Blog Archive - December 2011

Posted: December 22, 2011
By: Clay Cerny

Seth Godin has written a wise post on “turbulence.”  His point seems especially apt when thinking about the jobs search.  Occasionally, the job will find you.  Otherwise, it’s a struggle, and no two struggles are the same.  Don’t expect smooth sailing.  Be realistic, and the journey will be less of a problem and more a process.

Posted: December 21, 2011
By: Clay Cerny

Good companies conduct annual performance reviews to evaluate their employees.  You should do the same thing to evaluate your career and professional future.

Ask yourself these questions:

1.  What have I done at work over the last year that makes me proud?

2.  What has happened over the last 12 months that has frustrated me?

3.  Are my salary benefits in line with the industry and my contribution to the company?

4.  Have their been any changes in the company that could affect my long or short term future?

5.  Have I completed any certification or training that will increase my value as a professional.

6.  What have I done that has been a benefit for the company, things that are above and beyond the job description?

Use this information to plan your next moves.  You also should use this time to update your resume with any new duties, skills, or achievements.  If things at your current job are at a dead-end, it might be time to start sending out your resume and contacting people in your network.  Treat your career with the same respect that the company does.  Do what’s right for you.

Posted: December 20, 2011
By: Clay Cerny

“When our self-defeating attitudes, emotions, and conceptions cease, so will the harmful actions arising from them.”  The Dalai Lama

The job search is always difficult, especially in the current market.  When someone applies for work every week without getting interviews, despair sinks in.  When good interviews don’t lead to an offer, it is easy to quit.  The greatest challenge job seekers face is staying strong in the face of rejection.

How can we deal with this problem?  Accept reality.  You will hear no again and again.  Employers will hint that they really like you, but they never call you back.  Expect rejection and not hearing back.  Your challenge is to keep doing things that will lead to a job: networking, filling out applications, and distributing resumes.  Stay active and hold to a positive attitude.

Henry Ford put it best: 

“Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.”

Find a way to “think you can.”

Posted: December 19, 2011
By: Clay Cerny

In his fine, concise job guide The Job-Hunter's Survival Guide, Richard Nelson Bolles list 18 different ways to look for work.  He also says that most people only employ one of them, which leads many job seeker to get frustrated and stop looking for work.  I won't list all 18 points (buy the book or borrow it from a library).  But here are a few alternative ways to look work:

1.  If you're a recent graduate, use your teachers as a resource.  Ask them for advice.  Find out where recent graduate have gotten jobs.

2.  Learn your profession by reading professional journals.  Many of these publications are online.  Become an expert in your field, and you will be better prepared to look for your next job. 

3.  Use the phone book, especially the business-to-business Yellow Pages.  This often forgotten resource is still a good way to identify local employers by category/industry.

Here's a tip I give clients:  Ask people who work in your field:  "How did you find your last two jobs?"  Their experiences might guide you to a new job.

Don't quit!  Try something new.

Posted: December 18, 2011
By: Clay Cerny

[“Sabbath” is this blog’s Sunday feature that ponders work and life.]

Sidney Crosby’s Workplace Injury

Sidney Crosby is only 24 years old, and he is acknowledged as one of the best players in hockey today.  The tragedy is that Crosby missed half of last season because of post-concussive symptoms.  After returning to the ice this year, he is again on the disabled list because of this condition. 

Writing in Grantland, Ken Dryden takes on this problem with the broad intelligence that marks all of his writing.  Dryden addresses NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and challenges him to deal with the problem, especially the sport’s macho, fight-based culture.  My issue with Dryden’s wonderful analysis is that he diagnoses a sickness but suggests no cure.  I also have no solution.  In sports like hockey and football, played by large men traveling at fast speeds, there will be collisions that result in head injuries.  What can we do?

The NFL has taken some steps to protect players and limit concussions.  Blows to the head are penalized and fined.  “Launching” to make a tackle has pretty much been taken out of the game.  But many football and hockey players still incur head injuries.  Colt McCoy, quarterback for the Cleveland Browns, received a head-to-head shot from Steelers linebacker James Harrison.  He told the medical staff that his hand was injured, and he was allowed to go back in the game.  Only after the game did the doctors and trainers discover that McCoy had suffered a concussion.

We need to look at this problem from another perspective:  workplace injuries.  If a meat processing plant was found to have several workers receiving serious cuts, OSHA would be on the scene.  Professional athletes are working people.  They have short careers and often spend the rest of their lives dealing with pain and disability caused by their sport.  It’s one thing to see a ex-player like Mike Ditka walk with a limp because of injuries sustained on the field.  It’s another to consider the last days of Dave Duerson, Andre Waters, and Mike Webster, all of whom suffered from post-concussive conditions and died horrible deaths, Duerson and Waters committing suicide.

Attitudes need to change on several fronts.  As Dryden argues, league presidents and owners need to address the problem more forcefully. Players and their unions need to be realistic about the impact of these injuries.  It’s one thing to need a knee replacement in your 40s or 50s.  There is no cure for dementia.  Fans might have to make the biggest change.  Like millions of other sports fans, I have spent most of my life cheering the big hit.  Stadiums roar when a tackler crushes a wide receiver or running back.  Then they go silent when a player lies limp on the field.  We live in two worlds: loving the hit and hating its aftermath.  We need to think more about the people working on the field and the lives they live when their uniform comes off.

Will Sidney Crosby play hockey again?  As a fan, I hope so.  I once saw Crosby push the puck between the legs of a defender and then put two moves on a goalie before flicking the puck into the goal.  It took two seconds, and it was beautiful.  But, as someone who cares about working people, I hope Crosby does what is best for his health and future.  More than that, I hope that league officials, owners, players, and fans get serious about addressing the problem of concussions.  The games we love might see great changes, but the result will be worth it:  healthy players living longer lives.

