Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Oops--unintended consequence

I am all about unintended consequences--every action seems to have at least one. There's a life lesson for ya.

Some very nice, well intended people, Debbie and Jennifer Fink, thought the term "army brats"  needed a makeover. They wrote a book called The Little C.H.A.M.P.S.

This tells the story of some army brats and brats of other services. But instead of brats, it called them CHAMPS--Child Heroes Attached to Military Personnel.

Ooof---that is dreadful. First, why are they heroes. And "attached"--like conjoined?

Well, the brats worldwide were not charmed, either!

"The title received a bit of pushback," Jennifer allowed, quoted in a story by John Kelly in the Wash Post, Dec 30, 2014.

Brats had swagger, said one brat.Well, of course it did--living all over the world, among armaments and capable people, would impart that.

Naturally, in true internet fashion, there was a backlash against the backlash.

At this point, I say WHATEVER! I would way rather be a brat myself than a fake kid hero annointed by some young gals, however well meaning.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

How to be a better communicator

Jayson DeMers, a contributor, talks about the things good communicators do.

First, they get personal. This does not mean personal facts about them, necessarily, but can mean something that speaks to the personal life of the listener.

They stick to facts and don't just spew random garbage or start sentences with "I wonder if..."

They are specific. They cut to the chase (and maybe don't use cliches?). Say it and get off stage.

Good communicators ask questions--they fold in the audience. This does not include, "You know what I'm sayin'"?

Good communicators often ask others for clarification. Just say, "What do you mean exactly?"

And--they listen! How often do I watch a news show and the person being interviewed is asked about what he or she just said! I scream at the TV--"He just said that!"

Look also for the body language of the listener--are they glazed over, have you lost them? Do they look puzzled?

Do we know all this stuff--sometimes I think we do!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Ten skills you 2015 grads need

Susan Adams,, Nov 11, 2014, says employers are looking for industry-specific knowledge, sure, but more importantly--teamwork, decision-making, and other skills.

The National Assn of Colleges and Employers, a nonprofit linking college career placement offices with companies, asked hiring managers about their priorities.

Degrees and fields, of course, do matter--most in demand, business, engineering and info sciences.

And here are 10 skills mentioned...

*Ability to work in a team

*Ability to make decisions and solve problems

*Ability to communicate verbally with people inside and outside the organization

*Ability to plan, organize, and prioritize work

*Ability to obtain and process info

Ability analyze quantitative data

Technical knowledge of the job

Ability to write or edit reports

Ability to sell and influence

*The top five are key. You must have those for every modern-day job.

Did I communicate that?

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

How to get back the respect of your staff

Let's face it--people will take advantage if they sense weakness. At the office, they may start taking long lunches, dogging assignments, making excuses, blaming others.

When workers respect their managers and feel respected in return, this does not happen.

But say, things have slipped. CareerBuilder has some ideas...

You may have gotten sloppy dress-wise...Set a good example.

Listen to your workers--ask for feedback.

Ask employees to take risks--don't toss them to the wolves if they fail.

Watch your mouth--the cursing, the public dressing downs.

Praise in public, correct in private.

Transfer your knowledge.

Stay involved with those below as well as above you.

But set limits--if people are becoming unprofessional and troublesome, draw the line.

That was my biggest issue when I was a "boss." I would want to be nice, egalitarian and I expected people to appreciate this and do their best. It does not always work that way.

Back Monday--have a nice holiday!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Guarding the kids

I almost never double post to this and my health site,, but I am making an exception.

I first learned of this effort from the University of Wisconsin magazine called On Wisconsin. Apparently a professor and his family set up a house, guarded by armed guards, to safeguard albino children, believed to be possessed of evil spirits.

Of course, this is condition is genetic, not spiritual.

But these kids are hunted and killed for their body parts. Like a rabbit's foot as a lucky charm...

The kids can never walk around unguarded--our Congress even passed a law. But guarding them is the most effective way to get them to adulthood and to where they can fend for themselves.

The goals it to establish a campus in Tanzania for 200 kids--some with albinism and some with other handicaps.

Currently the professors' friend is caring for 35 kids in a house in Lamadi Village. She is turning kids away--which can be a death sentence.

They have the land and have broken ground on the campus. I am convinced this is not some hanky-wringing scam. Any little amount helps.

Go to

Monday, December 22, 2014

Are you in the wrong pew?

Maria Gottschalk, Government Executive Magazine, writes about how you can tell if you are in the wrong job.

Poor matches do happen, she says. Or jobs change and people don't. Or people change and jobs don't.

One sign can be that you feel lost. If tasks leave you feeling unprepared (like the school dream), this can be an indication.

If you feel your strengths are not being used.

There is no challenge, you feel like you are standing still.

Or--do you feel like your team is going one way and you increasingly are at odds?

Do you avoid work--have trouble completing things.

What does the little inner voice say?

If it says, "Hmmmm" or "uh-oh," listen.

Friday, December 19, 2014

What if your company gives you food stamps?

I remember back when I had a "real" job, we used to have fabulous Christmas parties in hotel ballrooms, then one year, we got a $20 gift certificate to the grocery store. We called it food stamps, being (in those days) elitist little brats.

Some companies and coworkers do give awkward gifts. Be prepared.

According to CareerBuilder, there should be more bonuses and cash rewards this year.

But there is still plenty of the "creative" stuff. Most of this comes from "Secret Santas," who are assigned to give you something.

