Career Calling

May 15, 2010

Tech Training in Chicago

Filed under: Job Search Strategies,job search tools — claycerny @ 12:30 am
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Today’s Chicago Tribune reports on a technical training program that is middle class professionals like teachers and bankers.  Chicago Career Tech is a public-private partnership for people who have earned between $25,000 and $75,000 per year.

To read the article, click here.

To learn more about the program, follow this link.

October 9, 2009

Saving Jobs – At What Cost?

Filed under: Job Market Trends — claycerny @ 7:03 pm
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Unions representing employees at the Chicago Sun-Time Media Group have agreed to concessions that will allow a group led by James Tyree to purchase the company.  As a reader of the Sun-Times, I am happy.  As someone who cares about working people, I’m sick.

Once again, unions have cut a devil’s bargain to save a company in the name of saving jobs.  In this case, they will argue that Tyree’s group made concessions, which they did.  But let’s consider the agreement and its long term consequences for employees.

320 members of the Newspaper Guild accepted a 15% compensation cut for three years as well as a move from a pension plan to a 401K.  Severance was also cut from 50 weeks to 8 (which will drop to 4 weeks for some employees).  Seniority will no longer be a factor in deciding what employees are laid off, which means longer term workers with higher salaries will be targets for future layoffs. 

If an employee is making $50,000 a year, she will lose $7,500 under this agreement in direct compensation along with whatever pension contributions will not be rolled into the 401K.  Total lost compensation over the next three years for this employee will be over $20,000.  How will that income be made up?  How will an employee that is losing this much income be able to contribute to a 401K?  In the short term and long term, this deal looks bad.

I understand that the newspaper industry is contracting and that jobs in journalism and related fields are almost impossible to find.  If I were working at the Sun-Times, would I take this deal and be happy to have a job?  Maybe.  The deeper question, however, goes beyond individual concerns.  Workers are sacrificing to make businesses viable and profitable.  What is their return for this investment?  Are the employees subsidizing the corporation to keep jobs that offer less pay and almost no security?

James Tyree is quoted in yesterday’s paper: “I have a singular focus to create success for everybody. . . . I’m looking forward to an opportunity where tears can turn into laughter and success.”  I don’t remember what Glenn Tilton said after employees at United Airlines gave deep concessions to keep the company afloat.  What happened once United came out of bankruptcy?  Executives took a bonus.

My best wishes go to Mr. Tyree and the Sun-Times.  Looking at the terms of the agreement, I can’t imagine most workers at the paper laughing any time soon.  They kept their jobs, but the question lingers – At what cost?

October 3, 2009

Small, But Strong

Filed under: Job Market Trends — claycerny @ 11:37 pm
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The September issue of Inc. magazine lists the 500 fastest growing private companies in the U.S.  Here’s the really good news: 22 of those companies are located in Chicago or its suburbs.  Entrepreneurs in the Midwest and throughout America are designing new products and inventing new business models.  As some of these business grow (and spin off other businesses), the job market will come back.  In the meantime, look for growing companies when you’re seeking a new employer.  They have learned how to thrive in this economy, and it is safe to assume that they will get stronger in the near future.

September 16, 2009

Your Tax Dollars at Work

Filed under: Job Search Strategies — claycerny @ 1:44 am
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The Illinois Department of Employment Security offers more services than unemployment insurance.  IDES has many web-based resources that can be helpful in your job search.  Here are some links:

Sites to help veterans

Green Jobs

Help for workers who are 50+

Government Jobs

These are great resources.  If they don’t fit your job search needs, pass them along to someone you know who can use them.

September 2, 2009

Good News amid the Bad

In today’s Chicago Sun Times, a brief article in the “Your Wallet” section noted that online job postings were up 5% in August over July ( p. 20 — I couldn’t find the article online, so no link).  The national increase was 169,000 with 7,600 in Illinois.

This is good news, but not great.  The national rate of people looking for job is 6:1 for every online post.  In Illinois, the ratio is 6:1.  Don’t get depressed.  Read on!

Buried between the good and bad news is a most interesting number:  There are 3.46 million jobs posted on line.  I’m sure some of those are very old and others are for positions filled from inside the employer’s company.  Even so, there are many jobs posted.  Others will be filled through networking or via recruiters.

There are opportunities.  The hard part is finding them.  The key to success?  Keep looking — don’t stop!

August 25, 2009

You Are Not a Statistic

Gail MarksJarvis reports in her On the Money Blog that the job market in Chicago will not return to its pre-recession level until 2014.  This forecast may be true.  It also may be way off the mark (no disrespect meant to MarksJarvis, who is an excellent reporter).

 What concerns me when I read this type of story is the effect it has on job seekers who have lost confidence.  Negative news reinforces the belief that “there are no jobs out there.”  Rather than engage in networking or looking for opportunities to send out resumes, the depressed job seeker goes to Starbucks or sits watching reruns of Andy Griffith.

 I’m not asking the media to give us happy news.  Their job is to report the facts, and the report from Global Insight that MarksJarvis cites is depressing, especially for people in Detroit, where unemployment is over 15%.

 But let’s look beyond the statistics for a minute.  There are still job openings.  Companies like and are still in business.  On a more local level, two of my clients in the last week are pursuing jobs that were recommended by former co-workers.  A video store two blocks south of my office has a help wanted sign in the window.  There are opportunities.  Is this a great job market?  Of course not.  Are employers playing games with salary and benefits? Yes, they are.  Even so, we need to balance on the ground realities against the buzz of 24/7 media.

 Unemployed or employed, we need to practice smart career management.  Start by taking inventory of  skills and experience.  What qualities do we each possess that a potential employer might need?  Who are those employers – what industries and companies?  Do we know anyone who works in those industries or companies?  Is my resume updated?  Have I kept up with my professional network, especially the people who will be my references?

In this bleak job market, each of us has to be ready to look for a job tomorrow (if not today).  Our boss and their boss own the jobs we currently hold.  Their actions – like the economy – our beyond our control.  We have a great deal of control over how we look for work, how active we are in seeking new opportunities. 

 We need to treat our careers as our business – the business we have to own.