Monthly Archives: February 2013

The Latest and Greatest about Jobs

Let’s face it, the economy isn’t turned around yet.  Things are still pretty sluggish and a lot of people are still applying for jobs by the hundreds with nothing to show for it.

When in a job search and applying for jobs, people always say things like “stay positive” and “keep your chin up.”  Easier said than done.

Actually, it is easier when there is good news about jobs and the economy and recently there has been some good news that will help any job applicant “stay positive” and “keep their chin up.”

The U.S. economy added 157,000 jobs in January, according to a Labor Department report.

The unemployment rate was 7.9% in January, and 12.3 million people were counted as unemployed. Overall, hiring is keeping pace with population growth, but the Labor Department noted that the unemployment rate has barely changed since September.

Economists surveyed by CNNMoney are expecting job growth to continue in 2013 at roughly the same pace as last year, when the economy added 2.2 million jobs. They predict the unemployment rate will end the year slightly down, at 7.5%.

Construction hiring could be one of the highlights this year. It was the single hardest hit sector in the recession but has recently shown some signs of life. In January, construction firms added 28,000 jobs, reflecting a stronger housing market and rebuilding efforts after Superstorm Sandy.

Construction alone could account for roughly a quarter of all the jobs added in 2013.

Check the unemployment rate in your state

In January, health care continued to be a strong sector for job growth, adding 23,000 jobs. Most of those jobs were in ambulatory health care services, a category that includes doctors’ offices and outpatient care centers.

Retail added 33,000 jobs, with about a third of those gains at clothing stores.

Manufacturers added about 4,000 jobs, but the Labor Department noted that employment in this sector has changed little since July.

The Labor Department also released revisions to its 2012 data, showing the economy added 335,000 more jobs during the year than originally reported.

Overall, the U.S. economy lost 8.8 million jobs in the financial crisis, and is still down about 3.2 million jobs from the labor market’s height in January 2008.

Despite jobs not being added at rapid rates, things are slowly headed in the right direction.  So, not to sound cliche, but here’s a little advice: stay positive and keep your chin up.

Social Media in the Workplace

In a recent report, it was estimated that workers spent an average of 7.5 hours during the week on social media…and that was just time spent during the work day.

7.5 hours is a full work day, which means that employers are losing out on 1.5 hours a day of productivity from their employees.

The most popular times for checking out social networks at work were between 10-11 a.m. and 3-4 p.m.

“Particularly for those with office-based jobs, it’s not difficult to see why they might get tempted to access their social network profiles when they should be working. Especially with the introduction of things like Tweet Deck and Facebook’s push notifications, it’s actually harder than ever to switch off,” said George Charles, marketing director at VoucherCodesPro.

Recent trends show that more than half of US employers are blocking social media access at the workplace. A variety of fears have led to this, led by certainty that time spent on Facebook or Twitter is productivity the company can never get back.

By implementing a complete block of social media, leaders and managers are able to rest easy, secure in the knowledge that their employees are spending their time doing the work for which they’re being paid, right?

Nothing could be farther from the truth. The truth is…

  • Blocking social media access is a costly exercise that simply doesn’t work.
  • Employee use of social media in the workplace doesn’t necessarily adversely affect productivity.
  • There are distinct advantages to allowing — and even encouraging — employees to use social media sites while at work.
  • The future of business is a networked future. Employers who figure out the right balance will be more competitive. Those that don’t will be left behind.

The Futility of Blocking

Do you have a smart phone? An iPhone, an Android, or any of the dozens of other models available? You can surf the Web, access social networks, send and receive messages on Twitter and engage in all kinds of other online activities. So can your employees.

Blocking access to social sites via your company networks won’t stop most employees from engaging in the same behavior the blocks were designed to prevent.  It is often counterproductive, with the time employees spend finding a way to the sites they want to visit being more time-consuming than actually visiting the sites.

