Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Hope for the Long-Term Unemployed on WGN

WGN asked a question in September 2011 on their Facebook page about the fallout of long-term unemployment.  Did they experience foreclosure, bankruptcy and other less desirable life events?  I responded!  Since then I have been working with an excellent producer to tell the story of the long-term unemployed.  We didn't, however, just want to tell a story about being unemployed; we wanted to tell a story about how, despite all of the adversity, the long-term unemployed are chugging along and trying to become productive, tax paying citizens once again.  The numbers are still against us; when there are millions of people unemployed and only hundreds of thousands of jobs created, there will inevitably be a deficit.

Many of the unemployed are left wondering what to do.  Retraining may be a viable option, especially if you are being retrained in high growth areas.  If you're unemployed, however, you may not have the cash to pay to retrain.  More and more programs are popping up around the country to help.  One such program, of which I am a member and will be highlighted during the segment, is Chicago Career Tech, a job retraining program initiated by Mayor Richard M. Daley and the business community. 

Check out the story during the WGN news at 9pm on Thursday February 2nd and again during various news broadcasts on Friday the 3rd. 

Unemployed?  What have you been doing to get through it?  Were you long-term unemployed (longer than 8 months) and landed something?  What worked for you?  Share it with us all in the comment section below.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Newt: Less Talk, More Action, Please!

Newt Gingrich recently affirmed that he would continue to fight to get people back to work.  At a recent debate in South Carolina, he even stated that he was going to help people "get a job, to get a better job and learn someday to own the job!"  That sounds amazing!  What a promise!  Unfortunately, much of the promise is typically preceded by contempt for the unemployed.  In fact, he sounded only slightly less contemptuous than the last time, which prompted my previous challenge to him.

Newt should know better than everyone that 80% of jobs are not found on the internet or newspaper ads; they are found by networking.  The old adage about "It's all about who you know" is repeated over and over in job search articles, by career coaches and anyone giving advice to the unemployed on the internet. 

So, I once again challenge Newt to put his words into action.  What, specifically, is Newt going to do to get people back to work? 

I'm sure Newt has been shaking a lot of hands while on the trail.  Has he done anything else to take it to the next level?  Does he actually LISTEN to any of those with whom he shakes hands?  Has he connected an unemployed supporter with an employed friend?  Recent data shows that there are many companies out there not able to fill positions.  Newt certainly has friends in hiring positions or business owners that could help the unemployed. 

The bottom line is that he won't.  And his rhetoric is great for applause, but fails to recognize simple math and facts. 

Fact #1:  There are more unemployed people than there are open positions.  If there are 8 million people unemployed and only 200,000 jobs were created last quarter, that means 7.8 million people would NOT find a job.  It's like having 5 pairs of shoes  for 10 people; 5 people will NOT be wearing shoes. 

Fact #2:  This is not an Obama problem, this is a business community problem.  The Republicans are complaining that taxes are too high and therefore there is no money to hire.  First, that's not true because the Dow is now about 12,000, higher than ever under Bush 2.  Businesses are reported to have a LOT of cash-on-hand. 

Second, the tax rates in place were fought for under Bush as a way to improve the tax structure for businesses.  Obama has kept those rates in place.  How, now, is that not good enough to hire people?  They were good enough rates under Bush, but no longer any good under Obama?  Sounds like politiking to me.  It appears the business community is PURPOSEFULLY holding back on hiring in an effort to smear the Democrats and the Obama administration.

Newt, if you're genuine and serious about getting people back to work, then start showing it.  Maybe you will garner more votes by showing the voters your hands-on approach to helping the unemployed land suitable jobs.  If you're not genuine, I'll just keep calling you out on it.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Upcoming Discussion about Jobs After the State of the Union Address

You are invited to join a viewing of the State of the Union Address on Tuesday Jan 24, 2012 at Next Door Chicago at 8pm.

Following the speech, Next Door is hosting a round table discussion with individuals from different political views, including the Young Republicans of Illinois.   I have been asked to participate in this discussion since it will involve conversations about jobs, the unemployed, unemployment benefits and much more!

I hope you'll come join the discussion.

For more information on time and location, visit Next Door's website

The Frustrations of the Unemployed

Happy New Year everyone.  Sorry I've been on a bit of a hiatus.  If you're unemployed, you understand the ups and downs of emotions.  Frankly, I just haven't had it in me to post.

Now, however, the new year is already bringing new hope and possibilities and I'm very excited about what the future holds.

Today, however, I wanted to take a peek at an article I saw on LinkedIn.  Initially, it caught my eye because the author said he wanted to be "raw" and "honest."  I couldn't help but agree with him that most articles about "how to get a job" have become rather cliche.  Unfortunately, Mr. Balmer's attempt did not improve much on what's already out there.  In fact, he was a bit brash in his tone.

View the full article here

More interesting than Mr. Balmer's advice, however, were the comments in the comment section, particularly the first comment by 'timgray."  Tim does an amazing job of pointing out the absolute craziness with the interview/job search process.  Employers are dictating all of the advice on how perfect a candidate should be while falling far short of perfection themselves.  I can't tell you the number of times I've scratched my head in confusion by the 'laws' that govern the job search and the reality of people and society.

In addition to Tim's suggestions, I've always been frustrated--as a Language major--at the articles written about attention to spelling and syntax in resumes yet find countless examples of error-filled job requisitions. 

How about the places that specifically state the position is an entry level position, yet requires 2-3 years of experience? 

We also constantly hear that employers want to see we are "go-getters" and "ambitious" but "No phone calls or emails please" to show that ambition to them and stand out among the thousands of resumes.

And what's with the cover letter requirements only to have a phone screener asking me the basics of what was in my cover letter?

Most importantly: my name.  If I wrote you a letter asking for a job and misspelled your name that was clearly written in the job requisition, would you throw out my resume?  Conventional wisdom says yes, because we weren't "paying attention to detail."  But, where is the respect when writing back to me and spelling my name correctly?  My name was clearly in the cover letter, in bold and large font at the top of my resume, in my email and as part of my email address.  I know you're busy folks in HR, but does it take that long to simply verify that you spelled my name correctly?

Mr. Balmer has some valid points, but his words can also be viewed as rather "picky."  It's no wonder that there are A LOT of jobs unfilled while millions who want to work remain without jobs and we continue to hover around an unemployment rate of 8.5%.

I recently heard on a major network that 2012 will be the year that employers hire more to train more.  Employers are going to help close the skills gap.  Removing some of those overly "picky" qualifications will help their process. 

Here's to a better 2012 for you all out there!