Monday, December 28, 2009

What's your Career Resolution for 2010?

The 5th annual list of New Year's resolutions from Franklin Covey is now available. How does your list of personal resolutions stack up with this new list?

The economy was clearly the overwhelming influence this year with 44% of the respondents including resolutions pertaining to finances. Of course everyone knows that career and economics really go hand in hand. With 10% unemployment, careers, jobs and finances are front and center.

Did you make any resolutions for 2010? How did your 2009 resolutions work out for you?

2010 New Year's Resolutions from Franklin-Covey:

1. Improve financial situation or save money
2. Lose weight
3. Develop a healthy habit (e.g., healthy eating, exercise)
4. Change employment
5. Develop a regular savings plan
6. Break an unhealthy habit (e.g. smoking, alcohol, overeating)
7. Spend more time with friends and family.
8. Other
9. Get organized
10. Develop a new skill or talent

Keep in mind that the New Year gives you 12 months to acheive your goals. Stressing yourself because you don't get it right in the first month, doesn't really help.

Write them down and revisit them periodically throughout the year.

Take your time, stay positive and be deliberate.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Niche web sites Help Overcome Barriers to Employment

The Bureau of Labor Statistics is reporting that the average job search is taking about twenty-eight weeks. The word “average” is important here. Many of us know people who have been very lucky and picked up new roles in a couple of months while we know others who have been unemployed for over a year in this current recession.

Time-to-employment is impacted by many factors, over which the jobseeker has control including number of hours committed to job search and how willing a job seeker is to explore multiple career options.

Time-to-employment can also be impacted by other factors over which the jobseeker has not much control – at least not in the short term. Some of these factors could be discrimination around age, disability or race or previous gaps in employment. Although we know these factors are at work, it is often hard to prove that an employer may be unfairly screening you out of the candidate pool.

If you think you are being impacted by any of these factors, the last thing you want to do is pull back on your job search and lose focus. Instead, you want to improve your chances of being hired by adding one important strategy to your job search -Connect with transition resources that have a track record for success in niche employment.

These niche resources can help job seekers narrow the focus enough to hit the bullseye and land an opportunity in a shorter time.

For example, eSight Career Networks, lists jobs for the disabled, and offers career tips to help professionals deal with disability employment issues. The Fortune Society, works to help people who have been incarcerated improve job search skills and build better lives through meaningful employment. Workforce50 serves older workers with a full service job board and career information website for Boomers.

If your job search is being stalled by some of these factors, get a leg up by finding resources in your online and “on-land” communities.

Monday, November 23, 2009

November was National Career Development Month

I am very, very late with my blogs this month. Not typical of me, but took on a new full time assignment and had a little bit of a settling-in routine. Not to worry, I feel I am in my zone now and ready to be productive.

In the meantime, November, the National Career Development Month, has just about come and gone. Before you know it, we will be looking at the 2010 Franklin Covey new year's resolution list.

Even though November is almost over, I wanted to remind you of the 30 assignments I usually share this time of year that, if used, could help every professional improve their career satisfaction.

Here they are again, with an accompanying blog post for each:

Here they are again:
Day 1 - Career Change Requires a Positive Attitude
Day 2 - Analyze Your Job
Day 3 - Evaluate Your Skills
Day 4 - Grab a Career Book
Day 5 - Focus on Training
Day 6 - Start Reading Career Blogs and Articles
Day 7 - Start a Career Journal
Day 8 - Start Working on a Career Portfolio
Day 9 - Get a Handle on Workplace Stress
Day 10 - Join Your Alumni Association
Day 11 - What's in Your Personnel File?
Day 12 - Enhance Technical Skills at Work
Day 13 - Thinking About Starting a Business
Day 14 - Join a Professional Association
Day 15 - Rejuvenate Your Contacts
Day 16 - Volunteer!
Day 17 - Create a Kudos Folder
Day 18 - Research Upcoming Job Fairs
Day 19 - Update Your Resume and CV
Day 20 - Explore Career Assessments
Day 21 - Job+Holiday=Stress; Get Some Perspective this Season
Day 22 - Look for Work Life Balance
Day 23 - Are career Myths Holding you Back?
Day 24 - Share your Resume and get Feedback
Day 25 - Learn About Informational Interviews
Day 26 - Identify 2-3 Career Options
Day 27 - Identify Gaps in Skills and Competencies
Day 28 - Register with 3 Employment Websites
Day 29 - Put Your References on Notices
Day 30 - Spend Time with a Career Coach

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

60 Weeks to a Health Care Career

The next time you have a doctor’s appointment, note how much time you actually spend with your personal physician vs. how much time you spend with medical office support staff. If you are like most people, you might find you spend more time with the office assistants and medical support staff than you do with your doctor.

I have nothing against doctors; I love mine!
As a career management professional, I often get asked about employment trends and ways to recession proof careers. Because of that, I am always observing the workplace, the roles people play, how organizations function and whether or not employees are a "fit" for their roles. I am also always scouting new opportunities to share with readers.

During my last visit to my doctor to remove stitches from the sole of my right foot, I noticed how much of my time I spent with medical office assistants.

The medical office assistants and staffers did everything from verifying my insurance eligibility, retrieving my charts and collecting my co-pay. The assistants in the front office who worked with me were energetic, friendly and showed real interest in hearing about the freak accident where I stepped on the neck of my son's Double Bass, which he had left laying across the living room floor, in the dark.

It made me think about how important these medical office assistants are to smooth operations of healthcare offices whether they are working in my doctor’s private office, in hospitals, insurance companies or with local, state or federal government agencies.

As our demographics continue to shift due to longer life expectancy, the Department of Labor reports that the health care sector, is expected to account for about 3.6 million new wage and salary jobs up to 2014. The health care industry is focused on attracting new labor to meet growing demand in these allied health professions. Since many of the front line, high demand jobs in the sector, like medical office assistants, do not require a four year degree, many schools, are making medical office assistant training available.

If you know a displaced employee, a recent graduate who has not yet landed the right opportunity or someone thinking about changing careers, urge them to consider a career in health care.

The field is growing and pending health care reforms will make the industry a hot area for employment for the foreseeable future.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Halloween Costume vs. The Corporate Costume

IMG_2421 - Cruella de Vil
Originally uploaded by Anime Nut

I watched the Halloween episode of The Office last night. Yes, I tore myself away from The World Series to get my weekly fix of the crazy, wacky shenanigans of the gang at The Office.

By the way, GO PHILLIES! But I digress...

When I moved to California, I worked in a major corporate travel office where business professional attire was a daily must.

As Halloween approached, and everyone became increasingly excited, I wondered what all the fuss was about. Halloween came and I realized that people really looked forward to sharing their real selves with each other...all under the guise of an office event.

Once I told my kids about the fact that people at my office dressed up, they were ecstatic that Mom should do it too. I had capitulated and gone in as Robin Hood. At 5'10" it was the only costume I thought comfortable enough for my 60 minute commute. In fact, I wore pants over my tights and finished my get-up in the bathroom at work, not daring to be seen on the road or in the business park in a Halloween costume.

I was truly amazed at the steps some of my colleagues had taken to get the perfect fit and look. Still relatively new to California, I did not realize that many of my colleagues were aspiring actors and actresses. Many had already been in paid roles or were always auditioning or waiting for the big break.

One shift manager, always the comic, came in a complete, couture bridal attire, with two "bridesmaids" to accompany him and be at his beck and call for the entire shift. One company owner, usually stoic and professional, shaved his beard and goatee and came to work, fully made up as his very pregnant wife - which was hysterical. Turns out he had grown the beard and goatee for months to add impact when he came in for his big reveal.

