As I sit down this morning at my computer to plan a set of articles, I look online at the local paper's stories regardng unemployment. If you're not careful, it will discourage you. In a society fueled by the never ending cycle of news, the current view appears to be that things are beyond your control due to government inaction, government intrusion, corporate greed, and stingy banks. What's one to do?
Out of five personal stories in an editorial today, only one was from a lady who didn't complain about her situation, but got up and did what needed to be done to find work that she wanted, not just needed. The other four blamed their age, having to start over, the state's residents, the government, and the recession that supposedly ended 2 years ago.
A local columnist wrote me to ask for my input about following up after the job interview. He wants to know how to provide some feedback on how to follow up after they don’t get the job. What can they learn from it? Is it okay to reach out and question the hiring manager/ recruiter. He believes recruiters would be more likely to give you feedback because they want you to hone your skills for the next try.
This is an area I do tend to like discussing with folks, so let's see if I can be of assistance. First off, it is always okay to reach out and question the hiring manager/recruiter. In fact, I think it's a must. This not only helps you from the feedback perspective, it can help you for future potential interviews.
It is not uncommon for the interview process to take several phases. Just getting the interview is a good start because it means your resume has gathered interest. The first interview may be in person or over the phone, and it may be conducted by a gatekeeper and not necessarily the hiring manager. With increased competition for fewer positions, these gatekeepers are trying to thin out the applicant list. The gatekeeper will have a set of questions by which they will identify prospects for the next phase, typically an in-person interview.
A local reporter who asks for my input to emails he receives sent me a question from a reader. Her husband was fired over a year ago from his job for a safety violation. She clearly feels that politics were involved (shocking!), He's been out of work now and wants to know how to respond to the question "Why did you leave your last job?" The following is my response. Read it and feel free to comment.
I'm sorry to hear about this gentleman's plight, but I'm not surprised. While I'm certain he's disappointed that things wound up this way, let's look at how to proceed. It is important not to beat yourself up, as this can happen to the best of us. It doesn't even have to be your fault. Many of the most successful people around have been fired. If you haven't been fired, you're probably not trying hard enough.
We often talk about having a balanced with respect to our lives. I've taught this also in my coaching. For the record, I divide my life wheel into seven categories: Family, Career, Spiritual, Financial, Social, Physical, and Personal Development. Ideally, you or I will consider our lives balanced if we are finding our desired success in each of these areas. In one of the several stories I read following the death of Steve Jobs, it indicated that Steve spent his final days with his children, explaining why he hadn't always been there. The story indicated regret on Mr. Jobs' part. This is not an unusual story. I have no recollection of any successful man on his deathbed wishing he had just spent a little more time in the office.
I received a question the other day regarding a gentleman who was having trouble finding work. He had been working from home at the beginning of the year and had interviewed for a position with a large company. After being offered a position, he gave his notice to his employer. Shortly after, the new company rescinded the offer because of a misdemeanor on his record regarding over-payment of unemployment benefits. He had mentioned it during his interview and was told that it wouldn't be an issue. However, after doing the background check, the company appeared to not be comfortable with the charge and declined to hire him.
Part of the challenge in answering a question such as this is not knowing more specific information. I'm uncertain as to what he was doing from home before he interviewed with the large employer, but it sounds like he has skills that are transferable to many places. However, let's just focus on the criminal record issue.
A recent article in the Charlotte Observer noted that there is a large gap between minority applicants and white applicants in terms of success in finding jobs as well as just the general unemployment rate. The unemployment rate in the black community today is roughly 50% higher than it is in the white community, and the Hispanic community also seems to be suffering a higher unemployment rate than the white community as well.
Is this a sign of racism? I don't think so, although it may play a case in rare situations. Older workers are struggling to find work also. Virtually every demographic group you can think of is gonna complain about their inability to find a job. The truth of the matter is that currently, the unemployment rate hovering around 9.1% nationally, and much higer in certain other areas. If you factor in the under-employment rate and those who have given up looking, the rate hovers much closer to 17%.
With the economy slogging along, and more people competing for fewer jobs, many are concerned about whether they are at a disadvantage when competing with others. This appears to me to affect "older" workers more than most others. Many are under the perception that, because they are more experienced and typically at the top of their wage earning potential. The worry is that younger workers can work longer for less. While this might be true on occasion, I don't think it's worth worrying about, and here's why.
Folks in their 40's and 50's are truly in their prime working years. This is a time where they should be maximizing their income and capitalizing upon their experiences in their jobs. The thing is, these folks have another good 15-20 years of productive work left. As I see it, there are a number of obstacles in the way of folks who want to work for an employer rather than start their own business.
Potential employers appear to be extra cautious in hiring older workers. There is a lot of liability for employers who hire older workers. If they decide to let an older worker go, even for cause, they must take extra precautions to eliminate the threat of an age discrimination suit. Additionally, some folks perceive that older workers get short shrift because younger workers can get paid less.
Here are some suggestions:
As you may be aware, I like to encourage folks to pursue their passions, and to find ways to find an audience. Such an opportunity has come up for me for my coaching, but I need your help. It should take you less than 2 minutes.
Our local AM powerhouse, WBT, is hosting a contest for their next talker on Sunday nights from 6 - 8 PM. To participate, contestants need to create a video and get the greatest number of "likes" for their video. After contemplating this idea, I decided to enter the contest. We are in the voting phase of round 1 which ends on Thursday morning, 11/10/11 at 9:59 AM.
As a coach, and having taught workshops in churches, non-profits, and now at the community college level, I have seen many folks who are either in jobs they hate, or stuck trying to find work that is satisfying. That is one reason why I've been preparing a podcast to be called Cure For The Common Cubicle. This is also the concept for my radio show entry. I want to answer questions from listeners, and provide resources and information to help them. This is an amazing opportunity.
So here's how the contest works, and what I need from you:
I have come to believe that one of the most limiting statements today is "I'll think about it." Apparently, it's a lot easier than just saying no for some people, but the result is just the same. The sad part is, this is not just limited to older and more experienced individuals. This is also becoming prevalent with today's youth. They seem to be running around with life-limiting blinders on. This is a shame.
If you're more experienced in your work life, this is a great time for you to evaluate where you want to go next. The best years of your life are ahead of you as I explained to a group attending a seminar I taught recently. I was particularly inspired by the story of an amputee named Norm. He is using what many might perceive as a disability or bad situation in life to fulfill his calling to help other amputees by being an amputee advocate for those struggling with becoming amputees themselves!
My wife Laura is skeptical of self-employment at times. When I talk to her about the coaching business, or even my new venture, MyCabarrus.com, she confesses that she's afraid. She says it's because her security gene is enhanced, and for good reason. I was laid off from my last full-time job with benefits in 2004, 7 years ago this month actually. I didn't find a job until 51 weeks later after, and that after we moved clear across the country to North Carolina.
The change actually began in 2002 when I stepped down from my management position. While I enjoyed my work, I had become a workaholic, and I was missing critical time in the lives of my young daughters. I took a new position working for my friend and mentor who had hired me. Unfortunately, things changed soon after.