Saturday, December 29, 2012

Elimination of Redundancies

Are you a redundancy about to be eliminated?

If you work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange Euronext (NYSE) you may be feeling a tad redundant after hearing that Atlanta based IntercontintentalExchange (ICE) is in the process of buying out your employer for $8.2 billion.

You will have noted that Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Sprecher expects a post-acquisition first year earnings gain of 15% and $450m in savings during year two as redundancies are eliminated and synergies are achieved (read this - your job will be cut). Nonetheless if the fact that a 12 year old company is acquiring the 220 year old NYSE doesn't wake you up, the notion that Mr. Sprecher plans to wring out nearly half a billion in year two should grab your attention.

But wait, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer says he's pleased that ICE will keep the NYSE floor open in order to maintain the name and the brand ... for now, until the regulatory agencies clear the deal and the dust settles. Given the speed at which ICE has risen to prominence and the obvious aggressive and savvy nature inherent in Mr. Sprecher, the NYSE is headed for tourist attraction status alongside the Statue of Liberty and Times Square. This is all about money and you don't count. But anyway, why not, we're talking about the stock exchange, the Mecca of capitalism, so you should have seen this coming. Right?

Still your position may be dead meat and who needs that. Even though you have seen the steady move away from floor trading it's a hard pill to swallow especially if you are no longer considered of "geekish" age. The digital revolution is once again on display as trading heads to 24 hours and further globalization.

As USA columnist John Waggoner wrote on December 21, "the merger is driven by automation, a force that has thinned the ranks of companies in media, manufacturing and countless other industries in the past decade." He went on to reference the 1987 stock market plunge caused by computer-based trading, noting that "now computers are the dominant force on the NYSE" as we know. No doubt Mr. Waggoner wonders how things will turn out considering ICE's prime position in the mega billion-dollar industry of clearing credit default swaps (read this - derivatives). Recall derivatives? The Great Recession? The housing bubble collapse. Surely it's different this time ...

But back to you and what this all means. In short, you are about to be reminded that you are a Free Agent once again thinking of finding a new job. You are likely a niche specialist and this may help. Hopefully you will find something that pays just as good but I wouldn't bank on it. As you know (and you of all workers out there should) the Marketplace doesn't care what happens to you or anyone else.

In any case, I would like to hear from anyone facing this situation. How do you see it and what are you doing to deal with consolidation and (even more) specialization going forward. As the expression goes there's trouble right here in River City folks and for many on Wall Street, River City just showed up on your doorstep.

Travel well.
John Jeffrey Lundell

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Job Search Objective and Alignment

The importance of having a Job Search Objective is hard to overstate. It is quite simply what we're out to get. Having an objective helps to organize and prioritize - to see the trees given all the forest. Without it, determining criteria and reaching conclusion is difficult. Furthermore, plotting a route is next to impossible resulting in a near guarantee of getting lost among the trees.

Yet just having an objective is only half to it. You must use it. This means working your search plan as if it were both the destination and the compass that assists in getting you there. Know that clouds will roll in and the terrain will become unexpectedly rough and difficult. You will be tempted to drift off course or jump for low hanging fruit. Don't. Stay on track and give your objective a chance to guide your route and actions along the way.

However, there's something else to consider, the connection between your objective and you. More precisely, the alignment of your all-in marketing (all that you are and do as a job seeker) and the objective you are aiming to achieve. Simply put, to maximize the odds of finding success the integration these two should be seamless and complete.

You have to be or credibly seem to be on a path to becoming what it is you are out to accomplish. The sum total of your past (experience, training, and education) + present (real time contact whether face-to-face, phone, email, or text) must match with your objective. If not, there's misalignment which sends up red flags. Recall the hiring formula (your past + your present interactions) = a leap into the future by the prospective employer. There will be no leaping if there's misalignment.

Those in alignment will be the first considered. There will be few if any red flags associated with them. They will not seem out of sync or in any way "off". They will be liked and seen as a good potential fit for the job.

In order to effectively align marketing with objective, first consider what it will take to do so. This means going beyond your desire to land a particular job. Take it further. How do you see the fit? How do you think the other person sees it? Remember, no one has the ability to look inside your head or heart to determine what you feel or want. They can only see what you do.

Your marketing do is the way you roll. Make certain, in every way possible, that  your outwardly pointed do is in alignment with your objective.

Travel well.
John Jeffrey Lundell

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Michigan Does It - Number 24

It's the law, Michigan becomes the 24th right-to-work (RTW) state. Would the Friedman's have approved? I assume so but they were intelligent free thinking folks so who's to say just how they would view it.

What comes next?

More of the same I think. The combination of desired economic growth, conservative ideology, and big money in politics will keep the press on. In the short run the result for most workers will be lower wages and less benefits. Seriously, how could it mean anything else.

Certainly there's a whole lot to this. The Michigan story adds to the discussion and keeps the subject of labor relations and workforce issues front-and-center in the media (well sort of - its hard to compete with all that passes for news these days). Regardless, there's a process of change at work here. The old union models aren't dead but they're way out of tune. Proof of this is found in the relatively low percentage of workers represented.

The concepts of collective bargaining and unionism need air-time. Most Americans don't pay any attention, after all it's an old and dusty subject compared to reality TV. But the old models will evolve. Some new form of collectivization will happen.

The pendulum is swinging to the RTW side of the equation. This will continue and as it does, the swing itself will create a change in conditions causing it to stop and start the inevitable move back toward the middle. How far does the swing have to go before the reverse? What catalysts will induce the change? When will the new forms of collectivization begin to show? What will they look like?

In the meantime as the Friedman's would point out, American workers have more and more opportunities to choose. For starters, the choice of whether to participate or not. In a closed-shop situation there's not a great deal of individualized thinking required. RTW is different. Workers need to consider and decide - support the union or go it alone?

Unfortunately the pendulum has a ways to go. The Great Recession is far from over. Job growth numbers are suspect. They are easy for politicians and bureaucrats to chuck around but paper thin and one dimensional (as a practical matter). Perhaps the catalyst will be inflation. As interest rates rise so will prices and the real situation facing the middle class will roar to the fore.

The era of the free agent American worker is upon us. If you are in the 1 or 2 % ... well you aren't reading this blog anyway, so let's move on. If you are in the top 20 % you are cushioned. Free agency is either a way of life or a novelty but not a matter of stark reality.

For everybody else - know that you are an independent free agent selling your services to someone buying in the marketplace. This is especially acute for younger workers where the average employment tenure is well under 4 years and decreasing.

The first step in managing this situation is to recognize that it exists. To wake up. Once accomplished you can get down to your business.