One supervisor, known for her abrasive manner, appropriately came in as Cruella deVil and was lauded for doing so.

What struck me about that day, as I sat in my safe, Robin Hood get-up, was the energy that went through the office. It seemed easy for people to stay in character and be what they wanted to be for the whole day. Conversations were no holds barred as shifts changed and staff came and went. People came in early and stayed beyond their schedules to hang out, eat and just see each other.

We worked in a call center, and even though our callers might not have perceived the difference, we hope, the folks in the office certainly had a blast being these "characters" that revealed much about ourselves.

When the costumes went away the next day and we went back to "normal" corporate attire, there was a palpable feeling of routine and weariness. Some of that was no doubt because many of my co-workers were hungover from going to the famed Halloween parade at Santa Monica pier on Halloween night.

Aside from that though, I think people were somewhat unhappy going back to the corporate masks many of us wear to work every day.

With the Halloween costume, we can call people as we see them...crazy, stupid, funny, back stabber, silly, angry, evil or hellish.

Not so, the other 364 days of the year. Do that and you could end up in HR or court!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Don't Always Blame the Resume in the Job Search

“I am not getting any offers and so I need to change my resume,” is something I hear all the time.

In fact, it is one popular rationale frustrated job seekers use if their job search isn't yielding results. Of course in some cases the resumes may be the cause of the job search setbacks, but in many other cases, some job seekers have done a pretty good job with resume writing all on their own or with the help of professional resume writers.

Once I establish that the resume is fine, I usually to ask for them to tell me a little bit more about their job search strategy.

For example, if they have been sending out resumes, getting interviews and not getting offers, the probability is great that the problem is NOT the resume. Getting the offer is more about doing an excellent job in the job interview. If a job seeker is not interviewing well, then the goal should be to work on mastering some job interview techniques instead of embarking on a resume re-write.

If you or someone you know is having a tough job search, maybe these tips can help decide if it is necessary to jump into a resume revamp or work on other parts of the job search strategy.

Keep in mind there are many places between the resume and the offer where a job search can be derailed.

1. Remember -- this is a tough economy. If you are not getting employer calls -- do not assume that your resume is the problem. A quick rule of thumb I learned from a supervisor years ago--expect a 20-30% response rate to your resume. If you distribute 10 resumes, expect 2 or 3 call backs. This will vary based on industry, profession and qualifications etc, but you should know what to expect for your search. The last thing you want to do is to keep your head down and hide away from the job market because you are rewriting your resume.

2. If you are getting calls, then your resume might be doing the job. It is possible you may be just not making a good impression on the call. Do you sound low energy or sound lost about which job the recruiter is calling about? Are you remembering to ask for the interview in the phone screening?

3. Are you aware of the potential weak points in your resume and have an answer ready for the recruiter on the phone? If you are getting calls and don't have a solid explanation, for why you have had 3 jobs in 2 years, why you had an extended absence from the workforce or why your GPA is low. These reasons can cause you not to make it to the interview. In other words, know the potential weak spots in your career history and be ready to speak to those in the initial call.

4. So you are getting interviews, but not getting offers, the problem is most likely not your resume. Think through the interview you have had. Be honest with yourself and write down where you think you may not have been strong. Get some help with that part of the process. It could be as simple as the fact that you are not selling yourself in the interview or that your interview follow up is not as good as it could be.

5. If your job search constitutes just an online strategy and you aren't using a scannable resume fomat -- it could be the reason for no call backs. Maybe without a scannable resume format, your resume is not making it to the employer in a format they can read.

6. If your entire job search strategy is on-line, you may want to broaden your horizons and develop an "on-land" job search strategy as well. You old times, you may have to attend job fairs, open houses or participate in networking events. "Pounding the pavement" again so to speak, will help put YOU behind your resume. In many cases, resumes by themselves won't do the trick in a tough market.

So, before you hunker down for a resume rewrite or throw out the one you have, take a few minutes and honestly evaluate where your job search strategy may be going awry.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Get Fit for Life; Become a Personal Trainer

If you are considering a new career path in the growing personal wellness industry, have you thought about the following reasons to become a Personal Trainer?

Emphasis on Health and Wellness
There is no topic today garnering more air time and public debate than healthcare. Listen carefully to the dialogue and you’ll hear conversations about a healthy new focus on wellness and preventative care. If a lot of clinical work is not appealing to you, but you love the concept of helping people live healthier lives, consider becoming a Personal Trainer. It is definitely a way to enter the increasingly important healthcare industry.

Projected Need for Personal Trainers
The US Department of Labor projects that the need for Personal Trainers will grow much faster than average over the next several years. As the self-help industry grows, more people are turning to independent professionals like Personal Chefs and Life Coaches to help them keep their lives on track. Personal Trainers will have the same ability to support individuals, families and organizations create and maintain healthy habits.

Evolution in the Occupation
In an interview with WebMD, Fred Klinge, chairman of Health and Registry Board at the American College of Sports Medicine spoke of how the scope of personal fitness trainers had broadened. "It's not just about weight lifting and cardio work anymore…it's more about assistance in developing a healthy and fit lifestyle."

Chance to Start a Business
Self employment is an increasingly attractive option in this tough economy as people look for ways to “recession proof” their careers and create multiple streams of income. If you are already committed to your own personal fitness routine but would love to motivate and support others to reach their goals, consider working towards a new career as a Personal Trainer.

As with all career decisions, due diligence is required. Start your research by exploring personal training programs like the one at Bryan College, offering flexible, online classes which can lead to a certificate in about 60 weeks.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Handling Rejection in the Job Search

I wanted to write about the 9.8% unemployment rate, but didn't want to say all the negative and scary things we already all know. So I decided to share again something from one of my fellow career bloggers - Working Girl - who always has a funny insightful way to handle things.

Here are the first 5 things in her list of 20 ways to handle rejection in the job search.

1. Pout. Go into a room by yourself, feel miserable, and cry (keep this activity to under 20 minutes). BullsEye thinks in this economy..24 hours is fair...

2. Treat yourself. A massage, an evening out, a new pair of earrings. Only stuff you can afford. BullsEye thinks if you can't afford any of these, buy a scented candle...

3. Throw a fit. Allow yourself a lovely little tantrum. In private. Beat up some pillows or sofa cushions. Let ‘em have it. BullsEye reminds you to not hurt yourself in the process...

4. Get yerself some love. Talk it out with a close understanding friend, family member, or loved one. Let them comfort you. BullsEye agrees! This can work wonders.

5. Vent. Write it out in your journal, on your blog. If you’re a songwriter, write a song. If you’re a poet, write a poem. If you’re a painter, paint a painting. BullsEye wants to remind you not to vent too much on social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter or MySpace. You don't want to destroy your online persona with too much online ranting!

There are 15 more quick points from Karen at Working Girl to help you manage rejection in the job search! Read them here and share with others who might need to smile or laugh today!

You will have to imagine the BullsEye thoughts for the others....

Monday, October 5, 2009

Five Reasons Not To Change Your Career

I read this article today and thought Graham Hart, had a good perspective on some of the career myths that guide our decisions as we ponder changing careers. He sarcastically titles the piece, "Five Reasons Not to Change Your Career."

Reason 1: I am too old for a career change!
The article reminds us that Ray Kroc didn’t start McDonalds until he was 52 years old and Henry Ford was in his forties when he started Ford Motor Company. The fact is there is still projected a significant global talent shortage over the next few years and so there may still be opportunities.

