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

The Bottom Line: Older Employees: Liability or Asset?

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th5T1W4ZSKThere is a movie at the theaters right now, titled “The Intern”.

In the movie, 70 year old Robert DeNiro is hired as an Intern at a company, run by Anne Hathaway.

Hijinks ensue.

As the movie progresses, the “old codger” turns out to be of immeasurable worth to both Hathaway and her company.

Is this movie simply a comedy? Or a lesson in Business Management?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in the month of August,

…the civilian labor force participation rate was 62.6 percent for the third consecutive month. The employment-population ratio, at 59.4 percent, was about unchanged in August and has shown little movement thus far this year.

That means that 37.4% of America’s Workforce has either voluntarily walked away from the “Rat Race”, are working “under the radar”, or, have just flat given up seeking gainful employment.

Additionally,

In August, 1.8 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force, down by 329,000 from a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.) These individuals were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey.

Among the marginally attached, there were 624,000 discouraged workers in August, down by 151,000 from a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.) Discouraged workers are persons not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them. The remaining 1.2 million persons marginally attached to the labor force in August had not searched for work for reasons such as school attendance or family responsibilities.

Being 56 years young, I also noticed, while looking at the BLS’s August Report, that, only 39.8% of Americans, 55 or older, are working.

Why is that?

Are honesty, dependability, punctuality, stability, loyalty, wisdom, and experience, no longer valued by America’s Employers?

According to a Government Accountability Office Report, published in 2012,

The experts and staff GAO interviewed at some one-stop career centers, as well as the unemployed older workers who participated in GAO’s focus groups, identified employer reluctance to hire older workers as a key challenge that older workers face in finding reemployment. They also identified out-of-date skills, discouragement and depression, and inexperience with online applications as reemployment barriers for older workers. Some one-stop staff who serve older workers told GAO that providing the type of assistance some older workers need to address these unique challenges can be very time-consuming.

As often occurs, especially in the case of older potential employees, an employer’s preconceived, and perhaps, stereotypical notions, can blind him or her to the benefits of hiring an experienced professional.

In 2006, entrepreneur.com published the following list of 12 benefits of hiring an Older Employee.

Below are twelve reasons why hiring older workers can help you maintain a reliable, dedicated workforce and provide a significant cost savings for both the short and long term. (The reasons themselves are their original posting. The descriptions are mine.)

1. Dedicated–

Quite honestly, folks my age and older, tend to throw ourselves into our work, given the opportunity. We do not know how many more chances at gainful employment that we will receive.

Additionally, because we are so driven to do our best, we tend to identify costly mistakes, before they can damage our employer.

2. Punctuality–

Older Employees come from a generation that was taught that punctuality was “good manners” and “being respectful”.

Also, when you get older, it becomes harder to sleep in. Trust me.

3. Honesty —

Older Employees come from a generation where honesty and personal integrity were valued above everything else.

4. Detail-oriented, focused and attentive–

Again, this is a part of being older. Older Employees tend to be so self-aware of our need to do a good job, that we go over everything several times, before passing it “down the line” or “upstairs”, or wherever the heck it needs to go.

5. Good listeners–

Older Employees are easy to train, because we pay attention. You only have to tell us how to do something one time.

Of course, when we get home, our wives have to repeat themselves, especially during televised sports.

…But, that’s neither here nor there.

6. Pride in a job well done–

Older Employees tend to stay until we get the job done. We take pride in our work because we are happy to be employed.

7. Organizational skills–

Do you know haw many valuable man hours are lost each year simply due to workplace disorganization?

If I told you over a million, would you be surprised?

Older Employees tend to be meticulous to a fault.

8. Efficiency and the confidence–

Older Employees are not shy about sharing our experiences. And, at times our “war stories” will prove to be just the answer an employer will be looking for, in order to handle a problem efficiently and economically.

9. Maturity–

Older Employees have “seen it all”…twice. Because we’ve “been there, done that”, we tend not to have a screaming hissy fit, when unexpected problems occur on the job.

10. Setting an example–

Older Employees’ work ethics and calm, assured presence on the job can be an encouragement and example to younger employees. Also, because we are good listeners, we usually wind up as mentors and trainers, again, becoming an asset to our employer.

11. Communication skills–

Older Employees know when to speak and when to listen. We know how the game of “Office Politics” is played. And, we know how to get our ideas across, in a respectful way, to the Boss.

“Why, boss, that’s the greatest idea you’ve ever come up with!”

12. Reduced labor costs

A lot of times, Older Employees already have Health Insurance from a previous employer or they have some sort of income from another source, and can represent a savings to the company’s bottom line.

