Article 43

 

Dealing with Layoff

Monday, June 19, 2017

Tell Your Story

image: no job, no house

Most of us are so far past any sort of reasonable breaking point even we can’t tell you how we continue. Press any of us about it and we’ll say “what choice do we have?”’ It’s at times like this that I start to think of the writers and artists who’ve come before me: Kurt Cobain, Ernest Hemingway, Sylvia Plath, Vincent Van Gough, Hunter S. Thompson, Spalding Gray and Richard Jeni and the question that I FIND MYSELF ASKING is, “Did they have THE RIGHT IDEA at the end of their lives?”
- Hopeless in 2017

Over 50 and Looking for a Job? We Want to Hear From You

We know American employers don’t always treat older workers fairly. We need your help figuring out what that looks like.

By Peter Gosselin
ProPublica
May 22, 2017

How do Americans live the LAST THIRD of their lives? What we hear, especially when it comes to working, is that this usually is a time of stability, increased flexibility and widening opportunity. The kinds of work that people 50 and older do are often gamely called “encores,” “re-careers” or “third acts.”

But “encore” doesn’t exactly fit my own experience. My aim at ProPublica is to find out whether it doesn’t fit others as well and to learn how people entering their later careers ARE FARING.

I was laid off at 63. It took me 15 months to find a new job. In the interim, my twins, then 18, headed for college. The money was (and still is) flying out the door.

Getting laid off may be the price of a dynamic economy. Getting stuck out wasn’t part of the deal, especially if, like me, you depend on wages to pay your daily expenses. And to add to the pot for when you no longer work.

Building that reserve isn’t getting any easier. American employers are ratcheting back on their contributions. Rules aimed at protecting retirement funds are under attack by the new administration.

I’ve already DONE STORIES on court battles over age discrimination and want to delve deeper into the issue. If you know of a COMPANY or organization that has made major cuts of older workers, I’d like to hear about it.

I want to do stories about people moving through their 50s and 60s WHO ARE HIT with demotions, layoffs or business closings. I want to find out what was behind the blows and how everyone coped. If you or someone you know has had one of these experiences, I’d like to talk.

I want to hear from people whove received a buyout or other parting package they thought would set them up for life only to discover it wasnҒt enough, and then had trouble getting new work.

In short, I want your views on these issues and others that youגd like addressed. We can build a community around what we learn together.

Do you have a story about age discrimination in the workplace? Help us with our reporting by answering some questions HERE.

Of course, Im not your person if you’re looking for help with your particular job hunt. Or what to wear after 50. But with your help I can provide a realistic report about the challenges, setbacks and victories that real people face living out the rest of their lives. Please contact me at: peter.gosselin at propublica.org, or by leaving a message at 917-512-0258.

Im also dusting off MY FACEBOOK account, where I’ll post my stories and anything useful I find along the way. So please dont be shy.

SOURCE

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My story started in 2004.  To say I’ve changed for the better would cause the nose on my face to grow longer than Pinocchio’s

The mental health risks facing our long term unemployed

By Allison Milner
Daily Mercury
February 9, 2016

The mental health of the unemployed deteriorates the longer they are out of work and this is a barrier to securing future employment, research has found.

While different ways to reach this group are being trialled, no solution is firmly in sight.

The connection between unemployment and mental illness was most visible during the global financial crisis when Australia’s economic growth slowed and unemployment and underemployment increased.

Suicide rates among the unemployed rose 22% during the crisis compared to their rates prior to the crisis.

There is still an estimated 727,500 Australians out of work and a notable lack of interventions addressing the mental health needs of the unemployed.

There are likely several explanations for why the unemployed miss out on programs that could improve their mental health.

The first reason is that some of the main adopters of workplace mental health activities have been employers with no long-term obligation to provide help to the people they have let go.

If employers aren’t responsible for the mental health of the unemployed as they search for work, it would seem to fall into the remit of government employment services.

However, while governmental services have regular contact with job seekers and require them participate in a Job Plan in order to receive benefits, there appears to be a lack of attention to the mental health impacts of unemployment itself.

Some people who have a mental illness end up in a catch 22 scenario where difficulties in job seeking exacerbate mental health issues and this in turn might make it difficult to apply for jobs.

These difficulties include accessing transport to and from work, negative attitudes of employers and co-workers and concern about how to balance employment with treatment for ongoing health problems.

There is also a changing landscape of government requirements regarding access to financial support. For example, people with a disability may be asked to undertake an Job Capacity Assessment, which has flow-on implications for a person’s ability to access the Disability Support Pension.

A second reason for the lack of attention to the mental health of the unemployed is that they are harder to engage than those who are employed (who can be identified and contacted in a work setting).

This poses a challenge to face-to-face and group-based interventions addressing mental health.

Online interventions have been shown to be beneficial for those people suffering from mental health problems. Recognising this, the government launched an e-Mental Health Strategy in 2014.

The importance of electronic interventions has also recently been emphasised in the Australian government’s 2015 response to a review of mental health services.

Online interventions may be the most feasible option for the unemployed population, who otherwise may be difficult to reach or to engage face-to-face.

There are some current trials that aim to boost the mental health of job seekers using online approaches.

For example, a program from Incolink and Deakin University called “Contact & Connect” is providing online mental health support for the unemployed via a series of text messages sent from a website.

The program is designed to give unemployed people tools to look after their mental wellbeing.

The long-term goal of the trial is to break down stigma against help-seeking and encourage social interaction with friends and family.

While this approach shows promise because it can be delivered remotely and conveniently, it does not yet have results.

It’s also important to remember that online programs such as “Contact & Connect” are not meant to be undertaken at the exclusion of other treatments. Ideally, online intervention would operate hand-in-hand with face-to-face treatment.

At the end of the day, there maybe no one-size fits all approach to helping those who are unemployed back on the road to recovery.

Tackling this problem will be complex, and likely necessitate involvement from multiple stakeholders including affected individuals, families, employers, support services, government, and others.

Despite this, greater attention to the topic is needed given the large impact of job loss on an individual’s life, and the subsequent flow-on effects to mental health and wellbeing.

