Friday, January 30, 2015

Safe in-person Craigs transactions

There are many stories around about people who let Craigs buyers and sellers come to their houses--and then get robbed or worse.

These criminals lure people out from reading their ads, such as CAR FOR SALE.

Lowell, Michigan, a small burg near Grand Rapids, came up with an idea. Let people come to the police dept parking lot to do their deals.

Because this might clog up the parking lot, it then occurred to me that people could just arrange to meet near the department--maybe across the street.


I wonder if anyone has tried this.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Things to think about as a speaker

Yes, some people say they would rather eat spiders than speak in public. But others like to. I am in the latter category.

If you are passionate about something, you may want to spread the word. This according to Nick Morgan,

Being a good story teller helps, of course. Having aids, such as PP or slides--also good. Being fit and good-looking is nice, but not a prerequisite.

According to Morgan, though, the most important thing is an audience--you need a community of followers--look at the Ted Talks, YouTube.

Turn your passion loose. Focus on being a good audience member yourself. Joint Toastmasters.

Your followers are out there on the Web. Set up a Facebook page, start a Linked In group.

The speakers bureaus of old are looking to the passionate, the authorities, not the other way around.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Landing a job overseas

Matthew Tarpey writes about nailing a position abroad.

This can get tricky. But online networking is helping more people accomplish this. You can network with people overseas, break the ice.

If you have a country in mind, it's best to visit it first. Set up some informational interviews if you can--learn about work permits and other rules.

The application process in other countries may be different than here. Get your resume translated if need be. In some countries, say China, putting your photo on your resume is standard.

See if your local companies have overseas locations--start there.

Be ready to explain why you want to move. Did your spouse get a job in the target country? Is it just "time"? Expat hires are more complicated--managers want to know you are committed.

And remember--getting a visa can take months or longer. You have to really want this!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

What you can take away from H'wood Awards Season

The Globes, Critics; Choice, SAG, the Oscars--the glitz may hold some lessons for us mortals in terms of our careers.

First, look at how some "stars" are snubbed, so-called. Do they cry? Not so'd you'd notice--they just make themselves more fabulous.

The stars keep at it. It takes unheralded hard work and grit to make it anywhere--no one will nurse you along. I am listening to River Phoenix's bio--he and his sibs played instruments and danced in the streets for loose change.

Do your homework--the stars do. They find out how things work--they ask, they observe.

Try to surround yourself with people who support your dreams and ambitions.  Remember, the stars are ALWAYS seeking a job, they get rejected though you may not hear about it, they are neurotic, they have doubts, they do stuipid things--they are mortal. But one thing they try to do is have people who respect and support them, even if they hire these people (managers, agents, personal assistants) or pay for their upkeep (think Entourage).

The stars also try to keep their foot out of their mouth, which is harder now with Twitter, but you need to try.

H'wood is a small town--a small industry town. The stars try not to burn bridges. But if they do--think Aniston and Jolie-Pitt--it is awkward. You don't want this in your work life.

The stars also keep their answers short. They do this because they know whatever they say will be recorded and remembered.

This can also happen to us, the peons, in this day and age. So wise up.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Need your "work passion" evaluated?

In the Nov-Dec Government Executive Magazine was a story by Charles S. Clark on how the General Services Administration (the agency which buys supplies for govt offices), hired Ken Blanchard, author of The One-Minute Manager, to do Work Passion Assessments for any agencies that wanted one.

This consists of his situational leadership development system (what?) with on-site coaching.

The govt loses 19,000 work years annually due to sickness, so this process improves engagement with the work process. It uses the new f-word, which is "feelings."

Apparently these consultants ask employees to express their feelings about work and try to help them cope better--without taking sick leave or mental health days.

It costs the feds $60 a head in agencies with under 25,000 employees.

Worth a try, I guess.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Should you throw down on your mean boss?

A study done at Ohio State by Bennett Tepper, prof of management and human resources at the Fisher College of Business, showed that  returning hostility from a boss can make an employee better off.

There seem to be benefits from reciprocating, in other words.

If bosses belittled, yelled, ridiculed or intimidated workers, the workers ignored it or gave half-hearted effort.

In other words--they were passive aggressive.

You can look up the design of the two studies in Personnel Psychcology, if you want.

Employees who did not retaliate--had higher stress.

Employees who responded in some way were less likely to think of themselves as victims.

They may also gain the respect of their coworkers.

But--the profs said--the key was to get rid of hostile bosses.

