Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Hire a female vet!


I saw a news segment on how female veterans are having a tougher time than males getting a job when they get back from a war zone or leave the military.

This is not good!

One walked with a cane—HR people were not interested.

Another had been treated for PTSD—this was not favorably received or even understood.

According to the Center for Women Veterans, there are more than 1.8 million in the US. Over the next five years, 150,000 are coming out of the service.

These are smart, trained women, resilient, team players.

Yet—in Jan 2010, 11.2% of women vets, as compared with 9.4% of men, were unemployed.

HR people, Chambers of Commerce—let’s step up. I will write resumes if anyone needs one.

This is real. We can fix it.

She won't make you drop down and give her ten--I promise.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Been to a one-company Job Fair yet?


Jahna Berry, AZ Republic, May 21, 2011, says things are morphing fast out there—suddenly the multi-company Job Fair is not the ticket.

Now, a company—say McDonalds—holds a one-day application event. This is happening in AZ—which is good news, at least some jobs are available, although they tend to be paper hat stuff.

Recently Mickey D’s hauled in 14,000 people and hired less than a tenth.

This works for the company because they get to do quick interviews. For applicants, this gives face time, not just a chance to drop a res on a table.

Still, these things can be overwhelming.

Nevertheless, the old way wasn’t working. People could not prepare in advance. A storm window installer might not want to work at Burger King.

Jobseekers have been craving the human contact after hundreds of resumes were sent into cyberhell and were never heard from again.

Some tips: Arrive early at these fairs. Dress for an interview—lose the flipflops. Step up to the table, offer your hand. Bring a resume and maybe work samples. Be prepared to tell what you are seeking, what you bring to the table.

Ask for a business card—how should you follow up? What comes next? Ask.

Write a short note to those you talk with at any length. Remind them of the conversation—“I was the woman who had worked with Bill Gates.”

Bring it, in other words. At least it’s a person, not a wormhole in space.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Want to be a CEO, ladies?


My days of ruthless ambition have succumbed to living in Sticksville, having creaky knees, and not seeing the point, but many of the young women coming up are still aiming to be boss.

I was a cofounder of Women in Govt Relations in Washington a long time ago, so I remember.

CareerBuilder has some tips.

They call CEO the C-Suite—we used to call it Mahogany Row.

In the Fortune 500—14.4 % of the CEO’s are women.

You need to beat those odds by finding a mentor, to talk with, to smooth the way.

Don’t get hung up on gender—yes, women sometimes get it short shrift. Work around it.

Don’t try to be a people pleaser—it never works. Some people just will not be pleased. It’s a waste of time. Someone once told me that 10% of the people I meet won’t like me and won’t ever get to like me.

Work hard. Let it show, without being showy.

The best titles are the shortest--CEO, boss, chief, president. As words are added, clout is subtracted.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Don't chop off the old-looking parts


Anita Bruzzese, CareerBuilder, says this fear (or reality) of age discrimination can lead people to extremes.

I never recommend extremes of cutting into yourself just for appearances.

It has been my experience that human tissue does not always do what we want it to.

Still, plastic surgery is up 5% from a year ago.

On the other hand, I saw a commercial for a hair dye that basically does not work—does not cover all gray—supposed to look more natural. Yeah, I guess.

I also am not into the Fox News swimsuit top look in clothes for women applying for office jobs. What is UP with that? It looks hootchy as all get out! Wear a blouse, a suit, not a leotard. Keep the “girls” covered.

And maybe good shoes. Supposedly hirers look at shoes.

Don’t iron your hair, especially over 40.

Stand up straight—good posture.

A boob job or over-botoxing? People talk about that instead of your abilities.

And those fake tans. OMG! Liver trouble! You will ruin our health plan.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

We grandmas can't get no respect


Jeez, let up with the commercial tossing granny off the cliff, awready. Anybody who follows this health mess knows it’s dopey, anyhow—you can’t push a wheelchair on a forest path. Come on!

