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Finding Work in a New Town

Are you moving to a new location without a job? You’re not alone. If your spouse has a accepted a great gig, and you’re traveling in tow, you’ll need to find something for yourself. Or perhaps you’re an adventurous soul who packs up and moves to a new locale before you have a job lined up. Nothing wrong with that. Unless you end up unemployed in a new city for a long time. That would suck.

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Work Camping from an RV

Creative Writing Type A PrintAccording to NBC News more and more people are buying RVs. Their “On the Road Again” story points out that RV purchases are a sign that the economy is rebounding because RVs typically been a discretionary purchase. In other words, retirees and those with deep pockets could afford to buy them and drive them. With gas at $4 a gallon, and those rigs getting 12 MPG average, many find it’s cheaper to drive a car and stay in hotels rather than maintain an RV, when you consider how much use they get, insurance, registration, upkeep, and of course rent at campgrounds if you’re not boon docking.

But over at NPR, the rise of RV Sales and their use paints a more dismal picture. The mid-day program “Here and Now” highlighted the plight of those who can’t afford to retire. These people are  living in RVs and chasing jobs all over the nation. Did you know there is an underground workforce that travels from place to place following hiring booms? Amazon loves RV Workampers and hires a lot of them every winter in Nevada at their distribution site during the busy holiday shopping season. The fact that workers show up with their own housing, and leave when the surge is over is a benefit to companies. As for the workers, maybe not so much. These are not full-time jobs with benefits. And because workers cross state lines, there’s the health insurance issue they have to deal with.

There are many people who dream of a life on the road. A way to see the country, pick up some work along the way, and live on their own terms. The website “Cheap RV Living” offers a glimpse on what it’s like to live in an RV and find work across the country. And over at LiveWorkDream.com they chastise NPR’s Here and Now for only presenting one side of the story in their blog: “Not all Workampers are Old, Broke, and Destitute.”

Of course, you don’t have to pick up minimum wage jobs if you’re working out of an RV. If you’re an expert, consultant, writer, or do outside sales, you can also make a decent living from the road. It all depends on how good you are with networking, and finding temporary work in your field. Thankfully there is a network of like-minded people to offer up advice.

 

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Keep Your Job Search Confidential

I get this question from time to time as to whether you should let your co-workers and managers know you are are actively job searching or you have a job interview with another company. To that I reply, “NO!” Sometimes I’ll get push back that it’s the right thing to do, so the company can have more time finding a replacement. It’s an ideal concept, but one that backfires more often than not.

For one, your co-workers and managers will begin treating you differently. Here’s why. Imagine if you’re married, and you approach your spouse to let them know you are interested in playing the field, to see what else is out there. Or that you plan to leave the marriage 8 weeks from now. What do you think the response will be? And then what if your new love interest decides you’re not the one after all? It’s not that different when it comes to the job search. If you don’t find a new job right away, or perhaps you decide you’re better off staying put, do you think your employer will embrace you? Or question your loyalty?

You’re not off the hook if your unemployed either. Sure you can mention you’re looking for work, but leave it at that. Blasting information about upcoming or recent job interviews among friends, co-workers, or on social media can  backfire because it invites competition for the job (maybe your co-workers are also interested in fleeing the coop).

Moreover, I’ve seen the chronically unemployed continue to make the same mistakes when it comes to job searching and networking. These are the people who hang out in LinkedIn chat rooms and: lament about how tough the job market is, all they want is a job, and then when they get an interview they complain loudly about the asinine questions, or hurl insults about the interviewer. That’s just bad branding. And poor etiquette.

The job search is much like a poker game. Keep a straight face and keep your cards close to the vest. Don’t make it easy for your competitors to beat you.  Or your current boss to remove you from the table.

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I’ll Take Anything…. Not!

Last week I stopped by a fast food restaurant during a slow period. While I was waiting for my order, I overheard the Assistant Manager tell a co-worker he was desperately looking for a new job. I politely interrupted and asked what type of job he was looking for. He replied, “anything, if it gets me out of here.”