Reason 2: No time to study!
Changing careers definitely takes additional training - sometimes! In many cases this one is about motivation rather than time. In other words once the decision is made, people find the time - especially since education is increasingly accessible online.

Reason 3: I'd change; but I don't know to what!
As Graham says, this is one of those circular arguments that hold us back. The kind of argument we play over and over in our minds - 'I would change careers, but I don't know what to change to and as soon as I find out, I will make the change." Here is the issue, most people do not take the time, take the steps or use the tools to find out. Tools like career assessments such as the Skills Profiler mentioned, career coaches, mentors and research can help.

Reason 4: I am stuck because there is nothing else I can do!
The tools I suggested before in the previous answer - career assessments, career coaches, mentors and research - are all ways to help you discover where else you could be great.

Reason 5: I can't afford to change!
This is a tough one! Sometimes you have to think about whether or not the stress of being in the wrong job or career is tolerable. In other words - for your next career move, think about how you would feel if you were stuck in that role for a long time in a recession. In other words, can you outlast the recession in your existing role, especially when you don't know how long the recession will last.

Additional career article - Are These Career Myths Holding you Back?

Graham Hart is an Executive Coach and runs

Monday, September 28, 2009

Do More than Read Job Titles! Look for clues..

I was having a conversation recently with a job seeker who had concluded that there were just no jobs out there for her. It was a little surprising since she is actually in a field that has quite a few opportunities, despite the bad economy.

After a few minutes, I realized that she was so fixated on the last job title she held, she really wasn't looking for broader possibilities and reading job descriptions carefully enough. In fact, she was actually discarding possible job opportunities because the job title in the job description was not familiar to her.

I think that many job seekers might actually be in the same boat as my friend.

Many people get attached to their job titles and their current job descriptions, they may actually be overlooking the actual day-to-day assignments involved in a particular job - especially if the job description has evolved over time.

Online job boards today, do a pretty incredible job of making it easy for people to find job opportunities just by using keywords. Employers used to be able to search for resumes using keywords and now every job board gives similar capabilities to job seekers.

However, job seekers should keep in mind though that although keywords can help us really narrow the scope quickly, reading the job descriptions carefully is still a good idea. As we read the job description, think about the skills, behaviors and experiences that are transferable from one industry to the next and one job to the next.

Keep in mind that favorite anecdote that I share all the time (don't remember where I read it, but really think it is true) - Roughly 80% of the people who get hired only have about 60% of what the job description listed.

What does that mean for the job seeker?

It means that although the job description is a great guide for what you will ultimately do on the job, it is only a partial guide to what the employer might be willing to hire right now.

So, as you read job descriptions, try to read and think between the lines. Think about the "success behaviors" behind the job titles and the job descriptions. Plan to showcase these in your resume and demonstrate them in the interview. Do not sabotage your own job search strategy and limit your options by stopping at the job title in the job description.

Want to tell your career or job search story? Come over to BullsEyeCareerBlogs and add your comments!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Time to Reconnect and Network

If you are actively executing a job search strategy or just thinking about making a career change or switching jobs, it might be time to rekindle and rejuvenate some of your contacts otherwise known as "networking".
Set aside some soon to reconnect with an old boss, a former colleague or fellow professional you may have met at a conference.

Many successful professionals use their planners, PDA's or online calendar software to actually schedule time to reconnect with others every few months. It is important to keep in mind that networking actually begins way before you are in the market for a new job or new career and so constant communication is important.

Another networking tip is to keep in mind is that a good professional relationship is really a two way street.

It's not just about what others can offer you, but what you can do to help them. As Dr. Ivan Misner says in his book, Masters of Networking - "Givers Gain"

Monday, September 7, 2009

What Does your Online Persona Say About you? survey shows that employers are increasingly researching jobseekers online through social networking sites before making hiring decisions.

"Hiring managers are using the Internet to get a more well-rounded view of job candidates in terms of their skills, accomplishments and overall fit within the company," said Rosemary Haefner, Vice President of Human Resources at Here are some tips from the latest CareerBuilder survey to help job seekers create a positive online persona during the job search.

1) Clean up digital dirt. Make sure to remove pictures, content and links that can send the wrong message to a potential employer before you start your job search.

2) Update your profile regularly. Make sure to include specific accomplishments, inside and outside of work.

3) Monitor comments. Since you can’t control what other people say on your site, you may want to use the "block comments" feature.

4) Join groups selectively. While joining a group with a fun or silly name may seem harmless, "Party Monsters R Us" may not give the best impression to a hiring manager. Also be selective about who you accept as "friends."

5) Go private. Consider setting your profile to "private," so only designated friends can view it.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

50 (Still) Hot Resume Writing Tips!

I've been looking at a lot of resumes and wanted to repost this list for readers who want to do their own quick resume audit.

Does your current resume need a facelift?

These 50 hot resume writing tips can give your resumes a needed facelift if you have a resume that is not working for you.

Use these hot 50 resume writing tips to help proofread a resume... regardless of who does the resume writing.

-Proofread resumes for grammar, spelling and factual errors
-Use consistent font size. Watch bullet sizes
-Limit or avoid graphics when writing a resume
-Use upper case letters sparingly and only when appropriate
-Fancy, expensive resume writing paper is not always a priority
-Using bullets will make resumes easier to read
-Do not use “responsibilities”, “responsibilities include” and “duties include”
-Volunteer work and community service enhances a resume
-Adjust margins if the resume is slightly too long
-Avoid personal pronouns like “I”, “my” and “me” except in the objective statement
-Do not list complete addresses of past employers
-Do not include names of references on the resume. Add a separate reference document.
-Keep in mind that the top 30-40% of the resume gets the most attention
-Use an ASCII font
-Use page numbers if the resume is more than one page
-Add name and contact to all pages if more than one page
-Try a resume blaster service
-Printing out an online profile is not the same as having a resume
-Use tables to align columns and remove lines
-Use a professional email address on your resume
-Hyperlink your email address
-Do not place information above your name
-Set resume margins no smaller than .5
-New grads and career changers should put education close to top of resume
-With years of experience, move education to the bottom of the resume
-A resume has about 30 seconds to make an impression on the recruiter
-Make it easy to read
-Change the resume objective statement as needed -Write a strong "Summary of Qualifications" -Use industry “buzz words” or keywords on a resume
-Resumes must identify specific successful outcomes
-Use $, % and # to demonstrate achievements
-One specific phrase to try and avoid – Entry Level
-Do not use one word resume objectives eg "Sales"
-Research advantages of the Chronological Resume vs Functional resume
-Be consistent with date formats on the resume eg 09/02, Sep 02, Sep 2002
-Consider the Combination resume
-Get others to proof read your resume – be open to criticism
-It is not necessary to include every job you have ever had
-Keep all resume content relevant
-Not all online resume writing services are equally capable
-Always keep a resume writing guide on your desk for quick reference
-Resumes, reference sheets, cover letters and thank-you letters can have the same letter head format
-Try to bring quality resume paper for interviews
-Do not include social security numbers; federal resumes may require it
-Use Action Verbs on the resume to describe accomplishments
-Use short paragraphs. 3-5 sentences maximum
-White space on a resume is not a bad thing
-Make sure resume contact information is current. The recruiter must be able to contactyou.
-Consider working with a professional resume writer for a free resume critique

More free resume writing tips and free sample resumes available at Resume/Interview FAQs

Monday, August 24, 2009

How to Stand out in a Crowded Job Market

Job search strategy guest post from Adrienne Carlson for BullsEyeCareer readers on how to stand out in a crowded job market.

