Monday, April 30, 2012

Vets--now what?

Our two favorite biz gurus Dale Dauten and J.T. O’Donnell are at it again—this time with advice for someone leaving the service. A vet thinks business won’t understand him and his skills.

J.T. suggests going to a site called to look at openings requiring a security clearance—if you have one.

Then it’s up to you—where do you see yourself fitting in—private security, a quasi-military industry such as aerospace, armaments, logistics, govt procurement, one of the academies--where?

Then pinpoint your skills and attributes—team player, attention to detail, confidence, technical grasp, loyalty, and so on.

Many employers want someone who has operated under fire—sometimes, literally.

If you are in school, also check with your employment office—there are programs for vets.

Friday, April 27, 2012

To hug or not to hug

When did we all get so chummy? Even in the workplace, people come in for the hug. They do this in church, too.

Me—not a fan.

CareerBuilder points out that if everyone is not onboard with tbe business abrazo, it can have legal implications.

Be sure hugging is in the company culture. If someone seems to be backing away, put the grab on hold.

Hugging the same sex and the opposite sex can have implications in both cases.

Hugging a peer may be OK, the boss, risky.

When in doubt, handshake it out instead. Handshakes are still around.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Co-op jobs provide real world experience

Anita Bruzzese, Gannett, says even though grads are coming out of prestigious universities, from an employer’s standpoint, they may not know anything about the ins and outs of the industry where they want to work.

Northeastern University in Boston, for 100 years no less, has let students work for a company for six months as part of a co-op program.

Twenty-seven hundred employers around the world take the students, who work for the time allotted and return to school.

This can mean, though, that it takes them five years to graduate. But on the upside, 60% are offered jobs when they do graduate.

Many companies, in fact, dropped summer internships as not being long enough, and went co-op.
Do Mom and Dad basically pay the salary—well, sort of, although there is some scholarship money around.

Sounds like someone takes the hit—but I guess it works for many.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Fake it till you make it

When you answer the phone, do you drone “Hell-oh” listlessly—emphasis on the “hell”?

You feel like a grease spot on the sidewalk of life and it shows.

Well—whoopee—who wouldn’t want to work with you, be regaled by your discouraged groans from the next desk?

Anita Bruzzese, Gannett, says answer like you mean it—it could be your next boss.

Keep the conversation going with an occasional uh-huh, yes!, sure, I could….Otherwise with all these dopey cells out there today, the HR person may think you are in a trance or the call has been dropped and they are talking to themselves.

Put a smile on—it comes through in your voice.

A smile beats an “awesome dude” any day.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Profit or happiness?

According to Dean Newlund, president of Mission Facilitators, Intl., the Recession has made us redefine success.

Could be, there is more to it than making money. Which is good, because there is less money to be made.

Business could be viewed by how much it helps people and communities.

In Bhutan, they not only measure Gross Domestic Product but Gross National Happiness.

They are seeing a hookup between people, profit and the planet.

Companies should ask (or COULD ask) are we helping employees do more meaningful work? Are we creating sustainable benefits to society? What benefits are we supplying that will be long-term?

Pretty tall order. And I don’t think they mean all this left wing subsidization of wacky new technologies.

Still, we can sit around trying to find the meaning of life--or without being all icky, can try for a life of meaning.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Construction creeping back to life

When housing tanked, so did a lot of the construction industry. The “stimulus” jobs were not ready to be shoveled and the profession sort of blobbed out.

Now, at least in AZ, some construction jobs are returning, while college grads are still looking.

Of course, some people in construction have college degrees—but you know what I meant.

The problem is that job skills and jobs don’t always match up. A house framer can’t start putting up a bridge.

Or maybe they want medical building experience instead of just office building experience. They don’t want to hear from highway builders, that’s for sure.

In California—earthquake safety building is big. Well, nifty. I guess the bottom line is do your homework before you build your career in building.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Ask the doers how to do it better

Our own little backwater. Maricopa County, AZ, actually welcomes new ideas. Lauren Katims wrote about this in Government Technology Magazine.

They actually asked the workers how they could improve efficiency and save money. They called it crowdsourcing with rewards.

One idea was to swap Columbus Day for the Friday after Thanksgiving as a paid holiday.

Another idea was to let employees purchase a parking pass through payroll.

This program is an offshoot of Spigit—from Manor Labs in Manor, TX.

So far, 22% of the county’s employees are participating.

Employees vote and comment on the proposed ideas. Then the ideas with the most page views and comments go to assessment. And then to the development stage.

This gets employee buy-in.

One thing they do I would wonder about is program Spigit to launch when the computer is turned on. I would want to do my email etc before this.

Employees earn funds various ways—which they can cash in for merchandise and other rewards.

So far, no one has cashed in. They are sort of doing it for the glory, the bosses say. I would wonder if the rewards could be amped up.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Internships--not just for docs

If you are in college, you may want to start now to snag an internship for the summer.

Check out: All Work, No Pay by Lauren Berger.

She suggests making a list. First—all the companies where you would like to work. Not your major necessarily—your passion.

