Friday, September 28, 2012

Those new pre-employment tests

See below, where I talked about some new cuts companies are taking at finding employees.

To me, it seemed they ask more touchy-feely things rather than looking at past job experience—saved or made money, etc.

In a related story in the WSJ on Sept 20, 2012, Joseph Walker recounts how a hearing and speech-impaired candidate was asked to rate her self-confidence, cheerfulness, and sense of what others wanted. She scored low and sued because she said it was because of her disability—they said she was less likely to listen carefully. Well, I guess so!

These questions are OK, companies say, if the employer is not intentionally ruling people out.

But employers can be held liable if exclusion is inadvertent.

If sued, companies must prove the conclusion they came to is related to what the person would be doing on the job.

We have deaf people in our grocery store—they seem to get what you want just fine or close enough. Why does everyone have to get so fancy?

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Big data changes how you are paid

According to a couple of stories in the Sept 20, 2012, WSJ, companies are using computer modeling to find ideal—or at least cost-effective-- employees.

On example, in a story by Joseph Walker, was call center people. The company used to want people who had experience in call centers. Then the computer analyzed who would be least likely to quit before the company’s investment in their training ran out—creative types, it said, not inquisitive ones. Now they ask soft questions to determine inquisitiveness. Attrition fell by 20%.

This means more personality tests and data analysis—instead of resumes and background.

Data also governs how people are paid—paying more may not turn out to make people stay—they may want other perks instead. Sometimes they feel unsatisfied—but not underpaid.

The data will dictate how much the company has to pay—sometimes going over the midpoint can have no effect.

Well, I like over the midpoint. You wouldn't want to sully people with money!

Ever feel like a pawn on the board?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Wanted: 'Soft skills'

According to a story in the WSJ by Nick Schultz, Sept 20, 2012, some employers lament the lack of candidates. Not engineers? Not plasma physicists?

No—can’t pass a drug test.

Also, many people cannot answer a telephone properly.

Interpersonal skills, movtation—lacking.

Basic grammar and spelling—substandard.

Who’s to blame? The educational system, families—and yes, people themselves. Get with it.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Why you could use a freelance writer

Almost every client I ever had thought he or she could write a brochure or article if only they had time.

Truth is, writing is a tiny bit difficult. It’s really easy to get wrapped around the axle. Especially if you know the material too well. Also--there are tricks to it.

Almost every small business needs promotional content—according to Angie Mohr, writing on, social media posts, email, newsletters, brochures, and so on.

It may be hard to dream up new approaches and write polished material. But –here’s the thing—it’s not that hard for a freelance writer.

A writer makes you look professional, saves you time, and yes, saves you money—you only pay when the writer works, not all the time.

Also, Mohr says, writers work for many businesses and corporate cultures. They know what others have done that works—or does not work.

Once a writer knows your product and issues, he or she can pitch in and knock out campaigns and pieces.

Sooo…how to find a freelance writer? I am one.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Watching reruns can restore energy

I think Roseanne Barr has gotten pretty wacky, but when you are fat and sarcastic, I cut some slack.

So I watched a rerun of ROSEANNE over the weekend—and that is a very well-written show. All my gnawing fears sort of fell away and I even laughed out loud.

So is numbing in front of the tube good for you? I think a lot of Americans do that—including me. A prof at the University of Buffalo’s Research Institute on Addictions found that a rerun of a favorite show can restore drive to people who have used up their reserves of willpower and self-control.

With a rerun, you know the “people,” what they will do or say next. You don’t use the same mental reserves.

Of course, the docs did experiments—asking people to write about their favorite show or to list items in their room. Most picked the show. Writing about the show also restored energy levels.

Rereading favorite books also seemed to work.

Soooo..being lulled and entertained can be good for us. Good to know. (Naturally, being scientists, the researchers also said watching TV can make people more aggressive and crabby...whatever.)

It was funny when Roseanne and Jackie’s mother said to a pregnant Jackie—“In your condition you shouldn’t walk,” and Jackie snapped: “Yeah, Mom, I should have driven the car into the restaurant.”

Friday, September 21, 2012

Watch out for pickpockets

Wow—the old becomes new again.

Scott McCartney, WSJ, Sept 20, 2012, says grifters are rampant again—or maybe always. Tourists are prime bait--even in airports.

Credit cards may be cancelled first thing, but many small purchases do not you through that system. Phones are also attractive.

Watch out if… Someone says you have a stain on your back—they may have put it there—don’t let them clean it off.

A motorcycle zips by or someone running grabs your purse. Walk away from the curb.

