Friday, February 28, 2014

How to get people to invest in you

Do you like that show--something about a shark--where people pitch businesses to rich guys? I have seen parts of it.

Anyhow, Carlene Reyes, Arizona Republic, Feb 26, 2014, says pitching to prospective investors is an art.

First, if it's a venture cap firm, having a referral from someone known to them is good. Or you can use a site like

Do your homework on investor firms. They specialize in different industries, for one thing.

Know if the investor is able to accommodate you are the stage of your business you are in. Startup funds are one thing, expansion funds another.

Bring hard analysis to the meeting--this isn't chitchat.

But don't overdo the above. Don't read slides to the investors.

Also know your competition and how you differ--and hopefully, are better.

And be sure you know your business--don't expect the investor to suggest better ways to do it.

I am adding this--when the meeting is over, ask what comes next, when will you hear from them.

Either way.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Could you "stop" if you wanted to?

The commute, the family, the office, the coworkers, the devices, the constant contact, the....aieeee.

People get addicted to action--to doing--to speed.

Anita Bruzzese, Gannett, says thinking and going all the time is an addiction.

I have it.

I do email constantly--alerts--these blogs that pay me nada--commenting on sites.. coming up with ideas,.etc.

So, according to this, I am diseased.

Americans usually don't take all their vacay time--except for our leaders, of course. They take theirs and ours.

You need to ask for help. Sit in the quiet sometimes. The old robber barons used to call it "sitting the silence." They said ideas fell into their minds like letters in a mail slot. I have tried this--it works.

I guess this is a version of stop and smell the roses--without roses.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

What is a "bar raiser"? You don't want to know

Greg Bensinger, WSJ, Jan 8, 2014, says Amazon--in all its vaunted wisdom--has a system for hiring bigwigs that includes so-called "bar raisers."

These are people in various departments who pass on a candidate. They do this even if their department or expertise is separate from that of the person being considered.

This company keeps looking and looking--their hiring process is excruciating (my word).

Bar raisers get no extra pay, although taking this on reflects well on them at promotion time.

Candidates (not the warehouse people) face many interviews, phoners, and the bar raisers also meet.

Amazon also determines a person's IQ and may present the prospect with brain teasers.

Also, this takes the bar raisers off their primary job--one said he limited himself to six interviews a week.

If a person runs away screaming, said one, this means they don't belong at Amazon.

Yeah, good to know. About the screaming.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Lifelong learning key to advancement

School is never over. You never graduate. You are never done learning.

Not if you want to earn a living and advance.

Especially these days with all fields zipping along at warp speed.

Anita Bruzzese, Gannett, says people wonder if they should go back to school. I know two women in their sixties who recently becamse certified in teaching English as a second language. This makes a nifty late-in-life job.

More school is more likely to result in more money in finnance, computers, or economics. This is less likely in history, English or art.

Too, many fields demand a master's without this resulting in more pay--examples are psychology, social work, and education.

Thousands of schools offer MBAs, but only about 50 name-brand schools can lead to more pay.

Also, think about how you can self-direct your added education--find the information on your own. There are TED lectures (YouTube), MOOCs, and so on.

It sure cuts the cost.

Monday, February 24, 2014

More office characters people dislike

It's not the work--it's the people you work with.  Peggy Drexler, WSJ, Feb-15-16, 2014, says workers are more like to complain about coworkers than the job itself.

The problem is--you can't pick your coworkers. So you are swimming with the passive-aggressives, autocrats, backstabbers, and others.

This article lumped all these under the title of "disrupters."

Another of the breed is the office gossip--gossip, according to one study, making up 90% of office conversations.

All this is pretty obvious. People! Get to know them--you may or may not love them, but they aren't going anyplace.

Oh--and are you one of the disrupters? I think I might have been when I had an office job.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Can you have it all--what is all?

Work hard, rise in the ranks, beautiful house, well adjusted kids, a smoochy-romantic love life, hobbies, maybe a book under your belt--sure, you can have all this. If you clone yourself.