The oddest CB found was some Hot Pockets--what a gift!

Another worker got one chess piece...just the one.

A bag of chips wowed yet another worker--or a single serving of coffee grounds. Drink up!

And--one person reported getting a fire extinguisher--freshly ripped off the office wall.

Only 20% of people give their bosses a gift--just between us.

If his first name is Ebenezer, forget it.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

How to tell your boss does not like you

Someone once told me ten percent of the people I met would not like me and would never like me. That turned out to be pretty true.

But what if one is your boss?

Bernard Marr, Government Executive Magazine, writes on this.

Key signs:

--The boss excludes you from important meetings.

--Micormanages you.

--Is inaccessible and hard to reach for guidance.

--Criticizes you publicly.

--Skips promoting you.

--Never thanks you.

--Seems to dismiss all your ideas.

--Stops introducing you to clients.

--Never emails or calls back.

--Assign you menial tasks a lot.

What can you do besides look for another job?

First, confront the boss in a nice manner, don't be defensive. Say you want to improve.

Document your successes and the boss's slights.

Talk to HR or your boss's boss if this does not change things.

This is a tough situation--you need to proceed wisely.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Being unemployed affects men and women differently

A recent Kaiser and CBS News poll showed that out of work men and women with children spend more time with the kids--60% of the women said this improved relations with the kids, but only 22% of the men thought it did.

Working is in decline, according to Binyamin Appelbaum, NYT, Dec 15, 2014.

But men seem to be more burdened with pride and are less willing to take a lesser job.

One man's wife made $10 an hour, but he would not take such a job, saying she was more "accepting."

Women--especially those with children--put a higher value on being at home. They are more likely to cite "family responsibilities" as a reason not to go back to work.

So far, this seems unremarkable.

But--now for a problem--43% of out of work men report worse mental health and only 16% of women do.

Twenty-five percent of women even said they felt better.

Women said they spent their time volunteering, caring for others, and exercising. Men said they read, watched TV and surfed the net.

Was looking for a job anywhere in the mix? Did not see it.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Could a layoff be coming?

Is it possible to second-guess the coming of a layoff. Maybe.

Cheryl E. Palmer, owner of Call to Career, says some red flags of a coming layoff are:

--Frequent closed-door meetings of execs.

--Budget shortfalls.

--Reassignment of your tasks.

--Company mergers.

If you smell it in the air, first try to secure your position. Align yourself with the direction of the company, Palmer advises. The workers "not in sync" can be the first to be laid off. Be able to quantify the money you saved or earned the company.

If you do get laid off, expand your network. Volunteer to serve on committees--up your visibility.

In job interviews, let the interviewer know you were not the only one laid off (if this is true).

Be level-headed, hysterics are your enemy.

Regarding the merger clue--I have had people say well, the merger will create more customers and more jobs--but usually redundant people from one of the companies will be laid off.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Bad raise? Maybe some perks might be possible

Deborah Jian Lee, writing on, says wage stagnation is a fact, but sometimes instead of pay you can get other things to make life more pleasant.

Want some ideas?

Flexible schedule. Maybe coming in early and leaving early. or work longer Mon-Thurs so you can have Friday off.

Telecommuting. Work from home 1-2 days a week. Skip the commute, catch up on exercise, etc.

Time off. Try to get extra vacation days.

How about a nicer office? Bigger, a window.

Better work equipment is also nice..maybe an ergonomic chair, bigger monitor.

Continuing ed classes are nice. This also shows you are industrious.

Maybe it's time for that dream assignment or a better title.

And last, you could ask for commuting reimbursement...Companies offer this.

Or you may have to ask first. You can ask anybody anything...remember that. However, I would not ask for all of these--be brave, but think first.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Ah, idiots, we love them so

I used to say, "I have many bosses but no superiors." This, naturally, went over big with the boss class.

Scott Reeves, writing in Forbes, explains the best ways to work with idiot bosses. I guess one way would be not to call them idiots.

He suggests "idiot engineering"--turning the boss's cluelessness to your advantage.

Many people try to make idiot bosses look bad--the best strategy, though, is to do the opposite.

You want to diminish the harm to you the boss's cluelessness can do.

First listen to the person. Try to key in on their hobbies or interests.

Idiot engineering is not butt-kissing. Incorporate your ideas into the idiot's language and agenda.

Remember, though--this is the person with the institutional power. They can pop alive and do you damage.

The battler against idiocy is a long twilight struggle, Reeves says. And--remember--you may have a little idiot in you. Combining that with the boss's can mean disaster.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

People who say they are good at math...

..may not be. Apparently thinking you are good and being good are two different things.

One in five people who say they are bad at math score in the top half of testing. One third of those who say they are good are in the bottom third.

Still...this does not mean they are not good with numbers. Being good with numbers takes different forms. Those who think they are good, for example, stick with a problem longer. Those who think they are bad, are not motivated and quit.

Those who think they are "bad," may put off their taxes, pick the wrong health insurance--give up, basically.

Of course, they did a big study on this--what does "being good" mean and how does this test?

They learned there are variations in numeracy.One was objective numeracy--being able to work problems, predict answers, etc. Some were better at symbolic-number mapping used rough estimates, which were usually good enough.

There is more than one way to be good at math, they concluded.

I can always see if a calculation "makes sense." I will say to my sister, "That can't be right." She looks blank.