Oh. I guess that would work, too.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Kids! Monitoring their internet may make them worse

There are dozens if not hundreds of apps and programs to block youngsters from harmful internet sites or monitor their social media.

According to a new study at the Univ of Haifa, over-restrictive monitoring can egg the little devils on to worse excesses.

Kids defy parents and disclose personal info or arrange meetings with skeevy pervs.

Parental efforts were: (1) Supervision--installation of blocking software, recordings of sites visited, or limits on time spent on the internet. (2) Guidance--parents explained risks and proposed ideas on how to be safer. (3) Non-intervention.

The closest monitoring had the most negative results (495 kids).

Families with strong emotional bonds also had less risky behavior.

Surprsingly, the strongest influence on risky behavior, though, was peer opinion. If their friends approved, the kids were more likely to do it. See also--naked selfies.

Boys were also more likely to do dumb things than girls--visiting chat rooms, for instance.

As for the parents, they were more likely to use the second means, guidance, with girls than sons.

I say get rid of those phones--but no one listens to me.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Do you let your kids have some freedom?

There she is--the fiend.
There is a war raging between parents who drive their kids everyplace and hover, and those who let kids do some things on their own.

The latter sometimes get nailed by child protective services for letting grade schoolers walk home from school or sit in a car with a baby asleep while Mom runs in a store to get milk.

Some of this was kicked up by writer Lenore Skenazy, author of Free-Range Kids: How to Raise Safe, Self-Reliant Children (Without Going Nuts with Worry).

In the Washington Post Sunday, there was a lively discussion of her decision to let her 9-yr-old son take the DC subway alone. Many commenters were perfectly comfortable with judging her the worst mom ever.

After urging my daughter to call people for movie times, go to salad bars alone, and even run to public restrooms by herself, she rode the DC subway two blocks to parochial school when she was nine. I pointed this out in the Washington Post Sunday and you'd think I sent a toddler to thumb it to pre-school.

My daughter managed to survive and is almost 33--I told her about this discussion and she said, "How stupid, I was fine--of course, you didn't know where I went after I got off the subway."


Skenazy has a reality show starting tonight on Discovery Live--called, of course, World's Worst Mom.

Any brand of parenting can take some jumps on you--my daughter may have gone out on her own then, but she still sticks close to home now.

Go know.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

How to outfox the gatekeeper

You can't just call someone up anymore. That person will be "in a meeting." Darn those meetings--they must be 24/7.

Now the gatekeeper is not some snippy assistant--it's a computer. You may get a bounceback--thanks for applying.

Then silence.


Or you spend hours putting in urls, writing essay responses, and oops--it freezes--try again later.

Liz Ryan,, writes about this.

If a commercial site did this, you would can it. But the job sites know you will try again.

You could try writing directly--yes, on paper--to the hiring manager. Stay with me. A paper letter may sound like ancient history to you--but the other day, I got a response from a production company saying it was "stylish." They did not buy my script--but they noticed it.

How do you know who the hiring manager is? Try Linked In. Ask someone. Read news stories on the company--see who's mentioned.

And don't send the usual blah-blah--cover letter, res...Say something original. Maybe something like--I have used your product for years and would love to work for you. I told a producer I had watched every one of a certain show--and got a response. Again, I did not sell the script--but we had a pleasant exchange.

Your letter should describe how you would alleviate the manager's pain somehow. THINK!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Choosing a new career

I ran a mission at my church in DC--to help people find work. We told youngsters coming in that they would have seven careers--not just jobs--but careers.

Thus the expression, "Can't hold a career?" Well, maybe you can't or don't want to.

Liz Ryan, job guru, writes in Forbes: Twenty years ago, people ended up in a higher level version of the job they got after high school.

No more.

Some companies are "scaredy cats," she says--they demand industry experience and thus limit their field of candidates.

Career paths ooze and flow around now, she says. You may be burned out, there may not be any jobs---time for a new career.

In business, careers have many things in common. If hiring managers can't see that, then well, she says, basically, the heck with them.

As you come into a new area, see how your old ways of solving that company's "pain" can transfer to the new area.

Sit down and write about the times you had the most satisfaction at work, got the most praise, did the most... These are what she calls your Dragon Slaying Stories.

Read tons of ads--ask yourself--would I enjoy this?

When I was a freelance writer, I used to see jobs writing proposals--I could have done it but did not want to. Or grants--did not attract me. I even qualified as a govt contractor but decided I hated it.

