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Posts Tagged ‘job skills’

Why not go further in political science? Why not go to law school?

What does that have to do with me interviewing for an assistant position in the Fundraising department? And, if I had gone to law school, I think I’d be more than a tad overqualifed for this job. I wouldn’t be interviewing for this job at all.

Better yet, two words: Excuse me?

I think you’re too smart for this job – but I’ll hire you anyway.

Let’s not bring up the huge elephant in the room – OK? You’ll only make me feel worse.

I just want to know if you enjoy perfoming data entry for 8 hours a day.

Um, how does that translate on a resume? I’d like to meet the person, however, who actually does enjoy that.

How do you deal with difficult people?

Technically, this is a valid (but very stupid and poorly executed) interview question. It’s like asking people, “What do you do when you’re bored?” It’s too ambiguous and open-ended. 

Also, it’s really suspicious – are we talking about someone in particular? (the answer: YES!)

I only want to interview people who have done external company communications for 5 years.

OK, that could be anything like email…or Facebook pages.

You need to have a 3.5 GPA in order to interview.

GPA is not the most effective screening measure. Also, if transcripts are a necessity just to talk to you, I’m less likely to apply (3.5 GPA or not).

Getting college transcripts is a real pain in the butt.

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Photo Credit: Mod as hell @Flickr

Photo Credit: Mod as hell @Flickr

While looking up research on dating and the unemployed, I ran across this article.

Might not be safe for work – take heed.

I began to wonder how sex and romance are affected for an unemployed woman when she’s in a relationship. And… when she’s not.

I’ve been unemployed and in love (sometimes, even at the same time). Usually, however, it seems that my love life is tanking at the exact same moment when my career is heading somewhere. Then, the polar opposite crops up as my professional life is heading towards a quasi-black hole – I find Mr. Right (For Now).  

In other instances, people have used their personal relationships as reasons behind bad job performance…most likely because they are looking for an external reason to hate a crappy job in the first place.

In truth, my love life has (in)directly caused a crappy job performance.  I know all that stuff advocating the separation of work and personal dramas, but that’s a real dream. It’s like trying to separate yourself from your own skin. Theoretically, you can ignore it and pretend it’s not there, not take care of it and tell everyone the pimples they see are actually stress bumps.

But eventually, you’ll have to do something about it if you aren’t interested in looking like a pimple-infested, pus oozing weirdo.

It’s the maintenance that keeps the breakouts from coming.  Relationships (and sex) are the same. You can pretend it’s not there because they are relatively easy to start yet, it’s the maintenance (or lack thereof) that can be the true killer.

OK – back to sex and the (sometimes single) unemployed woman.  This has been on my mind because there is lots of talk about dating on a budget, dating in a recession, dating when you are unemployed – blah blah blah.

But, in a meandering way – these articles aren’t getting to the nitty gritty of what I want to know.  Are women just as likely to sleep with a man when he is unemployed versus when he isn’t? Would men date a woman who is unemployed?  Are unemployed women equally stressed in their sex lives like men?

Women are connected to work differently than men – they are connected to sex differently than men. So, when they are canned and there’s no sweetie to warm the covers with – how likely (and how fast) are they going to become disconnected from sex before they become disconnected from their career motivations?

And stop – I don’t want to hear any crap about how people should “only look at the personality” or shouldn’t judge others on such “superficial” things. Wanting to date someone who has a job (and legal means of income) is not superficial.

Men are just as likely as women to judge your dating “merit” on your ability to get a job or hold one.

So, when there is no job – is there still just as much sex for a woman?

Penelope Trunk touched upon this when she blogged that more sex will be a coming trend in the recession. And, as condom sales go up – that must mean men (and women) are smacking more tail than they could when 8 hours of their day was devoted to working it for the man – no pun intended.

Or, maybe people are anticipating more sex because now they can spend part of their unemployment check (and job searching hours) at the bars? Or, opting to stay at home (assuming they are not at home alone)?

Besides the unavoidable see-sawing – one’s sex life is also in a constant roller coaster as well. Even when we’re in steady, great relationships – it doesn’t change the fact that your better half is not working.  Things have inevitably steered into a different course, particularly, if your partner is demanding more sex (or not demanding any).

What is the quality of a woman’s sex life when she is unemployed? Do women associate the same kinds of stress from being out of work like men (and have it manifest in their sex life)? Maybe it’s really about priorities. Women don’t prioritize (or categorize) sex the same way men do.