This story is part of a series on mental illness and the workplace. It was first published here at The Conversation

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Posted by Elvis on 06/19/17 •
Section Dealing with Layoff • Section Dying America • Section Workplace
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Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Working Wonders - Old Farts

older-workers.jpg

Older workers, stay positive in your job search!

By Marvin Walberg
Scripps Howard News Service
May 22, 2009

I know that it’s not going to go away, but the DOOM AND GLOOM stories about job loss are simply spreading MORE DOOM AND GLOOM. How about SOME ADVICE and positive news?

This morning the article started on page one. A 61-year old man with 40-years of experience lost his job.

"Where is a man MY AGE to find a job that pays more than minimum wage, even though I have more than 40 years of management experience?”, he asked in an on-line posting. “I am lost. In the morning I will awake and....have nowhere to go,” he continues. Then, the article goes to page seven. They get your attention, TOTALLY DEPRESS YOU, and then leave you with pages to turn!

On page seven, the article does make reference to a counselor who works with older job searchers, but still offers little in the way of direction or guidance. Bad news sells.

A 61-year old man, with health, energy and passion for his work, who also has over 40-years of management experience, just might be someone high on an employer’s list of “must-haves”—if he positions himself correctly and starts networking and selling.

But first he has to think outside the box. He has over 40-years of management experience that just happened to be in the foundry industry, but can be transferred to any other industry that needs people with experience in the following: Hiring, training, motivating, leading, disciplining, coaching and teaching a work ethic that comes with maturity and more than 40-years of experience.

So who will hire a 61-year old man? Any employer may who needs experience and realizes that a 61-year old man is in the prime of his working lifetime. Let’s talk positives, not negatives!

Instead of just sending out resumes and posting on Internet sites, he needs to think about his accomplishments and how to transfer his expertise to other industries. Then get out and network like crazy. Find support groups in churches or your local Chamber, tell everyone you know all about you and do some homework on the Internet. Find employers who need managers, get names and titles and start making contact and asking for interviews.

Be positive and believe in what you have accomplished and what you CAN STILL DO FOR YOUR NEXT EMPLOYER.

Sell yourself!

Marvin Walberg is a job search coach. Contact him at mwalberg(at)bellsouth.net, BLOG, or PO Box 43056, Birmingham, AL 35243.

SOURCE

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Hiring Older Workers Is Good For The Office, Study Shows

By Ann Brenoff
Huffington Post
January 31, 2014

A study in the U.K. says that hiring older workers might actually be good for your company.

They not only serve as mentors to younger staff, but they also don’t call in sick as much when they are hungover and have a great track record for showing up for work on time. They also are just as technologically savvy as their younger counterparts, the study found.

According to a Daily Mail REPORT ON THE SURVEY, conducted by the Nationwide building society, even younger workers liked having some gray hairs around. Around 16 percent of Nationwide’s 17,000 employees are over 50, and two percent are 60 or older, said the Daily Mail. The study reported that almost half of the Nationwide workers over the age of 55 hadn’t taken a sick day in the past year, and most people in that age group “usually arrived early to work.”

And it’s clearly a good thing that their younger peers see the VALUE IN HAVING THEM AROUND because by 2019, PREDICTS the Sloan Center on Aging & Work at Boston College, workers 55 and older will comprise 25 percent of the workforce. The Urban Institute PREDICTS workers 50 years and older will make up 35 percent of the labor force by 2019.

SOURCE

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Employers are turning to older workers to fill job needs

By Dr. Steven Lindner
The Workplace Group
October 4, 2016

The oldest Baby Boomers reached the full retirement age of 65 years old in 2011, yet we are seeing many of the workers in this generation refusing to go into conventional retirement.

Rather, they are reinventing themselves and changing society’s view of the older worker.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Baby Boomers totaled more than 75 million people in 2015 and were supplanted as the largest age demographic by the Millennials, who now represent more than one-quarter of the nation’s population.

Baby Boomers who have retired from their long-term employers are now more likely than ever to take on other employment opportunities.

Retired from your previous employer no longer means retired from working altogether. Many retirees will take time to travel, play golf, complete the long overdue home project they have been wanting to do or some other project of theirs.

But after a short hiatus from a daily work schedule, a large number of Baby Boomers are coming back to the workforce.

At this stage of their lives, Baby Boomers are in a position to follow several different paths. With a good 10 years left of active employment, they tend to choose paths that have meaning and passion to them.

Although many continue in their life-long occupation, an equal number change course and pursue a second career.

With employers’ growing demands for workers across professional and trade occupations alike, there are big knowledge, skill and leadership gaps in the U.S. workforce.

But employers are turning to the older worker not just for their industry knowledge and skills, but to assist with filling in at positions that remain open due to lack of available job candidates.

To boost the supply of talent in the job market, smart employers are turning to older workers.

For example, THE WORKPLACE GROUP has launched recruitment strategies to attract them for everything from key leadership positions, advisory roles, IT and engineering roles, to serving as contact center agents assisting customers with orders, billing, and product and service related questions.

Older workers are also sought for seasonal hiring needs, particularly as the holiday season quickly approaches.

Whereas many companies have shied away from seasoned employees out of concerns that they won’t be able to afford them or offer them the job they once had, the truth is older workers value other aspects of work.

Many don’t want to return to their stressful full-time roles and are less interested in making the amount of money that they once did. Rather, they are far more interested in work that appeals to them and want employers who value them.

According to Laurie Pellegrino, founder and principal at Pellegrino Associates in New Providence, N.J., and who specializes in Executive Coaching and Leadership Development, older workers enjoy stimulating work environments and being part of the team.

They enjoy diversity of thought and often adjust better to changes in corporate organizations and practices than their younger colleagues.

After all, they have had a lifetime of learning how to deal with continual change. Ms. Pellegrino reminds us that older workers deeply appreciate being recognized for their help.

“A sincere thank you goes a long way,” she says.

Older workers often have greater flexibility with their schedules, as well as their finances, since most now have children living on their own, and large expenses like mortgages and college tuition generally are behind them.

Employers need to be creative in attracting the older worker. They are not necessarily looking for online job ads. Thus, recruitment strategies that reach out to workers over age 55 and invite them to consider an opportunity tend to be most successful.

