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?

Friday, October 17, 2014

How to re-enter the workforce

Who knows why you took a break--children, elderly parent, burned out. When it comes time to try to get back to work, Robert Half, the workplace guru, has some ideas.

As usual--first step--activate your network--link up with anyone you know on social, also offline, family members, friends, and their friends. Even your old employer.

Practice explaining why you are coming back. What do you expect in a job?

If you volunteered while away, be sure to note that. Or start volunteering. The skills can be transferable. Organizing, working with spreadsheets, managing volunteers, and so on.

You might want to take classes--brush up on skills. Don't forget about those free university courses--MOOCs.

You might want to ease back in by temping or working part-time.

Sit down and think about the skills you've gained while out of the formal work world.

Give yourself time--be patient. Job hunting is hard enough when you segue from one job to the next. Recreating a new "work" you is even more challenging.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

How to screw up your first job hunt

The employment guru firm Robert Half has some "don'ts" for your first job hunt.

DON'T ignore your campus career centers and job fairs--harness your network and keep it current. Talk to neighbors, friends, parents' friends, anyone you can.

DON'T  get sloppy. Have someone look over your resume and cover letters. Read them out loud--a good way to catch glitches.

DON'T depend on canned or generic letters--the same for every job. If a listing is really cool, google the company, go to the website--hang your letter on a piece of news about the company.

DON'T let your online presence ruin things for you. Employers will search, count on it. Establish a great profile and pix on Linked In at minimum. Get a decent email address--not If you have a cutesy graphic or quote accompanying your name, lose it.

DON'T have dumb phone manners--companies may indeed call. Have a professional message on your phone. And answer calmly and maturely--not "City Morgue."

DON'T waltz  into an interview ready to wing it. Think up questions. Rehearse answers. Take a second to think before speaking.

Be confident--listen more than talk--ask questions. But above all, if you want the job,, don't be afraid to say so. Back when I hired people, so often I could not tell if the person even was thinking of wanting to work for me. They were neutral. And then so was I--and I moved on.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Why do people have to be so vulgar on the internet?

I am no angel--I use Anglo-Saxonisms in real life. But on my favorite political site, where I comment often, there are a few people who pepper every insight with garden-variety language such as the f-word and worse, even.

The owner of the site--whom they claim to revere--does not use this language--nor does he forbid it. So over time, I have taken to calling people out for this--it makes me feel stupid participating in a site with so little class.

I could quit the site--but I think I am a little addicted--so my mal there.

The internet is the great leveler--unfortunately, it tends in some cases to bring everyone down to a lower level.

You do not need swear words to express disdain for our current crop of politicians--this stuff almost writes itself.

Do these people think it's hip and edgy? Are uneducated people hip and edgy?

Some comments I have made...

You really put the K in Klassy.

I see Charm School really worked out for you.

Use your indoor words.



Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Obamacare--oops, ACA--not going anyplace

You don't hear much about the so-called Affordable Care Act (affordable if you have $5,000-$19,000 lying around to pay deductibles). That's because you could not buy it or anything for some months.

Now open enrollment will commence--after the elections, naturally.

The advocates will be more upfront--don't get it, get fined.

In 2014, 8 million people finally got coverage through the so-called exchanges. Many were easier sells--now they will go after uninsured Hispanics and people in remote areas.

Having people available to "help" will be repeated.

Many people may feel they have skated on the fine--which will rise from $95 to almost $700 in 2016. But when it comes time for a tax refund, the fine will be deducted.

There is a plan out called Meritus--heavily subsidized by HHS--might be worth a look.

Monday, October 13, 2014

As the years crawl by...

As we drone on in Obama's sluggish, dispirited America, I wonder about this blog. Are you getting anything out of it? I get about 800 hits a day--most in Europe or Asia.

I feel like I am looping--the same job hunting advice in different forms...on and on.

Oh, well, maybe I need to regroup--and that is what this post is about, too.

Renowned work guru company Robert Half says it's easy to get discouraged. But don't call it quits, he says.

Unemployment can make you feel aimless--you need to treat job hunting as a REAL JOB. Get dressed, start at a reasonable time, make a schedule.

Put yourself out there--go to lunch with old contacts, join professional societies.

Contact companies you like even if they have no listed openings..

Write up your short and long-term goals. How many resumes do you want to send this week?

Think about part-time or contract work.

At night and on weekends--kick back and relax.

Above all, don't give up. Momentum stopped is hard to restart.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Stand out as a job candidate--but in a good way

Adrienne Erin, a freelancer writing on CareerBuilder, says some jobseekers try gimmicks to get noticed.

But--she warns--there is a fine line between innovative and scary.

Consider the company culture--will they appreciate a man in a gorilla suit holding your resume?

One man was innovative--he created a website on approaching a given company. He at least got an interview.

Try to find out where the company bigwigs gather--don't be a stalker, but join in or show up.

Please, please do not be ridiculous--one seeker wrote his name down the page vertically, then added words...D is for get the idea.

Another candidate whipped out a Rubik's cube to show how good she was problem solving. AWKWARD.

Do not bring food. Just don't. No food.

Don't stalk. One woman came every day, sat in the waiting room, insisted someone see her. No one did in the end.

One guy, an MIT grad, stood on a busy corner in NY and handed out resumes. He did not get busted for littering and it worked!

I once sat in a waiting room--and I got my first writing assignment...Washingtonian Magazine. But it's a risk.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

More than half of employed 2014 grads in non-degree jobs

As the strains of Pomp and Circumstance fade, circumstance takes over.

In a new Career Builder survey described by Susan Ricker, only 65% are employed at all, 45% of four-yr grads and 57% of those with associate degrees  in jobs that require no degree.

