Thoughts, Ideas, and Concepts by Sandra Parks

Archive for the ‘Employment Help’ Category

INTERESTING ARTICLE ON YAHOO

SEWELL, New Jersey (Reuters) – Mary Kay Coyne has just filed what she says is her 1,862nd job application since being thrown out of work three years ago.

She is one of millions of Americans whose unemployment benefits have expired — after 99 weeks in many states — as the United States suffers its highest level of long-term unemployment since 1948.

Coyne had to move in with a friend after benefit payments ran out last year. Now she gets by on Medicaid — U.S. health insurance for the poor — and food stamps, contributing what little she can to her friend’s household costs.

“You’re 56-years old and you feel like you are sitting on a big pile of nothing,” said Coyne, who spends about four hours a day sending out resumes.

“For the better part of a year, I have something sitting on my chest. It’s not a medical condition. It is that pressure of ‘Is this going to end, when is this going to end?'”

Unlike in much of Europe, the safety net of the U.S. welfare system times out for the long-term unemployed. The federal government and many states have provided extra help for those caught up in the worst labor market in decades but the U.S. debt crisis rules out further extension of the programs.

Coyne is typical of many middle-class Americans now struggling to get by.

She used to earn $70,000 a year as an administrative assistant until her firm began to downsize and left Coyne among the growing number of Americans struggling to live on unemployment benefits, and eventually on minimal food aid.

Now Washington is considering cuts to social welfare programs to shrink a swelling budget deficit.

It may not only be Americans like Coyne who feel the pain. Some economists say the cuts could make it even harder to shrink long-term unemployment that damages the wider economy by dampening consumer demand and lowering output.

In 2010, an estimated 3.9 million unemployed Americans exhausted unemployment benefits, according to the National Employment Law Project, an advocacy group that campaigns for lower-wage workers.

More than 14 percent of the U.S. unemployed have been out of a job for 99 weeks, or longer.

The Labor Department’s report on Friday showed that the unemployment rate climbed to a six-month high of 9.2 percent in June.

Many so-called “99ers” subsist on social services like food stamps and Medicaid, programs now in danger of deep cuts demanded by many Republicans in Congress in exchange for allowing the federal government to go deeper into debt.

“An increase in demand for social services is what you would expect in a downturn of this magnitude and so the fact that they are cutting the social safety net is quite perplexing,” said Sylvia Allegretto, a labor economist at the University of California at Berkeley. “We’ve just never seen (long-term unemployment) at these levels, period.”

Forty six percent of those looking for work have been jobless for six months or more and the average length of job searches that eventually result in a hiring has doubled to 10 weeks between 2007 and 2010.

NO MORE SHOPPING TRIPS

Cindy Paoletti had no idea she would still be unemployed more than three years after being laid off by JPMorgan Chase.

The 59-year-old accountant — who volunteered to be laid off to care for her dying father — now survives on loans borrowed against the falling value of her home, Medicaid and food stamps.

“By the end of the month we are down to practically nothing in the house,” she says.

The $200 in food aid she now receives each month goes furthest when spent on frozen vegetables and potatoes.

That’s a far cry from Paoletti’s lifestyle as a 23-year veteran at JPMorgan.

Although on a modest annual salary of $34,000, Paoletti went shopping, dined out with friends, smoked cigarettes and traveled each year to visit friends around the country.

That all changed after her severance package ran out.

“I stay home all the time,” says Paoletti, who has given up smoking to save money and has found new ways of spending her spare time. “I work in the yard or play with the dog.”

Paoletti says she has all but given up finding a job.

“I just got so discouraged,” she said. “You apply for jobs online and you get an email the same day saying this job is no longer available.”

The long-term unemployed have a tougher time than others landing a job. In 2010, someone unemployed for less than five weeks was three times more likely to get a job than someone unemployed for 27 weeks or more, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

DEMAND SURGES FOR FOOD STAMPS

Just as the United States prepares to tighten its belt and deal with its fiscal crisis, demand for key aid programs has never been higher.

The number of Americans signed up for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) — which provides food stamps — has reached its highest level since it began in 1939. One in seven Americans now receive aid from the program.

Medicaid enrollment as of 2010 surpassed 68.2 million, its highest level in the program’s history.

Cuts to these programs now seem inevitable as states struggle to plug budget gaps and lawmakers on Capital Hill turn their attention to the budget deficit.

The White House has reportedly agreed to $100 billion in cuts to Medicaid over the next 10 years. Some House Republicans want cuts of more than seven times that amount.

Last week, federal stimulus programs providing billions of dollars for state Medicaid programs ran out.