Older workers who want to help recruiters and employers find them, should:

Energize their network

Track down former colleagues you enjoyed conducting business with and speak with them about what they are doing now. Utilize various social media channels such as LinkedIn to re-establish connections with past co-workers.

Keep their LinkedIn profile current

Continuously update your LinkedIn profile. If you’re not on any professional social media outlets, now is the time to take the leap. Meaningful job opportunities are more likely to come your way when your peer group knows what you have done and what you want to do next.

Utilize online job boards

Websites such as Career Builder, The Ladders, simply hired, and Monster.com have emerged as go-to sources for employers to advertise open positions and search for rsums.

Some sites such as RetiredBrains.com and Seniors4Hire.com specialize in job seekers age 50-plus. Consider uploading your r驩sum to make it easy for recruiters to find you and applying to job openings that interest you.

Stay active in their target profession

Attend professional conferences, take continuing education courses, pursue certification, or join a local business chamber.

Not only will this help you stay current and “in the know,” but it will also help you forge new relationships and potentially lead to your next fulfilling career opportunity.

Dr. Steven Lindner is the executive partner of The WorkPlace Group, a leading “think-tank” provider of talent acquisition and recruitment process outsourcing services helping employers find, screen, assess and onboard best talent.

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Posted by Elvis on 10/11/16 •
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Wednesday, September 07, 2016

The Ultimate Selishness Or Not?

suicide is always an option

There’s Nothing Selfish About Suicide

By Katie Hurley
Author, The Happy Kid Handbook
August 14, 2014

I am a survivor of suicide.

I don’t talk about it a lot these days, as I’ve reached the point where it feels like a lifetime ago. Healing was a long and grief-stricken process. There were times when I felt very alone in my grief and there were times when I felt lost and confused. The trouble with suicide is that no one knows what to say. No one knows how to react. So they smile and wave and attempt distraction… but they never ever say the word. The survivors, it seems, are often left to survive on their own.

I experienced endless waves of emotion in the days, weeks, months and even years following the loss of my father. The “what ifs” kept me up at night, causing me to float through each day in a state of perpetual exhaustion. What if I had answered the phone that night? Would the sound of my voice have changed his mind? Would he have done it at a later date, anyway? Survivor’s guilt, indeed.

Sometimes, I cried. Sometimes, I sat perfectly still watching the waves crash down on Main Beach, hoping for a sign of some kind that he had reached a better place. Sometimes, I silently scolded myself for not seeing the warning signs. Sometimes, I bargained with God or anyone else who might be in charge up there. Bring him back to us. Please, just bring him back. Sometimes I felt angry. Why us? Why me? Why him?

Yes, I experienced a range of emotions before making peace with the loss. But one thought that never ever (not even for one second) crossed my mind was this ill-informed opinion that suicide is selfish. Suicide is a lot of things, but selfish isn’t one of them.

SUICIDE IS A DECISION made out of DESPERATION, HOPELESSNESS, ISOLATION and LONELINESS. The black hole that is clinical depression is all-consuming. Feeling like a burden to loved ones, feeling like there is no way out, feeling trapped and feeling isolated are all common among people who suffer from depression.

People who say that suicide is selfish always reference the survivors. It’s selfish to leave children, spouses and other family members behind, so they say. They’re not thinking about the survivors, or so they would have us believe. What they don’t know is that those very loved ones are the reason many people hang on for just one more day. They do think about the survivors, probably up until the very last moment in many cases. But the soul-crushing depression that envelops them leaves them feeling like there is no alternative. Like the only way to get out is to opt out. And that is a devastating thought to endure.

Until you’ve stared down that level of depression, until you’ve lost your soul to a sea of emptiness and darkness… you don’t get to make those judgments. You might not understand it, and you are certainly entitled to your own feelings, but making those judgments and spreading that kind of negativity won’t help the next person. In fact, it will only hurt others.

As the world mourns the loss of Robin Williams, people everywhere are left feeling helpless and confused. HOW COULD someone who appeared so happy in actuality be so very depressed? The truth is that many, many people face the very same struggle each and every day. Some will commit suicide. Some will attempt. And some will hang on for dear life. Most won’t be able to ask for the help that they need to overcome their mental illness.

You can help.

Know the warning signs for suicide. 50-75% of people who attempt suicide will tell someone about their intention. Listen when people talk. Make eye contact. Convey empathy. And for the love of people everywhere, put down that ridiculous not-so-SmartPhone and be human.

Check in on friends struggling with depression. Even if they don’t answer the phone or come to the door, make an effort to let them know that you are there. Friendship isn’t about saving lost souls; friendship is about listening and being present.

Reach out to survivors of suicide. Practice using the words “suicide” and “depression” so that they roll off the tongue as easily as “unicorns” and “bubble gum.” Listen as they tell their stories. Hold their hands. Be kind with their hearts. And hug them every single time.

Encourage help. Learn about the resources in your area so that you can help friends and loved ones in need. Don’t be afraid to check in over and over again. Don’t be afraid to convey your concern. One human connection can make a big difference in the life of someone struggling with mental illness and/or survivor’s guilt.

30,000 people commit suicide in the United States each year. 750,000 people attempt suicide. It’s time to raise awareness, increase empathy and kindness, and bring those numbers down.

It’s time to talk about suicide and depression.

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Posted by Elvis on 09/07/16 •
Section Dealing with Layoff • Section Personal
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Monday, August 15, 2016

How to Approach the Generation Gap in the Workplace

How to Approach the Generation Gap in the Workplace

NY Times
August 9, 2015

A generation gap is widening in the workplace. As baby boomers (ages 51 to 69 or so) express reluctance about retiring, so-called millennials (roughly ages 18 to 34) have become the single largest demographic in the American labor force. Because of this, more older workers have found themselves being hired and managed by people much younger than they are.

The Workologist hears fairly frequently from people who have experienced fallout from this reversal of expectations including cases that might run afoul of age discrimination laws. But often the problems are more subtle and ambiguous, which makes them harder to address. So on the second anniversary of this column, I asked readers to help me get a handle on the issue. I was inspired by a query from a 52-year-old job candidate who wondered, after a baffling interview that did not lead to a job, about the thinking of hiring managers who were significantly younger than her. I sought to offer practical suggestions for applicants looking for work in a job market that often prizes youthful qualities over experience, or to help workers reporting to a manager a couple of decades their junior. So I reversed this columnגs traditional formula and asked readers for their thoughts and tips.