Speaking from personal experience, as an **cough** “experienced professional”, the benefits of hiring an Older Employee greatly outweigh the liabilities.

In today’s atmosphere of rapid employee turnover in the workplace, the hiring of older Americans offers not only a potential savings in HR costs, but also presents an opportunity for a stable workplace environment.

The Bottom Line?

Hiring Older Employees will increase your company’s Bottom Line.

Never Give up. Never Surrender.

Allen

Allen Fitzhugh is an “experienced professional” “seeking new opportunites”. He may be contacted at In-mail at linkedin.com.

Okay. You’ve Been Hired. Now What?

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hired1052014If you’ve ever seen the look on somebody’s face the day they finally get a job, I’ve had some experience with this, they look like they could fly. And its not about the paycheck, it’s about respect, it’s about looking in the mirror and knowing that you’ve done something valuable with your day. And if one person could start to feel this way, and then another person, and then another person, soon all these other problems may not seem so impossible. You don’t really know how much you can do until you, stand up and decide to try. – Kevin Kline, “Dave” 1993

Those of you who have read my blog for any length of time, and, by the way, thank you for that, know that I have spent the past 5 months in search of meaningful employment.

Last Wednesday, my search ended, as I was hired for the position of Sales Manager at Candlewood Suites-Memphis.

When the shock wore off, I said to myself,

Okay, Self. What now? How do I handle myself on the first day at my new job?

Being the analytical type of person that I am, I decided to go to the World Wide Web to find the answers to that question, which I would like to share with you.

Here are some tips from Holly Paul, PricewaterhouseCooper’s U.S. recruiting leader, courtesy of usnews.money.com. ( The list of methods is the author’s. The analysis and any smart alack remarks which may pop up are mine.)

1. Time your arrival on the first day.

Paul suggests: “Arrive early, but not too early, to demonstrate responsibility and passion.”

Just like you arrived at job interviews 15 minutes early, in order to give a good first impression, that’s a good idea for your first day on your new job too.

Getting there early allows you to get yourself together before you take off on your new adventure.

2. Think about your wardrobe.

Take out what you want to wear on your first day, the night before.

Of course, by this time you should know what the dress rules are for the office.

Dress professionally and always dress in good taste.

Your appearance says a lot about you. Dress to impress, not to “shock and awe”.

3. Step up your company research.

Since you landed the job, you probably already conducted some due diligence, and you have a basic knowledge of what the company is about and what their core values are. Since you are about to be working there, it would be a good idea to review the company’s website once more, in order to learn about its mission, lines of business, and culture from the viewpoint of an employee.

Additionally, there may be some LinkedIn and Facebook groups for employees and some professional groups your co-workers may go to.

This is a great way to network and to keep up with what is going on in your field..

4. Practice introducing yourself.

I know that it sounds corny, but direct eye contact and a firm handshake will demonstrate the you are a go-getter with self-confidence.

Remember how smooth you were in your job interview? Carry that same suave demeanor and stylish professionalism into your new position and you will do well.

Just don’t be like Tim Matheson in “Animal House”:

I’m Otter…Rush Chairman…D@#n glad to meet you!

5. Ask questions.

…Not just because you are expected to.

The best questions will show that you are genuinely interested in learning the daily procedures involved with your new position.

Just don’t be like my 6 year-old grandson…

Why?Why?Why?Why?Why?Why? (I kid.)

6. Show what you know.

Look for ways to professionally “show off” your skills and knowledge.

Be humble. Approach the situation like, “Have you ever tried…?”

7. Communicate professionally.

Don’t speak to your new boss, like you do to the guys you watching football with on the weekends. be mindful of your diction. Enunciate clearly, but do not speak in a stilted manner, like “Joshua”, the computer from the 1983 movie, “WarGames”.

Greetings, Professor Falken. Shall we play a game?

8. Share your passions.

The best part of who you are, as a professional, includes knowing and being able to articulate who you are and what’s important to you, in other words, your values and passions.

While you are sharing your values and passions, your boss just might share theirs with you, as well, enabling you both to know where each other is coming from.

9. Hone those listening skills.

One of the skills which I have had during my professional career, is the ability to listen to clients and interpret what they want from what they say, what they don’t say, and what they imply.

It takes practice to sharpen this skill, but, it will prove invaluable to you, as you strive for a successful career.

Can you hear me now?

10. Take notes.

I used to work at a company where all of the vice-presidents (the owner’s sons) kept a writing journal on their desks. Just a cheap composition book. However, it proved invaluable to them when need arose to remember what happened in the past, in order to move forward into a more profitable future. It also helped when there was a disagreement at to how a certain situation occurred.

