Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Today's take on networking

Networking, networking, networking--no one ever gives this a rest as a job-hunting technique. It's who you know or who you know who knows someone.

But is it still a matter of asking your parents' friends if they know of openings--or continually calling former colleagues to see what's what?

Surprise--it's changed and is changing.

First, a lot of it is done through social media, says Susan Ricker of CareerBuilder. Instead of stumping around career fairs--you can meet strangers online. People mention on Facebook that they are looking for a new job--others respond. Recruiting firms also scan the socials.

You can also show off your portfolio online--you don't have to get a hit from a creative director or boss and tote your work over to their office.

There are still local meetups and networking meetings--some can be quite expensive, so inquire.

And you can ask advice--say on Twitter. You might be amazed at how helpful someone you never will meet could be.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Here's an unusual calling

An Upper East Side 20-something, rich, into the party scene, a jet setter, lost her beloved father and organized his services at a very chi-chi, expensive New York funeral home--last stop of all the stars and celebs.

In her memoirs, titled Good Mourning, Elizabeth Meyer recalls going back to the funeral home a month later and basically asking for a job. Her selling point--she understood rich people, knew many of the people who would come there, and was a good event planner for charities and the like.

They took her on as a receptionist, which immediately ignites the jealous ire of her Hispanic fellow receptionists, who jab at her like crazy in Spanish. But she buys comfy shoes, a couple of somber black blazers, and gets down to it.

As she says a hundred times, she likes helping people in a terrible time in their lives. She does have a knack for it--creating special displays of the departeds' prize possessions (in one case, lining his Lamborghinis along the street outside the mortuary). She bags the lilies and gets quality flowers. She always has tissues near at hand. Richard Gere even asks her where the bathroom is.

The latter is no big thing to her--although she mentions no names or almost none, she makes it clear she is no stranger to the rich and famous crowd. In two instances, she walks into the embalming room and sees a friend on the table.

Speaking of embalming, she is mercifully short on gruesome details, although she is buds with the embalmer, Bill. The worst part was when she first went with Bill to someone's ritzy coop to retrieve a body and it "leaked" on her designer shoes. That might have been MY last day on the job, but she took it in stride and never wore good shoes again.

The message--despite her family's horror at her new occupation, she persisted. She wanted to do it and did it. She stayed more than a year--finally, the flak from the resentful receptionist peanut gallery got to be too much and she resigned--but is still a consultant to the business.

So go know.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Thank you for being a friend...

Only Betty White is still with us,
Debra Auerbach, CareerBuilder, points out that we are celebrating the 30th Anniversary of "The Golden Girls."

These were the FUNNY non-real housewives. Come on, you watched, you know you did.

Those four gals, living their Act 3 in a nice house in Florida, had something to teach us.

--Make a good first impression. They all wore nice clothes, even around the house.

--Show off your pleasant side.Things may not be going your way--but keep it upbeat. You might even convince yourself.

--Bite your tongue. Don't go off on people. My recommendation is passive-aggressive (kidding).

--Skip the gossip.Stick with TV shows, music, movies--not those around you.

--Tell the toxic types to take a hike. Remember Blanche's dates? They did not last long if they did not meet her standards.

--Surround yourself with positive people. As I get older, I tend to dump the slugs--not that I am Sally Sunshine myself.

--Stop complaining. Even Jay-Z has 99 problems.

--Shut up and listen. The Girls did not talk over each other--cough, The View...

--Don't overshare. I saw a new sitcom recently that WAY overshared. Took it off my list. It made Amy Schumer look like a mute.

--Take risks. Look at the Girls--three or maybe all of them gave up their homes to live with other women...big jump.  It is still a decent prototype for aging in place.

The only thing I would add is a nice man to make the drinks and a dog.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Could you give up coffee?

Should you? Health experts go back and forth--it is good for your gallbladder? Is it bad for your heart? No one can decide.

I remember having a terrible time thinking about coffee when I was preggers.

But, now, when standing to make coffee with my arthritis takes longer than making tea, I went over to tea without a problem. OK--a little problem. I still crave a great cup of Dunkin' Donuts or McDonalds java--so much better than I ever made myself.

CareerBuilder asked people to give up things--to see how it affected the work day. Debra Auerbach ditched coffee. She knew this would be hard because coffee was giving her bad stomach pains and she still drank it! She also still had her morning eye-opener while pregnant.

But she went bravely forth--a week without coffee.