You had plenty to say, offering hundreds of thoughtful, useful and insightful replies. The overwhelming majority of respondents who revealed their ages were 50 or older. While their advice encompassed a range of attitudes and experiences, several common themes and suggestions emerged. My thanks to everyone who responded.

CHECK YOUR OWN BIAS. “For starters, it’s worth remembering that making age-based assumptions works both ways,” wrote Julianna Warren, echoing a point made by several other readers. “Don’t assume that bosses or co-workers who lack your experience need a lecture about how things were done back in the day: A co-worker, no matter how young, may know more than you do about some things, and information-sharing can be a useful two-way street.”

Keep in mind that any manager or potential employer is likely to pick up on a lack of respect, and behave accordingly. Jack Terry proposed a few questions worth asking: “Are you dismissing the millennial in the workplace? Do you roll your eyes when they talk about student loan debt? Do you poke fun at their use of technology? If so, step back for a moment and rethink your approach,” he wrote. “What was life like for you at that age?” His advice is to build a bridge and connect with the people you work with.

“Be open to learning from younger people,” said Mary Jacobs, who described a “great experience” with a boss 23 years her junior. “She saw how I could help her,” Ms. Jacobs wrote, “but that didn’t mean she always wanted the hard-earned-wisdom point of view. If she didn’t follow my advice, I let it go.”

SEE IT THEIR WAY. “It’s possible that some younger managers don’t want talented, energetic older people blocking ambitious career paths,” wrote Jim Rowbotham. In short, a perceived slight may spring from fear rather than disrespect.

William Cannon also pointed to that possibility, and suggested allaying that concern by clearly signaling that “you respect the authority of your boss. Be strategic about demonstrating your experience and wisdom,” he said: “Hold your tongue and allow your expertise to slip out a bit at a time,” and work toward consensus with your boss and larger work team.

Show the same respect you did for more seasoned bosses in the past, JMG (who did not want his full name used) wrote: “Your knowledge and experience will be valued if the younger boss is not threatened, and knows that you have his (or her) back.”

AGE, AND HOW TO ACT IT. One of my favorite responses came from Robert Goldfarb, 85, a working management consultant. “The moment I enter the office of a prospective client, there’s an elephant in the room,” he wrote. “My age.” He says he makes sure to skip allusions to Grace Kelly or Sugar Ray Leonard (much less Sugar Ray Robinson). But more seriously, he seeks to demonstrate immediately, through conversation and attitude that “what I have become is more important than a number,” he said. “I’m there to talk about tomorrow, not yesterday.”

Many readers made similar points about projecting the right attitude, and a word that came up over and over was ԓenergy. A surprising number of self-identified ԓolder respondents also emphasized fitness and other elements of physical appearance. I have mixed feelings about that: ItԒs obviously good to stay healthy, but Im not sure what to make of, for instance, one suggestion involving a Facebook video ғof me dead lifting 275 pounds last month.

The more useful framing is probably less extreme. ԓYou dont have to dress or talk like someone whoҒs 20 or 30 years younger, Leslie Wengenroth wrote, ԓbut you need to negate the stereotypical views that people often have of an older person. Project enthusiasm and engagement. People who seem to be looking to mark time until retirement arenԒt going to make a great impression, whatever their age. If youre not sure how you come across, Ms. Wengenroth said, record or make a video of yourself, ғor ask a friend for honest feedback.

Mr. GoldfarbԒs experience certainly suggests the right presentation trumps the stereotypes: One of his recent jobs was for a marketing firm where he was interviewed by staff who appeared fresh out of nursery school,Ӕ he wrote. I told the firmӒs C.E.O. I was surprised his young team selected me. I was, too,ђ he said, but they told me they wanted your wisdom.ђ

NUMBERS GAMES. Multiple readers had related rԩsum suggestions for job seekers of a certain age. You do not need to list every single job you铒ve ever held, all the way back to the 64 WorldҒs Fair, Cathi Venis said. Several others advised omitting the year of a college degree if youԒre concerned it might date you.

Jane DeWitt had an interesting perspective on this, having been a young hiring manager in the past, and an olderӔ job seeker today. She has added one of the younger ex-colleagues with whom she had a terrificӔ relationship to her list of references.

TECH TECH TECH.I doubt anyone will be surprised to hear that many readers emphasized staying current with technology. Many also pointed out that this is easier to do than ever: From instructional YouTube videos to courses at your local library, the resources are endless. Be conversant in tech-tool developments in your field; be curious about (not dismissive of) such developments in general; and be proactive, so youre not just promising that you are willing to keep learning, but demonstrating that you do so all the time.

Readers also stressed the importance of social media platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter. Your future may not depend on obsessing over a digital ғfollowing, but the fact that these tools are so popular makes them worth exploring ԗ and some can be useful networking aids. Dismissing the entire category out of hand can, intentionally or not, send a message that youre closed-minded and resistant to change.

THE GOOD NEWS. The last of the recurring themes that I have space to mention boils down to: DonҒt assume victimhood,Ӕ as one reader, Lance Tukell, put it. I coach those wishing to obtain employment to focus on things that they can control, chronological age not being one of them.Ӕ

And while the reader response has made it clear that age bias can be a real challenge, there are many counterexamples that demonstrate how its being overcome. Consider Tony Maramarco’s description of a work team whose members range in age from 24 to 68: Those on the “younger side” acknowledge our decades of experience and respect us for our competence. We on the “older side” don’t preach or pontificate and remain open to new ideas.

“Have confidence, be curious,” advised A. Lucas, who is 62 and working happily with colleagues half her age and younger at a start-up. “And if they don’t want to work with you because you’re ‘too old’ perhaps you don’t want to work with them either,” she said.

