Monthly Archives: August, 2014

Labor Day

Do you know the history of Labor Day? As we celebrate this “end of summer” holiday I thought it would be interesting to do a little research to learn more about Labor Day and how it came to be a national holiday. I found the following Q & As on the website of the U.S. Department of Labor.

Q: What’s the history of Labor Day? How did it all begin?

A: The Labor Day holiday is interesting because it evolved over a period of years. In 19th century America, there was already a tradition of having parades, picnics and various other celebrations in support of labor issues, such as shorter hours or to rally strikers. But most historians emphasize one specific event in the development of today’s modern Labor Day. That pivotal event was the parade of unions and a massive picnic that took place in New York City on Sept. 5, 1882.

After that major event in New York City, other localities began to pick up the idea for a fall festival of parades and picnics celebrating workers.

Q: When did it become a national holiday and why?

A: Labor Day as a national, legal holiday had an interesting evolution. The legalized celebration of Labor Day began as individual state celebrations. In 1887, New York, New Jersey and Colorado were among the first states to approve state legal holidays. Then other states joined in to create their own state Labor Days. Finally, in response to a groundswell of support for a national holiday celebrating the nation’s workers, Sen. James Henderson Kyle of South Dakota introduced S. 730 to the 53rd Congress to make Labor Day a legal holiday on the first Monday of September each year. It was approved on June 28, 1894.

You can read more about the history of Labor Day at the Department of Labor’s website, http://www.dol.gov/laborday.

Kimberly Hanes is a writer with a passionate love for words and ideas and extensive experience in business communications and event planning.

© 2014 Blog to Work | Blogging your way to a job, All rights reserved

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Temporary Shelters – Part II Taking Responsibility

By Cynthia Simmons

Temporary Shelters – Part I – covered the emotional process of seeing the need to create a Temporary Shelter. Part II is about taking responsibility for the practical side of things and beginning to put the pieces in place to erect this shelter.

There are two big lessons to be learned: (1) Rely upon yourself, and (2) Rely upon help from others. Know that there will be help from other people, and be prepared to recognize that help when it appears. Test the genuineness of the help the way you test a knot. Pull against it: accept the offer, and see if it holds true.

Those are the how’s. The what’s are more concrete: you need to take an inventory of your resources, build a monthly budget, look at where you can find help, and define yourself as a professional with skills and talents. coffee_shop

You need a dedicated location where you can work. You need the structure of a set schedule, so that your time is measurable. And so that you can be held accountable. You need to connect with others personally and professionally – this is no time to go it alone.

Your timeline horizon needs to be narrowed to this week’s goals. Or today’s goals. Or this month’s goals. But definitely short-term goals that are manageable.

So what do you need to survive and even thrive? What things are unique and special about how you operate most comfortably? Most productively? (This is partially about self-nourishment.)

For me, I need a computer with my favorite software, and access to online resources. I need subscriptions to online tutorials and reference materials. These are at the center of how I operate professionally. I need my e-mail in good working order and my contact lists up-to-date.

I’m sort of high maintenance, because I always have a home office. But anywhere you can focus, plan and make progress works. Maybe your home office is portable and loaded into a briefcase or knapsack.

And I need a process to track my job search progress. For me, I create a folder (sub-directory) for each job that I apply to. That’s where I store my resume rewrite, research, and questions I may have. I name my files carefully, so that I know exactly which resume was sent, and when, and to whom.

Temporary Shelters are about Immediacy. What you can do right now to move forward.

Cynthia Simmons is a publishing and communications professional.
Photo credited to the morgueFile.com
© 2014 Blog to Work/Blogging your way to a job. All rights reserved.

What to Expect in Job Search?

It has been nearly a year since our group started this blog.  Much has happened, and some things have stayed the same.  An anniversary can be a time to reflect, so I am looking back at my first post here and giving it a slightly different twist.

 

People want to inspire when they tell others that life is what you make of it.  Responses run between ‘yeah, yeah, yeah’ to the person for whom those words hit just the right spot at the right time.  But it is so common to say and to hear because it is true.  In life and in job search.  Whether we want to hear it or not, whether we embrace it or not.

 

What to expect in job search, then?  Well, we all have to find our own way – sometimes parts of the way can be shared with others and sometimes the way is lonely and challenging.  Good stuff happens, but it can be missed because it isn’t the good stuff we are expecting – that perfect job offer.  Bad stuff happens, plenty of it, and rejection too.  But we each have to find a way around it or through it.