In a larger sense, older people are getting short shrift, though. Donna Ballman wrote about this for AOL.

There are nine signs of age discrimination, she says.

First, we have biased comments. “Hey, old timer.” “When will you be retiring anyhow?” Document these.

Compare how you are treated to the younger among you, If older people get laid off first, note this.

If you get nailed for something younger people do, note this.

If you get passed over for promotion and someone younger gets it, note that.

If the younger people get the best jobs, write it down.

If you see the only young people being hired, hey, note that.

If you hit 50 or 60 and start getting negative reviews, uh-oh.

If you think the boss is trying to make you miserable because of your age, keep track.

AND—remember, even if your boss is older, if they prefer younger to older, this is still age discrimination.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Design your own wedding ring


Will you save money? Probably not. But not everything is about that, is it?

OK, it is, these days, but I still thought this was interesting—a story by Natalie Ermann Russell in USA TODAY WEEKEND (May 20-22, 2011).

First she quotes someone saying a wedding ring is an emotional piece of jewelry. Not sure what that means, but it sounds deep. I would add that you will look at it every day of your life.

First, she advises, realize your fingers will change over time. You may need to resize the ring. Don’t use wood or titanium, which don’t resize.

OK. Got it. No wood.

Check on how to maintain white gold, yellow gold, platinum. Methods vary.

Before consulting a designer, draw it. Don’t worry about costly gems all the way around…only part of it will show.

Find a reputable designer. Check out mjsa.or or snagmetalsmith.org.

My sister took a picture from a magazine. You could do that.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Facebook--boon or bust jobwise?


I dabble some in Facebook—I put up the subjects of my two daily sites, for one thing. Sometimes, I go over and blab with folks for while—and my deathless observations somehow get all over hell and gone.

I am a social media idiot, is what I am saying. I am not a Twitter tweetie or whatever the term of art is.

CareerBuilder insists FB can help you get a job, though.

They say to customize your avatar. Your custom avatar should include contact information, email and job history. I thought avatars were those little pictures.

See? Idiot.

Anyhow, let your Facebook friends know you are looking. Have a site where your work is displayed.

You could even take out a Facebook ad.

“Like” companies where you’d like to work—some button called “Like.”

Also, some companies list jobs on FB.

Ah—now that could be something!

What is up with Linked In—you can’t write people without being paid up, or something. Mostly, over there, I am in deep intellectual discussions with writers who will defend to the death their right to work for free.

Also—how come people bought that stock? How does LI or even FB make so much money? Not from me, that's for sure.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

What happens if the team turns bad


Team player, team player, all we ever hear. But what if the teams falls apart and everyone devolves into backstabbing, sarcasm, feuds, cliques, and other self-defeating segments and behaviors?

Dean Newlund, president of Mission Facilitators International, wrote about that for CareerBuilders.

Speaking up is bad, not speaking is bad, mumbling is really bad.

One idea is for the team to go into therapy. They can devise rules, such as:

The one with the issue will go directly to the person with whom they have the issue.

If a third party is needed—that person is only a sounding board. Counsel, clarify, not decide and dictate.

Deal with one issue until it is resolved.

Listen,

Ask questions.

Speak only for yourself.

Ask before you give feedback. Do you mind a suggestion?

Confirm when all accept the solution.

Conflict is the top of the mountain in a team. If you get up there, you need skills to climb back down.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

What if a reference is trashing you?


J.T. O’Donnell and Dale Dauten break down workplace events for us.

A reader says he found out a reference was talking smack.

J.T. chirped that she heard a worse one than that—a guy’s former boss was saying bad things so he, the boss, could get the job instead.

Oh, those streets are mean, my babies.

Dale advised not to say anything bad about the boss—remember, he noted, “Your enemy is your Buddha.”

Anyone get that? Write me.

Anyhow, he also advised going to the malefactor and asking how he could position himself better to get the job.

Then Buddha says what?

Oh—this was better. Get recommendations in writing, Dale advised.

