Archive for the ‘Jobs’ Category

Service of Prep for the Job

Monday, November 14th, 2022

Some people succeed in jobs for which they weren’t trained or prepared. Take political widows who slip into their husband’s congressional seats. Wives that choose to be are steeped in their spouse’s work and have survived the drill. They campaign fiercely and are on top of the issues. Many had staying power. Here, from an article in usatoday.com, are just some:

  • Rep. Edith N. Rogers’s husband was in his seventh term representing Massachusetts in the House when he died in 1925. The Republican party urged her to run.
  • Rose McConnell Long took over Huey Long’s Louisiana Senate seat in 1935.
  • Margaret Chase Smith won a special election in 1940 after her husband died and joined the House. She also served in the Senate representing Maine.
  • Democrat Elizabeth B. Andrews, Alabama, took office a year after her husband died in 1971.
  • Cardiss Collins’s husband died in a plane crash in 1972. She won a special election the next year and took his place in the House representing Illinois. She remained until 1997.
  • Debbie Dingell replaced Representative John Dingell, Michigan, after he died in 2015.
Image by Keith Johnston from Pixabay 

However, there are some candidates whose preparation and background make no sense for them to be elected to office. Take a man running for Senate from a background in sports. He wasn’t in sports administration or marketing: He was a star player from the start: He won a Heisman Trophy as a junior at the University of Georgia and subsequently was inducted in the College Football Hall of Fame.

After he played for major NFL teams, he represented the US in the Winter Olympics as part of the bobsleigh team and tried his hand at mixed martial arts.

Before his campaign, in addition to a friendship with the president, the closest he got to politics was as co-chair of the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition from 2019-2020.  James Morgan, usatoday.com, covered the announcement of his two year appointment although the article was fuzzy about his role and background: “As Co-Chair, Walker will have a lot of responsibilities related to the council but he has been quoted saying that he is willing to help President Trump. Walker continues to be in excellent shape and fitness that he is legendary for. Walker has made a significant impact off the field, since his retirement from the NFL, and always does an outstanding job of representing the University of Georgia.”

Impact doing what? He is also associated with a company that sells branded meat products.

To be fair, there have been sports stars who turned their attention to politics and did well. Here are just a few of the ones that Business Insider mentioned: Four term House member from Oklahoma, Steve Largent, had been a renowned player for the Seattle Seahawks and J.C. Watts, University of Oklahoma and Ottawa Rough Riders quarterback also served his state in the House. NFL wide receiver and college football coach Tom Osborne represented Nebraska in the House for eight years until 2003.

I have friends who have made 180 career switches. One moved from a spectacular career in marketing to owner/founder/chef of a food enterprise. Her success benefits her family yet should she have failed, it would have impacted only them.

Americans are sports crazy which accounts for this candidate’s name recognition and acceptance as a contender. Sports competition teaches crucial life lessons. Yet don’t you wonder how physical fitness and a connection at a high political level translates to potential success for the essential job of US Senator? In addition, there’s something mean about subjecting this man to such scrutiny. I can’t help thinking about the Jimmy Stewart character in the 1939 movie “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.”

Service of Inquiring Minds

Thursday, August 4th, 2022

I suspect the wood planks are heavy and could easily make someone lose balance as they reach for each.

I’ve previously isolated questions in posts even though I end each with at least one.

These people take my breath away.

I started with two in 2016–“Service of Questions” and “Service of Why.” A smattering: Why do mothers give their toddlers in strollers tablets to stare at when there’s so much to see on a walk and why do telemarketers hire people who mumble? 

In 2019 in “Service of Questions—Does Google Have All the Answers?” I asked a few more such as how commuters in cars in the New York metro area fill their time in traffic for as long as 90 minutes? How do pet owners of moderate means afford vet bills when they have more than one?