 

Medieval scene of workers (public domain image)

Medieval scene of workers (public domain image)

I’ve been back at work for almost a year now as have some of the friends that I made in my job search groups.  A few are on their second and third jobs in the time frame.  A few are still looking.  A couple are stepping out to do their own thing.  Same root issue, so many different expectations and outcomes.

 

Some people get their new position and close the door to the whole job search experience.  I have found some great new relationships and I want to hold plenty of the things that I experienced and learned close.

 

Have you found what you expected in job search?

 

Beth Anne Reed has a background in Customer Relations, Process & Project Management and a deep interest in Written Communications.

© 2014 Blog to Work | Blogging your way to a job, All rights reserved

Comic Relief

I was surfing through my Twitter feed when I saw a tweet from CareerBuilder that said, “Wish you had a list of the behaviors to avoid during a job interview? Wish granted” and there was a link to an article. Most of the time I don’t click on this kind of tweet because at this point in my job search, plus my own stint as a Job Coach, I figure there aren’t any “job seeker secrets” that I haven’t heard by now.

This time, however, I clicked, and was taken to an article on a website called theworkbuzz.com. At first the “behaviors to avoid” were the usual ones that appear on these kinds of lists – appearing disinterested, dressing inappropriately, talking negatively about a previous employer, etc. Then came the good stuff, from a survey of more than 2,000 hiring managers and human resources professionals who were asked to share the most memorable mistake they’d seen a job seeker make.

No one reading this blog would ever actually do anything like what follows, right? This is just a little “job seeker comic relief.” Enjoy.

  • Applicant warned the interviewer that she “took too much valium” and didn’t think her interview was indicative of her personality
  • Applicant acted out a Star Trek role
  • Applicant  answered a phone call for an interview with a competitor
  • Applicant arrived in a jogging suit because he was going running after the interview
  • Applicant asked for a hug
  • Applicant attempted to secretly record the interview
  • Applicant brought personal photo albums
  • Applicant called himself his own personal hero
  • Applicant checked Facebook during the interview
  • Applicant crashed her car into the building
  • Applicant popped out his teeth when discussing dental benefits
  • Applicant kept her iPod headphones on during the interview
  • Applicant set fire to the interviewer’s newspaper while reading it when the interviewer said “Impress me”
  • Applicant said that he questioned his daughter’s paternity
  • Applicant wanted to know the name and phone number of the receptionist because he really liked her

You can read the entire article here.

Kimberly Hanes is a writer with a passionate love for words and ideas and extensive experience in business communications and event planning.

© 2014 Blog to Work | Blogging your way to a job, All rights reserved

Pushing Through

That moment when you realize that you are really an adult might just have something to do with motivating yourself to do an unpleasant task.  We think of being an adult as finally getting to do all of the things that we were prevented from doing as kids.  If I thought at all about all of the things that require prompting to do, I assumed that adults didn’t need that external push.  I found out soon enough that I was wrong.

This topic is coming to mind because I’ve had to make myself write this post.  Bleh.  Normally I love to write, but it just isn’t there right now and I don’t have a safety post ready this week.  Nothing I could think of countered the obstinate little pouty kid who shouted ‘you can’t make me’ over and over in my head when I tried to think of post topics.

My sister used to have a friend who went to the trouble to run the vacuum throughout the house without turning it on in an act of defiant compliance.  Even as a kid I thought that defied logic – if you are going to go to the trouble to run it over the carpet, how hard is it to turn it on?  But I also get the defiance, the dig your heels in contrariness of the act.

Archival Stock WWII Footage

Archival Stock WWII Footage

Sometimes even as adults we need to have someone else make us do something – hence the need for many laws – things that will give us great benefit like eating healthy, saving for retirement, getting our teeth cleaned.  And plenty of tasks at work.

There must be a solid evolutionary reason why we are so obstreperous at times.  I have found myself splitting into two minds – one is being terribly unruly and the other is consternated not only by the childish stand but also by the choice of the fit.  Why-ever have I chosen to cling to this particular cliff?

There is plenty about job search that brings out that ‘you can’t make me’ feeling, isn’t there?  And what’s worse, there really isn’t someone in authority, like a boss, to push you past that feeling.  Oh, plenty of people to nag at you, but that isn’t the same.  Deadlines are mostly self-imposed, as are most tasks.  If self-motivation is flagging or absent trouble can build pretty quickly.