Additionally, taking notes helps you to stay organized and keep up with the small details that might escape your memory.

Because no boss wants to hear…

I forgot.

In conclusion, if you are unemployed, and I could give you one piece of advice on landing a job, I would refer you to this profound advice, given by the man known to our nation as “Silent Cal”, because he measured his words very carefully. However, when he opened his mouth, his words 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. – Calvin Coolidge,  30th President of the United States of America

Never give up. Never surrender.

-Allen

The Job Interview: Interviewers’ Tricks/What They Want To Hear

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Unemployment20One important key to success is self-confidence. An important key to self-confidence is preparation. –Arthur Ashe

Sitting here, waiting to hear the results from my latest in 5 months worth of job interviews, the thought struck me that Corporate Interviewers, just like any other professional, must have some “tricks of the trade”, which they rely upon in order to find the right job candidate for any position for which they are interviewing applicants.

The professional life of an Interviewer eventually finds them in front of every single type of individual, whether they be introvert, extrovert, detail-oriented, or free spirit.

While Interviewers all have their own particular interviewing style, there are certain common methods that they use in order to get the job candidate to “open up”.

Here is a list of 10 “tricks of the trade” which Interviewers use to get a job candidate to let their guard down during a Job Interview, initially posted on money.usnews.com in March of 2012. (The list of methods is the author’s. The analysis and any smart alack remarks which may pop up are mine.)

1. Silence.

There are some interviewers who will remain silent after you finish answering their question, hoping that you will continue to talk and reveal something about yourself that you did not intend to.

Answer their question succinctly. If their silence continues, ask them if there was something else about the topic of the question that they wanted to know.

2. Extreme friendliness.

By putting you at ease, Interviewers hope to break down your defenses and gain insight into the “real you”.

The Interviewer, while friendly, isn’t your BFF. Stay professional.

3. Asking “What do you know about us so far?”

When Interviewers ask you this, they want to know if you desire the job enough to learn about the company, i.e , “do your homework”.

In this case, what you don’t know CAN hurt you.

4. Asking why you’re thinking about leaving your current job (or why you left your last job).

This is another “Gotcha” Question.

The Interviewer is attempting to get you to reveal if you left on bad terms or if you’re willing to badmouth your former employer.

Remain positive. Keep your private thoughts about your former employer private.

5. Asking how soon you can start.

Interviewers want to know if you posses the strength of character to give your current employer at least two-weeks notice. If you are employed, and you tell the interviewer that you can start immediately, they will assume you’ll do that to them someday, too.

6. Asking you to follow up about something.

The Interviewer is testing you to see how well you remember and follow up on commitments, even small or informal ones.

7. Leaving you with the receptionist.

If you are a “People Person”, like I am, you might slip up and say things to the receptionist that you would never say to an Interviewer.

Just remember that the receptionist is the gatekeeper. Just as is the case with salespeople trying to get in front of a decision-maker, she will follow up with her boss after you leave.

If they chat with you, talk about the weather or compliment the “cute” picture of their grandchild.

8. If you were laid off, asking if others were laid off with you.

The question “How many in your department were laid off as well?” Is an attempt by the Interviewer to find out if a past employer laid you off in order to avoid having to fire you for performance issues.

9. Asking you to describe your dream job.

If you answer with any other job than the one you are applying for…you’ve shot yourself in the foot.

If you are interviewing for a job as a zoo keeper, don’t say that you want to be a Big Game Hunter.

10. Asking what questions you have.

A good Interviewer can tell a lot about you by what questions you ask. Interviewers want to hear insightful questions about the position itself, the company culture, and the organizational structure.

There are also some general statements about yourself that every Job Interviewer wants to hear.

In November of 2012, Forbes.com posted an article titled,  “5 Things Every Employer Wants To Hear”.

Here is a list of those statements.

1. You will never have to tell me what to do twice.

This shows that you don’t let any moss grow under your feet, i.e., that you are pro-active and engaged.

2. I will complete the job/assignment you give me with excellence.

This tells the Interviewer that you take your assignments seriously and excise due diligence in the performance of your job duties.

3. I am open to learning, adapting, adjusting and to receiving feedback on how I can improve.

This shows that you are not a know-it-all and that you will recognize your manager’s authority.

4. I am easy to correct and instruct.

With this statement, you are telling the Interviewer that you have a good, professional attitude, with a strong dose of humility thrown in for good measure.