Among those working, only half are working in an area related to their major. Fewer than half expect to make more than $30,000 in their first year on the job.

Yet, of those working, almost half say they are pursuing an advanced degree, and 17% more say they plan to in the coming year.

One expert said this means they took the non-degree job to finance the new degree.

Those with STEM degrees are more likely to be working.  Same for those who held internships in the past.

Yet, money is an object--at least down the line. Fifty-one percent say making a lot of money is more important than making a difference.

Welcome to real life.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Make teens work for their phones

Teenagers are in love with their phones. But getting the latest can get spendy for Mom and Dad.

An eighth grader profiled in the WSJ, Sept 17, 2014, wanted an iPhone and his parents, deciding it would help with school work, said OK, but you have to do more to get it.

The youngster did yard work occasionally, but this was upped to weekly requirements. These  included collecting trash and putting out the cans, cleaning the parrot's cage, stacking firewood, cutting down saplings, and other tasks.

I didn't get this, though--because they paid him in addition to the phone and matched what he put in his college fund.

This was sure no kid working on a farm before and after school!

I guess the kid's doing anything around the house was considered a plus. How about babysitting any sibs, loading and unloading the dishwasher, putting away groceries, cleaning the basement or garage, walking the dog, vacuuming, making dinner now and then?

I guess that parrot is a pretty mean guy.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

How to leverage a conference

Sue Shellenbarger, WSJ, Sept 17, 2014, says many people go to conferences but spend their time wandering, collecting freebies, throwing down java, and dozing off.

The key to making these work for your career is pre-planning.

Most conferences have speeches to all attendees, then separate subject area panels and presentations.

You have to choose between the latter because you can't be two places at once.

One attendee color codes these--a must or a maybe. She knows where she is headed. If a must is filled--she runs to the maybe.

One key is to try to meet the presenters--who are often high-level executives. You may have to stand in line for a handshake. If you want to leave a card, write on it what you want.

Most of all--you need stamina...I have attended countless conventions and conferences--in fact, I have dreams of wandering through hotel meeting rooms, lost. The sale air, the heavy sacks of freebies from the exposition hall, the constant introducing of panel members.

Of course, I have also been a panel member many times--now that is different. Very scintillating.

Monday, October 6, 2014

You may be emailing all WRONG!

One thing everyone thinks they know by now--how to email someone. But the recruiter Robert Half says you may be getting sloppy--a refresher may be in order.

I agree--many people will answer me with no snippet or context--just say YES or something. Yes what? I may be emailing more than one person at the time.

The first sin is not proofreading. That auto-correct can get you in trouble--check everything.

Don't be slangy or too informal in a business situation-- don't put "u" for you and so on.

Break text into paragraphs...otherwise, it's a gray expanse.

Copy or insert a snip of the incoming email to provid context or use a program that attaches the email being answered. I prefer the former.

Don't attached giant files..use DropBox, Hightail or DropSend.

Almost never "Reply All."

Don't send racy or questionable material on office accts.

Create a descriptive title..blank may even be thrown in SPAM.

Don't be wimpy--don't apologize if you are asking for something you have a right to ask for. Don't use weak words like "I feel."

I would add--spit it out! Say it, ask for it, explain it...get to the point.

And remember--all emails are saved. Be wise.

Friday, October 3, 2014

How to prepare kids for trouble

At this point, most children over five are hearing or half-hearing things about headchoppings and viruses and pandemics. Weather events also occur. What about earthquakes?

Families should have some plan in place for a disaster. This according to the CDC and to Jeffrey Upperman, MD, director of the Pediatric Disaster Resources and Training Center at Children's Hospital in LA.

There will be Great ShakeOut Earthquake Drills in October.

Once the family plan is in effect, see what plans your office has. No one should stand around wondering what to do, they say.

The problem is parents and kids are not together during the day. Schools and day cares also need plans.

Reassure kids they will be okay, that you are planning for their safety.

Be calm yourself--if kids see you flip, they respond with anxiety.

Keep copies of essential documents in a protected area or with a friend or family member.

Have a  meeting point for kids and family members.

Try to have a  buddy family on your block.

Above all, remember that kids are OK emotionally if they are with their parents or people they know and trust, even if the world is caving in. Parents or a parent is supposed to protect the kid and kids take this very seriously.

The CDC has many tips at

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Eyes and ears attracting venture cap

According to Brian Gormley, WSJ, Sept 15, 2014, in the last few years, money has poured in for research into blindness, hearing loss, and other ailments affecting older people.

This means support for heart and orthopedic conditions is being scaled back.

This is coming from VentureSource--and the data is from 1999 through the first half of 2014.

Eyes garnered the most in 2013 and this research continues to be supported handsomely. Especially well funded--research into wet age-related macular degeneration.

The ears are also popular for making money. Hearing aids that work better, approaches to vertigo.

The heart is getting less--many devices are already on the market.

Spinal devices to treat back pain are also attracting less bank. This may mean, overall, fewer breakthroughs in this troublesome health area.


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

What's your major? Employers may not care

Writing on, Kate Silver says a prominent management training guru says your college major does not count as much as what you hope to do--and have done along the way.

She offers positions to liberal arts majors, even communications majors (sarc).

Then she trains them--she runs a training program.

She looks for "soft" skills--customer service experience, management, leadership, multitasking, thinking.

Thinking? That costs more!

You don't need a major that leads directly to a career.

Still, some employers like to see technical and "subject" skills. I am not asking a gender studies major about that weird mole.

Showing you combine the two--in an internship--is a good marketing move.

My degrees is in Asian Affairs. Interesting, but I never really used it per se. Wait--I did write a long story on travel to China for the TWA magazine.