Archive | Job Searching RSS feed for this section

Places Where Unemployment Doesn’t Exist

11 Dec

imagesCA6FT995

Can you imagine that with millions of  job seeking Americans now unemployed that there are places in the nation where virtually the entire town/city has a job? Yes, it’s true. I read it today in Yahoo!News.

These are the cities where near EVERYONE has a job:

1.  Bismarck, North Dakota
Oct. 2012 unemployment rate: 2.2%
Total population: 110,879
Median household income: $58,781

Bismarck, N.D. had the lowest unemployment rate of all metro areas in the U.S. with just 2.2% of the workforce unemployed in October.

2. Fargo, North Dakota
Oct. 2012 unemployment rate: 2.8%
Total population: 211,729
Median household income: $52,393

3. Grand Forks, N.D.-Minnesota

Oct. 2012 unemployment rate: 3.1%
Total population: 98,512
Median household income: $46,718

Have you heard about the huge oil boom there? People’s backyards and acreage is making several multimillionaires out there.

4. Lincoln, Nebraska

Oct. 2012 unemployment rate: 3.2%
Total population: 307,165
Median household income:$49,315

5. Midland, Texas
Oct. 2012 unemployment rate: 3.3% (tied for 6th)
Total population:140,308
Median household income: $54,330

According to the Bureau of Labor & Statistics the mining, logging and construction industry were the top employers in the metropolitan area as of October.

6. Ames, Iowa
Oct. 2012 unemployment rate: 3.4% (tied for 6th)
Total population: 89,663
Median household income: $45,866

Like Iowa City, Ames is a college town with Iowa State bringing in educated professionals from around the world. I don’t know what it is but some tiny part of me has wanted to live in Iowa for years.  I think I have a thing for open land. 

7. Iowa City, Iowa

Oct. 2012 unemployment rate: 3.4% (tied for 6th

Total population:154,893

Median household income:$52,602

Iowa City is home to the University of Iowa, which employs approximately 13,000 people, including 1,700 faculty positions.

8. Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Oct. 2012 unemployment rate: 3.7%
Total population: 232,347
Median household income: $55,609

The largest employers in the area is Sanford Health and Avera Health, employing 7,703 and 5,921 people.  Also Wells Fargo and Citigroup are major employers in the region also.

9. Burlington, South Burlington, Vt.
Oct. 2012 unemployment rate: 3.8% (tied for 9th)
Total population: 213,624
Median household income: $60,771

Burlington is home to the University of Vermont, which has 10,459 undergraduate students, 1,540 graduate students and 1,471 full- and part-time faculty.

10. Logan, Utah-Idaho
Oct. 2012 unemployment rate: 3.8% (tied for 9th)
Total population:124,813
Median household income: $46,356

Who knew that Idaho or North/South Dakota were places to consider moving to?!

I know what you’re thinking…But all of these places are in West Numchuck Nowhere!  I know.  I was thinking the exact same thing which is why I’m still here in Washington, D.C. groveling for a decent paying job among all the other job beggars.

Hmm. If I had some spending money I’d take a trip to Iowa and see what all the fuss hiring is about.

 

A Twist on Aging & Interviewing

28 Nov

Recent Headlines:

“CALIFORNIA PLASTIC SURGEONS SEE A HIKE IN BUSINESSMEN INQUIRING ABOUT PLASTIC SURGERY PROCEDURES.”

“AGE DISCRIMINATION ON THE RISE, STARTING IN 40’s”

I know some of you are young, young, young.  So young that the last thing you’re concerned about is being, oh, 35, 40, 56, even 60 years old.  So young that you’re not even yet concerned with sagging body parts that used to be up HERE and are now down there.

Oh, but the day will surely come when age will be “all” you think about. Especially when it comes to working and aging. Being downsized. Age discrimination, being overlooked while companies hire the younger, perkier, cheaper candidate. Even though you have years of experience. While I’m right in the middle–not fresh out of college and nowhere near retirement–I can grasp both sides of the fence. So the following story is interesting.

This is Randy Adams.

He’s 60 years old.  

He has A LOT of experience working in the tech field.  He spent months if not years trying to secure a CEO level job in Silicon Valley.  He went on gobs of interviews encountering all kinds of strange looks, “don’t call me, I’ll call you” exhaustion with great frustration.

