Archive for February, 2010

Online resources for jobhunters (2)

February 25, 2010

Continuing to evaluate the most popular websites for jobhunters as identified by the Department of Labor, I checked out Susan Ireland’s YouTube Playlists.

What a goldmine!  Susan Ireland, known for her expertise in resumes, and author of books and software on the topic, appears in numerous short snippets, each discussing a piece of the resume puzzle.  I know you are interested in the topic – my own resume thoughts, written over a year ago, are still the most frequently visited posts in this blog.

Ireland speaks directly to the viewer in a gentle, understated way.  She covers conventional wisdom about resumes and cover letters, and also branches out into challenges for jobhunters in 2010.  I loved exploring these postings. Her style is warm and low-key, and it felt as though I were having a private consultation.

Along with usual topics on the length, format, hard copy versus e-resumes, and where to put education, the postings that I found the most informative were:

  • the use of urls in your resume and cover letter, including cautions,
  • a discussion of references and how to present this information,
  • what to do when a former employer has gone out of business.

It seems to me that Ireland’s sharing of her expertise is what the internet is about.  I don’t believe that everyone finds a job online.  But information abounds, and I strongly urge you to refer to Ireland’s playlist when revising your resume.  You will be glad you did.

Online resources for jobhunters (1)

February 21, 2010

Recently, the Department of Labor polled 16,000 people on their favorite online resources in looking for a job.  The DOL has released its top ten sites, and I plan to visit each of them and summarize a few that I find unusual and easy to use.  For a complete list, you can go to www.careeronestop.org/jobseekertools.

I’m interested in Greenjobs.pro.  I don’t really know much about it, but I’ve got several clients working on it now.  It looks easy to use, and so for minimal effort, you can get your credentials out there where someone might be looking.  Do you have any experience with Greenjobs?  I’d love to read a comment from someone who has used this site.

If you have a useful online resource, feel free to share that reference with us in the comment section.  We can all use a new source of information or job openings.

Androcles revisited: a tale of networking

February 17, 2010

Remember Androcles?  According to Aesop’s fable, a slave named Androcles escaped into the forest, where he encountered an injured lion.  Androcles approached the lion, who held out a paw with a huge thorn, which the man removed.  The lion took Androcles to his cave and brought him meat every day.

The pair was captured, and Androcles was sentenced to death in the arena, to be eaten by (you knew this) a lion.  When the lion came charging out at his prey, he recognized his friend and licked his hand.  Whereupon, Androcles was freed and they all lived happily ever after.

I recently met  the newly-hired director of a regional arts center, whose story reminds me of Androcles.  Eric certainly has the qualifications for the job: he’s an established artist, has curated shows, and has previously worked in a government-funded arts organization.  He’s charming, determined, a great communicator, and enthusiastic about his field.  But so are many others, all of whom are his competition for jobs.  How on earth did he stand out?

I asked him to tell me about the extensive interview process, and this is his story:

At the end of the final interview, which was conducted by a panel, a woman said, “You don’t remember me, do you?” Eric acknowledged that he did not.  The woman reminded him that twenty years ago, she had contacted him at his previous position for advice for her husband, also an artist.  Eric gave her some information, a few leads, and followed up with a phone call on the husband’s behalf.  Eric had totally forgotten until she mentioned it, because after all, that’s what he did on that job.

He may have forgotten, but the woman and her husband never did.  They felt that he had given them leads to the break that established a new career in the arts.

Twenty years later, that woman was in a hiring position.

This absolutely true story, in snowy February, 2010, seems to me to be a modern telling of the old fable, illustrating a basic truth.  Generosity, competence, and sharing will never go out of style.  And sometimes they open doors to great things, even if it takes twenty years.  Congratulations, Eric.  You definitely deserve this job.

Evil snow bosses: what are they thinking?

February 12, 2010

I’ve been inquiring among friends, colleagues and clients about their experiences  during this snowy week in the Washington DC area.

The positive responses:

  • happy to be home, catching up on sleep and family time,
  • catching up on work projects that needed attention and thought,
  • using the time to network,
  • working on income taxes,
  • enjoying the telecommuting experience as it was meant to be,
  • staying in touch with colleagues, having phone meetings.

The negative responses:

  • having to take annual leave because they couldn’t get to work,
  • knowing that they won’t be paid because they are contractors,
  • feeling under intense pressure to show up because they don’t have enough leave,
  • being unable to telecommute because the boss doesn’t believe in it,
  • forced to take a seriously-curtailed public transportation because their cars are buried,
  • already unemployed and unable to pursue the job search because no one’s there.

Just today I heard about someone whose boss absolutely forbids telecommuting (and the job is totally compatible with the concept).  She took public transportation to work and it took four hours.  When she signed in, she was told she would be docked pay because she was late to work.

Honestly!  Bosses, lighten up! You used to be human once, but someone gave you hearts of stone in some weird transplants.  Do you want a loyal team?  Try trusting your people a bit more.  Writers can write at home.  Analysts can analyze.  Designers can design.  Accountants can count.

Yes, there are jobs that cannot be done at home.  Sales, security, facilities maintainance, drivers… must be there.  They should be hailed as heroes for their efforts to be on the job.

But for the rest?  Grow up, bosses.  Compassion, flexibility, and understanding will help you build a team that will do you proud.

Feel free to share any snowstorm stories about your workplace.

It seems to me that a person who spends half the workday getting there deserves some credit for the effort expended.  A warm smile and welcome would surely go down better than a reminder that a penalty in pay will result.

In the twenty-first century, I would have thought that we were a bit more evolved in our thinking.  The benefits of some work getting done at home – on time – by valued employees should be obvious, but it is not.

Snow job in the best sense of the words

February 8, 2010

Welcome to the winter wonderland that is Maryland.  I’ve been snowed in for three days now, and  another snowstorm is in sight.  Lots of opportunity for complaining, kvetching, being grateful (very grateful) that I have heat and basic supplies.

And oh yes, an experience that I thought was gone by now.  Yesterday afternoon, there was a hearty knock at the door, and there stood two teen-agers I didn’t know.  They offered to shovel my sidewalk and dig out my car.  We negotiated a price – believe it or not, their initial quote was too low and I made them raise it a bit.

My husband and I are not young, nor do we relish hurting our backs by shoveling out the 25 inches of snow on the flat surfaces and the drifts left by a plow that dwarf our car (not kidding).  And I have a broken foot and a cast to keep dry, along with the order from the orthopedist who said, “Don’t fall.”  So the thought of paying a couple of kids became more and more appealing.  Deal.

I watched them through the half of my window that wasn’t obscured by a drift.  They really worked.  No gloves, no hats – ah, youth.  They dug, tossed, dug, tossed.  And finished the job in about half an hour.  We paid them, thanked them, told them to come back after the next storm.  Little did I know that might be this week.

My thoughts:

  • There are kids who are willing to work,
  • We need to pay people fair wages,
  • As we get older, we need to give up the illusion that we can do everything we used to do,
  • They smiled as they worked because they were having fun,
  • They reminded me that it was a beautiful day.

So thank you, Sabrina and Chris.  You are a hopeful symbol of tomorrow’s workers: you seized the moment, struck a fair deal, and delivered excellent service.  It looked like you were having fun, performing a service, making some money, being together, getting a workout.  You seem like winners to me.