Friday, January 31, 2014

Turn this switch to get darkness

Alexander Aciman had a sort of horrible, but funny, essay in the WSJ about those awful lightbulbs we are now forced to buy, and try to read with, and look good under.

The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007--much like a bunch of stealth stuff that is being cranked out now under Executive Order without Congress even giving it a onceover--phased out "real" bulbs for those tortured curly things.

Aciman says these induce a sort of drowsy numbness. They make his living room look like an interrogation cell.

And they cost $20--and last unbearably long.

The light is at once harsh but very dim, he notes.

He wants a light that "will incandesce across my room, filling it with a familiar yellow surf."

He also foresees a hideous new world--rushed Oval Office negotiations as diplos and politicians rub their temples and hurry away. Romance without mood lighting! Brows forever furrowed.

The horror.

And I hope this dude never breaks one--it says right on the package--call the Rescue Squad (or maybe it was EPA--I could not read it clearly).

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Make your mark

CareerBuilder says too often in this economy, people settle for work that isn't their passion.

Steven Jobs once said don't settle.

Well, this is the era of settling.

More than 40% of college grads are overqualified for the jobs they hold.

So...think. What would you like to do now? How about long term?

Find the parts of your current job that will be useful in the dream job.

Maybe freelance at what you love...

And start a personal project. If you are a writer--do a blog. If you are a coder, do an app. Like to set up events, find a nonprofit which could use you.

Just do something! Me, I decided to have more fun, so I am screenwriting again. And loving it.

When things get to be too mundane or much, I say to myself, "I am going to a better place." No--not script.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Stunt resumes--worthless or worth a try?

Lauren Weber, WSJ, Jan 24, 2014, says some job hunters who have not yet given up are turning to stunts to get their resume read.

One man kept applying to a place that arranges short-term accommodations with a resume inside a pillow inside a box. This earned him the nickname Pillow Guy, but did not get him a job. To make it worse, the resume was faded and had to be ironed to even be read. You are going to find that not that many HR offices have irons.

Companies receive an average of almost 400 resumes for every position.

Sometimes these ploys do work--but usually they are only good for a laugh.

At the site Etsy, for instance, applicants send in potholder resumes, garlanded resumes, or apps in a bottle. But what about their software experience, years on the job, skills?

Another guy got interviewed and sent a thank you note with pizza for the whole office. They bit. Three months later he was fired--he slept at the desk.

Another guy created a billboard that said he had spent his last $500 on it. He tweeted it.

Bam! Someone hired him. In fact, offers poured in.

So--go know.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

As the world of unemployment turns

I heard the "White House" is going to tell companies not to turn their backs on the long-term unemployed as they have been doing.

Companies don't have to do anything that isn't a law. So good luck with that one.

Do you ever get the idea that HS kids are running this joint? "Oh, let's just tell people who to hire..."

Anyhow, Anne L. Caldwell, of Outsourcing Solutions, suggests having business cards made that list the basics of the job you are seeking and your contact info. I suggest bucks.

People sort of hold onto cards--they get collected--not tossed.

This is another variation on networking.

Maybe you are sick of telling people you are looking or in the market. But keep doing it.

Does it make you sound needy? Maybe a little. But what the hey.

This reminded me of a funny story about a friend of mine. He went to lunch with a prospective employer, hated the guy, did not want any job he might offer. At the end of the lunch, the employer said in a bored voice, "Well, give me your resume..." My friend handed it over. Then he hesitated. The employer said, "What?" My friend said, "That'll be three bucks--it costs money to get those printed." The other guy flung it back at him, saying, "I am not paying for this."

My friend pocketed it, smiled, and left.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Job hunter, know thyself

You don't have to settle for any job you can snag--CareerBuilder says it doesn't hurt to know yourself and try to find a job you actually want.

Here are some questions they recommend asking yourself.

Why are you starting a job search? If you are just out of school or unemployed from another job, the answer may be obvious. But what if you have a job and still want another one?  Maybe you don't want a new job--just new responsibilities.

What unique value do you bring? Find something unique--maybe it's a language. Or broad travel experience. Or boundless energy.

What kind of corporate culture do you like. Some people want IBM blue suits--others beer on Fridays.

On which aspects can you be flexible? Nice to haves versus need to haves. Industry? Hours? Salary? Where can you compromise if you have to?

Is this a stepping stone to what I ultimately want? When you are first starting, just engraining the soft skills of showing up, dressing appropriately, and forming relationships may be of value--no matter what the job or industry.

Don't worry--nothing is forever.

Speaking of soft skills--never wear an orange t-shirt.