It’s a tough time if you’re out of a job and are having a hard time finding another one, because there are fewer opportunities and more people fighting for the ones that do exist. So unless you’re capable of standing out in a crowd, you’re going to get swept away by the deluge of jobless people all battling for the limited positions that are available. And how do you go about doing that?

· Showcasing your value to the company:
Instead of just sending out your resume, send out an email that showcases your talents and states how you plan to add value to the company if hired. Speak of what you hope to achieve rather than what you have already achieved so far. When your approach is focused on the company rather than on yourself, you differentiate yourself and stand out from the crowd of other resumes that flood the recruitment section of the human resources department in any company.

· Positioning yourself differently:
Instead of using run-of-the-mill phrases and regular jargon to express your value, state why you want this job and why you will bring more value to it than anyone else who has applied for the position. When you position yourself differently and prove that you know what the job entails and how you plan to be useful to the company, employers tend to be interested in knowing more about you.

·Putting your money where your mouth is:
They say that actions speak louder than words, and this is why you must have a proven track record at your old places of work when applying for a new job. If you’re known as a performer and someone who is not afraid of hard work, most employers are willing to snap you up in no time.

·Knowing how to ace the interview:
While your resume and impact letter are the initial keys that get you into the foyer, it’s the interview that really decides if you make it into that elite inner circle or not. So make the best of it by impressing your employers at your first meeting for you may not get a second chance if you goof up initially. When you’re confident without appearing over confident, when you’re capable without appearing to be a know-it-all, and when you’re disciplined without being too rigid, you’re a gem that employers don’t want to let slip between their fingers.

This guest article was written by Adrienne Carlson, who regularly writes on the topic of accredited online university. Adrienne welcomes your comments and questions at her email address:

Thursday, August 20, 2009

When Entrepreneurs Become Job Seekers

We all know that the job market is really tough!

As if the competition from new college grads and the recently terminated isn't enough, here comes the competition from another, not so often talked about pool of job seekers - entrepreneurs.

Many small business owners are coming back into the job market and having a hard time connecting. Since the beginning of this year, I have talked to at least 10 business owners, who have had to seek out employment to either keep their own businesses going, closed their businesses all together, or thinking of closing their businesses.

Two of these entrepreneurs were in the construction business. One owned a painting company and the other a small general contracting company. Both have had to lay off workers and have become employees themselves for big box retailers. One owner of an adult day care facility is considering selling a building, at a loss no less, and operating his business from his home, where his teenage daughter can help with customers as he takes on a night job. Another, a property manager, is unable to find renters and need to now himself find a job to augment his investment property mortgage payments. These are a few. There are others and don't think this phenomenon is limited to sole proprietors either.

There is a lot of support out there for the unemployed who want to start a business. This is great news, because that is an excellent option for many. However, there is not much advice for the entrepreneur who has to return to work. Maybe because some see it as a failure? I don't. I see it as a reality.
Here are some of the tips that I have been sharing with entrepreneurs who have to become job seekers to support their families:

1. Sell your skills as a team player in the interview. Many successful entrepreneurs are "take-charge", mavericks who have been used to making all the decisions. Some employers might say they like that in a candidate, but it really is about balance.

2. Show your willingness to learn new things...quickly. As an entrepreneur, you may have become a master in a specific niche. Now that you are looking, you may find that your niche, although good for your business, doesn't have wide demand.

3. Look for opportunity and potential. You may not be able to make the same starting out, as you were when your business was up and running. Instead of looking at just the wages, consider the peace of mind for you and your family as well as benefits like health insurance and retirement accounts.

4. Talk with your vendors and suppliers. They may be able to help or certainly make recommendations. Network also with others in your professional groups such as your union. You may be able to collaborate on jobs.

5. Brush up on your job search strategy and skills. Get a resume together and become familiar with searching for jobs online or networking your way into a job. You networked to land clients before, you will now have to do the same to land a job. Only problem is that you may not have a marketing department to do it for you. Look for free job search resources. I actually met three entrepreneurs at a job search workshop I volunteered to do at my local library about 4 months ago. They were preparing for job search because their revenues were in the tank or heading there. One I am happy to say has landed a great opportunity in sales with a vendor. Two are still looking. Use free resume samples from here!

6. Use headhunters. Entrepreneurs are independent thinkers. No question about that. However, they may have to rely on the expertise of others in this situation.

7. Put yourself in the employer's shoes. Would you hire you? Remember what you looked for in an employee and think about the best way to sell that to potential employers. One of the things you thought about was - "will this employee stay?" Your new potential employer is thinking the same thing. What happens once his/her business picks up? Will I lose them as an employee? This is what the employer is thinking and so you have to prepare an answer.
8. Stay positive and bring your entrepreneurial spirit to the job search. Think creatively about meeting new people, personal branding and the numbers. The more connections you make the better qualified leads you can find. Those problem solving skills as an entrepreneur will serve you now better than ever.

No question that this is a difficult time to find a job.
If you or someone you know have been used to doing the hiring, but now have to be doing the looking, it could be a real challenge. Stay focused yet flexible!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

New College Grad Files Lawsuit Against Career Center

Media outlets including social networking sites are all a-twitter about Trina Thompson, the 27 year old Class of 2009 new grad from Monroe College who is suing her alma mater for $72,000. Why? You ask. Well, Thompson is suing because she became a new college grad in April 2009 with a bachelor of business administration in Information Technology, has not yet landed a job and blames the college and the Career Advancement office.

Thompson filed suit against Monroe College in the Bronx Supreme Court stating that the Career Advancement office had not helped her with full-time job placement and she was suing because of the stress she has been going through. As I read Ms. Thompson’s statement, I couldn’t help but think of my father who used to say “A college degree sometimes doesn’t make you smarter; it just makes you a college graduate.”

I may be wrong, but I am not sure that all the attention that Thompson is now bringing to herself is the kind that will actually land her a job. I am not sure it will force of the career advisors at Monroe to now work more aggressively on her behalf. I am also thinking that some employers may not be too anxious to bring on an employee whose solution was to sue her alma mater because she had not landed an IT job in New York, of all places, in four months, in this particularly challenging economy.

My hope is that Thompson did not think that all the job losses on Wall Street were actually limited to finance professionals. I suspect that any business major in New York would understand the IT component of all these crippled financial companies and anticipate some strong competition from unemployed tech professionals with actual experience.

Having spent several years in college career centers myself I know that one of the words that career professionals try very hard to remove from the vocabulary of students, staff and faculty is “placement”. To most contemporary career center staff the word “placement” is like fingernails on a chalkboard.

Why? Because the word “placement” does not indicate that the job seeker has indeed mastered any career development or job search skills themselves, but instead is waiting to be picked up and dropped into a slot based on arrangement made between the career office and the employer. No career center that I know of, operates that way and employers don't hire that way, as far as I know. The fact that Thompson used that “placement” word, made me think that somewhere along the line she missed the lesson.

For three years I have been sharing advice on careers, workplace and employment issues on this site. I hope none of my readers would want to bring suit against BullsEye because the advice didn’t work for them. Is anyone thinking they can sue Monster or Career Builder because the advice there didn’t work either? (;> I am hoping not.

Short term job searches and long term career plans are really about taking personal responsibility for one’s own future. I am hoping the career advisors at Monroe and other schools are doubling their efforts to spread that message with students and grads this fall. There are certainly alternatives in a tough market, but some professions are doing better than others. One of those doing relatively well is actually IT. Thompson may have to consider exploring some alternatives and think of creative ways to get her foot in the door. Internships come to mind.