5. I am a loyal employee.

This statement lets them know that, if they hire you, you will be a steadfast, productive employee for as long as they will have you.

Remember, every Job Interview is different, as is the style of every Interviewer.

So, get out there, land an interview, and give it your best shot. As Legendary Professional Hockey Player, Wayne Gretzky, once quipped,

You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.

My sincere hope is that the insights and suggestions provided in today’s blog will help you land your “dream job”.

Never give up. Never surrender.

-Allen

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

The Job Interview: “We’re Going To Need Your Facebook Password…”

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Unemployment18If you are reading this article on LinkedIn.com, chances are pretty favorable that you also have an account on Facebook.com, which you use for networking with family and friends, or keeping up with topics which interest you.

Within the last couple of years, Corporate Recruiters and Interviewers have integrated some surprising and controversial new job seeker screening practices into their quest to find viable Job Candidates for their clients/corporations. These practices have come to be known as “shoulder surfing” and “force friending”. This new arrow in the Recruiter/Interviewer’s quiver ultimately involves asking the Job Candidate for their Facebook password.

“Shoulder surfing” is a practice which involves the Interviewer asking a candidate in an interview to log in to his or her Facebook account, in order for the Human Resources Department to screen “friends-only” postings for lurid party photos, questionable activities, drug use or racial/religious/gender slurs that might be revealed in a job seeker’s private online life.

“Force friending” frequently occurs among college athletic departments where administrators require players to friend them in order to keep tabs on potential non-compliant activities by their NCAA athletes.

Additionally, some types of employers, particularly law enforcement agencies, have been requesting the Facebook password of a job seeker, right on the job application.

By now, you are probably thinking,

Wait a minute. Isn’t that an Invasion of Privacy?

Unfortunately, as wrong as one might find these practices from a privacy and free speech perspective, there is no specific law preventing them, at least for now.

According to legal experts, employers are walking a fine line in demanding access to employee or applicants’ personal social media accounts. In fact  ACLU-backed legislation is in the works in several states.

Jennifer Corso, who is an employment law attorney that represents businesses, advises against the practice.

In my opinion, while these practices may be legal, it opens the employer up to several types of employment discrimination claims and should not be practiced. It is very possible that the Facebook page would reveal information about the applicant that would otherwise be the subject of illegal interview questions.” She cites the revealing of age and race, a medical condition, religious affiliation, even comments about planning to start a family are often evident on private posts; “if that applicant isn’t selected, the employer may be put in a position to show that it didn’t rely on that private information in making their decision.

Facebook itself has warned in the past that the practice “undermines the privacy expectations and the security of both the user and the user’s friends” and “potentially exposes the employer who seeks this access to unanticipated legal liability.”

So, what do you do if the Interviewer puts on the spot and asks you for your Facebook Password? After all, you want the job, but, you do not want the prospective employer dissecting your personal life, like an Eighth Grade Biology Student dissecting a frog.

From theladders.com, here are some responses to give politely give to the Interviewer, which, hopefully, will allow you to protect your privacy on Facebook. (As usual, the questions are the authors. The analysis, including any smart alack remarks that may pop up, are mine.)

1. I take my agreements very seriously. And it is against Facebook’s user policy to share my password with anyone else. I’m going to have to respectfully decline your request.

Because if you tell the Interviewer, “it’s none of your business”, you will be shown the door…post haste.

2. I’m sure your firm has a social media policy. Well, it is my own social media policy to use Facebook for personal reasons. I mean no offense, but I’m going to have to decline.

Or, perhaps you could ask the Interviewer for their Facebook password…and, watch them respond with the “deer in the headlights” “eyes glazed over” look.

3. Privacy is a very serious matter for me. Should I be employed with your organization, I would honor private company information just as seriously as I honor my own. Even if this means losing a great opportunity for me, I must refuse your request. And know that if I were presented with a similar situation with your private information, I would respond in the same way.

This response shows the potential Employer that you possess strength of character…a rare trait nowadays….a trait that any employer worth their salt should be looking for in a job candidate.

4. I wouldn’t want to jeopardize your organization’s standing with OFCCP’s (Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs) regulations about asking about kids or other protected private matters in the course of an employment decision. Therefore, if you don’t mind, I’d prefer to keep my Facebook profile private. However, should you and I become friendly after my employment, I would have no problem having you in my network.

Interviewers should be, and probably are, familiar with the OFCCP. This response s a polite inference that you know the legalities of Job Interviewing, as well as they do.