Here are more that I’ve thought of recently:

  • How come the rise in interest rates seem to impact borrowers immediately but not those with garden variety bank savings accounts? I asked a random customer service person at a bank branch. He said CDs will reflect the interest rate change first and that it will take a few months for anything to kick in for savings accounts. Hmmmm.
  • I marvel at people who work in precarious situations and have snapped shots of some. Is being fearless like this something you can acclimate yourself to?
  • Why is the weather forecast on my iPhone so consistently wrong lately especially when it comes to predicting rain?
  • Why do people glorify a deceased spouse when for years they confided the person had made their life miserable?
  • Why don’t I recall hearing, years ago, about such breathtakingly horrific forest fires as now in the West and in Europe?

What random questions do you have? Any answers to mine?

Climbing on an off this ladder is the definition of precarious

Service of Ghosting

Monday, May 16th, 2022


Image by Stefan Keller from Pixabay

Maybe I am excused for living in the dark, until recently, about the meaning of the expression “ghosting” because I wasn’t dating in the early 2000’s when it became a thing and my friends who do haven’t used the term. It has nothing to do with what New York City Mayor Adams accuses Gracie Mansion of containing: Ghosts. Nor is it related to a homemade, untraceable firearm–a ghost gun.

Wikipedia defines ghosting as “also known as simmering or icing, [it] is a colloquial term which describes the practice of ending all communication and contact with another person without any apparent warning or justification and subsequently ignoring any attempts to reach out or communication made by said person.”

A TV producer, in a recent email, apologized for not previously responding to my queries saying that she wasn’t ghosting me. Then I read The Wall Street Journal article “Hiring Is Hard Enough. Now New Workers Are Vanishing Before They Even Start. More companies find that people who accept offers are never heard from again; ‘It was just crickets.'” The reporters are Chip Cutter, Lauren Weber and Ray A. Smith.

They wrote: “The practice, often called ghosting, isn’t new. In the tight labor market that preceded the pandemic, employers reported that some staffers quit without giving notice or just stopped showing up for their shifts. The practice picked up its own shorthand: ‘no call, no show.'”


Image by Lukas Bieri from Pixabay

They reported “Add another head-scratching new feature to the post-Covid employment landscape: A job isn’t filled until the new hire actually shows up for work.” The hardest hit in this regard, they wrote, were manufacturers, restaurants, airlines and cleaning companies. Never before have so many been no-shows after accepting a job.

“In posts on Twitter,” wrote Cutter, Weber and Smith, “workers offered all sorts of reasons for blowing off new jobs. They said they got better offers between when they were hired and when they were supposed to show up. They claimed they discovered the pay was lower or the hours or conditions different than what they were told. Some even complained that the hiring companies had previously ignored them after interviews or applications.”

Quoting Keith Wolf, managing director, Murray Resources in Houston: “We have a generation of professionals who grew up on dating apps, where ghosting has been accepted as an annoying, but common, phenomenon. I believe that is leaking into the professional world.”

The manager of a home cleaning service in Texas said that “80 percent of new hires eventually disappear without notice.”

Have you known employees who ghosted a business? Does this phenomenon explain why services you once depended on are no longer reliable? Can you think of reasons, short of death or sudden severe illness, that excuse a newly hired employee for not showing up without a word? What can we expect to be the next chapter on the spectrum of “I can’t believe this happens in the workplace?”


Image by LuckyLife11 from Pixabay

Service of Dream Jobs that Become Nightmares

Thursday, February 17th, 2022


Image by Orna Wachman from Pixabay

I once had a dream job that went south so I empathize with flight attendants these days. For me the issue was with management. It’s passengers/customers who are causing trouble in the sky and spoiling a good job with great travel benefits.

Maggie Jones underscores why many flight attendants are quitting in her New York Times article “See (the Worst People in) the World! How defiant Covid-era customers turned a dream job — flight attendant — into a total nightmare.”

She wrote about one attendant who was attacked by a German shepherd service dog whose owner didn’t control him; one threatened to be punched in the face for asking a passenger to put on a mask; and another was mimicked, defied–even threatened–by a team of female athletes who kept removing their masks.