I think I am in the good enough camp.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

How to snag a great mentor

Scott Eblin, Govt Executive Magazine, Dec 5, 2014, says usually a mentor relationship evolves from people you know--you don't go out and request someone to devote time to you.

He suggests some ways to intersect with someone:

Volunteer. Sometimes a boss or person will say no, but usually they will welcome your help and attitude.

Do great work. Treat every job as a chance to do your best. Create more value than expected.

Be open. If you are asked to do something you don't feel ready for, be open. Mentors can spot talent--try to live up to it.

Watch and learn. Learn from the best in your organization, the way they appear, how they deal with others, how they handle disappointment.

Again, don't ask a senior person to mentor you. Mentors choose proteges.

I had one mentor in my career--and he was sort of a negative mentor--he pushed, mocked, prodded---I vowed not to be like him--yet, I did change and grow.


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Some body language poses to avoid

Did you ever judge someone by how they sit? Of course, you have.

Bernard Marr is a business strategy guy. Writing in Forbes, he has some body poses you may want to watch out for--in others--and avoid in yourself.

Leaning back too much. You look lazy and/or arrogant.

Leaning forward--too aggressive.

Breaking eye contact to soon--makes you look untrustworthy.

Nodding too much--makes you look like a bobblehead.

Crossing your arms--defensive.

Looking up or around--make you look like a liar or fake. Looking left means lying, some say.

Staring--aggressive or serial killer.

Steepling fingers or holding palms up--begging.

Checking phone or watch--we all know that one--bored, looking for someone better to talk to. Washington DC version: Looking over the listener's shoulder for someone more famous.

So what should you do? Beats me.

Monday, December 8, 2014

If your spouse cheats, then what

Daniel Walter, a clinical psychologist and specialist in sexual and relationships with the Morris Psychological Group in Parsippany, NJ, says marriage is supposed to be permanent, based on trust, fidelity, and mortgages.

Virtually everyone who gets married, expects their spouse to maintain that trust, he says. But, as m any as 40% of married people cheat.

This can be devastating--31% of men and 45% of women blame cheating for marital separation.

The destruction of trust is worse than the physical aspect of cheating. Feelings of hurt, anger, rage--we all know this personally or know someone close who has experienced it--or both.

If you want to stay in the marriage, Walter says:

--The infidelity must stop. Completely.

--You must consider your motives--staying isn't a given. Sometimes the cheated-on mate will blame themselves and stay out of insecurity.  Or people do it for the children's sake. Decide why you want to stay.

--Get help--counseling gives an outside view, things you never thought about.

You can break through the recriminations to a better place--the spouse may be in that better place--or not.

Friday, December 5, 2014

What says success to you?

Howard Sandusky, Govt Executive Magazine, Dec 3, 2014, asks if you look over your career--what constitutes success to you? Your title? Your salary? Your home's value? An award?

Happiness is dropping in America--only 35% in a Harris poll say they are happy--2% fewer than five yrs ago.

He tells the story of a seamstress who would look carefully at yardsticks--they differed--some were crooked. She thought garments measured with a crooked stick would never feel quite right to the wearer.

Income, goals, possessions never really satisfy.

See if your yardsticks are straight.

First decide who you are. What should people remember about you after you are gone--or your company?

Make peace with your past. It's just a starting point.

Where are you going? Amazingly people can't answer this. See if your feel "right"?

Set your own terms. That seamstress only had $500 when she died at 58, but she was fulfilled. She raised a good family, loved her husband and five children. She knew the items she made brought beauty and joy to others.

She had selected the yardstick and she was secure in that knowledge.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Contrarian's view of working

I used to have a client who had me write "A Contrarian's View..." of many topics. Memories.

Anyhow, Stephan Pollan, author of Die Broke and Live Rich, is a lawyer and finance adviser.

He's 83 so may have picked up a thing or two. He was interviewed by Forbes Magazine.

At the center of a career--he says--is fear.

He says the concept of a career is passe, gone. Jobs should not afford you fulfillment. It's a stream of income. Employers don't care if you are fulfilled.

He also thinks people work for their supervisors, not the company. Companies rarely know who you are. Your job is to make the supervisor look good.

Talk to your supervisor at least once a month. Show gratitude for opportunities. Be passionate, especially if you are older. Supervisors think of young people as cheaper and more energetic.

Employers look at finances in hiring--who costs the least.

And getting fired gets you off your...ass. It's like a graduate degree in life.

He also advises you not to look too much like a job hunter.

Get some job while looking--it's better to say, I am working now but want something better.

I was going to say not to trust someone just because they are old--but all this sounds like pretty good advice to me.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Applying when you already have a job

Sometimes people get locked into a job because they want to keep the one in the hand and not risk it flying off.

Susan Ricker, Career Builder, took this on. Despite fears of being found out as dissatisfied or "looking," people do keep their eyes open for a better opportunity.

Before you do it, though--think, plan. Why do you want to switch? To get more money? To change geographical areas? To do something less boring or more satisfying?

Then sit down and write out all your accomplishments. Then make a list of your skills and education. See how transferable these are to what you have in mind.

If you can, try out the new career--hold on to your job and volunteer. Join a professional organization.

Once you have decided to move forward, try to protect your old job. There will always be risk. Make sure people know your search is confidential. Do not say you are looking on social media. Make sure recruiters do not check with anyone without asking you.

When you discuss your present employer, be discreet and diplomatic.

