Career Calling

September 30, 2014

Robert Reich Connects the Dots

 

Poor kids are falling behind in more ways than one. Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich examines how educational outcomes have grown wider between the richest and poorest children. He notes that race is not the defining factor because that gap is closing. The widening gap is between rich and poor, regardless of race. Reich points out that local educational funding is based on property taxes. The richest districts fund their schools at twice the rate of the poorest.

Reich ends his article with these words:

“We’re requiring all schools meet high standards, requiring students to take more and more tests, and judging teachers by their students’ test scores.

But until we recognize we’re systematically hobbling schools serving disadvantaged kids, we’re unlikely to make much headway.’’

Another way to look at this issue is to use the words of writer Nelson Algren: “The game is fixed.”

How can America be a land where all have equal opportunity if the children of the most wealth are educated in schools that have twice the funding of the poorest school? This problem is just a matter of rich and poor. Social mobility is not what it was twenty or forty years ago. Education inequality seems to track income inequality. Land of the free and home of the brave?

 

September 29, 2014

Bad News for Washington Post Retirees

 

The Washington Post has announced changes to its pension plans. Current employees will have to find some way to fund their retirements. What’s worse is what will happen to those who already have retired. Steven Mufson of The Washington Post writes: “The changes will hit hardest at employees hired before 2009 who could plan on receiving pension payments based on their income and years of service. Each of those employees could see scores — or hundreds — of thousands of dollars less over the course of a retirement. More recent hires do not have traditional pension plans.”

I understand that the newspaper business, like other industries, has to adapt to being smaller. A friend of mine who worked for the Chicago Sun-Times had his pension cut. However, if a pension fund was properly funded, why are such cuts necessary? Every time a company or unit of government cuts benefits to retired people, the excuse is one of necessity. What happened to the money that the employees and the company contributed to the fund? Why do retired employees pay the price instead of executives and stockholders? We need to start asking such questions.

Three cheers to Laura Clawson of Daily Kos for informing her readers of this story, which for retirees is more than a story – it’s a tragedy.

September 27, 2014

Talking Your Way Out of a Job

 

Bill Simmons was recently suspended by ESPN for comments he made about NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. Whatever you think about Simmons, Goodell, or any of the players recently suspended by the NFL, here’s the thing to remember: Doing or saying something that hurts your employer’s reputation can lead to being terminated. The same is true of another type of speech: social media. Many people have taken to Facebook or Twitter to be critical of their employer or supervisor. In many states, such action is grounds for dismissal. Be careful before you do something that can put your income at risk.

One more word about Bill Simmons. I often find him funny and sometimes insightful. He is also a good businessman. If ESPN decides to get rid of him, he will have other opportunities. We should all follow his example. Have a Plan B for your career and build a reputation that will make other employers want to hire us.

Talking Your Way Out of a Job

 

Bill Simmons was recently suspended by ESPN for comments he made about NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. Whatever you think about Simmons, Goodell, or any of the players recently suspended by the NFL, here’s the thing to remember: Doing or saying something that hurts your employer’s reputation can lead to being terminated. The same is true of another type of speech: social media. Many people have taken to Facebook or Twitter to be critical of their employer or supervisor. In many states, such action is grounds for dismissal. Be careful before you do something that can put your income at risk.

One more word about Bill Simmons. I often find him funny and sometimes insightful. He is also a good businessman. If ESPN decides to get rid of him, he will have other opportunities. We should all follow his example. Have a Plan B for your career and build a reputation that will make other employers want to hire us.

September 26, 2014

Why Does Gas Cost so Much?

Filed under: Commentary — claycerny @ 1:18 am
Tags: , , , , ,

 

Reporting in Daily Kos, Meteor Blade compares robbery at gas stations with wage theft in the oil industry. Oil companies lost nearly $57 million in robberies, which was probably covered by insurance. Workers lost $185 million in wage theft. They were not covered by insurance. Blades quotes his colleague Laura Clawson who says that 64% of low wage workers are impacted by wage theft. It makes one wonder why gas prices are so high. Maybe the big oil companies aren’t stealing enough from their workers.

September 25, 2014

HR Managers Recognize the Need for a Minimum Wage

 

According to a national poll of HR managers, the minimum wage needs to be increased. 58% thought the minimum wage should be increased. However, the level of increase varied from $8 to $15. Incredibly, 9% actually said there should be no minimum wage.

What surprises me about this poll is that HR managers haven’t done more to address this problem. Maybe it shows that their opinion doesn’t matter to executives, whose first goal seems to protect their own compensation. As I’ve written in the past, many of my clients who make middle class incomes report not receiving a raise or only incremental raises over the last 6 years. The working poor and middle class are being squeezed like a toothpaste tube that is nearly empty. What will the investor class and the executive class do when there is nothing left in the tube?

Another Way to Identify Potential Employers

 

A client recently told me that he was checking several major job boards for openings. He asked what else he could do. I asked about networking, which he was doing. Then I asked if he was checking the websites of companies he wanted to work for. He wasn’t doing this. Can you assume that the company you want to work for is posting on job boards? Are you looking at the job boards where they are posting?

Checking company websites is also a good way to learn more about your industry. The more you know about your employment market, the easier it is to network and target the best employers. There is no magic trick that will let you find a good job. What work in your most recent job search probably won’t work in the next one. Try to find different ways to look for work. Better still, build the kind of knowledge about your industry that will let you manage a career.

September 22, 2014

The Wrong Way to Leave a Job

 

Charlo Greene, a TV reporter in Alaska, provided a case study for how not to leave a job. Greene told viewers that she was connected to a story about a cannabis club. Then she said that she’d be leaving her position to advocate for marijuana legalization in the state. The problem is her choice of words for her sign off: “F# it, I quit.” The station apologized and said Greene had been terminated. Whatever Greene does in the future, the odds are that she won’t work in TV again. She could have said that she is resigning to be a full time advocate for marijuana legalization. Instead, a moment of emotion burns a professional bridge. Think before you quit. Be professional.

September 21, 2014

Winter as a Motivation for a Job Search

 

I’ve now been working as a resume writer and career coach for 13 years. It’s not unusual to have one or two clients a year tell me they are looking for a job in a warm weather state. Over the last six weeks, I’ve had five clients tell me some version of “I don’t want to spend another winter in Chicago.”

Some people might say weather is no reason to change one’s job, especially in this economy. I disagree. We should work to live, not live to work. Last winter in Chicago was brutal. For the first time since I moved here in 1986, I understood why some people can’t take cold weather and snow anymore. Thinking about our jobs as careers means that we understand them as part of lives. I admire people who are brave enough to make changes that will make them happy. I feel the same way about clients who are changing jobs to earn more money or have better working conditions. They are taking charge of their jobs and their lives. That’s the best kind of motivation.

September 20, 2014

A Simple Way to Understand the Wage Problem

Filed under: Economics — claycerny @ 9:49 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

 

A picture – or a graph – can be worth a thousand words. In a recent blog post, Paul Krugman includes a graph that tracks the wages of U.S. workers from 2007-Present. Between 2009-2010, the average wage of American workers takes a sharp drop. In the years since 2010, wages have remained stagnant. This graph helps us understand why many American remain downbeat despite the “good” news about job growth. Too many people are working hard and running in place – or–worse still – falling behind. As Krugman says, our political leaders don’t get it or don’t care. Hopefully they will wake up before it’s too late.

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