She reported that alcohol accounts for some of the behavior and that it also “reflects a time of receding civility.” Angry passengers refusing to wear masks have tossed used ones at flight attendants; pulled down their pants and threatened a pilot with “don’t touch me;” and one chipped an attendant’s teeth. In addition, the employees don’t feel backed up by their employers: when they report incidents nothing happens. However, yesterday on NBC Nightly News,Tom Costello reported that Delta is trying to establish a no fly list that would bar out-of-control passengers from boarding any flights.

Jones wrote that the F.A.A. didn’t count passenger incidents as there were so few until recently. In 2021 and early 2022 it “reported a stunning 6,300 unruly-passenger incidents — more than 4,500 of them mask-related. And 85 percent of flight attendants said they had dealt with such passengers last year, according to a July 2021 survey by the Association of Flight Attendants-C.W.A., which represents attendants at 17 airlines.”

She observed that frustrated and angry passengers don’t feel that a person they consider to be little more than a cocktail waitress has the authority to force them to wear a mask even though the attendants are following a federal mask mandate.

There’s plenty to love about the job, wrote Jones: “joking with passengers, having conversations with them about the honeymoon they are headed to or the funeral they returned from. Sometimes they pray with passengers or in other ways comfort them when they are in distress. They hold and rock babies to give parents a break. They also build lifelong friendships with other crew members and have jump-seat therapy, as they call it, with flight attendants they’ve just met. And they are proud of their lifesaving skills: They are trained to give CPR, fight fires onboard, help with emergency landings and evacuate planes.”

There’s more: Traveling for free—or almost—in addition to hotel and car rental discounts and on layover, added Jones, they have chums with whom to visit Disney World, Capitol Hill or share a picnic in the Jardin des Tuileries.

But that was then.

Whether due to exhaustion, fears of Covid or rules in destinations such as Tokyo or Seoul, when they land instead of exploring the destination with fellow crew members, many remain locked in their hotel rooms.

Have you observed unruly behavior in planes, or anywhere else, over the mask issue? Has what you thought would be a dream job morphed into a nightmare?

Service of the Best Way to Say ……

Thursday, August 26th, 2021

You don’t have good news to share and you want to say something positive but the bottom line is that there’s nothing upbeat or cheerful about the conversation. How do you best construct your words?

For example:

You accept a job with a dream position in the wings that finally comes through after a few weeks. How do you word your exit?

A longtime advisor at a prestigious company moves to a tiny unknown firm and you have solid reasons not to follow. What do you say to her/him?

The chef comes over to your table and asks “how is dinner?” and it’s barely OK. You smile and respond what?

A tech person at a doctor’s office is nice but subpar. How do you tell the doctor so that the person doesn’t retaliate the next time you go?

Can you add other scenarios in which you want to carefully choose you words? How would you address some of the ones in this post?


Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Service of Collateral Damage: Who Picks Up the Pieces?

Monday, May 11th, 2020

We are all collateral damage to this virus, some more than others.

For starters restaurants, airlines, retail and small businesses of all kinds, museums, theaters, consequent furloughed/fired employees and retired citizens living on savings all suffer. In addition to and as a result the country’s mental health has taken a terrible blow. Heading the list: substance abuse; domestic violence, alcoholism and suicide. The headline from a Well Being Trust & The Robert Graham Center Analysis: “The COVID Pandemic Could Lead to 75,000 Additional Deaths from Alcohol and Drug Misuse and Suicide.” People are understandably desperate.

Heather Long and Andrew Van Dam at The Washington Post reported last Friday that April job loss at 20.5 million with unemployment rate at 14.7 percent is “the worst since the Depression era.”

Policymakers have to make Russian Roulette-like decisions, the most difficult of their careers: Life loss over jobs? Jobs over potential sickness and death? The data on which to make decisions and forecasts of where this unpredictable tornado-like virus will go is mercurial: Every week we learn of new twists and turns as experts struggle to recognize symptoms and cobble together remedies. And too many interpretations appear to be political which doesn’t feel right in a crisis.

Between the squabbling and posturing I’m not sure who is leading the charge which is troubling. The president tossed the ball to the governors. CDC standards to determine when it’s wise to reopen businesses are followed by some but not all governors and nothing is done to enforce them.

