August 21, 2012

Intern Queen tells how to hire an intern this fall

These days most of us could use an extra set of hands around the office -- even better if that set of hands costs you nothing and allows you to mold the next generation of worker. Think intern! 

With school about to start, now is a great time to reach out and find an intern that can add value to your business. Today, my guest blogger is going to tell you just how to hire an intern and make the experience a good one for all. 

Berger_Lauren c. Felicity MurphyLauren Berger is known as "The Intern Queen" and author of ALL WORK NO PAY: Finding An Internship, Building Your Resume, Making Connections, and Gaining Job Experience. Berger specializes in internship, career, and entrepreneurship advice for young people. She personally work with employers and help them find interns and entry-level candidates. You can contact her HERE. Another great resource is the career centers at colleges and universities in their area.

We read often about what students need to know. But what about employers? How do they know how to structure their programs and provide beneficial experiences for their interns? Here are 5 ways employers can improve their internship programs:

1. Structure Your Program. When a student starts an internship at your company they should have a clear agenda. A start date, end date, mid-way evaluation, and exit interview should be on the calendar and both parties must be aware. The intern should fully understand the time requirement and days/nights he or she is required to stay late or work events outside of typical office hours. 


2. What Perks Can You Add? An employer should always be thinking about value. The student is using the experience to determine if this is the right industry and company for them. How can you help them figure that out? Perhaps you can add a speakers series or a weekly lunch with executives. 


3. Understand the intern's goals. In the initial interview, establish an understanding of the students you hire. What do they want to do? Is your company a place where they can really figure out if their "dream job" is their "dream job"? Think about what you can do to help them learn more about themselves and their personal and professional goals. By asking the students about what they want to do (throughout the course of the internship) you will create more valuable work for them. For example, I have an intern this semester who told me during our mid-way evaluation that she was interested in sales. Since we've had that conversation, I've made sure to include her in several sales calls so that she can listen in and take notes. 


4. Evaluate, Evaluate, Evaluate. The mid-way evaluation is a crucial part of the internship. At this point, you can sit down with your team for 30 minutes and make a list of things the interns are excelling at and a list of things they can improve upon. Just having this brainstorm session with your staff will make them more attentive to the internship program as a whole. Once you've created your lists, have a group meeting with your interns. Explain to them the purpose of the evaluation - to give them a better understanding of what they are doing well and what they can improve upon. The idea is for them to acknowledge these problem areas now rather than at their first job post-college.


5. Stay In Touch. I always tell students to stay in touch with their professional contacts - of course. However, we all under estimate the value these students will play in our professional lives. In a few years, these interns are going to have jobs at your company and at companies similar to yours. Some of them will work with you, some will work for you, and you might find yourself working for one of them someday. It's just as important for you to keep the relationship as it is for them to stay in touch. I've had several interns graduate, land jobs, and call me with business proposals or pitch me ideas. If these students are interning with you - its a sign they have potential - the potential to be very successful. Make sure you stay in touch. 


May 14, 2012

Yahoo CEO's resume scandal -- When is lying okay?

Have you ever exaggerated just a little bit to put yourself in the best light possible?

Most of us do, particularly when it comes to our bios or resumes. We take what we've done and word it just so to make ourselves look as accomplished as possible. It's what we're told to do.

But resumes are tricky. Experts tell us it's okay to airbrush our photos, glamorize our accomplishments. Yet, we aren't supposed to cross the line into over-embellishment or take it a step further and add facts that aren't true.

That's where Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson went wrong. He just was fired as CEO after it was found he padded his resume with an embellished college degree, ending his term at the company after
just four months.

As college grads begin putting together their resumes, I think there's a lesson here. Don't put yourself in a position where you have to fear being caught. Airbrushing is ok. Lying is not.

Thompson's resume scandal ignited just over a week ago, when activist shareholder group Third Point alleged that Thompson lied about details of his college degree. Thompson's published Yahoo bios -- including the one in the company's latest annual report, a legal document that CEOs must personally swear are truthful -- have claimed that he holds a bachelor's degree in both accounting and computer science from Stonehill College.