Travel well.
John Jeffrey Lundell

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Technorati and Success Finding A Job

In order to increase the visibility of Success Finding A Job, I have joined Technorati.

Part of the process of establishing an account and registering is to publish a blog claim code.

My code is        


I look forward to a growing presence on the web and I thank Technorati for their assistance in bringing this about.

Travel well.
John Jeffrey Lundell

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Right-to-Work and The Free Agent Worker

Twenty three right-to-work states
This week Michigan legislators voted to make their state the 24th right-to-work state (RTW) in the US. The matter now heads to the governor possibly as early as next week.

The number of RTW states is approaching the 50 % mark - this is significant and another reminder that the winds of free agency for most American workers continue to gain strength.

There's an economic paradigm shift underway in the US. Basic assumptions about standard of living, fair wages, cost of living, and the condition of the middle class are under siege. These issues have already been settled in the south and interior west where there's a history of anti-union, conservative, libertarian sentiment. The fight going forward will take place in the Northeast, Midwest and Far West. Michigan and Indiana (the 23rd state to become RTW) lie in Rust Belt country. Their membership in the ranks of RTW states is a very big deal.

Yet state by state legislative wrangling over RTW is a slow read. Clearly average Americans would rather watch reality TV than consider anything remotely connected to the Taft-Hartley Act. And who can blame us, talk about boring and detail infested. Nope, it's Duck Dynasty, Real Housewives of Wherever, Breaking Amish, and Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. Compelling stuff to the last snarl and tear.

Furthermore it's the big stories that suck up the oxygen, like the dockworkers strike in LA and Long Beach. In spite of (perhaps because of) the firm grip the strikers had on an economic jugular, it didn't last long. The strike sent up all sorts of flags and messages, not the least being that clerical workers make over $40/hr with benefits and retirement that rival the US Senate.

Chinese Container Port
I know, I know, these issues are complicated. No doubt. But imagine how this plays to a newly free agent-ized American worker now searching for a job? Furthermore compare this rate of pay to that of a counterpart in the Chinese ports of Dalian, Shanghai, Xiamen, or Qingdao - where at most their $2/hr represents 20 times less?

High profile strike events tell part of the story but certainly not all of it. Something much more sweeping and profound is what's happening in Michigan and Indiana. In states that have passed RTW legislation wages and benefits for all workers (non-union and union alike) are lower than national averages. Clearly the presence of unions and the threat of union activity can be a plus for worker wages and benefits as well as safety issues and general quality of life.

It's likely more states will pass RTW laws. Without the presence of unionized labor or credible threat of organizing, employers can't be expected to champion labor related issues. Why would they? The laws of the marketplace preclude it. The inevitable result for workers will be less group and more individual identification. In other words, the need for workers to have to fend for themselves becomes ever greater. The free agent-izing of the American worker is under way and it is here to stay.

In the end we are all independent Free Agents, it's just that many of us haven't awakened. As more states go the RTW route there will be plenty of opportunity for wake-up calls. In the meantime, no need to wait until you smell the coffee. Accept the fact that you are the captain of your own ship, maneuvering the marketplace waters of free agency. But don't expect anyone to hand you the navigation charts. You'll have to get up and get them yourself.

Actually, I'd recommend you learn how to draw your own charts.

Travel well.
John Jeffrey Lundell

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Dealing With Ugly Background Info

If there are bumps and blemishes in your background or gaps and incongruities in your work history, paper is not your friend.

Actually the word paper doesn't describe it, rather anything written, printed, or stored - whether on genuine 8.5 x 11 paper, tape, disk, or floating in the clouds of cyberspace - must to be taken seriously.

This includes background information such as criminal, legal, credit, driving, military, physical health, mental health, immigration, and more. In short, anything discover-able. It also includes anything you are required to provide on an employment application.

Needless to say if you've got potholes, frustration and disappointment can result. Some of this is unavoidable, past events are just that, past, done, and over with. They are a matter of record, somewhere. However you can complicate things (or not) depending on how you manage these snags.

Background issues and work history gaps are hard, if not impossible, to sidestep. Most applications are constructed to bring these things to light. After all, this is what the folks in the H/R department get paid to do. You know that putting them down accurately may guarantee your elimination. Nonetheless, do it; or risk compounding the heartburn.

If you are not truthful and forthcoming (and I always recommend being so) you set yourself up to get yanked from the roster at a later date for providing false or misleading information.

Imagine working hard to secure a job that matches your Job Search Objective. You like the work and the work likes you. You're good at it. And then you're canned on the spot when your employee file is re-screened as part of an upcoming promotion. An ugly situation that can set you back in a major way.

So - if the shoe fits - don't ignore these irksome yet unavoidable details.

You need to know what's out there about you. Make the effort to round up and get a handle on your uglies. I didn't know is lame. You're the one in business as a free agent seller of service. Not knowing can materially hurt you, decreasing your chances of finding a customer and making a sale (to a prospective employer). You have to know. Developing strategies to mitigate or overcome these barriers requires that you first know what they are.

I know, this seems obvious. But we're human beings after all - procrastination and avoidance anyone?

Travel well.
John Jeffrey Lundell

Monday, November 26, 2012

Planning - For Job Search and Beyond

Planning your job search pays off. As with most other endeavors, looking before you leap results in a far better outcome than just plunging over the edge.

There are two planning related considerations to take into account. First is the actual job search plan of attack. Your Objective becomes very important when you map out your campaign (see labels for posts related to Job Search Objective) because it lays out in detail what it is you are trying to achieve. Imagine throwing things in gear without a clear idea of what it is you are out to accomplish? Sadly it happens all the time when it comes to searching for a job.

The second consideration is the longer term view and for this I like to work with a five year vocational goal. In a nutshell, what do you plan on doing and where, in five years?

Your Job Search Objective is immediate in nature, it's what you are working on right now - and - it should fit in with your five year plan. Surely there are times when you must move quickly, doing something that may not fully align with your longer term goal. This falls under the crisis category. Its the need to line up a job and income asap. Most of us have been there.

However in most cases, linking your immediate Job Search Objective with your longer term five year goal is possible if you take the time to do it. Remember that you are really an independent free agent in search of a customer (potential employer). This means you are in business for yourself operating in the marketplace just like all other businesses. Most successful businesses engage in planning, why not you? Why is it that many people bump along from job to job re-actively with little or no planning, short term or long term?

This won't do. First of all, make the effort and take the time to define your Job Search Objective. Let this be your guide to planning out the step by step process of searching for the job that best fits this objective.