Some governors on the east coast are coordinating the acquisition of personal protective equipment so they don’t compete and achieve the best prices but that seems to be it. They are not in sync when it comes to opening beaches, businesses and restaurants which Governor Cuomo has previously said is essential due to their proximity and the fluidity of citizens armed with cars.

  • Connecticut expects its restaurants to welcome patrons–with restrictions–on May 20. Whether town beaches are open depends on each mayor according to ctpost.com. For example Greenwich beaches are open to residents and Norwalk’s on a “case-by-case basis.”
  • New Jersey’s sun lovers will visit its beaches Memorial weekend.
  • NY State parks and beaches are closed at least until May 31 according to a NYS parks website. In order for a region to open under Pause New York, which expires May 15, it must meet CDC criteria: “a 14-day decline in hospitalizations and deaths on a 3-day rolling average. Regions with few COVID cases cannot exceed 15 new total cases or 5 new deaths on a 3-day rolling average. A region must have fewer than two new COVID patients admitted per 100,000 residents per day.” The NY State website spells out the priorities regarding business openings. In Phase I: construction, manufacturing & wholesale supply chain, select retail using curbside pickup only, agriculture, fishing. Only in Phase III do we see restaurants and food service that many other states have long opened. A crucial component: A region must keep an eye on data and be able to pull back and shut down again if the numbers of Covid-19 cases increase.

Do you feel secure that your state is interpreting the criteria for raising the gates to reestablish the economy while protecting workers, citizens–and you?  With the exception of NY Governor Cuomo, who has said time and again “hold me accountable; blame me,” the handling of this pandemic is like watching a child’s game of hot potato where some leaders don’t want to be holding the spud when the music stops. Who has a handle on the true full picture? How will the federal purse control/disperse life and worker-saving funds when regional criteria differ so drastically? Will exacerbated mental health issues be given their proper due by government and insurance companies?  And most important, who will ultimately determine which comes first–the economy or risk of death?

 

Cats sheltering in place in a neighborhood pizza parlor, hungry for company.

 

Blog Service of Firing Employees: Is There a Good Way?

Monday, April 15th, 2019

There’s no perfect way to pull the plug on any relationship–personal or professional. Chip Cutter wrote in The Wall Street Journal that the impetus these days to find the best way to fire employees is to avoid “the potential for a conflict—or even violence.” He referenced the five killed by a crazed ex-employee in an Aurora, Ill. factory two months ago.

I like to think that kindness and empathy may help–figuring out the humane way to behave is best. It also reflects well on a company that, in turn, impacts the remaining employees, unless company culture is to keep employees on tenterhooks. I don’t do well in that environment.

I’ve always heard that Friday is the worst day to fire someone because the person is left in the lurch with a weekend to stew and stress and yet Cutter reported that conventional wisdom has chosen it these days because it often coincided with the end of a pay period. This strategy clearly reflects a focus on the employer, not on the people losing their path to survival.

“Letting a person go on a Wednesday gives them time to contact other employers and look for work during business hours the following days,” Bubba Fatula, a former law-enforcement official who is director of threat preparedness at Gittings Protective Security Inc. told Cutter.

Tuesdays through Thursdays “allow terminated employees to follow up during business hours with questions about benefits after the job loss and give remaining staffers who may be worried about their own roles time to ask questions and get reassurance” said Rachel Bitte, chief people officer at recruiting software company Jobvite Inc.

“Unless someone is fired for egregious conduct, Suzanne Gleason, division director of staffing firm Global Employment Solutions, said she asks employees how she can assist them in finding another job.”

And “In contentious situations, [Beth] Steinberg will give her phone number to employees and encourage them to call or text with questions. If she fears there may be mental health or anger issues, she uses language such as ‘I can imagine this might be difficult for you,’ and refers them to resources still covered by their health benefits, such as an employee assistance program.’ She’s chief people officer at Zenefits.

Several HR execs recommended extending benefits like health insurance.

“Team Fireball Inc., in the Chicago area, offers training on how to keep firings from going awry. It coaches companies to conduct terminations near an exit and in a quieter part of the office to prevent a ‘walk of shame’ by the worker who has been let go, said Debbie Pickus, chief executive. The training also teaches HR staffers in basic self-defense and how to move their body to create a barrier between them and the employee, if needed.”