Then he got an idea.

He noticed that all of the techies were not only young but dressed a certain way, regardless of their level of professionalism/expertise. Not to mention in the Valley there are CEO’s who are not yet 30 years old.  So Randy Adams went hard: He shaved his head, got an eye lift and started wearing Converse sneakers instead of stuffy loafers and t-shirts instead of button-downs.

This is Randy Adams now:

A funny thing happened next.   He got hired. Not only hired but hired at a booming tech company,  SocialDial, as their CEO.  He especially credits his shaved head as the hem that got him in the door.  In what he calls a “youth obsessed tech hub” (agreed) he’s now got a list of rules for any “geezer” attempting to break the age line.

  • Please don’t have an AOL e-mail. It reeks geriatrics.   G-mail is OK but even better is an address which incorporates your name in the domain is ‘cool.’
  • Nix the briefcase. What do you think this is, 1985? Instead get a backpack.
  • Avoid Blackberries and Dell laptops – Android phones and Apple products scream ‘youth!’

So I guess this means I should hold on to my backpack since I may need it in another 20 years or so.

Show Us a Photo: Maybe We’ll Hire You

5 Nov

A weird trend I’m starting to see in job listings are of potential employers requesting a photo of job applicants.

I know, RIGHT? 

There was a temporary job I spotted recently that I was applying for and the woman  e-mailed me asking for a recent photo to be sent in.

Um, WHAT?

WHY?

I wrote her back in a slightly scathing e-mail informing her that I have NO interest in ANY job that would require a photo of me before even interviewing me.

You’d think other than in the entertainment industry this would be illegal, right? I mean, that business is all about head shots and looks and the “right fit” cosmetically. I get it. But for the average job–particularly in an office setting–what gives?

I just knew that it had to be some sort of discriminatory act, this photo requesting. So I did some research and discovered that asking for a photo is not illegal at all. But there’s a catch…

From freeadvice.com the question was answered:

No, it’s not necessarily illegal to ask for a photo prior to an interview. And nor is it necessarily illegal discrimination to discriminate on the basis of looks. What’s forbidden is discriminating on several bases, such as gender; religion; race; age over 40; disability; etc. If you believe that you did not get  the job because of one of those characteristics–which are often revealed via a photo or appearance–you may have a discrimination case.

On the other hand, an employer could choose to hire a more attractive applicant, or to not hire because they don’t like how you look, as long as it’s not owing to one of the grounds above. Only the specifically prohibited discrimination is actually prohibited.

Legal tangles. Notice the wording, the twisted vernacular. So sneaky the powers that be. Come on, we all know that looks trump every single thing in this world. There have even been studies done that show babies gazing at the “prettier” or more attractive face when presented with a series of photos.

So why are my britches in a bunch? Because I think it’s ridiculous to:

1) ask for a photo for a job involving NOTHING to do with appearance

and

2) ask for a photo for a job involving NOTHING to do with appearance.

My fingers will be doing the typing. What if they’re not pretty?

My eyes will be doing the scanning of documents. What if they’re not pretty?

Cough. Is my brain attractive enough? Did you need a photo of that, too?

This is all dumb.

I was so tempted to send in a huge print-out photo of a gorilla along with my resume.

Here’s my picture, a-holes:

YOU HAPPY NOW? 

Personality Tests: For Some = Epic Fail

31 Oct

So I was riding in my car the other day pretending that I don’t see the 200,000 mile mark creeping upward and I heard John Tesh (remember him from “Entertainment Tonight”?) on his radio show talking about jobs and those awful personality tests they sometimes require before hiring people.

He made some really good points. Such as…

Personality tests are like (an employer) reading your private diary.(Yikes! DO YOU KNOW THE STUFF I’D PUT IN A PERSONAL DIARY IF I HAD ONE?!)

The key, he admonished, is to be perfectly honest because those tests are structured to know if you’re fudging your answers. Here are a few actual personality test questions to ponder…

Are you more frequently a:

a practical sort of person OR

a fanciful sort of person?

First of all, I dunno. I don’t even like the word “fanciful.” It sounds flighty, like I wouldn’t know that the Frucker file goes under “F”. I mean, “fanciful” in the reviewer’s eyes could mean that I dance on tables with alcoholic beverages in my hands or that I believe that unicorns should be domestic animals.  If unicorns are even real.

