Career Calling

October 31, 2014

Fright Night and Jack-o-lanterns

 

To celebrate Halloween, I want to have a little fun and post some photos I took while walk through Andersonville earlier this week. I also urge you to read this poem by William Butler Yeats, “All Souls Night,” which Juan Cole posted on his Informed Comment website. Have a very spooky evening.

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October 25, 2014

Does a Problem Go away if You Stop Talking about It?

 

Laura Clawson of Daily Kos reports on New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s take on the minimum wage. According to the governor, the minimum wage and income inequality are only problems because Democrats keep talking about these subjects. Christie thinks that more “opportunity” is the real solution to what plagues the U.S. He refers to President Obama as a “class warrior.”

In my view, Christie is the one playing politics. He is a leading contender for the GOP presidential nomination in 2016, and he is now on the trail campaigning for other Republican candidates. The issue of the minimum wage is political, but it is also about people’s lives. It’s a fact that most working people and those in the middle class have fallen further and further behind since 2008. “Opportunity” works well for the investor class and corporate executives. For everyone else, income and benefits have been problems. Not talking about the problem won’t make it go away.

October 23, 2014

Annual Warning about the Hiring Season

 

Every year I like to remind readers that the annual dip is coming in the hiring season. Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, hiring tends to slow. Companies still hire, especially those who need to put an employee in place quickly. However, some companies will put hiring decisions off until the new year. Others will hire more slowly because of vacations and time off related to the season.

Am I saying you should stop looking for a job during this period? Absolutely not. Keep looking, but do so with the proper expectations. You will probably see fewer job postings that interest you. That’s the bad news. The good news is that your competition will often stop looking for work because they think no one gets hired during the holidays.

Companies that need to hire will do so. Keep looking. You might be in for a holiday surprise: a new job.

 

October 19, 2014

Raise the Minimum Wage – Lower the Deficit

 

Conservatives carp about Americans who “depend on the government.” What they don’t say is that most of these people are working. Between an unlivable minimum wage and jobs that offer less than 40 hours, they qualify for government programs to support with food, housing, and medical care. They aren’t living lives of luxury.

Who really benefits from this system? Large corporations and the investor class who rely on working people to underwrite the subhuman salaries they pay. Laura Clawson of Daily Kos explains how raising the minimum wage would help workers while lowering the deficit. Meanwhile, in Wisconsin, Governor Scott Walker says, says we shouldn’t talk about the minimum wage because it’s not a real issue. Is the family where both parents work two jobs just to get by a real issue?

Democrats are far from perfect, but they’re the best bet working people and the middle class have in this new age of Robber Barons and the slaves they have representing them in federal, state, and local government. There is nothing conservative about rigging the system to make the wealthiest even richer. We need a wealth tax.

 

October 18, 2014

Why Is interviewing So Hard?

 

Clients often come to me to help with interview preparation. In almost every case, they express anxiety about the process. This is true of young people starting their career and senior level professionals. What’s behind this concern? Practice. We do our jobs every day and are confident we can do them. Depending on how long we have been with an employer and how long it takes to find a job, a person could go on just a few interviews over span of years or decades. Confident professionals are often terrified to go on job interviews.

Interviewing is a skill, and, like any skill, it takes practice. Imagine if you played golf or pool or bowling (individual sports). If you played that sport on a regular basis, you would know your level of skill. We are anxious when we interview because we do it so infrequently. If you were a good golfer, but hadn’t picked up your clubs for ten years, you would approach the first tee with anxiety. The same principle holds true in interviewing.

What can you do to be calmer? First, practice your skills. Focus on building a dialogue with the interviewer and demonstrating your strengths. Another cause of anxiety at job interviews is the mistaken belief that a job interview is like a test. Applicants are so worried about how they word an answer and giving the “best” answer that qualified people make themselves sound like they can’t do the job. Listen to what the interviewer is saying, and engage in a conversation. That will help calm things down. The most important thing you can do to be calm at an interview is to know your strengths and present them in a way that makes the employer want to hire you.

Interviewing is never easy. But, if you practice the right way, it can be less stressful.

October 17, 2014

A New Trend in Job Posts

 

I often ask clients to give me 5-10 posts for the kind of jobs they will apply for. I use these lists to determine requirements, key words, and related information. Over the past few months, I’ve noticed something that I haven’t seen for a while. Employers are highlighting compensation and benefits.

Below is an example I copied from a job post a client gave me earlier this week:

“The starting salary starts at $65,000 based on your skills, education and experience, but our client has indicated they will pay more for candidates with exceptional background.

Full benefits include medical, dental, Rx, STD, LTD, life, AD&D, vision, a matching 401k plan, credit union, PTO, holidays, vacation, free parking, fitness center, great discount on all merchandise and more”

What does this mean? It probably means that employers are finding it harder to get good employees, which also means that they’re more likely to offer bigger raises to retain employees they have and want to keep. If you’re unhappy at your current job or if it’s been a while since your last raise, this might be a good time to update your resume and start a new job search.

October 15, 2014

Jimmy Johns Has Lost My Business

 

I like Jimmy Johns’ sandwiches, but I will never eat them after what I learned today. Why? They treat their employees badly. Raw Story reports (based on a story from Huffington Post) that every employee who works for the company signs a non-compete agreement that would prevent them from working for an sandwich maker for two years. I’ve written about non-compete agreements before. Once upon a time they were a tool used to keep key performers from jumping to competitors. Those employees usually received some kind of compensation that would let them wait out the term of the agreement. Now companies like Jimmy Johns are using non-compete agreements to make it difficult for employees to leave their job. That’s wrong. I will never at Jimmy Johns again

October 14, 2014

Repeating the Error of the 1920s?

 

Huffington Post reports that inequality in the U.S. is at a wider point than it has been since the Great Depression. Does this mean that we’re on the way to a new crash? I hope not. HuffPo points to the popularity of Thomas Piketty as a reason for hope. The problem I see is that too many Americans have been trained to think all taxes are bad. The super-rich and large corporations have used their lawyers and lobbyists to game the tax system. I don’t see any way that will change any time soon. Americans are too easily distracted by “crisis” stories like Ebola and ISIS. Income inequality affects all of us, especially those under 35. Maybe a crash is the only thing that will wake up Americans.

October 11, 2014

Los Angeles Debates a Living Wage

 

The website 24/7 Wall Street reports that the Los Angeles City Council is debating a raise in the minimum wage that would bring the wage to $13.25 in 2017 and $15.25 by 2019. Critics says this measure would cost jobs. The problem with that claim is that the wage will be phased in over 5 years. If a business cannot adapt in that time period, that company is not viable. The report also said that companies in L.A. might move to nearby communities with lower minimum wages. There’s a simple solution to that problem: raise the national minimum wage. America needs a raise.

October 10, 2014

Give Yourself a Break

 

I was on a tight deadline for three projects yesterday. A client called to cancel an hour long session. At first, I said this was great because it gave me more time to work. Then I looked out the window and saw a sunny beautiful day. I put on my coat and took a walk for about half an hour. Could I have spent that time working? Sure. But I also know that in a month it will be a lot colder. In two months, I will probably be shoveling snow.

What’s my point? Take some time to do what makes you happy. Even with my break, I met all of my deadlines and still got to spend some time enjoying the sun. Plan your time well, and find a way to do something that makes you happy. Life’s too short to let it be all work and worry.

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