Then try to get to hiring people directly--and keep your Linked In profile broad.

Sound impossible? It's not. And remember, you have have six more careers to go!

Friday, January 16, 2015

The long-distance phone interview

Rachel Zupek Farrell, CareerBuilder, says many companies will not pay you to travel to their site, even though they may be seriously interested in you.

She quotes Sari de la Motte, author of A Firm Handshake, about trying to make a good impression long distance.

The key is ability to communicate. Face to face gives you so many more dimensions. On the phone--you have voice alone.

But--remember--companies want the best people and those people may not live next door.

The biggest mistake you can make as an applicant is to think this contact is less important because it's not face to face. This makes some people slough it off--maybe even interviewing in the bathtub.

Instead, dress well, it will make you feel professional. Find a quiet place.

Prepare to discuss why you are moving to the new location--or would want to. Know something about the area.

Try to put a photo of the interviewer near the screen--this makes it real. (Check LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.)

Keep your resume and cover letter in view for reference.

AND--always ask what the next step is. Ask how well your qualifications matched the need.

Say something like, "This has been a pleasure. I hope to meet you in person. So, I will hear something by next Tuesday? I am really interested in this position."

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Tips for your Kickstarter campaign

You know what a Lean Startup is? You get a cheap, early prototype of your product, see what real consumers think and then proceed to get more funding.

But what new products tend to attract Kickstarter funding?

New Markets adviser David Forbes has some ideas.

Your innovation should not be completely new--it should build off the familiar. For instance, the most successful Kickstarter product was a fancy new cooler--compelte with speakers, blender and other party accessories. People knew what a cooler was--and this was useful to them.

People like products that spare them pain or frustration, so long as these are not too expensive, bulky or hard to use themselves. A devide to inject insulin was too huge to put in a pocket.

You should also try to respond to clusters of trends/ Gamification combined with fitness, fitness on the phone.

I watch Shark Tank almost every night. They always want proof of concept--how many sold in how long, what is the cost of acquiring a customer. By the time people get to Shark Tank, they have done the expensive and taxing job of acquiring patents, finding a manufacturer, getting packaging designed and so on. Even then, they may not be a good bet.

You have to throw yourself into it, but also be sure your idea is filling a recurring need--you don't want people to buy just one.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The customer is always right--or is this true?

Who knows what goes on in the kitchen?
Emily Hunter, PhD, work place deviance expert (say what?) at Baylor, says restaurants are a battleground sometimes.

A server's response to a difficult customer reflects on that server, the customer, and the establishment.

The server, she says, should concentrate on improving the customer's satisfaction--not retaliation such as spitting in the soup.

She studied 438 service employees and found the vast majority had engaged in some sort of counterproductive behavior.

79% made fun of the customer to someone else

72% lied to the customer

43% argued with a customer

19% confronted a customer about the tip

6% admitted to contaminating the food

Managers have a role:

Train employees to detach and adopt healthy coping strategies.

Be open to employees discussing these matters.

Provide rest breaks to reduce stress.

Empower the employees to provide small discounts or considerations as needed.

The latter is called job control--many studies show employees cope better if they have some.

I think sometimes I am a grumpy customer--I can control that. How about you?

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Why you may not get the job

Real ball of fire
Sad but true--somewhere in the course of the job interview, you may be doomed. Susan Ricker, CareerBuilder, writes about "fatal" mistakes applicants make.

Appearing disinterested. This is the top turnoff! Be attentive, make eye contact.

Answering a call or sending a text--even checking the phone. Turn the darn thing off.

Dressing inappropriately. See below...A collared shirt, dress pants, shined shoes, for woman, a suit or nice skirt and jacket. Maybe a pants suit--but be careful with the Hillary look.

Talking negatively about the previous employer. Stay positive. If you must say what went wrong, keep it short.

A weak handshake was a turnoff for 28% of the employers interviewed. Also--do not pump away.

Not providing specific examples of what you have done is a no-no.

And so is saying "no-no."

I recently partnered up with someone for a project--he came out and said he was the one--and he backed it up. The others did not show interest--or not enough for me, since I am insanely interested in the project.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Colors to wear--or avoid--for job interviews

Debra Auerbach, CareerBuilder, says orange may be OK for a hit TV show, but it is a no-no for a job interview.

They did a survey--employers most often recommend blue or secondarily, black.

Black is associated with serious leadership, blue with team playing.

Gray is a sign of logical or analytical thinking (according to this), white means organized, brown signals dependability, and green, orange, purple or yellow, creativity.