If you have no experience—stick with smaller places.

Go to the career resource center to get company ideas. Research them on the internet. Then see if they have internships.

Make a spreadsheet of details and dates.

Follow up two weeks later to a specific person. Call Tues-Wed-Thurs for more chance of getting through.

One followup email only—then move on. This is why you pursue more than one.

I would add—be sure you get something for this—college credit, something. You don’t want to be cutrate labor.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Think you can teach?

Ryan Clark, Arizona Republic, April 15, 2012, talks about a teaching career—or maybe a teaching SECOND career.

People always think they could “become” a writer, run a bar, or teach. Like those are easy careers just dangling out there awaiting their favor.

I have friend who just spent north of a thousand bucks to be certificated to teach English as a second language. This stuff takes some doing.

Plus—as this writer points out, teaching involves long hours, obnoxious kids, and often, using your own money in the classroom.

Teachers need affection and high expectations for the kids. They are imparting many values in addition to facts and knowledge and thinking skills.

A four-year BA is the minimal requirement. This is split between learning theory and then putting it into practice.

You also have to know the subject matter—science, literature, or whatever it is.

On the upside—you may be off when your kids are home, too. But teachers say making difference in the lives of other people’s kids is an even bigger reward.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

World too much? Try another one

I would not be writing this, I would not be breathing on this planet, without being a reader.

Reading has saved me countless times—carried me off—made all this bearable.

As much as she has been around it, my daughter does not read. I doubt she has ever read a whole book.

I can’t read now either—with my vision—but people read to me—audiobooks.

A psychologist named Victor Nell conducted experiments to see how using your eyes to decipher squiggles on a sheet of paper can immerse us in an imaginary experience that transcends everyday life.

What is going on in our heads when we are “lost in a book”?

What leads us to push the pause button on our own existence, check our prejudices, personal history, and time/space coordinates at the door, and deliver ourselves willingly to a vicarious experience, spending hours absorbed in an activity that has no practical purpose?

Since when—Nell says—do our lives have to be so purposeful?

And saving my life—that is a purpose. To me, anyhow.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Car--let me think

Sean Holstege, AZ Republic, April 13, 2012, says the younger set is not rushing to the car lot.

Many 16-year-olds don’t even get a license, much less consider their birthday the open sesame to a lifetime of adventure on the road.

Cars cost, you have to park them, fix them, breathe their leavings, and they take time away from other things.

According to the Arizona Public Interest Group, over the past decade the number of miles driven by those under 25 fell by a fourth.

One in four young people don’t even have a license.

Attendance at driving schools in AZ is way down—the kids don’t seem interested, one teacher said.

People are strapped, one source said—citing another reason for these statistics.

This is just weird.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Hair today--longer tomorrow

That stuff on our heads is a pain—it never just sits there and stays OK.

And it costs.

USA Today Weekend had a story by Michele Meyer on how to put your head on a budget.

First, she says, take longer between visits to the hairdresser. Major reshaping—three times a year! In between, see if an assistant can trim it for less.

Skip salon shampoos or blow-drys.

Go off-hours if rates are lower—or in after-hours training sessions. I would add see if a local beauty school offers lower rates.

Get partial highlights instead of single-process that requires a lot of root work.

Grow your hair.

Well, your body will do that for you—your job is to outwit your hair and your body.

I have long hair, color it myself 3 times a yr—it never gets Carrie Bradshaw rooty so it’s semi-acceptable, and I shampoo every third day.

It works—you just have to get used to not fussing.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Don't lie on your resume--duh

Anita Bruzzese, Gannett, says over a third of resumes have some big fat lie on them.

Big stuff—not just wording (domestic engineer for housewife etc). Big lies like being a war hero or even being in the military when you weren’t.

This stuff is checkable.

Which has made some cheaters more creative—they even try to hack university websites to make themselves “graduates.”

But what if the interviewer says, “Oh, I went there, too—did you have Dr Smith?” There may be no Dr Smith! Busted!

If you say you know how to do things you can’t do you will also be found out. And no one will be amused.

You can think about all this while being walked to your car.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Commonsense and tatts can go together

I have two units—and each carries a story. My first was done by a legendary tattooist in DC—Smokey Nightingale, who is no longer with us. He was pretty rough and tough but would not tattoo necks, faces, or hands.

That is good advice for the workplace. Still. True not all tattoos are skanky prison art done with soot and a needle. But tattoos are still not totally accepted—face it.

Today’s interviewer is looking for a reason to get rid of you in the lineup—that drooling gargoyle on your neck could tip the scales.

A little over a third of people between 18 and 29 have a unit. So it’s not the majority.

I advise putting it someplace you can cover it—my first one was on my back. I have basically forgotten it over the years, which isn’t too much fun.

I also have a unit on my upper arm and wear sleeves to sensitive meetings.

No—not THAT sleeve—which is the name for getting your whole arm covered in art.