Now that’s smart, Buddha or no Buddha.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Quitting---in style


Joshua Armstrong, Arizona Republic, May 15, 2011, says if you do quit, do it right.

He got some tips from Morris Jessup of Corporate Job Bank in Tempe, AZ.

First, write a resignation letter. Hand deliver copies to the appropriate people. No texting, no emails.

Schedule an exit interview. If you have concerns, voice them then.

Touchy issues—such as a noncompete period—bring it up, air it.

Ask the boss when you should announce it.

If you can give more than two weeks, and they want you to, do it.

Give work your full effort in the interim.

Speak well of your employer—everyplace.

What is the kiss of death? Not giving notice—not making a transition or offering to. That really makes the old rounds.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Words to live by


Linda Anderson contributed these—not sure where she got them. Actually, I don't even know who she is.

Some adult truths:

I totally take back all those times I didn’t want to nap when I was younger.

There is GREAT need for a sarcasm font. Ya think?

Was learning cursive really necessary?

I can’t remember the last time I wasn’t at least a little tired.

You never know when it will strike, but there comes a time at work when you know you don’t do anything productive the rest of the day.

More kisses begin with Miller Lite than Kay Jewelers.

I have a hard time deciphering the fine line between boredom and hunger.

Shirts get dirty. Underwear gets dirty. But pants? They don’t get dirty.

And, now, my babies, I have reached that point in the day…see above.

Friday, May 13, 2011

If a friend referred you


Often, networking helps, and a friend refers you for an opening or tells you who is the best person to contact.

Before you send your resume, advises Jack W Mulligan, you may want to ask that the friend warm up the contact—and call.

Even with that call, most of the time when you call, you will end up leaving a voicemail. So be sure to mention the referring person.

Try to make it an informational interview—“[The friend] says you are so well informed on the company and its upcoming projects and I would like to know more. I will only take a few minutes of your time.

Then do your homework on the company, bring a business card, and as Mulligan puts it—be impressive.

This is what we used to call an informational interview. They can be a little vague--be careful about that. If the person seems harried, cut it short.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Even richie-riches like a bargain now


The rich are different from you and me…we have all heard the Hemingway line.

But now, according to the WSJ, the rich are different than they used to be before this…er…disast…depress….resetting of….downturn….whatever, still ongoing.

Christina Binkley (May 12, 2011) says the high end is picking up—think Hermes, Bentley.

But many rich people (not that paltry $250K rich the president likes to cite) are now calculating how many times they will wear that designer dress—is it cost-effective?

Impulse purchases seem to be down.

These guys did not lose their houses, credit ratings, and jobs, but maybe they lost their dopiness (editorializing all mine).

In one study, 38% of those making over $275K waited for items to go on sale.

They shop the outlets, the warehouse sales, Nordstrom’s Rack.

Also, when the recession first hit, some stores like Saks slashed prices—you mean that $10,000 purse is not really worth that? Hmmm.

Brands have lost their luster.

My ex- refused to buy things on sale—it offended him. That didn’t end well.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

My trip to Customer Service Hades


I know—the stories are legion. I need a new computer, though, and a friend agreed to help me evaluate.

There is a refurbishing place a few blocks from here. But they advised me that they never looked at their website—and what did I want? Disconnect! Computers—website… Also the owner sent me a long, misspelled, unpunctuated, barely English paragraph saying it was my patriotic duty to buy from him.

Also—they sold computers with no operating systems—Windows $100 extra.

Sooo…my daughter went online with her sharp, seeing eyes and found a machine at CompUSA and an identical one at Circuit City. I like CC—long story. So I called there.

Funny thing: CompUSA and CC—same company.

OK…well, the CC guy was DRIPPING scorn for my “stupid” questions about why I need to add this, get that, etc etc etc. He would slow it down to his talking to a just-awakened 3-year-old voice. He “Ma’amed” me… “Ma’am…Ma’am…”

I dislike Ma’aming, shall we say.

