Friday, July 29, 2016

Keywords key to successful resumes

Writing in the Kansas City Star, Diane Stafford emphasizes the importance of customizing your resume to each job--including the important keywords.

Most large and medium employers use applicant screening systems--software that culls resumes.

This software is looking for keywords that match words in the listing.

If the job description says "Work Experience," use those two words. Don't expect the software to know that "Work History" is the same.

The systems also "weight" keywords. If you have more high quality keywords, you get extra points.  A service called Jobscan can see if your answer matches up to the listing.

Also put important keywords in your social media--some employers look there for candidates.


--Use acronyms or abbreviation they system may not "know."

--Don't submit your resume as a PDF. Don't use tables or graphics. Don't use unusual typefaces.

--Worry too much about length--the software doesn't care like a human might.

And forget the old "trick" of hiding lots of keywords in "white text." That does not work anymore.

A lot of this used to apply to government applications--but now it has spread to many other sectors.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Schedule some "me" time at work

New research suggests that completely detaching from work at lunch can boost energy and make you more effective.

Thirty minutes of "me" time is all it takes.

Researchers at the Univ of Florida and Univ of Tennessee Chattanooga found that switching to active recovery activities such as exercise or volunteering can help you respond better to the demands of your job (Psychology, Health and Medicine Journal, third issue, 2016).

They looked at 38 early-career physicians from a teaching hospital in the southeast. Of this, 63.2% were male and the median age was 29.

The typical doctor averages an 80 hour week.

These were residents--a lot of stress, a lot of time in the hospital. They spent more time working than sleep and leisure combined.

Often they eat while listening to a lecture--still working.

These doctors had trouble detaching. Even watching TV did not refresh them.

Even if you only go to the gym for 45 mins--that time is for you.

Everyone needs to take care of themselves with some formula that works.

What's yours?

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Is 9-5 a thing of the past?

Matthew Tarpey, CareerBuilder, did a survey and 3 out of 5 workers think the old 9-5 workday is history.

Nearly half (45%) work on personal time. Half of the men surveyed said they work outside formal office hours, and 42% of the women. Sixty-eight percent of IT workers and 65% of sales professionals agree. (This can vary by industry.)

This is not just a Millennial thing. Sixty-five percent of older workers say 9-5 is dated, and only 42% of 18-24 yr-olds.

But--some may just say that. 60% of those over 55 said they don't keep working past quittin' time. This is 54% for younger workers.

Could be the younger workers are more attached to their mobile technology and when the office calls, they respond.

Older people may take the long view--the boss will still be there tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

You may be from the govt, but I don't feel helped

Frank Konkel, Nextgov, July 18, 2016, says the government is pretty rock bottom on customer satisfaction, according to a recent study by Forrester Research.

The report looked at 319 brands and quizzed 122,300 customers.

The government's average was "poor." The National Park Service rated the best--at "good."

Some agencies are managing the customer experience in a systematic way--or are starting to.

But others, no way.

Traditional banks, online retailers, and auto and home insurance rank the highest--and they only get an OK.

The White House recently made customer service a priority for agencies to pursue--A Customer Service Council is distributing best practices and sharing knowledge. Still in last place.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Drugs also a lethal threat to cops

She may not LOOK dangerous.
Police officers are also employees and workers and they face many hazards on the job, as the current newspaper headlines tell us.

Brian Escamilla, a forensic chemist at a health and safety consulting firm called NES, was interviewed recently in an ad for NES.

He was asked what synthetic drugs present the most threat to first responders. His answer was fentanyl, its analogs, and other synthetics. These drugs are extremely potent. Responders can be exposed to fentanyl and become ill. A drug called naloxone has to be given, but it must be done soon after exposure or respiration can be depressed, which can escalate to other serious or deadly results.

Also, the chemicals used to manufacture drugs can be flammable and explosive. Drugs labs can erupt.

First responders should wear protective clothing and take steps to avoid both drugs and the chemicals used to make drugs. Synthetic drugs can be in the air, in the person's clothing, or any surface nearby.

Police and fire departments need training in these areas (this could be the ad part).

This may not be a hazard in your workplace--but it is in the workplaces of others.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Is all your tech really helping you?

Don't toss all the old.
Does  your phone make you smarter? Does GPS do much a map can't do? Does your phone make you a photographer?

Jonathan Coopersmith, professor history at Texas A&M, says the technology of yore used to demand some skills to use it--skills you had to acquire, which made you smarter.

Many of the steps are eliminated in today's tech.

