Blog Archive - November 2012
We take certain things for granted in the age of smartphones and iPads. Technology is great, but we have to be sure that it works properly. Two times this week, I called clients and found it impossible to reach them. In one case, the client had a new phone and had not set up voice mail. In the other, the phone simply gave a message that the client was unavailable.
Be sure that the contact information on your resume is correct. Check your voice mail. If employers call and cannot reach you or leave a message, the odds are very good that you will not get a second chance.
No answer + no message = no job.
No one hires during the holidays. That is a myth too many job seekers believe. Hiring will slow down between Thanksgiving and the New Year. Some employers still hire during this period. Moreover, since fewer people look for work, there is less competition for jobs.I have two clients who need resumes quickly because they’re interviewing with hiring managers who will be making decisions before Christmas.
Keep looking for work and new opportunities. As I wrote recently, the holiday season is a great time for networking. If you hear that a company is hiring, don’t wait. Be the first one in line. Don’t use the holiday season as an excuse to stop looking for work. Some employers still hire during this period. If there is a knock at the door of opportunity, be ready to answer.
Some clients complain that hiring slows down during the holidays, which is often true. However, this season offers a different opportunity to improve your career management and job search: networking.
When you’re at holiday parties or meeting friends for dinner, let them know what is happening in your career and find out what is happening in their careers. If you’re looking for work, the holidays might be a good time to set up a lunch or coffee meeting. At that meeting, don’t simply ask your contacts to help you find a job. Start this way: “I’m looking for a new job, what advice do you have for me?” Keep the question open and see where your contact takes you. If she suggests you talk to someone, ask if she can make an introduction or if you can use her name in contacting the potential employers.
Remember that it’s the holiday season. Don’t be too pushy. Take advantage of your meetings. If it seems best to wait to meet a contact, set up a meeting after the new year. Keep looking for new ways to push your career and job search forward. Don’t forget to look for ways to help your network partners. Helping each other. That’s the holiday spirit.
Several articles on two of my favorite websites, Daily Kos and Common Dreams¸ are reporting on or reflecting on worker actions against Walmart. I call what’s going on “worker actions” because Walmart employees have no union or rights. Hopefully worker actions will turn into consumer conscience and citizen action. We need to understand that we are all in this soup together. Exploitation of one worker demeans all of us.
Laura Clawson of Daily Kos gives us Rush Limbaugh’s take on the protest. Naturally, it’s not positive. Limbaugh whines about an assault on “capitalism and the private sector.” He never mentions how Walmart treats its employees, or how the Walton family has benefited from changes in the tax code, which makes them the biggest “Takers” of all time, beneficiaries of corporate welfare.
Meteor Blades, also from Daily Kos, covers the protests and offers links to follow the action. What I found most inspirational is that the protest are shouting, “Hey, hey, ho, ho, slave wages have got to go.” The problem is not that these good people aren’t working or working hard. The problem is that Walmart and so many other employers want to keep every damn dime, nickel, and penny. Who makes up for their miserliness? We do when our taxes pay for supplemental rent, food vouchers, and health care. We help Walmart keep its employees housed, fed, and healthy. That’s corporate welfare.
In Common Dreams, Adbusters aims its Buy Nothing Day cannon at Walmart and blows apart a company whose sole mission seems to be profit based on exploitation of workers (let’s not forget our Chinese brothers and sisters that do so much to keep the Walton Family so rich). Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich adds to a historical viewpoint to this critique. He also points out that a 1% increase in prices at retailers like Walmart would lift 700,000 people out of poverty. But that would not be fair to “Job Creators” like the Waltons. I guess freedom requires poverty and misery.
I don’t shop at Walmart or Sam’s Club or Target. I try to buy local and find new ways to shop for American-made products. Our choices can bring real freedom to many people who live poor lives so a few can be rich beyond reason or morality.
On Sundays, I write a “Sabbath” post that takes its title from the similarly named poems of Wendell Berry. These poems are not preachy or philosophic. Like much of Berry’s writing, they are simple reflections on how we do live and how we should live.
In that spirit, I want to ask: How insane have we gotten that people have to do their “Black Friday” shopping on the evening of Thanksgiving? How selfish have we gotten that we will deny a day of rest to others so we can get a discount?