Friday, January 24, 2014

How to get a hot tech job for $2,000 and two mos of study

According to Nextgov Mag, you can train for a "data science" position in one of those almost-free MOOC courses.

Data science is the technique of making sense of all those tons of data computers are scarfing up.

It was been described as the sexiest job of the 21st Century. That I would doubt, but you be the judge.

You need a grounding in statistics and the basics of computer science. Computer smarts mixed with the brains of an entrepreneur, basically.

You can pay $60K for a master's in data science from Berkeley or go to an online venue such as Udacity.

The "degree" from Udacity may not carry the clout of a master's from Berkeley or another brick-and-mortar, but it will be taught by someone in the trenches--say a Facebook exec. In other words--a leader doing it daily.

You should be table to talk that up into a decent credential. It's how the game is played these days.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Resume trends

OMG--when are those mouthbreathers in DC going to quit taxing, pumping out regulations, and trying to boss everyone around so we can get some job growth? For FIVE YEARS NOW, I have written about "resume trends."

As we crawl through the ruins of the economy, more and more employers are using computers not expensive people to scan resumes. So, this means it's a good idea to spit back the same keywords used in the job listing. If it says, "team player wanted," say, "I worked on a team that did this or that." Do NOT say, "I am good at banding with others to accomplish tasks."

Do not list your daily responsibilities as experience--this according to CareerBuilder. Hit your awards, impressive feats (money saved or made), and other accomplishments (first to do this or that, for example).

Create multiple resumes for different roles.

Lose the Objective Statement--Of COURSE, you want a fun job with no heavy lifting.

Who doesn't?

The good thing about revamping the old res, though, is it gets you inspired to send it around again.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Have you ever been on a boat?

This is just one of many offbeat questions you might get asked in an interview. Be ready for anything, says the website Glassdoor.

(Applicants who told a funny boat story got hired.)

Describe the process and benefits of wearing a seatbelt was asked by the software company Active Network.

Who would play you in the movie of your life?

Can you teach someone how to make a cootie catcher without moving your hands?

How honest are you? (Uh-oh, trick question.)

Why is a tennis ball fuzzy?

Are you a hunter or gatherer?

What three things would you bring to an island?

If you were a pizza delivery man, how would you benefit from a pair of scissors?

How lucky are you--and why?

And..what kind of parade would you throw through Zappos office?

Aw--easy. Gay.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Learning the soft skills of success

According to Anita Bruzzese, Gannett, many new workers--those Millennials--lack the background skills to build a career.

Employers complain about this. But some employers also try to do something about it.

BOK Financial Corp--a banking concern based in Tulsa--has had a training program in place since the 1960s--almost 275 people have gone through it. (Does that sound like a lot for 50 years?)

The program lasts 12 to 18 months--they get a 1000 apps for the 15-20 slots.

Of course, the applicants learn about wealth management, but they also get schooled in dining etiquette, writing skills, and giving back to the community.

The group is encouraged to live together, play together, socialize. Many say this is the best part.

What does the bank get? Lower turnover--7.5% versus 16.5% for banking nationwide.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Midwest no work laugh fest

Check out Three of the cities with the unhappiest workers are in the Midwest--Cincinnati, Indianapolis, and Columbus.

This is based on a survey sent to 20,000 employees across the country. Ten factors were rated. Among them: relationships with supervisors and coworkers, atmosphere, resources, salaries, growth potential, corporate culture, reputation, duties, and autonomy. The livability of the city was not assessed.

Florida also scored three unhappy places--Orlando was No. 2, Tampa No. 6, and Miami No. 9.

Denver, Pittsburgh, Sacramento, and Arlington VA also scored in the top (low?)  10.

The happiest? San Jose-Sunnyvale, Wash DC, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Salt Lake City, Houston, Boston, Philly, and San Diego.

What--no Phoenix? We are giddy over here!

Friday, January 17, 2014

When it's best to not speak

I have learned in my family to be VERY careful of what I say in response to my family members. Usually, I clam.

Geoffrey Tumlin writes about the virtues of playing dumb in the Jan 16, 2014, issue of Govt Executive.

We see it on the news everyday--someone saying something dumb or wrong. This also happens in the office.

The only way to affect the impact of this on you is to play dumb yourself--or pretend you didn't hear it.

Put on your best poker face, Tumlin advises. You may think, "I can't believe she said that," but don't roll your eyes or grimace. Don't overdo your lack of reaction--this can be ridiculous.

If you are too clueless, the person may repeat the statement.

Don't be so eager to say the opposite of someone or prove them wrong. Especially don't whip out your phone to find a contradictory fact.

Also, don't play dumb too often.

