jobs

The 9 Hour, 12 minute and 36 second challenge 1

How do you spend your workday? On average, a full-time American worker spends 9 hours, 12 minutes and 36 seconds working and commuting. Do you enjoy what you do? Can you honestly say “I can’t believe they are paying me to do this?

I spent a summer during college working for the Virginia Institute of Marine Science. My job was to collect water samples in the Chesapeake Bay. I would tow an 18 foot Grady-White motor boat with twin Mercury outboards to different rivers that feed into the Bay. I would then follow the incoming tide, stopping to take water samples at designated intervals. One overcast day I saw two water spouts dancing around the mouth of the York River. I saw magnificent sunrises, sunsets and met interesting people at every marina I stopped at. “I couldn’t believe they were paying me to do what I would have done for free”.

Ok, you’ve got me. Having a summer job and “working for a living” is not the same thing. But, the closer you can get to that feeling, the more satisfaction you will get from your 9 hours, 12 minutes and 36 seconds.

Four ways a new job is like Back-to-School 0

Back to school cartoon

Going back-to-school is a lot like starting a new job

When you begin a new job, it’s a clean slate. Just like the first day of a new school year, everything is before you. The opportunities are endless. Then comes:

  1. The first pop quiz (A question from your boss about how you would handle something)
  2. The first written test ( You must write the proposal to land  the Attwood Sewing Machine account)
  3. The first report card (Your 90 day review can be nerve-wracking even if you know you’re doing a good job)
  4. Parent/Teacher Night ( Ok, your job won’t have that, but you may be invited to social functions that your significant other is expected to attend)

Have a plan for your new job, set your own expectations. You will be better prepared for the first pop quiz and everything that follows.

Are You Using Your Vacation Time This Year? 1

 I met Steve when he spoke this spring at a WCBS and The Wall Street Journal sponsored Small Business Breakfast in Connecticut. He’s a fascinating guy with an interesting background. The story of how he became the spokesman for Jobs on WCBS is a story to itself.

Take a listen to Steve’s thoughts on vacations from his recent Podcast.

Then weigh in on your vacation plans.

 

Five Ways To Bring Your Job Search Into Focus 4

Is Your Job Search In Focus?

Yesterday I had an eye exam. I was left alone by the nurse and  I was looking at all of the equipment. I realized that together these were tools to help my Doctor understand clearly what was going on with my eyes, helping him bring my vision into focus.

As he was very busy, I had a few minutes to ponder how job seekers could bring their search into focus. Before he came into the examining room, I came up with five:

  1. Know What Your Greatest Strengths Are – If you really understand what you do best, you can match that to specific job postings, not wasting your time “spraying and praying”.
  2. Include Key Words on Your Resume – If you are applying online and you are not doing this, you are probably wondering why you haven’t heard from anyone. LinkedIn offers help with Key Words. Click on Your Profile, go into “more” and you will see Skills and Expertise. Enter key words from the job posting and you will see additional ideas
  3. Do Your Homework – If you need to ask the interviewer “what they do”, you are wasting their time. Set up Google alerts for every company you are considering. Search the companies websites for interesting facts. Read up on regulations that may affect the industry.
  4. Practice – The more you practice interviewing, the more comfortable you will be. Enlist a friend or family member and conduct mock interviews. Or put sample questions on cards, stand in front of a mirror and practice answering them,
  5. Stay The Course – It’s easy to get very excited when the phone rings. Landing an interview could mean you are one meeting away from a job. But you need to treat your job search as an on-going process. Your focus needs to be on the big picture, which means continuing to research companies, continuing to send out resumes and continuing to follow up on applications you have submitted.

My Doctor, when he finally got to see me, corrected my vision and brought things into focus. You can bring  your job search into focus by doing these five things.

3 Reasons The Jobs Report Is Good News 0

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1. There are still jobs being created

2. If you are consistently doing the right thing, you can still land a job     

3. You will be successful if you give yourself permission to get the job  

Students – What You Get From A Summer Job That You Can’t Get In The Classroom 4

You may get more than a paycheck from your summer job

In high school, I had after school jobs doing landscaping and I pumped gas. Each summer when school was out I would work the grave yard shift at a gas station. I’d go in at 11PM at night and get off at 7AM the next morning. I thought it was great because then I could spend the day with my friends in a boat on the water. I’d sleep a little bit in the evening, sometimes a very little bit,  and then go back to work.