I mean, here’s an official definition of the word itself:

  1. fan·ci·ful

    Adjective:
    1. (of a person or their thoughts and ideas) Overimaginative and unrealistic.
    2. Existing only in the imagination or fancy.

GOSH.

I AM over-imaginative (I’m a writer, for crying out loud and an artist who thinks that I’ll be wealthy beyond boundaries in the very near future even though of late I’ve been relying more and more on rolling found coins) and I believe–OH, I BELIEVE–in big things. Big. Even when they’re still the size of salt crumbs. (Um, is that “unrealistic”?)

Here’s another personality test question:

Are you more likely to trust your:

experience OR

a hunch?

Again, this reeks of a set-up. Either answer could prove skids for you, the desperate, nearly broke job seeker who just needs to pay their monthly bills and have some cheese crackers and powdered tea left over after all the checks are written.

Do you prefer:

many friends with brief contact OR

a few friends with more lengthy contact?

This one right here, this is the one I FEAR. As in tiny bits of fingernails bitten and spat across rooms, right there at the potential job site. Bits of bitten, spitty nail fragments on the floor.  They’re trying to see if I play well with others.

Only thing is, these “others” are coworkers, not necessarily friends. 

SIGH.

I mean, on the one hand I work well alone. As in put me in a corner away from the office riff-raff and I’ll get TONS of stuff done and feel rejuvenated but on the other hand, I can work in a “team” as long as the team is easy to get along with. Get it?

From this side of things–a job seeking, potential employee–I don’t agree with personality tests. I believe they are flawed and judgmental and unnecessary for most jobs.  After all, I’ve worked at the likes of the Department of Justice (headquarters, mind you) and some other big players without aforementioned test and I did just fine filing their boring files and typing their boring documents.

Wanna take a free personality test? Go ahead, do it. See how dirty you judgmental it feels.

I like the old school days when you were hired based on your resume, eye burning eye contact and a good, firm handshake.

Just $500

23 Oct

A recent survey by CreditDonkey.com, a credit card comparison company, found that more than half of Americans do not have more than $500 in total (cash) savings.

WOWZA.

That’s like 1/3 of some people’s rent.

That’s like just two month’s car payments.

That’s like not enough to fix a radiator or a timing belt.

It surely ain’t six months savings.

Talk about living paycheck-to-paycheck.

In the aforementioned survey people also expressed concern and anxiety over the fear of not being able to save enough for retirement.  Particularly those already in their 30’s or older.

A few years back when I sold the one and only house I’d ever “owned” (I use quotes because the bank technically owns it until you pay for it, all typical 30 years of a mortgage. I’ve always been persnickety about the use of the term home ownership. But I digress) I had a great deal of money, all mine to spend how I chose. I had no debt, really and just my monthly bills.  I eyeballed a few things like renovating houses and writing projects but nothing took hold.

Oh, I had great plans to establish myself outside of CubicleVille. What started out as an auspicious road to financial freedom involving land and quality of life turned in to a glorified sabbatical. (Now I have a huge gap on my resume that just won’t close; apparently it makes potential employers chuck my resume into a trashcan. Or shredder.)

After the money dried up as I sat unemployed for what seemed like forever.  What did I do? Did I put all of my trust into a job or the prospect of a job? No, I couldn’t. There are just times when you don’t get hired in enough time to not fall through the cracks financially. Either that or you do get hired but you’re making, oh, $8 working at Macy’s and they’re only gifting you with 25 hours/week.

Hmm. That’s $200/week before taxes. Which would be approximately $800/month before taxes.  

They rent rooms here in the D.C. area for $500-900/month and upwards. Don’t believe me? Have a glimpse at craigslist.dc.

For me, having a huge sum of money mixed with time off mixed with vocational frustration mixed with an innate need for freedom made me look at working differently. I no longer view a job as a potential career or a career as a long-term solution to most of my future needs and desires.

Jobs come and go. Sometimes careers do, too.

So find a way to have enough financially for your own/family’s needs,  a safety net of your own bearings.  All around all of us there are ions of things to make into hot commodities.

Food. Clothing. Sewing. Physical labor. Kids. Talking. Blogging. Fixing computers. Driving. Advertising space. Cleaning. Busking. Tutoring.

