Blog Archive - February 2015
As the job market gets better, employers will find it harder to get the talent they want, which means it’s a great time to negotiate for a better salary or other compensation. The website Payscale.com has some great resources that will help you negotiate. If you’re involved in a job search or in a position where you will have to negotiate salary, take some time and consider the great advice given by the experts on this page.
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has announced that he will sign what is called “right to work” legislation. To be clear, this legislation enables workers at union work places to opt out of union membership and dues. Under this law, some workers will be able to benefit from union negotiation without paying dues. Eventually, no one will want to pay dues, unions will disappear, and workers will be left on their own to take what management will give them. Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R) cheered the law saying: "The public widely supports worker freedom and the potential positive impact to the state's economy can no longer be ignored."
In reality, as union membership has fallen in the U.S., so have wages. Take a minute and review the chart in this article from Huffington Post. From 1968 to the present, middle class income and union membership has declined at almost the same pace. I could call that many things. It is not freedom.
P.S. Daily Kos's great labor writer Laura Clawson gives her take on the parallel decline of unions and wages while also critiquing Nicholas Kristof for being late to the the party.
Henry Ford said, "Quality means doing it right when no one is looking."
This quotation is great advice for any involved in a job search. Whether your checking jobs online or setting up a networking meeting or preparing for an interview, the job search is often a solitary activity - "no one is looking." The only way to be successful is to hold yourself accountable to work through the silence and rejection that comes with looking for work. If you want a good job and a career with a future, pay attention the quality of how you look for work.
Walmart announced that it will raise its minimum hourly wage to $9 and increase that wage to $10 next year. It’s great that the company has made this move on its own. However, will this raise really change the lives of its workers? A person making $9 an hour will still be earning about $20,000 a year – if she is working full time. If the worker is a parent, she will certainly still need public aid for food and housing. In essence, working people and the middle class will continue to be underwriting Walmart’s work force. We need to establish a living wage and commit ourselves as citizens to paying a little extra so we can all live decent lives.
Some people say always at the end.
Some say always at the beginning.
I say: "Be suspicious of people who say 'always.'" They usually follow rules without having any reason for doing so.
I put education where it does the most to help a client look like a highly qualified candidate. In most cases where a client has relevant experience, education goes last. However, if a candidate has recently received a new degree or certificate that enhances her marketability, why not put that information first? Similarly, most new graduates should have education as the first element on their resume because that is their primary selling point. But this is not always the case. Some new graduates have worked while in school and have relevant experience. In those cases, education should be placed after experience.
My simple rule is: What does the employer want to see? Put those elements first.
Bloomberg has published a very interesting article on how people treat each other in the workplace. Citing research performed by two scholars at Stanford, Akane Otani writes that we are more likely to return favors done for us by friends than we are to help co-workers. This is logical since most workplaces because people are more calculating about what they do at work. One of the researchers, Jeffrey Pfeffer, recommends that the best way to deal with selfishness at work is to be realistic about it. He says that we need to stop looking for a “mythical Santa Claus” that is going to be nice to us. People act in their own interest, and we need to do the same.
In one sense, I totally agree with this advice. While we might make friends of co-workers, those relationships tend to be separate. If we can get a better job, we leave our co-worker friends behind. On the other hand, bosses and co-workers are often our best teachers and mentors. Throughout my career, I have learned great life lessons at work. Now, I would add this to them: Don’t get upset when a co-worker stabs you in the back to get ahead or plays office politics with your reputation. That’s how most people are, especially when they aren’t our friends.
“What can you do for me?”
That’s what employers really want to know when they are hiring a new employee. Too often job seekers worry so much about what they’ve done – and haven’t done – in the past that they don’t answer the employer’s big question. In writing your resume and presenting yourself at an interview, stay focused on what the employer needs. How do you know what the employer needs? Look carefully at the job post, and adapt your resume to the requirements and qualifications. Before going on an interview, look at the job post again. Ask yourself: Why will I be an asset to the company? Show how your strengths will make you the best candidate. No employer will hire you just because of what you did in the past. They will hire you because of what you can do for them. Answer the question:
“What can you do for me?”
Most of us have had ups and downs in our career, which Winston Churchill summed up in these great words: "Success is not final, failure is not fatal; it is courage to continue that counts."
Persistence might be the greatest strength, and -- as Churchill says -- it takes courage to move forward when we doubt ourselves. However, every success we have had was a time we could have failed. The only way to change is to take a change and move forward with courage. I'm not the biggest fan of Churchill. But, in this case, his words are great advice for anyone who is frustrated with their career or unhappy in their job. Find your "courage to continue."
David Cay Johnston is one of my favorite writers on economics. He presents complex issues in language that is easy to follow and compelling to read. In a commentary published by Al Jazeera, Johnston notes that the recent growth in the U.S economy has not led to a growth in income reported on income taxes. In fact, average income reported dropped from $63,297 in 2012 to $61,668 in 2013. Johnson also presents a chart that tracks labor’s share of income since WWII. Since 2001, capital has been taking a bigger and bigger piece of the pie. He points to political factors, such as the outsourcing of factory jobs due to trade deals. He cites President Obama’s 2011 deal with South Korea as costing “thousands of manufacturing jobs.” He also demonstrates that all working people have been losers recently. While those making $250,000 or more a year did see a 4.8% increase in their reported income in 2013, their total income fell by 8.6% and average income by 12.8%.
What’s the moral of the story? The investor class is king. Workers are more productive than ever. Unemployment is down. Somehow, reported income is declining for all working people. As Johnston warns at the end of his commentary, “The American economy is getting bigger, but average incomes are shrinking. If that trend continues, it will eventually spell economic, social and political trouble for the country.” Johnston’s words frighten me more than ISIL. The real terror is economic.
Both coaches in today's Super Bowl, Pete Carroll of the Seattle Seahawks and Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots, have coached championships teams. They are regarded as the best at what they do. Both have also led teams that were not successful. When Carroll coached New England, many experts thought he would never be a great coach. The same is true of Belichick's time with the Cleveland Browns. Both coaches had faith in themselves and their talent. The picked themselves up and gave themselves another chance to succeed. Successful people often have a low point in their career. Their critics call them losers. Real champions like Carroll and Belichick end up with the last laugh.