To get through college, I drove a school bus and I was the Assistant Manager and Projectionist at Cinema City Theaters in Tabb, Virginia. Later I had jobs on campus in Student Government and even taught sailing for the college as an adjunct professor to earn some extra money. I made it through high school and college with all of those part and full-time jobs. At the time all I thought I was getting from them was a paycheck. But as I look back at them know, I know got a lot more.

I learned about alarm clocks and how to get places on time. I learned that employers expect you to show up at 11AM if they put you on the schedule for 11AM. I learned they don’t mean show up somewhere around 11AM ’cause we know you were out late and you may need a little extra time to get going today.

I learned about raises by watching what happened to those who had been at jobs longer than I had. I saw that those who were rewarded were usually the ones who were solving problems for the boss, taking on extra responsibilities and making the day go smoother. I saw that the employees who always had a problem with something were not well liked and in time were no longer employees.  I also saw that the Boss’s son seemed to get away with things that no one else could (and never got fired).

I learned how to deal with supervisors and managers and owners of the small businesses I worked for. I found that the relationships I developed with them were far different from the ones I had with my teachers in the classroom. Each workplace had its own structure, its own set of rules. Some places I worked were very strict.

I spent three weeks and three days as a fry cook for a new fast food restaurant that opened near the college. Very strict, very high expectations and very greasy. At the movie theater, my boss was just the opposite. She was much more laid back and as long as things got done when they needed to be done, life was ok. She even let me borrow the company van so I could take five friends with me to the Hampton Roads Coliseum to see Jethro Tull in concert.  Pretty wild.

Some of my friends actually thought about the types of summer jobs they took and found internships and jobs in the field they wanted to pursue. At the time it just seemed kind of cool, but now I see how helpful that was to their ultimate career choices. You might want to give some thought to the types of jobs you seek out in high school and beyond. They really can be the groundwork for rewarding jobs after school.

It’s not too late to find a summer job. And if you already have one, congratulations! Enjoy your summer away from the classroom, but as you work and earn a paycheck, don’t be surprised if you actually learn something.

Forget everything you have heard about interviewing 1

I have written many, many articles about the responsibilities a person has when going for an interview. But what about the responsibilities of the interviewer? In speaking with job applicants recently, I am hearing that the person conducting the interview:

  • was late for the interview
  • was unprepared
  • asked inappropriate (and sometimes illegal) questions
  • was unclear about the job description for the position they were hiring for

So all of the preparation candidates do by practicing the answers to basic questions and having great questions to ask may not be enough to land the job. While forgetting all of that preparation really isn’t the answer, my suggestion is that you have a plan for the interview. Don’t wait to be asked. Have a plan to communicate your abilities, but more importantly how you use those abilities to solve problems. Regardless of the job you are applying for, the reason there is a job opening is because the company has a problem and they are hiring to solve it.

It may be that they are swamped with phone calls for orders and so their problem is they don’t have enough experienced sales people or the company is looking to expand into China and they don’t have an experienced manager who is fluent in Mandarin. By identifying the specific  problem the company has, the problem the interviewer is hiring for, you can land the job by showing that you can solve the problem.

In the end, it is up to you to show, with specific stories, that you are the right person for the job. By understanding that the person doing the interview may be more nervous and much less prepared than you are, you can help them by showing them what they need to know to hire you.

While that’s not what you usually hear about how to land a job, in today’s market, it may be what you must do to stand out, to end up in your next new hire orientation!

Last night I met the strongest man in the world. And he is looking for a new job. 2

Last night I met the strongest man in the world. And he is looking for a new job. He currently works in a hospital, the hospital that helped save his life almost 13 years ago.
The strongest man in the world has been awarded three Emmys, The Associated Press Award for Best New Jersey Newscast and two Corporation for Public Broadcasting Awards as a Television Producer. The strongest man in the world has traveled the world teaching others how to be the best in broadcasting, even traveling to Russia and Kosovo (that’s a story in itself). His opportunities were endless, his enthusiasm enormous and his confidence unshakable.
When the strongest man in the world came in contact with Kryptonite, his whole world collapsed. It took away the use of the entire left side of his body and stirred up his mind so he couldn’t articulate his thoughts. This would have dampened the spirits of a mere mortal, but not the strongest man in the world. He found the antidote to the Kryptonite was his own attitude about the effects it was having on him.
Within weeks, the strongest man in the world was walking and talking. He learned to read again, to interact, to strengthen the limbs that the kryptonite had made fallow. Soon the strongest man in the world was helping others in the hospital who had also come in contact with kryptonite, sharing his experience and sharing his vision of a better future, a stronger future, a future free of the effects of Kryptonite.
More than a decade later, the scars from his encounter with Kryptonite are not visible to the naked eye. The one that remains is the ability to feel unshakeable confidence. Yet as you talk with the strongest man in the world, you see that his regaining this skill too, is inevitable. Having come so far, he is ready to face the job market and get back to the work he loves, the creativity and collaborative endeavors that allow him to use his superhuman strength for the good of others. The right job will be found, the career path once again joined.
I believe there are more Emmys in his future. For after all, to me, he is the strongest man in the world.