As the economy improves, switching will be more common. But you still need to think first.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Advice from successful people

Susan Ricker, CareerBuilder, asked from people for their job advice.

Margaret Miller, writer/editor, Lyndon Baines Johnson Foundation: Think through interview answers. She was asked once what job she was most proud of and blurted: Being a mother. This is not what they wanted to hear. Think ahead, look up the company.

Founder of AKA Network Marketing: Don't listen to doom and gloom. People are getting jobs even in the down economy.

Val Nelson, career guru: Focus on a job you are passionate about--this should show in your resume and interview--a spark.

Ann Latham, president, Uncommon Clarity: Figure out how you can add value--then emphasize this.

Tammy Gooler Loeb, executive coach: Network. (Yeah. that one has been going around.)

Try always to stand out from the crowd.  Have a personal brand.

Also--old marketing idea--translate "features" into "benefits." Say you have a degree in international business (a feature of you), say, "My experience in international business will benefit you in your merger with the London company XYZ"--a benefit. That is also value added.

Bam! See? It's not so hard.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Christmas parties--be careful

The invites are a'comin'. Office Christmas parties.

Note the word "office." This is a business occasion. Remember that.

You cannot count on the bosses being so inebriated they forget your behavior.

--Wear something appropriate, not trashy.

--No one-on-one in the copy room--the story gets out.

--No swearing.

--Two drink maximum.

--Not the time to settle scores or let it all hang out.

--Be gracious to the wives and husbands you may not have met before.

Actually this is prime networking--gab with people from another department, get the lay of the land, but don't complain about your own dept or bosses.

Go out after and have "fun." The party is business.

See? You already forgot.

Friday, November 28, 2014

If you are reading this and not shopping, it may be OK

This could be a promise of a gift...
Black Friday--when stores go into the "black." People stand in line for "bargains," called "doorbusters."

I don't speak this language, do you?

First, stores will continue to offer good deals for way more than one day.

Second, the online bargs are gone in a hot one--ask my daughter, who grumbled for an hour last night trying to find a new TV online.

Anyhow--did the "After Christmas Sales" reward the patient among us? Do they have those anymore?.

My late mother used to cut out pictures of say, a winter coat, and attach "play money" in the amount we could spend in the After Christmas Sales--and then she wrapped that. A picture of a present! Seems endearing now--when we were kids, though, it was less than thrilling.

Oh, well--happy shopping!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Maybe you need to listen for an inner voice

If you are unemployed, unhappily employed, or retired without enough money--what to do?

If you read this site daily, you get tons of advice on networking, writing a resume, handling office relationships, and so on. Noise! And I must admit--somewhat repetitive..This blog has been blatting on for years!

How about shutting all this out--including me? The old robber barons used to "sit the silence." They would meditate, in today's parlance--and wait for thoughts and ideas. One of them once said ideas came in like letters through a mail slot.

Sit in a chair, hands on thighs, try to empty your mind. If a weird thought comes--such as your shopping list--let it flow across your mind and out the other side.

Wait for something relevant to your financial and work situation...

Maybe I should take that community college course in Excel.

My boss isn't going anyplace soon--maybe I should.

I wish I worked at the building at the end of the block--that would be so handy.

I am sick of being a doctor.

I wonder if my eBay business could be full-time...

Sometimes we miss the obvious starting point to a new approach--because it's so darn noisy!

OM--not OMG!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Kids favor toys with cartoon characters

Since I have created some cartoon characters--thus far not produced--I was interested in a study at the Univ of Louisville and Univ of Texas-Dallas that showed how even 4-yr-olds prefer known characters on their toys.

How I long to see Detective Lupine and Sgt Buzzy of my stories on a line of toys!

But I digress.

In the study, little kids had a choice of toys--some dirty and with missing parts--and even picked the wrecked ones if they had an image of a cartoon character.

Kids trust characters as much as they trust people.

The most the researchers could suggest was use this knowledge to promote good habits--such as giving kids a toothbrush or bike helmet with a popular character on it.

I can see Sgt Buzzy honey--in a Sgt Buzzy honey bottle.

Note to self: No contracts where I am not looped in on toy rights.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Move over, sonny, that's my desk!

Beth Braccio, CareerBuilder, says yes, age might work against you in the job market.

They key, one expert says, is to EMBRACE age.

Concentrate on the needs of the job and how you meet them. Don't be defensive or even bring up age.

Look for "action" words in the job description--repeat those back...Being in all experience, including volunteer or family experiences.

Be confident about your past--you got this far, you must know a thing or two. No doubt you also have "soft skills"--ethics, punctuality, loyalty.

And be equally confident of your future. If new technologies are making you hesitant--take a class or two. Or view some YouTube videos.

Don't blame age for all rejection--you may be worrisomely overqualified.

If you get a long string of no interviews or rejections--raise your sights--apply only for the cream!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Attn: Hiring people

 Mary Lorenz, CareerBuilder, says today's job candidates don't go down easily when rejected for a position.

They take to social media, they tell their friends, they vent.

She went to some jilted jobseekers...and they said...

--It makes the company look totally pathetic not to get back to me...

--When companies don't get back to me, I take every opportunity to make their lack of consideration known...

--If you have time to read applications, you have time to set up an email template to reply...

--If you have a high turnover, this is probably why...

---Being rejected sucks, but never knowing is worse...

Do follow up with every candidate who applies, not just gets interviewed. At very least, call back the ones who come to your office.