His degree is actually in accounting only. Yahoo called the mistake an "inadvertent error."

Unfortunately, Thompson is just the latest executive to lose his job in a resume scandal. The Associated Press put together a long list: A Look at Leaders Undone by Resume Inaccuracies

The lesson here is don't do it. If you think your resume needs some flair, do something about it -- the right way. Take a class. Do volunteer work. Gain the skills or experience you're missing. Yes, gaining those skills or experience could cut into your work life balance, but so can losing your job. If Thompson felt he needed to add a computer science degree to his resume, he should have taken classes. It's never too late to gain more education. By the way, education is the area of a resume where people lie the most, experts say.

Studies show half of all resumes include a little padding and a third contain outright lies. (Fox Business: Yahoo scandal fuels doubts about vetting) Experts have compiled the Top 5 Resume Lies

Chris3Chris Lawson, CEO of the Eli Daniel Group in Dallas, hires people for a living. I asked him for tips on airbrushing a resume without lying :

Why do you think people lie on their resumes? People lie on their resume to cover up or enhance the information in hopes of “getting that interview”. Smaller organizations can fall prey to hiring some of these people while larger organizations with a well-structured HR Department typically filter out some of basic lies such as: altered employment dates to cover gaps, recent salary paid or
education verification.

Are the lies increasing as the unemployment rates rise? When economic times are tougher, the desperation creates a sense of “why not, I am not getting any interviews anyway”. The problem will usually backfire, especially if their skills are exposed quickly once hired.

What can people do to boost their resumes without lying? People can boost their resume by
ensuring they list every skill and job function they performed at each job. Keywords are huge, especially since many searches for online information are performed by typing a few critical keywords to pull up a list of prospects. In addition, listing accomplishments that are factual
demonstrates a higher performing candidate. People that narrow their job target objective and tailor their resume factually based on the job description will always get a good look as well.

How much effort do employers put into verifying information? This varies greatly. The degreed positions will usually always get atleast two reference checks to ensure dates are accurate. Non-degreed candidates do not get as much scrutiny but almost all companies perform a criminal background check. Typically the public organizations will ensure most everything is checked, but
surprisingly, education is not always verified, especially if they have work history that would lead to an assumption it’s accurate. Yahoo CEO is now the latest in a long line of high profile people fudging on education.


So readers, do you think it would have made a difference to Yahoo if Scott Thompson didn't have a degree in computer science? Did he really need to put that on his resume? Do you think there are lots of CEOs out there who have lied about their educational background? Do you think seeing what happened to Scott Thompson will make anyone stop and think twice, or is lying just embedded in the way we do business today?


March 20, 2012

Giving your employer your Facebook password?


How bad do you want to land a job or keep the one you have? Bad enough to give an employer your Facebook password?

When Justin Bassett interviewed for a new job, he expected the usual questions about experience and references. So he was astonished when the interviewer asked for something else: his Facebook username and password.

Yes, folks this is a new trend. Companies and government agencies are asking for employees' passwords so they can go on their social networks and have a look around.

I'm horrified. Bassett is too. But, he says, some job seekers can't afford to be horrified.

"I think asking for account login credentials is regressive," he said. "If you need to put food on the table for your three kids, you can't afford to stand up for your belief."

To me, this is just the latest step toward erosion of privacy. Orin Kerr, a George Washington University law professor and former federal prosecutor, called it "an egregious privacy violation."  What should our expectation of privacy be anymore?

Since the rise of social networking, it has become common for managers to review publicly available Facebook profiles, Twitter accounts and other sites to learn more about job candidates. This should be in the back of our minds when we post ANYTHING in public view (like maybe St. Patrick's Day partying photos?)

But many users, especially on Facebook, have their profiles set to private, making them available only to selected people or certain networks. Companies know this and that's why they want your passwords.

At least two states are proposing legislation that would ban public agencies from asking for employee passwords, calling it a violation of privacy rights. Can you believe legislation would be necessary?

But at the same time, employers need to know the risk to them.

