Thank You – It’s Important

My sister lives in the Seattle area and quit working for “the man” several years ago.  She enjoyed a career at home in Internet Marketing.  She was doing well until Google decided to change their algorithms making it extremely difficult for small websites to show up in Google web searches.  So she decided to get back into corporate America and began her job search.  The economy is still in recovery and it took her longer than she expected but she finally did land a good paying job.  She credits her success to one simple tool – a thank you note.  She told me that following up her interviews with a nice thank you note set her apart from other candidates.

Set her apart from other candidates?  That’s odd.  I’ve been doing career research for several years now and every article or website I’ve read recommends that applicants send a thank you note after meeting with their hopeful employer.  Apparently that advice is not well received because many applicants fail to follow up in this very simple way.  Remember that employers will often interview many applicants in a day and they will sit with a stack of resumes and interview notes from people just like you.  In order to be successful in your career search – you not only need to score the interview and impress them with your accomplishments, you must also stay in their mind as someone who follows through a process completely.  The thank you note is the perfect way to accomplish that goal.

My sister didn’t indicate whether she sent a physical thank you card or simply sent an email thank you.  I think both would be sufficient but a hand written note would certainly be more rare these days – and therefore more note worthy in the mind of the employer.  Either way this simple little edge should never be forgotten.  So let me join all those other career advisers in suggesting you send a thank you note after your interview.  It really is important.

Comments: 1 Comment

The Job Choice Election

We have a very interesting election approaching several month from now when we will choose our next President.  We now know who the likely candidates will be  – President Obama and Mitt Romney.   Without trying to insert my own opinions, I see this as a very clear cut but highly divided decision on what is the best way to create jobs in this country.  President Obama and the Democrats say the answer is to empower the middle class and support small business creation.  Governor Romney and the Republicans believe that empowering larger corporations is the way to create jobs and those corporations will then support their employees.  Those are two very different approaches to the same problem – so who is correct?  With no middle ground as an option, NightOwlStaffing would like to hear your opinion.  Please take a moment to vote in the latest poll that will be posted on the side bar.  Whatever the eventual result of the election – we hope NightOwlStaffing.com will help you find the perfect after hours career!

Comments: 1 Comment

America Gets Back To Work

Last night President Obama outlined his plan to get America back to work with various infrastructure projects, tax breaks for businesses that hire and other incentives to get businesses back to hiring.  That’s great news for those of us looking for a job or a career change!  I think it is important that the President not only wants to get people working again, but also ensuring those who are working are getting a fair wage.  The economy won’t improve until we all have money in our pockets that we can spend on things other than reducing our debt or buying necessities.  We can only hope that the jobs bill is approved and implemented quickly because as the President indicated – we don’t have 14 months to wait for things to improve.

NightOwlStaffing is standing by to match workers of all shifts with employers who need those workers.  We encourage businesses of all types to post their free job ads on NightOwlStaffing.com.  Your membership is totally free and so are your job postings – including links, logos and media.

Comments: Leave a Comment

MSN and Forbes Like 2nd Shift

Here is an article I ran across on MSN illustrating some of the benefits of working 2nd shift.

Also included is a Forbes.com article on jobs that typically pay better at night.

There are many other benefits to working 2nd and 3rd shift discussed previously in this blog.  NightOwlStaffing.com is your source for night shift employment!

Comments: Leave a Comment

A Poll On Unions

The debate on employee unions in this country is heating up fast!  As with my last article, I will try to remain neutral in my opinion on this particular blog.  However, this topic is sure to be a hot one during the next Presidential election.  I just added a poll to the side bar asking your opinion.  Take a quick vote – the results might be very interesting!

Comments: Leave a Comment

Unions In Todays Workforce

I’ll try not to be too political either way in the article and it shouldn’t  be difficult as I am quite torn on this topic.  Let me first state what I don’t like about Unions.  In the past some unions have taken the power of collective bargaining too far.  Through frequent strikes and other sanctions they managed to bargain for wages and benefits that were far beyond the standard for the area.  Also a work stoppage never really seems to cause inconvenience to the workers or the company – it seems the customers typically suffer the most.  I’m reminded of a big UPS strike several years ago that caused a lot of big problems for people shipping packages.  The employees and UPS managed to survive without too much disruption.  I’ve also been stranded in remote areas of the country when the airline I took to get there suddenly went on strike.  And they will typically do these strikes at the most inconvenient times for the customers.

Still – I believe there is a place for Unions in this country.  Right now the battle is being fought in teachers unions that are publicly funded.   One only needs to compare the educational rankings of union states vs non-union states to see how important they are.  Also, I don’t believe the teacher unions have over stepped their boundaries as far as compensation and benefits are concerned.  The main gripe from these states is that these are federal employees and shouldn’t be paid more than the private sector.  On this note I do disagree.  In my opinion, education is vital to the success of this country and you get what you pay for.  As for the argument that poor quality teachers can’t be fired – I believe there are ways of dealing with that issue without having to dismantle the union.  Again – just my opinion.