How about you, what prompts do you use, positive or negative, when you’ve dug your heels in?

Beth Anne Reed has a background in Customer Relations, Process & Project Management and a deep interest in Written Communications.

© 2014 Blog to Work | Blogging your way to a job, All rights reserved

High-lighting the Important Information

These days it is inevitable that job-seekers, like everyone else, will spend time looking at web pages. Web pages, like the other things we read, can be informative. Unlike most other things that we read on paper, web pages can also be very colorful in the way that information can be displayed, or high-lighted.

But remember, the information the author thinks is important, as well as the way that information is displayed, may be different than what the reader thinks is important. How that important information is displayed in the text, no matter what that text is on, might not be perceived as important by the reader.

Here is an example:

An instruction manual for one of my recent projects used black text on a gray background to emphasize something important. Since it also used black text on a gray background for titles and sub-headings, I gave it about as much importance as one gives a footnote in a novel or history book. In other words, I did not give it much attention at all. Big mistake! Fortunately I caught this mistake soon enough, and was able to correct the installation within a couple of days, at a cost of about 6.5 hours.

How do you determine which information is important, and which information is not important, when you read text books, installation manuals, job postings, or web pages?

Do you simply go by how differently (either in bold or in italics) the information is displayed on the page? Or does something in a larger (or smaller) font size, or a different color, catch your eyes?

One of the things I like about reading the blog posts on this website is that the color of the text is black, and the background color is in white. The only color variations are the titles, which appear to be in the “teal” color, (and larger, too) and the pictures.

I have to admit to being “old-fashioned”, having learned to read books whose printed text was black on white, and also, somewhat visually challenged, wearing trifocals. The glasses help, but I still have to make frequent use of the “ctrl” & “plus” key combination in order to make the text large enough, even when I read text on any website. However, I am not to the point where I have to ask for the large-print bulletin at church.

Have you noticed that some web pages display text in print that is hard to read because it is too small?

I’m not sure if this is because they are trying to put as much text as possible on the web page so that you don’t have to scroll down much in order to read the entire page, or, if it is because they don’t want you to read those items that they feel obligated to put on the page (also known as a disclaimer, or “the fine print”).

When I first started using the internet, I naively thought that from that time on small print would only be found in the classified ad sections of newspapers, and in legal documents. Unfortunately, that is not true.

So, again, how do you determine which information is more important, and which information is not important, on each of the various items that you read?

Dave Vandermey is a web developer.

What I Didn’t Expect In Job Search

In my post last week I mentioned an acquaintance who was nostalgic for the good old days of job search, when “all you had to do was look in the Sunday paper.” I want to make clear that I wasn’t criticizing or mocking this person; in fact six years ago, when I was laid off by the company I’d worked for 20+ years,  I was thinking the same thing: Wow, job search sure has changed. As I really got into the process however, I was surprised, and I mean in a good way, at all the resources that are available to a job seeker.

One resource, of course, is the internet. LinkedIn, the job boards, the blogs and other social media are all good ways of connecting with people, building your network and (sometimes) finding job openings that are a good fit for your skills. You can set up Google alerts to notify you when a target company is in the news. I’ve even heard that people are finding opportunities on Twitter!

What I didn’t realize, or expect, when I found myself in job search in 2008, was all the other things a job seeker can do to connect with people and put themselves on the “radar screen” of hiring managers. If you’re looking for ways to broaden your network and energize your job search, get out from behind the computer and connect with people face to face.  Toastmasters, Rotary, and local Chambers of Commerce are all good examples of organizations where you can get involved and meet people who are otherwise outside your usual network.

What I didn’t expect is that for a savvy, energetic and creative job seeker, these really are the good old days.

Kimberly Hanes is a writer with a passionate love for words and ideas and extensive experience in business communications and event planning.

© 2014 Blog to Work | Blogging your way to a job, All rights reserved

Temporary Shelters – Part I

By Cynthia Simmons

Sometimes life places you in unexpected situations. Like sudden unemployment. Or perhaps the change is a long-anticipated loss of work while your job is sent to another state or out of the country.

You may feel truly shipwrecked. Tossed up upon a foreign shore. (Or rather, your former job is on one shore and you are on another. My story.)