Labor attorney Alicia Voltmer says they should be asking:  "Even if I have access, do I really want to look?" Voltmer, with Ogletree Deakins, says having the password to a social network site and looking at a candidate's personal page could open an employer to discrimination claims. "If an employer sees something about someone's ethnicity or religion and then doesn't hire them, could that be called discrimination?"

Voltmer says while hiring discrimination can be difficult to prove, it could be expensive and time consuming to defend.

Fox News reports that even companies that don't ask for passwords have taken other steps -- such as asking applicants to friend human resource managers or to log in to a company computer during an interview. Once employed, some workers have been required to sign non-disparagement agreements that ban them from talking negatively about an employer on social media.

To me, our Facebook pages are public but our passwords are personal. I think employers are going to far and employees should fight back with a big, fat, "NO WAY YOU CAN'T HAVE MY PASSWORD."

Readers, is there any circumstance in which you would you give your password to an employer?  Is asking for it crossing the line or just good business?


February 22, 2012

Should the U.S. ban jobless discrimination?

Have you ever been at a networking event where people describe themselves as being between jobs? It's mortifying to be one of those people -- especially if you're eagerly hunting for work. And, what if you meet someone who actually has a job opening....would you want to be discouraged from applying just because you're unemployed?

I think discrimination against the jobless stinks.

This week in my Miami Herald column I took on the topic of jobless discrimination. I really feel like there is a need to stop companies from prohibiting someone from APPLYING for a job because they're out of work. I think a hiring employer should at least let them apply and then determine if they are qualified.

Have you seen ads that say "only employed people apply"? Do you think employers are justified in feeling like anyone out of work for a year isn't as good a hire as someone who's employed? Let's hear your thoughts on jobless discrimination....

The Miami Herald

Movement to ban jobless discrimination gaining steam

By Cindy Krischer Goodman

   Truth Fisher represents employers as a labor and employment lawyer  with Gordon Rees in Miami.
C.W. Griffin / Miami Herald Staff
Truth Fisher represents employers as a labor and employment lawyer with Gordon Rees in Miami.
Recently, a hiring director complained to me that he was aghast at the way a job candidate came dressed for an interview for a financial position. He wore jeans and a mostly unbuttoned, button-down shirt. Even worse, the candidate questioned whether the job hours would force him to sit in traffic trying to arrive on time. “It was clear that even though he had been out of work for a year, he really didn’t want the job,” the director said.

But what if the candidate turned around and sued the company for refusing to hire him because he’s a long-term jobless person?

For now, companies that turn away someone out of work for more than a year are not breaking the law. That could soon change. A movement is under way to ban jobless discrimination. It’s a thorny issue fueled by anger over recent job ads stating candidates “must be currently employed.” Of course, while some companies state that plainly in their job ads, others have been more discreet, screening out jobless workers during the initial application process.

With the U.S. unemployment rate improving, but still at 8.3 percent, the whole issue of long-term joblessness has job seekers, employers and government officials at odds. Does an employer have the right to dismiss a candidate who’s unemployed?

U.S. legislators and some state lawmakers have been so outraged over hiring practices that they have proposed legislation to prohibit or fine employers that refuse to consider out-of-work applicants for openings. In April, it became illegal in the state of New Jersey to use language in ads that discriminated against unemployed people, though lawmakers did not explicitly ban the practice of refusing to hire those who are jobless. In Florida, Senate Minority Leader Nan Rich has introduced a bill that would ban businesses from discriminating against the unemployed.

On a federal level, an outraged President Barack Obama wants to make discrimination against the long-term unemployed illegal. As part of his jobs bill, he tried to make it “an unlawful employment practice” if a business with 15 or more employees refused to hire a person because of the individual’s status as unemployed. While his jobs bill is dead, legislatively, Obama has said he will try to push it piece by piece, including this measure to get people back to work.

“It’s a big departure from what the constitution says about what rights are to be protected,” says Truth Fisher, a labor and employment attorney with Gordon Rees, which represents employers. “I think it would be considered pushing the envelope.”