So, if the quality of their professional lives takes a hit – a woman’s sex life remains unaffected because women tend not to singularly indentify their personal worth with their jobs like men do.  

For someone like me – who will be gainfully unemployed for a year in a few weeks – there hasn’t been much change in my love life pre-unemployment. There have been moments when I began to wonder if something was wrong because I hadn’t found anything yet.

However, momentary crushing moments of self-doubt haven’t affected me to the point where I’ve morphed into something else entirely – like Paul Nawrocki.

I don’t know. Maybe I should get a job as a sexpert instead.

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Photo Credit: Lutz-R. Frank @Flickr

Photo Credit: Lutz-R. Frank @Flickr

Creating complexity, meaning and autonomy in your professional life is not done through the 1-2-3 step process. For the best results, steps 1 and 2 may occur simultaneously while step 3 may not be readily achieved until you finish a part of step 4.

Generally, if you are interested in gaining meaningful employment, you will have to do more than utilize brains and talent. Additionally, you will have to create work for yourself that is beyond your usual 9 to 5 job.

Develop a Curriculum

This means that even though you are no longer in a classroom (or…maybe you are), you are not exempt from teaching yourself new skills or honing present ones. There are several ways to touch upon your desired area of expertise.

One way to get an idea on what an industry is studying (or learning) is check out trade magazines and professional associations. Decide what area you want to concentrate on (Research? Sales? Development?).

This doesn’t necessarily mean going back to school formally – but you do need to develop self-discipline (especially if you find yourself in a career rut). Libraries and public lectures are other great ways to connect with (free) learning.

Upside: You get to pick and choose what subjects interest you and focus on learning them

Downside: Reading, listening, learning – rinse, repeat.

The proof is in the pudding

Do work that naturally attracts your interests. This can range from performing projects outside your scope of responsibility at your present job to extensive volunteer work.  Career multiplicity is about juggling the interests with the ideas – don’t be too caught up in specific roles (for example, only wanting to concentrate on marketing or only performing “management” type work).

Set projects up for yourself that reflect what you want to learn and do.  As a result, you’ll have a distinguishable set of work that is tangible to prospective employers and shows evidence of your (extremely marketable) skills.

To begin, develop a Project/Skill Wish List. Essentially, divide your skills and talents into two categories – things you want to create and things you want to learn.

For example, you may want to create a community garden in your neighborhood (project) and want to learn about grant writing and research (skill). Keep writing out ideas (don’t worry about how ridiculous or prosaic they seem). Sort out the ones that seem relevant to your immediate interests -start working on those first.

Upside: You’ll get in the thick of things by creating goals

Downside: Deciding between workable skills and doable projects

Find a Sponsor

You don’t have to create a start-up if you don’t want to (or, aren’t ready). On a smaller scale, if you have an idea that you want to test out – but need financial backing, research opportunities through entrepreneurial incubators.

Also, sponsorship doesn’t necessarily need to be in the form of money – it can be in the form of providing space (a venue/facility), time (mentoring/networking connections) or materials (donating goods/services that will help promote or develop your idea).

Upside: Connecting your work with others  (sometimes on your terms)

Downside: Running into naysayers (who won’t connect with your work no matter what)

Critique Thought Leaders

Emerging fields, old stand-bys and everything in between all have thought leaders. You won’t get far (in your own intellectual thinking) if you nod your head in agreement with every last one of them. Challenge yourself by instigating an alternative viewpoint.

The easiest way to express those ideas? Blog it. And, while you are at it – create a community that can rally around your ideas.

Upside: Becoming a thought leader

Downside: Pissing off a thought leader

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Photo Credit: Aaron Edwards @Flickr

Photo Credit: Aaron Edwards @Flickr

Revolutionize

Common opinion: the current job market sucks and employers have all the power.

Truth: employers are just as screwed as you are…kind of.

The world at large would like to wag their fingers and say employers are the almighty powerful ones because they are the ones with the jobs.

Nonetheless, how powerful can they really be when forced to slash jobs and lose labor, thus diluting their market share? The ambiguous, elusive big-badness of a down economy affects employers as well.

True business productivity is invested in how much is created – not how much is deleted.

Companies in a down turn need to seek new alternatives to connect with the unemployed besides creating boring Monster ads. There is a disconnect – a gap – between keeping the job seekers relevant to the market and the employers maintaining  business productivity. 

Just because the job is “gone” doesn’t always mean the work still doesn’t need to get done.

There are ways for the job seeker to keep their skills and ideas fresh while they look for permanent work. As a business, how are you taking advantage of that?