Don't give people false hope. Don't say you will keep the resume on file--that doesn't happen.

Don't be nasty even if the interview was a disaster.

And do stay in touch with good candidates who were not hired. You never know...

Thursday, November 20, 2014

How to overcome glitches in the hiring process

Robert Half International has seen it all. And all includes a hiring sequence that gets stalled or does not go smoothly.

You may have been made an offer, told you are getting the job, but a formal offer letter is not coming. This can be for many reasons--the boss may be out of town, for instance. after a couple of weeks, contact the hiring manager. Say you would like to start ASAP--this is also a signal that you won't wait forever.

If you get followup questions about what your references said, don't be defensive. The manager is waiting for you to alleviate concerns. Bring up positive anecdotes. You can even offer another ref or two.

The written job offer differs from what you were told. First, seek clarification. They might have mentioned a range for salary, for example, and you assumed you'd be at the top. See what they say. Don't be accusatory and upset. If you really think it's bait-and-switch, the company may be playing games--not good.

What if you accept an offer and then hear something bad? Well, try to get the facts.

Don't count on anything until you are seated at your new desk. But above all, stay calm.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

What does overqualified mean?

Susan Ricker, CareerBuilder, says you may think your past experience is perfectly matched to a job, but the employer may think it's too matched--you have done too much appropriate stuff and are overqualified.

When I was freelance writing, it did not help me to say I have 35 years' experience writing health stories--they would think, ooo, we can't afford that!

Overqualified implies you are willing to take a step down. This may sound like a plus for employers, byt they fear you will leave as soon as you get something more appropriate.

You need to send the right message. Don't conceal your education or experience but explain your reasons for wanting a (maybe) less exacting position, different hours, less stress.

Say how this fits into your career path--I think I need more customer service experience, although I am good with people.

Also show how you fit with the company culture.

My usual advice: Be interested and interesting.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Getting a seasonal job--get cracking

The Better Business Bureau says retailers and shippers are going to hire record numbers this holiday season. But now is the time to apply!

Walmart, Target, Macy's and many others are already hiring.

Identify the type of place you would like to work--a restaurant, dept store, small store, whatever. What is your expertise--clothes, sporting goods, electronics...decide.

Check first with places you already shop. You may already know the people and stock--and can use the discounts.

Always be personable, even if just asking for an application or dropping off a resume.  Dress neatly. Smile.

Emphasize your customer service skills--people are stressed at holiday time.

You may be asked to work horrible or inconvenient hours. If this is a second job, make sure they know when you can work. If this is your only job--suck it up.

This is why they call it work.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Good news--introverts can dump cold calling

Max Nisen, Nextgov Magazine, Nov 13, 2014, says most people find networking kind of awkward--but quiet, shy people most of all.

They need to manage their interactions carefully. Cold calls are a fear--but now it seems they are less effective than in person encounters or emails.

First, don't "pray and pray"--contacting everyone or feeling you should.Maybe stick with your alum group Do research on each person.

Never ask for a job. Respect people's time. Ask for advice--always meet at a time and place convenient to the person.

Pick networking events carefully. See if the people you want to talk to will be there.

Don't monopolize a person too long. Maybe agree to meet later if you get a positive vibe.

After an event, take time off from schmoozing. Recuperate.

Being casual, interesting, helpful and flattering can take it out of ya.

Remember it could be worse--you could be facing a cold call list..."Uh, you don't know me, but...."

Friday, November 14, 2014

Have you thought of working with a recruiter?

According to Robert Half International, recruiters broaden your network, provide leads, and can fill you in on prospective employers.

But a recruiter must come to you--not the other way around.

It's better to hook up with a specialist in your field if you can.

You must check out a recruiter--and trust that company or person. Do not second-guess them.

Recruiters are busy--be honest with them. Let them know your background and salary expectations.

If the recruiter contacts you about an opening that you are not interested in, try to suggest another candidate.

Do not "friend" recruiters on social media--this is business.

Stay informed about the job market yourself--suggest things to the recruiter.

This is not an employment agency--srecruiters work for the employers. If you are a good fit, great, they make money. If you are a professional--they can send you on interviews without fear.

We used to be contacted by headhunters in the past--don't know what the frequency is now.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Does networking have a bad rep?

Don't forget a firm shake--not a dead fish. 

Kim Monaghan says somewhere along the line networking got tarnished---it began to take on a strong-arm reputation, or being a pest, or imposing.

But other people are still your best job source. Meet people, talk, ask advice--all will help you.

First, remember to ask questions--"Oh, you worked there--what was it like?"

Be a good listener, Monaghan says. Let people tell their story.

Try to get face-to-face meetings. This shows respect.

Be your best--not your most egotistical. Dress for the job you want.

Respect a person's time.

Try to get referrals--be brave.

Don't complain--about being unemployed or about past employers.

And be grateful. Don't forget the hand-written card!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

When will HR people wise up?

Jeff Haden is a contributing editor of Inc. Magazine. On Nov 10, 2104, he slams most hiring processes.

First, many employers have not figured out what they need. So they list an impossible number of requirements--which eliminates almost everyone and makes people apply just for the heck of it.

Instead, Haden says they should pick one attribute. You can train the others or forget the finetuning.

Sometimes employers insert non-relevant qualifications. Is a four-year degree really required?

Why would 10 years' experience prove anything--you could be bad for 10 yrs.