As of January, 5.5 million workers or 42 percent of the jobless had been unemployed for six months or longer. For the first time, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has set out to track just how long people are out of work beyond two years. Meanwhile, a new BLS study shows the length of time it took for the jobless to be successful in their search increased sharply during the recent recession and in its aftermath — with a far greater share of successful job seekers spending more than a year in their job search. Moreover, the government agency documented what most job candidates know too well — once unemployed, the likelihood of a successful job search decreased as the length of time spent searching for work increased.

Read more....

January 03, 2012

How to land a job or promotion AND find work life balance in 2012


This is YOUR year! You heard it here. This is the year you are going to land a job, get ahead at work AND manage to reclaim some control over your work life balance.

So where to start?

 Let's start with you job seekers. job search organizer StartWire is offering New Year’s tips for job seekers:

  1. Apply earlyas nearly 50% of company hires applied within the first week and approximately 75% of all hired candidates applied within three weeks of the job posting, according to StartWire research.
  2. Look beyond the Help Wanted ads and job boards to identify companies landing funding, new clients or making other positive news. Positive corporate announcements, such as receiving funding or landing new clients, often mean new jobs. Get ahead of the game and contact recruiters before jobs are posted.
  3. Understand a company’s hiring approach (referrals, events, etc.) Depending on the recruiting department’s philosophy, the company may hire exclusively through employee referrals or via corporate events. tailor your efforts to be noticed so that your resume will have a greater chance of making it to the top of the pile
  4. Find local connections to industry jobs through local professional organizations. Almost every industry has a professional association with local chapters. Send an introductory email to the local chapter leaders and attend some of the relevant events. It can open doors to future job positions. 
  5. Use Social Media to yield inside networking opportunities. Actively following and engaging with potential employers’ social media networks may help increase your chances for an interview or a second look by hiring managers. This shows you are interested in the company and are actively following its efforts. Plus, social media circles often yield inside networking opportunities. Research shows that 1 in 10 candidates whose resumes come through a referral are hired, compared to 1 in 100 general applicants.


Now, for those who have a job, let's look at how to get ahead in 2012

"If you have a job, your workplace resolutions should be focused on keeping it, as well as putting yourself in a position for a possible salary increase or promotion,” advised John Challenger,chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

Here are some suggestions from John Izzo, a corporate consultant and author of STEPPING UP: How Taking Responsibility Changes Everything.

-- Find one thing: Think of something at work that you want to do something about. Instead of trying to hatch a master plan, identify one thing you can do starting immediately to move in the direction of the change you seek.

-- Punch above your weight or formal position: Come up with ideas for new products and innovations even if it's not in your job description. Win customers for life even if it's not your department, and generally go bigger than whatever your role says you MUST do.

-- Don't let your lack of position get in the way of your influence: How could you lead right now even though you have no position? What steps can you take to make change?

Now, let's move on to work life balance. You can achieve it this year!

Here is some advice from The Grindstone. I've tweaked it a bit to add my spin.

--Workout before work: You already wake up early for work and though sleep is precious tacking on that extra hour will make you feel so much better for the whole day. Designer Tory Burchdoes her workout at 6 a.m. before her kids get up. University of Bristol researchers found that employees who enjoyed a workout before going to work – or exercised during lunch breaks – were better equipped to handle whatever the day threw at them. It also found that people’s general mood improved on days of exercise but they became less calm on non-exercise days.If you are able to you can exercise during your work commute if you can bike or walk.

-- Don't go crazy over working on vacation.  If you are going to worry about checking your email all day while on vacation then it is not going to be a very fun vacation. So check it and then move on.

--Do more charity work, but do it your way. It is wonderful to help others and it does make you feel good but don't feel bad if instead of going down to a soup kitchen you instead give a generous donation to a shelter or non-profit that helps promote entrepreneurship in Africa. Or what about talking to a group that helps young girls develop their career paths like The Canadian Women's Foundation Girls' Fund? It would be great to go to Africa with Angelina Jolie, but there are other things to do that fit into your work life schedule.