Shut up

Job descriptions say too much.

Or, they don’t say enough.

For the sake of argument, I’m going to opine that employers veer into the former much more often than the latter. Oh no! Employers wring  their hands and yammer with gusto “How else do I attact the right candidate?”

In reality, you probably are not attracting the right anything because your HR manager’s in-bin is flooded with qualified, unqualifed and crazy job candidates.

People are applying in droves to everything, everywhere. So, what exactly is the purpose of  master tailoring  your job descriptions to speak to certain candidates?

None. Zip. Nada. Goose eggs. 

It would be best to revamp how you want to recruit for the downturn instead of worrying so much about keywords and scanable resumes. 

Also, keep your promotion as a teaser. It’s fair to say that you’ll eventually interview someone for a job with your company. Tell me just enough. And, if you’re lucky (or, if I’m lucky) when you interview me, you can talk (ad nauseum) about how great your company is.

And, while you may be sure that a certain job would be great for the right candidate – don’t inundate (or alienate) me with overstuffed descriptions, pretentiousness or fresh vocab from Bill O’Reilly’s Spin Thesaurus.

Numbers

Perhaps this is a quirk that only HR folks like to use. Numbering a list of responsibilites in a job description makes it look boring and rigidly unimaginative. Why? See below:

  1. Wake up
  2. Brush teeth
  3. Shower
  4. Eat
  5. Blog
  6. Nap
  7. Job search
  8. Nap
  9. Eat
  10. Bed

Wow. All this to be done in one day? I can’t wait. In reality – it’s a lot more fun than it looks.

Don’t embarrass yourself

I recently saw a job description that called for the following (emphasis mine):

The candidate needs to work it and own the front desk.

They also have to be comfortable with hearing the other brokers yell (not necessarily at them).

Also, when the big guys in the office have clients (football players, star athletes, entertainers) the receptionist will need to step up.

Does this company want a receptionist or an In Living Color fly girl running the front desk? Scarily, I think they want the Fly Girl. 

I wonder how seriously such a company takes the jobs of its employees. In this case, they are trivializing the job in question when mandating that the receptionist “own” his/her desk. Trust me on this: owning a desk is not the company’s way of “hipster-izing” job duties or professional accountability.

Just because I’m a twenty something (soon to be thirty something), please don’t talk to me like an idiot.

Better yet, don’t talk like that. Period.

 

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Jaboney @ Flickr

Photo Credit: Jaboney @ Flickr

If it were up to you – would you really work for a living? That’s a funny phrase. Working for a living. What’s that mean nowadays when so many people are living to work to survive?

Right now, I’m marginally attached to the workforce. I work weird hours (when I want to) and participate in volunteer projects at my leisure. No, I’m not independently wealthy. But, I don’t consider myself to be unemployed. Instead, maybe I’m “semi-retired.” While most of my out of work colleagues won’t feel the same way about unemployment like I do, I feel that semi-retiredness is out of necessity, not out of choice.

Presently, I can spend a lot of my time looking for jobs I truly want.  I’m not beholden to my 45 minute “lunch hour.” I can be flexible with people I want to connect (and network) with. It’s not ideal. I won’t say that some days aren’t especially tough for me. And, when you spend months and years being productive (for someone else), it’s hard to have it come to an abrupt stop or (for you lucky few) have it become cut in half.

There are lots of questions behind how to fill your unemployed hours of the day. I think the simple stigma of unemployment is that you will run out of money. And, since you are not working, it feels you aren’t doing something meaningful, productive and responsible.

You, nonetheless, never run out responsibilities. You have rent, mortgage, kids, spouses, sicknesses, habits to supply and misdeeds to fund – anything, everything. But, even if you had a job, those responsibilities won’t disappear. You still have student debt to pay and groceries to buy. Money only makes handling that stuff easier.

It doesn’t necessarily make anything any better. Yet, people sometimes insist on narrowly placing meaning on the activities they do for 8 hours a day in an office. But, meaningfulness is not merely created in a cube or a vacuum or a job or a work title.

It’s more alive than that. It’s 3-dimensional and fluid. It requires 3 million bits of ideas and all of them breathe from the life you live. So, the time you spend being productive while not working demonstrates just as much (if not more) about meaningfulness than the time you spend being productive on the job (for someone else).

As a semi-retiree, I like to think that my professional “pauses” are my respites. Whether I needed them or not. Whether I wanted them or not. I can’t do much about the state of the economy and the job losses except complain. And, I don’t get paid to complain. But, I do get paid to be productive regardless of the financial value or if I’m employed.