I will have much to say in future posts concerning the nuts and bolts of searching. For now, I want to convey the importance of connecting your immediate need (a job now) with your longer term need (your five year vocational goal). The bottom line is that it is very important and you shouldn't skip doing it.

Also, don't overlook how an immediate and perhaps pressing need can assist you in developing a longer term goal. Bang it out, stating the what and where of this goal clearly. Work backwards to the present. Connect the dots. Get serious and determined. Become edgy about it. Searching for a job can bring game to your game. There can be anxiety but also clarity. Things and considerations not really important are easier to cut out during the heat of the moment, and job searching can bring the heat.

Life planning is tricky. Stuff happens. There are lots and lots of moving parts. Defining longer term life goals can be a real challenge. What's more, once started its easy to get tangled up in the net of the planning process. Nonetheless, do your best to prevent this by staying focused on doing Vs thinking. Plan and do. Then tweak and do again, working steadily toward your Objective.

Travel well.
John Jeffrey Lundell

Friday, November 16, 2012

Being a Free Agent and the Hollywood Model

While researching and writing the chapter on being a free agent job searcher for my upcoming ebook, I came across an interesting and quite apropos example of where the world of work is heading in the US.

Hollywood - which provides an example that's analogous to how things have gone with for American workforce over the last 70 years or so.

The golden years of the big fully integrated studios were the ‘30's and 40’s. Like integrated industrial America, they provided long term employment for actors and workers alike. But technology and specialization took over in the ‘60's and ’70's and the big integrated studio model became outmoded and eventually evolved into what we see today, near total free agency.

Projects in the new Hollywood come together using individual specialists and micro-companies. They last 4 to 6 months then disband with the individual players going their own ways, all the while seeking their next gig through continuous networking and connections.

These new Hollywood pros and specialists must make due during these inevitable periods of no work between gigs (unemployment). This is accomplished via a pay scale that takes this into account and an understanding that this is how it works. In other words, those participating know the rules. They don't expect or bank on what's not permanent.

Contrast this with many displaced, unemployed, and underemployed workers struggling today and you can understand why I recommend taking on a similar perspective. That is to say, see yourself as these movie business people do, as a free agent niche specialist that moves from project to project, not someone who settles in letting their saw become dull.

Hopefully your gigs will last longer, 4 to 6 years instead of months. But still, don't expect anything longer than this and don't settle in. Like the new Hollywood folks, put out maximum effort while the job lasts but remain in continuous search mode the entire time. You will be both a better employee and independent free agent for it.

Travel well.

John Jeffrey Lundell   

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Follow-Ups and Marketing

Many Las Vegas clients pursue jobs in the hospitality industry, particularly food & beverage. Clearly some are in the lower-skills categories but certainly not all. I would characterize lots of them as being middle-skills jobs which can lead to solid career opportunities. See my 11/1/12 post.

Consequently I spend a fair amount of time coaching job searchers in this area. Recall that middle-skills jobs have the following characteristics: they are service oriented, not easily out-sourced, and typically require interpersonal interaction. Considering these points, is it any wonder that old fashioned face-to-face job search techniques - when employed and well executed - produce such positive results?

I recommend a simple three step approach.

First, walk right in and introduce yourself to the applicable manager. Keep your resume handy and produce it when appropriate. If you know there's an opening before showing up, compete the application beforehand. Otherwise, wait until you are there (or later) to apply for whatever position you learn about on your visit.

The second step is to follow-up in person (always) unless expressly told otherwise. Going back (Vs calling or emailing) is extremely important because it demonstrates your interest and gives the other party an opportunity to get another look at you. I mean this literally, an opportunity to once again check you out directly and in real time.

The third step is to do a second in-person follow-up (which is to say, a follow-up of the initial follow-up).

All the while you are making these contacts, note that you aren't selling (your services) yet. No. What you are doing at this stage is marketing. This boils down to influencing the other party's opinion by demonstrating positive and heads-up behavior each time you make contact.

Marketing not selling. It is creating interest not cutting to the bottom-line.

Marketing to prospective employers (buyers) in service categories such as food & beverage means being likable and consistent in your approach. Clearly if they don't like you they will not want you interacting with their customers. Seriously people, this is a matter of common sense but you'd be surprised ...

What about consistency? Let's say the first contact went well and they appear to like you. What next? Consistency, that's what. Your objective should be to execute all follow-ups and other contacts in the same manner; no changes, no surprises, no additional variables added. A positive initial impression needs to be reinforced and enhanced. The other party wants to see the same person, each and every time. So deliver!

Remember the hiring formula: Past + Present = Future. Every in-person, real time contact you make has a Present value. You have no ability to change or re-write Past events, but you most certainly do have the ability to execute in the Present.

Be likable and be consistent in how you roll, striving to hit the consistency target dead center each and every time.

Travel well.
John Jeffrey Lundell

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Middle-Skills, Jobs ... and Politics

1,200 plus Community College Locations
My post Job Creation Means What? touched on the need for targeted educational funding in order to set the stage for job creation. In effect this referred to funding middle-skills training on a massive scale using the community college system.

Middle-skill workers are individuals with some college education or an associate's degree, who are often needed to fill critical jobs in areas such as healthcare (nurses, EMTs, therapists), education (teachers assistants), information technology (network administrators, computer support specialists) and other growing occupations. These jobs require some specialized skills and often involve interpersonal interaction that cannot be easily outsourced or automated.

The two operative phrases are specialized skills and interpersonal interaction. They are very much service related which is no surprise given that the majority of middle-skills positions do fall into the service category. In fact this class of jobs conforms to what was envisioned a couple decades ago when the notion of a service economy first came into common use.

However the transition from the old manufacturing economy to the new service economy has been a slow and bumpy ride, hindered by the internet bubble popping in 2000 and the real estate debacle beginning in late 2007. Clearly we are in the midst of an economic paradigm shift and the take-away of this move to a service economy is still up for grabs for many Americans.

In the meantime there's a shortage of middle-skilled workers today and the supply/demand imbalance is projected to grow substantially over the next 5 to 10 years. When businesses talk about not being able to find enough qualified workers (in spite of the current economic conditions) the lack of prepared middle-skilled workers is in part what they're talking about.

This is a big deal and not without common shared interest.

- businesses need and want workers with these skills

- aspiring workers need training and jobs

- government wants to spur re-employment while bolstering national competitiveness

- community colleges need the help, given the condition of state and local budgets

The Obama Administration proposed the American Graduation Initiative in the summer of 2009, a $12 billion, ten year plan to beef up community colleges nationwide with an eye on middle-skills training. The proposal didn't make it out of the meat grinder that produced Obama Care. You'd have to dig to know much about the original plan, an important and timely woulda-coulda-shoulda. Furthermore you'd need to be a policy junkie or a community college administrator to follow developments of the remnants of the initiative, the Department of Labor's TAACCCT program (what an acronym) a $2 billion career training plan rolling out slowly to selected community colleges. 

