Job Search Tips for the “Seasoned Professional”

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untitled (6)According to the September Jobs Report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 94 million Americans are now missing from America’s Workforce, and while the percentage of employed Americans is said to be at 62.6 percent, those disappeared workers are now over 37 percent.

According to the BLS, there were 635,000 discouraged workers in September, virtually unchanged from 2014. Discouraged workers are persons not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them.

Among those “discouraged workers” are “Seasoned Professionals”, who are having a difficult time finding their way back into America’s Workforce.

The following Job Search Tips  for Older Americans, or, “Seasoned Professionals” are I like to call them (since I am one) were suggested by Phillip Moeller in an article posted on money.usnews.com.

The tips themselves are his. The analysis (and any smart aleck remarks that may pop up) are mine.

1. Get credit for what you know. 

As a seasoned professional, you have amassed a ton of knowledge and experience throughout your professional life. However, potential  employers have no way of ascertaining what you know. Enrolling in a certification program or seeking college credit for your work experience can develop the third-party credentials that would lead to a job.

It ain’t braggin’, if it’s documented.

2. You are a brand.

As a Seasoned Professional, you are a valuable commodity. You need to get out there and sell yourself! Now, you don’t have to hire a Cessna Pilot to fly your resume on a banner behind his plane. There is a much cheaper way to get yourself out there:

Use the Social Media. It’s FREE!

In fact, don’t tell anyone…but, I’m marketing my skills right now. Shhh!

3. Career navigators.

As you are no doubt finding out, today’s job market is a maze of twists and turns.

Sometimes, it helps to have a trusted advisor who has worked with you and who knows your skills and abilities, guide you toward the positions which you need to be going after.

Nothing is more demoralizing than looking back and thinking “Woulda, Shoulda, Coulda”.

4. Offer your services.

While unpaid internships won’t pay the bills, if you can afford it, they can be a great way to get your foot in the door of an industry or employer you like. It’s a way to gain needed experience, an addition to your résumé, and knowledge of how to improve your skills.

And, who knows? They may hire you after you show them what you can do.

5. Reverse job fairs.

This works just the opposite of regular job fairs that you may have attended. Job Seekers are in booths and are prescreened by employers, who then come up to speak to them. Employers control the situation and decide how to best use their time.. This helps the Job Seeker’s confidence because they know that the Employer coming to their booth is already interested in speaking with them.

6. Computer and technology training.

Let’s face it: Employers often assume that older Job Seekers are not computer-literate or comfortable with the New Technology. If you can show them that you actually know your way around a keyboard, this may help overcome any “Old Age Bias” that the potential Employer may be carrying into the interview.

It will help if you know that Skype is not a kind of bird.

7. Flextime and part-time jobs.

If you are technologically-savvy, and can afford it, you may want to work part-time or have flexible schedules, since working from home, or “telecommuting” may be an option for all or part of these types of jobs.

Just don’t Skype with your boss in your jammies.

8. Age bias.

It is a reality, as many out-of-work Seasoned Professionals have found out.

It can be overcome by, as I mentioned earlier, upgrading your “Skill Set”. It can also be overcome by answering the potential Employer’s concerns during the Interview, in a way which assures them that you can handle the duties of the job.

9. Workplace readiness.

There are programs available out there that will literally prepare you for the job that you are seeking. Some are available through technical and community colleges. Some are sponsored by the companies, themselves. There may even be financial aid available for the training that you are seeking.

Yes, we are older.

However, we still have skills and abilities, acquired through years of professional experience, which can be of immeasurable worth to a prospective Employer.

We must first, convince ourselves, and then, convince the prospective Employer, of that indisputable fact.

The great American Inventor, Alexander Graham Bell, said,

When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.

It is up to us to identify that door, open it wide, and step through it.

Never give up. Never surrender.