Productivity Trends Tell the Story

If worker productivity is at an all-time low, why do US Department of Labor statistics paint a different picture in which productivity continues to rise?

The answer is simple. Productivity is not a measure of the time employees spend at work engaged in non-work activities. It’s a measure of output. And the use of social media can actually help increase employee output.

A study conducted at the University of Melbourne found that employees with access to social networks were actually more productive than employees in companies that block access. According to Dr. Brent Coker, employees who can reward themselves between the completion of one task and the start of another with a visit to their Facebook page are more invigorated and get more done. According to the study, they get 9 percent more accomplished than their blocked counterparts.

Getting to the Crux of the Matter

There will always be employees who waste time. There always have been, long before computers were introduced to the workplace. Addressing this problem is a management issue, not a technological one.

There’s more to the productivity issue, though. Among workers, the fact that they are networked means they can work anywhere. Think about it. Do you check your email on your mobile phone as soon as you get up? That’s a work-related activity at home. Employees review reports while at their kids’ soccer games. They take overseas calls after dinner. They draft reports before bed.

How many of your employees arrive at 9 and leave at 5? An employee who arrives at 7:30 a.m. and leaves at 6:30 p.m. can spend two hours on Facebook and still put in a solid eight hours of work — plus the time they spend working when they’re away from the office.

It’s also worth remembering that the same productivity paranoia was raised over the telephone and email.

Blocking social media is now considered quite an antiquated idea.  The crux of the matter comes down to whether you’ve hired good employees or not.  If you have a hardworking employee, they are going to work hard for you. If you’ve hired a time-waster, then they will waste time no matter if social media is available or not.

To Telecommute or Not to Telecommute?

In today’s job market, offering a telecommuting option can be very attractive to job applicants.  In fact, when searching for and applying for a job online, many prospective employees will search for a position that offers telecommuting.

Seriously, what could be better than staying in your jammies and working from the comfort of your own home?

Well, if you listen to Yahoo CEO Marissa Meyer, working from the office is much better than working from home – and what’s more surprising – many others agree.

When Yahoo’s relatively new CEO Marissa Mayer decreed that workers would be required to show up at the office rather than work remotely, the immediate backlash from outsiders was mostly on the side of the angry Yahoo employees who were losing the comfort and convenience of telecommuting. Inside the company, reactions were mixed.

Mayer may have been extreme in her demands for face time at the office, but it’s the right call for a leader who is working to turn around one of the former king’s of the Internet.

Yahoo is famous for having bungled its position as a one-time Internet leader. Mayer was brought on specifically to revitalize the company after a series of lackluster leaders.  All the while, Yahoo has been a company in search of a direction.

In a memo to Yahoo employees about the policy, the head of Yahoo’s HR said, “personal interaction is still the most effective way of conveying a company’s direction, and keeping tabs on what different parts of the organization are up to.”

What do in-person meetings accomplish that e-mail can’t? Part of the answer lies in time use surveys of CEOs that go back nearly 40 years.

Management scholar Henry Mintzberg was among the first to track how top managers spend their time in the early 1970s. Much to his surprise, he found that around 80% of their time was spent in face-to-face meetings; the subjects of his study had few stretches of more than 10 minutes at a time to themselves.

More recent time use studies by researchers at Harvard, the London School of Economics and Columbia have found that little has changed. Despite the IT revolution, business leaders still spend 80% of their time in face-to-face meetings.

The reason is that there’s only so much that one can glean from a written report or a spreadsheet. To cut through the hidden agendas, and office politics, most of the time you need to look someone in the eye and ask them, “Really? How exactly would that work?” It is this probing and questioning that allows effective managers to gather the scraps of information needed to understand what’s really going on.

Similarly, all the way down the organizational chart, person-to-person interactions are crucial to ensure that an organization’s change of direction isn’t misrepresented or garbled in its retelling.

As one of our friends who runs a virtual workplace puts it, “with e-mail exchanges alone, everyone starts to get a bit paranoid.”