The American Graduation Initiative was a big step in the right direction. But it wasn't big enough. Twice that much or more is required and implementation needs to be quicker than the proposed 10 year period.

As noted in my October 20 blog post, spending on infrastructure and this type of targeted educational support (middle-skills) are badly needed and offer something for everybody.

Maybe after the election next week ...

Travel well.
John Jeffrey Lundell

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Work History Challenges

The subject of work history comes up routinely usually in conjunction with resume writing and applications. This is however only the tip of the iceberg.

Prospective employers will use your work history in any way they can during the decision process. They'll quantify and analyze the information and use their sixth sense (gut feel) as well. They know how people operate and they understand personalities rarely change. The old adage that the best indicator of future behavior is past behavior makes work history is a very big deal.

In the article 6 Red Flags Employers See In Your Job History writer Alison Green adds nicely to the work history discussion. Below are her 6 red flag points re-ordered to reflect the reality many of my clients face.
  1. You have large gaps between jobs
  2. You've been unemployed for a while
  3. You quit your last job with nothing else lined up
  4. You have multiple short-term jobs
  5. You were laid off from your last job
  6. None of your past managers are on your reference list
Not infrequently work history and background challenges are related. Together they represent a basket full of issues and barriers that must be overcome. The natural impulse is to somehow "fix" them, to find a work-around.

I suggest the best fix is to accept what is (and work history is indeed something that is what it is) and not something that should be to lied about or spun. Accept it so that you can see it as something that's about to change. If acceptance doesn't happen you run a big risk of continuing along asleep and unaware, moving into the future as if past actions really didn't happen as indicated by your work history.

When you dwell or stew over gaps, periods of unemployment, quit jobs, temp positions, etc., you place yourself where you don't want to be -- in the past which no longer exists. It's done with, it's finished. Your concern should be on you and the service you provide today and each day going forward.

But don't get me wrong, you will be eliminated because of your work history. Alison's points are valid and at the heart of the elimination process. This will happen unceremoniously and quietly. You just won't make it to the next step. What can you expect in this environment where supply (labor) exceeds demand (jobs)? Add to this the fact that HR and Legal are evermore wedged between the candidate and the hiring manager and the row of hurdles can be formidable indeed.

Your goal should be to remove these no-brainer elimination points. Start with gaps. Rid yourself of these thorns by not creating any more of them. This starts now! Your personal mandate must be to discontinue creating red flags. The way you do this is by staying focused on the present and delivering your service.

Travel well.
John Jeffrey Lundell

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Job Creation Means What?

Every time I hear politicians talk of  job creation I wonder what exactly they're talking about? It's the creation part that confuses. Other than adding new government positions or government operated programs such as WPA in the 1930s politicians (government) don't create jobs, nor should they try given current deficit concerns. And anyway, we know its not actual job creation that's being discussed, rather its ways to prime the pump of job creation.

Here are two areas where I believe the federal checkbook should be opened and opened big time; infrastructure (particularly transportation) and education (particularly in technical areas). Huge amounts of federal money should be spent in these areas over the next five years give three caveats.

     - money should flow quickly and easily with minimal strings attached

     - the process of how its spent should be fair, efficient and graft free

     - uses should favor labor intensive projects when possible and be tightly targeted

Remaining competitive as a nation and an economy depends on expenditures in these areas. There's no choice really, both must be done.

Everyone, regardless of political party or philosophy, benefits from new and upgraded transportation infrastructure. Projects of this type are the very definition of trickle down economics. People go to work, critical stuff gets built and money is spread throughout the economy. I know, it costs. Fair enough but try not doing it and see how much it costs later on. This is something both parties should be agreeing to do but of course politics has gotten in the way.

As for education, start by identifying where lacks and gaps exist. Employers are saying they have positions but can't find qualified candidates. Identify and target. This should be easy to do considering all the data that's accumulated by just the Department of Labor. Fund the student or fund the program but get on with filling the gaps ASAP. Get creative! Skip traditional colleges unless they adapt and reduce costs. Cut out the middle-men and the fat making the piggies squeal. Make the process brutally efficient.

Bringing jobs back to the US or finding ways to foster the creation of new manufacturing jobs here at home are hot topics. Trade policy, currency rates, tax rates and more should all be part of this discussion. But at the end of the day, we need a top notch transportation infrastructure and an educated workforce to build upon.

Leave job creation to the business world where it resides anyway.

Travel well.
John Jeffrey Lundell

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Introductions and The First 3 - 8 Seconds

As they say, one of the best ways to learn a subject is to teach it. I certainly agree although learning seems a more fitting description.

Teaching a series of classes as I do provides an opportunity to revisit basic concepts regularly. Key aspects of a subject, once new, become familiar making presentation of the material easier. Yet with familiarity comes a desire to tweak and modify to better result. A need exists to peel the onion heading further inside toward the heart of the subject.

Making introductions, especially self introductions, is such an area for me. As a subject, its recognizable territory. I teach it, research it and think about it; an unavoidable byproduct to presenting it regularly to others. And yet the more I teach it the more profound it seems. Profound in a "lost art" sense.

I think we began losing this fundamental social skill with the mass use of radio and telephone about one hundred years ago. Fifty years later television changed the face of US society, adding momentum to the trend. Then came the PC era, digitization and the internet. Its possible now for people (living right here among us) to go an entire ... what,  year? ... without interacting face-to-face with another person.

But eventually they have to and the lack of a skill-set is oh-so-apparent.

Part of the material on communication and introductions I present to job seekers is the concept of initial like and dislike. The idea that we form a fundamental pro or con opinion about someone during the first few seconds of meeting them. This certainly isn't original. Just pick up a copy of Dale Carnegie's classic How to Win Friends & Influence People, the works of William James or any number of philosopher thinkers. There's very little new here. Many people have weighed in on the idea that it only takes a few seconds (3 to 8 in my view).

What about you, the job seeker? It's my take that you are a marketer and hopeful seller of your service. You are on the lookout for a customer.

As a seller you need to keep in mind that its a rare event when someone buys something from someone they don't like. This bears repeating: rarely will someone buy something from someone they don't like.

As a job seeker, your goal should be to be liked.

If so, how can you ignore the first 3 to 8 seconds?

And these first few seconds frequently come during the introduction.

I will have lots to say about introductions going forward.

