Article 43

 

Job Hunt

Monday, July 21, 2014

For Job Seekers Who’ve Tried Everything

7 practical ideas if you think you’ve exhausted your job-search options

By Marty Nemko
AOL Jobs
July 13, 2014

Ben has reason to be depressed. Laid off twice, not sure how strong a reference his ex-boss will give him, he’s 50 years old and overweight, been job-hunting for eight months, having gotten a total of three interviews and batting 0 for 3. He blames it on his having mainly soft skills, a widely held skill-set.

His wife, too, is struggling despite great credentials. She’s tried to snag a full-time college teaching job but the best she’s ever landed has been a part-time community college instructor position, with no benefits. She said, “It’s ironic that I teach a class in which I champion worker rights yet my own employer pays me what ends up being little more than minimum wage and hires me for 49 percent of the time to avoid paying benefits.”

At 50, they feel the need to pay for health insurance. They’re behind on their rent and their landlord is making eviction noises. Ben has networked, answered countless ads, even cold-called employers that are not advertising a job, all to no avail. He feels he’s run out of options. He’s beyond depressed; he’s thought of suicide.

Indeed, the SUICIDE RATE among middle-aged people is up 30 percent between 1999 and 2010, more than the number that die in car accidents, with men being more than three times as likely to kill themselves. While there are many causes, the researchers specifically cite the economic downturn and resulting financial stress.

But long-term unemployed job seekers have more options than they may think, and Ben and his wife could try some of these approaches:

1. Circle back. The odds of your network having a job lead for you at any given moment is tiny. If it’s been more than a month, circle back to everyone. Here’s sample wording you can use to check in with a contact:

“Susie, I appreciate your having offered to keep your ears open for me. By any chance, is there someone you think I should talk with? If you’ll recall, I’m looking for a people, or project, management job, especially in the health care or environmental space but I’m flexible. I’m even open to a launchpad job, one that’s lower-level but when I prove myself, I could move up.”

If your contact doesn’t have a lead for you, ask, “Would you mind continuing to keep you ears open, and if I’m still looking in a month, may I circle back to you?”

2. Change job targets. Perhaps you’ve been overreaching. If so, maybe you should you drop down your search, say from management to individual contributor positions. Have you been pursuing a job in a field with too few openings or with great competition? For example, sexy fields like the environment, entertainment, biotech, fashion, and journalism tend to be tougher than, for example, the transportation, food, or housing industries.

3. Consider interim jobs. Sitting at home may make you more depressed. So you might want to apply for jobs where the employer would be lucky to have you. Even some low-level jobs can be quite enjoyable. Here are a few ways job seekers can match their interests to a position while they look for something more challenging or better paying:

Sports fans might enjoy selling beer and hot dogs at the

Book lovers might enjoy working at a bookstore or in a library, even if just shelving books

Fashionistas might enjoy working at a favorite boutique or department store

Plant lovers might try landscaping or garden maintenance

Cafe lovers might seek a job as a waitperson or even busser

The most fun job I ever had was as a New York City cab driver. I got to meet all sorts of people, I enjoyed driving and I got to double-park when I wanted to grab a great slice of pizza.

4. Walk in. If someone phoned you asking if you wouldn’t mind taking care of a newborn temporarily, you might well say no. But if the doorbell rang and there was a cradle with a newborn, wouldn’t you be more likely to take it in?

The same is true of job seekers. It’s easy to say “no” to a voice on the phone and or ignore an email. It’s harder to brush away a flesh-and-blood human being, especially one who politely asks for help. That probably won’t work at a large organization where there’s a phalanx of security to keep you out but, for example, in an office building in which many businesses have an office, it might be worth going door-to-door.

Imagine how you’d feel if you were the receptionist and someone walked in and said, for example:

“I’m an accountant or I should say I was. Although I got good evaluations, I got laid off. So I’m looking for a job. I know the standard way is to answer ads but I live near here and so I thought I’d drop in and see if I could get some advice and maybe even an interview. I’m wondering if you might allow me to speak with someone?”

