Wednesday, April 29, 2009

a good rule of thumb is

Have you ever had a conversation with yourself that sounded something like this?

Hum… I want to apply for this job position but they are looking for five years experience. I guess if I add up all my time here and all my time there it would count. Let’s see, they are looking for a manager. I wasn’t necessarily a manager but I worked with one often so that’s kinda similar. They are also looking for a candidate that has a college degree, which I have but they would like to hire someone who’s academic focus was in something I only had one class in. I guess I’ll leave it blank and maybe they will assume it’s covered. 

Yikes, this next part says they want the person to do this, this, and that. Arg. I only did one of those things [and actually I didn’t really like it but I love this company and I would really like to work for them] so maybe I will reference my responsibilities in a general way as to associate my experience with what they are looking for. How much did I make at my last job? [I want to make more, I want to make more] I made $75,000. [I made $60,000] They will never know.

Can you count the number of ethical upsets here? Have you been in this position before? Do you even notice anymore when you have a slight shift in the truth? I bet you do. I bet your body notices. I bet no matter if you have altered the truth once or a thousand times, your heart gets a little heavy every time. Listen to that uneasy and awkward feeling friends! Be true to yourself and your future employers. Tell the truth about who you are, what you have done, and what you would like to do.

In Job Search Ethics: Don’t Lie, Deborah S. Hildebrand looks at a survey done by the Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM) on the most common resume lies. Might recognize these from our internal conversation above:

  • Inflated titles
  • Incomplete or inflated degrees
  • Inflated salaries
  • Inflated accomplishments
It’s been hard out there people to get a gig but compromising your integrity folks is not the way to go. We are all being tested right now with slim to none pickins for positions. If a company hires you because you came off more inflated and qualified then you are, that is only going to lead to disappointment on both sides when you really can’t do the job right.

Doing the right thing covers more then just correctly portraying yourself on your resume. There is any number of ethical job search dilemmas out there. In this PDF by Vassar Collage, you can see a couple of different scenarios that can happen to anyone. Proper advice is offered after each inquiry but check it out – what would you do?

This isn’t a one-way street. Employers need to be employing best practices as well. According to the NACE guidelines, as a job seeker, you have the right to expect the following from employers:

  • Confidentiality
  • Accurate information
  • Freedom from undue pressure 
  • Timely communication
  • Fair treatment in the case of changing conditions requiring a revoked job offer
  • Testing information 
  • Nondiscrimination

The flip here is that potential employers are also expecting you to:

  • Provide accurate information 
  • Interview genuinely 
  • Adhere to schedules 
  • Communicate in a timely fashion 
  • Accept job offers in good faith 
  • Withdraw from recruiting when you have accepted a position 
  • Claim fair reimbursement 
  • Obtain the information that you need to make the best career decisions

Job of your dreams = doing the right thing.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

strike while the iron is hot

People, people, people. How the heck are you? Me… I’m good. Thanks for asking. I, like the weather, am making a change. Out with the jobless winter and in with the employed, new spring. Don’t jump ahead of me here. I didn’t get an offer YET but it’s close ~ sooooo close. I can feel it.

For me spring-cleaning is in order. This is no basic clean up job we’re talkin’ here. I am moving! Yup, leavin’ my digs of six plus years and witnessing the mayhem of moving. Not going far ~ only seven or so miles. Where am I going with this topic you ask? Good question. I’ll get there in a sec.

Do you know if you have bad credit landlords can decide not to rent to you? Do you know if you have bad credit Home Depot does not have to extend you a credit card to buy stuff to fix up your new place? Do you know if you have bad credit utility companies will charge you a deposit because you are a financially risky customer? [last one I swear] Do you know that you can get turned down for a job because you have bad credit?!

So you might have known those first three BUT the fact that employers run credit checks on potential employees is a BIG DEAL. Accountability for everything in your life starts with you. In this scenario, your financial life is talking to your professional life. Is it a good conversation for you? Check it out.