-- Do fret over being a better housekeeper. We'd all love to be Martha Stewart at home but we don't have that kind of time. So don't kill yourself if you can't throw a dinner party, clean your whole house, make the kids' costumes and still be great at your job all the time. Just one of those is enough.

-- Consider outsourcing. The service TaskRabbit, which is also an iPhone app, allows you to easily hire people for several types of tasks including shopping and cleaning. Concierge services as well as sites like Get Friday which provides virtual assistance services to clients all over the world. Get Friday is available 24 hours a day and now caters to busy individuals and small businesses in 30 odd countries across different time zones. You can even hire a personal or virtual assistant on a temporary basis if you need it from

--Ask for what you want. Don't sit around moping about how much time you spend at work and away from your family. Make a change. Figure out exactly what you want, how to make it happen, and ask for it. That may mean shifting your work hours, skipping lunch and leaving earlier or setting an alarm that signals you to leave the office at 6 p.m.




I wish you all success in 2012!



December 07, 2011

Career reinvention, career transition can be done again and again


It can be scary to face the end of 2011 thinking about what direction to go in with our career. We want a job. We want work life balance. But we're a little unsure or afraid about taking a leap in a new direction.

What you may not realize is that today, more workers are discovering that taking a new direction might just be the first step in a series of career changes. Today, a few years into this economic downturn, career reinvention isn’t just about finding a new path. It’s about trying a path, and then trying another.

One example is Mario Dubovoy. He has been through a series of reinventions, bringing him to his latest career — Internet entrepreneur. These days, he works the phones and surfs the Web on the hunt for companies that want to post their discounts and promotions on his website and mobile app, His new occupation represents his third career shift in the last five years. “I have had to assess the situation and adapt to circumstances.”

His advice for you: Try something, and learn from it: . “From everything you do, you learn something. I try not to make the same mistakes.”

Career expert Katharine Brooks says:  “If you can plan out the next five to 10 years, that’s great. But bright people wander in the job process and that’s a good strategy sometimes.”

Some people make initial career transitions out of necessity rather than choice. But that doesn’t mean you are stuck.

When South Florida real estate appraiser George Campbell, 43, saw the bottom drop out of the market, he realized he needed a new career with stability. Campbell opted for a low-pressure occupation — bridge tender. It paid a salary and had benefits. But after two years opening and closing a bridge in Lake Worth, Campbell was bored. “I realized I was too young to do this forever,” he said.

When the receptionist left at his wife’s hair salon, Campbell began contemplating taking the job and expanding the responsibilities. “I looked at what I could make the job into,” he said. Since then, Campbell has become the salon manager at The Spot Salon for Hair in Palm Beach Gardens. He has launched an email marketing campaign for the salon, created a Facebook page, taken over the payroll and accounting tasks and he books appointments. “I’m finding it very enjoyable,” he said.

_RebootYourCareer-coverReinvention expert, Peter Fogel said people often are eager to jump into a profession that looks exciting or different and fail to look at where it’s headed. “You have to look at where the industry is going to be in next five years,” Fogel, a comedian who reinvented himself as a copy writer, speaker and author of Reboot Your Career. “Get beyond the sizzle and learn what is at stake.” He says information is just a mouse click away. He also advises talking to people in the career you want to pursue.

Also, consider easing into a new career and figure out how to parlay it into something bigger. That’s what Jean Newell did.

Newell, 64, had sold homes in Broward County for 35 years. A few years ago, while showing homes, she found herself constantly looking for her mobile device, calling her cellphone to track it down. Finding other agents had the same problem, she created a business tool belt for professionals, the beginning of her new career as an inventor.

JEAN Newell with PUP bagsNewell successfully self–marketed her product to gift catalogs, retail chains and even to QVC. As sales picked up, the housing market collapsed and after 35 years as a real estate agent, Newell made the scary transition to become a full-time entrepreneur, founder of Newell Enterprises. She used that to springboard into another career — reinvention consultant. She authored Turn Your Pink Slip into a Red Hot Business and recently was hired by NASA to advise its aerospace engineers in Florida on a career transition into entrepreneurship.

Her advice: “Don’t spend a lot of money to make a career transition. Get creative; solve a problem.