Travel well.
John Jeffrey Lundell

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Worst Type of Elimination

And what is it?

Eliminating yourself.

And what's even worse is not knowing that you did it. Being clueless.

More often than not this is why people don't get hired. They do something that results in their elimination.

Easy examples of this include; improperly completing an application, missing a deadline, being late for an interview. Overt, bonehead moves that make it easy to drop an applicant.

Less obvious but leading to the same result are; applying for positions you are not qualified for, not stating in the cover letter/email that you meet the requirements, following up by phone instead of showing up in person.

Job One for the prospective employer is to eliminate you. Nothing personal here, just a matter of cutting down the pile (at least initially). Furthermore, the odds favor their continued use of the same until there's only one candidate remaining.

Accept this and build around it. Do everything right. Afford the other team no opportunity or reason to prematurely remove you from the running. Take a page out of Mike Shanahan's Super Bowl XXXII playbook and use a prevent defense as a major part of your offense (in spite of John Madden's opinion to the contrary).

But what about confidence and selling yourself? Confidence, tempered and objective based, yes. Selling yourself? No, not yet. It is too easy to forget the elimination game plan of the other team when you are overly focused on JUST putting points on the board.

Move beyond the idea of selling yourself and devise an approach that incorporates two things.

First, use a prevent defense as offense. Know that staying in the game is the game.

Second, employ a marketing based approach that shows (by how you roll) you understand the game.

As to this last point, keep in mind that nothing gets sold before it's marketed.Your services are no different.

Travel well.
John Jeffrey Lundell

Monday, September 24, 2012

Workforce Development - Where To From Here?

The gap is widening quickly
During the mid-seventies I worked with the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act  (CETA) program, first as a client in community education and later as a staff counselor.

CETA was a federally funded jobs program and predecessor to the current Workforce Investment Act (WIA) program. The goal was to create and provide kick-start funding for public service jobs in schools, local, county and state government.

For the most part, the program (at least in my little corner of the world) worked well. Employers interviewed and hired from a pool of applicants provided by CETA. Funding for the positions typically lasted one year during which the client/employee worked and trained in the new position, hoping to be retained at the end of the funding period.

In some cases the job and employee were added by the government entity, which meant the job development objective of the program was achieved. In other cases the position was not added but the client was kept via transfer or hiring to a position already in existence. In either case the result was positive for the client/employee.

Of course this all took place in a pre-digital, much slower paced time. The new positions were employer based and funded. CETA clients were matched to them, not the other way around. Clients knew they had enough time to show the employer what they had to offer and so did the employers. Heads-up and creative managers found ways to retain client/employees that were providing solid service and value.

It's all very different now. The public service sector is still cutting back. Employers of all types have reduced labor as a way to profitability. Jobless recoveries and lingering unemployment are becoming facts of life. More and more workers are engaged in temporary or contract employment.

The average tenure at a company is now just under 4.5 years. This means nearly all workers, like it or not, need to be on continuous job search. They must also be adaptable to an ever changing employment marketplace. Not everyone gets this. Not everyone can pull it off. The gap between the employment haves (higher skills / higher pay) and the have-nots (lower skills / lower pay) is widening very quickly.

In this market and even more so going forward, being a Free Agent job seeker is not just a concept, but a reality. The economic crosswinds are strong and ever changing. Employers complain of a lack of highly skilled/right skilled workers yet can't stop long enough to explain exactly what they mean. Unemployed workers aren't sure what skills are in demand or how to market the skills they do possess.

Funding is skimpy for any type of workforce program, especially those modeled on marketplace realities no longer in existence. Programs like CETA and WIA are relics of the past. New programs will be required but there's little consensus on what they should look like. Business (first mover) isn't waiting around and government (last mover) has little choice but to downsize.

In the meantime, the middle-class shrinks as do real wages and benefits.

Buckle up, its going to get worse.

Travel well.
John Jeffrey Lundell

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Job Search and Mindfulness

Deserving of a dedicated post is something I call the Hiring Formula. I will expound on it later. Mention of it here comes in connection to mindfulness, which in simple terms refers to staying in the present moment.

The hiring formula is used in some fashion by all employers, in essence it states: past (all that has happened previously, the information sought via employment applications) plus the present (introductions, follow-ups meetings, interviews) results in a calculation about the future (hiring, taking a chance and a leap into the future).

Past + Present = Future

Candidates that remain present while communicating with potential employers do better than those that don't. I believe this to be true and I help job seekers achieve it. But this doesn't apply only to situations that result in the immediate success of getting hired.

Those that remain present  (in the moment, awake, conscious) but not immediately successful, take away valuable information usable in the next situation. Although the objective is not achieved, staying present enables the seeker to see and hear what is actually taking place. These real-time experiences form a practical knowledge base. From here necessary adjustments can be made the next time a similar situation is encountered.

Those remaining asleep, non-present and unconscious, are far more likely to filter and skew the experience to suite their concept of how the world works Vs how it really does. They grind away, complaining about "how it is out there" which is to say, outside of their concept of how it should be or how they'd like it to be.

The point is that staying present is a benefit to the job seeker. Being and staying present are part of mindfulness philosophy that has something to offer all of us. Coming to know this however may take time. To appreciate the value of mindfulness one need only experience it directly.

Utilizing mindfulness requires that the job seeker do and not just think or talk about doing. No tools, cost or outside agents are required. All that's needed already exists within the seeker. Its a matter of approach and practice. There are many benefits here are a few:

1) Staying focused on the Job Search Objective
The easiest way to see the merit of remaining present is the look at what happens when seekers cannot move beyond all that constrains them from the past and freezes them in fear regarding the future - a slow and frustrating process.

2) Remaining in the moment when communicating with prospective employers
Not only do people position themselves to succeed and excel when face-to-face with potential employers but they maximize their "teachable moments" when immediate success eludes.

3) Delivering solid service leading to successfully retaining the job
No way to deliver good service when past issues encroach and worries over things yet to happen overwhelm. Success leading to retention and advancement come from delivering solid service in the present.

Going forward I will have lots to say about mindfulness as it relates to success in finding a job.

Until then,

Travel well.
John Jeffrey Lundell

Friday, September 14, 2012

The American Dream and Renters In Waiting

An article on home ownership in the Real Estate section of the Las Vegas Business Press (9-3-12) caught my eye. It adds to the narrative regarding the struggles of the middle-class.

The story describes the spread between the official home ownership number as reported by the U.S. Census Bureau (most recently 65.5 percent) and the "real" rate as reported by real estate consultants that follow the data very closely (their number is 62.1 percent).