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Freedom From Workplace Bullies

October 16 through October 22 is Freedom from Workplace Bullies Week, sponsored by the Workplace Bullying Institute. Thank God this organization exists. Someone needed to shed light on this growing problem in the USA, especially in this economy. Why? Because I’ve seen so many hard working and talented people who are unemployed, while a Workplace Bully gets to keep his job. Or I see people stay in jobs and take the abuse, out of fear they won’t find another. And in my opinion, that’s wrong on so many levels.

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You Get More with Carrots than you do with Sticks

I’m reading a book this week on employee engagement and how to motivate employees to love working for you. Throughout my career I have worked for some wonderful companies, one of them was Buck Owens Broadcasting, another was America West Airlines. Both of these organizations understood that praise and reward are much better motivators in the workplace, than fear and punishment. Tyranny builds resentment and erodes loyalty and commitment. Sad to say, not all managers understand that. These are the people who feel the need to watch their employees every move to find fault so they can “start a file” on them. Any positive performance is either said privately (if at all) or awarded in writing to the entire team on a job “well done.” But none that is documented in your personnel file.

When I worked for KNIX in Phoenix, we had lavish holiday parties, quarterly get-togethers (with lots of free alcohol), and a gym on the premises. Buck and his sons wanted us to be happy employees. And we were! Ratings and revenues soared and we broke all kinds of company records. There was so much love in that building, you could just feel it.

It wasn’t like that at a few of my other radio jobs. At one place, the management promised listeners meet and greet parties with the announcers, but then didn’t include the air staff. Instead, the managers brought their spouses, leaving listeners to wonder who are these people, and the deejays feeling slighted. The environment in that building was stifling; and workers were always complaining and resentful. That in turn made the manager even more paranoid, turning the place into one giant viper pit, and worker against co-worker. Then with all the rudeness going on, there were additional opportunities for the manager to write up the employees. It was hell.

I forgot about these experiences until I started reading Finding Happiness, by Todd Patkin. In Chapter 12: titled “Treat Them Like Kings,” Patkin outlines why it’s in every managers best interest to treat their employees well, rather than reprimand and criticize them at every turn.

From my experience, Patkin is right. I am a firm believer that a fish rots from the head first.

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Is Autism Protected by the ADA?

I wrote to Workforce Management Magazine this past week wondering if Autism and Asperger’s syndrome are protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act. It’s not just children who have this disorder; so do some adults. The only difference is that most adults are not even aware they have this affliction, because when we were kids, the disorder hadn’t been named yet.

Those with Autism and Asperger’s syndrome are not stupid. Quite the contrary, they are super smart. But what makes them stand out is they have poor social skills. Most lack friends, tend to have a strong interest in only one subject, and thrive on a daily routine where they do the same exact thing at the same time every day. It’s very ritualistic. They don’t adapt well to change, and tend to have a lack of empathy for their peers. And while not required for diagnosis, those with Autism and Asperger’s can be clumsy, or have a funky gait, such as walking on their toes a lot. They also tend to have a heightened sense of self-importance and are quick to point out the flaws of others, or may perceive that their co-workers are getting preferential treatment.

Because many managers, as well as the employees themselves are unaware of the symptoms, there can be clashes in the workplace. Managers may see the Autistic employee as difficult, unyielding, and combatant, especially if there is a schedule change, or change in responsibilities. In fact, most managers will try behavioral therapy to address the issue, focusing on specific deficits to address poor communication skills, obsessive or repetitive routines, and physical clumsiness. When in fact, the managers and co-workers should be aware of the disorder(s), and how to coach and work with an autistic employee. At the ADA and the Department of Labor, it’s called an accommodation. But are accommodations granted to those with Autism? It’s not a disability you can easily see, and employees can only hide it for so long, if they are even aware they have Autism.

Managers and HR Directors need to be observant of their employee’s behavior to determine if a diagnosis is necessary instead of just firing the worker because they are challenging. Otherwise the company could end up with a huge lawsuit on their hands, and a lot of unwanted media publicity.

In the meantime, if I hear back from Workforce Management Magazine on whether the ADA protects Autistim, I’ll post it here. Your comments on the subject are encouraged.

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Lessons Learned from Charlie Sheen

Watching Charlie Sheen’s career crash and burn like has been an eye opening experience. He’s given us the primer on what not to do if you want to get to the top and stay there.

And he joins the ranks of others, including that airline flight attendant who publicly severed his employment after getting fed up with conditions on the job. Looking back, I’m guessing that flight attendant knows it wasn’t a good idea to act so rashly. I don’t think Charlie is there yet.