Look for what the person has done--turned this around, sold that, created the other.

Or--companies set up too many hoops. Why four interviews? Make it easy to apply--think of the applicant as a customer.

Other companies try to "get" the applicant--to see if he or she can think on their feet. Well, if  people have to think on their feet all the time at your company, maybe you need a more rational atmosphere.

Also--don't spring group interviews on people. It will be jumbled and the applicant will be floored.

And finally, companies often don't follow up--94% of applicants never hear back.

That's rude--and it gets around--don't forget people are judging the company, too.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Fight any "stigma" of unemployment

Michael Froehls, PhD, is author of "The Gift of Job Loss." I am not too sure I consider being laid off or fired a "gift" or some enriching chance to "grow," but maybe that's me. I would call it a challenge.

The economy is still a mess an if you don't have a job, you face your own feelings about yourself--and those you attribute to others.

You may blame yourself for losing your job. You feel like a victim, you are in shock, the author says.

You think others are looking down on you--with pity or fearing for their own situation.

First, losing a job is hardly unusual--you have to expect it over a working life. This probably has nothing to do with your skills or performance.

Don't think of yourself as unemployed--you are between jobs.

You have gained time. This is positive Use it wisely. Don't apply for one job and plop in front of the TV. Maybe sign up for a course, Get ceritifed in something. Learn a language.

As for what others think--who cares? People will always look down on your for something. You're fat. You're older. You are between jobs. Many things. They do this to make themselves feel better. Forget it.

If you volunteer, go to school, invent something, start a jobs group--anything--people will start to admire you.

Yes, admire you.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Millennials heart science

Millennials are the 1982-2004 crowd in case you are losing track of your gens.

According to a piece in Nextgov Magazine, Nov 6, 2014, by Alexandra Ossola, they LUV science, and in particular a website charmingly titled "I F--- Love Science." They also eat up Popular Science and Scientific American.

A 25-yr old named Elise Andrew is behind the web pub with the F word in it. She puts in things she thinks are "cool." (Much as I do with my creativity site--

To hear her tell it, Millennials are awestruck by science, gobble it up. They go after degree after degrees, stacking up to be the most educated generation ever.

The last generation to make a lot of discoveries was the G.I. generation (1939 World's Fair, Manhattan Project).

Both gens see science as a way to improve the world.

Science for this generation, though, has become a global language.

Interesting--but let's see how it plays out.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Are you a perfectionist? Is this good?

Researchers at say there are many positive traits in an employee--conscientiousness, integrity, accountability--but perfectionism is not one of them.

Sometimes in an interview, a candidate will try to say their biggest weakness is perfectionism--but usually this will be stated as a strength.

Only 46% of perfectionists are rated as "good" employees. 42% as satisfactory. 12% as poor.

--80% are proud of their work only if the boss praises it.

--84% want to work on their own (to be sure it's done right).

--72% think one mistake makes the incompetent (only 1% of non-perfectionists this this).

Managers should look for accountability, PsychTests' president says.

Perfectionists are not only hard on themselves, they want others to measure up, too.

Take this test to see if you are a perfectionist.

If you are one, you can dial it back by:

Avoiding all or nothing thinking.

Set realistic goals. Challenge your own assumptions.

Find the good in others.

I remember once when I had a real job, the head of another department was livid with me. " always want things done right!" he sputtered.

Maybe I was too that way.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Would you quit if you hit the jackpot?

Debra Auerbach, Workbuzz, July 17, 2014, asks if you would tell your boss to take your job and shove it--should you hit the lottery or come into money?

More than half--51%--of workers asked this said they could continue to work.

Gosh--is there more to life than money? Apparently.

77 percent said they'd be bored if they did  not work.
76% said work gives them a feeling of accomplishment.
42% wanted even more money than the winnings.
And 23% said they would miss their coworkers.

Still, only 30% would stay in their present job. The rest would pursue a passion. Only 15% of workers say they are in their dream job.

Also--that "shove it" approach? Most said they would quit respectfully.

31% would give two weeks notice
13% would resign that day--no notice.
3% would tell off the boss.
And 2% would not show the next day, no notice.

It's your karma--proceed wisely.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Some STEM careers that are also creative

Alexandra Ossola, Govt Executive, Nov 3, 2014, says 6% of workers were in STEM fields (science, technology, math) in 2011. But this number is growing--and not limited to "Big Bang Theory" areas such as higher math or physics.

STEM blends with art, nature, and construction, to name a few fields requiring precision.

Meteorologist is one. Weather reporting and prediction requires handling of complex vectors and a knowledge of physics, calculus and earth science.

Animator. Now you're talking my area. Most animators render using computer programs, but also have an affinity for art and storytelling.

Fashion designer. To create a pattern, designers must craft 3D out of 2d fabric. It has to be scaled up. Math is required to set a price.

Park rangers have backgrounds in forestry and conservation. They know botany and biology. My brother was one for years--they also must break up drug deals and work in law enforcement.

Ship captains must make complex calculations--wind, current, tides, other ships. Yes, there is GPS, but they also must know how to do this by hand.

Basically any job these days from reading blueprints to mixing chemicals to preserve animals in a taxidermy shop require complex knowledge. Being good at math and unafraid of computers are huge pluses.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

How low would you go?

Robert D. Behn, writing in Goverment Executive, Oct 29, 2014, tells about learning a new term--"throating"-- meaning sabotaging another student or hurting their performance.