If you know new college grads who are still looking to land that first opportunity, and many are, please share the following articles with them. These tips will also work for the Class of 2010. It is really not too early to start!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Getting Ahead in Your Career – 10 Rules of Success

Photo - Courtesy of NBCU Photos
I found this really well thought out list of the 10 Rules of Success to help professionals grow in their careers. The list was developed by Folarin Longe, founder of Human Edge Limited, a human resources consulting and staffing services firm based in Lagos, Nigeria. I think the list is appropriate for those of us who are working in an increasingly global environment.

Longe's list can help professionals answer the proverbial question, "what does it take to get ahead around here?” Ifyour office is like the weekly TV show, The Office, you may not know which character you want to mimic.

This is the kind of question that a someone in any new work environment or a new grads should be asking after they settle into their routine assignments. Will these 10 rules apply in every work environment? I think so. Are there other factors that could be specific to your organization? Yes. For example, you might find that moving ahead in your company might require special attention to networking with senior managers.

Your goal should be to apply Longe's 10 rules of success, plus any other specific rules unique to life at your office.

Rule #1 - Be a constant learner and absorb formal and informal training
Rule #2 - Be humble. You might be surprised at the source of new ideas
Rule #3 - Be Pro-Active. Take responsibility for your own growth and development
Rule #4 - Develop a “Hardy Attitude” and be willing to take as much as you give.
Rule #5 - Be friendly yet professional
Rule #6 - Be hardworking, enthusiastic and passionate
Rule #7 - Recognize the commercial imperative
Rule #8 - Be exceptionally good at something
Rule #9 - Develop good interpersonal skills
Rule #10 - It's ok to be ambitious

Longe goes in depth with each of these 10 rules of success and I encourage you to check out the complete article for more insight into one or more of these rules.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Telephone Interviews are as Easy as 1-2-3!

In a tight economy, smart organizations seize every opportunity to lower costs in the recruiting and hiring process. The telephone interview or phone screening is one great way employers are keep recruiting and hiring costs down.

Rapidly advancing telecommunication technology is enabling employers to add to the complexity of the telephone interview. For example, telephone interviews can now be one jobseeker with one interviewer or one job seeker with multiple interviewers on an interview panel.

With free conference call services or on-line meeting web technology, the interview panel can now be completely distributed. In other words, a jobseeker can converse with 4 or 5 interviewers who are all in different locations. Bottom line is that the telephone interview is here to stay and can be a very effective tool to screen job seekers.

What does that mean for the jobseeker? You must get comfortable with the telephone interview and know how to impress the recruiter through this medium. With the telephone interview, where neither interviewer nor jobseeker can see each other, both have to be aware of tone, clarity and energy. Mastering the interview is as easy as 1-2-3 if you understand this.

If I were to rank the three, I would probably put them in the following order:

1. Energy - Stay high energy from beginning to end of the telephone interview.
2. Tone - Try and limit sarcasm or negativity since you cannot "read" the interviewer.
3. Clarity - Listen carefully to the question. I have heard jobseekers go off on a tangent answering the wrong question. If the interview were face to face a quick gesture could abort the wrong answer.

Interviews are uncomfortable enough and the telephone interview adds another layer of complexity. Jobseekers should know that these three factors will enhance or destroy their candidacy.

For more tips on how to ace the phone interview, read 10 Ways to Ace the Phone Interview

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Is your 30-Second Introduction a Conversation Starter or Killer?

So you are at a networking event and meeting new people. You walk up to someone you want to meet, reach out for a handshake and forgot what you wanted to say.

Is your 30-second introduction on the mark? Check out this article by Career Counselor, Markell Steele as she asks if your 30-second introduction is a conversation starter or killer.

Guest Post by Markell Steele.

How many times have you walked into a networking event and clammed up? Everyone around you is clustered into small groups talking, seemingly already well-acquainted. At some point, you lock eyes with another job seeker standing alone and know that an introduction is on the way. So, you each make your way towards one another. Then comes the question, “So, what type of job are you looking for?”

Ugh! What do you say? Usually the answer is something like, “Oh something in marketing or project management (or fill in the blank).”
The other person just nods and mutters “Oh.”

The conversation quickly ends. Then, you slink away feeling like you just missed an opportunity and wonder if there’s a better way to say what you really want to say about the job you want.Hopefully, this doesn’t happen to you (often).So, what happened? The person you were talking to still doesn’t know what type of job you want and can’t help you.

As a career counselor I have this type of exchange with job seekers all the time. Fortunately, I’m skilled at asking questions to draw out the real job target, but the average person won’t take the time to ask questions to figure out how they can help you.

Here’s a better approach - prepare a simple, yet powerful 30-second introduction that opens up the conversation rather than shuts it down.In your introduction focus on who you help, what problem you solve and what outcomes you achieve.

For example: Hi, my name is Jeff, and I’m a marketing professional specializing in creating and executing marketing campaigns. I manage the project from concept to implementation so my clients don’t have to worry about the details and can focus on their customers.Another example:Hi, my name is Christine, and I’m an executive assistant with experience supporting finance and legal executives. I handle the details for busy executives, so they can focus on the big picture.

Here’s my 30-second introduction:Hi, my name is Markell, and I’m a career counselor. I help frustrated job seekers find career direction, so they can get the job they want in less time with less frustration. By working with me, job seekers get clear about their next steps and how to achieve their career goals.

To get started, take inventory of you accomplishments to identify the common theme among them. Think about what you have been recognized for, those times when you’ve achieved your best, and made contributions to your department or company. Think about what makes someone successful in the job your want and come up with examples of work you’ve done in those areas.

Apply the framework: who you help, what problem you solve and what outcomes you achieve; to come up with your own 30-second introduction.

When I talk with my clients about how important networking is to exploring and connecting career opportunities, they cringe. Networking doesn’t have to be uncomfortable. By applying the above framework you’ll have your 30-second introduction down and can confidently network your way into a new job. How can you tweak your 30-second introduction to be a conversation starter?

Another relevant BullsEye article to read: Stop Muddling Through Your Job Search; Get Focused!

Markell Steele is a career counselor, owner of Futures in Motion, Inc. and author of Fast Track Your Career: Three Steps for Finding Work You Love. Contact Markell at

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

This 20-Minute Assessment Can Improve Business Success

In career makeover workshops, I talk with many people who are laid off and looking for their next opportunity. Although the economy is bad, I am always impressed with the number of people who want to start a business. Many think it is a good time to capitalize on deals for exisiting businesses for sale, suppliers willing to give good discounts, lower rents and scooping up good employees at negotiable rates.

The fundamentals of starting a business like finding professional services such Accounting, Legal and Marketing can be found on every quick-start business checklist out there on the internet. However, too many people seem unaware of or uncomfortable discussing the necessary personal traits and success behaviors. By no means does it guarantee success, but it does help people think positively about traits they need.

This quick assessment, I developed a few years ago, albeit non-scientific, is one way to take inventory of personal and professional abilities necessary for business success. It is based on the well accepted principle used successfully in job interviews - Past behavior is the best indicator of future behavior.

Create a spreadsheet with five columns and label them as follows:

Column #1. Must-Have Traits.
List the following 20 traits in the column. Feel free to add others you think are important.
-Self discipline
-Good judgment
-Hard Worker
-Multitask effectively
-Networking ability
-Openness to new ideas
-Political Savvy
-Interpersonal skills
-Risk tolerance

Column #2. Rating:
On a scale of 1-10, rate yourself on each of these traits - with "1" meaning you have concerns about your strengths and "10" meaning you have confidence your skills are strong in this area.

Column #3. Example:
Identify the best example in your past that demonstrates your strength with regard to this trait or skill.