The Yahoo memo notes that it’s hard to innovate via e-mail exchanges or the occasional agenda-filled meeting. New ideas spring up through chance encounters in the cafeteria line and impromptu office meetings. It’s an assertion that’s backed up by academic research highlighting the importance of physical proximity in driving scientific progress.

In one study of telecommuting at a Chinese online travel agency, customer-service reps were both happier and more productive when working from home — probably Yahoo service reps aren’t any different from their Chinese counterparts in this regard. And every Yahoo employee surely has some aspects of their jobs that could be done just as well at the kitchen table as in an office cubicle.

But it’s hard to create a norm of “physically together” if the office is always half-empty. And once it becomes that way, the half that have been showing up will be less and less inclined to bother. Finally, such a shocking and provocative directive will most certainly have the effect of imbuing the organization with the sense of urgency it needs to get the job done.

Will Yahoo employees come around to appreciating the change? Not necessarily the ones that liked to sleep in or work on a startup on Yahoo’s dime, but it may be welcomed by the ones already showing up. Will it be damaging to morale? Possibly, though it may help Yahoo employees to remember that, if they’re successful, the change is likely to be temporary.

But the job of the CEO isn’t to maximize worker happiness. It’s to make sure they get their jobs done. And in driving change at Yahoo, Mayer thinks they need to show up at the office.

When considering your office policy on telecommuting, you may want to offer just one day a week or a 50/50 time split so that you have that prime face to face contact time, as well of offering a perk to potential employees.

-Today’s blog post was inspired from:  http://www.cnn.com/2013/02/26/opinion/fisman-yahoo/index.html?hpt=hp_c2

The Second Job Syndrome

Many employees are still reeling from being unemployed for a time or from losses they incurred when the market first tanked in 2008.  Debt snowballs fast and with looming debts, many employees are looking to apply for a second job to make ends meet or to pay debt payments from the past.

Here are a few guidelines to follow when thinking about getting a second job:

1.  First and foremost, talk to your current employer.  Is there any opportunity for overtime, weekend or night work or extra projects that need completed?  If you can earn extra money while staying in your current job – that is the best way to go to avoid scheduling issues and other problems that may arise when trying to juggle two different jobs.

2.  If that’s not an option, and you’re going to look outside for additional work, make sure that a second job won’t conflict with the job you already have. Many companies have conflict-of-interest or non-compete policies about employees—even part-timers or freelancers—working for others within the same industry. You also need to make sure that taking on additional work won’t hurt your performance at your current employer.

3.  On your search, you may find the most luck with smaller companies, especially those that advertise jobs with phrases like “self starter” or “freelance.” Such jobs typically mean you will have the opportunity to explore and develop a variety of skills. Also tap friends and family members or your college alumni network to learn about openings.

4.  Ideally, you want a second job that will complement what you already are doing—if you’re working in your chosen field. If you work part time as a teacher, for instance, try working at a nighttime or weekend tutoring program.  Or if you work in a medical lab, try finding work as a medical transcriber to expand your skill set within your profession.

For more information, visit:  http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324445904578285953213846608.html?mod=WSJ_article_RecentColumns_StartingOut

Things your Resume Should Contain

Though most job candidates would consider the interview as getting your foot through the door, the resume is just as important because it’s literally what opens that proverbial door. As a result, job seekers must think like an employer when crafting their next resume.

You’ve heard it hundreds of times before: each resume must be tailored for each position.

It’s TRUE!  In reading the job description and requirements, you can align your relevant skills and accomplishments. This strategy will achieve addressing technical skills for a job, like content writing or programming – but what about addressing the other skills desired by employers?

In a recent report by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), 244 employers took part in the Job Outlook Survey 2012, and the findings concluded that employers look for evidence of these FIVE skills on a resume:

Working on a Team. Consider including relevant projects or contributions created by you and your fellow coworkers or classmates.

