Archive: August, 2009
One of the first positive signs of a recovering job market will be an increase in temporary hiring. Before employers commit to building their own workforces, they'll hedge their bets by bringing on temps. This is particularly true now as more and more companies try to avoid employees all together by using as large a contingent workforce as possible.
That's why this most recent report from American Staffing Association is good news. It charts an increase in temporary hiring every week starting July 6. Here's the caveat: Temporary employment always rises at this time of year, the association says. But this year's rise is more robust.
Last year, in 2008, temporary staffing increased for four consecutive weeks. Now it's been up for six consecutive weeks and the association's index, which puts together a bunch of factors, is up four points. Last year, it was up two points. The Association says that temporary staffing is a three-month leading indicator of nonfarm employment. Let's hope that's the case. We'd be happy to take increased employment as the perfect holiday present.
When you begin your phone interview, try to get the name and title of the interviewer and write it down. That way, you can refer to it throughout the interview (people likes to hear their names -- that's what Dale Carnegie, the dean of influencing others advises). You may also be able to write a post-interview thank you note or email if you've also managed to get contact info.
You should "tickle interviewers' interest" by answering most of their questions, but give them a reason to meet you in person for the tough questions, advises Brenda Fabian, director of career services at Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove, Pa. "Tell the interviewer that you can better answer that question in person, and ask to set up a meeting to better explain your qualifications. Decide beforehand which questions can best be put off. You can use this tactic two or three times in the same conversation, if you are comfortable with it."
Remember, says Cynthia Favre, director of career management at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota, a key goal of the phone interview is to advance to an in-person interview. "As the call winds to a close, tell the interviewer you think you can better discuss your qualifications in person and suggest a day and time you can be at their office."
If you are unemployed, you need to get your family involved in this very important aspect of the job hunt. They need to be on your side when it comes to a phone interview. Dogs barking, doorbells ringing, babies crying, music in the background, the laugh track from the television, pots and pans clanking -- all these are not good. When you get a phone interview, figure on a quick signal to alert everyone in your home. People (not you) should rush around turning off things and ditching the dog. (Don't ditch the baby, but try to have someone else take care of your young kids, even if it is Big Bird in another room.) Someone should hang a pre-made sign on the door that urges guests not to ring the doorbell. You should retreat, calmly, to a private room, if possible, and close the door.
This room should already be set up for this purpose -- meaning that you have already located the phone, figured out where you'll set or stand, and put a job-hunting folder in a convenient place near the phone so you can find it quickly. Think whether you need a clipboard. Practice rehearsing this, so it goes smoothly. Maybe someone can call you so you can try it all out. Pick awkward times, like 3:15 when everyone is rushing in the door after school, or when you are in the middle of cooking dinner. It's like a fire drill!
If you know the interview is coming, it wouldn't hurt to print out some kind of notes about the place and place it in a folder. I'm thinking about the kind of folder that has two pockets, one on each side. Make sure the folder has some blank paper and a pen that works for taking notes.
More and more job recruiting begins with a phone interview. The good news is that you don't need a fancy tie (see yesterday's post.) But there are some tips that can help you nail the interview. Remember, these tend to be screening interviews, so if you don't make the cut, you might not get another chance.
First of all, without body language to interpret, phone conversations can be dull. So you've got to make up with that with animated tone. "Smile," suggests Sharon Givier, director of Career Services of Lebanon Valley College in Annville, Pa. "Even if your face is not visible, your enthusiasm is carried through your voice."
"Sit up straight or stand during the call" is the advice from Karen Evans, director of career development at Albright College in Reading. You may even consider putting on interview clothes -- OK, maybe the tie does matter.
I'm constantly stunned (although I'm not sure why) when companies hitch their marketing wagons to the poor sad nag of unemployment. Here's the latest ridiculousness (with my commentary) ...
Here's how the press release begins:
"Unemployment rates are at an all time high, with unemployed Americans finding it extremely hard to find a job and those employed scared to lose the job they have."
Just in case you missed it, there was good news from Jersey last week. In July, private employers added 13,000 jobs, even as public sector employment declined by 7,100 jobs. That bump up was New Jersey's first in 17 months, dating back to January 2008. More amazing news -- manufacturing hiring was up by 3,100 jobs and construction also added jobs, 3,400. Offsetting these jobs were big losses in transportation and trade, 4,500 in all.
Guess what?! Here's a great way to prevent death on the job. Lay off all the workers. Then they won't die at work! Wow, yesterday's U.S. Labor Department's annual report on workplace fatalities was a stunner as the number of workplace fatalities plunged, right along with number of people employed. Unless, of course, you had a job, but fell into enough despair to kill yourself. Workplace suicides rose to a series high of 251 in 2008.
It's the economy, right? You don't have to be a genius to see the connection. You just have to control your temper, or your tears. Just to give you an example, fatal work injuries in construction declined by 20 percent from 2007 to 2008. That has to be a comfort to carpenters, painters and plumbers flipping through the remote at home, because they can't get work. Hope they don't injure their thumbs. I think about all the workers' memorial services I covered, about the wives and mothers I saw sobbing in these poignant ceremonies next to the Delaware River in Philadelphia or on the Boardwalk in Atlantic City. What do you think they think about this news?
In general, transportation accidents kill the largest number of workers nationally, about two-fifths. But those deaths were down. Of course they were down. No need to drive trucks, or buses. In 2008, there were 762 fatalities among transportation and warehouse workers. That's down 14 percent. In truck transportation, deaths declined by 20 percent.
Even if you are middle-class and not used to going to social service agencies that help the poor, don't be too proud to accept help from their job counselors. That's some advice from Gloria Leidel, a longtime job counselor from Goodwill Industries of Southern New Jersey and Philadelphia. Because of their long experience in helping people find jobs, they just might have an idea that you haven't considered. And if the price is free, why not?
Here's an example that Gloria told me when I interviewed her for a Philadelphia Inquirer story on job hunting tips. Click here to read it. She had a client who had been laid off from a welding job. He figured he was doomed -- all he knew was welding. As it turned out, he forgot about a job that he had had years ago in a bakery. That job plus his welding experience allowed her to place him as a bakery MANAGER in a supermarket.
What were this man's assets? An excellent work history. Manual dexterity -- to hold a blow torch or a pastry tube. Perhaps some management experience. Her idea got him a job.