Monday--No coffee this week was her first thought upon waking. She glared at people guzzling down their joe. She avoided looking at Starbucks. She was grumpy and unfocused all day.

By Wednesday, people were telling her she looked terrible. But she was eating better breakfasts and hoped she would be sleeping better, but she wasn't.

OK, Friday...She began to feel better and a little proud of herself.  A few days--she began to plan her fist cup.

As the day went on, though, she was craving that cup less.

Did she continue to abstain?

Nope.

I remember getting headaches when I first stopped--she didn't mention those. They stop.

Still, I had a fantasy about having a little McDonalds on my property.




Thursday, September 24, 2015

Grads: How to succeed or fail in that first job

Not advised.
Even though the economy is up and down, it is steady in one thing--competitiveness. Careerbuilder says your first job out of college will not be your dream.

Bonnie Kerrigan Snyder, author of The Unemployed Graduate's Survival Guide, says even so, you can plot a career.

You may not be able to cash in those academic chips, as she puts it, but you can have a productive strategy.

First, you may start with an entry-level job, meaning no experience in the area. These people get the work no one else wants to do. But if you keep your ears open, you can learn of better openings and how the company works.

The goal here is: A paycheck.

You earn more interesting work--it doesn't fall in your lap.

Even if you think the job is beneath you, your time is not wasted. Show a negative attitude--your time is wasted.

Don't:

---Show up everyday with a surly, condescending attitude.

--Show you are too good to be working there.

--Roll your eyes and sigh loudly.

--Complain incessantly.

--Complete simple tasks sloppily.

Don't tell your boss the job stinks. Amazingly, this has to be said!

What should you do?

--Grin and bear it.

--Don't say things you don't want higher-ups to hear.

--Do the simple tasks well and fast and ask for more.

Surprise! Bosses like that. Happy bosses hand out promotions.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Are you failing to step up?


Mary Jo Asmus, Government Executive Magazine, Sept 17, 2015, says in the daily workplace, courage is usually not a big splashy act--it's engaging even when you would rather not. In other words, you talk yourself out of it--usually with impeccable logic.

Say you need to have a feedback convo with an employee--you tell yourself they will never change anyway.

Or if you need to make an important decision, but instead say no one will support me.

If there is some issue around which you are making such excuses, talk to someone you trust. Discuss your options. Ask if you are being a wuss.

Weight out the risks to benefits. See if your fears are really reasonable--would you get fired? Would you create a wall against you?

Write down the steps you need to take.

Then do it.

I am in such a situation--the local government people are deviling me half to death over my yard--they insisted I get a new gate--the old one was secure (to code), but no, I was to get a new one on threat of court action. A one-ton half dead cactus needed removal--it is very expensive to get this done--but I finally did--another $450 on top of the $700 for the gate. Now they insist I can have no TRACE (their caps) of grass--only rocks. You can't mix grass and rocks, they say--the code does not say this.

I refused to sign a paper vowing to do this and that in the future. I went on Yelp and people chimed in about how bad the enforcement people were. I went to the City Council--no help.

I finally used some awful poison on the grass--it turned everything yellow, the rocks, everything and smelled like a chemical factory. It had health side efx. Now, I will not use it again.

Am I being a coward for not going to court and thrashing this out? I have other priorities--and I have fought so many battles in my life--crusades, really...when does it end?

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Here they come--Generation Z

Me? Wear Kanye? Not likely.
Aren't we running out of letters--what if more people are born?

Nevertheless, the NYT, in a story by Alex Williams, Sept 18, 2015, says the Gen Zs--now in high school or grade school--are on the march and will be in the office before we know it.

Millennials--step off.

But how will we know these stalwarts? Now, the NYT says, they wear jeans and cool sneaks and messy hair for boys--the same for girls but with neat hair.

Apparently these Gen Zs (also  known as Centennials) are less worried about style than Millennials.

One aspect will be gender neutrality--Will Smith's son Jaden recently attended prom in a skirt. XX, XY--who knew.

These Gen Zs, like Gen X, also like the "rave" look--which is 1990s.

Stay with me here.

Miley Cyrus is Gen Z--so I guess there is a hootchy aspect.

Oh--and they are back loving Nirvana.

And Normcore--which near as I can tell, is "normal" or baseball caps and jogging pants. But this may be a Brooklyn hipster sendup of "normal," no one knows.

I guess I am as Gen 100 as you get in my earrings and clapped out shorts and desktop computer.

Well, humpf. At least I don't sport what one source called "the laundry day look."