Leadership. List a leadership position (maybe within a club or professional organization) and accomplishments made from the position’s responsibilities.

Written Communication. Incorporate relevant writing experience you have had in a position, whether writing blog entries or journalistic articles. If your experiences have not allowed for much writing, consider starting your own blog.

Problem-Solving. This is where you want to include quantitative data. Some examples to list include if you saved time or money by making a process more efficient, handling a crisis, or gaining more clients than last year.

Strong Work Ethic. This can be exude from your resume if crafted to list accomplishments rather than responsibilities. It’s about the quality, not quantity, of work you have done.

These things should definitely be included in a resume and we are confident that if you look hard enough, you will find examples that will satisfy each category.  Happy Hiring!

Information above was summarized from: http://comerecommended.com/blog/2011/11/21/5-skills-employers-expect-on-your-resume/

Some Resume Funnies

All you have to do is search “funny resumes” or “resume bloopers” and you will be inundated with funny anecdotes from various companies who have collected some hilarious resumes.

These resumes definitely make for some fun water-cooler humor, but it won’t land you a job.  In fact, mistakes will repel would-be employers.

Be careful when you’re typing your resume or submitting an online job application.  Check, double check and then recheck your spelling and word choices, and then have someone else check it too!

Here are some funnies from resumes around the world:

Education:  “I have a bachelorette degree in computers.”

Background:  “28 dog years of experience in sales (four human).

Hobbies:  “enjoy cooking Chinese and Italians.”

“2001 summer Voluntary work for taking care of the elderly and vegetable people.”

Hobbies:  “drugs and girls”.

Achievements:  “Nominated for prom queen.”

One resume said that the individual had won a contest for building toothpick bridges in middle school.

One applicant used colored paper and drew glitter designs around the border.

“Finished eighth in my class of ten.”

“It’s best for employers that I not work with people.”

“Marital status:  often. Children:  various.”

Interests:  “gossiping.”

Languages:  “Speak English and Spinach.”

Objective:  “So one of the main things for me is, as the movie ‘Jerry McGuire’ puts it, ‘Show me the money!'”

Qualifications:  “Twin sister has accounting degree.”

Application:  Why should an employer hire you?  “I bring doughnuts on Friday.”

Experience:  “Child care provider:  Organized activities; prepared lunches and snakes.”

Personal:  “I am loyal and know when to keep my big mouth shut.”

Business Lessons Learned While Playing Temple Run

I just made the move from the iPhone to the Galaxy S3.  As part of the move, I wanted to check out some new games I hadn’t played before.  So, I gathered my kids around the new phone and together we visited the Google Play store to select a few titles.  I went for Fruit Ninja, not because of it’s popularity, but because of Scott’s YouTube sensation “Real Life Fruit Ninja”, with 18.5M views at the time of this writing (by the way, I have talked to Scott, and he is an exceptional person).  My kids, however, clamored for a game called Temple Run.  Sorry to admit it, but I hadn’t heard about it before.  Well, the kids won out, and we went for Temple Run as well.

After playing a few fun rounds of Fruit Ninja, I decided I better try this Temple Run game out and see what it’s all about.  Well, here we are two days later and I am not sure I have done anything productive, although I did shower this morning.  I am not a hard-core gamer, and in fact I rarely play games, which have become more of a novelty to me.  I don’t think I have had this type of reaction to a video game since the mid 80’s when I went on a 3-day quest to defeat the Mother Brain.  If you are interested, my two-day Temple Run stats are at the end of this posting.