But what about the private sector?  Are unions good or bad?  Well I can only comment on my own state of FL where we do not have private unions except for a few national unions like UPS.  Here we have some of the lowest wages compared to similar jobs in other parts of the country.  We also have a very high cost of living by comparison to other states.  I have lived here for 20 years and have always received glowing reviews for my work (in the IT field) yet I struggle to get by with my modest lifestyle.  Through the years after more workload and no pay raise, I’ve tried several different approaches to asking for a raise.  All of them were met with very negative results from management.  The sad truth here in Florida is that they don’t care.  They know the workers have no bargaining power and so they pay the minimum they can in the market.  We also seem to be the birthplace of scam business because the cost of doing business in Florida is so much more appealing without union wages.  In my opinion, Florida could benefit from more unions.  The consumers and employees here really do need more protection from the corporations.  But it’s not likely to happen.

So there are pros and cons to unions in today’s workforce.  As I said, I don’t have a firm answer on the topic but would enjoy hearing comments from readers either way.

Comments: 1 Comment

Back To School?

Many people who are in the job market – either by layoff or just for a career change – often look first at going back to school.  A better education is never a bad idea, but there are some things you should consider before you enroll.

  • Today’s higher education can be prohibitively expensive – especially if you plan to attend a good quality accredited school.  How will you pay for your classes and books without a job?  How long will it take you to re-coup those costs?  Will you really get that much higher salary?
  • Technology is changing fast affecting many jobs very quickly.  When you finally get that new degree it may already be outdated.
  • A higher education takes a lot of time – time that you won’t be working and making money.
  • Cheaper on-line classes might not be as accepted as a “real” education.  You might just be wasting your time.

On the job training (OJT) may be a more effective way to enhance your career or train for a new career direction.  The hardest part of OJT is finding an employer that is willing to take the time and effort to train you – but it might not be as difficult as you would imagine.  Many employers would rather have a person trained in the specific way they do business rather than bring on an employee with a head full of preconceived ideas.  Most companies know the value of OJT and are more than willing to provide the opportunity.

Your past experience is your biggest asset when seeking on OJT position.  An employer needs to be able to determine that you are the type of person that will learn quickly with the appropriate ambition.  If you don’t already have years of experience you will need to be able to convince a prospective employer that you are that type of person.  Practice several different ways of conveying that information in an interview – before you go to the interview.  Be sure you can provide specific examples either in your professional life or private life that prove you are able to adapt and learn quickly.

The down side of OJT is that you may need to take a pay cut.  You can’t really expect to get paid a full salary without the full training.  But weighed against the amount of money you would pay for a quality education and the difference in cost to you could be substantial.  OJT is your ticket to self improvement and career advancement at a fraction of the cost of higher education.

Comments: Leave a Comment

Internet – Foe and Friend

Anything you say can and will be used against you.

Are those Miranda Rights?  Well yes, but it also applies to your job search.  The Internet is a wonderful tool to help you in your job search, but it can also be your biggest enemy.  You may think things you post on FaceBook, Twitter, MySpace, and all those other social media sites are private but you would be very wrong.  You would also be wrong if you don’t think people that are hiring don’t do a search on your Internet profiles.  I have several friends that are executives in major corporations and they assure me that they do indeed search on every employee they intend to hire.  OMG!

Some people who are in the job market are aware of this and have started being more “well behaved” on their social media pages.  Don’t forget – the Internet has a history!  Things you posted years ago can still be out there waiting to pop up next to your resume.  But don’t panic – there are a few things you can do to help improve your online image.

  • Google yourself.  Don’t stop with just your name, do a search on any information that is in your resume.  Search your phone number, email address or even your home address.  Remember Google street view can even show them where you live.   Maybe you will want to leave your address off your resume and just post your phone number and email.
  • If the Google search you just did brought up any skeletons in your computer you may have some work to do.  See if you can delete offending accounts or remove inappropriate pictures.  You may have to make some calls – perhaps even to Google to get some really damaging stuff removed.  In most cases though just deleting the accounts will be sufficient.
  • Read through your wall in FaceBook or your Twitter posts and other social media sites.  Delete inappropriate items keeping in mind that a very religious or political comment can sometimes have adverse affects on your job search.
  • Set up a separate email account with a name that is not easily associated with your own name for adult sites or other sites you would rather your employer not find associated with you.
  • Or set up an email account that you will only use on your resume – preferably one that has your whole name in it like firstname.lastname@gmail.com
  • After you have cleaned up your act as much as you can – Google yourself again and see if it worked.  Keep in mind that it may take days for the search results to update properly.