You find money on the street—it was probably put there b y someone who will watch you pick it up,then say, wow, we better split it—or a fake officer will appear and ask for your ID (which is in your wallet—see how this works—zip, snatched).

Pick a purse with a short strap so you can put it under your arm. Maybe even put a fat dummy wallet in it filled with paper and put money elsewhere.

Use ATMs in banks only—and check for an inner card swiper inside the slot.

Cancel cards and maybe even contact the credit agencies for a fraud alert. Check statements for small purchases.

And still—you are probably not criminal enough to beat them.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Come on, hire a vet

Unemployment for vets who served since Sept 2001 is 8.9! This is down from 12.4% but still not good.

 In the 18-24 male area, unemployment is almost 30%!

Vets bring valuable skills such as teamwork, leadership and problem-solving.

Look at the overall skill set. In a survey vets were asks how strongly they agreed with the following statements—check this out.

I can think on my feet—87%
I work well on a team—83%
I have experience dealing with conflict effectively—73%
I trust leaders, superiors—58%
I have experience working in other countries—48%

Problems they say they have encountered: finding a work environment in which they are comfortable, knowing what jobs to apply for, translating military experience to civilian needs, and knowing how to write a resume and get started. is a good starting place.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Another appliance bites it

Have I told you my box theory? Appliances are just powered boxes—fridges, ovens, and dryers are boxes of air, dishwashers and washers are boxes of water.

I read that the lifespan of an appliance used to be 20 years and is now about 8 years.

This same guy said spending a lot may get you doodads that will break—good, I never spend a lot.

But I do need a washing machine today…am dealing with the estimable citizens of Craigstown.

I can’t get a machine (no car), I can’t hook it up (no talent), and I can’t stand much more of this.

Oh, well—the next time you think of buying a home, remember this.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Lose textspeak on the job

RU coming to mtg. TTFN.

Nah—not on the job. Even LOL sounds tacky in a corporate situation.

Thing is—employers want you to be able to communicate. So many students text—even during class—they mistake this for real communication.

Business etiquette matters, no mater how dopey you think it is.

One-word answers don’t seal friendships or impress bosses.

Same for being glued to the machine.

A real smile works wonders—not one made of punctuation.

When you meet someone, stand up, make eye contact.

And do not use text lingo in memos or work emails.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Can't beat that old-time kitchenware

I once wrote an essay on how everything that cooks to do food is violent—mash, crush, slice, cut, dice, section, boil, roast, skewer, etc. Anyhow, I thought of that when I read an essay by Bee Wilson in the WSJ.

Usually new tech replaces old, but not always and not in the kitchen, she says.

Sure, some chefs use newfangled dessicators, centrifuges, and Paco-jets.

But few of these find their way into the home.

Boiling pasta in water, draining in a colander, and saucing with herbs crushed against a rock (mortar) are very old techniques people still like. This has been the way for 10,000 years.

Maybe more. When did we get fire again?

Anyhow, you don’t need a sous-vide bag (whatever that is) or back to the violence theme—a cookie gun.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Have you tried...

Going door to door in office buildings near you asking if they have openings? Be sure there is not a No Soliciting sign.

Talking to people at your old place of work—maybe some also left and went to places hiring.

Just looking for signs in windows—HELP WANTED.

Reading newspaper ads—yes, they still have those in towns with papers.

Getting certified in some skill—takes less time and costs less than a degree.

Contacting temp agencies.

Sometimes the old things work the best—how about calling—you know, looking in one of those many phone books we get under your profession and calling.

Yes, cold calling—out in the cold. We can do it if we have to.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

People opting out of having a bank

Danielle Douglas, Wash Post, Sept 12, 2012, says more and more people are ditching banks in favor of check cashers, payday lenders, and pay put on debit cards.

This means they are less likely to be able to get credit for cars and houses.

About 8.2% of households do not use a bank.

Another 51 million have an account, but use pawnshops, payday lenders, and rent-to-own services.

At the same time, banks are raising fees.

Sooo…another paradigm shifting.

My daughter will be paid on a card—how does she give me money for her share—take cash off it?

Brave new world.

Hey--I like ING. Go to You can always talk to a person, even on weekends, they let you transfer money to a debit card then use it instantly--very good company.

No--they are not paying me, more's the pity.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Mom & Dad could hurt your job hunt

Don’t you love the helicopter parents—hovering…?

Anita Bruzzese, Gannett, says all this started with the Baby Einstein tapes (since debunked).

Professors call the kids of hovering parents “teacups” because they are ready to shatter at the slightest stress.

They don’t want criticism after they get a job, but worse yet, they may bring their parents to the interview—or the parents may have the poor judgment to come.

