Monday, August 15, 2011

Back to School Specials

September approaches, so it must be time to go back to school, right? For job seekers and changers, not unless you have a specific goal in mind.

Take a very close look at the outcomes of a plan of study; do they correlate to the demands of the job market? Are there currently jobs in a particular field and is that demand stable for your chosen geographic area? These are the very real questions that need to be answered before committing to a program of study that may not be a good fit in the turbulent economic times that we all face. Talk to individuals who have completed a program of study such as the one you have chosen and ask hard questions about landing a job in the field. What was the one asset that they had that actually got them the job?

What are some very real job skills that can translate into various environments?
Certainly, language skills are needed-Spanish and Arabic are important. Understanding the basics of social media, navigating software packages, and troubleshooting problems are all crucial skills. Knowledge and experience in marketing products is a plus as is supervisory experience of tiered workers. Perseverance is crucial in pursuing positions; dogged determination has become a way to show employers that you are truly interested in their company. Looking as if you are low risk hire makes the person who hired you look good, and that is very important.

You may look at companies that like to promote from within, making your acquisition of a lower level job more appealing. Checking in with temp agencies will give you some insight into various companies without a commitment, a way to network and get paid. Ask questions about the kind of skills needed for these environments; can you acquire these skills quickly? This may be easier than you think, for example if basic computing skills are not in your skill base now, ask a young person in your family to teach you. If your language skills are rusty, find a group of storytellers and listen that will help your skills as well.

Developing an action plan works for job seekers and job changers, what do I want to concentrate on right now, one month from now and then two months from now. This organizational plan keeps the momentum going and focuses in on a path, instead of too many. Often too many divergent paths can lead to a stalemate position, leading to frustration and lack of forward movement.

Try to work with a career counselor who can help you sort out the action plan priorities and help you see what needs to be done in good order. A good career counselor has the training to see past the jumble of thoughts and ideas and can assemble a path for you to develop.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Career Information at Your Fingertips

We live in a technological age with easy access to data. This might seem snoopy but getting information to help make career choices is far easier than ever. Accessing information in advance prepares you for a great cover letter, if required, and certainly for the interview.

Now organizing this data is more than scribbles on post its everywhere. Looking into a few companies, starting with their websites is a better way to centralize the search process. Take a look at their job openings, pay close attention to the lingo of the industry and see if other companies work in a similar manner. Pick companies that offer products and services familiar to you so that you can concentrate upon their presentation first.

Here are some great websites to help the process: - a great planning site full of resources how to get comparative salary info within a company to get business contacts to get the latest from social media sites to get great technology based company info

Now for your elevator speech, or how to advertise yourself to an employer quickly and effectively. This is a real skill and one that takes some thinking, accurate language and practice. Visit for excellent advice on how to craft an effective speech without sounding either breathless or stilted.

Some situations may call for information to be faxed, yes it still happens. For those of you not willing to invest in a fax machine, try Hello Fax, you may be able to get your resume faxed for free right from your computer, saving you time and money.

For readers still confused by the possibilities of LinkedIn, try for a great tutorial. Many LinkedIn users are glad to offer advice to job seekers, indeed, we have all been there.

Good luck!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Motivation is more than chocolates…

What makes you get up in the morning? Obligations to others, bills to pay, a chance to start a new day or is it taking that and more than the usual jolt of coffee to get the juices flowing?

Sometimes we all just want a break, a chance to take a day off and just have choices back again, instead of a grind that does not always have a net result. Typically, Americans work longer hours than their counterparts in Europe with fewer, shorter vacations. Without that release, caffeine, little sleep and a diet rich in sodium, fats and daily stress fuel our energy. We become less patient with ourselves and certainly with each other, leading to increased conflict with work peers and supervisors. We have heard the expression, It’s not just the job, it is the people that I work with that make me crazy”.

Now is a good time to unlock the motivation inside, if the daffodils can get through a snowstorm so can you. Motivation comes from seeing opportunity, albeit in strange places, often outside the daily grind.

Now, where to start, most folks begin with meeting new people and new places. Try speaking to one new person each day, practice new ways of introducing yourself and how you might engage in a conversation instead of just talking. Start small; perhaps finding a new route to work, even taking the bus is a good chance to look around. You will find that small changes renew the spirit and are source of energy. Remember, you are investigating options, not everyone likes pistachio ice cream at first either. No commitments, just a waking up to the slightly different is tonic enough.

Take a look at local sources of information, events that you might not have even considered attending previously. Many are free and are a good source of information as they provide a contrast to what you already know about yourself. Try one then two, and build from there. You will be surprised at the variety and abundance in Newport.

Now while your motivation is getting a refresher course, we need to see what opportunities are out there. Declare a moratorium on bad news, especially that you cannot control, try to stay positive and view with a bit of optimism. Not easy, but if we are trying out new habits, this is marked for inclusion.