The 3.4 percentage point difference between the office and "real" percentages is accounted for by removing 3.8 million households that are 90 days or more delinquent on their mortgage payments. When these homeowners are pulled and 62.1 percent is used, the level of home ownership is the lowest in 50 years according to the article. I guess that's a story in itself.

Described as "renters in waiting" these 3.8 million are in effect treading water while banks work their way through the large inventory of problem loans. Complicating matters and contributing to a not-so-quick fix are: the shear number of stake-holders involved, understaffed banks, messy loans that have been modified or in foreclosure, state and federal government sanctions or out-right intervention. All this contributing to a slow moving process and much larger spread between the official and "real" percentage, typically around 1.0 percent Vs the 3.4 percent noted above.

One could argue that moving slowly actually helps the overall economy as delinquent homeowners presumably spend what would otherwise go to mortgage or rent payments on items such as food, clothing and necessities that have an immediate impact on the economy.

Just look at the math.

3,800,000 = delinquent homeowners
x  $1,008  = average apartment rent in US
=  $3,830,400,000 per month

The calculation is pretty rough but the point is there's two sides to every coin. All 3.8 million households are not going to move into apartments overnight but there will be a culmination to this at some point. The $3.8 billion per month (or whatever the actual amount) will be missed by the economy. What's more, some percentage of the household members will re-enter the job market to generate more income once outlays for rent and food/clothing/necessities are required. In a sense, there will be a double drag on the economy.

With an estimated 115 million households in the US and an economy (GDP) of $15 trillion, the impact of these 3.8 households will be hard to spot but present nonetheless.

Unexpected consequences to this popped real estate bubble abound, making the task of finding a job a real challenge. However there are relative bright spots, for example here in Las Vegas apartment/condo maintenance workers with HVAC and Pool Certs aren't sitting around. Similar things are taking place in Phoenix and Southern California. Going forward the demand for workers with very specific skill sets and related certification will increase.

Niche specialists will rule the day over the generalists/jacks-of-all-trades.

Of course just more salt in the wound for all those English Lit majors.

Travel well.
John Jeffrey Lundell

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Job Search and Personality Defaults

Before starting your job search it's a good idea to review how you usually roll. What is your usual MO when it comes to managing a project that requires planning and doing over time? Do you get on with it quickly or procrastinate? Once underway do you move fast or slow as a snail? Do you experience productive periods where interest and excitement are high, followed by downer periods where almost nothing gets done?

It's my experience that personality really comes out during the process of job searching. Job seekers find themselves frequently outside of their comfort zone resulting in distress, even panic. People hit the reset button and  revert to their usual ways of behaving when this happens. After all, personality appears to be a matter of wiring not unlike the factory settings on a new TV set. The default sets for a flat screen are (relatively) easy to change. By comparison, a person's base settings are not.

Personality defaults lead to behavioral patterns and choice preferences. Everyone has these innate presets, however we shouldn't assume they serve us well in all situations. More to the point, will your own factory settings be helpful to you when it comes to achieving your Job Search Objective?

Sadly the answer is no or not really in many cases. People want to achieve but they don't want to tweak the factory settings to make it happen. Rather than making the end goal the driving force, they want to go about things in the same old manner, in effect making the same old way of doing things the end goal.

You cannot think your way to adjusting your default settings, you must do it and this involves overriding the presets. This alone doesn't really change anything, its more like temporary overwriting. Experts in behavior modification know that consistent and sustained doing of new behavior can literally re-write the defaults. The new behavior simply becomes the behavior. This takes time. For now, act it out as if playing a part. Focus on the desired outcome and play the role of the one achieving it.

Below are four considerations to help make it different this time. Place emphasis on doing the following even though it's not your usual way.

Speed, distance and pace
Set your speed to match the distance you wish to cover so that the high energy/highly productive days are flattened and the lower energy/less productive days are enhanced. In other words, pace yourself.   

Maintain momentum
Don't stop, don't go in reverse. Stay mindful of each accomplishment in order to gauge your degree of momentum. Bottom line, keep moving forward no matter what.

Be methodical and steady
Stay tightly focused on your Job Search Objective and pound steadily away on it like a pneumatic hammer. Pace and momentum come into the picture here.  

Remain adaptable and flexible
Yes to keeping a steady pace, yes to maintaining momentum and yes to being methodical as a machine. And yet, stay heads-up and ready to navigate the sharp turn when it pops up unexpectedly. Make the turn and then get right back on track heading toward your goal. 

Travel well.
John Jeffrey Lundell

Friday, September 7, 2012

Where Do We Go From Here?

The Middle Class was mentioned repeatedly this week at the  Democratic National Convention. The subject will be BIG during the upcoming debates, as well it should. See my August 30, post. Both parties are in continual test-mode regarding this group because the election will come down to how, in mass, the middle-class/middle-income/middle-something segment of society votes.

The middle-class, jobs and job creation are the themes for this campaign. I get irritated and a bit ill listening to all the battering taking place over job creation numbers as if they were frequent flier miles or casino player's card bonus points. Pathetic.

This is new territory. Obama came in on the shock waves of the late ' 07 plunge. Since then the depth and severity of the situation have hit home, crossing over established social boundaries like the tsunami wave that swept across the countryside in Japan. Neither party should assume they've got a lock on how all of this is playing in Peoria.

Also hitting the media outlets this week was Labor Department's report on productivity during the second quarter. reviewed the report focusing on increases in productivity and company profits but not hiring, indicating businesses are getting more out of existing labor, capital goods and cash resources.

Companies, especially the very large, are sitting on lots of cash. Common wisdom has it they're reluctant to hire until things improve, which I guess makes sense. But don't overlook the fact that these companies have found ways to stay afloat and amass large cash piles without adding any more employees than is absolutely necessary (think automation, digitization and outsourcing).

This got me thinking and digging (again) concerning jobs, the plight of the middle-class and the housing bubble. Since the early ' 80s, computers, technology and digitization have steadily crept in resulting in thousands of disappeared back-in-day jobs, think:

- Websites/blogs and newspapers/journalists
- Online education and teachers/classroom educators
- Email/PayPal and postal workers
- FedEx/UPS (early tech innovators) and postal workers
- TurboTax and accountants
- Automated ticketing/tolls and public transit workers
- ATMs/online banking and tellers/bankers
- Online purchases/shopping cart websites and retailers/retail workers
- Web-based travel booking and travel agents/the entire airline system
- And on and on

Paradigm shift anyone? Seriously, where do we go from here?

