Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Lowe's and Jobs

Home improvement giant Lowe’s is struggling at least compared to others in the same category, especially Home Depot.

Recently the company announced it was buying 60 of bankrupt Orchard Supply Hardware’s 90 stores. If all comes together on the deal Lowe’s will increase it’s presence in California. This will happen by adding stores that are much smaller than the company now operates. The average Lowe's store is 113,000 square feet vs Orchard’s stores that are around 36,000 square feet.

So what does this have to do with job search and workforce issues?

For starters it shows that Lowe’s is looking for change, which in turn might mean fewer hands needed.  Shareholders aren't interested in seeing their company play second fiddle as the tide in home improvement continues to rise. But is the tide rising, really?

Going forward, the big box model in this business segment may not support more than Home Depot, the largest fish in this pond. Things are much better for them these days however their positive sales and profitability numbers could be coming at the expense of Lowe’s. Both companies grew and expanded as the housing market inflated. There's a lot of "old business" that must return before existing assets are full utilized. Even a robust recovery may not bring this about.  

Look for free agency for some of Lowe's 160,000+ employees. The Orchard buy indicates transition is under way. So far it's slow giving workers a chance to consider where they stand. Nonetheless we're all free agents. Lowe's employees should be picking up on this and taking stock of their current situation.   

In the short term, Lowe’s move to buy the Orchard assets should save jobs in the stores it acquires. In the long run if the small footprint model proves successful it could become a real alternative to Lowe's big box format. The Orchard buy is important because it is a big departure from what used to work for Lowe's. But even if successful, Orchard-izing alone may not be enough to prevent store closures, overall organizational shrinkage, and fewer jobs at Lowe's.

But it’s too early to tell. Home building forecasters predict a 24+% increase in business this year and nearly 29% in 2014. Will Lowe’s as we know it be able to hang in there? Will Home Depot continue to nibble at Lowe’s lunch?

Nonetheless an improving housing market does not a bubble make (thank goodness). Lowe's and Home Depot were hit hard by the recession in part because they grew as the bubble grew. But the pop hurt. It's hardly a stretch to imagine Home Deport actually buying some Lowe's stores. This would result in Lowe's becoming a combo big box / mid box operator. Who knows, it may be Lowe's that comes out ahead. Keep a sharp eye peeled Ace Hardware.

In the meantime, I'm ready to assist any Lowe's folks looking to make a preemptive move. Just give me a call.

Travel well.
John Jeffrey Lundell

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Book Review - The Subversive Job Search

Published by Career Press

First of all let me say that I liked the book. The Subversive Job Search is an autobiographical account of author Alan Corey’s quest to land a six figure job. It's a quick read, written in first person, and a nice switch-up from so many other (and drier) offerings in the job search and career field. 
The Subversive Job Search

But job searching, as a cut and dried category, is not the singular focus of the book. Rather it’s about how Alan goes about the process of searching and achieving his goal. He portrays himself as an entrepreneurial, outside-the-box, thinker-mover type. This seems to fit. Although there’s a fare amount of I, I, me, me that can make reading autobiographies such a chore, Alan’s approach feels genuine. Sprinkled throughout are numerous self effacing and humorous comments. Add to this an every-day casual tone and the result is a fun and realistic read. It works.

The first 45 pages are a romp. The narrative jumps and flies, frequently referencing Corey’s first book, A Million Bucks by 30. This second book begins during the time period between the two books, about having money, not having it, riding high, dropping low, therapy, push, drive, and being fired. There’s a lot of ground covered in these initial pages. I came away wanting to know more about this period in the author’s life. Perhaps in book three …

From there, job searching enters the picture. Alan gets down to business, tussling with the nitty-gritty of managing and adapting to the ebb and flow of the process.  Readers will find interesting and useful discussions on free certificate Vs formal education, working with recruiters, personal branding, and the merits of taking on a free agent mindset. Furthermore, Alan includes resources and links that complement his overall philosophy and approach.

This work will immediately appeal to career oriented, college educated, 22-45 year old job seekers, particularly those targeting positions in tech sales and support. This is the field of play for Alan’s challenge to himself. Anyone working their way up the ladder in these areas will enjoy the book and get something from it.

But there’s a job search back story here as well. It involves the how and why of Alan’s approach. I have not met Alan nor have I read his first book but I can imagine him to be the Type-A, goal oriented, hard charging achiever that he describes. As such he pretty much had to do and discover for himself; to find out for example, that resume bombing has a poor ROI or that jack-of-all-trades usually doesn't pay. With a little research these job search 101 lessons could have been avoided. But then they and other job search / career advancement situations would not have been included in the book. Individuals struggling with the same issues, as well as those of us interested in the how-to of job search, wouldn't have the benefit of Alan's unique perspective.

Outside-the-box thinkers have to go about things their own way. Alan made job search and advancement into a game. He constructed an approach that suited his goal oriented, self-directed, entrepreneurial style. Others going through life with similar personality default settings can learn a great deal from how he did it. For this group especially, The Subversive Job Search should be required reading.

Travel well.
John Jeffrey Lundell

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Success Finding A Job - Tip Books

The first Tip Book 5 Reasons Why Introductions Are Critical To Those With Background Challenges is complete and available to the public.

People don't hire other people without meeting them first. This may seem obvious to you, yet it must not to many who act as if the entire hiring process can be handled via the internet. Of course there are some out there that will take me on about this, but really, even if you are the highest of IT fliers, with all sorts of digital material and presentations to your credit, as a practical matter the hiring party wants to seal the deal by meeting you face-to-face - which means there's an introduction.

On the other hand, for those of us planted on terrafirma, it's a requirement. And for those with background snags? It is an absolute chrome plated prerequisite. Read why in the first Tip Book.

The process of producing my initial publication was what, a lengthy labor of love? Well perhaps. Labor isn't quite right although lengthy and love do indeed fit. This is my first e-Publication and a lot went into it in terms of formatting, e-commerce decisions, etc. But now I have a toe-hold and will build from here.

Please visit the e-Publications page to purchase 5 Reasons Why Introductions Are Critical To Those With Background Challenges.


Additional Tip Books - in the near term, two more designed for job seekers with background concerns

A Book Review Page - starting with a review of The Subversive Job Search published by Career Press (please forgive James, I am slower than a turtle but it won't be long now)

Free Seminars - beginning this summer, free, topic specific, small group seminars - of course these are shamelessly designed to drum-up business and promote my publications, however I do intend for each to be informative, entertaining, and well worth each participant's time and effort

Travel well.
John Jeffrey Lundell