude that the jobs that can’t be outsourced all involve bedpans, there are others that can’t be done in India.

Famous athlete or actor. Those are pretty secure—for a few years, anyhow.

Firefighter. This is close-in work.

Heating and air technician. In AZ, we love our air conditioning guys. Landscaper is another. Bug guys—it’s not like you can get Billy the Exterminator from Louisiana. (More’s the pity.) Plumber—yeah, try sending that toitie to Sri Lanka.

Cop. Yup, have to be nearby.

Interior decorator. I see some of this done through websites, but generally, you have to be in the same town with the house or office.

Mining. Obviously you need to be where the mine is.

Physical therapist. Same. Hands-on.

Primary care doctor. Yup, same. They do send out x-rays and CTs, though. Home health aide, nurse, etc—same, can’t do it from afar.

Attorney. Well, someone does have to come to court, but I just found out a big firm here that advertises is not even here.

Others, people? Let’s make it impossible to let the rest of the world undercut us.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Other Depression survivors can lend advice


My mother’s father built a house in the Milwaukee suburbs with his own hands, but in the 1930s, could not move his family in—had to sell it. My mother says he had a breakdown.

But when I met him, he was not broken down. It had passed.

Life is suffering. Believe me on this.

John Bussey writes about his own dad in the WSJ, Jan 7, 2011. His father, 91, is fine in a small apartment.

He buys the Value brands I have mentioned before—look for them, they are fine, most of them. He puts a lot of water in the dish soap—it lasts and lasts. I do that!

Did you also know you can only fill up one side of the dishwasher cups and it also cleans perfectly?

Bussey’s dad used to live in rooming houses, he worked in carnivals. He also went to college and worked in Army intelligence. His austerity comes naturally and is no biggie.

He still uses a cereal bowl from grade school. As far as he can see, it works just like it always did.

I have sheets Mom gave me when I went to college. No holes. They are fine and quite pretty.

I believe the world economy is re-setting to a lower level. We can do more with less. Americans have always been inventive.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Women need to shop like men do


Shocking, I know, but I bought some new pants, a nightgown with no holes except a neckhole in it, and a sweatshirt. I was feeling extra fat, so everything was too big.

I am going to wear the pants anyhow, give someone the long shirt, and keep pulling the nightgown up on my shoulders.

I am an idiot who can’t get dressed.

Christina Binkley, WSJ. Jan 6, 2011, says women get hosed when it comes to buying clothes—they should do what men do.

Men don’t buy uncomfortable clothing, for one thing. I can’t tell you how many times my sister groans and yanks at her waistband. I say, “Elastic.” She snaps: “Even elastic hurts.”

Or things are too short—white shins, or you bend over and everyone can see the good china.

Or itchy-scratchy.

Men also get free alterations. I have taken clothes to the tailor in balmier economies…It’s a good move.

Fashion designers figure women will throw clothes out sooner than men—are more changeable and fickle. Ergo, they go cheap.

Feel to see if the material is soft, the seams complete, no loose threads.

Don’t focus on brands. Big brands can sell crappy stuff. Pants should have a two-layer waistband. Are the seams wide enough if you need to, ahem, let it out at some point?

Try it on. Can you raise your arms without everything going wacko? Can you squat without bagging the knees? Can you breathe?

Breathing is especially good. My sister, fortunately, never needs to.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Going temp can bring you back to life


Eugenia Mena, writing in CareerBuilder, says temp agencies can still be a good way to get back into gear.

Employers are still leery of committing to the full boat of benefits and use these companies.

These jobs range from receptionist to stacking boxes in a warehouse.

Don’t act as if anything is below you or say you have a degree, but "just this once," that sort of thing.

Get in there, work, cash the check.

There is also such a thing at some places called temp to perm. You sort of “try out” as a temp and may be signed on permanently.

You can always say no if you don't want to be permanent.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Resumes--revamping this year?


This year? You should be revamping every time you send it.

This is not a history, it’s a sales pitch, according to Donna Tucker, owner of CareerPro Resume Center in Phoenix, as quoted by Alyson Zepeda in CareeerBuilder.

Analyze the job description and highlight the skills, training, and on-the-job experience that matches.

Lose weak objectives and dopey email addresses (hottie@hotmail.com). I keep getting mail from someone labeled jimmybigsissa. That just sounds gross, pardon me. He can take his big sissa elsewhere.

Don’t use a canned template—employers know these in a second.

Since, many times, resumes are “searched” by computer at first, drop in the keywords from the job description.

Try something different. Put some thought into it!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

You could put it on the baby, too


AOL’s Mrs Fixit has some uses for baby oil—and readers had some more.

Gum all over the place—slide it off with baby oil

Shredder stopping up? Put some baby oil on paper and shred it.

For cheap baby wipes, cut a roll of paper towels in half, use an old coffee can, put them in and pour over 1.5 cups of water, and a tablespoon each of baby shampoo and baby oil.

Coat shower curtains and doors with baby oil…prevents scum.

Stuck zipper—a little baby oil on a Q-tip.

Paint on your hand—apply you know what.

Use instead of expensive mink oil to break in a new baseball mitt.

Remove eye makeup with it.

Use it for homemade play dough..does not go rancid like vegetable oil.

Of course, someone then crashed the party and said baby oil was tested on animals, use olive oil instead, or straight mineral oil, etc…

So, you decide.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Plans--making any?


I just got a holiday letter from a HS classmate who traveled to Antarctica, Scotland, and India last year.

I didn’t even get to downtown Phoenix. I am not sure these old knees could take India.

Life is what happens while you are making plans, according to one Beatle, forget which one.

I could use more clients. My plan is to make a very low-ebb goal, one I could maybe keep. Two clients? Maybe three? One woman already answered me—this is very rare, for editors to answer you. I thought that was very nice.

I need to keep up my savings—even if it’s $25 a mo. And not spend it on stuff like food and the mortgage.

New ways to fix ramen noodles—note to self.

I need to fluff up my government contractor profile. This is very hard, so I put it out of my mind the second it enters.

What else…more naps!

Maybe about now…