Oh, cynic, cure thyself!

According to Accenture Research, 70% of execs worldwide said they could have a successful career and a great home life.

All they do is set their priorities.  Both work and home contain many tasks--farm a lot of them out. This takes money--oh, that's right--great job, great bucks.

Remove all  unnecessary busywork. People prefer to be busy--but there are limits.

Don't be on-call after work hours, limit the electronics, return calls and emails the next day.

Unless your kid is texting you--that one you need to answer. The tot might want dinner.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

What can ya do with an English degree?

Our dear president recently felt he had to apologize for calling an art history degree useless--a degree in manufacturing --whatever that is--would be more useful, he quipped.

Still, people persist in being interested in the arts, in language, in expression, in lofty goals of thinking and philosophy, despite the lack of a call for philosophers these days.

CareerBuilder says not to worry--a degree in English can still feed you. How about becoming an adult literacy or GED teacher?

Or English as a Second Language--you don't need to know the other languages, you can still teach it--they will train you.

You can become an editor. Do you think all these reams of internet and printed materials organize themselves? Many writers can't even spell these days.

You could also be a paralegal--which involves a lot of organized thinking and writing.

Or--a technical writer. You will figure out and write instructional books and manuals, as well as white papers.

What's a white paper? You'll find out.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Think twice on giant portfolio resumes

Melissa Korn, WSJ, Feb 6, 2014, says some universities are pushing grads to complete web-based dossiers of writing samples, school projects, and other meant-to-impress material instead of a simple resume.

Over half of students used one of these last year.

Just putting it together gave the students a better idea of their direction and capabilites. This is good.

But--few employers, apparently--actually look at them. They just don't have time.

There are also companies, such as Pathrite, that let you upload verified transcripts. This not catching on, either.

So maybe the strength of gathering all this is more in upgrading the student's confidence and appreciation of his or her skill set, rather than to wow recruiters or HR types.

Personally, I think the HR types are more into scanning your online presence--so don't forget that.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Do people trust you--do you trust others?

Anita Bruzzese, Gannett, riffs off on the matter of trust. Do you trust your boss? Do people trust you?

I would ask--trust to do what? Look out for you? Look out for themselves? Tell you the truth? Loop you in?

Business is business--I have found that it pays to be somewhat cautious about trust in the workplace. The stakes--as Bruzzese points out--are pretty high. Don't tell people things you don't want to get out.

First, reputation is not a good indicator. A person may have a rep as a straight shooter--but may not always be one.

Look for body language clues--evasiveness and so on. A gut feeling. But--she says--don't blindly trust your gut--sometimes intelligence is also reliable.

And the higher someone goes on the ladder--the less they need to trust others or be trustworthy. Remember that.

I read a story the other day about how the bigs like Google are paying the office popular person to push the party line. Can you trust this?


Monday, February 17, 2014

Trying to advance from within?

Tracy Morrissey, HR Choice, talked with a reader who wanted to apply for another job in another part of the company. Should the worker inform the boss? What if the worker did not get the other position--would it make the worker suddenly look like a loser?

Morrissey said basically is was not unusual to seek advancement within a company.

Approach it as a serious job search. Good companies usually encourage job growth.

See if the company has a policy in place first--you may have to be in your present job for an amouint of time before seeking a step up.

If you have a mentor, talk to that person.

Submit your resume, custom cover letter, and materials as you would for an outside job.

If, for some reason, you do not get the second position, see why not. Maybe there are gaps you can close.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Let's get some apprentice programs going

Peter Downs wrote about this in the WSJ, Jan 17, 2014.

Companies these days want someone else to train their employees. The president never tires of ranting about how everyone should go to college--what if you want to stamp widgets and go home at 5:00 and have a life? Is there a widget stamping degree?

If jobseekers don't have the precise training, companies think they should pay to get it.

Yet, companies are slashing training budgets and putting in software that weeds out every candidate who doesn't have every iota of relevant experience.

Other countries don't do this--the find shape-able, trainable workers and shape and train them.