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Posted by Elvis on 08/15/16 •
Section Dealing with Layoff • Section Job Hunt
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Friday, June 03, 2016

Can’t Find A Qualified US Worker Redux 2

geek.jpg

Dear Mr. (name withheld),

Your top management apparently believes that making everyone else in the company feel powerless - including managers at your level - helps the bottom line. That’s been proven wrong, again and again. As the management guru Edwards Deming documented more than four decades ago, companies that empower employees by telling them what they need to accomplish and then giving them wide latitude to decide how best to do it perform far better than companies that dictate everything. A recent study by the Jackson Organization shows that “companies that effectively appreciate employee value enjoy a return on equity and assets more than triple that experienced by firms that don’t.”

I’d advise you to join with a half-dozen other managers at your level who understand this and approach top management together, starting with a memo outlining why the company’s current draconian policies are failing, and how other large companies are succeeding by giving their employees more responsibility rather than less (Costco, Apple, Proctor&Gamble, Starbucks), and suggesting a meeting to discuss. If top management has any shred of insight or integrity, it will follow up. Good luck to you.
- Robert Reich

People blossom when they feel loved. People who feel loved feel better about themselves. They’re more articulate, they take more risks out in the world, they’re able to be more independent. When people feel loved it grows them.  Knowing that you matter to someone else and that someone has your back gives you a strength.
- Dr. Sue Johnson

The worst leaders are petty and selfish. Good leaders value their entire staff. They recognize their success depends on serving and helping their whole staff succeed..
- Anonymous

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When I got my tech job at AT&T a couple of generations ago, the first thing they did was send me for a few months to their school - AT&T University.  Then I spent six months as an apprentice, working alongside a veteran technician installing, maintaining, and troubleshooting equipment.  After that, I was allowed to work semi-solo for another six months - heavily monitored and coached. Finally I was officially recognized as a “qualified technician” and trusted to be alone with customers and the MAGIC that makes PHONE CALLS work. 

Training never stopped.  As new technology was introduced, I was sent to school for theory, then hands on, then to work.

I spent a lot of years working for AT&T as a highly skilled, highly productive technician.  The company got a good worker, and paid us well with a good salary and benefits. Life was a win-win for everyone, until THINGS CHANGED.

The apprentice program has been around for eons - and works.

I don’t care how many books someone can throw at me on anything - without hands on experience, and without a little guidance by a seasoned veteran - it’s lacking.

Sure I can read a how-to guide on fixing a leaky faucet - but after I’m done reading, it’s off to the faucet to change a washer.  And if my plumber friend were around, he can show me how the pros do it.

Would you trust a pilot that read reams of flight manuals but never flew a plane? 

Neither would I. Pilots go through school, and hours in a simulator before getting near a cockpit. Then they fly alongside a veteran pilot for another few thousand hours before getting their wings. How about a bus driver? Would you a trust a guy that read a bunch of books on proper bus driving techniques, knows exactly how many passengers a bus can safely hold - but never got behind the wheel?  Neither would I. 

How good can anyone be at reading a book on golf, but never actually swinging a club?

About as good as a fat slob showing you how to loose weight.

Did Bruce Lee get his black belt reading books how to throw a good punch?

No.  He got in a bunch of street fights.

TODAY in business the apprenticeship program - like LONGEVITY and GOOD JOBS - is all but gone. Companies hire TEMPORARY workers, or try to swindle the government to train its workers, threatening to offshore/outsource work if it doesn’t.  Take the PLATFORM TO EMPLOYMENT. It’s much needed help for LONG-TERM unemployed BOOMERS, and a great idea in musical chairs - get the taxpayers to train older people while CEOS SING to the music of subsidized training and internships - and companies will HIRE THEM for what FEW JOBS are available, instead of young COLLEGE grads.

Then there’s the job I have today - an EXPRESSION of corporate ATTITUDES nowadays in CUSTOMER SERVICE.  I’m an outsourced CALL CENTER rep for a company whose products and technology I know next to nothing about, yet a FIRST CONTACT for its technical support.  Before being sent out to the production floor, I was was given some computer based reading material, and shown a couple of the products in a back room. Customers are annoyed and frustrated when they call in looking for help on hardware or software I’m supposed to be an expert on - but the only things I know come from that stuff I just read.  How’s that for real world experience?  Criticising our work and PUTTING US DOWN is the norm. When I mess up on a trouble ticket - which is easy with inadequate training and lack of exposure - the mistakes are shared by management both as an internal note on the ticket for all employees to see, and broadcast on an intracompany mail list.  Some people work for free through lunch to catch up on their assignments which is often more work than can be handled without cutting corners and getting sloppy. Some do it to SUCK-UP to management, others fear getting fired for not keeping up with everyone else. The level of NEGATIVE FEEDBACK and MICROMANAGEMENT is SUFFOCATING.  And our inbound phone calls are recorded and monitored. 

How effective and ENGAGING is that? 

About THIS EFFECTIVE:

When you finally do get through to an agent, you’ll hear something like: “Welcome to DSL technical support, my name is Larry how can I help you today?” You give Larry your account number and begin to explain your situation, knowing all the while that this is a formality. As soon as you stop talking he’ll begin the same dance you’ve danced every time you call tech support.

You conclude your exhaustive rundown of your case history. There’s a beat, and then Larry responds, “I understand sir. Can you tell me. Is your computer plugged in?”

Every call Larry takes is subject to quality control which means he’s being monitored. And the Big Brother in this particular situation requires he ask you if the computer is plugged in, if the power is on and if the monitor is on as well. If he gets caught doing something else he’ll get fired. He doesn’t necessarily think you’re borderline retarded, he just has no autonomy whatsoever. Larry is like a CSI: Miami cast member: a now-soulless abomination with a script that he must follow against his better judgment.

Most tech support agents you’ve spoken with are sitting in a giant, cubicle-strewn mess of a room with hundreds of other agents, all at their computers with headsets on, all running the same tech support software. Most don’t actually have any computer expertise. By and large they’re recent high school grads, single moms or social malcontents who refuse to wear anything that doesn’t feature a character from a Tim Burton children’s movie on it. They’re trained for 30 days on the software and are encouraged to just read along with the computer for each call. So in most cases, Larry’s bosses aren’t exactly wrong for discouraging any off-prompter improvising.

That’s why every time you call with a different problem they ask you to do the same thing. It’s not that they don’t know what they’re doing (though they very likely may not), it’s that they only have one thing to do and this is it. It might help you feel less frustrated to think of each tech support call as a horrific fall down a set of stairs. Fight as much as you want, but there’s only one way that this can go, and each step leads to banging your head.