The Shocking Truth About Today’s Jobs Number 1

Bleak May unemployment report suggests economic recovery may be stalling

The Labor Department reported on Friday that the nation’s economy added only 69,000 jobs in May, bringing the unemployment rate to 8.2% – The Washington Post  

Until this morning, the Jobs reports over the past few months have been encouraging. People are actually quitting jobs. In some sectors, good paying jobs are going unfilled. So why did the one point uptick send the markets into a tumble and cause network reporters to spend the day saying “the jobs sky is falling”?

The shocking truth is that things really haven’t changed since 2008. People are playing their cards closer to the vest. Employers are stretching the limits of their existing employees productivity rather than hire. And businesses, unsure of the political climate, are reluctant to invest in long-term projects which create new jobs.

WASHINGTON — A new study from the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the Great Recession that technically ended in 2009 has doubled the time it takes before the average unemployed person either finds a job or gives up looking for work.

Each month, BLS announces the latest unemployment rate and several other characteristics of the workforce, including the length of time people have been jobless. Last Friday’s announcement brought news that the average unemployed person had been looking for work for 39.7 weeks as of May (the median length of unemployment rose to 22 weeks). Huffington Post

So the truth is landing a job is going to be work. You need to have a long-term focus even if “you need the job now”. If you start with the right attitude, you will greatly increase your odds of success. Avoiding highs and lows helps keep your emotional energy intact. Make sure you set goals for how many interviews you will have, resumes you will send and the amount of time you will spend networking to find work.

When you get interviews, think of them as just a step in the process. Keep your routine going until you find yourself in a new hire orientation. Then you can relax and congratulate yourself for a job well done.

3 Ways Job Seekers Tell Stories During An Interview 3

What kind of story are you telling?

The more I speak with job seekers, the more I am certain that those who are getting hired tell a better story. They have taken the time to think about their past experiences and have practiced telling specific stories about specific actions they have taken.  They can tell an employer what the problem was, what action they took to solve the problem and how it came out.

During an interview for any position that involves interaction with customers, you will most likely be asked something like “tell me about a time when you had a problem customer; what was the problem, what did you do to resolve the problem and how did it turn out”?

Here are three ways people answer:

1. Having interviewed several thousand applications, almost two-thirds  will gloss over their answer. It’s as if they are taking a few experiences and mashing them together, then talking in general terms about it. There is a generic “someone was upset, I called a manager, I think it was ok”. Even getting that out of many applicants is a struggle. Sadly, many applicant stand out because they can’t tell a simple story of how they helped someone.

2. Without a magic potion that will make the applicant’s nose grow with each “untruth” they tell, an interviewer can never be 100% certain if the applicant is telling the truth. Yet some applicants feel the need to embellish their story in order to make themselves look better on paper or sound better in an interview. Most experienced hiring managers will understand what is going on. Just be yourself, sincere, honest and enthusiastic. Making up stories is never the right answer.

3. Having taken the time to think about your job experiences before the interview and the ways you have helped customers, you pick the experience that most closely fits the job you are applying for and you simply relate the story like you would tell it to a family member.

“It was Christmas Eve, I was the store manager for Best Products in Hopewell, VA. My phone rang about 8:30 PM and it was a customer who had bought a large ride on car for his 4-year-old son for Christmas. He was putting it together and found the battery was missing. He was very upset that his son’s Christmas was going to be ruined.

I told him to meet me at the store and I would get him the battery. I called my assistant manager to meet me there, just in case it was a setup (it wasn’t) and I went to the store. We found the battery the man needed and his son’s Christmas was saved.”

While you may not have solved a customer problem on Christmas Eve, I am certain you have gone out of your way to take care of a customer issue. Maybe you dropped off a set of plans on your way home, you called someone and got a needed repair done quicker or  you beat a deadline for a customer and made him or her look good as a result.

Take a few minutes right now and go back through your customer service experiences. Then you will be ready for your next interview, standing out for the right reasons. You will set yourself ahead of two-thirds of the applicants just by this one idea.

And if you feel like sharing, I know we would all benefit from hearing your personal “Christmas Eve” story.