Is it not possible you’d say “yes?” Certainly, if you’re a job seeker, you have nothing to lose. You can survive no. You can survive 20 nos. And all you need is one decent job offer.

5. Start a low-cost business. At least as an interim, you could start a service business with near-zero startup costs. Examples:

Relationship ad consultant. Help people craft their matchmaking ad - how they describe themselves and the sort of partner they’re looking for, then take photos likely to attract their desired type of partner.

Grief coach. People who lose a loved one, even a pet, may want support in getting past their sadness. They may not need a psychotherapist. They may just need a good listener who’s gently encouraging.

Sports tutor. Many high school athletes want to up their game, to compete better or perhaps to win a college sports scholarship. And parents will spend to boost their child’s chances.

6. Find support. For some people, support is the only thing that keeps them from giving up. Here are some options:

Ask a friend to check in daily or weekly with you on your job search.

Join a job-search support group. Here’s a link to a directory of them.

Seek faith-based support. It helps some people to surrender some control to a higher power. They feel, “If I’m doing my part and still am not finding a job, maybe it’s God’s will. When God decides it’s time, I’ll land a job, perhaps a better one than I would have gotten earlier.”

7. Practice persistence. It’s cliche but true that even the most successful people fail and usually have failed a lot. The key is HOW THEY RESPOND to FAILURE: curl up in bed or be resilient. Here are a few quotes that may drive that home:

“Ambition is the path to success. Persistence is the vehicle you arrive in.”
- Bill Bradley

“When you feel tired, it means you’ve tried. It doesn’t mean you quit trying.”
- Constance Chuks Friday

“I tried and failed. I tried again and again and succeeded.”
- Epitaph on Gail Borden’s gravestone.

“To make our way, we must have firm resolve, persistence, tenacity. We must gear ourselves to work hard all the way. We can never let up.”
- Ralph Bunche

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”
- Calvin Coolidge

I can leave you with no better advice.

Marty Nemko blogs for AOL JOBS and PSYCHOLOGY TODAY. He is in his 25th year as host of Work with Marty Nemko on KALW-FM (NPR-San Francisco.) His most recent books are: How to Do Life: What They Didn’t Teach You in School and What’s the Big Idea? 39 Disruptive Proposals for a Better America. Read more from Marty Nemko HERE.

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Posted by Elvis on 07/21/14 •
Section Dealing with Layoff • Section Job Hunt
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Sunday, July 13, 2014

Who Says Government Jobs Pay Well?

How’s this for a government IT job?

$25k/yr

They’re looking for a lot of expertise for a big, fat $12 dollars an hour.

If I’m reading right, that’s about ftifteen thousand dollars less than the $40 THOUSAND a year the lowest paid entry level sysadmin starts at according to SALARY DOT COM.

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Working Title:  DISTRIBUTED COMPUTER SYSTEMS ANALYST
Broadband/Class Code:  15-1071-02
Position Number:  60040305-51202537
Annual Salary Range:  $25,774.06 - $70,998.97
Announcement Type:  Open Competitive
City:  ORLANDO
Facility:  ORLANDO HURSTON SERVICE CENTER
Pay Grade/ Pay Band:  BB006
Closing Date:  7/18/2014

**THIS POSITION WILL BE HIRED AT BASE SALARY**

JOB FAMILY: COMPUTER AND MATHEMATICAL

OCCUPATIONAL GROUP: COMPUTER

OCCUPATION: NETWORK AND COMPUTER SYSTEMS ADMINISTRATORS

DESCRIPTION

This is technical work in the installation and maintenance of computers and related software and hardware.

EXAMPLES OF WORK

(Note: The omission of specific statements does not preclude management from assigning specific duties not listed herein if such duties are a logical assignment to the position.)