Which brings us to these articles.

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Its Time to Ditch 4 Years of Costly College for Directed Apprenticeships
Short, intense directed apprenticeships that teach students how to learn on their own to mastery are the future of higher education.

By Charles Hugh Smith
Washington’s Blog
June 2, 2016

So it turns out sitting in a chair for four years doesn’t deliver mastery in anything but the acquisition of staggering student-loan debt. Practical (i.e. useful) mastery requires not just hours of practice but directed deep learning via doing of the sort you only get in an apprenticeship.

The failure of our model of largely passive learning and rote practice is explained by Daniel Coyle in his book The Talent Code (sent to me by Ron G.), which upends the notion that talent is a genetic gift. It isn’t - in his words, its grown by deep practice, the ignition of motivation and master coaching.

Using these techniques, student reach levels of accomplishment in months that surpass those of students who spent years in hyper-costly conventional education programs. The potential to radically improve our higher education system while reducing the cost of that education by 90% is the topic of my books Get a Job, Build a Real Career and Defy a Bewildering Economy and The Nearly Free University and the Emerging Economy: The Revolution in Higher Education.

Let’s start by admitting our system of higher education is unsustainable and broken: a complete failure by any reasonable, objective standard. Tuition has soared $1,100% while the output of the system (the economic/educational value of a college degree) has declined precipitously.

A recent major study, Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses, concluded that American higher education is characterized by “limited or no learning for a large proportion of students.”

The typical graduate of a short, intense directed apprenticeship says “I learned more in a month here than I did in four years of college.” This is a statement of fact, and it is the result of the methods deployed in structured on-the-job training.

It is a fact that passively listening to a lecture does not generate the sort of mastery that creates economic value or the sort of deep understanding that is the goal of a classic liberal arts education.

Its also a fact that rote practice also doesnҒt lead to mastery, and often kills the very passion for a subject that in more productive programs jumpstarts mastery.

Our higher educational system has failed so badly that many students are incapable of writing/communicating effectively. In a world of rapidly changing technologies across every field and an emerging economy that places an ever-higher premium on collaboration and clear communication across multiple time zones and languages, the ability to writeclearly is absolutely essential.

To graduate students with poor writing skills is completely unforgivable. Yet in the current system, if a student logs the requisite number of credits, a diploma is duly issued, regardless of how little he/she actually learned.

Heres a six-month program that could replace four years of hyper-costly, ineffective university.

1. Teach the students how to learn on their own, for the rest of their lives. This could take as little as a few hours or days. Once a student learns how to pursue deep learning and deep practice on their own, they donҒt need years of classroomsthey just need the guidance of someone experienced in the field, i.e. a structured apprenticeship.

2. One semester in a wide variety of on-the-job experiences. Once students are given real experience in a variety of fields and industries, it֒s likely some spark of ignition will occur and theyll find the motivation to pursue real mastery instead of a worthless credential.

3. Directed apprenticeships plus online lectures/workshops by the best lecturers viewed before or after the studentsҒ real work. The key to learning deeply and learning fast is to push right up against the current level of competence, where failure occurs and can be addressed one piece at a time.

Interestingly, Coyle notes that the most successful incubators of talent around the world are generally in makeshift or decrepit buildings, not fancy new gleaming buildings of the sort that dot American college campuses. Surrounded by luxury, who feels any hunger to learn anything voraciously?

The entire campus experience should be jettisoned, not just as an overly expensive infrastructure but as a detriment to fast, deep learning that is the foundation of mastery.

It isn’t that hard to teach students how to improve their writing/communications skills very quickly, and give them a taste of the classic liberal arts education so many people claim is the goal of $120,000 four-year programs that fail to generate a deep understanding of anything remotely leading to mastery.

Give them a single sentence by Melville, Austin, et al. and have them compose a sentence that is like the original in cadence, structure and meaning in one minute flat. Go, go, go. Then break down each phrase and each component and work through each one to improve their first efforts, step by step. Repeat the process, always under intense time pressure.

Then take them out into the real world to report a journalistic story by interviewing people, checking facts, confirming quotes from sources, question the received wisdom around the topic and compose the story in journalistic style. Once again, break down their efforts line by line in comparison with a professional journalistsҒ story on the same topic.

Then, in the second class more doing the work at a breakneck pace, more being pushed beyond their current level of expertise, more corrections of errors and weaknesses, step by step, in a pressure-cooker of deadlines.

I can pretty much guarantee the students in such a directed apprenticeship will learn more about writing in a week than they would in a year of conventional coursework.

Short, intense directed apprenticeships that teach students how to learn on their own to mastery are the future of higher education. We can continue to squander trillions of dollars on an ineffective system until it finally collapses under its own weight, or we can admit the current contraption is unsustainable and a failure, and move on to a better, cheaper system.

SOURCE

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Businesses’ Responsibility to Train And Reskill The Long-Term Unemployed

By Matt Ferguson
CEO, CareerBuilder
October 18, 2013

Even though the U.S. job market continues to operate far below its potential, many employers are EXPRESSING FRUSTRATION over the quality of job seekers applying to their open positions. In a survey from CareerBuilder and Harris Interactive, 8 in 10 employers expressed concern over an emerging skills gap, but interestingly, only 4 in 10 employers believed their organizations were doing anything to close it.

To fix skill shortages in the near and long term, employers simply have to play a larger role in the process of training and reskilling.

Of course, there are many OTHER FACTORS critical to navigating the competitive talent market. Those include eliminating HIRING PRACTICES that inadvertently screen out qualified candidates, studying labor supply and demand data to see where top talent resides, and ensuring wages are both competitive and rising for skilled positions. Ultimately, however, more companies must take ownership of the problem by developing the skills they need internally.

While researching my forthcoming book, The Talent Equation, my co-authors and I spoke with executives at Humana, who at the time were finishing up the first phase of an initiative to hire 1,000 veterans or spouses of veterans in an effort to combat extremely high unemployment rates for post-9/11 service members. They proudly achieved their goal and were thrilled with the quality of their new hires. However, much of their success rested on their ability to hire for potential and train individuals who on paper may not have seemed like the perfect fit, but had enormous potential to succeed when given the right tools.