There are so many factors contributing to the twenty or so percent of the workforce now out of work, under-employed or discouraged, a few:

- Digitization and automation
- People doing it themselves using technology (see above)
- Boomers remaining in the workforce waaaaaaaaaaaay longer
- An educational system that (apparently) doesn't produce what's in demand
- Outsourcing, globalization and the perpetual search for lower and lower costs
- Shock of $7 trillion in vanished home equity (consider 2011 GDP = $15.09 trillion)

Travel well.
John Jeffrey Lundell

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

An Objective Based Resume

When it comes to resumes the options are nearly endless. There are any number of formats and just as many opinions on how they should be used and presented. Seriously, try to decide on which resume book to buy. If you've done it you know exactly what I mean.

To help cut down the angst inherent in creating a resume consider first for whom it is being created. For you or your potential employer?

Your first thought might point to the prospective employer, after all you want to lay it out there, put your best foot forward, show them what you have to offer. Yes well of course, but what about you? What might your resume do for you in the context of your search?

For one thing it can assist you in remaining focused on your Job Search Objective. And in certain situations this consideration can outshine all others, becoming near make or break.

Certainly there are times when a masterpiece resume is required, situations where it's all about marketing and meeting clear expectations concerning how a resume in a given field should look. Such resumes are indeed prepared for the prospective employer and the fine points of design can play a key role in the overall outcome of your making the sale. No doubt.

But let's take a different approach in this discussion. As noted in my August 27 post, many people have difficulty staying on track. Perhaps background bumps or work history gaps are contributing factors. Perhaps it's just the way they are.

Regardless, for them a complicated resume may be downright counterproductive. Sure the masterpiece looks good, touching on many critical attributes and marketing points but may do little or nothing to contribute to clear and concise focus - what the individual may really need.

Situations like these call of an uncomplicated and straight forward design. Something rather basic Vs complex, less sophisticated on purpose. A resume that's easy to read, presenting a succinct message for both presenter and receiver. A message that says: this is who I am, this is how to reach me, this is what I'm after and here are a few things you should know about me (work related attributes, previous work experiences and education).

When this type of resume works it's usually because of two things.

First it is not overly difficult to create, a very important consideration in my experience. Secondly, it provides direction. The job seeker need only read it - this is who I am and this is what I am after. Period.

This type of resume is very much a tool and is used as such. There is no masterpiece, by design. Instead time and energy are expended staying on track with the Job Search Objective and the overall search process.

I will have lots to say about resumes going forward. Stay tuned.

Travel well.
John Jeffrey Lundell

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Middle-Class Are All Free Agents

An article by Tim Mullaney published a few days ago in USA Today caught my eye. Based on research conducted by the Pew Research Center it focused on the stagnation of the middle-class over the last eleven years, calling it the "lost decade." This segment of American society has grown smaller, poorer and more pessimistic since 2000. No surprise to anyone awake but the research adds weight to the discussion.

According to the Pew data during this time period,1 in 5 middle-class households moved up (earning more than twice the national median average) and 2 in 5 moved down (earning two thirds of the median average or less). 

The primary reason for this? The $7 trillion post-crash decline in home equity driving the economy since the mid-90s. Compared to upper income families with more diverse wealth structures, middle income families have (had) much of their wealth tied up in home value. 

Overnight much of the equity disappeared and with it a big chunk of consumer spending. And not just spending, but growth in spending. Ugly. The official unemployment rate is 8.3 % but when the underemployed and those that have dropped out of the market are included the actual rate is more like 20 % according to info from the Gallop Organization. All of this a direct result of the collapsed housing bubble and $7 trillion home equity vaporization.

How long will it take for this lost equity to return? Who knows but surely not in the short term. 

What other economic drivers are out there? 

Government spending on cutting edge R&D (i.e. 60's style space race outlays)? No, this remains the domain of private enterprise. 

Maybe transportation or other infrastructure repairs and upgrade? Not likely until the election is out of the way.

How about American manufactures all of a sudden ignoring the $1.68 per hour Chinese wage structure (or whatever it is exactly)? Nope, the rules of the Marketplace kick in here.

In this election there's all sorts of rhetoric about "job creation" and protecting the middle-class. I suggest not worrying about creating jobs, just zero in on critical infrastructure needs, set aside the money and let private businesses bid on the projects. As far as I know, privately owned construction companies actually require workers to do the work. Furthermore the longer these projects are delayed the more costly they become. For example the I-35 bridge that collapsed in Minneapolis (' 07) cost $5.3 million to construct in ' 64 and $243 million to replace in ' 08. Add to this $400k/day in estimated lost revenue to the Twin Cities and $30-40 million in lawsuit settlements. Yet all this is completely beside the point when the fate of the 13 killed and 145 injured are taken into account.

As for doing something for the middle-class ... I should hope so! The demise of this group is not in any one's best interest. Seriously, who's going to buy the goods and services if the middle-class continues to shrink? The last thing we want in this country is a paper thin and strapped economic mid-section. But this recession will take time to shake making it harder and harder for the middle-class. The "lost decade" could turn into two lost decades if we don't wise up as a nation.

Limited consumer spending means we shouldn't expect much near term growth in the economy. What's more, unemployment and underemployment may remain high exerting downward pressure on wages and the availability of benefits. 

Needless to say this is not a time for those with jobs and those seeking them to relax. Certainly not. If you are looking, you are a Free Agent. If you have a job, you're one too. Act accordingly.

Travel well.
John Jeffery Lundell

Monday, August 27, 2012

Your Job Search Objective and Tunnel Vision

Having tunnel vision means your perception is focused tightly on something up ahead to the exclusion of other things around you. 

To a large extent this is exactly what I recommend when putting your Job Search Objective into play. By doing this you move toward what you have set out to accomplish and not the twenty-five other things you might want to accomplish.

Simply put, your Job Search Objective is your employment goal. It serves best when it is specific and detailed in terms of location and duties. It is used best when placed ahead of all other options.

Equating your search objective to tunnel vision suggests that things not in and around your line of sight are to be ignored. That's exactly the point. You make a conscious effort not to engage in distractions along the way because you don’t have time or energy for non-applicable diversions. 

But remain vigilant because it's harder than it sounds. To many, focusing is an unnatural act. For them "shotgunning” seems like the best way to go. They believe it enhances their odds of being successful. In my experience this is completely wrong. Success is found by staying on track and doing many small things well.  The shotgun approach skims the surface, providing little or no access to the nuanced moves beneath

Another misnomer is that you should make an effort to stay heads-up for any and all opportunities that pop up. I am not against picking the low hanging fruit if an opportunity otherwise fits your objective. But taking this approach too often becomes rubbernecking and results in your head drifting out of the tunnel. Without discipline you end up in the same place shotgunning will get you. Rudderless and all over the map.

