Friday, September 16, 2011

What's behind that question


When an employer says "Tell me about yourself," she's really asking "How will my business improve with you in it?"

If you can't demonstrate with examples that your experience or ideas can make (or save) her money, don't interview until you can.

Drive over to the office the day before the interview. This will solve any finding it problems and make you just a tad more confident the next day.

Another blogger says when they ask what you thought of your old boss--be honest but positive. Do these guys commute from Mars? As I write in my book, when the office is burning, I want a firefighter who can put out the flames. Not one who tells me how pretty the inferno is.

I want an intelligent employee who knows when he's being screwed and can articulate that. If the applicant is a yes person in the interview, what good is he going to be to me on the job?

"Yes, my last boss was Saddam Hussein. Wonderful man. Good control. Passionate about chemicals."


A blog can show you know what you're talking about and are thrilled about your field--good things for an employer to find when they google you.

This guy says you can "easily" find a job in 10 minutes a day by using social media. Although if you can get through your LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook accounts in 10 minutes, do you have enough contacts?

I'm not sure why anyone on those accounts would work with someone who was so clueless (no time for research) or pressed for time (10 minutes). But, hey, try it and prove me wrong. (Though after a week on this vacation, you might want to devote some time to other techniques!)

Here's a good post on targeted phone calls. He says you have to "stop applying on Monster."


The jobs crisis is contributing to the highest US poverty rate in almost 30 years--15.1%. That's from the Census Bureau, US Today says.

The national unemployment rate is calculated from 2,200 government employees interviewing 60,000 households.

The average job search today is longer than at any time in more than 60 years (since 1948).

Unemployed people spend less than 2 hours a day job hunting during the first week of being out of a job. The number declines after that, according to this study. Especially since they have the time available, that's not enough.


On the value of networking: getting a job is "nearly impossible without some inside help."

This author suggests writing a résumé based on skills rather than chronology. Susan Whitcomb (Job Search Magic) warns employers wonder what you're hiding when you give them this "functional" résumé.

An editorial in the Washington Post argues employers should be free to refuse applications from people who are unemployed. He denies uses such ads, despite earlier reports.


Friday, September 9, 2011

Monster says unemployed need not apply

Need a Job to Get a Job is restricting some job ads to people who are already employed. Yet another reason general job boards are bad for your search.

The Equal Opportunity Employment Commission is looking at ads that require applicants to be already employed. A bill before Congress would outlaw the practice.

Google vs. LinkedIn?

One person prefers Google+ to LinkedIn partly because you can connect to people without getting their OK. Uh, doesn't sound like a real high quality connection to me.

I was never big on either-or choices. Sure, be on Google+ as well as LinkedIn. For one thing, LinkedIn is larger than Google+, making it more likely the people you need to find to network with are there.

On LinkedIn, concentrate on the people you've actually met. The folks who are amassing a huge collection of contacts willy nilly may not have the time or inclination to actually answer you.

Don't have a network? So much for the pity party. Start one today. Besides people you've worked with, you should be following people in your target company--the first step to moving them into your network.

Why is networking so crucial? Because most jobs aren't advertised--one source claims 70%.


At the interview, be prepared with examples, examples, examples. If you've read my book, you've prepped stories about the strengths and integrations (what's in it for the company) you want to present to the employer.

About a third of America's unemployed have been job hunting for more than a year.

Don't forget the state unemployment agency your taxes pay for. Does their local office have resources or classes you can't get on the net?


Friday, September 2, 2011

Sad Labor Day

August unemployment number

Labor Day may have a sour taste for many Americans. Unemployment for August stuck at 9.1%--same as July.

The Congressional Black Caucus sponsored a job fair in Los Angeles that opened at 9 am. People were lining up for at 3 am.

You think your problems are bad?

Your parents give you up for adoption. You drop out of college. You found a successful company and then they kick you out. Is it all over?

Not if you're Steve Jobs. You start Pixar, end up being the largest shareholder of Disney stock, come back to that company you founded and bring out all sorts of new technologies. Even cancer is likely to have a tough time keeping this guy down.

Networking doesn't always mean online

Lots of good "in person" networking tips here. My two favorites--don't monopolize someone's time and do thank the host (she or he knows more people there than you do.)

You may not want to show yourself as unemployed for your status on LinkedIn. Try to frame your situation as more active but (rolling eyes at the article) always remain "genuine."

Networking doesn't mean demanding help--it means building a relationship that may eventually benefit everyone involved.

On the phone

Cold calling is "a smart thing to do," when looking for a job, one writer advises. Cold calling is a stupid thing to do. How do you feel when someone you don't know interrupts your work day by calling? What can you possibly say to the person at the company. "Are you hiring?" or "I'd be great." To which she may respond, "Yes, but are you computer literate? Have you seen our web site?"

You need relationships with people inside the company--you don't get those by making annoying cold calls.

(On the other hand, if cold calling seems like a good idea, you may have a career in telemarketing.)