* Recognize, analyze, and effectively solve problems in a timely and organized manner using industry best practices and procedures.
* Assist users in identifying and resolving operating systems, diverse application and multi-layered client server environment issues or failures.
* Install, upgrade, and troubleshoot computer hardware and software or peripheral equipment within established standards and guidelines.
* Consistently and accurately track, update, and close assigned documented support requests.
* Work within an established inventory processes to ensure accurate and efficient inventory for desktops, laptops, printers, scanners and associated equipment.
* Multi-task in a fast-paced environment with diverse systems and people.
* Maintain excellent communication with all end users and other members of the technology department.
* Ability to clearly communicate technical concepts to non-technical people.
* Ensure desktop computers interconnect seamlessly with diverse systems including file servers, application servers, and administrative systems and networking software.
* Assist with LAN/WAN maintenance, connectivity and troubleshooting.
* Support client hardware/software upgrades and migrations as directed by the Desktop Support Manager.
* Perform other duties as assigned by the Supervisor.

KNOWLEDGE, SKILLS AND ABILITIES:

* Knowledge of Overall IT industry.
* Knowledge of computer operations procedures and systems.
* Knowledge of the principles, practices and techniques of computer programming and systems analysis.
* Knowledge of Microsoft Active Directory architecture and administration
* Ability to handle multiple priorities and deal with ambiguity.
* Ability to quickly assimilate information and make time-boxed decisions.
* Ability to analyze data, identify problem areas, make improvement recommendations, and implement approved recommendations.
* Ability to communicate and thrive in a cross-functional environment and maintain effective working relationships with others.
* Ability to interpret technical information relating to computer programming and other areas of data processing. 
* Ability to communicate technical data processing information effectively.
* Skilled in the usage of Desktop security and protection including anti-virus, encryption, and associate products.
* Skill in problem solving techniques and practices.

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Posted by Elvis on 07/13/14 •
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Age vs. relevance: When interviewing, master the 4Rs

How I Landed a Great Job in 5 Months After 50

By By Rhona Bronson
AOL Jobs
February 14, 2014

I cringe whenever I hear pundits telling audiences that unemployment after age 50 is a career death sentence. It may be harder after 50, but there is hope and opportunity. After being out of work for five months, I LANDED A SENIOR-LEVEL JOB with decent pay and hope my success can bring hope to others surrounded by prevailing negativity.

The key in getting and succeeding at interviews was proving that, regardless of age, I had mastered the four R’s Relevance, Resiliency, Responsibility and business ‘Rithmetic. And if that weren’t enough, I had to show how I was different.

"Responsible” is the easiest “R” for older workers, but approached in a new manner by today’s interviewers. Behavioral interviewing is more the norm than years ago with hiring managers asking situational questions and looking for the potential employee’s response in handling difficult co-workers, supervisors and direct reports. In one interview I was asked how I’d handle a difficult client a question that I didn’t nail and I was not invited back for the second round of interviewing.

“Resilience” also comes up a lot in the BEHAVIORAL INTERVIEWING process with recruiters frequently asking how you handled a failure, or dealt with an underperforming employee. In one screening I was asked to describe a nightmare marketing situation. I was so taken back, I initially laughed and stated the key to great marketing is avoiding nightmares! Then, I answered by saying, “I can tell you how I dealt with projects that did not meet expectations at key milestones.”

My answer demonstrated good project management, planning and communication skills as well as the need to manage expectations both with employees and senior management. In that situation, I passed the screening and became the top candidate for the open post, until I was asked the next question in the final round with the CEO.

The CEO wanted to know why he should hire me over every other candidate. The question was repeated in almost every subsequent interview. Sometimes the question was phrased, “Why are you right for this position over others?” When first asked this question, I was uncomfortable answering. Then, I realized the question was simply: “What makes you special?”

In the job I finally landed, I had the answer cold, and it wasn’t a generic answer. It was specific to that job. I had conducted a study that no one else in the area could have done, and I was the only one who could bring that experience to the job.