Monday, September 21, 2015

How java can jazz ya

Jessica Leigh Hester, Govt Executive Magazine, Sept 17, 2015, says most people don't drink coffee before bed or watch movies on their phone in the dark hoping for sleep, but why not?

A study in Science Translational Medicine investigated caffeine and sleep cycles--comparing it to bright light which is already known to make it harder to produce melatonin, resulting in poorer sleep.

Participants took a caff pill equal to a double espresso three hours before their usual bedtime. The bright light began for three hours at bedtime.

The subjects were studied in four states: caffeinated in dim light, caffeinated in bright light, and uncaffed in dim and bright.

The caffeine threw off the rhythms of subjects even not exposed to light. The shift was off by 40 mins. Caffeine and light kept them awake 105 mins.

This is not to say that coffee is always bad--it can regulate jet lag by keeping you up to a local bedtime.

I don't drink coffee much anymore due to intestinal issues with it and I have never slept more than 2-3 hours without waking. One night I slept seven hours--and thought I had probably died and mysteriously revived.

I do sometimes look at the screen on my audiobook player in the dark--it's boring being perky and knowing sleep is not near.


Friday, September 18, 2015

What if you just don't like an employee?

Mary Jo Asmus, Govt Executive Magazine, Sept 11, 2015, says sometimes you will have someone working for you that you just plain do not like.

Do you avoid them? Keep useful feedback away from them? Fail to encourage? Gossip about them?

Maybe you need to have a conversation with yourself, Asmus says.

--What biases or judgments are coming into play?

--How do I fret and reinforce these?

--Are my personal beliefs affecting this person's performance?

--What potential can I see in this person?

Consider actions you can take. If your behavior is affecting them--do you want to change your behavior?

Be patient. If you make changes in your approach (invite the person to lunch, to more meetings, include him or her on email blasts), is it affecting their work? Do you feel better?

Do it for yourself! You know what--this person may not care for you either! But this can change and an ally may emerge.


Thursday, September 17, 2015

Do you have test anxiety?

Pop Quiz!

Gotcha!

Oh, poor babies, the incoming students at Wake Forest in Winston-Salem, NC, will be offered a three-part workshop on how to prevent test panic attacks.

They call their Learning Assistance Center "the emergency department" for worried students.

Some students don't know how to study, to prepare, to take an exam. And especially how to not panic.

Panic, really?

The first part is on preparing for the exam. Students are told to take pre-tests. In other words, practice.

The second workshop will focus on taking the exam, and the third on seeing how they did and how to improve their grade if they did not do so well.

Upperclassman will also come in and say how nervous they used to be or how they failed and what they did about it.

One aspect is to write fears on a piece of paper--and throw it away. That is the Beaker-O-Fear.

Dunno--seems kind of puss puss to me.

Also--why a beaker?

Maybe they need special Wake Forest barf bags.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Money can stop minority students

With some of our national "leaders" dangling free tuition in an election cycle, you have to remember that most schools are not free now.

A new study of 500 black and Latino students confirmed that many have money problems after enrolling in college.

Univ of Chicago researchers polled students in the fall, winter and spring of freshman year.
At each time point, 35% reported difficulty in paying bills, upset over not enough money, and concern that they would not make it through to a degree.

The distressed students fell in three groups.

--Students who knew things would have to come out of pocket, but hoped they would find a way.

--Students who thought they were covered, but the amount of aid was lower than expected or they made housing or other changes that left a deficit.

--Those with limited financial knowledge who believed financial aid would cover it all.

Half of those who started freshman year with a high level of distress continued in that state all year.

Half of those who came back freshman year continued to be in a high level of distress.

The lowest level of distress was from not having private loans, just grants and scholarships.

These students will be follwed for six years, whether or not they stay in school.

The researchers also recommended schools find and reach out to the distressed students for more counseling. The way of reaching out would be to ask three questions: How much difficulty were they having paying bills, were they worried, and how concerned were they that they could not finish their degree.

Hate to hear this.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Women bearing live children not only ones needing empathy

There is a continuing dialog over maternity leave--but what about those who suffer a miscarriage or stillbirth?

I had two miscarriages before bearing my daughter, who is now 33. I still think about the misses, though.

Cradled, a Waco-based nonprofit helping bereaved families, says employers need to be more empathetic.

Infant mortality in the US is down 11 percent since 2006. But still birth and miscarriage rates have stayed the same.

One in four women will suffer a miscarriage before the 20th week of pregnancy.