Now you have done all you can to clear up your dark history – how about making your future brighter?

  • Start being more positive in your online posts.
  • Join some good job related social media sites like Linked In and see if you can get some former employers or co-workers to recommend you.  If you get contacted by a recruiter you can mention your LinkedIn account and they will be able to get a better picture of who you are.  This has helped me in the recent past.  Add the recruiter as a friend – that way they will know the status of your job search.
  • Use FaceBook, Twitter and other similar sites to mention you are seeking employment and what type of work you are interested in – but don’t overdo it.  Your friends and family will be more than willing to help as long as you don’t keep hammering them with requests.  Every once in a while a reminder is OK.

The Internet can be both a blessing and a curse in your job search.  A little effort on your part will help you look much better on the computer screen of your next HR director.  And now if you will excuse me, I think perhaps I should Google myself.  :)

Comments: Leave a Comment

When Is a Picture Not Worth a Thousand Words

I wondered if a person should include a picture on their resume so I did a quick Google search and I found my answer very quickly.  The short answer is “no”.  In fact including your picture could disqualify you immediately because of the potential of lawsuits that could arise if it can be proven that one candidate was chosen simply on their appearance.  However it may be relevant to include a picture with your resume if you are applying for a job that requires a certain type of person – like a modeling  job or entertainer.

This got me thinking about whether it is appropriate to include your picture on an online job board such as NightOwlStaffing.com.  In fact we provide the ability to load your personal picture and many candidates choose to do so.  I can only speak on my personal opinion, but in most cases I think it would be OK.  An online job site is a little different than submitting your resume for a particular job.  With Job boards such as ours, if you apply for the job online – the resume goes to the employer but the picture stays on the site.  Only those employers who are on our site looking at employee profiles will see those pictures and I believe they intend to do so.  Anything you can include in your online profile that might help you get the interview should be there.  But, you should realize that including a picture is a 50/50 deal.  Your picture might sell you or sell you out.  If the employer likes what they see you have an added advantage.  If not you may be unduly disqualified despite your accomplishments.

My advice is that if you choose to include a picture in your on-line profile, make sure it is a good one.  You should be appropriately dressed in business attire (appropriate for the job you are seeking) and appear as if you are ready for your interview.  Your profile should indicate that you are ready for the job – not the beach, a ball game, or a night on the town.  There is a saying that you never get a second chance to make a first impression.  With that in mind, make sure your picture is recent and that the person that shows up for the interview isn’t someone 20 years older and 20 lbs heavier.  That might be interpreted as a misrepresentation or dishonesty.

Let me just reiterate that these are my personal opinions.  A professional job counselor may have a different opinion on the topic .  Do your own research and use your best judgment.  Don’t forget to smile!

Comments: Leave a Comment

The Real VIP

Every organization has a very important person that you should find favor with – can you guess who it is?  Some might say the CEO, others might think the HR Director.  Another good guess is your immediate supervisor or department head.  Those are all good answers and of course it is important that you impress all of them with your talents and style.  In my opinion, however, the most important person you should have on your side is the Executive Assistant – sometimes referred to as the Executive Secretary.

You will find that Executive Assistants are typically over worked, over stressed and under paid.  They can sometimes be grumpy and short.  Still it is important to treat them with the utmost respect.  If you are like me – this isn’t a terribly difficult task.  I try to treat everyone from the CEO to the cleaning crew with the same level of respect and dignity.  It’s not an act for me because I truly believe that every organization is a team of people who without each other would not be successful.  If you view the workplace in this way it is easy to gain the respect of everyone  from the cleaning crew to the CEO – including the all important Executive Assistant.

If you work 2nd or 3rd shift, your mission to find favor with this VIP is not only more difficult but also more important.  The difficult part comes from not having the time every day to foster a good relationship with the Executive staff.  But if you play your cards right you can turn your disadvantage into an advantage.  As a 2nd or 3rd shift employee, you will see these people at the very beginning or very end of their workday.  A smile and pleasant exchange of conversation during those prime times can go a long way.  Plus, your limited exposure reduces your chances of getting too personal or saying something inappropriate.  Just be sure that every encounter is a good one and when they see your smiling face at 4pm they will unconsciously associate you with the fact they they are about to go home!

The reason your shift makes this connection more important is because you will have limited times when you will be able to speak with an executive if needed.  You will only have perhaps an hour at the beginning or the end of the day to have a meeting.  That’s when it’s important that the person with the schedule will gladly move some appointments to get your meeting set at those critical times.  Executives are typically very busy with tight schedules.  If you fall on the bad side of an E.A. – you can bet you will have a more difficult time scheduling that meeting.

So always remember – those people sitting just outside the big office might be more important than those sitting inside the office.  Be genuine, be nice, and be scheduled.

Comments: Leave a Comment