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.
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:
Earlier this week, Bank of America announced that they will be laying off 30,000 workers! That's a mind boggling number to many. Also, a fourth "green-energy" company touted by President Obama has filed for bankruptcy. One of those four, Solyndra, laid off 1,100 workers AFTER receiving over $500 million dollars from taxpayers. August saw the creation of ZERO jobs. Are you discouraged yet? Should you be?
I say no, you should not be bothered by this news. At a meeting with another business owner this week, I stated that this should be looked at as a positive. Granted, I'm not Mr. Cheery-face all the time, but hey, this is opportunity here for everyone. In the area of employment and work, I seem to be learning how to look for positive things when they present themselves.
I ran into a friend the other day as I was leaving the gym. After the standard "How are you?" he explained that he has received his 30 day notice from the company he has worked at for 20 years. It was clear from talking to him that this is a huge blow. He has always been a good performer and, prior to his company's merger with another large company; he was managing a team of people as well. Life has been good for him until now. Understandably, he is very hurt by the situation. So how does one react to the news that their services are no longer needed? Is it OK to be upset?
Social Media has exploded onto the scene in the last few years. There are almost too many sites to name. The biggest ones are probably MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. What you are doing on these sites, or not doing, can aid or hinder your job search success. You need to remember that the information you display on these sites is visible to virtually anyone.
I'm a very fortunate guy. After yesterday's article, a friend I greatly respect emailed me and took me to task for conveying a hopeless situation to readers of the article. That certainly was not the intention. She ended her note to me with the admonition "They need hope, help and encouragement." This is a very fair statement and I am taking it to heart. As I have stated before, my goal is to motivate individuals to take charge to not only find work, but to find work they love. The truth is, even though we do get a lot of doom and gloom from the media, there is hope for job seekers, and they should be optimistic.