While playing this game, my brain kept finding applicable business lessons that the game was teaching me.  Yes, this sounds crazy, and might have come out of a combination of delirium and Mt. Dew, but I think there are some great things to be learned about business from Temple Run.  Here they are:

  1. Listen to others, even your subordinates.  So, as I started playing the game, I just couldn’t get to most of the coins in my path.  No matter what I tried, it seemed like the coins  were always on the other side of the path.  Occasionally I would try to slide my finger horizontally to move the dude over to the coins, which usually resulted in my death.  I just couldn’t seem to make it happen.  I tried timing turns around corners to get the right line, but nothing worked.  But, I continued to play.  My 8-year old daughter, interested to see me taking an interest in this game, came over to watch.  After 5 seconds of watching me, she quickly said “You’re doing it wrong.”  Taken aback that this child knew more than me, I ignored her.  Again, she said “You’re doing it wrong”, and this time, without waiting for a response, she continued to explain to me that I needed to tilt my phone to get the running man to move horizontally on the path.  She was right!  These new-fangled gadgets and their fancy gyro-whatchamanevers are beyond my mind, but not the mind of an 8-year old.
     
    Listening to others is critical to the success of any organization.  Every employee, no matter the level of import, should feel like they have a voice.  Right out of college I went to work for Wal-Mart Corporate in Bentonville, Arkansas.  While Wal-Mart does have it’s problems, one thing they do excellent is making every employee feel important, that every employee’s opinion matters.  I saw time and time again where opportunities were give to the lowest-paid employees to share their thoughts on how the company might improve.  You know those door-greeters that are there to get you a cart or put a sticker on your returned merchandise?  This was an idea presented by one of Wal-Mart’s hourly employees as a way to help with loss prevention in the stores.  Turns out this one idea saves the company millions of dollars per year.
     
    So, take the time to listen to your employees, at all levels.  Who knows where the next million-dollar idea might come from, and you might miss out if you’re not listening.
     
     
  2. Focus on where you are going is more important than focus on where you are.  Temple Run is a very fast-paced, exhilarating game.  It took me dozens of games to realize that I was playing it wrong (again).  My focus was exclusively on where I was at in the game, and where I was going was in my peripheral vision.  I just couldn’t break through to the next level until I realized that my focus was wrong.  Once I changed my focus to where I was going, while still keeping where I was at in my peripheral vision, I broke through multiple levels quickly.
     
    Feel stuck in your business, unable to break through to the next level of success?  Maybe you are too focused on where you are at, rather than where you are going.  This reminds me of the man who told his family he was going to go on a long journey, and when they asked him where he was going on this journey, he said he didn’t know yet, but he would know when he got there.  Well, he went on a journey, but he never did figure out where he was going and died along the way.
     
    Take time frequently to remind yourself where your business is going, or where you want it to go.  If you don’t know where you are going, you will crash and burn.  Written goals, vision statements and other tools are helpful resources to keep you and your business focused on where you want to go.
     
     
  3. Keep away from the brain-sucking monkeys.  Throughout Temple Run you are being chased by dark, brain-sucking monkeys that want you to fall.  Your goal is simple in the game: keep running and stay away from the monkeys.
     
    Do you have brain-sucking monkeys in your business?  They are all around, trying to tear us down and glory in our failure.  When I was younger, I “invented” many things in my mind, great things that were ahead of their time, things which have since been invented and made their respective inventors millions of dollars.  Why didn’t I pursue these ideas?  I had a few influences in my life that “sucked my brain” and told me that my ideas were silly or stupid.
     
    Make sure you identify the brain-sucking monkeys in your business, and stay away from them.  You know who they are.  Oh, and make sure you aren’t a brain-sucking monkey either.
     
     
  4. Don’t let others distract you.  My children always choose opportune moments to come watch me play.  It’s hard enough for me to focus on this game on my phone, and when little munchkins want to come watch in the middle of the round, I always seem to fall to my death immediately.  Man, I love those kids!
     
    I really like Greg McKeown’s article “The Disciplined Pursuit of Less“.  I especially found his point, labeled as “Phase 3″, very insightful in my own life.  “When we have increased options and opportunities, it leads to diffused efforts.”  We must be careful in our business pursuits to avoid that diffused effort, or “undisciplined pursuit of more.”
     