Once you have made it through the interview rounds and you’re in the middle of the process – it’s important you know what to do and what to ask for. Of course you have now checked out your credit so there’s no scare there but what other issues are you going to face during the pre-job offer period?

Negotiations between you and your (cross your fingers) new boss are a critical time in determining where you start and what you’re worth. As Stuart Smalley would remind us, your good enough, your smart enough, and doggone it, they're going to hire you! This link is industry specific but I think it offers a good shake down on how you should be thinking during the negotiation process in addition to pointers on what you could be asking for from an employer.

A site I would like to direct you to and leave you with today is the site. Man do I love this puppy. It totally tells me how much I could be making in XYZ job based in XYZ location. It’s fun info. A good resource tool but honestly I have never found myself accurately portrayed in the average data numbers. See what it says about you…

PS – for all you students out there, LinkedIn just launched a student job search effort on the social (professionally oriented) networking site. For more info on social networks check out the last blog posting 

Monday, April 13, 2009

the ball is in your court

Have you ever had an interview like the one shown above? I hope so [it would be so funny to experience] but at the same time I hope not [how the heck would you get though it]. Today I think we should talk about THE INTERVIEW. Here’s the deal. I know we are all at different stages in the job search process but I would like to address this area for those of you who are ready and/or create this as a real and near future for you folks who are almost there.

To start this conversation, I would like to say there is a lot out there. In my research for this posting I felt overwhelmed and inundated with all the different “experts” I found online. My hope with this blog is to peel back the crap and find a few [free] online resources for us to utilize. If you have deep pockets and don’t mind paying for help – great! There are paid for solutions for you. The guys over at Pongo have a [pay for] service that provides an online training program. There are 40 interactive audio/visual training modules that guide and prepare you for each step of the interview process.

If you DON’T have an open wallet then come with me. I found a couple other places that can help. First up, the So You Wanna web site. I love these guys. They can help you with everything from throwing a bachelor party to joining the circus. In our case, they can get us on our way to acing the job interview in five steps.

I used to sell ads. One time in training the coach told us not to practice selling on our customers. I think the same applies here. Don’t practice your interview skills on potential employers. Call your family, sit down with a friend, heck sit in front of a mirror and practice! Depending on your school situation, past or present, you might be able to set up a mock interview. Here’s a link to show you an example from my under grad edu.

Our resident HR superstar JC offers a few interview words of wisdom. “After you get an interview, it is important to know as much as you can about a company. Read the job description that you applied to. Understand the skills they are looking for and be prepared to discuss your expertise in those areas.

In addition, it is in your best interest to learn as much about the company that you are interviewing as possible. Use your network (if possible) to find out some information. Go to the company’s website, and learn about their products or services. Do a Google search with the company’s name, and see what information comes up.”

Maybe you are quite familiar with this whole process but you would like to brush up on some of the questions you might get asked. Won’t hurt to hear how these questions should be answered either, a? If you are nodding yes then this site is for you. [note, you will have to salom navigate down the page and around paid search ads to get through the content]

If you need it from the beginning and in complete form then CT’s Dept. of Labor is ready to help you. Their web site offers a rather comprehensive shake down on all things interviewing. If you only read that, you won’t go wrong.

One last resource for ya. Once you have read EVERYTHING and you are plugging along this site can help you keep track of What by When. Did you promise Larry from Rubber Duck Company that you would circle back Monday or Wednesday? This site can help.

PS – Got a great informational interview story to share with ya. Check out the posting comments>>A win-win situation

Thursday, April 9, 2009

it's the 80/20 rule at work here folks

Work with me on this one. WHAT IF you were stuck in a room and you needed to get a job and the only resource you had was a computer that had internet access? What would you do? How would you reach out? Would you be able to land a job? That is the point of this blog. Ye old career search using just the internet. Found one more step for ya to make those e-employment dreams come true.