In conclusion, most of us who are Facebook aficionados are just regular folks, whose account consists of pictures of family, friends, pets, and silly pictures with funny quips on them. However, if you are passionate about your faith, or are outspoken about your political leanings, that is your business, and should not affect whether you are hired for a job, if you are qualified for it.

In my opinion (and, you can take it for what it is worth), that is why having a LinkedIn.com account is so important.

LinkedIn.com presents a great overall view of your professional qualifications to a potential employer, in a clear and concise manner.

Leave Facebook for Personal Interests.

Hey. Who came up with “Caturday”, anyway?

Never give up. Never Surrender.

-Allen

The Job Interview: How to Handle the Interview as a “Seasoned Professional”

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unemployment7The Jobs Report for the month of August was published last Friday, and America’s Employment Rolls aren’t exactly burgeoning, to say the least.

According to CNSnews.com,

A record 92,269,000 Americans 16 and older did not participate in the labor force in August, as the labor force participation rate matched a 36-year low of 62.8 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The labor force participation rate has been as low as 62.8 percent in six of the last twelve months, but prior to last October had not fallen that low since 1978.

BLS employment statistics are based on the civilian noninstitutional population, which consists of all people 16 or older who were not in the military or an institution such as a prison, mental hospital or nursing home.

As one of the over 92 million Americans mentioned in the BLS report, well into my fifth month of “fun-cation” as First Lady Michelle Obama once described unemployment, I am reminded of the University Graduation Speech given by Thonton Melon (the late, great Rodney Dangerfield) in the movie “Back to School”,

Thank you, Dean Martin, President Sinclair…and members of the graduating class. I have only one thing to say to you today…it’s a jungle out there.You gotta look out for number one. But don’t step in number two. And so, to all you graduates…as you go out into the world my advice to you is…don’t go! It’s rough out there.Move back with your parents. Let them worry about it.

Unfortunately, as a 55 year old “Seasoned Professional”, my parents are no longer here for me to move back in with. Besides that, my wife wouldn’t let me.

With the national unemployment rate as high as it is, it is becoming harder and harder for “Seasoned Professionals”, such as myself, to find gainful employment  While extensive work experience can certainly work to the advantage of a job seeker,  it definitely seems that, in this technology-driven job market, fresh and trainable young candidates are considered to be more valuable by corporations.

If you are a job seeker with over 15 years of job experience, you must  prove to an interviewer that you have relevant experience, as well as the adaptability and passion that they value in younger candidates.  Recruitips.com has posted a few interview tips for older job seekers.(The tips are theirs. The analysis and any smart alack remarks that may pop up are mine.)

1.    Show that you are current.

Interviewers are looking for a candidate with particular relevant work experience.  Make sure that you are familiar with current trends in your profession, so that you can “wow” the Interviewer as to how knowledgeable you are.

Yes, the knowledge you’ve gained through your extensive work experience is important, but, if you drone on about it to the Interviewer, they will likely get that same “eyes glazed-over” expression that your kid used to, when you told him/her that you had to walk to and from school 5 miles each way, uphill both ways, in blinding snow.

2.    Demonstrate adaptability.

Unfortunately, there are recruiters out there who perceive us “Seasoned Professionals” as “set in our ways”…untrainable and unadaptable. Be prepared to give your Interviewer a few examples of times when you were required to adapt to a new professional environment, and you found success afterward.

3.    Show off your network.

You’ve no doubt heard it said that “It’s not what you know. It’s who you know.” Having an impressive network of business acquaintances can be a powerful arrow to have in your quiver to pull out during your interview.

Just don’t pull a Jon Lovitz, “Yeah…my wife…Morgan Fairchild. That’s the ticket!”

4.    Prove that you have an understanding of technology.

A knowledge of Social Media and Web-Based business tools can put you in the “catbird seat”. It will show the Interviewer that, just because you are a “Seasoned Professional, does not mean that you are “computer-illiterate”,

5.    Be honest about your health.

According to the law, your health problems are none of the Interviewer’s concern. However, do not let your alligator mouth overload your hummingbird hindquarters.Simply put, don’t say that you can do something, if you know that your health will not allow you to do it.  You won’t be helping yourself or your potential employer.

Personally, I used to have a 56 inch chest and 18 inch biceps…but, that’s all behind me, now.

Calvin Coolidge, Jr. was the 30th President of the United States. A Republican lawyer from Vermont, Coolidge worked his way up the ladder of Massachusetts state politics, eventually becoming governor of that state. His response to the Boston Police Strike of 1919 thrust him into the national spotlight and gave him a reputation as a man of decisive action.