Click here to read my Miami Herald article on making career transitions.

Here are a few more tips for reinventing yourself:

  • Ask yourself: What gives you energy? How might you apply that to a new career?
  • Have you ever been so lost in an activity you lost track of time? What were you doing? Think about ways that you could apply those skills/interests in other settings.
  • Describe your transferable skills to fit the language of other fields. For example, a professor might reframe lecturing as public speaking.
  • Ask others what they feel are your strong points and in what careers they feel you would do well.
  • Make the move from image to action. It’s easy to get caught in thinking about what you might do. Are you networking and reaching out to people in your new field of interest?
  • Keep a learner’s mindset: Constantly seek new information and think about what you’ve learned. This mindset will serve you well in the transition. Strive to be interested in and curious about what you might find. The antithesis of this is the judging mindset, the one that says ‘this won’t work.’
  • Learn to develop an appreciative eye for the opportunities you find.
  • Look for opportunities that take little or no funding to get started.


July 28, 2011

Why people are relocating for new jobs

A friend of mine has been out of work for more than a year. She had been the family breadwinner. A few months ago, she told me she was determined to find a job in South Florida, where her extended family lives and where she has roots. Last week, she started browsing the job postings in other states.

People are getting pretty desperate for jobs. 

Moving The percentage of unemployed managers and executives relocating for new positions jumped to its highest level in nearly two years, according to a Challenger Gray report out today.

John A. Challenger, CEO of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, thinks people who didn't want to take a hit on sale of their home finally are willing to do what it takes to get a job. By now, we all know that percentage of job seekers relocating had plunged in the wake of the housing market collapse.I guess people are starting to do the math and realizing that being out of work for a long period of time might be more costly than taking a hit on their home sale.

Challenger recommends casting a wider net if you've been out of work for a while and want to get back on the payroll. "Job seekers who are willing to expand their searches to other states and cities are significantly improving the chances of success by opening themselves up to a much wider number of opportunities," he says. 

If you are willing to relocate, you might want to look at Texas, California, Michigan and Minnesota. Those states are leading the way in job creation. But regardless of where you seek a job, be realistic about who will pick up the tab for relocation. 

“There have been a few examples of employers paying for the most talented candidates’ relocation costs," Challenger says. "However, those examples are few and far between, as most companies continue to keep a tight rein on costs."

There is so much to think about when deciding to relocate for work -- a least a dozen factors in the work life equation - including financial decisions.

Do you think people are getting frustrated enough to put their desperation for income before all other factors? 


February 23, 2011

Job Search Makeover: Find out where job seekers go wrong

Last week, I met Kimberly Bishop at Starbucks in Fort Lauderdale. Kim is one of the country's top executive recruiters and is based in New York. Her visit to Florida came at the ideal time. I had just completed a column on Buster Castiglia and his wife Esther. Their marriage has been put to the test over the last year as Buster, 67, searches for a new job after 37 years as a banking executive.

Kim and I were talking about her new book and about all the mistakes candidates make in their search. For example, not sending a thank you email the same day is a big no-no, she says. As we talked, I found myself asking her questions about Buster and how someone older might want to approach their job search. I asked Kim if she would work with Buster and allow me to write about it. 

How do you do impress potential employers regardless of your age? Read On.... 



Posted on Wed, Feb. 23, 2011

Job-search makeover for Miami-Dade man

By Cindy Krischer Goodman


A top recruitment expert gives advice on impressing potential employers

Most of us know that job seekers should approach their hunt like they would a job: Set specific hours and allow themselves time off to stay balanced. Buster Castiglia does that. But a year into the search, he needs some expert guidance and I asked Bishop to help.

Because Bishop works from New York and Buster lives in Coral Gables, Castiglia e-mailed his résumé and the two spoke by phone.

Bishop opened the conversation with Castiglia by asking about his ideal job. Castiglia had an answer but it wasn’t succinct. Bishop believes every job seeker should have a crisp answer to this question. “It should flow off your tongue,” she says.