In Switzerland, 70% of people from 15-19 are apprenticing--baking, health care, banking, retail, clerical.

In Germany 65% are in such programs.

The UK has instituted a similar approach and it's growing like mad.

Here, though, apprenticeships are falling.

There are some bright spots. There is a program called LaunchCode--they take people with basic programming skills and pair them with an experienced programmer for 2 yrs at $15 an hour.

Also check out a St. Louis program for apprentice carpenters.

Let's get business involved with education--by providing it.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Actual HR tips for acing interviews

We just can't get or give enough advice, can we? And I include myself. I am a big know-it-all, too.

CareerBuilder has some interview advice from an HR person.

First, wear deodorant, but not cologne or perfume. Wear a suit--and be sure it's cleaned and pressed. This is men and women. Wear decent shoes.

Don't be too early. Certainly don't be there 15 mins early...awkward.

Know the name of the person you are meeting with. Ask ahead of time. Then ask for that person when you get to the reception desk.

This is a good one--Remember you are being interviewed the SECOND you walk in the door. If you mutter to the receptionist as if he or she is the "help," or act all weird waiting (putting on make up, pacing), this will be noted.

Make proper eye contact. I remember not hiring people who would not look at me, did not ask their own questions (and not when is the first salary review, either), and really didn't seem to want the job--they wanted me to sell them into taking it.

Well, sometimes that won't happen. A lot of times, actually.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Entrepreneurialism within a corporate job

Do you treat your employer's company as if it were your own? Are you constantly trying to come up with new product, technqiues, financing, or procedural ideas?

Many employees feel that if they do this, management will pooh-pooh their brainstorms.

Almost 70% of employees think the country is losing it's innovative edge.

Accenture did a study of 800 corporate employees--more than half said they had pursued an entrepreneurial idea at work--but only 20% thought employers offered support.

Also, empployees may have ideas, but be too busy in today's economy to pursue them.

They also say employers don't offer incentives. Does your company keep all patents developed by employees?

The key, said one industry leader, is to not only be willing to take risks but know what the risk-reward pay off is. How much money and risk "in" for how much payback "out."

And what happens if "your" idea, which took some money and resources to develop, flops? Do you flop with it?

I see a trend these days toward failing fast. If companies try something, they decide up or down on it fast before too much is risked.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Being healthy as a career move

Our friend Anita Bruzzese, Gannett, says people who wad in the office birthday cake and free pizza may be pursuing a doomed career strategy.

They get home too bushed and sugar-logged to work out.

I know you are thinking, "Sounds pretty delicious, Star." But what if this affects your career?

Eating two pieces of Mildred's cake is simply the same as saying, "I don't care if I am a slow slug with love handles and no future."

Take chips--do they make you energized?

Eat when you're hungry not just because food is present and available.

And a noontime walk reduces stress and fills the body with oxygen! Yum! Work!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Get an MA in sustainability

What could be more long-lasting than sustainability? Do you like all these new buzzwords? I sometimes wonder.

Sustainable, I guess, is something you can use and then get more of. Wood, fish, other animals, etc.

The US market for such things has more than doubled in the last four years.

At Wake Forest's Center for Energy, Environment and Sustainability, students get a grounding in how to manage emerging technologies combined with the slew of regulations coming down the line.

You will learn global human systems, resource management, energy science, sustainable organizational management and environmental law and policy.


How would you like to evaluate the national resource capital of say, Belize?

Or manage resources in Peru?

The program concentrates on graduates finding a niche, a calling, a good salary.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Freshen up your search

Our job gurus Dale Dauten and JT O'Donnell were talking with a reader who said his in-laws thought he was not serious about looking for work.

This is a common problem.

They pointed out that the average search is 10 months. Every day you don't find a job, can be considered a failure--if you look at it wrong.

Dauten said to gauge not by how many resumes you send, but by how many callbacks or interviews you get. With hundreds vying for each job, an interview is a milestone.

If someone asks how it's going--don't be defensive, O'Donnell says--say, "Glad you asked--do you know of anyone I can call?"