For those who are fired, executive coach Roberta Matuson suggests the ex employee learn details about why they are fired; take their time before signing anything; negotiate severance pay, health insurance etc.; never fume on social media and focus on the job search.

Is it better to be downsized than fired? Have you heard of a humane way to be fired or is there no such thing? If an employer takes the blame for hiring someone that wasn’t fit for the job would this help the morale of the person let go? Do you feel that a corporate environment based on fear of being fired has the best results? Do you know successful people like Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Steve Jobs who were once famously fired?

Service of Running Late Before and After Mobile Phones

Monday, October 22nd, 2018

It seems increasingly hard to get to places on time.

A friend takes New Jersey Transit to work in Manhattan. Service has been atrocious and promises to get worse. One morning last week it took cars 90 minutes to cross the George Washington Bridge from N.J to Manhattan. Subway service can be iffy–trains zoom past stops unannounced or are delayed.

I got an email from another friend this week—I’ll call him Phil. He wrote: “We are interviewing computer color tech people to fill the job of someone who just left. So far, all candidates have been late, one by 45 minutes. Not one called to warn about their travel circumstances nor did they apologize.” Phil remembered that he’d previously fired someone when the man arrived late on his first day.

Long before mobile phones I was almost late my first day on a job at a startup because I’d been sent an address that didn’t exist. The street number would have landed a building in the middle of Madison Avenue. I can still feel that twinge of “Uh-Oh–something’s very wrong!” I found the right building by entering each one on either side of Madison. Lucky the employer got the street right. [The business lasted one year.]

Phil recalled the one time he was [very] late for an interview. He’d left earlier than usual for his commute to NYC and “wouldn’t you know Grand Central Terminal was closed because of a smoky fire. No cell phones. Trains backed up. The prospective employer understood of course.”

His story took a curious turn. He said: “I didn’t take the job. Something didn’t seem right. Two weeks later the entire group was fired. I would have been out of a job.” Kismet.

I hate being late and admit that having a phone takes the pressure off when transportation or other glitches happen so I can alert clients, colleagues and friends. Do most people use theirs for this purpose? Do you have memorable experiences of being late to an appointment before or after cell phones? Can you imagine sailing in late to an interview without a word about the time as the candidates for a job in Phil’s office did?

Service of While We Were Distracted by Stormy, Omarosa, a $15K Jacket & Michael Cohen…

Thursday, August 23rd, 2018

Cable and social media are obsessed with Stormy, Omarosa, the $15K Paul Manafort jacket, the Cohen admissions and other almost daily forehead-slapping bits that distract from and mask crucial changes by the current administration none of which are topics around the water cooler.

Daniel Nelson wrote in sciencetrends.com that the administration cut out the yearly budget for NASA’s Carbon Monitoring System which measures greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere and “will likely stymie efforts to combat global climate change.” The savings was $10 million/year. [By comparison, the Mexico wall is estimated to cost $70 billion to build and $150 million/year to maintain.]

According to Nelson, “Kelly Sims Gallagher, the director of the International Environment and Resource Policy Center at Tufts University says that the decision was ‘a grave mistake.’”

The program supported research big and small. It:

  • ensured that countries adhered to the Paris climate accord because it measured reductions in emissions
  • provided data for 65 projects to understand how forests keep carbon out of the air
  • prevented deforestation of tropical forest in developing nations
  • tracked dissolving carbon flowing from the mouth of the Mississippi River into the Pacific Ocean
  • helped Providence I. reduce greenhouse gas emissions

Meanwhile Betsy DeVos was busy unraveling consumer protections in another sector—for-profit colleges. [Examples: chains which train automotive mechanics, cosmetologists, cyber security techs and, like the now defunct Trump University, real estate investment specialists.]

According to Erica L. Green, DeVos “formally moved to scrap a regulation that would have forced for-profit colleges to prove that the students they enroll are able to attain decent-paying jobs.” In her New York Times article, Green described the sector as “scandal-scarred” noting that the now rescinded gainful employment safeguard was made during the previous administration.