Othr tips:

Don't go too casual or too formal--try to suss out the culture of the place.

Tailor your outfit--the shirt collar should not be hanging loose around a scrawny neck, with a suit two sizes too big or small.

Watch the wacky ties or giant beads.

Make sure your shoes are polished--yes, shoes ARE noticed. Wear a nice belt, not some old scuffed thing.

Clothes may not make the man or woman, but they sure make the first impression.

Friday, January 9, 2015

How to score over more qualified applicants

J.T. Ripton (CareerBuilder) says recent grads or those laid off need to shape their skills around the job they want.  If a skill does not fit--drop it for that job application.

Emphasize flexibility and willingness to learn. Many employers value trainability as much as experience.

This author also recommends a T-format letter. I have never heard of this. Apparently, you divide the page into two columns--the right column is qualifications asked for, and the left is your experience that meets those.

Try to come off as likable. Hiring managers pick the people they like the best. Be positive, polite, willing to listen and learn.

Always talk about experience even if you did not get paid in that capacity.

Above all--parrot back the keywords from the job listing. Sometimes a computer has "first look." Computers look for matches, they don't "interpret."

Thursday, January 8, 2015

What if you are a Muslim applying?

Actually this applies to any religion or creed. But the question was asked by a Muslim wondering about how to handle questions on religious preference.

America is multi-culti, but this does not mean all hiring managers are aware of and able to handle cultural differences.

People with different backgrounds may feel disrespected.

To minimize this, try to identify companies or organizations that are a good fit, says the author of Surviving the Job Interview Lifecycle.

If your religion dictates certain attire, say a head covering, you need to assess whether you are okay with wearing a hard hat or scrubs.  If not, that company may not be for you. You can't march in and demand that they change.

Some cultures discourage eye contact, some say "we" when talking about accomplishments, some say "I."

Familiarize yourself with American hiring customs--you may need to develop a strong handshake, for instance. Or you could say, "I look forward to meeting you, but wanted you to know in advance that due to my religion, I cannont shake hands with men. Will this be a problem? Then when you get there, nod politely--chances are the hiring manager will nod back. Problem solved.

Discuss your religious practices up front. If you are  Muslim and pray five times a day, could this be accommodated?

See what your instincts tell you on both sides--the hiring manager may think, OK, this is different, but this woman seems smart as a whip and has great experience." The applicant may be thinking, "He seems kind and interested in my skills and what I bring."

Could be a match!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Employers are watching

Forty-three percent of employers scour social media to find and check up on applicants (CareerBuilder).

Twitter can be an excellent way to get yourself out there--use the short blasts to link to a blog or resume.

The Life After College Blog is a must-follow according to one recruiter.

Also check out Brazen Careerist.

Linked In is also for professionals or those with something to say other than announcing the birth of puppies or a kid.

Personally, I find the Linked In software to be clunky and often irritating, but I do use it.

Notice, I never make sites clickable on here--I figure you know how to find a site if I give you a name.

That is what this is all about.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

What if you have chemo brain?

Our two work gurus Dale Dauten and J.T. O'Donnell talk to a man who has lost three jobs following chemo for cancer--because he is foggy and cannot work as fast as others.

He does not want to tell interviewers about the treatment for fear of not being hired.

J.T. says she is right not to talk about it.

Dauten says, yeah, but he has lost three jobs.

J.T. says he needs to manage the type of job he goes for...look for ones without tight deadlines. Or be self-employed.

Dauten says everything is  measured--that won't be simple.

J.T. insists he can find an employer open to dialogue and who appreciates slow and stady wins the race, basically--attention to detail.

What do you think?

I think the employer will find out about the cancer anyway--and can be persuaded in many cases to make some allowances, at least for a while.

As for starting a business or being self-employed--this, too, requires energy and focus. Not an easy situation.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Before you say "Take this job and shove it"

Anita Bruzzese, CareerBuilder, says not getting a promotion or the raise you wanted can set you off---I am outta here!

You may think they can't live without you--this will show them! But this is not realistic. They can and will.

Ask yourself...Is this the first time I was disrespected? Maybe you need new skills or a sideways shift to a new department.

If you have trouble getting along--think about why.

Most importantly, decide to decide later. Cool off.

The job market is still horrible. Plenty ot talented people will jump into your job in a second.

So stop, breathe, think, plan...don't let a snit fit overtake you! In fact, think of 2015 as the year you may make a change--but one step at a time...