-Allen

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Management Style: Dealing With Unethical Behavior in the Workplace

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thUTVM5S72To give real service you must add something which cannot be bought or measured with money, and that is sincerity and integrity.– Douglas Adams

In this Brave New Business World, in which International Business Deals are accomplished with the flick of a button on a keyboard, do the majority of employees in the workplace believe that the words of Douglas Adams still hold true?

And, if they don’t, how do we, as Vice-Presidents, Directors, and Managers, fix that?

Back in January of this year, Kessler International released the results of a nationwide survey, outlining the current state of manners, etiquette, and ethics in the workplace.

They surveyed upper and mid-level management at 40 professional services firms.

Those polled held the belief, by an 84 percent margin, that their employees were inconsiderate and rude in the workplace. Additionally, the same respondents cited by 65 percent that they felt a majority of their staff lacked a moral compass.

Kessler asked individuals to anonymously comment on their employees’ use of personal electronic devices, dress, manners, ethics and level of respect for other employees.

This resulted in some of the respondents expressing their disgust of certain individuals on their staff, as well as their ineffectiveness and unwillingness to say something and correct the situation.

Among their excuses for not being able to correct the problem of unethical behavior by their employees were their company’s policy of “political correctness,” their own inability to have confrontation, and constraints instituted by their human resources department.

Among the items that most of the respondents cited, were:

1- untimely and inappropriate use of cellphones

2- wearing inappropriate clothing to work

3- complete lack of courtesy

4- use of street talk and signs in professional meetings

5- the inability of younger staff to write a letter/email

6- the lack of personal responsibility

7- failure to say please and thank you

8- lying to phone caller

9- hanging up on phone calls when they are confronted and were uncomfortable

10- cheating on time billed to clients and stealing time by arriving late and leaving early

11- cutting corners on work product rather than staying after hours to correct the mistakes they made

12- visiting sex and dating websites on company time

13- sexting on company phones

14- the inability to interact professionally with clients during a business function

15- the lack of manners

16- the lack of integrity

United States President Harry S. Truman had a famous plaque on his desk which read,

The Buck Stops Here

As an experienced leader of men and women, in the military, the workplace, and, as President of the United States of America, Truman knew that as a manager of employees, you are held responsible not only for heir behavior, but, what you do about it.

In her book “7 Lenses: Learning the Principles and Practices of Ethical Leadership (Leading in Context, 2013),” author Linda Fisher Thornton offers the following advice on how leaders can integrate the practice of ethical conduct into their organizations.

1. Face the complexity involved in making ethical choices: Openly discuss the ethical gray areas and acknowledge the complexity of work life. Involve others in more of the ethical decisions. Be a leader who talks about the difficult ethical choices, and help others learn to take responsibility for making ethical decisions carefully.

2. Don’t separate ethics from day-to-day business: Leaders must make it clear to their employees that ethics is “the way we operate” and not a training program or reference manual. Every activity, whether it is a training program, a client meeting or an important top management strategy session, should include conversations about ethics.

3. Don’t allow negative interpersonal behaviors to erode trust: Make respect a load-bearing beam in your culture. Be an ethical leader who expects it and practices it. Cultivate a respectful environment in which people can speak up about ethics and share the responsibility for living it. Build trust, demand open communication and share the ownership of organizational values.

4. Don’t think about ethics as just following laws and regulations: Leaders need to take action and show consumers and other stakeholders that they are actively engaged with ethical issues that matter. Recognize how ethics influences consumers’ reasons to buy from you, and demonstrate a commitment to go beyond mere compliance with laws and regulations. They must prove that they are committed to ethical issues, including human rights, social justice and sustainability.

5. Don’t exempt anyone from meeting ethical expectations: Allow no excuses. Make sure that no one is exempted from meeting the ethical standards that are adopted. Maintain the status of ethics as a total, absolute, “must do” in the organization. Hold everyone, particularly  senior leaders and high profile managers, accountable. No exceptions.