Posted: December 17, 2011
By: Clay Cerny

Laura Clawson, writing in Daily Kos, explores the impact that buying products made in America has on jobs and hiring.  She cites an ABC News report claiming that if every American purchased just $64  on products made in the U.S., the impact would be 20,000 new jobs. 

Conventional wisdom claims that nothing is made in the U.S.  Such thinking is silly. Clawson includes three lists of American manufacturers:  one from ABC, one from the United Food and Commercial Workers, and one from Union Plus.  If we purchase products made by union workers, we do even more to build a strong American economy.  To this list, let me add a great resource, the website How American Can Buy American

Clawson ends with one more idea:  Buy local.  If you’re giving a gift of cookies, rather than buy the cheapest box available at Wal-Mart, go to a local bakery.  You’ll pay a little more, but you’ll be keeping even more money in the community where you live.

Have happier holidays – Buy American – buy local.

Posted: December 14, 2011
By: Clay Cerny

Common Dreams has reposted an article from the English Guardian that looks at CEO pay rates in theU.S.  While pay for common workers and the middle class has declined or stayed flat, CEOs are enjoying boom times.  One executive cited in the article, John Hammergren of McKesson, “earned” an incredible $145 million last year.  To put that in perspective, many sports fans are outraged that Alex Rodriguez and Albert Pujols make $25-$27 million a year.  Clearly, Mr. Hammergren must have a special skill.  Can he hit a slider?

The article outlines other stories of the big winners in the Great Recession.  It’s worth your time to learn more about this topic.

Posted: December 13, 2011
By: Clay Cerny

The Chicago Tribune has published its annual “Top Workplaces” for 2011.  This page, which offers links to each company's website, will be a useful tool for job seekers inChicago because it lists over 100 potential employers.  Each company has been recognized by its employees as a great place to work.

If you have a specific, non-transferable skill (airline pilot, police officer) and are not seeking a career change, this list might not be for you.  For most job seekers, however, it identifies established and growing companies where employees say they are happy.  That’s a valuable resource to put in your job search and career management tool box.

Posted: December 12, 2011
By: Clay Cerny

I’m not a fan of Tim Tebow as a quarterback or a preacher.  However, the young man has some outstanding qualities that anyone looking for work would be wise to imitate.  First, Tebow doesn’t stop because things don’t go his way.  He has tremendous faith (I mean that word in a non-religious sense) that he will succeed.  Second, Tebow seems unaffected by some of the most vicious criticism I’ve heard in 35 years as a sports fan.  Finally, he is a winner – 7-1 since taking over as starter for the Broncos.

What can a job seeker take from this example?  Keep faith in yourself.  Don’t get down when other criticize you.  Win!  This all sounds simple when put in words.  Every job search is a struggle.  Having faith in yourself and standing up in the face of rejection is part of finding a new job.  We need to stay strong and stay focused on the win. 

Do I think Tim Tebow have a long career as a quarterback?  Probably not.  But his attitude will lead to success in some other field, probably coaching.  Whatever you think of his play and proselytizing, let his confidence and courage fire up your job search.

Posted: December 11, 2011
By: Clay Cerny

[“Sabbath” is this blog’s Sunday feature on work and life.]

Things We Take for Granted

A few weeks ago I had a wisdom tooth extracted.  No big deal.  Then I developed an abscess and went on antibiotics.  The swelling went down, and it seemed like my path to recovery was clear.  Not so fast.  About a week ago, my jaw swelled and it started to hurt.  My dentist did some x-rays and discovered something he did not expect.  My jaw was fractured.  The solution?  My mouth is wired shut for the next 3-4 weeks.

The procedure took place four days ago.  Over this time, I’ve discovered that there are many things we do without thinking about them.  One big annoyance for me has been reading the paper without being able to lick my fingers to separate pages.  When I mix a drink for my fine liquid diet, I instinctively go to lick the spoon.  Can’t do it.  I also find myself reaching for snacks at home and at the store.  None of these “problems” are important, but they’ve helped me realize I do many things without thinking. 

Eating and speaking have been the biggest challenges.  After the first couple of days, I’m adapting to both.  Eating is simple.  My diet has to be liquid.  That doesn’t mean it has to bad.  I’m blending soups and shakes, trying to use this incident as a way to cook differently.  Eating less meat might be a big part of a new diet after the wire is removed.  Over the last four days I‘ve felt more energetic.  I’ll never become a vegetarian, but this procedure could help me change the way I eat.

 I’m also learning to speak more clearly and for prolonged periods of time.  On the day my mouth was wired, I had trouble getting out a few words.  Yesterday, I met with clients and had fairly decent conversations.  Sometimes I still can’t get a word out or have to take a quick drink of water to lubricate my tongue.  That said, things could be a lot worse.

This event has caused me to think about friends and acquaintances who are dealing with things much more difficult than this.  Imagine what it is like to go through life without sight or hearing.  People do it every day.  I had a client recently who was raised by two deaf parents.  While his hearing is perfect, he also understands the world of those who can’t hear.  He is fluent in sign language and has worked in jobs related to that skill.  His parents’ disability has become his strength.  At the same time, he respects his parents who have built careers and a home despite their inability to hear.  He describes them in one word: strong.

His story and my current situation have really made me think about taking things for granted.  Simple pleasures like eating or talking to friends can be lost.  Luckily for me, my condition is temporary.  Others have to adapt.  It isn’t easy, but it’s life.  It’s all we have.