Blog Archive - May 2014
Huffington Post offers an interesting blog post from Dharmesh Shah, the CTO of of HubSpot. Shah says “you should never leave work on time.” His point is that many people work at jobs that are boring and make them watch the clock. I agree with him that a good job should be part of our life, that we should stay at work sometimes to meet a late deadline or to help a co-worker.
However, I think this good advice can have a negative side as well. Many people I know never leave work at their schedule time. Their schedule is open-ended. They take work home and come to the office on the weekends. Even if they love their job, there is too much work because many companies have come to think that the secret to productivity is under staffing.
Life needs balance. Too often now, the balance is weighted in favor of the employer. A writer I greatly admire, Seth Godin, has said things similar to Shah. As an entrepreneur, I agree with them. I frequently work late and often am in the office seven days a week. However, that is my choice. For many employees, the company they work for asks for more and more. In these cases, I strongly disagree with Shah. Too many people are carrying their jobs home in a way that destroys lives and family. Employers and employees both need to recognize that work is part of life, but not all of it. There is a time to leave work and start living.
I recently saw Jon Favreau’s movie Chef, which I really enjoyed. The movie tells the story of Carl Palmer, a talented chef who works in a restaurant where he is forced to cook the same menu night after night. When Carl receives a negative review from a prominent food blogger, he engages in a Twitter war and then a face to face confrontation that becomes a viral video.
Becoming a laughing stock and losing his job is really a gift to Carl. He is forced to decide what he wants to do, which is to cook his way. He opens a food truck that is wildly successful. In the process he also bonds with his young son. They come to know each other by working together, through the father teaching his son a craft and how to respect work.
So what is the career lesson from this movie? Follow your passion? Not exactly. I don’t like that phrasing because its too broad. It’s hard to understand or describe our passion. Instead, I like to focus on skills – what do you like to do? Carl finds happiness when he is able to use the skill he loves: cooking. That’s the ticket to career happiness: Know what you want to do and find a place where you can do it with a sense of freedom and respect.
One of my favorite blogs Big Think recently featured one of my favorite writers, Daniel Pink, who was talking about how to influence others by asking the right kind of questions. As he did in his book Drive, Pink explores how we can motivate others by appealing to their interests instead to arguing for what is right (what we want). In this video, he models how to ask questions and follow up in a way that encourages self-motivated actions. This is a very interesting model for influencing others, including prospective employers, current bosses, and networking partners. Try to put Pink’s advice into practice the next time you have to influence someone who is reluctant to do what you want.
Huffington Post Business offers an interesting article on employee happiness. According to a survey by the website Glassdoor, employees at Costco are happier than higher paid professionals at big name firms. What’s the secret to Costco’s success in making its employees smile? Employees appreciate the company’s healthcare plan. Costco’s CEO is an advocate for raising the minimum wage, and his company pays a minimum of $11.50 an hour. It pays to treat employees well. That’s Costco’s secret. Many employers could learn from its example.
The media is often overly negative in talking about the job market. Sometimes I fall into the same trap. Yesterday I talked about jobs being lost to automation, which is a big problem. However, there is another side to the story. In just this week, I have worked with clients whose jobs were created by new technology. One person was a social media community manager. The other worked on Cloud technology and software that is not stored on our computers. While it is important to criticize problems caused by technology, we also need to recognize that some jobs will be created by advances in technical systems. One way to win the job game is to find a way to take advantage of those changes
I was shopping at a local grocery store (Jewel-Osco) today and noticed that the self-checkout aisle had been closed. The woman at the checkout counter told me that the corporation has scrapped the machines. This is good news because it means that new cashiers will have to be hired, and this chain hires union employees, so the jobs will be decently paid.
As I’ve written in the past, automation has destroyed more American jobs than offshoring. In this case, a company has decided to pay people rather than invest in self-serve machines operated by consumers. This is a small victory, but it is still a win.
Al Jazeera America reports on claims of a Texas employment miracle. While some may be moving ahead in the Lone Star state, construction workers interviewed for this article are working hard for $8-$10 an hour. The state’s governor brags that Texas has an unemployment rate far lower than the national average (national 6.3%; Texas 5.5%). However, the state is producing as many low wage jobs as high paying jobs. It also offers less support for low wage workers, which means they struggle even more to get by. The working poor in Texas live harder lives than workers in New York or California, states that have more progressive labor laws and social safety net services.
Some may say, “A job is a job.” Those people usually have a job or other source of income that gives them the security needed to be glib and unfeeling about others. Across America, low wage workers are struggling to get by. So are middle class workers, who often resent the aid given to low wage workers. All American workers need to remember who the real winners in this society are – the 1% – and ask them to pay for their share of our common needs. The Texas Miracle is just one more example of an American economy that asks more and more of the working poor. That’s not a miracle. It’s a tragedy.
Too many people are hung up with resentment about poor people who get benefits. What they need to think about instead is the millions of Americans that work hard, but can’t make enough money to live without some kind of state aid. Huffington Post offers a great article on these people, how hard they work, and how they live. If you are against raising the minimum wage, I recommend that you read this article and think about the people it describes
I sometimes meet with clients who write resumes in a strange format: They hide their success stories. This format places a section called Honors or Achievements at the bottom of the document. The problem with this approach is that information that might help an employer decide to bring a candidate in for an interview is hidden.
My advice is to put your achievements with the job where you received the honor or earned the distinction. For example, if I was named Sales Professional of the Year for 2013, that achievement should be with my current company. To make the point more impressive, I recommend adding something about scope or quantitative measure. For scope, you could note how many employees were considered for the award. For quantitative measure, you could list percentage over goal or increase from the previous year. Be careful that you don't simply name the award and not tell the reader why you received the honor.
Even as the job market heats up, competition for the best jobs remains fierce. Show why you are someone who deserves an interview. Don't hide your achievements.
Huffington Post offers an enlightening look at CEO-worker pay ratios at top companies. For example, CVS Caremark pays its CEO 422:1 to the median worker’s salary. While no one denies that leaders of large, successful corporations should be well paid, how can we justify such a difference in the U.S. when similar ratios are not as drastic in Europe and Japan? Take a minute to look at this chart and ask yourself if it’s fair for the top to make so much while those on the bottom struggle.