Archive: December, 2009
Karen Huller, a former recruiter who now owns her own consulting firm, asked an interesting question at recent meeting of My Career Transitions, a huge networking group that meets at Villanova University.
She asked how many people in the audience (well over 100) had had the opportunity in their past jobs to interview job candidates. Two-thirds of them raised their hands! That allowed them to give each other extra insight about some of the standard and sometimes annoying questions that hiring managers ask during a job interview.
One question that comes up is "Why should I hire you?" Some people said that they had used the question to allow the job candidate to summarize the entire interview and his qualifications in a quick bullet format.
More about holiday job searching. Here's some advice from Duncan Mathison, a career consultant and author of "Unlock the Hidden Job Market: Six Steps to a Successful Job Search When Times are Tough."
Mathison makes the point about early new year hiring even more strongly than I did in the last post. Managers who see their reports struggling under heavy workloads caused by layoffs are probably asking about adding headcount. If they get the go-ahead, they'll go. The trick is to catch that wave now so you can surf into a start date in January.
So, he said, if you do talk to someone at your target companies ask about plans for next year. Don't be put off by vague discussion of more cuts. What matters is whether your function is being added. Ask about the employer's plans for the coming year. Is there a new product to launch or a new market to open? Is there a new emphasis on quality or some other corporate initiative? Try to find out. Sometimes it's a secret, but other times, it is simply a matter of nobody asking the question. What's you know, see how you can respond. (Maybe you'll be the answer to some company's new year's resolution!)
In today’s Philadelphia Inquirer, I wrote about the
I read your article in the Inquirer about the meeting the local leaders held yesterday and can’t help but feel cynical. Why are we still asking questions about how to create local, or for that matter, national jobs?
Today President Obama will be hosting a jobs forum to gather ideas on job creation. He's going to be in for some rough waters if a study by Rutgers University's John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development is any indication. In polling done this time last month, only 43 percent think President Obama has done a good or excellent job handling the economy. Others, 51 percent, rate President Obama's performance as only fair or bad. Most of those polled, 84 percent, say it's a bad time to find a good job with 53 percent believing that we are still in a recession. Another 29 percent say it is a depression. Half say this a temporary turn of events, but nearly the same number say there are fundamental and lasting changes in the nation's economy.
The President may not be able to garner support for a second stimulus package. Of those polled, 69 percent said the nation can't afford more debt for another package, regardless of the shape of the economy. Only one in four said that a stimulus package is worth adding debt.
Our survey reflects the growing impatience and frustration of American workers about a recession that has lasted nearly two years," said Carl E. Van Horn, a co-author of the study, the director of the center and a professor of public policy. "The President and Congress face a very difficult dilemma. American workers want more jobs, but they do not want the government to borrow more money to pay for programs or tax cuts that might generate them."
The holidays are coming up and it may be tempting to slow up job hunting, but this is actually the time to kick it into high gear. That was the advice of moderators at a recent session of My Career Transitions, a huge networking group for those who are unemployed or who are simply looking for a change. The holidays give you an excuse to send an individual greeting to all the people in your network, including those with whom you have had networking coffees or lunches. You can update on your job search and what else you've been doing.
Also, don't miss a chance to socialize at neighborhood parties, or any kind of gathering that comes up in your personal life. When you get to these events, don't be shy about talking about your job search and what you can offer. Don't monopolize the conversations, but make sure that you connect with people. These are people who already know you, but they may not know what you can do or that you need help.
Besides the obvious networking excuses the holidays provide, the moderators noted that some hiring tends to happen in January when budgets open. That means the interviewing process could be happening now.
Maybe you saw my article in yesterday's Philadelphia Inquirer about the potential end of the COBRA subsidy for the unemployed. I'd like to clue you into a website that may help you if you get into a jam. The Foundation for Health Coverage for Education has an excellent website that can give guidance about various government-funded health coverage plans, including plans for children.
Just to recap briefly: An unemployed person can purchase health insurance through his former employer, paying 102 percent of the premium. That insurance is known as COBRA coverage. In February, when President Obama signed the stimulus act, it included a provision that the government would pick up 65 percent of the premium for nine months. The first people who got that subsidy when it started on March 1 are now finishing the nine months. That's a big problem, because typical COBRA premiums run around $1,100 a month. Average monthly unemployment benefits are about $1,300.
There is some action in Washington to extend the subsidy.
Lots of us are probably polishing off the last of the Thanksgiving leftovers -- and here's one more. The idea of "thankfulness" at work. As someone who writes a lot about unemployment, of course I am thankful that I have my job. Because I meet so many unemployed people, I know a job is something you can't take for granted. At the same time, I don't mean the kind of thanks that is groveling -- I mean a genuine appreciation for those around me.
My personal philosophy has to do with appreciation -- and it turns out that there is an author who agrees. The author is Liz Jazwiec and the book is called "Eat that Cookie! Make Workplace Positivity Pay Off... For Individuals, Teams and Organizations." Ordinarily a book with this kind of title awakens my inner retching, but I'm going to go with the idea.
In general, I think that the days go better when we appreciate those around us -- whether they are customers, co-workers, bosses or underlings. The cynical part says that gratitude increases production and it probably does. But I'm strictly being selfish. I prefer to have a pleasant day. Not that I don't get angry or disappointed at stuff that happens I work. Lord knows I do. But, I prefer, if possible, to combat all the nonsense at work and from some people I encounter with pleasantness and gratitude. It's like creating a "niceness" shield to keep annoyances and downright meanness from splattering my spirit.