So I dialed CompUSA. Gave the Item Number—up came my name. A miracle. Yes, the "sister company.” The second guy was OK…or OK-ish… I agreed to one add-on and got a fairly smokin’ offlease Dell XP machine for $202.

I was to get a $40 cash refund. OK! When I reached that gentleman, turns out it was you know…not cash…a voucher if I got some Gold Card.

Lies, upselling, add-ons…come on, companies, please lay off. Times are hard. We are poor. And you can shove the Ma’ams sideways.

Don't make me stop this car and blog you.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Tons of interviews, but nothing


JT O’Donnell and Dale Dauten are workplace smarties.

A reader said he had had 13 face-to-face interviews, three long phone interviews, and 15 phone screens—but no offers.

They responded that the average length of unemployment these days is 7 mos.

But with all he had, it wasn’t time to panic, they said—but it was quarter to panic time.

With this many face-to-facers and no offer, a reference might be selling the guy out, they suggested. Have a friend call, see who says what.

Or you may be making a mistake in the interview. Maybe you are working too hard and coming across as a know-it-all, they said.

JT also said try asking questions…”What kind of personality would do best in this job?”

You may have to use the answer in your next interview, but it could be useful.

Monday, May 9, 2011

College career center is your friend


The other day I wrote about how alumni can sometimes use the resources of their alma maters, but of course, June grads can, too.

Jahna Berry recently wrote in the Arizona Republic (May 9, 2011) that the AZ colleges are amping up their career resources.

Young workers 20-24 have a 14% unemployment rate, with many grads coming out of the hallowed halls with hollowed wallets from loans.

You have to have some game in today’s market—employers are looking for more than before.

Colleges are reviewing resumes, telling people how to dress and even which fork to use at lunch.

Students are urged throughout to go to conventions in their field, get a network going.

Companies recruit at minority conventions especially. National Black MBA Association and National Society of Hispanic MBS come to mind.

In 2007, college grads had 2.5 offers, now more than half have none.

Tips: Start early. Internships, volunteer work even.

Be on your best behavior.

Change your outgoing message to something crisp and businesslike—not rap.

Join a professional group or two.

Have an editor go over your resume.

Be persistent. Everyday!

And don’t forget the career center—some jobs are listed directly with them.

By the way--congratulations on graduating. You will be glad you did!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Crying at the office


Women cry 5.3 times a month, men, 1.4 times.

Of course, we know there is no crying in baseball.

Katherine Rosman, WSJ, May 4, 2011, writes that crying just happens—we can’t always control it. John Boehner, call your service.

Cells in female tears actually look different than cells in men’s tears. Tears spill onto women’s cheeks sooner, too—due to smaller tear ducts.

When we are in pain, frustrated, sad, or whatever, a primitive portion of the brain fires up signals that can turn breathing into sobbing.

Testosterone can help men not cry—also cultural conditioning, scrunch your face, think of something else.

Women cry more, as we said, and if they do it at work, 43% percent of women think people who cry at work are unstable. Men cry more as they age, but 47% of men think people who cry at work are unstable.

There are two types of tears—irritant tears to wipe away dust in your eye and emotional tears.

Is crying a good emotional release? Hard to study, the scientists say.

And yes, they do use onions to get people to cry on cue.

Read it and weep.

I have cried at work. I cry at home. My kid says I cry all the time. Sometimes I take a lunch break, though.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Revamp your job search plan


Bad employment numbers today—could you spew?

On and on…this is never ending.

Still, all you need is one job! You don’t need unemployment to be at 5%.

CareerBuilder is right in there with some ideas.

First, don’t get paralyzed, sez Jenny Ross, Ladder Recruiting Group.

You need to tap into your resiliency skills, adds Caroline Dowd-Higgins, at Indiana University. (Meaning maybe take something that isn’t perfect.)

Go back to making job hunting full-time.

Instead of an elevator pitch (what you could blurt out before the doors open), develop a “special sauce” pitch—how are you different?

Focus on what you can do, not just what you have done.

Be a story teller—“They needed someone who knew Twitter—and I did—and no one else there thought it was worth much, then…”

Stay on the social sites.