The cuts are piling on the pressure for the long-term unemployed.

Coyne — who has a chronic thyroid condition — received notice last month that her New Jersey Medicaid benefits would be cut by $25. That means she will have to skip some doctor visits because she cannot afford to cut down on her medication.

But Coyne worries most about losing her food stamps.

“That would be the kick in the mouth I could not take,” she said. “To have to depend on someone completely who is not related to me, that would make me feel awful.”

Cuts to the program are being negotiated in Washington. A Republican version of the U.S. budget for 2012 would cut $127 billion — about 20 percent — from food stamps over 10 years.

Unemployment benefits are under pressure too. Two federal programs are set to expire in January though unemployed workers receiving emergency benefits may be eligible to draw checks through May.

There are some signs the number of people stuck in long-term unemployment may be easing from its historic highs.

The total number of people on the last available phase of jobless benefits and those exhausting them each month is falling. Economists say seasonal factors may be causing some of the decline.

Stories like Coyne’s and Paoletti’s make some economists question whether now is the time to cut benefits. Persistently high unemployment should spur more spending to aid the jobless and prop up consumer demand, they say.

Other economists argue the existing benefit system is overly generous and makes Americans too dependent on social services that are untenable at a time of skyrocketing debt.

“The government is not here to ensure whatever standard of living you’re at, that you’re not going to go below that,” said James Sherk, a labor economist at the conservative Heritage Foundation. “That is just not the purpose of the safety net.”

He says the benefit system is flawed because it provides support to the wealthy unemployed who could support themselves for a while without a job. Sherk says the labor market is still too weak to eliminate the federal unemployment extensions. He recommends cutting them to around 70 weeks total.

Coyne hopes government support is only a temporary fix. She keeps applying for jobs despite the hundreds of rejections and tries to keep alive her hopes that she can one day return to work and pay her friend a fair share of their living costs.

“I can curl up on the sofa and cry and pretend that it is going to get better but it is not going to go better unless I make it better.”

Advertisements

YOUR OVERQUALIFIED!!!!

It seems I continually hear this complaint, “They aren’t hiring me because I’m overqualified.” One man e-mailed me about this problem:

“I have a lot of incredible extracurricular professional activities, publishing expertise, project management experience, board leadership skills, etc. I have an MBA, and am a CPA. All of this info is on my resume because it sets me apart. However, I am concerned that people are viewing me as overqualified for lower-level jobs and eliminating me. Yet, the jobs I am truly qualified for are fairly high up and there are only a handful of openings. Help!”

So what should you do if you’re credentialed with good experience and advanced education, are looking to become re-employed and are even willing to take a lower-level position? Here are a few tips:

Don’t Be Tempted to “Dumb Down!”

This strategy moves your career backward. You typically end up frustrated, not hired or worse — you find a new job you can’t wait to move out of. Most employers today actually want you working at your highest ability level since productivity is key to everyone’s success. They also want to retain you past the many months it takes to train you for the job, so you can begin to make a contribution to the company.

Do Some Soul Searching and Savvy Preparation.

Acknowledge that employers are reluctant to hire a person who is overqualified because they think the person is unlikely to be happy, won’t stay long, might want the interviewer’s job or may expect fast promotion. Remember that you can be threatening to the interviewer, especially if you are truly suited for the interviewer’s job! He may think you aren’t seriously interested in doing the job for which you’re being hired — nor do employers want someone who’s burned out or sees the job as an easy paycheck.

Examine why you want the position. “I need a job!” is not a response that will endear you to him. You must use your communication skills to convince him why a demotion is a good option. You must create a reasonable explanation. Try this:

“My current position as Regional Sales Manager requires me to cover 14 states, and the job had grown into 15 nights of travel per month. This has become an increasingly difficult sacrifice for my family. I have decided to seek a major accounts-rep position that allows me to focus on my strengths — selling, sustaining top-notch client relationships and up-selling — but also allows me to go home most evenings. This is not an option at my current job. It requires a lot of out-of-town travel to do the job, which I am no longer willing to do. I believe my extensive marketing and sales skills would greatly benefit your organization in a positive way. I see this as a win/win situation for both of us.”

Don’t Show Desperation.

You may feel it, but it will work against your getting hired if you show how frantic you are to get a job. Too often an executive says, “I’ll start at any job just to get my foot in the door.” That won’t work — it’s an outdated strategy. Being willing to take any job often makes the interviewer disqualify you. She needs a competent person to perform the specific job she’s hiring for.

So, you must show not only that you can do it but also that you want to do it. You can offer some advantages, gained from your experience, such as: “My ability to solve problems and train others would be a major plus in the position.” Many employers are slow to hire, yet pay well when they select someone for the position, so patience is essential.