This has always been the trend for technology, but the pacee of this has accelerated. More people specialize in some skills and not others, more work is outsourced to technology, and more people can afford and acquire technology.

But it you learn to be a nurse, you may not learn to grow your own food--some skills are sacrificed to other skills. So we become more dependent on others for those other skills.

One drawback can be if the technology people depend on fails.

Case in point: Thte US Naval Academy is now teaching cadets how to navigate using a sextant. Just in case all the computers and GPS fail...

It is possible, Coopersmith says, to learn more about our technology and learn the basic skills of fixing and troubleshooting them.

Technology may make is more efficient and even smarter, but is it making us wise?

Good question. Even a wise one.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Lessons from your pooch

Come on, it'll be fun.
Ali Wunderman, Government Executive, says we can learn a lot about dealing with the boss--from our dogs.

Animals constantly communicate and adjust themselves in the hierarchies around them.

The author quotes Marc Bekoff, a professor emeritus of ecology and evolutionary biology, at University of Colorado Boulder, when he says when animals play, they perform behavior used in other arenas--such as predation, aggression, or reproduction.

They constnatly assess their standing as they play. Dogs even do a "play bow." They lower their heads and stick up their rear ends--time to play, I don't want to eat you or fight with you.

This corresponds in the office to "Clarifying your interests."

Animals also play fairly. If they play too roughly they can be ostracized by the others.

Playing also establishes a tone. You can tell when an animal "checks out"--tail tucked, ears back. In a person this can be arms folded across the chest.

Let your instincts run the show. But remember, you still have some higher reasoning powers.

I would describe this as knowing when to quit or change tactics or even retreat.

You even hear the phrase "He or she came to play" in terms of negotiations. It could have deeper implications--ask your pet.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Rant on manners--from a friend

A friend of mine--like me--is not enchanted with today's manners in the workplace.

Here is some of what she wrote me:

Regarding simple communication etiquette: There ain't none no more, be it in the workplace or out and about in society or even among friends. And forget phones, emails, and mail. You'd think with everyone wanting to be so immediate in their connections that they'd be also concerned with manners. But no, none of them have mothers, or so it seems.

This reminds me of a pet peeve in the work place, she continues.  I'd walk to a co-worker's cube to ask or talk about a work-related issue. That person would have another guest talking to him/her in the cube's entry way or would be on the phone. I'd show up and wait to be acknowledged and then have the cube inhabitant say "I'll be with you in a moment" or "This is a non-work-related conversation, so we'll quit and I'll talk to you now" or something along those lines. 

It NEVER happened. I'd wait for a minute. Be completely unacknowledged. And return to my cube. Hey, if you don't care, I don't care. Too weird, really.

She also told me her ex used to nail people who interrupted rudely by saying, "Don't you have a mother?"

Apparently this reference to manners learned at a mother's knee went--WHOOSH--right over their heads.

The other day I read an interesting phrase: "We need less data and more information."

Maybe we should also say, "We need fewer communications tools and more communication."


Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Groan--politics at the office

As opposed to "office politics," which is a good thing to tune into.

But Matthew Tarpey, CareerBuilder, says in this season politics is hard to avoid--it can range from tussles on Facebook to heated office chat.

In a recent survey, three in 10 employers have argued with a coworker over a candidate this season--and 1 in 5 workers.

These candidates are just so darn arguable!

For one thing, 50% of workers say their office is too politically correct, and 59% of employers feel the same?  What does that mean, though--it's wrong to downplay political opinion--too chicken, or something?

If you want to avoid political discussions (OK, fights), Lifehacker suggests:

Excuse yourself. Say you have a project to finish up. Walk away.

Change the topic. Try to segue back to a work issue.

Accentuate the positive. If talk turns negative--ask, "What is going well for you these days?"  If the person walks away after that, well, you are done with the conversation.

Hide. Put on your headphones. Work at home a few days. Or hide out in the office library or someplace.

Because the one thing you probably can't do--change anyone's mind.

Monday, July 18, 2016

A doc's office is still an office

Mary K. Pratt, writing in Medical Economics, says a new study of what physicians think of the electronic health record (EHR) and their computerized environment shows they are not thrilled.

Not only did they have a low opinion of the EHR, but the EHR was not making them more efficient.

The computerized provider order entry system (CPOE) was also not a hit.

"Unintended negative consequences," muttered one of the study's authors, a hematologist at Mayo.

The study was published in the July Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

Only 36% of the 5,358 responding doctors using EHRs were satisfied or very satisfied, and 43.7% were dissatisfied or very dissatisfied.