The biggest opportunities will be those you create for yourself. They will also be the most rewarding.

Keep your Job Search Objective tight, realistic and right for you and allow yourself to contract a strong case of tunnel vision. Then get on with the search.

Travel well.
John Jeffrey Lundell

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Show Up and Stand Out

Earlier today I spoke with my niece about her job search. Compared to most that I assist with these days, her search is very much in the professional arena. She is an educator, experienced in the classroom (elementary education) with master's degree and specialist certifications.

She is looking for a position due to a recent move to a college town where her husband's family home recently (and rather suddenly) became their family home. His business is transportable so she took a one year leave of absence from her teaching position and they moved lock-stock-and-barrel. And love it!

Still she wants to work and they can use the extra income. Furthermore, she has a very solid professional career to nurture. Sticking with her trade, she is doing substitute teaching. The assignments are available regularly and it positions her with the local school system. All good.

But she'd really like to get her foot in the door at the local university where there are open positions. She's made application and followed up with HR. Now what?

Ah, professional jobs. HR departments, hiring committees, bureaucracies, how to play this?

Sit back and wait, professionally?


She's already taken the first step by trying to determine which departments are hiring, something not always clear by the way job postings are written. HR has been helpful by giving her a few names to get the process started. The next step is to go in and introduce herself.

There are lots of reasons to do this, here are a few.

To demonstrate interest and initiative

If she wants it, show it. This is rather easy because she's local. Doing so doesn't require a long drive or plane trip, all she has to do is drive across town.

To do some marketing

She is attractive, professional and likable from the get-go. People hire people they like. Okay, walk in and be liked.

To do recon
Frankly she doesn't know much about the open positions and the decisions makers associated with each. Other than the bits and pieces available though HR and whatever can be found on the university website, she's on her own. How about just walking in and finding out?

Certainly she will continue to do what all the other professionals do by applying, sending resumes, calling HR (maybe), following up with HR (maybe) - but come on, that's all? Why be so reactive, why sit around waiting to be picked? 

No, that won't do. She is a free agent running solo in a new community looking for a way to sell her services to a willing buyer. There are indeed services that she has to offer but going about things as a professional, in a professional manner (which usually means waiting way too much) won't distinguish her. She must show up and stand out.

I write this from Las Vegas, the land of bookmaking and odds calculation. In my view the odds clearly favor playing to her attributes and location, which means going for the introduction.

Travel well.
John Jeffrey Lundell

Thursday, August 9, 2012

New Jobs and What Employers Want

An August 4th article in the LA Times by Don Lee provided a nice overview of the monthly jobs data reported for July.

Cherry picking from the article here are a few interesting tidbits:                

  • employers added 163,00 jobs in July (good)
  • but the (official) unemployment rate actually increased to 8.3% (not so hot)
  • resulting in the somewhat problematic situation of more jobs AND more unemployment (huh?)
  • the labor market isn't losing ground, as economists had predicted only 100k new job (good) 
  • unemployment is less than a year ago when it was 9.1% (also good)
  • economists believe the underlying job growth rate is about 150k (sounds ok ....)
  • yet 150k jobs per month is only enough to absorb NEW workers coming into the market (ugh)
  • at the July rate it will take 8+ years to absorb the 12.8 million jobless, reaching full employment (sobering!)
  • in July, manufacturers added 25k (not sure what type actually, but anyway added)
  • professional and business services added 49k (same, probably a grab-bag of types)
  • government jobs decreased by 9k (no surprise, see my July 25 post)
  • food service and retail added jobs (many minimum wage and commission positions I'm sure)
Further to the info above, just released data from U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that productivity increased by 1.6 percent during the second quarter of 2012. Okay let's review. 

Regardless of month to month fluctuation, job growth is flat, keeping pace with new workers coming into the market only. Not much progress has been made eating into the over-hang, the 12.8 officially unemployed (note that the unofficial rate is likely around 14.5 % but that's another story). Productivity on the other hand has gone up indicating that employers continue to become more efficient as the recession continues (I won't split hairs on the definition of recession, as a practical matter its still game on).

So what does all of this boil down to? In short, we're treading water in job creation and many of the new jobs coming into existence are low paying with minimal benefits. 

And, business is continually learning how to do more work without adding people. A portion of this increased productivity comes from innovation and technological development but also from people doing more for the same pay, in effect working for less. Businesses are (understandably) being cautious and picky in their hiring, looking first to increase productivity by means other than hiring new workers.

But when businesses do hire, what do they want to get in return? Service. Your service leading to more efficient productivity and greater profit for the business.

As someone seeking employment do you see yourself as a provider of service? More to the point, do you see yourself as a seller of service? Or perhaps a seller of time? Give it some thought.

Now think about this. 

Businesses concerned with the least expensive ways to increase productivity are not interested in (just) your time. Nope, time comes free with service but has no value as a stand-alone.

Travel well.
John Jeffrey Lundell

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Who Decides?

When teaching job search classes I ask early on (and continue asking to drive the point home) “Who decides your success in securing employment?”

No one gets the answer I’m looking for. Never. Typical responses: the employer, the interviewer, me (myself, the captain of my own ship, etc.). Nope, not where I’m headed and not where I want them to be. These answers are not incorrect however they are way too close to the ground.  

The view from 35,000 feet is what’s needed. Initially. From this height, all the details fade and blur. Personalizing the situation becomes difficult, impossible.  

The answer I seek? The Marketplace. The huge pond in which we all swim or sink.  

Prying people from their own narrow reality is critical. Take it up, way up and away from as many limiting and unhelpful self-held concepts as possible. Look, really look from your mind’s eye at the vast landscape spread out below. How significant do you feel now? How important in the overall scheme of things are your concerns? Exactly.  

Now imagine the sprawling countryside laid out below to be one big Marketplace with each of us buried somewhere within it. Its a dispassionate, open-schmoppen, free-for-all, where, like it or not, we all have to compete.  

I want people to “get it” - get that we all must take stock of just how unimportant, unspecial and insignificant each of us really is when viewed from cruising altitude. And how unnoticeable we are to a Marketplace that cares not, feels not ... UNLESS we do something about it!

The first step is to recognize that each of us is a Free Agent. Next comes the realization that we must compete in the Marketplace. And you might say, so what’s the big deal about this? What’s the grand revelation here? 

Well there must be some small kernel of merit in it because so many people walk around as if others were in charge of their lives and as if somehow they were immune to the ebb and flow of the Marketplace. Seriously.  

Travel well.

John Jeffrey Lundell