Therefore, I’ll continue my volunteer work, my job searching and my networking.  I’ll continue being semi-retired. I’ll continue doing the things that get me in tune with others.  Being unemployed doesn’t mean you become disconnected from being productive. And, it doesn’t mean you are being irresponsible or losing meaning.

It means I can continue being thankful. I can continue to do all those other things that fill up the hours of my day. I can remain feeling meaningful and valuable. I can continue being connected and feeling worthwhile.

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Kumar Appaiah

Photo Credit: Kumar Appaiah @ Flickr

Good bosses by typical, static definitions don’t exist. Young professionals tend to link Good Boss criteria with traits that have nothing to do with being an effective manager.

Therefore, a disconnect appears between the invented definition and the reality of what makes a Good Boss. Such invented criteria can be be difficult to solidify.

Someone who knows how to communicate with me

That’s a tall order. Whether you believe it or not, knowing how to communicate with someone and communicating well are two different things. One implies talents using ESP and the other involves insight, active listening and learning within a relationship . 

In short, a good connection doesn’t happen overnight (if at all) when a “good boss” hires you. Expect to a build a relationship first, then (perhaps) you’ll reap the benefits of someone who communicates well with you.

Also, good communication is reciprocal. Keep that in mind the next time you complain that your boss doesn’t “get” you.

Reality: I want someone who will listen to what I have to say and give me appropriate, thoughtful feedback

Someone who trusts me to do my job

If left to your own devices, what would you really do? There’s a difference between a boss trusting you to do your job and trusting you to do your job well. In truth, you don’t want someone micromanaging your every move. If, however, you want to be trusted to do your job (and only your job), it implies you want to be left alone. In that case, you probably don’t need a boss.

But, that’s why entrepreneurship exists.

Your boss is there for guidance and instruction. They can’t trust that you will know all the answers, that’s why they exist.

Reality: I want someone who is available when I need them and can give me constructive, effective direction when I have questions

Someone who knows what they want

That’s vague. Bosses, like you, are subject to the ever changing trends and decisions of a company. Also, expecting someone to be perfectly in tune with the whims of a business is naive. Someone who knows what they want is not going to be good – they’re going to be crazy.

After all, a boss knowing what they want doesn’t necessarily mean they know what they want for the company (or what’s best for it, either).

Reality: I want someone who can navigate the company/department with enough aplomb and flexibilty so that I don’t get confused about what they need from me as an employee

Someone who will give me good work

This is not good boss criteria – this is (good) job criteria. You’ll be surprised at how many interesting, challenging projects float over people’s heads because they simply didn’t ask for them. It’s not your boss’s job to keep you professionally stimulated or motivated.

God bless ’em if they try it though.

Managers don’t get paid to read your mind. So, if you want something – speak up for it! All a manager can do is provide access (or, let’s hope they can). Therefore, let’s not assume that if you are unchallenged in your job, it’s because you have a crappy boss. You just might have a crappy job.

Reality: I want someone who encourages professional development and will provide access to challenging work

What do you think? Is there a disconnect between what a good boss really is and what people say they want?

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dunce-capPeople who make our jobs harder never cease to amaze me. Because of some fleeting whimsy, they dole out orders, execute actions or change procedure giving little forethought to the consequences.

For example, a co-worker of mine has to clean out a database filled with contacts from imported lists. These lists sometimes contain duplicates, sometimes not.

How do you know?

An indicator in the form of a question mark appears next to each name. So, you can ferret out the ones that are duplicates. Then, merge them with the originals already existing in the database.

Did I mention that there are thousands of contacts? 

Yes, it’s a boring, tedious and repetitive task, but it needs to get done. But having a little help made the work easier, nonetheless.

Unfortunately, somebody decided they didn’t like the way question marks looked in the database. They removed them. Every. Single. One. Also, the double whammy is that this certain somebody needs to have the list free and clear of duplicate contacts because they desperately want to avoid calling existing customers. If not, they’ll be in trouble. BIG TROUBLE.

Of course this person was told about the “mistake.” Their response, “I didn’t like the question marks.”

Now, my co-worker has to go through each and every contact. Search for duplicates, whether they exist or not. It slows down the project. And perhaps, the department’s time line is shot.

Oh well. Somebody didn’t like question marks.

So, you see folks, people who make your job harder don’t have good reasons for making it that way. And if they do, you know why up front – not afterwards. But usually, they make things harder for themselves, whether they realize it or not.

Plainly, that just makes them idiots.

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