It was a tough year for people seeking full-time jobs and that was reflected in the stories you all clicked on.
The biggest post for CareerDiva for 2011, by a huge margin, was the piece I wrote on how Corporate America was addicted to temporary workers.
Here’s an excerpt:
Corporate America has become addicted to temporary workers. They just love you guys. So much so, they’re spending all day with you and ignoring their full-time workforce family.
You offer the immediate high they need even though they may be trashed the next day when they realize not giving workers permanent jobs could ultimately do a number employee morale and the future success of a company.
The latest poll on the growing use of temporary contract workers comes from Right Management, a career management company that’s part of ManpowerGroup.
“As many as 41% of employers have used more independent contractors over the past two years,” the survey found.
It’s about 300 BC and a gladiator named Spartacus, or Sparty for short, is looking for a new gig because the arena in his town faced a fall off in attendance and had to cut back on staffing. Another gladiator known as Geta-man who lives in a nearby town still has his job but is looking for a new coliseum that offers better pay and benefits.
They both apply for a position at an arena in Rome and the hiring manager Tootus has a difficult decision to make. Both men have the same qualifications and kill-to-loss ratio, and they both passed the anti-personality tests with flying colors. In the end, Tootus decides to go with Geta-man because Sparty is unemployed. Even though he knows Sparty had no control over his employment circumstances, he just feels better with the guy who still has a job.
Since the beginning of time, people have been inclined to wonder, “why are you jobless?” I offer this example because the New York Times did a story this week about how employers are actively weeding out unemployed candidates and tons of media outlets picked up the story like is was something new. I did a column on this in February and a blog post over a year ago, and even then it wasn’t new.
It’s just one of the harsh realities of the job market, and I know most of you already knew this. One piece of career advice that almost everyone has heard before is “don’t quit your job until you have a job.” Why? It’s just easier to find a position when your employed.
(Go to full post here.)
I’ve decided not to let my eight-year-old son listen to or read the news anymore because politicians say such stupid things it may impact my kid’s future. The latest comes from Pennsylvania’s governor and this one was a doozy.
Pennsylvania’s Governor Tom Corbett wants teachers to stop educating themselves. Turns out teachers in that state get pay raises when they get a master’s degree and the Gov. wants to put an end to that. We all know states have major budget woes, but instead of just saying Pennsylvania doesn’t have the money for the raises, his office is claiming such degrees may be worthless… (Go to full post here.)
If you had the displeasure of watching the contrived Undercover Boss TV series last night, there was one saving grace. You got a chance to see the glass ceiling up close and personal.
Rich McClure, CEO of United Van Lines, went undercover in his own company to see what was going right and wrong in the trenches. In a twist, his wife joined him in the undercover game because he was fearful he would be recognized in one of the offices he was supposed to visit. His wife got an earful from claims manager Linda Picard about how United Van Lines was a “good ol’ boys network” and she said she gave up long ago when it came to advancing in the company.
“It’s very, very, very difficult for women to move up,” said Linda, a 28-year veteran of the company.
At the end of the show, the CEO is supposed to do right by all the workers by giving them more money, better working conditions, or a chance to get a better job in the company. Guess what Linda got?
She got a trip to Vegas and money to help pay for her daughter’s impending wedding. I guess management figured her odds of winning at casino tables were better than her chances of advancing to executive conference tables… (Go to full post here.)
It’s time for a walk down economic-implosion memory lane.
Remember this woman?
That’s Sherron Watkins, a former vice president at Enron. She went down in history as a famous whistleblower who told her bosses, including the then CEO Kenneth Lay, that the company was basically a Ponzi scheme.
“I am incredibly nervous that we will implode in a wave of accounting scandals,” she wrote in a letter to Lay. “My 8 years of Enron work history will be worth nothing on my resume, the business world will consider the past successes as nothing but an elaborate accounting hoax.”
She ended up testifying to Congress about the scandal, which was just one of many scandals to come and ultimately take down our nation’s economy. But it wasn’t Watkins who really blew the whistle on dirty dealings at Enron. You see, her attempts to stop the company from doing bad went nowhere because she was basically trying to reason with the criminals themselves. That’s why it’s so important for employees to have other means — beyond company channels — and incentives, if they are ever going to expose unlawful corporate behavior.
That’s where the Dodd-Frank financial reform law comes in. It created more incentives, including a whistleblower bounty, for employees to step forward, something that’s very difficult for them to do because they can lose their jobs as a result, and many have. The legislation actually calls for financial incentives of up to 30 percent of funds recovered for information employees give regulators that leads to prosecution.
But Corporate America isn’t happy. (Go to full post here.)
There’s so much written and discussed about work/life balance today that our brains have become foggy.
We talk about whether kids or our loved ones should come first, and we suffer over the choices we make.
I’ve often ridiculed women in the past who whine incessantly about family, and see themselves only as extensions of their kids, significant others, or family members.
But we should never diminish the family-and-love perspective that women can bring to the table, especially mothers, and their influence is badly needed in today’s work world tainted by greed and egos, in everything from business to government. One woman crystallized this for me last night.
Christine Lagarde, the first woman to head the powerful International Monetary Fund, was on 60 Minutes last night and she said some things about the realities of life that were inspiring. (Go to full post here.)
I’m all about supporting hard-working job seekers who’ve been pounding the pavement but getting no where. Yes, the economy stinks right now and with the unemployment rate still hovering at 9 percent it’s hard to find a job. But some of you are sabotaging yourselves.