Hop on the web for inspiration as well, seeing opportunity at your fingertips is a powerful motivator as well. Websites such as give nice salary comparisons across industries, helping job seekers to look before they leap. O*net My Next Move helps in the planning process and just asking questions of locals gives a great “in” to what seems to be happening. Find information related to “A Day in the Life of  ‘ to give first hand details of different jobs and pay close attention to career videos giving a sense of the workplace.

Motivation continues while on the job; always use one experience to gain the next. See what background other employees have, what do they wish they had done differently. Make sure that you have the skills today for a transfer tomorrow, as tomorrow will determine the rest of the week. Remember motivation comes from inside and from the outside and chocolate usually helps. Every career counselor has a box!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Airplanes and the Economy

So what does that sign really mean?

For many years, commuting from Newport to Providence on I-95 meant avoiding traffic jams, knowing how to get on to secondary roads if needed and generally figuring out how to get to and from in one piece. Attention and vigilance is needed, without distractions but…

One night, while driving along, a huge billboard caught my eye. It was an enormous nose of a jet engine with just a glimpse of huge wings no doubt designed to reassure the viewers that this plane was more than capable of getting to its destination

What was even more arresting however, was the caption declaring in big bold letters, “52 daily flights to Newark!”
That brought me out of my driving reverie far faster than the news… Newark, New Jersey? It seemed odd that that many people needed to fly from Warwick RI to Newark, New Jersey every day, what was going on that was so very attractive?

As I pondered the connection, I then realized the immense air traffic generated by major airports in the United States and that a strong market would only continue for secondary air markets. As more and more people looked to air travel for business and pleasure demand for services would increase and not only for airports, but for auxiliary services as well.
One does not disembark or to use the industry’s phrase “deplane” with all the amenities of home and office close by, indeed the search for such may have only just begun.
Arriving passengers then look for signage directing them to their next stops be that luggage or ground transport.

We have now seen the opening of Interlink, which serves to connect ground and air connections around TF Green airport. However, we can also see strong markets in auxiliary services right in the airport and in service roads near airport.

What is needed, let’s start with rental cars, gas stations, fast food establishments, hotels, restaurants, gift shops, Wi Fi, convenience stores, entertainment, ATM’s, banks, cab services, health and wellness facilities, all on a 24/7 basis.  All need staff; all need reliable individuals to operate computer transactions with travelers. Here is a great market for a part time job, to open a new service or to advertise an event.

This instance may not be confined to just airports, but really to any situation that may be turned into an opportunity. We call this “happenstance”, looking for an opportunity in any turn of events. The skill is in seeing through the event to find opportunities for you, rather than thinking the right job will land in your lap.

Practice “happenstance” this week as you go about your day, what did you see, read or hear that might make a job for you or someone else? If this catches your attention, try reading, “Luck is No Accident” by John Krumboltz. It is a quick, enjoyable read that will stay with you as you approach employment and other choices.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Vexing Texting Habits on the Job

Have you ever been a customer in a retail shop or restaurant and been annoyed by an under 30 aged employee texting away on their mobile device and ignoring you completely?

Unfortunately, too many of us have and that includes their employer!! This all too common habit of “Wait a minute, my private universe is calling” can result in a customer just walking out as it is just too much bother to find someone else to help. It reminds one of the children’s game of hiding in plain sight, can you find me?

This seemingly irritating habit is part of the phenomena of instant connectivity, heralded as communication. It is part of our world as evidenced by the success of the film, Social Network and by the nomination of Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg as Person of the Year.

Staying connected is a highly prized asset and doing that wherever, whenever takes precedence over real world, real-time events that pale in contrast. Think of the advertisements; you can call anywhere, anytime, the utmost convenience, unless you wake Mother up at 2:30am on her vacation just to chat as you forgot that there was a time zone difference!

However, this need has influenced college lectures, internships, jobs and even relationships as it is seen as diminishing the person physically in front of the texter. Rudeness …or something else??

Waiting, for nearly anything, is not an American trait as we like what is happening now and delayed gratification is pretty passé. Think of the jokes about waiting in line at the supermarket, bank, coffee shop, the red light- this is a common fault for so many of us. Five minutes is an eternity for us as we rush on to something else.

Under 30’s are used to multitasking many details so texting comes naturally to them. They are called the
“ Internet Generation”, used to instant knowledge and communication without delays.

 They can easily juggle data when concentrating on the immediate and blocking out other messages. It is natural to skim through complicated mobile device “short cuts”: getting to what really matters which is the latest update from friends.

However, the overall image of the texter is negative and can cause the loss of sales/revenue and in some cases, employment.

What to do about this?  Some employers have banned texting outright, some will allow it only on breaks and others are too busy with other business operations to monitor this lack of attention. Why tolerate this at all? Perhaps time and effort have been put into training the individual and so the employer is reluctant to dismiss them, then risk this action being texted to many all over town.

However, in the long run, this hurts business, which no one wants. Putting policies in place at the outset and referring to them, and to the consequences will stem this tide and who knows, it might bring back consciousness in the present.