“Relevant” is the hardest arena for older workers. The assumption by many hiring managers is that the older employee is stuck in old ways of working and thinking. I countered this with a strong digital profile on LinkedIn, a broad digital presence on Twitter and other social networks, and a deep digital footprint with a dynamic web site, digital portfolio, and involvement with new digital endeavors.

I invested time, energy and dollars in hiring help to build a digital portfolio and update my web site. The delegation was a key time-saver allowing me to concentrate on job postings and timely cover letters. In addition, I volunteered for the digital committee of a well-known marketing organization, got recertified in digital marketing, took online classes, and led various digital marketing groups.

All of that got me to the final round between me and one other top candidate. The difference in getting the offer became ‘Rithmetic, or my ability to apply metrics to prove progress in project management.

Of all the interviews I had, age was only an issue in one ֖ a digital company predominated by Millennials. In all other interviews, age wasn’t an issue. The ability to be relevant was.

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Posted by Elvis on 07/13/14 •
Section Dealing with Layoff • Section Job Hunt
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Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Long-Term Unemployed - No Different Than You Or Me

older-workers.jpg

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
- Albert Einstein

Long-Term Unemployed Make for Just as Strong Hires: Study

By Aki Ito
Bloomberg
April 4, 2014

People who have been out of work for an extended period, once hired, tend to be just as productive on the job as those with more typical work histories, according to an analysis of almost 20,000 employees.

The research, provided to Bloomberg News by San Francisco-based Evolv Inc., shows no statistically significant difference in measures of job performance between two pools of entry-level call center agents: those who hadnt held a single full-time job in at least five years before they applied for the position, and the rest. Evolv, which helps large companies assess and manage hourly workers, analyzed data collected from six employers in about 90 locations in the U.S.

The findings buttress President Barack Obama’s call to American businesses to give the long-term unemployed a “fair shot” amid growing evidence that employers have preferred to hire candidates without prolonged jobless spells. Some 3.7 million workers have been out of work for 27 weeks or more as of March, according to Labor Department data released today.

“We have statistical proof that hiring somebody among the long-term unemployed is equal to somebody who is not long-term unemployed,” said Max Simkoff, chief executive officer and co-founder of Evolv.

Evolv tracked four measures of job performance, each collected every day of the workers tenure. The variables included the average time it took for the agent to complete a transaction, customer satisfaction ratings, supervisor evaluations, and the percentage of the workday spent at his or her desk.

No Worse

About 14 percent of the employees in the sample reported having had no full-time job for the five years leading up to the time they applied for the position. After excluding people who had been in school for the year up to the time they applied for the job, EvolvҒs analysts found that the long-term unemployed still performed no worse than those without an extended jobless spell.

The findings are encouraging news for Federal Reserve policy makers, provided that recruiters heed Evolvs findings. The U.S. central bank has deployed record stimulus to bring down unemployment, even as some critics have warned that further accommodation wonҒt help because a prolonged period of high joblessness has made some workers permanently unemployable.

The concern is that the long-term unemployed may remain on the sidelines, ultimately dropping out of the workforce,Ӕ Fed Chair Janet Yellen said March 31 in her first speech as the head of the central bank as she highlighted the plight of struggling Americans. But the data suggest that the long-term unemployed look basically the same as other unemployed people in terms of their occupations, educational attainment, and other characteristics.Ӕ

Qualified Candidates

For employers, Evolvs results suggest that theyҒre missing out on qualified candidates, Simkoff said. In one experiment, researchers at the University of Toronto, the University of Chicago and McGill University submitted about 12,000 fake resumes to apply for about 3,000 jobs. At eight months of unemployment, callbacks were about 45 percent lower than at one month of unemployment, the study showed.