Are you all just sick and tired and ready to give up? That’s what it seems like when I talk to hiring managers who go on endlessly about job candidates who just don’t put in the effort.
One hiring manager got so frustrated with the job applicants she’s been seeing that she wrote an essay about it. Thankfully, she decided to share it with me and agreed to let me publish it here.
“I didn’t have anyone particular in mind when I wrote it,” said Lynne Sarikas is director of the MBA Career Center at Northeastern University and recently she had a job opening for an administrative assistant that required a college degree. “I was frustrated by what I seeing and realized how many people were hurting themselves in their job searches.”
(Go to full post here.)
I know there are nearly five people for every job right now, but that doesn’t mean you hiring managers out there have to act like pompous jerks.
A good friend of mine told me yesterday that her son was recently interviewing for a finance job and got a question that stumped him. The hiring manager asked her kid to:
“Teach me something.”
Ugh, was my first thought. What an arrogant interview question. To be honest, I wasn’t totally surprised at the audacity of the question because employers are getting the stupid notion lately that they are all-knowing, and omnipotent, given how many people are begging them for jobs. (Go to full post here.)
Of all the things I’ve written about during this turbulent economic time, the one thing that bothered me the most was the revelation that some employers were refusing to even consider job seekers who were unemployed.
Companies are actually pretty open about this, and even say so in ads. One job posted on a job board by a Florida company a while back stated: “No unemployed candidates will be considered at all.”
I know, this is a huge blow for many of you who have been out of work and struggling to find a job. But the bottom line is, the jobless are not protected from such discrimination. Recruiters and hiring managers typically want people who are employed. No matter how you slice it, the natural tendency by some is to think something’s wrong with you if you’re unemployed, even if it’s not your fault, and the economy is bad, and your company laid off everyone.
This is a sad commentary on how some businesses operate, and such attitudes will do little to help bring down the nation’s unemployment rate, still hovering above 9 percent.
Help, however, may be on the way. (Go to full post here.)
* Losing a job with dignity
Those of you who have read this blog over the years, might be familiar with a constant commentator and part time sage, HikingStick.
Well, HikingStick is actually Andrew James Riemer and he lost his job last month because the company decided to outsource the IT department where he worked.
I was devastated when I heard the news, but HikingStick was a rock.
Here’s the email he sent after he joined the ranks of the jobless titled: “Well, I got the axe…”:
…or, perhaps, the pruning shears. My employer decided it no longer wants its own IT department (Oh, what a difference three years makes!). I was asked to leave shortly after eight o’clock this morning. This is the first time I’ve ever been cut. I’ve had a couple of my own businesses go under over the years, but this feels different. It brings up a mix of feelings. I’m definitely bummed to be out of work, but I had been longing for a bit more vacation time. This, however, is not how I wanted to get that extra time off.
Thankfully, I did get a small bit of severance (pay through the end of the month, plus all my pending PPT). It’s not much, but every penny helps.
My first stop after dropping my box off at home? I went to the store and bought a suit for interviewing. I was overdue for one (I shrunk out of the last one–hurrah!), and figured I had better be ready before I get an interview. Then I phoned some former bosses and coworkers, and had lunch with one of them, to let them know I’m looking for work. They might not have anything available right now, but if someone they know is looking for my skills, hopefully that little call will encourage them to drop my name. One mentioned a former peer who now is in a decision maker role. I plan to call him tomorrow.
I already have my unemployment application in (we can apply online in Minnesota), and we’re already checking into other social aid programs. I guess I’ll have more time to read that book now.
I am going to take a little time for recreation and restoration, perhaps a late season canoe trip with a friend or three. We go on the cheap (between us, we own all the gear we need), so it will be a nice way for me to get some time alone with my thoughts. (Go to full post here.)
I’m happy to report, HikingStick has since gotten a job offer.
Here’s his latest update:
It is official: I rejoin the working world on January 3, 2012 with a technology education firm in the Minneapolis area. I’ll manage their internal IT needs during their move to a new facility before transitioning into a full time teaching position. I didn’t get the job for which I initially replied: they created a position so as to bring me in! When I start on Tuesday (Monday is the New Year’s Day holiday), I will be one week shy of four months out of work. My heart goes out to those who have been looking far longer than I.
Fortitudine Vincimus! (By endurance we conquer!–Ernest Shackleton’s family motto)
This has been a challenging period for us, but am glad to see it coming to an end. Things have been very lean here. We were able to keep up with our bills for the first couple of months, but soon exhausted our savings and are now in the process of filing for bankruptcy. We have a payment agreement with our mortgage company, but still need to catch up on the amounts they deferred. So, the first part of 2012 will have us working hard to keep our house.
It is interesting to note that the application that finally produced a job is one of the first I submitted after my layoff. It took months to get from there to here. It’s also interesting to note that my new employer wasn’t content to simply pigeon-hole me into the job they advertised. During the interview process, they saw skills and aptitudes that fit well with their overall vision and mission, and they found a way to bring me in that met both their needs and my desires. It’s one of those experiences many only read about in textbooks, and it’s the first time I’ve experienced it during my 25+ years in the workforce. If anyone is still looking out there, don’t give up! Be open honest with your itnerviewers about your passions and aptitudes, and (as much as is possible) try to find a job you’ll love so your enthusiasm will show through at your interview.
Thanks to all who let their thoughts and prayers,
Here’s hoping that we all get the gigs we want in 2012.