6. Celebrate positive ethical moments: Be a proactive ethical leader, championing high ethical conduct and emphasizing prevention. Managers should talk about what positive ethics looks like in practice as often as they talk about what to avoid. Take time to celebrate positive ethical choices.

7. Talk about ethics as an ongoing learning journey, not a once-a-year training program: Integrate ethics into every action of the organization — everything people do, touch or influence. Talk about ethics as an ongoing learning journey, not something you have or don’t have. Recognize that the world changes constantly, and that ethical conduct requires that everyone remain vigilant.

As leaders, it is our job to protect our companies’ revenue streams, as well as to keep and cultivate the trust which our clients place with us.

We cannot perform our duties effectively, if we have to constantly be on the look out for unethical behavior in our “home away from home”, our workplace environment.

Hopefully, these tips, which I have presented today, will help us, as leaders, foster an atmosphere of trust and shared expectations, smoothing out the journey down the road to success.

Never give up. Never surrender.

-Allen

Allen Fitzhugh is Director of Sales at Candlewood Suites-Memphis. He can be reached at dos@cwsmemphis.com.

The Secret Of My Success…And Yours, Too

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The Secret to my SuccessWhat is the secret of success in today’s business world?

Is it education? No. In my 33 years of competing in the business world, I have met a lot of educated failures.

Is it ” being born into the business”? No. While that might bring you money and perceived success, your employees will still look at you as nobody but your father son. Inheriting a business does not bring  respect with it.

Is it “who you know”? No. While having influential connections in the business world can help you land a job, they won’t be able to do your job for you.

So, what is the secret of success in business?

I believe that there are two factors that are very important in order to achieve individual success in today’s business world.

First, you must be persistent.

John Calvin Coolidge, Jr. was the 30th President of the United States. Known as “Silent Cal”, he was a quite, introspective man, who spoke very little. However, when he did speak, he spoke volumes:

Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan “press on” has solved and will always solve the problems of the human race.

Persistence requires patience. Patience is a virtue. I know that sounds corny, but it is the absolute truth. Persistence means that you will work toward a goal which you have set for yourself in your business life with a singular focus, set on the ultimate achievement of this goal, no matter what obstacles life throws in your path .

The second thing that you must possess in order to be successful in the business world, is happiness.

Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful. – Albert Schweitzer

So, how to you achieve happiness in the business world?

Forbes.com recently listed the following suggestions, found in the book, “The How of Happiness”, written by Professor Sonja Lyubomirsky of the University of California. (The steps themselves are the author’s. The analysis and any smart alack remarks that may occur are mine.)

1. Express gratitude –

Say, “Thank you” Just two little words. However, little words mean a lot.

“You didn’t have to do it, but you did what you did what you did, and, I thank you.”

2. Cultivate optimism –

Work on viewing the glass as half full. You’ll be surprised what happens.

“Oops, there goes another rubber tree plant.”

3. Avoid overthinking and social comparison –

You can drive yourself crazy with thoughts of “What if?” and “How Come”? And, don’t compare yourself with anybody else. You are unique. One of a kind. Wonderfully and fearfully made.

Besides, if “ifs and buts” were candy and nuts, we would all have a Merry Christmas.

“Welcome to my morning. Welcome to my day. yes, I’m the one responsible. I made it just this way.”

4. Practice Acts of Kindness –

Whether it is opening the door for someone, buying a co-worker’s lunch when they’re short, or helping a co-worker finish an assignment before a deadline, helping someone else feels good.

Therefore, the more acts of kindness you engage in, they better you will feel.

“You got to try a little kindness. Show a little kindness. Shine your light for everyone to see.”

5. Nurture relationships –

Be a good friend. Our relationships in the business world are not only essential to our careers but our sanity, as well.

“Sometime in our lives, we all have pain, we all have sorrow. But, if we are wise, we know that there’s always tomorrow.