One word people. Virtual career fair. Ok fine, that’s three words but it’s ONE great idea. Just for a moment think about the cons of having to go to a real live career fair. Gotta look good and find the place. Gotta shell out dollars to get the resume ready. My all time fav. is standing in line waiting to talk to someone from a prospective employer. When you finally get to talk to them they look like they want to kill themselves if they have to shake one more hand. People forget those crowded fairs! Stay home. Send electronic resumes. “Shake hands” over the internet while you lounge in your PJs.

How does this online search tactic play out? I have five simple steps for you. Check them out here at’s How to Attend a Virtual Job Fair. To lazy to read? [seriously, if that’s true – you really have a problem] Consider listening to this podcast about how the whole thing works from Secrets to the Job Hunt.

If I have piqued your interest then check out these links. 
Virtual Job Fair:
By location or employer>>
By industry>>
For students>>

Quick application note, I have had many of the interviewees of this blog say that candidates tend to over apply to positions. The overall recommendation is to find the one position with the best fit for you and go for it. Don’t apply to the same company for several positions.

We'll get there don't worry. 

Monday, April 6, 2009

let's think out of the box

To: The Universal Hiring Manager
From: BKLYN Nikki
Subject: Please give me a job.
CC: any other mythical creatures that create good luck

Dear Universal Hiring Manager,
My name is Nikki and I am looking for a job. I’m a good person that pays her taxes [yikes – I’ve still got a week to do this, right?!] and helps old ladies across the street. I’ve had my share of good and bad employers but right now I need a break! Please if there is a God of Employment – I am prepared if you have just been waiting to send me an opportunity. I am ready. Please bring it on. Thank you.

Your trusted follower,

PS – I can sacrifice a chicken [or a street cat, there’s lots around here but they are kinda mean] if that would speed things up and appease you.

Alright, alright. I can hear you.

“Nikki that won’t work. You silly lady. Praying to the Employment Gods – HA!”

I’ll have you know that I’ve tried everything thing else. Faith is all I have left. Well… faith, the Internet, and the will to go on.

Fine. Let’s keep moving. What else we got?

Have you ever considered working for the man? Maybe a job working for the government is a way to go. One summer I worked for a cities Parks and Recreation department. There are some good benefits there. Although not like working for an employer that’s international!

I have a handful of friends here in the city that have or currently work for over sea employers. THAT’S the way to go if you are looking for time off. You get the US AND the European vacation schedule. It’s like working only a couple weeks each year.

Seriously though, there are many multicultural opportunities out there. Inside the states and outside. Heck to take an example in my own media industry life – the Hispanic population is one of the fastest growing consuming audiences out there. If you or I decided to dedicate ourselves to serving this growing demographic many more job opportunities could present themselves.

There is also the green focus. I am happy to see that companies have decided to increase their positive involvement in the world’s environmental well being. Regardless if it’s a PR ploy or a legitimate business sector, this new area of research and resources is not to be looked over.

If you are not the siesta type or don’t have a green thumb then perhaps Doing Good has more of an appeal. At IdeaList there are any number of ways to apply yourself to the greater good. Looks like they have over one million profiles on the site so it’s gotta be a good conversation to jump into. If not, consider the over four thousand job openings. They also offer a job fair which just happens to be our next stop on the job express! Tune in next time for more info.


Saturday, April 4, 2009

barking up the wrong tree

Health, medicine, business admin, law, and information technology are all industries that have predicted growth. Or at least, that’s what I’m reading. Personally, I don’t have the patience or grace to work with the sick, and I lack the memorization skills for medicine. Participated in a law club at school and got creamed in cross-examination [mainly b/c I didn't prepare for the case as I was so busy starring into the dreamy eyes of opposing council]. That leaves me with business admin and info tech. Although I have dabbled in both sides, neither are of great calling.

One great fear I have always had is that I start working in a job that I consider a 'For the Time Being' job. A job that pays my bills. A job that has me participating as an active member of society. A job that keeps me tethered to an industry that I have no interest in, but decades later I have, low and behold, an established Career.