People will think you are dumb or not paying attention.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Don't be vaguely resentful--be an "owner"

I know so many people with jobs who see the employer as the enemy--they don't care about the long-term planning, what mergers might be in the offing, the state of the business sector, and those sorts of things.

They just complain about the workload or pay, try to take off early, and don't see any relationship between buying into the business mentally and their success.

This is stupid. Not paying attention to office gossip is also stupid.

I can't tell you how often I will say to someone, "I see your joint was bought out." Wha...who?

You need to look at the big picture, according to CareerBuilder. Read the business sections, follow your company.

Be cognizant of the small picture, too--the deadlines, the upcoming initiatives--how will your team or expertise fit in.

Is your team up to it? What would it take to get ready?

You can't figure this is someone else's problem just because you have no control over it. By the time it becomes your problem, it may be too late.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Site that gets people on your side

I honestly did not know which of my daily sites to put this on--health or coping with the economy. It could work for both.

When I wrote about how PepsiCo's "wellness" program was a little underwhelming on, the VP of said his approach was working with health goals.

The "spire" part, he told me, came from aspiring to do something, conspiring with others to make it happen, and then inspiring others--which starts the cycle again.

I liked the wordplay.

This "community" was founded by soccer players in Chattanooga--and is designed to give you "team" backing in everything you do.

You post on the steps you take toward your goal and the others have 300 "points" a day they can kick over to you or others in response. These can be exchanged for discounts.

Companies can also make up their own teams--say for health goals.

They asked me to join up--I said I was too grouchy. But it might be fun. I am thinking about it.


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Should people trust you?

Are you worthy of trust? I wish many of our politicians would answer this. But I digress.

Anita Bruzzese, Gannett, says sure people may not trust Congress, but they also may not trust YOU.

A Gallup survey shows that only 30% of 100 million full-time employees are fully engaged--and this may be because they don't trust the organization.

Don't trust it to be loyal to them.

Don't trust it to do good while doing well.

What diminishes trust--in a company and in a person? First, says Nan Russell, author of Trust Inc, piling on the hype destroys trust. Don't over promise and under deliver.

Loudly countermanding people--you don't trust them, clearly. This breeds distrust of you.

Spending too much time blaming or covering your rear is bad. So is being a glory hog.

Making personal attacks on others also destroys trust.

And you know another one I have discovered by being on the internet--peppering your comments with the f-bomb and other gutter words--this makes me trust you less and it's disgusting. If you want to be snarky or disdainful, find a more imaginative way to do it.

Back in the day, we did not trust anyone over 30. Still not bad advice--or under 30.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Can you get work done at work?

Dean Newlund, AZ Republic, Jan 12, 2014, quotes Jason Fried, author of Rework, on actually getting quality work done in the office.

Many people do better on a plane or in a coffee shop.

At the office, there can be too many meetings, interruptions, noise. Employers need to remove roadblocks, Fried says.

Cancel all unnecessary meetings. Make decisions at meetings, not just exchange info.

Be realistic about what you can accomplish in a set amt of time--say no, if you must.

Check email only twice a day. It takes 15 mins to regain focus after checking.

Another writer, Tony Schwartz, author of The Power of Full Engagement, says managing your energy is as important as managing your time.

Walk during one-on-one meetings--exercise increases energy. Have no-talk afternoons.

You don't have to be overworked to be productive.

I guess. The one thing I try not to do is skip around, do a little of this, some of that. I don't always succeed.

Darn--where was I?  

Friday, January 10, 2014

Let's have fun

Remember fun? I am serious. But serious is not the opposite of fun--you can be serious about fun.

I used to be pretty quirky and fun--now 18 mos out from my mother's death, I am feeling the urge to have fun creeping back in.

Yes, the world is a horrendous mess, our leaders are stone liars, we have no press anymore, no one has a job, but we can still have fun.

We can bring it with us--it's an attitude.

My daughter and I recently combed the internet for some crazy rugs to brighten things up without breaking the bank.

We got addicted to rug hunting on the internet--we sit in a trance, beautiful rugs slip by...we both love it! Maybe too much--we may need Rugs Anonymous.

Try to have a moment's wacky fun each day--even at the office, if you have one.

I think writing a comedy script about animal cops has jumpstarted the fun part of me.

What would do it for you? It doesn't take money.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Early Decision--the ins and outs of applying for college

I am reading a book called Early Decision--Based on a True Frenzy by Lacy Crawford. By reading, I mean, listening to.

Anyhow, Lacy used to be a consultant to rich kids, helping them do their college apps.

This book really lays out the incredible machinations some families go to in order to get into certain schools. The lists, the essays, the tears.