Sometimes these pre-med Johns Hopkins students cut important pages out of books so no other students could read them.

This is zero sum--for me to win, you must lose.

This was pre-med kids trying to get into good med schools.

But the workplace is also cut-throat. But sometimes this is not the case. Are all other medical schools besides Hopkins a loser? Why do the top 20 schools get to be called winners?

Can we design an office environment or educational system that discourages throating?

Monday, November 3, 2014

It's not the job, it's the coworkers!

We all experience stress. Sometimes it is motivating. But other times, it is just plain unpleasant, chipping away at health.

Judith Orloff, assistant clinical prof of psychiatry at UCLA, says workplace stress is often caused by people around you who suck away your energy. In the popular vernacular--vampires.

Criticizing vampire. This one belittles you, judges you--all toe boost his or her own ego. Remember, this is about that person, not you. Spread on the loving kindness--they hate that.

Passive-aggressive vampire. This is the unpredictable one--friend or they mean what they say or not. Ask this person how they would feel.

Victimized vampire. You know this one--you are expected to spend your time rescuing this person.

Needy vampire. Maybe this person calls too much, texts too often, stands too close. Just say you're super busy.

Negative vampire. The more they complain, the better they feel--and the worse you feel.

Controlling vampire. This person knows what is best for you at all times. Just smile indulgently and do what you want.

Vampires do not come out once a year on Halloween--check the next desk. Sometimes it's not you--it's them!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Virtual job fairs--some tips

Katie Bascuas, Association News, writes about virtual job fairs. These are a way to interact with employers without leaving home or taking off work.

If you decided to log on to one, see which companies or organizations will be there--do your homework. Put your resume on the fair's website.

Review your online "self" for old or unwanted info--companies will check.

Do not wear jammies--the employer may want to switch to a video call.

ASAE CareerHQ's Virtual Career Fair is being held on Nov 5, 2014.

ASAE is American Society of Association Executives. I was an association exec for 16 yrs--it's an interesting, specialized world. I still miss it sometimes--although dinos roamed then.

Check it out.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Pamper your older staffers

Older people tend to show up on time, have a wealth of experience in what works and doesn't in your business, and usually can get along pretty well with others.

Boomers make up a third of the workforce--there are not enough workers coming along to replace them.

But age nips at everyone and sometimes you need to accommodate them a little to keep them onboard.

Ruth W. Crocker, Govt Executive, Oct 28, 2014, writes about a recreational therapist at a skilled nursing facility. She was great with patients--knew what they needed to recover from a brain injury or trauma.

But over the years, her paperwork backed up. She was expected to write up cases by hand--while the doctors would dictate and a transciptionist would take it from there.

Finally she got a medical leave to recover from stress.

That did not have to happen. Some modifications in the environment can keep older workers on the job.

--Maintaining a motionless position is tiring--especially if the person is standing. Make position changes mandatory.

--Sitting for hour after hour can weaken the body--provide information on this and permit walking and stretching.

--If lifting is involved, provide proper equipment.

--Small handles are hard to grip as we grow older--check all handles.

--Improved lighting helps ALL workers. Between 20 and 50, as much as 75% of light does not reach the retina.

--Age-related hearing loss can benefit from sound proofing. Also minimize machine noise.

--Provide incentives to lose weight or stop smoking.

Supervisors should not treat older workers like children. In fact, supervisors can benefit from workshops on aging.

Right on!

That therapist? Eventually the whole joint benefited from a voice-activated dictation system.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Feeling charitable? How not to get ripped off

Around the holidays, people often donate to charity. There are 1.5 million nonprofits--how can you judge which ones rate your hard-earned money?

Laura Fredericks is a charity expert.She once raised a million bucks in 24 hours.

She recommends you check your charity of choice with a reputable watchdog organization.

Charity Navigator ( has been around since 2001 and rates by "stars"--1 being lowest, 4 being highest. It looks at the organization's financial health, accountability, and transparency--and now is looking at effectiveness.

GuideStar ( gathers info on IRS-registered organizations.

Also the Better Business Bureau--BBB Wise Giving Alliance publishes 20,000 reports. Go to resources.

Then go to the charity website and download last three annual reports. Red flags are board and staff turnover. Different names each year--caution.

See where their funds went. Make sure at least 80% went to the mission.

See where the funds came from--you want to see individual gifts or bequests--around 80%.

I give through our local newspaper fund drive at the holidays--the paper matches the gifts.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Ask yourself...before starting a job search

Debra Auerbach, CareerBuilder, says you want to take time to reflect on your situation before starting a job search.

Why are you searching? If you just graduated and need money, that could be the reason. If you are unhappy where you are, that could be. But maybe in that case, you just need new responsibilities.

What do you bring that's unique? Really hone on what is unique about you.

Define the corporate culture you like. Some places are buttoned up--suits, quiet... Others are rowdier and people wear jeans and work weekends Do you like to work alone--or in teams.

Define your "nice to haves" and "need to haves." Location, function, salary, perks. If you must leave at 4:30 to pick up kids, you need to "give" someplace else--maybe be on call weekends.

No job has everything, but you don't want to founder around trying to decide--think ahead.

Oh, and Millennials--the emphasis is on what you can do for the employer, not what the employer owes you or can do for you.

Monday, October 27, 2014

When to say no to a job

Yes, times are tough, jobs are scarce, but sometimes it's just not "right." You need to face it.