Among those struggling to find work is Vincent Ramsey, 56, who lost his security job at Villanova University in Pennsylvania in May 2012 and has been looking since. He said hes applied for about 30 positions a week mostly in areas in which he’s had experience, such as customer service and childcare.

Positive Traits

“With all the positive traits that I have, somebody’s still finding fault with me,” said Ramsey, referring to his punctuality and work ethic as well as the breadth of his work record. “I don’t understand it. Wherever you put me at any job, I connect with people. I’ve done this successfully everywhere.”

More than 300 companies including Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and automaker Ford Motor Co. signed a White House pledge to develop initiatives for hiring and recruiting job-seekers who have been out of work for an extended period.

“It’s a cruel Catch-22—the longer you’re unemployed, the more unemployable you may seem, Obama said Jan. 31. “They just need a chance.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Aki Ito in San Francisco at aito16 at bloomberg dot net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Chris Wellisz at cwellisz at bloomberg dot net

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Posted by Elvis on 04/08/14 •
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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Rise Of The Temp Workers Part 5 - Freelancers

Freelancers Piece Together a Living in the Temp Economy

By Adriene Hill
NY Times
March 24, 2014

The photos spread out on a coffee table tell the story of a career. In one, a woman wears a fairy costume and rides a flying horse. In another, the woman lounges on a desert rock at sunrise, in a gold bikini draped with red silk. In a third, she wears an Uncle Sam outfit and poses on three-foot stilts.

Not on the table are audition reels from Ms. Burdettes other career, one in which corporations pay her $500 to $1,000 a day to present their products, including tires and cybersecurity products, at trade shows. It is work for which she wears business attire instead of hot pants. These jobs are lucrative but infrequent.

The overlapping careers have this in common: The work is temporary, one freelance job after another. Ms. Burdette is among the millions of Americans who piece together a living. Freelancers, the self-employed, temporaries - all know the current job will end and they need to keep looking for the next one. Increasingly, even many people with full-time jobs feel insecurity about their work.

Ms. Burdette knows the trajectory of insecurity. She has worked in Las Vegas as an entertainer since 1996, sometimes in jobs that quickly disappeared.

Right now, she is busy. A freelancer since 2008, she works with 30 agents. Some help her book conventions. Others set her up with entertainment jobs. In addition to her presenting, this year she has worked as an astrologer and stilt-walker, and she helped dress fashion models at a mall. She is fortunate to live in a city with huge entertainment and convention industries that rely on temporary workers. ItӒs the land of opportunity, she said.

But as Ms. Burdette gets older, she has no choice but to consider new ways to earn a paycheck. In both of her careers, looks matter. At 43, she knows she cannot do these jobs indefinitely.

“I’m really proud of the moments and the things these represent,” she said, touching the photos on her coffee table. One is a profile of her, not in costume, with the words “Remember who you are ... and always keep growing.” This is to inspire her, to encourage her to work on the skills she will need for whatever work will come next.

“Whether that means getting a 9-to-5 job and putting on the big-girl pants,” she said, “or whether it just means going into something where people are not looking at me, and I’m not covered in rhinestones every day.”

How many people have temporary work is hard to say. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 14 million people were self-employed last month, including freelancers like Ms. Burdette.

There has been no official count of insecure workers in years. In 2006, the Government Accountability Office estimated that about 30 percent of the work force was ԓcontingent, including those with temporary and part-time jobs.

The number of people paid by temp agencies like Manpower has grown 46 percent since 2009, according to Labor Bureau data. ԓThe staffing industry has added more jobs than any other sector since the end of the recession, said Erin Hatton, a sociology professor at the University at Buffalo and the author of ԓThe Temp Economy.

There are contingent office workers and factory workers. There are contingent computer programmers and corporate executives.

ԓWe know that temps are everywhere, Professor Hatton said.

Starting with the recession, employers have slashed costs, and a major way to do that has been to lower labor costs. Temporary workers often are paid less than regular employees. Under the Affordable Care Act, companies can avoid health insurance costs by hiring part-time workers (who may qualify for subsidized insurance).

