Blog Archive - March 2011

Posted: March 3, 2011
By: Clay Cerny

In the past, I’ve written about the “mancession,” how the current job crisis has been especially hard on men.  Now, women may be about to feel a similar pain.  Writing in the Nation, Bryce Covert examines how cuts in government spending will disproportionately impact jobs in education and health care, positions held by women.  Covert reminds readers that women still only make .77 on the dollar compared to men, which means they will be hit even harder by layoffs.  Those who keep their jobs will face increased deductions for benefits and pay cut gimmicks like furlough days.  First, men lost in this job spiral.  Now women will lose.  Who has never lost?  The top 2%, the bankers, and politicians who serve the top 2% and the bankers.  America is the greatest country in the world if you are part of the elite group that has fixed the game.

Posted: March 2, 2011
By: Clay Cerny

Samuel Culbert, a professor at the University of California Anderson School of Management, has written a very interesting op-ed about performance reviews in the New York Times.  Culbert believes most performance reviews say more about whether a boss likes a subordinate than they do about performance.  He uses this claim to argue against the claim that a non-union environment will lead to a more fair evaluation.  Instead of a top down approach, Culbert endorses a collaborative type of review, one currently used by the police department in Madison, Wisconsin.  Hopefully, the state’s governor will read this editorial and learn something.

Posted: March 2, 2011
By: Clay Cerny

Sometimes clients will tell me about their computer and technical skills, and I can hear doubt in their voice.  I ask them a simple question: If an employer were to give you a hands-on test at an interview, could you use the software.  If your answer is yes, list the software on your resume.  If not, don’t list a program you can’t use on the job.

Be fair to yourself.  Some programs, such as Excel, have degrees of skill.  If you have used a program on the job, take credit for that skill and experience.  Be careful about what programs you cite on your resume.  At the same time, don’t cheat yourself.

Posted: March 1, 2011
By: Clay Cerny

Most of my clients express concern about their interviewing skills.  Their worry makes sense since we practice the skill only when we’re looking for a job.  Think about this: if you only bowled or played tennis/golf once every two or three years, would your skills at those sports be good?  Interviewing is a skill, and it needs to be practiced.

One of the most important skills needed to interview well is listening.  Too often, applicants ramble or give unfocused answers because they start to talk before fully comprehending what the interviewer has asked. 

Try this strategy: Repeat the question as you listen and identify key words.  Let’s say an interviewer asked this question: “Tell me about a time when you had to make a decision quickly.”  While repeating the question, you should identify three key parts.  First, “tell me about a time” indicates that your answer should be a narrative or story that covers one specific example.  “Make a decision” tells you that the interviewer wants to know about your decision making skills.  Finally, “quickly” means that you can be decisive when under pressure and strict deadlines.

How can you improve this aspect of interviewing skills?  Practice.  Rather than just going over commonly asked questions (which you still should do), try this routine: Have the person who is interviewing you ask: “What was the question?”  Try to answer in the exact words.  Then break out key terms and instructions. 

 An interview is not a test with right and wrong answers.  Your goal should be to engage the interviewer and make that person confident in your ability to do the job.  The first step in that process is listening and understanding the question, so you can engage in a professional dialogue.  Practice good listening skills.  They’re an important part of your next job search.

Posted: March 1, 2011
By: Clay Cerny

A country’s greatest resource isn’t its military, industry, or natural resources.  Children are the future – future citizens, consumers, and workers.  In an essay from Common Dreams, Diane Ravitch looks at the dollars-focused “reforms” proposed for public schools in several American cities.  The most shocking might be in Detroit, where 50% of the schools are slated to be closed by 2016.  Some students will be housed (not learning) in classes of 60.

Our failure to fund education, the Right’s constant attack on public schools and teachers, will have major consequences in the future.  At a time when jobs demand increased knowledge and skills, we are taking resources away from education.  Teachers in some of the roughest schools are having pay and benefits cut – who will want that job?  Anyone who’s talking about balancing the budget and putting people back to work without supporting education is either a fool or a hypocrite.

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