On the CPOE (where the docs write orders and send out prescriptions), 4,847 physicians responded and only 38.1% were satisfied or very satisfied, while 41.9% were not.

The same went for whether these systems improved patient care. Only 36% said yes, 41% did not think so.

Only 23% thought these systems improved efficiency.

The president of the American Academy of Family Physicians was not shocked. She herself, she says, would sit for 10-20 minutes watching the little spinning circle. She also thinks it's "heartbreaking" to turn her back on patients to type.

Docs also spend hour entering info into these systems.  Improvements need to come at a faster clip.

Efficiency can be improved by using medical scribes to enter info, having nurses answer patient emails, and other steps.

I once had an eye surgeon would not not type--or could not--I never knew. He used a voice system and while I sat there he would try to make the darn thing spell...He would go "try again," try again..."

It was ridiculous.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Please, companies, don't help us so much

Oh, they just want to help. Here is a new version of your software, of your whole operating system, look at this, a new modern webpage for your old bank you use everyday.

Chase Bank decided to "update" its website, apparently. I went on in a rush--I needed to be on a video conference--and WHAAA, where was the thingie to see my "messages"--they emailed me I had one.

I looked everywhere--bottom of the page, top, middle...could not even find their phone number--no click for Customer Service. Who has no Customer Service option?

I got the phone number from my address book, called, did all the secret handshakes with the robot (I cannot UNDERSTAND you....blah blah, OK, Robbie).

Finally I got a human by wildly pressing ZERO

I ranted and she soothed in some Eastern European accent. Finally she informed me that on the upper left there were three little parallel lines--click those. I did--there were all the options...

THREE PARALLEL LINES? Is this some arcane international code?

I was frantic.

I sure hope Chase Chairman Jamie Dimon enjoys his $27 million a year salary. I am not enjoying Jamie Dimon.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Low-income nabes can be a book desert

There is much talk about low income neighborhoods being a food "desert"--with fresh fruit and veggies scarce or unvailable.

But a study led by NYU finds a startling scarcity of children's books in low-income areas of Detroit, Wash DC, and Los Angeles.

This is not to reinforce the president's recent statement that a young person can get a Glock easier than a book--that was rhetorical nonsense.

But children's books are hard to come by in some places.

Access to books, stories, and other tools have both immediate and long-term effects on kids' vocabularies, background knowledge, and comprehension skills.

Also--I would say--on instilling a lifelong curiosity.

The research teams analyzed 40% poverty and 18-40% poverty areas in the three cities.

They went street by street--cataloginv what books, magazines, and newspapers were available.

Dollar stores were the most common places to get children's books. In the poorer section of Washington DC, 830 kids would have to share an age-appropriate book. Nearer to Capitol Hill, that was two kids.

The research was done in summer--where learning opportunities are fewer anyway due to school vacation.

Reading skills accumulated through the year drop then anyway.

So what's to be done? Donate books to Goodwill? Donate to the library? Ideas?

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

How to follow up an interview

You did everything right--nice outfit, firm handshake, intelligent questions, enthusiasm for the position--and then what?

Matthew Tarpey, CareerBuilder, says you really need to follow up somehow and not just sit and brood.

Employers like to see enthusiasm from candidates--eagerness, even.

But you have to be careful not to overdo it--and cross into stalking or pestiness.

A simple written thank you--email or snail--goes a long way. Then wait a few days before doing anything else.

But don't send that thank you from the car on the way out. Give it some time--especially if it's email--2 days maybe.

It is even better to ask the timeline before you leave the interview..."This has been great, I so enjoyed meeting you, when can I expect to hear something?"

Also--be sure to spellcheck your thank you. Don't want to blow anything now.

And remember, this may be YOUR top priority, but the interviewer may have many top priorities. Don't get upset if even a week or two goes by.

Too, you should keep it professional. The interview might have been chatty and touched on personal subjects, but the thank you note should be pleasant and professional.

I used to try to work with a net--I would have more than one thing going at once, so each opportunity was not so life and death.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Mental health issues in the workplace

Many decades ago, I wrote a story on how to handle it if someone in your office seems to be deteriorating mentally. The suggestion then was referral to an employee assistance specialist.

I don't know if those even exist anymore--and mental health issues have gone from locking yourself in the bathroom and refusing to come out to shooting up the office sand killing coworkers.

This is not to say that all people with mental health issues are violent--they aren't. But times are changing.

Karen Higginbottom, writing in Forbes, says one in six workers in the UK suffer from depression, anxiety and stress.