Bishop suggested Castiglia always address salary expectations on an interview. This is a huge area of trepidation for unemployed executives. “I made a six-figure salary for years, but I’m downsizing, selling my home and willing to be flexible,” Castiglia says. Bishop advises Castiglia to reveal his most recent compensation, and follow it with this: “Based on the economy, here would be the range of what I’m looking for now.”

Not addressing compensation or coming across as too flexible is a mistake, she says. “People need a range to figure out if you are in the ballpark.”

Also, address the issue of being overqualified for a position. “Indicate that you are really interested in this position and explain why you want the job and why you would be a great fit.” Bring it up even if they don’t, she says. “Being proactive shows confidence and enthusiasm.”

Bishop also suggests addressing it in a cover letter: “As you see from the résumé, my experience is vast and I could be viewed as overqualified, but I want to tell you why I am interested.”  Read more:

By the way, I highly recommend Kim's Book, Get Down to Business and You'll Get the Job! Here are some more of her job-search tips:Kimberlyb :

  • Be focused and clear about what you are looking for, your goal. Recognize when you may have to take a low-level job and move up to your goal.
  • Establish a job hunting routine and stop at the hour you’ve planned.
  • Create a resume that contains all the information that is necessary to present a complete picture of what you have to offer. Don’t leave out jobs just to condense.
  • Prepare a job search pitch that conveys what skills you possess.
  • Register on LinkedIn. Use a tutorial if necessary.
  • Target recruiters in your area of expertise
  • Do your research before the interview and don’t be vague about your goals.
  • Be straightforward in explaining resume gaps.
  • Make sure you aren’t doing more of the same thing instead of figuring out what you might do better



November 12, 2010

Employers are screening job candidates credit reports

Imagine being unemployed, falling behind on your bills, and getting turned down for a job because your credit now stinks. It seems so unfair. Shouldn't our personal financial situation be private?

Whether we like it or not, about 60 percent of employers are using candidates credit reports in the job screening process. There are real examples of employers who are turning away a job candidate in favor of another, less qualified one, with a cleaner credit report.

Employers use credit reports to screen workers because they say they believe it allows them to predict future behavior based on their financial history. They believe checking credit reports ensures applicants are leading honest lives.

  “It’s easy to put on a façade, but a credit report doesn’t lie. It’s a credible source to use to get to know an individual,”  Joey Price, a human resources specialist with TW & Co., a security firm told Workforce Management.  

But now there's a Catch-22. Some candidates theses days are out of work for months and may find it hard to avoid racking up debt and fall behind in paying bills. And there are other things that factor in, too. A low credit score also may not indicate anything about job performance if debt problems resulted from a major event such as a divorce or expensive medical procedure.

 Four states have ban the practice of allowing employers to check credit reports —Hawaii, Oregon, Washington and Illinois (effective Jan. 1, 2011)—and 15 other states have proposed similar legislation.

Would you be okay with a future employer scrutinizing your credit report? Do you think it's an acceptable part of backgrounding a potential hire? Or do you feel its personal and not relevant to your ability to perform well in a specific job?

October 20, 2010

Job seekeers can avoid work life disaster

Recently, I asked a friend how her new job was going. I expected to hear how happy she was at her new job. Instead, she told me it was a disaster. I decided there must be others out there in the same situation. With people out of the job market for months, it's easy to jump at the first decent offer that comes your way. I figured I should give job seekers some advice on the front end for finding a job that fits their life needs. Below are some suggestions from my Miami Herald column. If you've experienced disasters, please share your story or offer advice. I am sure it would be helpful to others.

'Dream' job offer? Here's how to make sure it's not a nightmare in disguise

Before you take a `dream job' that could turn into a nightmare, do your homework. Company cultures vary widely.
   Mary Young heads the career center at University of Miami, in Coral Gables. She is advising Stephanie Aoun, who already has a job when she graduates.
Mary Young heads the career center at University of Miami, in Coral Gables. She is advising Stephanie Aoun, who already has a job when she graduates.

By Cindy Krischer Goodman

After nine months of unemployment, Susan Sands took a job as an administrative assistant. Two weeks later, she wished she hadn't.