Column #4. Strategy
Define a plan of action to address your shortcomings in any trait where your self score is less than a 6 - especially if you consider it important to your business.

Column #5. Sensitivity
To help focus and prioritize efforts, rank the skills and traits based on their relative significance to your potential business.

Column 3 is quite possibly the most important. It forces entrepreneurs to not just say how good we are, but to actually identify specific examples to demonstrate how we have acted in the past. If we score ourselve with a high rating (6 or higher) BUT cannot identify great examples in your past to support that ranking - rethink your self ratings.

Once you have completed the exercise yourself, ask someone whose opinion you value or potential business partners to complete a similar chart with their observations about you and each other. Compare the results should give you a good idea of skills you have mastered and those which are potential weak areas you might need to address to improve you or your team's chance of success.

Brainstorm potential solutions and be open to the fact that it might come in many forms. One entrepreneur might choose to join business clusters to share ideas, while another could decide to create a board of advisors. If on a team, you might choose to defer someone's strength in one area while they defer to yours in another. No one path will fit everyone or every start-up business model.

Facing our fears head on will significantly improve our chances of success as entrepreneurs. The last thing we want as our businesses begin to grow is to find out that doing this personal inventory is long overdue and our skills bank is close to running on empty. Begin taking stock today!

Monday, June 29, 2009

12 Job Search Tips from Cris Janzen

Cris Janzen crafted this list of 12 Job Search Tips that I thought would be valuable for regular readers of the BullsEyeCareer blog.

If you click on the title of this post you can visit her blog and get more of her job search wisdom.

1. ABN - Always be networking.

2. Define your passions, not just your capabilities.

3. See your job search as a process with logical steps in sequence, rather than as a problem to be solved.

4. Decide how much time is realistic to spend on your job search, given your other commitments.

5. Set daily and weekly goals, and monitor your progress toward them.

6. Set boundaries and honor the commitments you make to yourself to meet your goals.

7. Front-load your week with activities. (You'll thank me later for this one!)

8. Work daily to stay positive.

9. Remember it is a numbers game. When in doubt, mail it out. (Don't filter too much! You could be wrong.)

10. Create a place where you can work in your home, or find a place where you can. (a library or coffee shop, etc.)

11. Establish your "work hours," and go to work. (The transition is important, because there is always laundry to do!)

12. Take the bad (interviews) with the good - there is no such thing as a wasted interview, as one of your goals should be learning and improving for the next one.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Don't Forget to Impress the Boss's Assistant on Interview Day

A recent survey by OfficeTeam confirmed what we in the career business have known for a very long time - Diss the Assistant and you may not get the offer.

Job seekers should know that in addition to impressing hiring managers and other key decision makers they meet during the job interview, they should make a strong impression on administrative assistants who are the major gate keepers into organizations.

According to the survey, more than 60 % of executives said they consider their assistant’s opinion important when evaluating potential new hires. Why wouldn't they? Execs rely on their Assistants for other things, so why not this?

I go a step further and tell job seekers to not only be nice to the Assistant as office etiquette demands, but be courteous also to parking attendants, security staff or facilities crew. You never know who is in these roles.

I met a business owner at a conference once who shared with me that he and his father ran a small auto supply company. They were interviewing for a new sales rep. Before an interview, his father was in the lobby of their company wiping up a coffee spill. One job seeker literally stepped over his father's hand to get to the receptionist's desk. When the receptionist said, "You almost stepped on him." The job seeker said, "Why don't you guys do cleaning at night anyway?" He didn't get hired.

I always share that story with candidates since you never know who you are dismissing or who has influence.

Executives were asked in the OfficeTeam survey, “How important is your assistant’s opinion about the job candidates you interview for positions at all levels?” Their responses were:

-Very important—21 percent
-Somewhat important—40 percent
-Somewhat unimportant—18 percent
-Very unimportant—16 percent
-Don’t have an assistant—4 percent
-Don’t know—1 percent

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Soft Skills That Could Land You the Job

Do you think "soft skills" don't matter? It's just about how you can do the job, right? Wrong. Here are just six of the other things employers might be looking at as they interview you.

-Leadership/Team Building. These are not just for supervisors but for candidates who want to demonstrate an interest in that career direction.
-Team Player. This just seems so overstated but it is true. Team players make offices work and move forward. Silos can kill a positive workplace culture.
-Goal-Oriented Self-Starter. The article states, "while employers don't necessarily want loose canons or mavericks, they do appreciate people who don't need to be told what to do and can set their own tasks and follow through."
-Excellent Communicator. This one is a no brainer. Or should be. No matter what the task. Communication skills - verbal, written and non-verbal are important. Read - How Body Language can Bury You in the Interview. The article states, "the ability to write a coherent memo or email, give clear verbal instructions, and help meetings run smoothly -- or, at least, not sabotage meetings -- will probably be needed." Excellent communication skills go along with understanding of office etiquette.
-Flexibility/Multi-Tasking Ability. Think about being able to "walk and chew gum" at the same time," as the saying goes. Especially in tight economic times, candidates must come with the ability to bring value beyond their specific job description.
-Sense of Humor. This just makes the day go faster. Author of 'Career Wisdom", John McKee says, "unless you're applying to Comedy Central, you don't have to make them double up laughing." Getting folks to crack a smile ever so often, can keep you sane.

Keep soft skills in mind in the job interview.  

Sunday, June 7, 2009

NBA Finals Inspired Some Motivational Quotes

The NBA finals are in full swing between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Orlando Magic. The game tonight reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from Michael Jordan that I share with college students all the time.

It seemed appropriate to compile an inspirational list of quotes from some of our favorite Basketball players and coaches. Aside from Michael Jordan's quote, I added other favorites including one from C. Vivian Stinger, who was a 2009 inductee into the Basketball Hall of Fame.
1. "I've missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed." - Michael Jordan

2. "Ask not what your teammates can do for you. Ask what you can do for your teammates." Magic Johnson

3. "A winner is someone who recognizes his God-given talents, works his tail off to develop them into skills, and uses these skills to accomplish his goals." - Larry Bird

4. "I live my life trying to never appear to be a small man." - Julius (Dr. J) Irving

5. "I'll do whatever it takes to win games, whether it's sitting on a bench waving a towel, handing a cup of water to a teammate, or hitting the game-winning shot." - Kobe Bryant

6. "Once you've done the mental work, there comes a point you have to throw yourself into the action and put your heart on the line. That means not only being brave, but being compassionate towards yourself, your teammates and your opponents." - Coach Phil Jackson.

7. “What I kept pressing upon them is one of the greatest gems there is — a diamond. A diamond, whether it's man-made or comes from coal, is a result of pressure. I wanted them to understand the more pressure is put on you, the more of a diamond you can become.” - Coach John Chaney

8. "Kids don't play every second like it's their life. Those kinds of people are probably the ones who think that in the last seconds we're going to come back, or wait until we do this or do that, but they don't understand how quickly it escapes.” - Coach C. Vivian Stringer

Friday, May 15, 2009

Talking to New Grads? Think S.O.S - Sustainability of Self!

The S.O.S here is not the distress signal of dots and dashes meant to transmit "Save our Souls" that weary sailors and pilots use when they are in trouble. Then again, if you think hard enough, it could actually be a distress signal.

This new S.O.S I am talking about means "Sustainability of Self".

A little back story.

A few months ago I was having a conversation with my teens and a friend of theirs about their futures and their goals. I realized in that conversation that teens really hate the word "career". They don't just have a mild distaste for it, they really hate it. Especially my teens who are sixteen and seventeen.