Lean on me when you’re not strong. And, I’ll be your friend. I’ll help you carry on. For, it won’t be long, ’til I’m gonna need somebody to lean on.”

5. Develop strategies for Coping –

The most powerful resource you have at your disposal is you. We often get so caught up dealing with problems, we forget to acknowledge, develop and keep our attention with our strengths. Sometimes, when the chips are down, this is all we have – character strengths such as our determination, grace, compassion, clarity of mind and creativity.

“Learning to love yourself…It is the greatest love of all.”

7. Learn to forgive –

Life is too short to hold grudges. You may have to work with the person that your mad at, later in your career.

Everybody makes mistakes. “To err is human. To forgive divine.”

8. Do more activities that truly engage you –

Whether you are at work or at home, look for more activities in which you can “lose yourself”. The stress of life can take years off of your life. Finding a hobby or enjoying your work, can add those years back.

“I don’t want to work. I want to bang on the drum all day.”

9. Savor life’s joys-

Fondly recall the past. Be in the present. Anticipate the future.

“Life is a highway. I want to drive it all night long.”

10.Commit to your goals –

Make sure the goals you set are important to you. Make sure to consider the “what if’s”. Renew your commitment each day.

“Today is mine. Today is mine. To do with what I will. Today is mine. My own special cup to fill.to die a little that I might learn to live. To take from life, that I might learn to give. Today is mine.”

11. Practice religion and spirituality –

“Great men are they who see that spiritual is stronger than any material force – that thoughts rule the world.” –  Ralph Waldo Emerson

“You raise me up so I can stand on mountains. You raise me up to walk on story seas. I am strong when I am on your shoulders. You raise me up to more than I can be.”

12. Take Care of Your Body –

This not only means exercising, but also smiling, meditating. and laughing.

“You’ve got to stop and smell the roses
You’ve got to count your many blessings everyday
You’re gonna find your way to heaven is a rough and rocky road
If you don’t stop and smell the roses along the way.”

The author of the Forbes article suggests picking 4 of these 12 things to do on a regular basis, at your business, in order to achieve happiness in the workplace.

In my view, you should attempt to do as many of these things, as often as possible, because…
Every successful individual knows that his or her achievement depends on a community of persons working together.- Paul Ryan

In conclusion, allow me to tell you that the American Dream is still achievable.

You just have to be “happily persistent”.

Never Give Up. Never Surrender.

-Allen

***I am the Director of Sales at the Candlewood Suites in Memphis, Tennessee, an IHG Property, and an extended stay hotel. I can be reached at dos@cwsmemphis.com***

The Job Search: Dealing With Depression

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Unemployment19One of the hardest things that you will ever deal with in your life is losing a job, especially if you wind up being unemployed for an extended period of time.

Let’s face it. If you are an average working American, you spend more time at your job than you do at home with your family.

Losing a job leaves a void in both your self-identity and your self-esteem. It also seriously messes with your mind, as it tears asunder your daily routine and can completely destroy your financial security.

The state of being unemployed and unwanted by potential employers can seriously affect your feelings of self-esteem, comfort, financial security, and personal control of your life.

Losing a job is a major trauma in anyone’s life. It can affect you like losing someone close to you, like a family member or a friend, and it can put you on your heels, like a divorce or a car accident.

You can feel defeated and demoralized. No longer having some place to go everyday can leave you with a sense of loss, rendering you disoriented, worthless, rejected, and scared.

The fact that today’s employers, a lot of times, don’t even have the grace to tell you that you weren’t chosen, and leave you hanging, waiting to find out if you got the job or not, leads you to beat yourself up over your continued unemployment..

Trust me. I know.

When some hourly Human Resources Clerk does not return your phone calls, it makes you feel about the size of Stuart Little.

And, the worst thing is…you start believing all the negativity about yourself, no matter what great things you have accomplished in your Professional Life.