He was known as “Silent Cal”, because he was a man who chose his words carefully. However, when he spoke, his words resounded with clarity and conciseness. When he was asked what the secret of success was, he responded:

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.

I hope the tips I have shared will help you gain meaningful employment,

Never quit. Never surrender.

-Allen

The Job Interview: America’s Workforce, Jerry Lewis, and Me

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jerry-lewisI was thinking last evening about how, as 81-year-old Joan Rivers lays in a coma in a hospital, the generation of entertainment that we Baby Boomers watched and listened to at the movies and on television, from youth to adulthood, is slipping away.

These thoughts were spurred on, as I realized that, here we are, September 1st, Labor Day, 2014…and there is a huge gap in today’s television programming.

For 45 years, American families would, while spending time together, watch the Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy Association Telethon. The telethon would begin on Sunday Evening and continue for 21 1/2 hours, ending on Monday evening at 5:00 p.m. Central. Co-hosted in later years by Ed McMahon and Norm Crosby, stars of stage, screen, and television would appear, alongside corporate executives, all there to raise money for “Jerry’s Kids”.

In 2012, the MDA Program was renamed the “MDA Show of Strength”. It was scaled down to a 3 hour program, featuring mostly pre-taped segments.

The last two years’ programs, while being referred to as a “telethon”, were only 2 hour programs, aired on the Sunday night before Labor Day, featuring hip young “stars” like Ryan Seacrest introducing pre-taped segments.

After MDA gave Lewis the Fickle Finger of Fate, they continued to insist

We honor Jerry Lewis, we admire the work he’s done for us, and we respect his decision to retire.

That particular quote came from Valerie Cwik, the MDA’s interim president, at the time. She replaced Gerald Weinberg, who was reportedly behind Lewis’s ouster and who stepped down as president, after 54 years with the organization.

She made the lame argument that the changes in the telethon were part of a necessary evolution in fundraising strategy, to put less emphasis on the once-a-year event.

It has to change because the American audience has changed. A 21.5-hour show doesn’t fit in a 140-character world.

Okay. I know that Lewis had a reputation as an ego-maniacal pain-in-the-rear to work with, but, these were people’s lives that the MDA was messing with. It could have, and should have, been handled differently.

It showed no respect whatsoever. But, I digress…

What happened to Jerry Lewis, seems to be happening to American Society in general.

The fact is, older worker unemployment has increased dramatically since the recession. The unemployment rate for workers age 55 and older increased from 3.1 percent in December 2007 to a high of 7.6 percent in February 2010, before dropping to 6 percent in December 2011.

While older employees are less likely to be laid off than their younger counterparts, it generally takes older job seekers longer to find new employment. The median duration of unemployment for older workers was 35 weeks in 2011, compared with 26 weeks for younger employees. And 55 percent of unemployed older workers spent more than 27 weeks actively seeking a new job in 2011, up from less than a quarter in 2007.

According to a Government Accountability Office Report, issued in 2012, and featured on money.usnews.com, the following list examines the barriers to employment for people who were laid off at age 55 (like myself) or later. Here’s and are the reasons why unemployed older workers, like myself, are having difficulty finding new jobs. (The reason’s are theirs. Any smart alack comments that may pop-up are mine.)

High salary expectations.

According to some employers interviewed by the GAO, older workers should “learn how to present their skills and experiences to potential employers in a way that does not draw attention to their age, extensive years of experience, and past high-level positions.” I personally have no problem with that. I know that am a very capable professional, Mr. Employer. I just want to work.

Younger bosses.

Some Hiring Managers probably believe that older employees would be unhappy working for a younger or less experienced supervisor. When you interview, try pointing out why you would be a good fit at the company, that you are willing to work for less pay than you received in the past, and that you are comfortable reporting to a younger manager and working collaboratively with people of all ages. Competency has no age limit. Neither does incompetency. However, that’s a whole different blog.

Out of date skills.

You have to be able to submit applications and resumes online, in order to apply for a job. “Seasoned Professionals” who lack computer and other technology skills have a great disadvantage in finding work.

You have to keep pace with technology in order to get yourself a job nowadays. There are plenty of courses available through which you can learn the new technology. In fact, I worked at a Government Internship a couple of years ago, in order to update my technological skills. If you can play video games with your grandchildren, you can learn this stuff. Don’t be afraid of technology.

Expensive health benefits.

GAO found that some employers don’t  want to hire older job seekers because of possible future health issues. The fallacy there is the fact that everyone gets sick, not just “Seasoned Professionals”. You may want to assure the interviewer, if this is brought up, that you have no plans to keel over anytime soon.

Retirement expectations.