I started to wonder if it was because, I, their mom, have been in the career management field for ten years and so the word "career" has been around for most of their lives? I know I have seen them roll their eyes when they heard Dad and I get into "alphabet soup" conversation about "typing" based on career assessments. Maybe that was it?

Or, could it be that their "Family Advocacy" class where they talk about careers and jobs and life, only address those well known occupational staples of Lawyers, Doctors, Accountants?

Considering my teens and some friends are in a "Visual Arts" cluster at school, I can see where they might zone out as uniformed teachers do their best to deliver "career education".

In that conversation, my daughter finally said, "Why do you have to call it a career? It's sounds like punishment or a disease!"

My instinct, of course, educator that I am, was to add more clarity, talk about a diversity of careers, but all my arguments came right back to using the word - career. I walked away stumped, but kept thinking about it.
What I see in my teens is the same thing I have seen in recent years working with hundreds of new grads. They are not wanting to talk about careers.

Then it came to me. What about "Sustainability of Self"? I passed it by my husband. What would you think if we talked about the future that way? Would this be better or am I just giving in to teen rebellion?

Here's what I discovered once I tested it on my teens, their friends and some new college grads - "Sustainability" is a good word to use with young people when talking about the future! They know what it means. They see it everywhere. In fact, they talk about it in the context of the environment and the globe, so why not use it to convey the concept of a profession? We know that this generation can expect multiple careers in a lifetime, so why not a new principle or a new metaphor?

My daughter, who is the C.R.O (Chief Recycling Officer) in our house, thinks it is a good approach. She would much rather have a conversation about future "Sustainability of Self" than talk about her future career or job.

I introduced the concept on Twitter and my Tweet buddy, Zach Smith, who writes The Capacity Evolution Blog, thougth the principle was good and we could extend it to: "Sustainability of Family" and "Sustainability of Community".

I like those!

What do you think? Where else could we go with that? Can you use the concept talking to new grads this year who are struggling with this job market!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Are you Kidding Yourself in Your Career?

Check out these 6 ways you could be kidding yourself in your career from CAREEREALISM.

After reading the article, I was wondering if people were really kidding themselves or just choosing an option that makes them feel better. Is that kidding one's self or just wanting to be positive?

Bookmark CAREEREALISM if you haven't yet! Their blog is really a good resource.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Body Language can Bury you in the Job Interview

A UCLA study showed that up to 93% of communication effectiveness is determined by nonverbal cues. Author, Alton Barbour, author of Louder Than Words: Nonverbal Communication, states that the impact of a message is 7% verbal, 38 % percent vocal ie. volume, pitch, rhythm, etc and 55% is about body movement, mostly in the form of facial expressions.

If you are job hunting, you should know that hiring managers and interviewers spend a lot of time interpreting body language in the job interview. Some interviewers are actually masters at the body-language game. They can spot fear through hunched shoulders, rapid or really slow speech and disinterest in a job seeker’s slouch.

Here are some of the body language issues to watch for in the job interview:

- Not making eye contact with the recruiter or interviewer or looking only at one interviewer if you are in a panel interview.
- Weak handshake
- Slouching or hanging over the arm of the chair might tell your interviewer that you don’t really care. Maintaining an arrogant posture, leaning back in a matter-of-fact way might indicate some arrogance.
- Gesticulating wildly and relying on your hands to do all the talking. Resting your hands in your lap or on the arms of the chair is good.
- Fidgeting with tight or ill fitting clothing such as trying to close the gap between buttons on a tight blouse or pulling down uncomfortable pants.
- Scratching head, hair, skin or other body parts are a no-no.

These body language no-no’s can be a real turn off to recruiters in the job interview. The worse part is that the job seekers may not even be aware of how they are missing opportunities.

Job seekers should create a quick checklist with these and other points and practice the job interview with someone who will critique them honestly. Another way to check on your body language turn-offs is to set up a camera to record your movements. Work on eliminating any negative messages you might be transmitting through your body language.

As you watch your own body language and movements in the job interview, also watch those of the recruiter.

-Is your panel interviewer at the end of the table falling asleep?
-Is anyone yawning from your stories?
-Is the interviewer texting under table?
-Are they working on other projects?
-Are they eating during the phone interview?
-Are they taking calls that they did not say would be coming in?
-Are they leaving in the middle of the interview again without saying they would?

I have actually seen or heard of recruiters doing all these things in job interviews. Not only is this bad recruiter behavior, and rude to the job seeker, it is also very distracting to an already nervous candidate.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Is the Recession Changing How Companies Hire?

A new article in The Economist magazine says - Yes!

Here are just four of the ways that this global recession is impacting hiring practices per this article. It could impact the job search strategy you execute moving forward.

1. Screening now and making offers but not to start working until next year or sometime after the recession ends. Companies want to be ready to ramp up when things turn around. Look for employers to defer start dates, "giving them six months or a year to travel or do public service."

2. More companies are hiring freelancers, contractors and part time help. This eliminates the costs associated with full time benefits. Many new college grads, including MBA's have to be satisfied for now with temporary work assignments.

3. Companies are pulling back on the perks they use to offer to attract the best and the brightest. With much talent in the marketplace, employers realize they don't need to offer the same incentives.

4. Less opportunities are now available for international students who thought they would be able to get lucrative job offers after graduation from US schools. Many companies are looking at local talent first.

Read the entire article here.

What changes are you seeing in recruiting at your company?

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Scoring Points in the Second Interview

If you or someone you know are in the Class of 2009 or, heaven forbid, in the Class of 2008 and have not yet landed a job, check out these tips on how to succeed in the second or third interview. In today's economy, not many people are really landing the job on the first round of interviews. Companies are taking their time to get to know candidates and make the right choice. More and more people I know are going to second and third round job interviews and still not landing the job.

The HBCU Career Center has compiled a list of tips to succeed on the second or third round job interview.

Here are the highlights:

1. Know your schedule. You may meet with several people on a site visit and so you should understand your interview timeline.

2. Stay conservative with dress. You may have to survive a meal with employers and so keep business professional attire in mind for dinner situations.

3. Have questions prepared about not just the job, but the industry as well.

4. Brush up on meal etiquette for second and third round interviews.

5. Be courteous to everyone you meet on the visit; from hotel staff to administrative staff at the interview site.

6. Be cautious about how you interact with recent hires who recently graduated from your alma mater. Stay professional.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Is your Career Going the Way of the Pontiac!

(Photo is courtesy of General Motors)

General Motors is saying goodbye to the Pontiac! It was a good car, a faithful car but no longer has a place within the mission of the organization in this very competitive market place. It is a sad end for one of America's well known "muscle car" brands.

This fantastic photo of the Pontiac in it's hey day made me wonder, if cars could speak, would Pontiacs everywhere say they saw it coming?

Of course we all know that Pontiacs can't speak, but how would the GM employees who worked on the Pontiac answer the same question? Could they say that they saw it coming?

My question today is - Can you tell if your job or career is moving towards obsolescence? If it is what can you do about it?

As employers continue to down size and right size for our new economic realities, so must employees. Here are some tips to consider if you think your job or assignment might be on the chopping block or you are dealing with other recession career issues:

1. Do not put too much stock in what others say. Evaluate the situation for yourself and use your own good judgment. Remember it was only the end of last year when GM's management said that if they did not receive financial help from the government that jobs would be lost. Guess what? Jobs are still going to be lost. In fact, In addition to terminating the Pontiac brand, GM also announced they were eliminating 21,000 more jobs before the end of 2010.