Robert Half, the employment gurus, say:

No...if it's the beginning of your search and an early offer is blah. Taking it eliminates future opportunities.

No...if you lose enthusiasm as the job interview process wends on.

No...if the job is  not really a fit--every time you go there, do you feel excited, eager? If not, it may not be for you.

No...if it's just a job and not a step on some career path.

No...if it's same old. Too easy..too pat...too much like what you had.

Take these things up with the hiring manager...maybe you are missing something.

Or you may be right--move on.

I did that a few months ago--had a low offer on a screenplay--certain elements didn't thrill me--passed. Now, with no other offers yet, I wonder. But I think I did the right thing.

Hope anyway.

Friday, October 24, 2014

STEM industries still challenging for women

The old "women are bad at math" thing persists. Catalyst has issued a report titled High Potentials in Tech-Intensive Industries: The Gender Divide in Business Roles.

It shines a light on the male-dominated STEM companies.

Women are less likely to enter these and more likely to leave once they do.

Only 18% of women in the study opted for a business role in a STEM companu following their MBA--24% of men did.

Fifty-three percent of women started there, then left. Thirty-one percent of men did the same.

Women were more likely to start in entry-level jobs and be paid less.

Women also faced lack of role models and vague evaluation criteria. They were also less likely to have a female supervisor.

What can companies do about this?

--Start men and women are equal levels and pay.

--Evaluate the culture for hostility. Do events outside the office include women?

--Recruit senior males to sponsor up-and-coming women.

--Make standards clear.

--Provide a flexible work environment.

Come on, people--we can't dismiss half the workforce..that would be really stupid.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

House hunting tips for single people

Sometimes on shows like HGTV's House Hunters or Property Virgins, I see singles looking for a house.

I got my one and only house in my fifties--but I  understand that many young people are better money managers and think ahead.

Forbes Magazine's website had a story Oct 21, 2014, on tips for singles thinking of buying a home.

First, look at homes you can afford. Don't get in the traps that took down so many people earlier in this century. Employment can change. Health can change. Don't over-extend.

Be mindful of your safety. Even male singles are vulnerable in certain neighborhoods. Look for a low crime area--ask about crime. Is it well lit? Are there locks on the windows and doors? How about a security system?

How handy are you? Remember--there will be no nice super to fix things--it's on you. Personally I go nuts trying to keep the grass low enough to be ignored by the little "enforcement" trucks that sneak around trying to raise revenue by fining you for tall grass and weeds. Just the other day, the water heater caught on fire--the firemen drained it and a new one was a cool grand. Bam!

You can pay a yearly maintenance company a flat rate and then it's $45 or so a call for people to fix things--but they often find a way out of it or send pretty sloppy people.

Above all, this may be your home, but think of resale from the jump. Try for as many bedrooms as possible and affordable--you may close one off, but it will increase the resale value.

May I add some advice? I often see people on these shows glance in a bathroom and say, "This will have to go." Getting a room remodeled is a huge deal--getting things to "go" can be a nightmare. See if it's "liveable."

I smile when I hear that--these youngsters will soon see homeowning for what it is--part of life's rich tapestry.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Take 5 minutes to improve your job search

Susan Ricker has some quick suggestions on CareerBuilder.

Replace our "Objective." Instead use a branded headline--Experienced project manager ready to produce results.

Connect with one person in your network you have not talked to in a month.

Check your social profiles and update.

Research your target industries or companies.

Remove dumb voicemail recordings.

Clean up your resume. Remove irrelevant jobs. The past ten years is enough.

Check with references before they are requested.

Keep good records of all letters, calls, email, and so on that you have sent.

Proof, proof backwards, have someone else proof.

Okay, this is more than five minutes--but that was a catchy headline, wasn't it?

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Quick--we need a czar

This czar deal seems to be unique to government. When the 'crats can't get something going, they automatically reach for another body to be over the existing bodies.

According to Megan Garber, Govt Executive Magazine, the term is a Slavic translation of "Caesar." So it's a Russian Emperor.

It was first slapped on Americans during Wilson's time when Bernard Baruch was tapped to run the War Industries Board.  The real Czar (Russia) had recently been assassinated, so the term was available.

A Milk Czar was appointed in New York City, then Roosevelt went to town appointing czars right and left.

The press likes it--the word is short and fits in headlines.

So here we are--when in doubt, messed up, confused--get some Russian Emperor type to save the day.

Maybe czar really means scapegoat i n Russian--I am not sure. Also--didn't Caesar meet with a violent end?

Monday, October 20, 2014

Careers working with animals

"We should get a picture of her for the barn." 
 I am a huge fan of crusty Dr Jann Pol, a Michigan vet with a "reality" show on Nat Geo Wild. Dial up "The Incredible Dr. Pol." There is also a show on a vet who specializes in exotic animals; she operates on reptiles, birds, rats, you name it. And another starring a very can-do wildlife vet.

But being a vet is barely a start on the careers you could have working with animals. Check out The list is endless.

Some examples:

Agricultural economist
Animal Control officer
Animal nutritionist at a zoo
Certified canine massage therapist (there is also equine massage)
Dairy Farm owner
Horse show judge

You get the idea.

Some of these take quite a bit of advanced training--the site tells all.

From watching Dr. Pol, I now am mildly in love with cows--a crush, I guess you'd say. My daughter asked me, "Exactly how many farm animal pictures do we need in here?"

Can you have too many?