“What we call contingent workers is really hard to define, because to some extent were all contingent now,” said Arne Kalleberg, a sociology professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the author of “Good Jobs, Bad Jobs.”

Work has become much more insecure, much more precarious,Ӕ he said. So everybody is a temporary in one sense, because their levels of job security have really decreased in recent years.Ӕ

The trick with insecure work, for the worker, is that the next paycheck is unpredictable. For low-income factory temps, being chosen for work can mean the difference between making rent or not making rent, eating well or not eating well. For freelancers like Ms. Burdette, the lack of security can make it hard to buy a house or plan for the future. What if a job comes up? What if it doesnt?

Ms. Burdette is familiar with financial insecurity. She declared bankruptcy in 2005. When she married in 2008, she brought to the marriage a few thousand dollars in credit card debt.

She and her husband, Jozef Bobula, met in January and married in May. They were in love, she said, but he also needed a green card for immigration reasons. HeҒs from Slovakia.

Mr. Bobula, 37, is a bass guitarist. He, too, pieces together work in Las Vegas, and is playing a regular gig at the Stratosphere casino. He also has a jazz trio and a duo, plays solo and teaches music.

Part of what attracted Ms. Burdette to Mr. Bobula was his ability to manage money. “He is accustomed to saving first and spending second,” she said.

Today, her credit card debt is paid off. Her 2000 Nissan Xterra is paid for. She says the last four years have been her first without debt since she was 18.

Ms. Burdette calls her financial situation stable right now. She and her husband, combined, make $55,000 to $75,000 a year. Their apartment is cozy, but comfortable. Ms. Burdette calls the style “Craigslist chic,” because she bought most of her furniture on the resale website. The most valuable things in their apartment are her husbands guitars.

The couple do not have retirement savings, but they do have an emergency fund and are considering investing a portion of it in the stock market. Her husband had the savings account when they married, and they only recently added her name to it. They waited, she said, because they wanted to see if the marriage would last.

“To have my name on it,” she said, “it brought still another level of peace and comfort that I didnt think could even have existed.”

“I can say no to gigs I don’t want to do,” she said. “I can be more discerning. I don’t have to stand around in a showgirl costume if I’m not feeling physically up to it in terms of my appearance.”

Ms. Burdette wants to find a new set of gigs in which people are not looking at her quite as closely. She has explored voice-over work, recording audiobooks. She has considered doing more with her astrology experience.

She would consider a full-time job, but as a last choice. She said her parents spent years planning and worrying and stressed about the future. ԓIt didnt get them any more secure than me,Ҕ she said. IӒm actually more secure right now, because I understand that the bottom can fall out at any time.

One of her old business cards said, ԓWhaddya need? Her current card says, ԓsingularly multitalented.

Under the new health law, which includes a mandate to buy insurance or face a penalty, Ms. Burdette has coverage for the first time in years. ԓIt does provide people with a cushion, Professor Kalleberg said, ԓso that they can search, so that they can look for opportunities.

Now, Ms. Burdette has to figure out what those opportunities will be. Reinvention is a word heard a lot in today’s labor market. Jobs keep changing. People have to change to keep up, especially people without employers that provide training.

“But many temporary and self-employed workers do not have the money or time to reinvent themselves and their skills. Even if they do, it is not clear which jobs will be available. The path ahead is not going to be laid out for you,” Professor Kalleberg said.

“The advice to reinvent is easy to say, sitting in a job that has a fairly clear career path like I do,” he said. “But it’s a difficult situation and its stressful.”

Figuring out whats next may be a little easier for Ms. Burdette. She has been doing just that for years.

“I don’t know what it’s like not to reinvent”, she said, “I’m just used to that.”

Hill is a senior reporter for the public radio program “Marketplace.”

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Posted by Elvis on 03/25/14 •
Section Job Hunt • Section Dying America
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