This played down in the workplace.

At one company--yes, the notorious Amazon--a woman who had a stillbirth left because she was told she would be monitored to be sure her focus stayed on her work.

Hospitals now often give the bereaved parents handprints and footprints of stillborn babies--along with their wrist bracelets.

At work or anyplace else, it is not helpful, these bereaved women say, to tell the mother she can always have other children or it's God's will, or the baby was probably deformed anyway.

Fifteen percent of women will suffer clinical depression.

So, employers, be compassionate about time off, maybe send a card, or if there is a service, some flowers. And for heaven's sake do not ask the woman if "she is over it yet."

For more info--go to http://cradled.org. Maybe a coworker could suggest the site--the boss, no. It would seem too much like "Here, go to this site and get yourself together."

Monday, September 14, 2015

Five questions to ask on a campus tour

I once wrote an article for Travel & Leisure on the University of Virginia, and the campus, envisioned by Thomas Jefferson, was pretty gorgeous. It is easy to be blinded by the ivy.

Mercy Eyadiel, associate vice president of career development and corporate engagement at Wake Forest Univ, says students need to ask the right questions---and what career development resources are at a school is important.

Ask what resources are available to help explore different career paths and when you can start using them. You want a career development office that partners with faculty, advisors, parents, staff, alumni and the student.

What do students say about the career development office? Ask some!

Are there resources for students in all majors? See if the non-conventional interests are sought out for career development.

What about networking---see if you can meet with alums even worldwide?

See if students go on to grad school or where they end up shortly after graduation.

I would add to this--see if you as an alum will be able to use the resources and job listings at the office.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Why small talk is important

Chatting--some people can't or won't partake
--and it may be hurting their careers-, says work guru Robert Half.

There is nothing small about office small talk, he says.
It is the social lubricant that encourages bonding and cooperation.

Often a smile and greeting will do. But if you think more is called for, Half recommends bringing up current events, a restaurant you tried, sports, a movie you saw or want to see.

Stay away from:

Politics
Gossip
Health problems
Your personal life.

Small talk is also a staple of dealing with vendors and clients. Take your cues from them--if they are on their phone or reading, they may not be receptive.

Some people seem naturally gifted at knowing what to say and when to say it. They used to call this charm.

Be sure you listen, too--and avoid letting the small talk go on too long.

Especially K-talk. K stands for Kardashian.


Thursday, September 10, 2015

Should we brain-scan incoming college students?

Don't you get up some days and think, "Aw, what now?" I try never to say that, even inwardly, because I soon find out what.

Case in point: Some profs at Ohio State are working on a program to scan incoming students and use other assessments to create a personalized college plan.

"It's a lofty goal." one said.

People vary in their cognitive abilities (boy howdy). But what aspects of this come from their "neural underpinnings"?

At present brain imaging is used to find disorders. These profs are trying to peek in and see why someone is so happy or is good at math.

They have already collected data on 250 people, with another 250 to go.

They say this is to maximize potential.

Despite the fact that this is theoretical at present, I say it's creepy and intrusive. Image that!

What if we start  imaging to see if someone has serial killer or sociopathic tendencies? Or is incompetent to vote?

When Susie gets to college, would you want someone to say, "Hmmm, looks like this little gal is not mentally cut out for medical school?"

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

I KNEW I forgot something!

Not me--but I could use some whipped cream.
Switzerland. I completely forgot to move to Switzerland.

Switzerland, turns out, is the best place for older people to live, followed by Norway and Sweden.

My grandmother came from Norway--that would also have been a good call. Too late. I am stuck in the Arizona suburbs with a crazed code inspector after me to poison my grass. They are really into the desert rubble look here. But I digress.

GlobalAgeWatch does an index that assesses the social and economic well-being of the older population in 96 countries. They look at income, health, education and employment, and the enabling environment.

After the three mentioned come Germany and Canada. The UK is number 10.

The United States--alas--comes in 9th.

African countries make up half of those with low income security and poor health results.

Other fun facts about aging?

Live expectancy from age 60 on has increased in the top half, decreased in the lower.

Japan has the highest life expectancy with 60-yr-olds maybe looking at 26 more years. Age 60 in Afghanistan--figure 16 yrs. Average. No guarantees.

Poverty rates are also telling. South Korea has the highest among older people, 48.5%.  Venezuela is also hard on the old--with 38% in poverty.