Look Harder for Positions for Which You Are Qualified.

Employers want a good fit and an individual who delivers results. Customize every cover letter you write and tweak your resume to match the opportunity. Be sure to address the major needs required and demonstrate results you’ve achieved in line with the level requested. A former CEO at a smaller company might only be a midlevel executive at a larger organization, so be clear as to how you’re leveraging past experience and leadership to help a potential employer excel.

Networking Is Key to Hearing About and Landing a New Job.

Ask colleagues, friends, former employees, college alumni, and other contacts for referrals to new people who can help you uncover unadvertised positions. An introduction to a senior executive can open new doors and even create a job when no advertised one was available. Department of Labor statistics reveal that 63 percent of all jobs last year were found through contacts, so network, network, NETWORK!

RESIGNATION LETTER

What is a good resignation letter? One that sets you up to leverage your former position and colleagues in your future path, whether it’s for networking or solidreferences. Here’s what the experts had to say about writing an effective resignation letter.

The graceful exit letter

  1. Keep it formal but friendly. It should be in the form of a business letter but with a first name, as in “Dear First Name,” instead of “Dear Ms. X,” Hurwitz said.
  2. Don’t equivocate. Make it clear that you’re not open tocounteroffers by using a clear-cut line, such as, “I hereby submit my resignation as [your title] effective on [date].” Senior executives should give more than two weeks’ notice. Hurwitz recommends your allotted vacation as a good measure of the amount of time required for a resignation, as your vacation time is typically a measure of your seniority: If you have four weeks’ vacation, the minimum is four weeks’ notice.
  3. Be complimentary. Hurwitz provided this example: “I cannot thank you enough for all that I have learned and all the opportunities you have generously bestowed upon me during the past five years.”
  4. Set the record straight. The letter is going to be filed in your personnel file, to which you will never have access, Hurwitz said. That file may contain negative comments regarding your performance, but this is your chance to set the record straight. For example: “I will always look back with affection, satisfaction and pride at our accomplishments,” and then note what those accomplishments were. It might be important should another job search or a corporate merger put you in the path of the same HR department and personnel file.
  5. Keep it positive. If a future employer calls to verify your employment, they might well talk to somebody who knows nothing about you except what’s in your dusty personnel file. You want them to see that the last thing you said was “positive and uplifting and thankful,” said Jacob Young, a small-business consultant and Web developer. “Even if there are marks on your file, the human spirit will take over and pause on the side of caution, if you look nice and non-threatening on paper.”
  6. Be supportive. Let your employer know that you are available to help in the transition, if needed, after your last date of employment. Provide your phone number and make it clear that you’ll be happy to answer questions.

    When Victoria J. Ashford left her position as director of the Helena Public Library, in Helena, Ala., to launch Fearless Coaching, she said in a very gracious letter of resignation that she was confident her employer would have ample time to select a replacement, and she even offered to provide him/her with introductory training regarding federal, state, county and city methods and policies. She also pointed out two pending major projects: New Computer-Print Management & the State Annual Report, both of which she said she felt “duty-bound to oversee and complete. It would be unfair of me to leave those undone.”

  7. Close on a warm note. Hurwitz provided this example: “Lisa, I want you to know that I would not have secured this new position without my experiences at [your company]. I will always be grateful to you and can only hope that my new colleagues will be as supportive as you and… [name colleagues].” “It’s a nice touch to recognize other people,” Hurwitz said.

    End the letter on an equally warm note, such as, “Warmest personal regards and best wishes for continued success,” signed with your first name.

And walk away with your dignity, your personnel record and your bridges intact.

How to Handle ‘You’re Overqualified’ in Interviews

So  what should you do if you’re credentialed with good experience and advanced  education, are looking to become re-employed and are even willing to take a  lower-level position? Here are a few tips:

Don’t  Be Tempted to “Dumb Down!”

This  strategy moves your career backward. You typically end up frustrated, not hired  or worse — you find a new job you can’t wait to move out of. Most employers  today actually want you working at your highest ability level since productivity  is key to everyone’s success. They also want to retain you past the many months  it takes to train you for the job, so you can begin to make a contribution to  the company.

Do Some Soul Searching and Savvy Preparation.

Acknowledge  that employers are reluctant to hire a person who is overqualified because they  think the person is unlikely to be happy, won’t stay long, might want the  interviewer’s job or may expect fast promotion. Remember that you can be  threatening to the interviewer, especially if you are truly suited for the  interviewer’s job! He may think you aren’t seriously interested in doing the job  for which you’re being hired — nor do employers want someone who’s burned out or  sees the job as an easy paycheck.