But what people need to remember--in my opinion--is that you can get a good education almost no matter where you go. You need to want it, find out the best teachers and how to get in their classes or sections, and work the system.

A sense of purpose.

The Glenn Harlan Reynolds wrote about this in the Jan 4-5, 2014, WSJ.

College costs are going up and up--yet they might be reaching the point of no return--people can't afford it, period, profs are being laid off.

71% of grads carry a load of debt. Yet 41% of grads are in a job that doesn't even require a degree.

Colleges need to cut costs--even to zero as the new online freebies show. Some schools also deliver the basics in online courses, then for advanced, the students go to classes.

There is even a new approach called "hoteling." Buy a campus of a school that went under, get some tutors, and then bring the classes in online.

But what about the keggers?

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Eeek--the Electronics Show is coming to get us

Joseph Marks, Government Technology, Jan 6, 2014, was overwhelmed by the first day of the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Everything will be connected--except maybe things you want connected.

The blood pressure dohickey on your watch would synch with the calendar on your smartphone, showing you which parts of the day were most stressful.  You could also use your phone to turn on the heat 15 mins before you get home.

Some cars are partly automatic--parking themselves, for example.

Netflix may soon offer different movies depending on how stressed you are or if you have people over.

Of course, your brilliantly digital house will open the door for firemen and tell the first responders if there are pets in the house.

Yeah--but why can't I send my sister a movie I liked from my system to hers? I have to tell her, she has to remember, she has to get it, stream it somehow, I don't get streaming, then... Good grief! This is work.


I heard this AM that your car GPS is tracking you. I don't have a car, so neener, neener.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Advice for 2014

I am out on the boards having a fit these days on people who say let's eliminate long-term unemployment payments and make "these slackers" take some job.

First, there aren't even a lot of compromise, horrible jobs out there.  And the people who have been out there the longest are also the last to be hired. So that's charming.

Anyhow, our work gurus Dale Dauten and JT O'Donnell recommends focusing on jobs you love despite what anyone says. Narrow your search, not widen it.

If you start to feel burned out, instead of saying, "What can I do about this today?", ask "Who can I help today?"

If you had a great interview but still did not get the job, say, "I would still love to work with you. If the person you hired does not work out, please think of me as your backup." What do you have to lose? Also, check back in six months.

If management does not seem to be bringing you along, see who is being brought alone and emulate what they do.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Some people just can't slow down

Addicted to speed and action. Anita Bruzzese, Gannett, says some people are afraid to stop their frenzied pace.

Smartphone in hand, emails at the ready, feeling rushed, out of control, never time to really think.

I flipped this AM--eek, AOL was displaying no email for me. Try later. LATER? Were they joking? When is later?

What if you want to slow it down a bit this year? You could ask for help.

Is a high level of just do it and impulsive action the feeling you want?

Trust the quiet--seek it out.

I raced to AOL tech support, some gal (presumably) named Chrissy helped me out by compacting my storage or something--then my favorite places disappeared.

Now I have those back. Whew. I need a nap.

But, naturally, will not take one. Are we all nuts?  

Friday, January 3, 2014

Good managers kinda hard to find

CareerBuilder says management is still not taught the way it should be. Most management skills are learned on the job anyhow.

Good managers usually learn by having bad managers themselves. They see what to avoid.

First, don't be overly controlling. Micromanaging, creating impossible rules--these are bad.

Admit mistakes you make them. Hanging tough makes you look lame.

Don't send mixed signals. Set a positive tone.

Don't punish the good and reward the bad. Sometimes managers are intimidated by talented employees and give them a hard time. Don't.

What do you think? Do your hires look forward to coming to work?

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Effective complaining

I never let anything go. But I am a grumpus when I have a complaint. There is a right and wrong way to do this, I heard.

Elizabeth Holmes, WSJ, Dec 19, 2013, says yes, it's OK to speak up. But time your complaint. Weekdays are best.

Gather your facts--receipt, timeline.

Be calm--make the person want to help you--to like you, to feel for your pain.

Tell the employee specifically what you want.

Don't start blatting away demanding a manager. See if the person who answers can help.

And be patient. If they say they will check and call back, there is always a chance they mean it. Provide a number.

My newspapers suddenly went nuts this week--the WSJ did not appear for three days, a newly restarted Arizona Republic came on days when it was not supposed to--eek. I called both over and over. (The same carrier throws both.)

The Arizona Republic insisted they could not deal with the WSJ problem (same person delivering). There was nowhere on the computer screen to type this. I finally said could you send a note?

Why, yes--sure, they could send a note, so maybe things will resolve. Who knows?

I was a little grumpy, though--so maybe they tossed the note.