2. Start scanning the environment and building new job skills that are in demand. Look inside your existing company and then look inside your industry as a whole. Learn about the direction of your industry and where you fit.

3. Make an effort to connect with and support other people. Our tendency sometimes is to think we are alone in our job or career anxiety. This is not true. There are others in the same boat and creating a network of supporters is one way to advance.

4. Act for the present, but stay focused on the future. Remember, your goal should not necessarily be loyalty to company, but lifelong employability.

5. Manage your workplace stress. Employees are facing unbelievable levels of workplace stress during these challenging economic times. Many workers are stressed by extra assignments, workplace bullies who are acting up, declining retirement funds and worries about whether or not their jobs will withstand the next round of budget cuts. Getting a handle on workplace stress is a must!

Of course there are no guarantees that even if you do all the right things, you won't be downsized. However, take the time to manage your own career. No one else can do that for you.

Do you have any tips to share about a job or career that could be approaching obsolescence?

Friday, April 3, 2009

Workplace Bullies Are Acting up During the Recession

Dr. Bertice Berry, sociologist and author calls them “internal terrorists." Workplace bullies, Berry says, "are people who don't understand their own purpose or potential, and because they don't, they try to destroy the purpose and potential of someone else. They would make things wrong to prove that they are right.”

Have you seen workplace bullies in action recently? Seems some people have.

If you have to deal with workplace bullies at the office, you mostly chalk it up to one of the annoyances of the job and not let it affect your work. In some cases when it turns into a you-go-or-I-go situation, some people do walk away from the office, the department or the company. You know the old cliché – people don’t leave jobs they leave managers and the people they work with. Well that is easier said than done when there are more people than available jobs.

It is becoming the you-go-before-I-go .

That was the essence of the conversation by the couple in the check-out line behind me at Trader Joe’s yesterday! One shopper was telling the other about the undue pressure she was feeling from an office bully who was intimidating newer staff to push them out. She stated that this bully was telling junior staff about positions in other departments for which they should apply. The bully had apparently gone so far as to tell two newer employees, that she had not been in agreement with them being hired since she knew that they would unnecessarily stress the company financially.

I guess I have been so focused on encouraging folks to stay positive and pay kindness forward, that I wasn’t thinking about workplace bullies who try to intimidate others out of a job in an effort to keep their own.

One of the newer employees was afraid to take the issue to management, for fear it put a spotlight on him as a troublemaker.

It crossed my mind that the person telling the story may have been misreading the situation. Is it really bullying or is someone just strategically trying to manage their own career? Is it an unsophisticated attempt to try the if-you-go-then-maybe-I-don't-have-to-go strategy?

It sounds like the real possibility does exist that in a tight job market, the workplace bully in some people might be rearing it's ugly head.


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

FREE Resume Printing Day at 1600 Fedex Locations

In an effort to help the community and job seekers at large, Fedex is offering free resume printing to customers today only!

Over 1600 Fedex (you may know them as Kinko's) locations will participate.

"We want to help people who need it right now," said spokeswoman Jenny Robertson in a Chicago Tribune article. "We can't give out free food, but we can give away free copies."

Kudos to Fedex! Way to Pay it Forward in a Bad Economy.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Stimulus dollars may end up helping illegal workers

By Franco Ordoñez
Posted: Thursday, Feb. 19, 2009

Some construction jobs created as a result of federal aid could go to illegal immigrants.

Thousands of N.C. jobs and millions in wages created from the federal economic stimulus package could wind up going to illegal immigrants.

Congress stripped language from the $789 billion package that would have required employers to verify the legal status of workers paid with stimulus money.

The White House estimates the package will generate or save an estimated 105,000 jobs in North Carolina over the next two years.

While it's impossible to say definitively how many illegal immigrants will get jobs, multiple studies estimate at least 14percent of the construction labor force is in the U.S. illegally. Experts say actual numbers are likely much higher.

North Carolina could get $1.3billion for highway and school construction, which, based on federal estimates, could mean more than 5,000 jobs for undocumented workers.

“That's not right,” said Jon Holstead, 24, a Charlotte electrician helping to build Salome Church Road Elementary School near Lowe's Motor Speedway. “You have Americans out of work, but you have illegal immigrants coming to work.”

The stimulus package was a popular topic this week at the school construction site where Americans and immigrants work side-by-side. Several immigrants on the project told the Observer they are working without proper legal papers.

A masonry worker, Juan Luis, 28, said Latinos are struggling as much as anyone.

“People say Latinos take our jobs, but no one wants to do the kind of work we do,” he said. “Americans just don't see it that way.”

More than $770 million of the state's stimulus money is expected for roads. A 2006 Observer investigation found illegal immigrants – using Social Security numbers that were fake, stolen or belonging to dead people – working for major N.C. road-building companies. Using a sample of payroll records from large contractors, including Rea Contracting and Blount-Sanford Construction, the newspaper found questionable Social Security numbers for a third of 85 workers.

Observer calls to several road companies were not returned Wednesday.

The unemployment rate in North Carolina was 8.7 percent in December; in South Carolina, 9.5 percent. Last year, S.C. Gov Mark Sanford, who's one of a handful of Republican governors who are considering turning down money from the stimulus package, signed legislation that requires S.C. businesses to verify immigration status. North Carolina has no such law or policy.

The House of Representatives included an amendment in the original stimulus bill that would have required all recipients of stimulus money to use E-Verify, a federal program that checks Social Security numbers. House and Senate negotiators removed the requirement in the final version.

U.S. Rep. John Spratt, a Democrat from York County, S.C., has voted for verification systems and supported the House bill with the E-Verify provision included. But he noted, “I don't think E-Verify should be made mandatory until it is made accurate and reliable.”

Supporters of E-Verify acknowledge errors but say the program still effectively identifies illegal immigrants.

“Would it keep out every illegal? No,” said Steven Camarota, research director for the Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington think tank that advocates stronger immigration enforcement. “Like in anything, is there going to be fraud? Sure. … The point is this could be an important tool to deter illegal employment.”

Although they voted against the overall stimulus package, local GOP legislators such as Rep. Sue Myrick, supported keeping verification in the bill.

The office of Rep. Patrick McHenry, a Cherryville Republican, said he joined other Republicans in a letter disagreeing with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which recommended not including E-Verify in the stimulus package.

Sen. Richard Burr, a Winston-Salem Republican, said in a statement: “E-Verify is an important tool to help us enforce laws already on the books, and it is unfortunate the Senate was not given an opportunity to vote on the provision.”

Opponents of E-Verify says it would hinder the economic recovery.

In a recent statement, the Immigration Policy Center, a pro-immigrant research group, said E-Verify is “deeply flawed and ensnares American job-seekers in database errors, adds to the costs incurred by employers required to use it, and does not actually prevent undocumented immigrants from getting jobs.”

The Congressional Budget Office estimated that expanding the federal verification program could cost $17 billion over the next 10 years.

A 2006 study by the Kenan Institute at UNC Chapel Hill estimated that Hispanics poured more than $9 billion a year into the economy even after saving or sending home 20 percent of their income.

The spiraling economy has sent some immigrants back to their home counties. Those who remain are vying for far fewer jobs – often in competition with blue-collar American workers.

During a break from installing fire sprinklers at the Salome Church Road school, Thomas Peck, 29, and Robert Vanderburg, 26, sat in Peck's truck to discuss the economy and their hopes for the stimulus package. Looking over at the Latino masonry workers, they said friends could use some of those jobs.

“The more immigrants come over here the less jobs we have,” Vanderburg said. “They come and work for $6 or $7 an hour. An American needs $15 to $16 to get by.”