Examine  why you want the position. “I need a job!” is not a response that will endear  you to him. You must use your communication skills to convince him why a  demotion is a good option. You must create a reasonable explanation. Try  this:

“My  current position as Regional Sales Manager requires me to cover 14 states, and  the job had grown into 15 nights of travel per month. This has become an  increasingly difficult sacrifice for my family. I have decided to seek a major  accounts-rep position that allows me to focus on my strengths — selling,  sustaining top-notch client relationships and up-selling — but also allows me to  go home most evenings. This is not an option at my current job. It requires a  lot of out-of-town travel to do the job, which I am no longer willing to do. I  believe my extensive marketing and sales skills would greatly benefit your  organization in a positive way. I see this as a win/win situation for both of  us.”

Don’t  Show Desperation.

You  may feel it, but it will work against your getting hired if you show how frantic  you are to get a job. Too often an executive says, “I’ll start at any job just  to get my foot in the door.” That won’t work — it’s an outdated strategy. Being  willing to take any  job often makes the interviewer disqualify you. She needs a competent  person to perform the specific job she’s hiring for.

So,  you must show not only that you can do it but also that you want
to do
it. You can offer some advantages, gained from your experience, such
as: “My ability to solve problems and train others would be a major plus in the  position.” Many employers are slow to hire, yet pay well when they select
someone for the position, so patience is essential.

Look  Harder for Positions for Which You Are Qualified.

Employers  want a good fit and an individual who delivers results. Customize every cover letter you write and tweak your resume to match the
opportunity. Be sure to address the major needs required and demonstrate results  you’ve achieved in line with the level requested. A former CEO at a smaller  company might only be a midlevel executive at a larger organization, so be clear  as to how you’re leveraging past experience and leadership to help a potential  employer excel.

Networking  Is Key to Hearing About and Landing a New Job.

Ask  colleagues, friends, former employees, college alumni, and other contacts for  referrals to new people who can help you uncover unadvertised positions. An  introduction to a senior executive can open new doors and even create a job when  no advertised one was available. Department of Labor statistics reveal that 63  percent of all jobs last year were found through contacts, so network, network,  NETWORK!

How to Handle Resume Gaps

Job seekers often assume that in order to score the perfect job, one has to be the perfect candidate. That the right mix of education, titles, and skills is needed in order to land the career of their dreams. So when faced with resume gaps, an individual may rightly feel disheartened. But continuous employment is not the be-all, end-all to nabbing a great job, especially in these times. It is important, however, to know how to treat employment gaps on your resume, in your cover letter, and in your interview.

The Functional Format

One way to gloss over gaps on your CV is to create afunctional resume. This focuses on your skills and achievements, rather than on specific dates. There are certainly other advantages to formatting your resume this way as well, as it allows you to pinpoint exactly what it is that you bring to the table. The trick here is to tailor it to the specific job that you are applying for.

List Your Achievements

Another way to downplay a gap in employment is to highlight your accomplishments on your resume. While you may not have continuous experience, various honors will convey that you have quality experience, and that you have been recognized as having done an outstanding job.

Include Extracurricular Experience

Hiring mangers understand that qualified candidates may have gaps in employment. What they want to avoid, however, is a candidate who is qualified but who lackswork ethic. What did you do while you were out of a job? Did you volunteer or become an active member of an organization? Even though you weren’t necessarily paid for your extracurricular activities, it’s perfectly okay to list them. Highlight your transferable skills here, and focus on how you can apply them to the position you are currently seeking.

Explain Your Reasons

It also works well to just come out and explain why you have a resume gap and what you did to fill your time. Don’t be afraid to address the matter in a cover letter or an interview. Hiring managers will respect your willingness to be forthright about periods of unemployment, and will be interested to learn about the creative, productive ways in which you were able to spend your time instead.

In a time where everyone’s looking for an edge, an employment gap can seem like a major setback. But if you know how to strategically position yourself and your experience, a hiring manager will be much more interested in what you have done, rather than what you haven’t.

ROADMAP TO YOUR JOBSEARCH

Today’s job searches are taking longer to produce results than even a year ago. But that reality doesn’t have to put a damper on your campaign to land that plum position! Stack the odds in your favor by creating an effective road map that covers all the best job search strategies.

First Impressions

Begin the journey with a professional cover letter and resume. You want to engage hiring managers and build interest in you as a viable candidate. That first impression can become a wave you ride into the interview room. Carry that professional image through in every interaction you have within your network or with any representatives of the companies you contact. Meet every deadline. Arrive early for any type of appointment. Be prompt and courteous. Above all, behave professionally.

