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!