Yet--the attitude toward these ailments remains in the dark ages, with 56% of employers saying they would not hire a person suffering from depression.

Often, too, Human Resources people have to be mental health counselors, according to MetLife.

A major step forward would be to create workplaces where employees feel they can come forward.

Barclays has done that, according to this story. They have gone to some lengths to de-stigmatize mental health problems. Recovery is absolutely possible, they say--and saying otherwise is a myth.

--Managers need to know that stress, anxiety and depression are serious enough to warrant time off work (2/3s of managers don't agree).

--Line managers need to learn to be trained to recognize warning signs of too much pressure on staff.

--They need to be able to refer people to outside help (maybe Employee Assistance Programs, yes, they still exist).

PricewaterhouseCoopers even created a mental health toolkit.

That's not too crazy, is it?

By the way--"crazy"--don't say that.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Write if you get work

OK, recent grads--where are you going to live?

Michael Betz, Government Executive Magazine, July 10, 2016, says college students now look for different things in terms of location than did past generations.

In the 1990s, after controlling for city aspects such as population, income, and amenities, the proportion of college grads increased in cities that already had lots of grads. Viz: College towns like Boulder and Ann Arbor.

Better educated places tend to bring up salaries of all workers and offer more cultural amenities. This trend went on for several decades.

But now--a lot has changed. We have had two recessions. Interstate migration has declined. There also has been significant industry restructuring with the decline in manufacturing.

Post-2000, large cities (holding education levels constant) attracted the most grads.

Big cities tend to be more diversified and pose less risk of unemployment.

In a less diversified city like Des Moines, Betz wrote, which is heavily into the insurance industry, the increase in grads slowed.

These findings also have significance for cities. Better educated workers tend to start businesses and thus create jobs. They also have more civic involvement.

Cities have a role--they can enact policies such as investing in education and supporting local entrepreneurs to make the labor markets more stable.

Grads can help with that as well as do their research and find cities with this mindset.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Bicycles--States encouraging their use

Next? Bike pooling?
PeopleForBikes is a Colorado-based bike advocacy group.

They are working with the states to double or triple bike ridership by 2020.

This requires infrastructure, outreach, and public engagement.

Through a program called The Big Jump, town, city and county governments can apply for funds to achieve this.

An emphasis will be placed on creating "a high comfort bike network" in each locale--this is a place where bike riders can ride without fearing an accident.

Although matching funds are not required, The Big Jump people say chipping in local funds shows support. Funding matches would be encouraged to conduct an annual survey of bike riders, travel for local leaders to attend study tours, local outreach into neighborhoods, and to bring in outside experts.

Applications must be in by Oct 28th. Go to:

My personal opinion is that quite a bit of public education might be in order. Drivers seem to assume the road is for them and some even try to keep bikes off. This can get dangerous.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Olympics can affect local and global industries

From Visa to the local food truck, the Olympics affect many businesses and lives.

There is even a course at Michigan State's Broad College of Business on the business of Olympics. The students go around the world to Oly sites. This year--it's Sydney, which hosted the 2000 Summer Games.

The Olympic Partners Programme, for one, agrees to high-level partners including Visa, McDonalds, Dow Chemical, and Coke. Other companies sponsor athletes and teams.

But not all local businesses prosper. A local bar may plan for many more patrons and not get them. Food trucks are another example. The coming of the Olys may cause new regulations to be placed on them as the area moves into the international spotlight.

Cities are must remodel or take care of infrastructure deficits it has had for years. But the construction can also hurt local businesses for months or years.

When the Olys start local people and businesses often cannot get tickets--which are scooped up by the big boy sponsors.

What about Rio? Well, the city has already declared a state of public calamity--and wanrs that it might not be able to keep it's Oly commitments. "This is huge," the Michigan State people say.

Not only is the Zika virus lurking, there are other issues with health and sanitation, as well as financial issues. The metro will provide only limited service. The Rio govt can't pay it's bills. Hospitals have limited supplies. Security is worrisome.  Violent crime is up.

The city will be hard pressed to jump THESE hurdles.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

The high cost of working

You deserve a treat.
Getting up, getting dressed, gassing up the car, daycare, grabbing coffee, later grabbing lunch--this all costs.

According to a new CareerBuilder survey (Harris), the average amount people pay just to go to work is $276 a month or $3,300 a day.

Driving. Eighty-four percent of workers drive to work. Thirty-seven percent pay more than $25 a week for gas, the rest less.