Actions Speak Loudly

Follow up with hiring managers to produce results long after the first contact you have with a company. You might call to be sure your resume has been received or to inquire as to the need for additional information. Sending a thank-you note following an interview is par for the course, but also send one to acknowledge any assistance you received, such as to the contact who helped get your resume to the right individual. Even if you don’t land an interview initially, state your intent to touch base periodically. See this as part of your network building. By sharing the latest industry information or just chatting informally, you can turn these contacts into enjoyable social encounters. Your persistence and interest in the company are communicated by consistent actions, which carry much more weight than empty words.

Network Effectively

Take advantage of job fairs, community gatherings, andprofessional organization events to keep your finger on the pulse of local and national job markets. Not only are these excellent opportunities to network, but also to understand movement in key positions at companies of interest. Consistent networking, even if you aren’t actively looking for work, can lay the foundation for subsequent job searches. Read local business publications to stay on top of regional business news and opportunities. You may discover new businesses before they open where you can submit an early resume ahead of the competition.

Do What You Love

Professional passion and interest in your field of work cannot be overrated. Only you can determine whether this is the time to follow your heart and create a new direction in your career or if it’s better to stick with a sure thing. Though family and financial obligations may be pressing you in one direction, if you are unhappy in your current situation, it may be negatively affecting your overall quality of life as well as your job search. Although it may seem like a bit of a detour, review what makes you happy and do what you can to increase a sense of meaning and satisfaction in your life. Believe it or not, that kind of energy can also fuel your job search forward.

Don’t Get Overwhelmed

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when you are continually looking for opportunities and feel stymied by the lack of results. The sheer number of job listings and sites makes the job search feel even more challenging. Realize it is not necessary to mobilize every strategy in your job search road map at the same time. Keep diligent records of your job search and organize contacts so you don’t inadvertently duplicate your efforts. You may also use a spreadsheet for usernames and passwords to various job sites.

Pick Up the Phone

Use the resources available to you. Call the new company in town and introduce yourself. Share your interest in the company, but more importantly, use your elevator speech to broadcast your skills and value. Follow up with a resume. Ask for a meeting. Give hiring managers good directions in identifying your strengths and linking those to the needs of the company.

Work to gain clarity in your job search for greater effectiveness and consistent progress on the journey. Target positions and employers you are interested in and systematically follow your road map for success!

Networking Is Your Status Update Still ‘Looking for Work?’

Networking

Lately I’ve been reading a lot of status updates on business and social networking sites that say things like, “Project Manager professional looking for work” or “Looking for work in a tough economy” or “Just received my degree in accounting — looking for work.” While I understand that these job seekers are trying to advertise their candidacy online, I don’t recommend broadcasting this specific message in your status updates. Here’s why:

  1. Blasting this message to your entire network makes you look desperate. You might as well rent a billboard to promote your job search … Yes, I know there are stories about people landing a job this way, but these tactics get old fast. (And by the way, the guy who landed a job by wearing a sandwich board saying he was looking for work is “so 2008.”)
  2. Posting this message makes people in your network uncomfortable. Imagine agreeing to meet someone for coffee and before the coffee is even cool enough to drink you say, “I’m looking for work.” It’s awkward. It places an unrealistic expectation on your contacts to come up with a solution for you. The same thing happens online when you announce that you are looking for work.
  3. Sending this message leaves you little wiggle room for a follow-up message. Think about it. If you are still in a job search next week, what will your status update be? “Still looking for work” isn’t going to cut it.

Status updates on business and social-networking platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn are a way for you to build rapport with a community and deepen the relationship with your contacts. Choose messages that showcase your expertise, share valuable information, give kudos to others or broadcast an exciting endeavor you are working on (even if it is volunteer work). Here are some examples of alternative status updates you might want to adapt for your situation:

For a fundraising executive:

  • “Volunteering at the American Cancer Society walkathon on Sunday; hope to raise more than $2M.”

 

For an HR professional: 

  • “Attending a seminar on compensation plans for 2009 and beyond at (share the link)”

For an advertising professional: 

  • “My colleague, John Smith, just landed a major account with a leading luxury goods company. Way to go, John!”

For a CIO: 

  • ”Reading an interesting article on new technologies in health care at (share the link)”

For a financial analyst: 

  • “Boning up on study materials for the CFA Level II exam … looks like it’s going to be a long night!” 

Create status updates that invite questions and further conversation, not ones that make your network run for cover. Remember, online networking, like face-to-face networking, is a process. Whenever possible, give before you get and you will be surprised how quickly you get something back in return.

Tag Cloud