    There are always options for the successful individual or business, and the more successful you become, the more options come your way.  I worked for a very successful company that risked $500k in cash on an “opportunity”.  That one decision doomed the company.  Rather than focus on what made them successful in the first place, they diffused their efforts and ruined the company.
     
    Maintain your clarity of purpose and avoid those distractions that lead to failure.
     
     
  5. Don’t focus on the money.  Coins.  Temple Run is all about collecting coins.  The way you advance in Temple Run is by meeting coin “objectives”.  The more coins you collect, the further your play experience grows.  I like objectives, so I found myself focusing on the next objective.  I was so focused on my objective, in fact, that I would take my eyes off the path and what laid ahead to see how my coin collection was going.  Most assuredly, this focus on my collection of coins lead to my demise.
     
    “It’s all about the Benjamins.”  Well, not really.  If our primary focus in our career or business is money, we will be disappointed on multiple levels.  For many years, I was all about the next promotion, raise, or different job for more money.  I had a magical number in my head, and I knew once I hit that objective, life would be good.  I hit, and surpassed, that number a few years ago, and nothing changed, so I kept going, thinking that the magical number was just ahead.  After several years of this pursuit, and an ever-increasing salary, I found what many find: disappointment.  Rather than find something I was truly passionate about, I tricked myself into thinking I was passionate about making money, and along the way I forgot to focus on what really matters (to me).  I recently took a 1/3 deduction in salary to do stuff I am passionate about, stuff which will also allow me the opportunities and time to focus on what really matters (to me).
     
    If you stop focusing on the money, and, instead, primarily focus on where you are going and focus in your peripheral vision on where you are at, you will not be disappointed.  The money will come as you correctly focus in.

     

Want my stats after two days of playing?
Total Coins: 38,429
Multiplier: 21x
Highest Score: 148,880
Longest Run: 2,598m
Most Coins: 427
Total Games: 302
Total Distance: 244,103m
Total Coins: 38,429

Not too shabby for a couple days play while still holding down a job, eh?

Clean Up Your Social Media & Get a Job!

In a recent poll, 18 percent of employers reported finding content on social networking sites that caused them to hire or not hire a candidate.

Let’s face it: if you don’t want a future employer to see it – don’t post it!

Or, if you’ve already posted it, here are a few tips to clean up your social media accounts:

Consider your Privacy

Review your privacy settings for connecting on Facebook. Consider whether you’d want a potential employer to have access to your friend list, or see your likes, dislikes, and other connections. If the answer is no, make sure your setting for those options reads friends only. If you want to display your education degrees, on the other hand, make sure “Everyone” can see your credentials.

Choose what you share

It may be wise to limit access to information like status updates, photos, and other posts; photos and videos you’re tagged in; places you check in to; and religious and political views. You can also remove or edit any potentially controversial information from those areas. If you’re concerned about age discrimination, don’t include the year you were born.

Review Facebook photos

  • Even if you’ve restricted most elements of your Facebook profile to friends only, play it safe by reviewing all photos of yourself and removing or untagging any pictures you wouldn’t want a human resources department to see. Make sure your profile photo is attractive and projects maturity.
  • More than half of human resource workers surveyed cited provocative or inappropriate photos and information as the biggest reason they didn’t hire someone.

Hide Some Friends

Review your Facebook profile’s Wall. Potential employers will judge you by the company you keep, so hide any posts or friends who might reflect badly on you. Move your cursor to the right side of a post you want to remove, click the “X” that appears, then click on “Hide this post” to remove just that item, or “Hide all by” to remove all posts by that friend.

Proceed cautiously

Now that you’ve cleaned up your Facebook profile for potential employers, proceed cautiously with future postings. And, whatever your status update, don’t use emoticons to express yourself: 12 percent of employers who use Facebook as a screening method say they would not hire someone who uses them.  :(

For more information on cleaning up your Facebook account, visit http://www.howcast.com/videos/496774-How-to-Clean-Up-Your-Facebook-Profile-for-Potential-Employers