A single mom, Smith discovered her boss was a workaholic, that taking vacation was taboo and that the work day ended well after 7 p.m. She was headed for work/life disaster.

The job market is showing signs of life, but with U.S. unemployment at nearly 10 percent, and Florida at 11.7 percent, most workers feel fortunate just to land a position. In fact, they feel so fortunate, that they often ignore warning signs that the job doesn't fit with their life needs.

``What's happening is that people are enamored by a brand or a certain kind of profession and they take the offer without doing due diligence,'' says Mary Young, director of Ziff Graduate Career Services Center at University of Miami School of Business. ``It's potentially disastrous for everyone.''

One worker I spoke to is a caregiver for his elderly father. He took a job that involves much more travel than was in the job description. Now, while miles away, this worker is getting phone calls from hospitals, doctors, strangers -- and his father, whose memory and health is slipping. He's considering leaving his job. ``I needed to get back to work,'' he told me. ``It's been a disaster.''

For jobs filled in the last year, turnover is hard to track. James Pedderson, spokesperson for global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, believes most people who landed positions are hanging on to them, building their network of contacts, keeping their résumés updated and waiting for the economy to strengthen.

Before signing up for your dream job that might become a nightmare, you need to dig deeper into the company culture. In most companies, there is a wide range of benefits, that when packaged together, can really make a difference in a worker's life. Often that information is available on a company website.

``It's not a guarantee of a family-friendly workplace, but it's a start,'' says Judith Casey, Director of the Sloan Work and Family Research Network at Boston College Graduate School of Social Work. Almost as important, she says, is learning if the benefits and policies can actually be used for the position you are considering without suffering a penalty. ``Some organizations for example, may allow flexibility for their supervisors but not for their line workers,'' Casey explains.

When work/life problems crop up, they typically involve a person's supervisor or the business owner. Benefits may be available, but if your supervisor isn't on board you might as well work for an employer who doesn't offer them at all. Experts suggest you probe your future boss during the interview. Ask questions such as ``How long have you worked here? If I could talk to people who work for you, what would they say?''

Finding out why a position is open is important, too. You might ask: ``Was the last person who had this role promoted? Also, ask about work hours. You may want to check out the parking lot in late evening and see how many workers stick around after standard hours.

The best sources of information on culture are insiders. At the office, people talk. When they leave a company, they talk. Consider a Google search to see what surfaces. Ask if your social network might know someone who has worked at this organization and more specifically in your future department. ``In huge companies, one department might be great and another a sweat shop,'' says Catherine Jewell, career coach and author of New Resume New Career.

For someone looking for a family-friendly workplace, check out the various ``best places to work'' lists. For more work/life benefits, try pinpointing companies where women fill top positions and females are a larger proportion of the workforce.

A Families and Work Institute study revealed that 82 percent of companies with women in half or more of their top executive positions are more likely to provide traditional flextime and daycare than those with no women in top management. And, workforces with a larger proportion of women are more likely to provide family-oriented benefits. A company's website can be a treasure trove of information on what positions are held by women.

Employment attorney Frances Green suggests if an employer touts himself as family-friendly, ask for examples. ``If the employer can point to such things as flex-time work for employees or job-sharing arrangements, such policies would suggest that the employer values a good work/life balance.''

Whether you are a 20-something who wants time for a hobby at night or a 60-something who wants a reduced schedule, job interviews are about whether the position fits your needs, too.

Marcia McPherson, CEO of Employment Resources, a staffing company in Tamarac, says candidates mistakenly allow a job interview to be a one-way conversation. ``Go in prepared with questions. You are trying to see if you are a match. If flexibility is important, go in prepared with that question.''

Stephen Wing, president of Corporate Voices for Working Families says companies now realize that flexibility is the number one benefit most workers want, which makes getting past lip service tricky. ``You really want to ask open-ended questions about their policy.''

How you are treated during the interview also will give you insight into culture, Jewell says. ``Were you offered water or coffee? Do they have respect for your time? If you felt disrespected, don't take the job.''