Humana’s and other companies’ efforts to reduce veteran unemployment is a learning moment. If we can acknowledge the ability of veterans and reward them with a job and training opportunities, I am confident the same can be done for the long-term unemployed.

This is an issue critical to securing an economic future that includes all Americans who seek to contribute. The share of the unemployed population that has been out of work for more than 27 weeks is nearly 40 percent - a high figure not reached in previous recoveries. As it stands now, the long-term unemployed, whether veterans or workers near the end of their careers, are at risk of being permanently left out of the workforce if their skills atrophy and their connections to the job market deteriorate.

Unfortunately, many companies have cut internal training programs or simply aren’t in the practice of teaching workers new technical skills. A 2012 CareerBuilder survey found that 47 percent of U.S., nongovernment employers either have no training budgets at all or have training budgets under $25,000 annually. Workers sense the dearth of training opportunities as well. Only 21 percent of workers said they’ve acquired a new skill through company-provided training over the previous five years, according to an Accenture survey.

Many companies argue that training for technical skills presents a risk. Why give a new worker a skill they can easily take to a competitor who didn’t make the same investment? But actually, empowering employment via training is a driver of retention and productivity gains if done well. A 2013 CareerBuilder survey found skills training and learning opportunities to be a better retention tactic for full-time workers than decreased workloads, academic reimbursement, and perks such as subsidized lunches, game rooms, or casual dress codes. Another study showed that training boosts productivity significantly more than labor costs, a signal that companies will reap the rewards of their investment.

It’s also possible to successfully train for technical skills in fast-growing information technology occupations over a short period of time and still produce skilled, functional employees. To test this hypothesis CareerBuilder hired ten long-term unemployed individuals in 2012 for a six-month, paid internship and trained them in Structured Query Language (SQL)—a programming language used for database management systems. Shortly after completing the program, seven of the interns landed full-time jobs and one went to school to earn a formal technology degree. We ran the program again in 2013 with similar success.

Some companies can’t afford to be at full staff, let alone establish a new training program. That’s understandable. But at a certain point we have to consider alternatives. If every employer capable of training for technical skills decides it’s not their responsibility, the very skill shortages hiring managers cite as a perennial concern will only be exacerbated.

It’s also important to note that extended vacancies come at a cost. One in four companies tells us they’ve lost revenue as a result of unfilled positions. Many more cite sinking morale among existing employees and reduced productivity. In light of this, an employer that is unable to fill key positions should question whether waiting for the perfect hire is worth these costs when an eager candidate can very likely learn the required skills and succeed in the role. I’m hopeful more companies will come to realize they have the tools to bring long-term unemployed workers back from the fold, thereby turning the page on one of the post-recession labor market’s most important issues.

This post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post and the “Close It” Summit, in conjunction with the upcoming “Close It” Summit (Nov. 5-7, 2013, in Washington, D.C.). The summit will address the U.S. job-market skills gap. For more information on the conference, please VISIT.

SOURCE

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Time to Focus on Your Best Performers

Your highest-performing employees may be just the ones most likely considering leaving your organization for another opportunity, especially since those with the strongest skills are generally also those in the highest demand. Keeping those employees is paramount for your organization’s success.

By Renee Charney and Carol A. Gravel
February 14, 2014

As the U.S. economy continues to show signs of life, organizations everywhere are slowly regaining their optimism. Recent job numbers show that applications for unemployment benefits are dropping and most months the jobs report continues to show a healthy net increase in the number of private-sector opportunities. The fact that companies are again hiring is good news, of course. But as employers, leaders, and Human Resources executives, we need to be aware that job growth also means more opportunities for employees who may wish to leave their current positions. If people are not happy where they are, if they’re not fully engaged, they may decide to go elsewhere.

Research and practice tells us that if your employees are not fully engaged they are more likely to seek employment elsewhere, i.e. to jump ship. In addition, as we see an increase in employment, people who have until now chosen to stay with their current employer may very well begin looking for other options that are more in line with their needs. A recent Yale University study of job mobility patterns over a 30-year period found that job mobility dramatically increases after a recession. To retain high-performing employees, it is vital to identify effective strategies to engage and retain your top talent.

A key element in employee retention is employee empowerment. Employee empowerment is not just a recent buzz word; it is in fact a planned and continued effort to provide employees with the ability to grow professionally, to take risks, and to make decisions on their own. The benefits of employee empowerment are well known. A small-business series published in the Houston Chronicle confirms that employee empowerment results in improved productivity, overall cost reductions and improved morale (just to name a few), all elements that directly relate to employee retention.

We recommend four specific ways to lay the groundwork for the kinds of empowerment that lead to highly engaged employees (and, therefore, to increased retention of your best performers):

Engage in Authentic and Transparent Conversations. This may sound simple, but too often we’ve seen leaders err on the side of sharing too little information with their teams rather than too much. In a Forbes article from 2011, leadership development consultant Kristi Hedges wrote that “authenticity is paramount and palpable.” She goes on to say that, “We are drawn to people as individuals, not as concepts such as business owner or boss. Great leaders take the time to really know others.” Engaged employees want to work for leaders who are self-aware, sharing, and trusting. That starts with openness. That openness models a behavior that your employees will pick up on and likely begin to model with their peers.

Challenge People. Often very talented people can fall into a “comfort zone,” a particular set of responsibilities where they feel safest. Empowering people also means pushing them a little bit and stretching them to find the edges of their comfort zones while at the same time providing the support that allows them to effectively face these new challenges. According to Jackson and Parry’s 2011 book titled A Very Short, Fairly Interesting and Reasonably Cheap Book about Studying Leadership, this practice of providing learning opportunities for your employees, coupled with demonstrating authentic and transparent leadership, increases the likelihood of dedicated and engaged followership.

Encourage Risk Taking. David Packard, American philanthropist and a founding half of Hewlett-Packard, said this: “Take risks. Ask big questions. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes; if you don’t make mistakes, you’re not reaching far enough.” How often do we, as leaders, encourage rather than discourage risk taking? Engaged employees want to take chances, want to try new things, and followers who work in an environment where they are trusted to learn from their mistakes are more likely to increase their discretionary efforts. Sure, they’ll fall down, and that’s when it’s a leader’s job to help them up. So let them take chances; let them reach “far enough.”