Just so we are all on the same page, I am thirty-two. I have a decade of work experience behind me. It is MY fear that I could wake up a week from retirement and find I have wasted myself in a Career I only started in because I needed to pay bills when I first got going.

[sad retirement note. I recently drove back to Cleveland to see my folks. they are, as usual, overworked at each of their places of employment. here’s where the sad note comes in. set to retire in a year or so, they now have to add several years to their working commitment because their 401k and other retirement accounts took such a hit in the financial market. *sigh*]

OMG. Could this get any more depressing? Here’s the difference we have - the power of choice. At this moment, we can powerfully choose the industry we want a career in. A good place to start that inquiry is at the US Dept. of Labor. Their career guide to industries shares up-to-date info on: occupations in the industry, training and advancement, earnings, expected job prospects, and working conditions.

One last HR note from our friend Jeff Comerford. “The current job market is tough. There are many companies that are laying off people, but there are industries that are growing too (right now there are technology companies that are doing well, there is a nursing shortage, etc.). A lot of things in this country are fueled by confidence. The stock market, consumer spending, etc. Obviously, these things will also impact company’s ability to maintain market share or grow – which will directly impact employment. I think that right now, people are reading all of the bad news and they are scared. That means they are less likely to buy that new car, tv, go on vacation, etc. This obviously impacts jobs in those sectors.”

Here's one last online industry resource for you to mull over before you go off and do something else with your time. Check out what the folks over at Deloitte have published - 2009 Industry Outlook. They have looked into over a dozen top industries to see what’s going on and if there will be opportunity within this years industry tumult. Look to see if there is an area that can help you have a better understanding of where you would like to go. Let me know what you find.

Until next time – peace.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

finally in your element

Do you have a dream team of employers? Maybe for you it’s just that ONE company you have always yearned to work for. My brother is a CG animator, so as you can imagine, Pixar is that place for him. I am trying to figure out who that company is for me.

What I like to do is match advertisers up with their customers on the web. Usually this means working for a publisher or media company. My current inquiry is to find a major content developer or media company that has a diverse demographic audience that advertisers would like to reach in the internet space.

BUT how do I find that one working environment, that one super boss, that one stellar crew of co-workers? First up, I figure we should look at who the best or most recognized players are. This list of Top Companies is a good start. Looking for inspiration or know who you would like to target? CareerTV has great employer profile videos for you to check out. You can find them listed in the left navigation bar under - By Company. If you don’t know someone on the inside that can give you a behind the doors tour, then these sneak peek videos are a great way to go.

OR you could be one of the lucky ones that does have an inside track to the employer of your dreams. If so, get crackin’! You got people to meet and questions to ask. Go back and review our posting on informational interviews.

BECAUSE I love you guys so much, I’ll share with you the source of my mystery interview from the last posting and her thoughts about the current standing of her awesome company.

Rosa Allen is in the HR department for the MillerCoors brewing company. Here she tells us about working for the parent company that offers brands like Coors Light, Peroni, Miller, and Miller Genuine Draft.

"My opinion is that the situation at my company is solid and stable. The company is performing as planned and forecasted and is in a good position financially, product-wise and in its market. Although sales had been on a dropping tendency for the last few years, the sales for 2008 and 2009 actually seem to be increasing. The company used to be solely Coors and since July of 2008 fused in a joint venture with Miller. So basically our company is twice as large and has twice as many resources that they did before. 
There have been various job cuts recently; however, they are not at all related to the economy, they are all products of synergies and consolidation of resources between the two companies. Some positions were duplicated during the joint venture process and had to be eliminated to cut out unnecessary manpower. All in all, I feel the company is stable and will not face any hardships either financially or with its brands in the market. People basically drink anyways; it doesn’t seem to matter if the economy is doing well or not."

There you have it. Good or bad, people keep boozin’. Maybe we should just get a job at our favorite liquor company. Hey, Brooklyn Brewery, you hiring?