The rule under Obama “revoked federal funding and access to financial aid for poor-performing schools” where graduates were left drowning in debt with poor job prospects. Green reported that since 2010, when the Obama administration began to tighten the rules, almost half the career programs and schools have closed and the student population shrank by more than 1.6 million. The president of Career Education Colleges and Universities, the industry’s trade group, admitted “The sector today is so much better.”

Who will be left holding the bag to pay defaulted loans under the DeVos change? Taxpayers.

“‘The Trump administration is once again choosing the interests of executives and shareholders of predatory for-profit higher education institutions over protecting students and taxpayers,’ said John King, the Obama-era education secretary charged with enforcing the rule, who called the move ‘outrageous and irresponsible.’”

Attorney generals of 18 states have sued to delay enforcement of the DeVos reversal.

Here are the reasons her department gives for rescinding the gainful employment rule:

  • Research ignored by the Obama administration “undermined the ‘validity of using the debt and earnings comparisons.’”
  • They found that “‘a troubling degree of inconsistency and potential error exists in job placement rates’ that ‘could mislead students in making an enrollment decision.’”
  • It was “burdensome” for schools to disclose their data.
  • “the Obama regulations ‘reinforce an inaccurate and outdated belief that career and vocational programs are less valuable to students and less valued by society, and that these programs should be held to a higher degree of accountability than traditional two- and four-year degree programs that may have less market value.’”

Maybe someone can explain these arguments to me.

Is there a chance that these reversals—and their negative impact–will be part of voter decisions at the November midterm elections? Do you think that they are widely known? Are the extraneous headline-grabbing distractions deliberate to keep our eyes off the many far bigger birdies? They sure are working, don’t you think?

Service of Recommendations That Make it Easy on Recruiters

Thursday, August 24th, 2017

Recently headhunters have sent me electronic forms to fill out on behalf of a job-seeking colleague. One reminded me of what CVS sends after I’ve visited a branch or used the online ordering system. To answer questions I graded the candidate from 1 to 10. I was appalled. The recruiter got numbers from the program all neat and collated in seconds but learned little about my colleague. Sometimes my answer didn’t fit any number without explanation. I grade the effectiveness of this system 2 out of 10.

A second one took me longer to do but I felt gave me a chance to describe the candidate. It also took the reader longer to absorb but the information was more valuable. I imagine that some of the copy, if well written, is used by the headhunter to describe a candidate to prospective employers, saving him/her time in the end.

My colleague said she met one of these recruiters and filled out forms for the company. She spoke to the other on the phone, no forms required.

I posit that some recruiters will learn the most from a phone call interview as inefficient and time consuming as that is for them. The New York Women in Communications scholarship vetting process includes phone and in-person interviews for finalists. The phone interviews require time to prepare for, conduct and write up but the results tell plenty about a candidate.

Francesca Fontana wrote about recommendation letters requested of MBA candidates’ friends this summer by NYU’s Stern School of Business. They are “trying to get a better sense of what its applicants are really like.” Where most such letters “focus on analytic acumen or leadership skills,” they expect a pal or co-workers letters will “comment on the applicant’s social skills or emotional intelligence.”

She reported in “Dear Friend, Tell Us More” that “about 40% of MBA applicants said at least one manager asked them to draft their own recommendation letter.” This statistic came from an Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants 2014 survey. I believe it. Another job-seeking colleague is often asked to write letters about herself by former managers and bosses.

Fontana reported that 24 business schools “collaborated with the Graduate Management Admission Council to create a common recommendation form.” This is easier on recommenders and as they are asked to keep their answers short, means that readers don’t have to pour through pages of copy.

One of the questions was smart: “Describe the most important piece of constructive feedback you have given the applicant.”

Can you learn much from a recommender you’ve not spoken with? Have you been asked to write your own recommendation by a boss or colleague? How secure would you be in evaluating whether you wanted to meet or interview a candidate by phone based largely on responses to a 1 to 10 system? Are there valid shortcuts in the recruiting process?

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