Look into getting a career coach. How about a job buddy--you can "bookend." If you are going to call two people that day, tell your buddy and when you have called, also tell your buddy you did it--the other bookend. Of course, your buddy will do the same.

When is the last time you went to the career section of the library? Try something new.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Choice to not work is so ridiculous

The Congressional Budget Office has said the so-called subsidies to lower income people to buy health insurance will "allow" them to cut to part time (or two part-time jobs instead of three, as one talking head put it).

They say this is a great thing--people can stay home with their kids, start a business, while others who believe in work and have found a job pay their way.

Coupla points:

The subsidies are not that great--so you may be paying $350 a month plus thousands upfront each year before your deductible is paid. How can you have no job and even pay that,  much less your other bills? Or will these people all be in Medicaid?

How can you start a business with no money or savings? Kickstarter?

Isn't this an admission that they don't know how to create jobs--so just stay home, you will still have health care.

Portability is good--especially since it has been known and in writing since 2010 that millions of employer-provided policies will be cancelled later this year. But this is not the way to go about it.

Seventeen percent of men between 25 and 54 are not working! I don't think they all want to make necklaces and sell them on Etsy.

Let's solve these problems instead of spinning the horrible facts and insulting everyone's intelligence.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Get more done with bad time management

Brooke Allen, Government Executive, Feb 3, 2014, says don't do hard, boring, useless things.

So many scientists, even, according to Allen, are doing esoteric things no one cares about. Wise up.

One guy cited had ADHD and started but did not finish anything. Other people, he saw, could finish but not start--so he gave them his projects to finish.

Do a lot for others and they will help you out--corollary to above.

Don't lie--it's a time sink.

If someone says they don't have time, they know and may even tell you they have the same amount of time as you do but choose not to spend it the way you want them to.

Make a to-do list, get things onto paper and out of your mind, then don't do them. Lose the list.

Allen says nearly everything worthwhile he has done he did to get out of doing something else.

Words to live by.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Freelancers forming "hives"

Freelancing is giving me hives--but according to the WSJ, Feb 3, 2014, freelancers are banding together in sort of working "hives"--say an insurance broker and a financial adviser.

Or a web writer, web designers, and a tech person or two.

They share a name, letterhead, offices, but are separate contractors. Kind of one-stop shopping.

The WSJ contends this is because companies are tired of managing a bunch of 1099 employees.

The parts of the hive--worker bees?--can also take outside projects.

First, you must decide which skills are most closely related to yours. Also keep your ears open at the employer companies--who left and could be replaced with the hive, for instance.

If you don't know a potential hive member--arrange a trial run.

Have a single back office where clients can bill. Decide who pitches. How will the money be allotted? Each member of the hive must know what percentage of effort he or she will contribute.

You should also decide what percentage of time each person can devote. And how much that person will give to private projects.

I would advise putting this in writing. I once banded with a guy and he put our arrangement in writing--and it said I was "married" to the client until every "i" was dotted. I said--two reasonable rewrites, then additional pay.

I used to work with graphic designers and printing companies--but bill separately. Even that was problematical at times. Go into this with your eyes open.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Not every unpleasant office is hostile

Laura Lawless Robertson, Squire Sanders, was asked about a reader's workplace. The reader wanted to know what constituted harassment? She was 63, had worked in the place six yrs, but had not gotten a raise in 4 yrs. She was told they were trying to make her quit. Her supervisor insults her and her coworkers are told to report her every move.

Robertson said not every bad environment was legally actionable.

The laws protect against harassment--but not "every sling and arrow."

To have a case, a worker must show he or she was subject to unwelcome or offensive verbal, visual, or physical conduct due to his or her race, color, national origin, religion, age or disability.

This must also be so bad it creates an abusive environment.

If you believe this is happening, consult your handbook first. Find out whom to contact and talk to that person.

Even then--to me--this sounds hard to nail down.

I suppose if someone said, "You are never making more than you do now, you old biddie," maybe it would be actionable.