UMC_AfricaTrip_00810

My advice in those situations is to build a temporary shelter. To create a support structure and a schedule that will get you through the weeks and months while you re-group, re-consider, and re-launch yourself back out into the working world. You will need a “base camp” from which you can venture out. Your first goal in unemployment is to create that base camp, so that you can begin to operate from a place of strength.

For the foundation, you need to recognize that life has provided yet another rather significant challenge. To be angry and upset, and all the rest of the tempestuous emotions that survival instincts send streaming through our bodies to deal with adversity.

After the surges of adrenaline, shock, horror, grief, and loss, come sadness and perhaps regret. Why? How?Imagem0317

OK, when the grieving is less awful, you can begin to build that temporary shelter. The strength in that shelter may be dreams revisited. The possible imaginings of who you once wanted to be. What you wanted to accomplish. What you had felt was your life’s work.

Perhaps now motives and goals are simpler? More to the point? Less adorned?

More easily achieved?

Cynthia Simmons is a publishing and communications professional.
Photos credited to the morgueFile.com
© 2014 Blog to Work/Blogging your way to a job. All rights reserved.

Experience Equates Credibility?

It is hard to know which demographic is having the most difficulty in this job market that is said to be picking up.  Is it those just getting started who have little practical experience?  Is it those who have experience but who are purportedly winding down on their careers?  (There are other ways to slice and dice demographics – level of education, region in the country, etc. – but I’ll stick to age group because just that view is a big topic.)

 

My son made a great point the other day.  He is in job search mode and also in the 18-24 year old demographic that still has some hefty unemployed percentages.  He has varied experience: warehouse/receiving, food service, car care come to mind.  His ‘research’ – attempts to get a permanent position – backs up all the articles online and elsewhere that keep saying companies are unwilling to train.  He has found again and again that even entry level positions require 1 to 2 years of experience.  Exact, specific experience not similar or mostly similar.

 

public domain clipart

public domain clipart

On the other end, I know plenty of people with plenty of experience who can commiserate with my son on how demoralizing the search can feel.  They are on the other side of the experience sweet spot apparently.

 

All this focus is on experience because that is, on the surface, measurable.  Time on the job, an equivalent job, is equal to experience.  Purportedly.  Experience means less training in a new position.  Purportedly.

 

But I happen to know people who spent plenty of time on something without seeming to gain any experience.  Nothing stuck, or very little.  They asked the same questions, of different people, each time they had to perform a particular task.

 

Credibility – the quality of being believable or worthy of trust – is really what employers want.  But how do you measure that?  A person who is handy can be equally handy within many trades, with a chance to learn.  A person who has developed critical thinking skills can apply them in plenty of professional situations, with a chance to learn the nuances of each situation.

 

How do you show your credibility?

 

Beth Anne Reed has a background in Customer Relations, Process & Project Management and a deep interest in Written Communications.

© 2014 Blog to Work | Blogging your way to a job, All rights reserved

The Good Old Days

An acquaintance of mine, who’s now in job search after 25+ years at the same company, recently stated that looking for a job used to be easier, because “all you had to do was look in the Sunday paper.” We were attending a presentation about how to use some of the “advanced” features of LinkedIn and I understand why she was feeling overwhelmed.

Just keeping a LinkedIn profile up-to-date and maximized is pretty time-consuming and that’s just one element of job search. Researching target companies, tracking down contacts and potential hiring managers, attending networking events and job search seminars, not to mention preparing for and going to interviews, it’s a lot to do. I’ve heard more than one job seeker say that they’re working a whole lot harder in job search than they did in their actual job.

Still, the job search process may have been easier, or at least less complex, 25 or 30 years ago but I firmly believe that now is better. There are so many resources available to a job seeker. There’s LinkedIn, of course, and all the various job boards. There’s Twitter and some cool job search blogs (like this one!) There’s your local library. Yes, really. A good library, and a good research librarian, can be a job seeker’s best friend. They are the gateway to online business databases like Reference USA, Hoovers and LexisNexis, where you can find all kinds of great information about your target companies.

Yes, the process and all that information can be overwhelming, but I wouldn’t want to go back to the days of buying the Sunday paper and circling jobs with a red pen. For a savvy job seeker who is using all the available resources, these really are the good old days.

Kimberly Hanes is a writer with a passionate love for words and ideas and extensive experience in business communications and event planning.

© 2014 Blog to Work | Blogging your way to a job, All rights reserved