Our lives have become a mess of schedules and deadlines. Few people work 40 hour weeks. Our time off is a matter of running from place to place. Even the lives of children have become organized nightmares of leagues and structured activities. We seem to have lost the ability to sit quietly and enjoy a peaceful moment. The business lie of productivity where no minute can be waste has seeped into our personal lives. “Are you making the best use of your time?”
Americans should remember the lesson of the Sabbaths our grandparents enjoyed. We need time off to rest and clear our heads. We need that time to reflect on what is really important and what we should be most thankful for. In Berry’s words:
What stood, whole in every piecemeal
Thing that stood, will stand though all
Fall – field and woods and all in them
Rejoin the primal Sabbath’s hymn.
What is that hymn? Peace, which is what I wish all on this Thanksgiving day: Peace.
On today’s Ed Schultz radio program, Senator Bernie Sanders did a very odd thing. The most “liberal” senator quoted conservative icon Ronald Reagan: “Social Security has nothing to do with the deficit.” Senator Sanders is rallying his allies to oppose any change in benefits. He argues that Social Security is paid for by a fund that is outside the normal budget. Therefore, it should not be part of the current budget debate.
Working people need to pay attention to this debate. As fewer people have pensions and as those with 401K have less to contribute and get smaller employer matching funds, we need to think about how we will fund the years when we can no longer work. Bernie Sanders is a hero to working people. We need to stand with him and fight against big money interest that want to privatize social security so they can profit from fees. We need to have a guaranteed pension that keeps seniors out of poverty.
What can you do during an interview to improve your chance of landing a job? Show that you are interested. Employers report that one of the biggest turn offs during an interview is a prospective employee who doesn’t seem to care about the company or what it does.
Before going on any interview, research the company you want to work for. Know what it does and who its customers are. Think about what you will do to help the company. During the interview, frame your answers so they talk about what you will do as an employee, not simply what you did when you were working for another company.
One of the most important parts of an interview occurs when the employers asks if the applicants have any questions. Again, employers cites a lack of questions as a reason not to make an offer. Failure to ask questions shows that you haven’t thought about the job or what you could do for the company.
Here are three questions I recommend:
1. What are the three biggest challenges I will face in this position?
2. What do you like most about working for this company?
3. What is the most important quality you are looking in selecting someone to fill this position? Be sure that you affirm that you can deliver whatever quality the employer wants. This is the point to really sell yourself during the interview.
Employers want workers who will be motivated and do what is in the company’s best interest. Don’t turn them off by simply talking about yourself, your work history, and education. Demonstrate that you know what the company does and that you can add to its success. That’s a big part of the formula for landing a new job.
Laura Clawson of the Daily Kos has written another piece on the Hostess plant closures. This time she analyzes the situation with a focus on mismanagement of the company. She also notes that income inequality will have a long term negative impact on the middle and working classes. Many will suffer so a few can prosper.
Clawson ends her article with these words: “This is growing economic inequality in action, and standing for these workers' pensions—even if you don't have one yourself—is fighting an economy of hedge funds and for the top one percent.” Sadly, we’ve seen too many times that working people have no sense of solidarity. Until more workers wake up, the Hostess story will be repeated again and again.
The corporate media is nothing but a PR firm for big business. Every story I read or heard about the Hostess Strike pushed the same line: The workers are to blame. We heard the same story when teachers went on strike in Chicago. The corporate media hates workers.
Let’s look at this story in more detail. Laura Clawson of Daily Kos reports that the company is owned by a private equity firm. When the company went into bankruptcy a few years ago, workers took concessions. This time the bakers’ union refused to take concessions. According to Clawson, it wouldn’t matter anyway, since the company planned to close some plants and sell off the rest at a profit. She quotes the union president who says that the company has had six CEOs in the last eight years – none of them had a background in the baking industry.
Speaking of Hostess executives: Annie-Rose Strasser of Think Progress has found that the company’s CEO had his pay tripled (from $750,000 to $2.25 million) at the same time that the company was filing for bankruptcy and blaming the workers for its problems. Other executives received pay increases of as much as 80%. This seems a fitting reward for the executives who drove the company into the ground through debt restructuring.
Don’t blame the workers or the union. Blame the vultures that are eating the carcass of the working class. Blame the vampires that need more blood, so they break contracts and steal pensions. Blame the corporate media. It’s lying to you.