Don’t blame everything—your age, your weight, your undyed roots, your lack of computer skills. People hire for a bunch of reasons—same for not hiring. I once hired someone because she said she had once had lunch with Mick Jagger. Stupid--sure, probably, but she stayed for years and then came back after quitting.

Just stay out there—get from no, no, no, forget it, no answer…to You know, we liked what you said about Twitter…We need to get into that.

Can you start on Monday?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Home buyers, no one said this was easy


We used to call people who scooped up foreclosures bottomfeeders, but now almost every house you may want to buy may be bank-owned, as they put it out here in Arizona.

Most houses are bank-owned…We just pay to live in them.

But I digress.

Ellen James Martin, AZ Republic, May 1, 2011, says if you want to buy a foreclosure or short sale, you need to do some homework.

You will be negotiating—to the extent this is possible—with the bank. You need info.

First find comparable sales in your area—the famous comps, as they are called.

Start with 10, says realtor Eve Alexander (www.naeba.org). Go to the five best. Look at comparable square footage, number of bedrooms, size of garage.

Decide what to bid—if you are going really low, attach a nice, friendly letter explaining your reasons and the information you have.

Try to learn about the seller’s situation—in other words, how desperate they are (short sale.) See when they bought, what they paid.

Have your buyer’s agent ask questions. Sometimes listing agents will say the seller is motivated. They like that word—motivated. They might also blab..it’s a divorce. Or, he was transferred and they have two mortgages now.

See if other offers have been rejected. Those sellers might be market testers—and they may reject you, too, or waste your time.

I also have seen on the real estate shows that short sales and foreclosures take ages to close—months. Be prepared for the waiting game. And banks don’t like to fix things—you will get to do that yourself.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Water, water, liquid bucks


Sometimes on weekends I go to CSPAN to hear the smart people wax on. One guy last weekend said he was for $10 gas and $1 water.

What? We use 5,000 gallons here—he wants me to have a $5,000 a mo water bill? It must pay smokin’ well in those ivory towers.

Yes, every state is diverting or buying water from every other one, water is scarce, water is the next oil…but we need some water.

I, for instance, live in the desert. Yet, I sometimes leave the water on while brushing. I know this is wrong, but I do it.

Also, my countertop water filter in the kitchen maybe drips a little if you don’t press the button hard enough.

Brian Kearney, president Neponset Valley Construction in Mass, says being conscious of water will save you money. I am not very green, but I need to save.

Even a small leak, he says, can waste 20 gallons a day.

Don’t use the john to flush trash. Getting rid of a user tissue can send 7 gallons down the tubes.

Change your shower to low flow. Errr… well, I do use a handheld and take quick showers.

How about those low-flow toilets? My sister hates hers.

Kearney also says to put aerators on your faucets. I don’t know what that is. Does anyone?

Monday, May 2, 2011

How to be, by the Grateful Dead


Denise Crittendon had an interesting story in DELIVER, a paper magazine sent out by the US Postal Service. It’s beautifully designed, old school (I did hear they are a bear to write for, though).

Anyhow, she talked about a book by David Meerman Scott and Brian Halligan, called Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead: What Every Business Can Learn from the Most Iconic Band in History.

The Dead are all about their fans—customers, to you.

The Dead treated their fans with respect. The best fans (they kept track) got front-row seats or seats in special sections.

Scott used the example of a magazine that charges $10 at first, $30 to renew. The older fans got the low price, not the high one.

The Dead also alerted people to things on the web they can get for free—and they used the mail to do it.

The core of the Dead marketing was concerts—they made each concert great. Getting someone to a concert was more important than selling a record.

They didn’t go nuts if someone used their logo—they contacted the company and said here is how to do it legally.

They redefined themselves—a jam band, instead of fitting into blues, jazz, classical, country.

Be yourself. Have fun. Make it show.

The Dead also did many benefits and gave back.

They created partnerships with their fans. They even let them record the concerts.