As you bring up your kid, let the kid think for him or herself.

Make them ask questions.

Allow them to make choices.

Don’t heap them with help unless they ask. Even then, encourage them to give themselves advice.

My daughter started a new job—I admit I did come up with a few bits of advice from this site.

Bad Mommy!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Stay one step ahead of the kids on tech

Soon, a fun and informative new website will debut—and yours truly will be one of the writers.!

Lively, irreverent, funny, and smart— will examine the intersection of children (and rearing thereof) and technology.

Since kids today seem to be half “bot,” this is timely and crammed with possibilities.

One of the premier stories will be on the unique tech-sopping abilities of the teen brain. They are not like us! Bwahhh-ha-ha.

In the US, kids spend more than 8 hrs a day interacting with computers. This both takes advantage of the developing teen brain and develops it. Is this always a good thing?

To get details, you can sign up to get is an invitation at http://quib/ly.

Oh—and you will also find a story from your correspondent here when the site opens—on iDosing—getting “high” on weird noises.

Come and join us?

Why should children have all the fun?

(I remember fun--do you?)

Monday, September 10, 2012

How about that Fall work wardrobe?

CareerBuilder has some ideas for putting together a look.

First, get some staples—a crisp white shirt (men and women). Maybe more than one.

Get timeless pieces—a quality suit, a blazer.

Buy versatile items that can go from desk to dinner. Mix and match.

Accessories can also mix things up—jewelry, ties.

Don’t overdo any one thing—say animal prints, ladies.

Have a budget for clothes.

I would add—take care of your clothes—use a reputable cleaner. Get items tailored.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Renting still takes a lot

Many people lost their homes or had to rent them out.

A friend is going around with friends of hers looking at apts. They want an income 3 times the rent.

This is not the buyer’s market it once was.

Backgrounds are checked, deposits squirreled away.

And I have heard of some leases with things new to me—like you pay any repair under $100.

The best part of renting—and oh, boy, do I remember it fondly—was getting someone else to repair, cut, trim, roof, paint, and worry.

The ones I love are the real estate porn shows on HGTV where a house in LA rents for $25,000 a month or something and the guy says, "Make it $22,000 and I will pay a year in advance."

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Recovering from a big interview gaffe

Career Builder says it’s pretty easy to finally get an interview—and then blow it.

Since, like most people,, you probably don’t have a time machine—what should you do?

First, apologize. “Please forgive me.”

Say what you learned—if you were late, say, “I see I will have to allow way more time to get here.”

Don’t overdo it. If you drop an f-bomb, apologize and move on.

Try to stay calm. Say you extol the competitor’s product instead of the one the company makes. Say, “Ooops, well, at least I know a lot about the other one so I can suggest ways to compete with them.”

To prevent mistakes, do your research. Think before you speak.

But things do go wrong. It’s best to smile and try to move on.

I once went to an interview at Project Hope. They said, “Why should you work here?”

“Hope is my middle name,” I quipped. She looked at my resume and saw it was and (I guess) was sort of humor-deprived because she said, “Well, this job is already filled.”

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Career change mistakes

Time to reinvent yourself? I hate it when that happens! Time and time again—just to survive.

Writing for Simply Hired, Annie Favreau says it’s a mistake to leap before you look. Know what went wrong in your last career—will it carry into your next one—is it attitude, work habits, the industry you were in?

Don’t stick with the familiar necessarily. Don’t go into something because a friend did.

If you only focus on practicality—how to make the most money, get the best bennies--you may make a mistake. But you also cannot buy into that popular baloney about following your heart and the money will come—sometimes it doesn’t.

Get the skills even if you have to pay for them.

And don’t expect everything to click overnight. And even if it does click, you will work 90,000 hours if you’re lucky—this new “you” may not be the final one.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Future TV

A certain president is making “jokes” about black and white TV at the moment, but I remember the halcyon days of black and white. My parents did not get a TV until the early 60s—we sneaked into a neighbor’s darkened bedroom to watch westerns on their B&W.

I also remember buying my first color set—I wrote about it for TV Guide.

I am a huge TV watcher. Jon Chase, Entertainment Weekly, wonders how TV will change in the future.

What with Netflix, iTunes, YouTube, Hulu, laptops, smartphones, etc., flexibility is needed.

Contrary to some of the buzz, people still watch TV—an average of 5 hrs a day. Ninety-eight percent is on a boob tube.

In the future, all screens will be “smart” and “connected.”

There will be built-in camera and microphone, so you can chat with friends on a different screen and watch together.

I wish I could zap a neat movie to my sister’s TV a few miles away.

Maybe some day.

Stay tuned.