As Hollywood’s highest paying sitcom actor, Sheen was at the top of his game. But because of his off screen antics, and reported problems on the set, combined with his very public fight with Chuck Lorre, he lost his job. And after losing his job he continues to publicly proclaim that he’s winning.

I’ll admit I watch “Two and a Half Men,” although not because of Charlie Sheen. I watch it because I find the writing to be funny. Which to me, means that just about any halfway decent actor can recite the lines of a funny writer. But it’s a lot harder to keep viewers engaged if the writing and storyline just aren’t there, regardless of the talent playing the lead role.

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Ashton Kutcher will be joining the cast of “Two and a Half Men” although he won’t be playing Charlie Harper. Even CBS/Time Warner is smart enough to admit that Sheen can’t be replaced. Although Sheen did tout his own brilliance as a comedic performer.

The WSJ article adds that Kutcher comes to “Two and a Half Men” with a huge following and an 80% likability rating, whereas Sheen is only liked by 40% of Americans. What Sheen may soon find out is that no one cares if you’re brilliant if they don’t like you.

I suspect that “Two and a Half Men” will survive, if not thrive, from the talent change as long as the writing doesn’t change. And CBS was well within its rights to choose Lorre over Sheen. He’s a ratings generating powerhouse with several sitcoms running on CBS. Sheen on the other hand is a hedonistic actor who thinks the network can’t survive without him.

Lessons learned from Charlie Sheen. As an employee, don’t get your name in the press for bad behavior and lawlessness and expect to keep your job no matter how indispensable you think you are. Make an effort to get along with your co-workers. Don’t bad mouth them.

While many of us can only fantasize of dressing down an insidious co-worker the way Charlie Sheen did, not much good can come of it. Charlie Sheen is looking more ike a whiner than a winner, and CBS has already moved on. It will be interesting to see how this all unfolds.

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Does Your Resume Date You?

Did you know there are subtle signs of your age just by looking at your resume? There are the obvious signs, like stating you graduated college in the 70’s (we now drop the graduation date when it’s more than 5 years  old.) But there are a few other things you may not have thought of, such as:

1.  Listing more than one telephone number on your resume. Crazy isn’t it? But new research is indicating that more and more  people under the age of 30 no longer have a land line. So only list one phone number (the one most likely to be answered) on your resume.

2.  Dates in the wrong place. Years ago we listed dates on the left side of the page. Today dates go on the right. That’s where computer readers search for them too.

3.  Insisting that a resume needs to be only a page. With today’s computer readers, length is not as important as keywords. Although I don’t advocate going beyond two pages. No one reads that far anymore.

4.  Not listing computer skills. And if you do list computer skills, dump the ones that are out of date, like Fortran, COBOL, BASIC. That will make you look like a dinosaur.

5.  Listing your high school education. Whether you went on to college or not, don’t put high school information on your resume unless you are 18 years old and searching for your first job.

Ideally you don’t want to go back more than 15 years on a resume. Some people can’t help it though. These are the folks who worked for the same company their whole life. And there is nothing wrong with that. Loyalty goes a long way in business.

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Your Occupation’s Special Needs

Sometimes we get so close to our own occupation that we forget some of those daily tasks that get overlooked on a resume that can make us stand out.

For example: today a broadcast engineer friend of mine sent me a 7-minute video on how to climb an antenna tower. I watched this video and the first thing I thought of for a tower climber’s resume was to be sure and add: “agile climber, unafraid of heights, with an accident-free record.” But how many broadcast engineers would think to add that to a resume? Most won’t. They say it’s part of the job. But you never know why the last guy left his job. Maybe s/he fell?

Employers hate accidents and litigation. Therefore think about your occupation for a moment. What are some of the things you do that most people aren’t even aware of, and what makes you good at it. What do you like about it? For tower climbers, it’s the freedom, the love of the outdoors, and of course the view from the top that most of us never get to experience. What make them good at their job? They have to be unafraid of heights, mechanically adept, and willing to work on call, weekends, holidays, and nights.

I’m happy to keep my feet on the ground and live vicariously through the resumes I write. It also helps me point out the special needs required of different types of occupations.