Give Trust. Too often in our culture we talk of having to earn trust, as if trust is some currency that can be passed from hand to hand. In our view, trust is something to give as well as earn, and one way to engage effectively with your employees is simply to assume trust. As often as not, your lack of trust may end up being self-fulfilling. Try it the other way, giving trust rather than forcing it to be earned. In the words of Susan Scott, author of the book Fierce Leadership, “Don’t just hold them accountable—hold them able!” You’ll be amazed at how often people will live up to your expectations—and will trust you all the more for trusting them.

These four strategies serve to create environments where employees will be more willing to step up or lean in, more willing to challenge themselves, and more willing to assume accountability for results. The four strategies help you to create an environment where people feel empowered. Empowered employees will fuel your company—and will want to stay on your ship—versus someone else’s.

We note, however, that employee empowerment also brings with it some changes for leaders. For many leaders it may seem easier to manage with a directed approach, but “micro-management” will in fact stifle employee empowerment. As Richard Porterfield, author of “The Perils of Micromanagement” writes: “Managers who insist on being involved in every detail demoralize their employees, add unnecessary stress to their own lives, and endanger their organization’s long-term success.” Leaders need to recognize that empowering their staff means they may need to learn new leadership skills.

There’s also the question of organizational alignment. One of the key elements of employee empowerment is that employees make decisions and take risks. You should align your teams and departments to ensure collaboration but also to focus on achieving the organizational goals. If your organization is not aligned to create awareness of what other groups are doing, as well as a clear understanding of the organizational goals, empowered employees will not be able to help your organization be successful.

We encourage you to begin practicing these four simple strategies for retaining your high-performing employees. Start with one team or one department to begin with and learn from that experience. Leaders who engage and empower employees to achieve the organization’s goals provide an opportunity for individuals and teams to contribute to the overall success of the organization. That success, and the empowering behaviors that lead to it, are the keys to retaining your best employees.

Renee Charney is the Founder and President of Charney Coaching & Consulting LLC, a New Hampshire-based leadership and organizational-consulting company. She can be reached at rcharney at charneycc.com. Carol A. Gravel is an associate professor of human resource management at Franklin Pierce University, where she is the program director for the MBA/HRM program and is the faculty advisor for the Franklin Pierce University SHRM student chapter. She can be reached at gravelc at franklinpierce.edu.

SOURCE

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A bad job is harder on your mental health than unemployment

By Stephen Bevan
Mashable
December 17, 2014

There can be no doubt that the job market has been more resilient since the financial crisis than many imagined. Unemployment did not rise as far as was feared and the recovery in employment to pre-recession levels HAS BEEN QUICKER THAN FORECAST by even the most optimistic labour economists. So, time for some self-congratulatory back-slapping among policy makers then? On the surface of things, at least, it looks like a jobs miracle, despite the belt-tightening of austerity.

Unfortunately, having studied the quality of jobs which many people in the United Kingdom are now doing, this is not entirely the case. The UK labor market is, indeed, performing well but we have a growing and potentially CORROSIVE PROBLEM of poor quality, precarious and temporary work which threatens our productivity and competitiveness, levels of social inclusion and, ultimately, the health of the workforce.

Many will argue that this contingent work is essential if we are to have a FLEXIBLE LABOR MARKET and this, of course, has always been the case. But how about the effects of this kind of work on the people doing it?

My research has focused on the relationship between the kinds of contingent work that has poor psychosocial quality and the mental health of the workers doing it. And findings force us to ask, perhaps heretically, whether we are actually always better off in work.

Work and well-being

Psychosocial job quality involves the degree to which jobs promote control, autonomy, challenge, variety and task discretion. It effects the extent to which work enhances or diminishes our psychological well-being.

There’s a clear link between being engaged in “good work” and mental health. An important contribution to our understanding of this link has come from the Household, Income and Labor Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey in Australia. It brings together a robust set of data that can be easily compared with other situations such as unemployment. THE RESULTS, published by Peter Butterworth and colleagues at the Australian National University have global resonance for countries that are serious about developing an understanding of what being “better off” in work really means, beyond narrow economic definitions.

The received wisdom is that being out of work is a bad thing. It certainly is bad, as we know, for income. It is also bad for self-esteem, dignity, social inclusion, relationships and health. So, all other things being equal, a policy position that promotes getting people back into work is both rational and evidence-based.

But, building on this position, and especially during a period of high unemployment, the received wisdom also tells us that any job is a good job. This axiom informs current UK policy towards compulsory work experience and the “workfare” or “work-for-benefits” thinking which many politicians now favor.

Worse than unemployment

Being in poor-quality work which, perhaps, is boring, routine or represents underemployment or a poor match for the employee’s skills is widely regarded as a good way for the unemployed to remain connected to the labor market and to keep the work habit. But Butterworth’s data contradicts this. The HILDA data shows unambiguously that the psychosocial quality of bad jobs is WORSE THAN UNEMPLOYMENT. Butterworth looked at those moving from unemployment into employment and found that:

Those who moved into optimal jobs showed significant improvement in mental health compared to those who remained unemployed. Those respondents who moved into poor-quality jobs showed a significant worsening in their mental health compared to those who remained unemployed.

So now we have a slightly different answer to the question about the unemployed being better off in work. Yes they are, as long as they are in good-quality jobs. If they are in bad jobs, there is a perversely strong chance that they will be worse off ŗ especially in terms of their mental health.

Again, for those who think that there should be punitive undertones to policies to get unemployed people back to work would do well to question whether the “any job is a good job” maxim is as accurate as they like to think. Moreover, we should probably question whether the revolving-door characteristics of some policies in which many people fall back out of work soon after being found a job might in part ח owe their poor performance to the damaging psychosocial quality of the work itself.

This shouldn’t stop us from straining every sinew to help people find work. But it should make us think a lot more about how the quality of jobs can affect our health and productivity. Even in a recession, the uncomfortable truth may be that “any job” may not be a good job at all.

SOURCE

Posted by Elvis on 06/03/16 •
Section Dealing with Layoff • Section Dying America
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