These  negative, self-defeating thoughts start affecting you, governing your behavior. You start eating all day, or not eating at all. or sleeping all day or not sleeping at all.

Once the darkness of depression enters your life, searching for jobs every day, in order to claw yourself out from the abyss of unemployment, becomes an almost insurmountable task.

Thankfully, there are measures you can take, in order to keep the darkness of depression for taking up residence in your mind and heart.

In March of 2010, cio.com posted the following 10 suggestions as to how to deal with depression during your job search. (The suggestions are theirs. The analysis and any smart alack remarks which may pop up are mine.)

1. Maintain a Routine.

Act as if you are still going to work everyday. Get up in the morning, shower and dress. Use that same work ethic which has served you so well in the past, to provide disciple to your present job search.

Just don’t say, “Good morning, Boss” to your spouse. Trust me on this one. I have just about regained the sight in my right eye.

2. Exercise.

Exercise increases the blood flow. It helps to fight off depression, and generally makes you feel better, physically and mentally…even if it is just going out for a walk, or a “drag”, if you are a dog owner.

Also, even computer programmers have to take a break from staring at the monitor all day. It can make your eyes cross.

3. Keep a Job Search Journal.

In other words, keep a record of what you are doing in your quest to find gainful employment.

When you are feeling down, you can look back on it to find affirmation that you are working hard to get a job. Additionally you can show your family what you are doing.

A journal, or record, will also keep you from contacting the same person twice. I wish some employers, like “The Duck”, would keep one. …I’m just sayin’…

4. Reach Out to People.

Contact your family, friends, and your Facebook and LinkedIn Contacts.

Back before computers, that’s how people found work. You might even actually have a phone or face-to-face conversation with those personal friends and family. **Gasp!**

5. Attend a Support Group.

Networking and Support Groups for unemployed executives cab alleviate your loneliness and improve your self-esteem. somebody may know somebody with a job opening in your area of expertise.

After all, no man is an island. No man stands alone. Hey, that would make a nifty title for a song. Oh. …never mind.

6. Participate in Productive Distractions.

Volunteer at a Non-Profit Organization or a charity sponsored by your place of worship.

Helping others will make you feel better about yourself and take your mind off of your own problems.

Or you could even start your own blog. WordPress and Blogster are both great platforms for blogging. And, they’re FREE!

7. Seek Inspiration.

Watch movies, television programs and webcasts, and listen to CD.s and podcasts which will inspire you.

If you are a spiritual person, embrace your faith. Use your faith to anchor your life through the storm that you are presently going through.

8. Persevere.

Battle the darkness of depression. When you start to recognize the symptoms, follow one or more of these suggestions. Fight it.

If you are a “Seasoned Professional”, like myself, you will remember the end of every Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon, when, exhausted, his tuxedo shirt unbuttoned and bow tie askew, he would sit on a stool and sing, “You’ll Never Walk Alone”, by Rodgers and Hammerstein…

Walk on through the wind,
Walk on through the rain,
Tho’ your dreams be tossed and blown.Walk on, walk on
With hope in your heart
And you’ll never walk alone,
You’ll never walk alone.

It’s like that.

9. Get Professional Help.

Don’t let the darkness of depression overwhelm you and destroy your relationships and your very life. Nonprofit mental health centers and county mental health agencies may provide counseling services for free or at a reduced rate. You might also look into organizations like Easter Sales, Catholic Charities and the United Way, in order to find local groups that offer free-of-charge counseling services.

10. Maintain Work-Life Balance.

If you are one of those whose job was their entire life, encompassing your self-worth and identity, the loss of a job will, quite literally, be psychologically devastating.

When you finally land a job and return to work, make every effort to balance out work and home. Get more involved with your family and community.  Work on “defining yourself” outside of your job.

After all, in today’s business world, jobs come and go…but, you’re stuck with yourself forever.

So, learn to love yourself. He/She’s got a lot going for them.

Never Give Up. Never Surrender.

-Allen