Some Employers don’t want to hire and then train older workers, because they believe that older employees will retire soon, and will not give them a good Return on Investment (ROI). When interviewing, tell your potential Employers that you do not see yourself retiring in the near future…you would not be out seeking employment, if you were.

Visible frustration.

Some Employers say that long-term unemployment makes some older workers discouraged and depressed. Well, duuuh.

The trick is not to allow your job-search frustration to show during interviews or take it out on the hiring manager. It’s not their fault. Put on your best professional demeanor and show them why they should hire you.

As an “Seasoned Professional”, I believe that I have a lot to offer a potential employer. Years of experience have given me insight into the business world that younger employees do not have. I also posses a work ethic and a will to succeed, which ha have not diminished as I have gotten older.

Like my fellow “Seasoned Professionals”, all I ask is for the opportunity to prove my worth.

Never give up. Never surrender.

-Allen

The Job Interview: “Dear Job Seeker…Your Resume Is Impressive, But…”

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Unemployment#18Unless you lived under a rock as a teenager, or, you stayed in your folks’ house playing video games in the basement, depending on your age, we’ve all faced rejection at some time or another.

As a working adult, opening your e-mail inbox to find a rejection letter, is every job seeker’s worst nightmare. It can be just as painful as finding out your main squeeze has been dating the entire high school football team (Don’t ask.).

Receiving the kiss-off from a company or a recruiter can be especially frustrating, after feeling like you nailed the job interview.

Some companies don’t even show job seekers the courtesy of a rejection e-mail. These companies just forget about you, leaving you wondering about the status of your application.

Of all the frustrating moments that a job seeker experiences in their quest for meaningful employment, receiving a rejection e-mail has to be the most ego-deflating.

Learning to handle rejection is just as important as learning how to conduct yourself during the job interview, itself.

The following list of things NOT TO DO, after receiving a rejection e-mail, was posted on foxbusiness.com last year. The suggestions are theirs. The analysis (including any smart alack comments that may pop up) is mine.

1. Forget Perspective.

As you sit there, beating yourself up over no getting hired, remember that  as my Daddy (Southern colloquialism for male parental unit) used to tell me, “There’s more than one fish in the sea.” Everyone gets rejected, at one time or another.Look back at what you have accomplished. While navigating Life’s Highway, this is just one small bump in the road.

2. Let Your Emotions Take Over.

It is very easy for others to tell you that not being hired for a job you want is “nothing personal”, especially after you believed that you did very well in the interview. If you are like me, you take a lot of pride in your professionalism and the knowledge you have gained during your job experience. To have someone devalue all that you have learned, through an impersonal e-mail, can really hurt. The hard part is to focus that emotion you are feeling and to turn it around in a positive direction.  Difficult, but not impossible.

3. Forget To Ask For Feedback.

Learn from the rejection. Why were you not hired? What was wrong with the way you presented yourself. If you are in the position to do so, ask the interviewer why you were rejected. While the company’s representative might not always be able to give you details, it doesn’t hurt to ask. Just make sure that your request is respectful and optimistic. If you are seeking employment through a recruiting service, they will tell you how you blew the interview, because their client, the company, will tell them why they do not want to hire you.  (Been there. Done that. Use the t-shirt to wash the car.)

4. Refuse To Improve.

In other words, take what you have learned from your rejection and try to “fix” what caused you not to be hired. Just remember, performing a frank assessment of why you did not get a job is different from beating yourself up, for days upon end, over being rejected for the position.

5. Don’t Stay Connected.

If possible, maintain a professional relationship with the company’s hiring manager. Even though they may not have chosen you for the position, you should still keep in touch with them. LinkedIn is a great tool to use for this purpose. If you are not a LinkedIn Connection with the hiring manager, make it so. That way, you may have the inside track on another position with their company when one becomes open.

6. Avoid Sharing Your Experience.

Everyone has a support system…family and friends who don’t mind listening to you vent. This is the time to utilize them. No man (or woman) is an island. “Whining” about not getting the job you wanted might embarrassed you at first, but venting is cathartic. It helps you blow off steam. (Why do you think I write this blog?) Most people have been where you are, and they all will have some sort of advice and guidance to share with you.

7. Give Up

Everyone, including myself, has wanted to throw in the towel, and say, “No mas!”, a la Roberto Duran. Please don’t.

NBA Legend Michael Jordan once said,

I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.

There is an old adage which states

It’s not how many times you fall down that matters. It’s how many times you get back up.

There is an old song from the movie, “Swing Time” (1936), which sums up the point I’m trying to make….