Volunteer to work for free and show the owner how you can create profit. (Might want to check the minimum wage laws in your state and see if this is legal there.) This isn't a
new idea--Napoleon Hill was recommending it in 1937.

Got a minute? Scan the business section. Keep up with what's happening in your community and particularly your industry and target companies. You should know what's happening now in all three areas.

Your web site is on your business card, right? You do have business cards as you're looking for work, don't you? ( will give them to you free--you just pay shipping. You design them. There's a small ad on the back. The only downside is wading through pages of ads checking out.)

Do something new. This is particularly important if you're out of work and not finding a new job. Shake up your procedure by adding something. But even if you're employed and looking around, occasionally adding something new will add value to what you have to offer.

One woman put her résumé on a T-shirt.


Friday, August 26, 2011

Scam details

Another reason to avoid the big job boards

Clues your big job board posting is being scammed:

---Someone asks you to set up a direct deposit account before the interview

---The email reads like English isn't well understood.

---You get an email purportedly from the big board asking you to click a link to fix or update your account.

---They ask for your Social Security Number or bank account information without an interview.

---They want you to pay money (it's supposed to be the other way around).

---They want you to cash a check, send part of it onwards and keep the balance for your troubles (which are just beginning when their check bounces).

Why did you bother posting on a big board?


A Costa Mesa, CA company had 682 applications for an entry-level official specialist position. A San Antonio company received 23,000 applications for 120 jobs; only about 192 people per opening--much better odds than in California.


One woman brought in cookies with her application. She got the interview (but not the job).

LinkedIn claims if your profile is 100% complete, you're 40 times more likely to "receive opportunities" on the site.

The Dichotomy of Job Hunting

"Be yourself," this article advises. But employers want you to be relentlessly happy with no bad bosses in your past. Who's in la la land here?


Monday, August 22, 2011

Great Depression in 2 areas of US

Great Depression Lives

Two metropolitan statistical areas in the US have unemployment rates worse than the Great Depression. The El Centro, California MSA's rate was 28.5% in June. The rate for the Yuma, Arizona MSA next door was 26.9%.

The Great Depression's rate peaked at 25% in 1933. Both areas are roughly the same as they were a year ago, with Yuma being .3 worse and El Centro .3 better.

The lowest unemployment rate was in the Bismarck, North Dakota MSA: 3.6%.


CON: Don't network or tell people you're looking for work, this unusual advisor says. Ignore ads that say "no phone calls" and phone anyway between 4 pm and 6 pm. (No word on what to say if they ask "Can you read?")

PRO: Networking is not all about you. The other person has to get value too.

---value delivered: 99 cents ebooks and free articles

Friday, August 19, 2011

Worst suggestion of 2011?

Bad advice

One web site says to ask for a meeting, saying you're looking for a position and have a list of 50 companies. "I know that you know the industry. Could we go through the list together to pinpoint the best companies and to see whom you know and whom you might help me meet?”"

The person you're asking ought to respond "How much are you going to pay me?" "50 companies" suggests you've done no research--you're asking this employee to mine the slush pile for you. When she's done doing that,she's supposed to spoon feed you her contacts.

What was it you were going to do for her?

The worst part about this strategy is you could be right: this person might know people in the industry. She might tell them what you did.

Better: come to an informational meeting with two or three companies you can talk specifics about.

The Numbers

The national unemployment rate for July 2011 was 9.1%. Here's a sampling of local numbers:

30.8% Imperial Valley, California

12.9% Nevada

11.8% California

10.7% Florida

10.4% Mississippi

10.4% North Carolina

10.0% Alabama

09.5% Illinois

09.0% Ohio

08.4% Texas

08.0% New York

07.7% Alaska

06.7% New Mexico

06.0% Iowa

First Names

Don't use an interviewer's first name unless you're invited to do so. (Just like Mom said.)


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

What Not to Say

The four worst words you can say to your boss--"That's not my job."

In this era of straitened circumstances, his next 4 words might be "You're not my employee."

Besides, if you do only your job, how will you learn anything new--or why would they ever promote you?

One of the things new employers will be looking for in the interview is how you showed initiative, how you're self-motivated--a self starter.

So try not to limit yourself.

Not a Numbers Game

Job hunting is not a numbers game, this article agrees. A job search is about targeting--and standing out from the slush pile.

One government ministry had 22 jobs available. They received 30,000 applications. That's 1,363 people vying for each position.

How many of those 1,000+ studied the department and networked with people inside? Nobody's going to look at all 30,000 apps. So if you don't have someone inside keeping an eye out for you, go buy a lotto ticket.


Treat a job fair just like an interview. Look sharp, have a short verbal "business card" ready and follow up with a note.

Call and ask for a job, this site says. But why should they hire you?

You'd better know that in detail before you pick up the phone.

Take 5 coffee meetings a week. Never eat lunch alone. Build your network. I like the concept if not the numbers--can you effectively continue to do some good for a couple of hundred people? Probably not. So do a lot of coffee meeting repeats.

Status check! 4 1/2 months left in the year. Does your job search include all these techniques?