That sleeve is good if you are getting into circus work.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Want to save water? Maybe a wildscape

You can try for it, anyhow. Texas has instituted a Drought Survival Kit—which involves planting low water usage plants and letting them sort of fend for themselves—in a tangle.

Go to

We call it xeriscaping here in AZ—rocks instead of plants. Cacti instead of plants (kidding).

You avoid water hogs like grass (out here it comes up anyhow).

Supposedly your yard will be alive with butterflies and hummingbirds.

Mine was alive with home owner’s insurance people with cameras who accused me of having “a jungle back there.”

Mine was also alive with a city code enforcement guy—and a woman who wanted to know if some kindly volunteers could whack my yard.

Soooo…proceed at your own risk. Yards Gone Wild may be a mixed bag.

Monday, April 9, 2012

When a major appliance breaks

Joys of home ownership. Stuff breaks. No landlord will be fixing it.

Sue Doerfler, AZ Republic, April 9, 2012, says it’s hard to know whether to repair or replace.

One rule of thumb is if the repair is more than half the cost of the item, replace.

Replacing also lets you take advantage of good things about new models—such as energy efficiency.

Replacing also creates jobs—remember those?

Costs are often going down on electronics, especially. But not on repairmen.

Which brings me to my Maytag stove. Only one burner works anymore. I already spent $300 (which I think was maybe a gyp) on fixing the front burner, which went out a few years later.

So we are talking kinda ghetto here. But stoves are expensive…then I noticed the seal on the fridge is iffy…maybe stainless for both?

Good grief, by the time I can afford that plus a stainless dishwasher—avocado green will be back in.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Choosing happiness

My latest mantra is: “I am not dying over this.”

That is my form of positive thinking. When stupid things happen, such as yesterday’s incident of an employer wanting basically a kickback after everything was decided, I first freak out, then decide not to die.

Renie Cavallari, chief inspiration officer at Aspire Marketing (you know where this is going), is all about positivity.

She says to focus on what is right, not wrong. This—she says—creates a positive environment. You can connect with people better. Camaderie, support…

You need to communicate “cleanly”—in terms the other person can “hear.”

Take responsibility, have a higher purpose.

You know an expression I…pardon the expression…hate? “It’s all good.”

It isn’t all good.

But this gal is right in one sense—the bad is not worth dying over.

The unicorn? Oh--just liked it.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Friending your boss

Are you nuts? You didn’t want to hand over your password, did you?

Andres Cano wrote about looping your boss into your private life in the AZ Republic, April 1, 2012.

But bosses often send “friend” requests. Yoops. Now what?

You have to judge your own work environment. Maybe in a jolly, young, college-type job.

Still, 80% of FB users have gotten requests they did not want to accept, but felt they had to.

On strategy is to have Linked In for business—Facebook for non-business.

If you do accept on FB, create a colleagues category and adjust your privacy settings.

Do you really want your boss to know you went to the ballgame when you had called in sick? Or worse—get a load of your bikini lines. Or that you “bought” a cow on Farmville.

Wise up!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Office romance: Not everyone may be charmed

Many companies are pretty serious about people not dating within the company—yet, at work is where people meet.

If you are thinking, well, we ARE getting married so maybe it’s OK—you may need to think again. The marriage will just bring out the offense.

Maybe you can change the employer’s mind—if you and your spouse-to-be are vital to the operation.

But it might be better for one or the other of you to look for a job.

Pick the one who can get a job quickest or whose income will be missed the least.

If you wait until the invitations go out, you both could be axed.

Oh, it’s a cruel world, my babies.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Is your resume a career obit?

In this interesting little story:, Simply Hired says too many resumes read like an obituary of a career.

"Here lies Peter Professional’s career, a victim of the current recession. Peter’s career was on life support since his layoff from…." You get the picture…previous jobs all described.

Instead—try to write about the future. Look for common themes in your obit—what things did you do well? Enjoy the most? What terms would others use to describe you? What details can you expand on?

Then identify your target audience—how to grab them. What do they do? How could you make their lives easier? Look at the industry—what problems need solving.

The story then shows a before and after resume. Obit versus forward leaning.

This was written by Norine Dagliano—and she has some chops in resume writing and marketing.

What is this? Basically a functional resume—but a new way of doing one.

Monday, April 2, 2012

How creativity works

Kerry Lengel reviewed Jonah Lehrer’s book, Imagine: How Creativity Works in the AZ Republic, April 1, 2012.

Lehrer maintains that creativity is not a rare gift—that people who “are” creative from Bob Dylan to an ad exec operate in similar ways. This means using convergent and divergent thinking.

Ooops—my brain just tacked sideways. When I forced it back—I learned that a wandering mind tends to be more creative.

Attention deficit disorder may be good.

The author says he takes more breaks now. Goes for a walk. Changes it up.

Daydreaming is an effective mode of thought, he says.

He also points out that Shakespeare had many other talented writers working around him at the same time—he stole lines, mashed up ideas.

Now—he says—with Facebook, Skype, telecommuting—we must not ignore our analog life of going to lunch with people, yakking at the office, people watching.

Serendipity—you never know where that idea is coming from.