This is depressing. I really missed the boat on Switzerland. What? There is no boat to Switzerland? Never mind then.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

How to shake up your work routine

Ah--Happy New Year! Don't you feel like September, not January, is when everything kicks off? Throwback to school days, I guess.

Amy McDonnell, CareerBuilder, talks about how she set about shaking up her work life. She went on a one-week program.

She focused on her commute in the subway. She used to "zone out" staring into space, checking email but this left her feeling more stressed than ever.

So....

Monday: She focused on professional development. She read all those articles on work-life balance that she had saved but not read. She listened to podcasts.

Tuesday: She brushed up on business and news. She got the NYT morning briefing email.

Wednesday: Comedy! She loaded up on comedians on You Tube. If people stared at her cackling, so what.

Thursday: Personal growth was her goal. She bought a book on tidying up. She may also get into eating healthier.

Friday: Reading for pleasure. Novels.

In the end, she felt like she had wasted less time. She may even start learning French.

Friday, September 4, 2015

How to outfox resume scanning

ATS stands for Applicant Tracking System. These programs allow employers to sift through applications, finding the best candidates quickly.

Want to make sure your resume makes it through this initial test?

Matthew Tarpey, CareerBuilder, says first find the keywords in the job listing. If a half dozen apply directly to you, use those in your resume and cover letter--and be specific. Don't say, "Work well with others" if the listing says "team player."

Don't do this just in the mission or objective statement and cover--sprinkle them in the resume. If they applied to more than one job you had, they will register more times--and increase your score.

Keep your formatting simple. Weird fonts may not be picked up by the Optical Character Recognition system.

Watch the industry jargon. The computer looks for what it was told to look for. CPA may not register as Certified Public Accountant.

The site may say Word of PDF is OK--but this will open in a Text Format. Headers and footers can be lost. Text/ASCII is best.

Above all, with all these keywords being worked in--be sure it flows. Stuffing in the keywords every which way can be off-putting.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

These domains may be trouble

I don't even mean the Dark Internet, whatever that is (shudder). Or Silk Road or any of those dodgy sites. I am talking about the new domains being created using the new endings. No longer are .com, .org, .net, or .gov the only common ones.

This according to Mohana Ravindranath, Nextgov, Sept 1, 2015.

The domains most often associated with malicious activity (spam, phishing, malware) include:

                                                        .zip
                                                        .science

Consider blocking those, says Blue Coat, a security company.

The domains LEAST associated with bad things:

.mil
.gov

Blue Coat recommends blocking:

.zip
.review
.country
.kim
.cricket
.science
.work
.party
.gq
.link

Less than five percent of websites in these domains are "normal."

The safest, at this writing anyhow, are:

.mil
.gov
.jp (Japan)
.london
.kw (Kuwait)
.tel
.gi
.ck (Cook Islands)
.jobs

My eyes are crossing typing dot-dot-dot...You have been warned.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Look, Ma, no textbooks!

Remember in college--that sort of exciting, sort of scary trip to get textbooks--those puppies could run a hundred bucks each or more.

Now, freshmen in the new biomedical sciences degree program at the Univ of Texas Rio Grande Valley will never buy a traditional book.

Course materials will be delivered to them in iPads.

This is what they call competency-based education--students advance based on their ability to master knowledge and skills. There will be online, classroom, laboratory, or clinical time.

This is considered a ground breaker in pre-med. The emphasis will be on clinical  application.

Each student's experience will be highly personalized with online support from faculty and student "success coaches."

The iPad is provided--saving hundreds of dollars in those bookstore runs.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

You may be a nomophobe

Where are you, my pet?
Iowa State researchers did a questionnaire to help people know if they suffer from nomophobia--fear of being without your mobile phone. (Computers in Human Behavior)

--I would feel uncomfortable with constant access to my smartphone.

--I would be annoyed if I could not look up info when I wanted to.

--Running out of battery would scare me.

--I would panic if I ran out of credits or hit my monthly data limit.

--If I could not connect to Wi-Fi, I would go looking for Wi-Fi.

What if--OMG--you did not have your phone for some unearthly reason?

--Would you feel anxious?

--Would you think your family and friends could not reach you?

--I would be anxious because I could not check email.

And my favorite...

--I would feel weird because I would not know what to do.

I always feel weird!

I am sort of kidding--I don't have a smartphone, but I am addicted to certain websites...I know the feeling. But aren't we smarter than our phones?

Maybe not, not sure.

PS--Nomophobia...does nomo--mean no more? Now THAT is weird.