Public transportation. Seven percent take public transportation--almost half paying more than $25 a week.

Lunch. Seventy-two percent bring lunch from home--but half of those who buy spend more than $25 a week.

Daycare. Among those with kids under 18, 29% pay for daycare. Of these, more than a third pay $500 or more a month.

Pet care. Fifty-eight percent of workers have a pet. More than half spend more than $10 a week on pet care.

Coffee. Half buy coffee in a given week--71% spend less than $10 a week.

Clothing, Shoes, Accessories. Nearly half said they paid $250 or more a year. One in 4 spent more than $500 a year.

I guess this isn't too surprising. I remember living in DC, I spent $10 every time I left the house--or more. It just cost to go outside.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Millennials help parents find a job

You've heard all the stories of parents hovering over their darlings or even coming to job interviews with them--but what about the flip side, millennials who help their parents find a job?

According to an article in Government Executive Magazine by Angela Almeida, older workers have a harder time.

The author herself was helping her mother, 60,  master on-line applications, write cover letters, and react in mock interviews.

These "children" even help their parents by paying for job coaches for them.

One example was a 25-year-old teacher whose father was a director of real estate at a university and was told take half his salary or leave. He had an MBA and real estate license, but his daughter sent 500 copies of his resume--he was out of work for three years. He even tried for overnight stocker at Walmart but was told he was overqualified. He works now selling real estate but is still looking for a job.

According to AARP, 45% of those 45-70 need some help with their job search.

A job search adviser in Minnesota advises those helping their parents to guard the parents' self confidence in learning new techniques and technology.

Because of pay gaps, women on average have to work 11 years longer than men to have a comparable retirement.

Yet the younger generation finds that people don't want to hire people they see as "retiring" soon--in other words, ageism is a big factor.

On the brighter side, some of the older former workers do ask their kids for help in doing marketing plans for their new "passion" businesses.

I would say, though, that this is the exception...

Friday, July 1, 2016

Ready to follow your dream?

From the site Next Avenue comes a story by Rita Colorito on turning to your passion at some point in your life (if you haven't already).

One man, a retired high school teacher, enrolled in a 2-day Broadway Fantasy Camp. Three years later, he was i n professional regional theater and even auditioned for Hello Dolly starring Bette Midler.

There are several "vacations" that allow you to check out your dreams. They are designed not as an escape, but to let you check out whether you have potential.

Broadway Fantasy Camp. You can go 1 to 5 days. It's held in NY in the theater district. Participants are carefully screened so they know what will happen and the camp will know their level. You will audition, rehearse, and be in a full-cast opening number or even a solo performance. And there is a cast party at Sardis at the end. The staff are topnotch choreographers, producers, and other professionals.  The cost is $695 for one day to $4,995 for five days.

Mooseburger Clown Camp. For this one you will travel to the lakeside town of Buffalo, Minnesota. Campers over 50 make up 70% of the would-be clown population. Be prepared for 12-hour days--.clowning is serious.  You will learn all aspects--from working hospitals to birthday parties, ppetry, magic, slapstick, facepainting, juggling and more. It costs $995 plus $60 for the airport shuttle.

Sanibel Island Writer's Conference. This is put on by Florida Gulf Coast University. All are welcome for the 4-day conference--from journelers to novelists. The $500 registration includes continental breakfast, workshops, readings, cocktail hours and night time events. For another $100 your manuscript can be professionally critiqued.

Shenandoah Arts Destination. Held in Lexington, Virginia (beautiful, have been there many times), this group offers individualized courses in drawing, painting and printmaking.  You choose between weekend, 4-day, 7-day, and 10-day experiences, raging from $475 to $1,975. Meals and lodging are included--art materials are not included.

CIA Boot Camps. Cooking--not spying. CIA stands for Culinary Institute of America. These are located several places in the country. There are also seafood camps, Italian, Japanese, bread, pastry and other camps. The basic five-day camp is $2,194 and includes uniforms and breakfast and lunch each day (you cook).

CUVEE Winemaking Camp. Don't expect to stomp any grapes. Put on by the Cornell Viticulture and Entology Experience (CUVEE), in Ithaca, NY, this camp teaches winemaking from vine to vintage, as this author put it. You will learn the science and art, work the vines, make the wine. There are also field trips to the Finger Lakes wine region. And don't forget the tastings. The 5-day program is $3,076, lodging not invluded (saome reduced rate accommodations on campus are available).

Sound good? Take it from me--it's fun to pursue a passion. I am involved in developing cartoons--and love it.