And the list goes on.

What I’ve learned from having money and then not having money is that no matter what, NO MATTER WHAT you have to always have a back-up plan, a talent reserve, a side hustle to earn a living.

You cannot always and should not always rely on a mere job to float you straight into retirement. Whenever that is.

And if you’re one of the “half of Americans” with merely $500 in savings, YOU BETTER FIND YOUR HUSTLE.  

Waitress + Red Lipstick = Big Tips

18 Oct

Even though I’ve touched on the table waiting profession before here on the blog, this red blurb caught my attention.

Earlier this year a study found that waitresses who wore red lipstick got bigger tips.  In the experiment, researchers had seven waitresses wear red, pink, brown or no lipstick while serving 447 customers in three restaurants.

The male patrons doled out tips to waitresses wearing red lipstick much more frequently than to other waitresses.  Not only that but when they tipped they gave more.

It’s called the Red Effect.

The study also found that a waitress’s lipstick or lack thereof made no difference in how female patrons tipped.

Hmm.

Thought bubble: In this hideous job search I’ve been having, perhaps I should be wearing red lipstick. Even though prior to this study I thought it would be viewed as inappropriate, stank, even. Now I’m not so sure. If I know a man will be interviewing me, I think I’ll keep a tube of ole red in the purse.

Ain’t nothing like a good strategy.

Job References & Why They Bite

3 Oct

Ugh, the job reference circuit.

You’re looking for a new gig, tired of your old/current gig so you need to put down some people who you think will speak fondly of you. You hope they’ll say stuff like,

“Oh, Jennifer? She was a GREAT employee. She came in early and stayed late. She worked well with others as well as individually with minimal supervision. She was reliable, trustworthy and I would hire her again.”

Instead of

“Oh, Jennifer? She was a LOUSY employee. She came in late and left early. She didn’t quite work well with others and when left alone she would peruse the internet. She was unreliable, untrustworthy and we certainly would NOT hire her again.”

I’ve had both. Well, not as wordy on the latter because, well, it’s apparently against the law for employers to divulge too much information, especially if it sounds personal. Supposedly (former) employers are only supposed to answer basic questions such as how long you worked somewhere, your title and salary and if they’d hire you again. PERIOD.

But oh, to have one of those references where the ex-boss goes on and on, then says too much that’s hurtful. I once had an ex-supervisor state when asked for a reference for me: “Oh, I wouldn’t want to hurt her chances of getting a job.”

W.T.F.?

Lucky for me it was a headhunter whom I had a good rapport with so she asked me outright, “WHAT IN THE WORLD HAPPENED THERE?” I was able to explain that Barbara the person in question was extremely flighty and judgmental, not to  mention lazy, so she was the LAST person to dole out references on ME.

To this day I won’t use anyone (there were only five of us working there anyway) from that company. EVER EVER NEVER. Extracting good references from each or most jobs can be testy.

Ever had a poor job reference? Even slightly bad? Not good when you’re job hunting and need to put down a reference from someone from that particular company that looms large on your resume.

I once had a boss give me a great reference the first time but a crappy reference a few years after giving me the first great reference.

What gives with people? Did his hormones suddenly crash affecting his memory? I am the same Jennifer worker bee that you referenced before, Mark Mr. Poor Reference Giver.

YOU’RE MESSING WITH MY LIFE HERE, BUDDY.

Like I mentioned in my book, I suspect that there are employers who are jealous that you’re out there in the working world moving and grooving while they’re still stuck at the same un-exciting company pushing the same buttons, gazing at the same vending machine. Waiting for twenty more years to pass so that they can finally retire. 

“Hmm, Jennifer’s getting hired AGAIN? I know…I’ll give her a poor reference.”

My thing is this…if a person works well enough (if they lasted at your organization for two or more years and left on their own accord, apparently they worked well enough) just give them a decent reference. If you had personal issues with them (you didn’t think they liked YOU, you didn’t like the way they dressed, you didn’t like their weird nuances, etc.) put those aside.

A job reference isn’t a gateway to hold someone back for personal reasons or to thwart their career efforts; it’s a reference. Keep it short and sweet.

References can and do determine a person’s very working LIFE and therefore their rent/mortgage, their car payments, their food supply, their family life, their overall well being.

Don’t be such a job snob.