Nothing’s impossible I have found,
For when my chin is on the ground,
I pick myself up,
Dust myself off,
Start All over again.

Don’t lose your confidence if you slip,
Be grateful for a pleasant trip,
And pick yourself up,
Dust yourself off,
Start all over again.

Work like a soul inspired,
Till the battle of the day is won.
You may be sick and tired,
But you’ll be a man, my son!

Will you remember the famous men,
Who had to fall to rise again?
So take a deep breath,
Pick yourself up,
Dust yourself off,
Start all over again.

Never give up. Never surrender.

– Allen

The Job Interview: The Waiting Is The Hardest Part

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unemployment17You did it! You walked right into that Interviewer’s office, sat down, and absolutely aced that Job Interview.

So…now you’re waiting to hear something…anything!

What’s taking so dadburn long?

What in the world could be the holdup?

Well…in some cases, the Human Resources Department advised that person you interviewed with NOT to contact you after the interview because the Legal Department wants to avoid any miscommunication and any nastiness that would result from it.

Or, HR could simply want to be in control. Go figure.

An individual, who is a major part of the hiring process could be sick or out of town. If the employer has to wait on them to return, that means that you, the candidate, has to wait, also.

Someone important to the hiring process may be tied up, trying to meet a deadline on an important project.

Someone important to the hiring process may have been fired or they have resigned, and they have to be replaced before the company can move forward.

It may be something more complicated, like the whole department may be in the process of being reorganized and the functions of the job, or, the very need for the job itself, is being rethought.

Or, the potential employer could decide that they need to find an additional candidate for the position, in order to divide the job you have interviewed for into two separate positions.

In most companies, the hiring process requires several people’s input to complete..

There’s a lot of time-consuming corporate machinations going on.

Meanwhile, your assignment is to wait…and wait…and wait.

So, what can you do to keep yourself busy while you wait…and possibly help your chance of landing the job you’re after?

Alison Green, who writes for usnews.com, published these suggestions in an article posted on September 12, 2012. The suggestions themselves are hers, the analysis (and any smart alack comments which may pop up) is mine.

1. Send a follow-up note.

This can be by email or snail mail. Don’t just thank the interviewer for the opportunity, but also state once again how interested you are in the position. Just don’t forget the name of the Interviewer. That’s kind of important.

2. But don’t follow up excessively.

Don’t be a stalker. Inquiring once a week is probably okay. Bug them everyday, and the potential employer will probably hit the delete key on your computerized file and throw your resume in the circular file.

3. Review the questions you were asked in the interview and how you did.

What questions made you stop a pause and little before answering? Don’t obsess and beat yourself up over the interview. Just review the interview to make sure that you presented yourself the way that you wanted to and keep moving forward.

4. Think about whether you want the job.

While you are waiting, you may want to consider whether the job will be the right fit FOR YOU. Are you going to be happy working there? Are you going to be comfortable with the staff, the business environment, and goals of the potential employer? As Eric Burdon and the Animals sang, “It’s MY life and I can do what I want.”. Don’t accept a job somewhere that you’re going to be miserable working at.

This point reminds me of the joke that happened one Sunday morning at a church out in the country. The Pastor was at the pulpit, delivering his sermon, when the sanctuary doors burst open, and in walks the Devil. Needless to say, the congregants all headed for the hills, except for one old farmer, sitting toward the front. The Devil walked up to him and said, “Foolish mortal, why did you not flee from me, like everyone else?” The  old farmer said, “Why should I be scared of you, Bubba? I’ve been married to your sister for 25 years!”

In other words, don’t make a mistake that you will live to regret.

5. Realize that hiring often takes longer than anyone involved thinks it will.

As I wrote earlier, the hiring process takes time. There is more to it than just a Candidate and an Interviewer. Think more along the lines of Gru and his minions from Despicable Me.

6. Keep applying for other jobs.

Even if you think you have the job, you may not. After all we have all been wrong before, even if we were only mistaken (old joke). Besides, applying for more jobs is a good way to burn off nervous energy while you’re waiting for your potential employer to call.

7. Move on mentally, if necessary.

Don’t just sit  there, do something! Move on. Don’t just sit there, beating yourself up mentally. Live your life. Move forward.

Now, all these suggestions are simply that: suggestions. How you handle the long, tedious wait to hear back from a job interview is up to you. However, don’t just while away the hours sitting in a bean bag, eating Cheetos, while watching reruns of Walker, Texas Ranger”. Your spouse will fuss at you.

Trust me. I know.

Never Give Up. Never Surrender.

-Allen