Blog Archive - August 2014
Malcolm Harris, writing in Aljazeera America, explores a new law that would force employers to make the status of their workers transparent. I urge you to read Harris’ editorial and consider the law he is discussing. It has no chance of passing in the current make up of Congress. However, it should be part of what workers demand. It’s not just a matter of increasing wages, which I support. We need to advocate for workers’ rights.
A friend sent me an article from HR Magazine, which is produced by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). The author, Jennifer Schramm, cites studies that consider the impact of pay inequality on worker moral. Where job security was recently the leading driver of job satisfaction, it is now compensation. Schramm notes that CEO-worker compensation has shifted from 20-1 in 1965 to 265-1 in 2013. What are companies doing to address this problem? 42% are offering “financial literacy training” and 25% are offering budget training.
These measures would be great if workers who are often living from paycheck to paycheck had anything to save or budget. America needs a raise. It’s not just an issue of low wage workers. Middle class and even some executives have been receiving small/no raises for the last decade. The drum beats for changing are getting louder.
When we’re terminated or laid off from a position, we often feel anger or shame. That’s natural. However, those feelings can lead us to do things we will later regret. If an employer offers any kind of incentive, read the document carefully and know what you are signing.
One of my clients works in a specialized industry where there are few employers and limited opportunities to work. When her employer let he go, he offered her a month’s salary and a month of paid healthcare. All he asked is that she sign a piece of paper. Luckily, she read the agreement, which included a non-compete clause that would have made it impossible for her to work for any company in metro Chicago. My client weighed her options and walked away from the offer.
If you are in this position, read the document carefully. If you don’t understand it, inform your employer that you want to have time to review it. If the employer pressures you to sign it immediately, there is probably something in that document that he does not want you to understand. Have the document reviewed by a lawyer who understands employment law. Don’t let yourself be bullied into signing something that can hurt your ability to get a job. Know what you are signing
The business website Wall Street 24/7 offers a list of the best places to work. Such lists are always subjective, but they also show that some companies make an effort to treat their employees well. When you are looking for a new job, think about what employers are offering and how that will impact your satisfaction on the job. Make a list of what you are looking for: pay, benefits, vacation, and chance for advancement. Your job when you are interviewing and discussing an offer is to determine if this employer will be a good employer for you.
Some leaders know when to sacrifice. Raymond Burse, the interim President of Kentucky State University, is cutting his salary to raise the wage of his lowest paid employees. By cutting his salary by $90,000, Burse is raising his campus’ minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.25. May many leaders follow his example.
No university president, athletic director, or coach reacted positively when football players at Northwestern University attempt to join a union. Now we know that they got the message. Huffington Post reports that officials in the NCAA will consider loosening the rules on paying athletes. The proposal would not affect all schools, only the largest conferences. It would also only apply to high profile men’s sports, such as football and basketball. Compensation would not be direct pay, but increased cost of living stipends and insurance policies. No one knows if these measures will be accepted. I do know this: If the players at Northwestern had not been bold enough to consider forming a union, the NCAA and its member schools would have never have considered paying athletes. Workers in other industries need to take note.
Clients often ask me to look at cover letters. In most cases, the problem is the same: Too much detail that repeats what is in the resume. A cover letter is a business document that introduces whatever it is sent with. For example, a cover letter sent by a bill collector would tell you that you have to pay a bill. A marketing cover letter would tell you why you should read a pamphlet or other brochure that is enclosed or attached.
If you’re looking for work, a cover letter should introduce your resume. Keep it short and touch on key selling points that the employer is looking for. I also like to include soft skills that are often hard to convey on a resume. For example, a cover letter is a good place to talk about being self-motivated, paying attention to detail, or describing your personality or work ethic.
If it’s true that employers scan resumes in a few seconds, why are they going to take the time to read a thick cover letter?
I was on vacation and have been unable to post for a few days. I was going to skip today as well, but there is a great article in today’s Huffington Post. It describes how children are made to work throughout most of the world. The two main exceptions: Europe and North America (plus the lightly populated Australia). What do these areas have in common? Workers joined together in unions, often allying with religious reformers and advocates for children, to fight for laws that protected children from exploitations. The next time someone speaks against unions, remind them that there are many places in the world where there are no unions. Those are places where wages are very low and an adult can be working next to a child.