Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Finding Your Next Job

It puzzles me, when I learn from women how poorly they are "connected" in Social Networks, especially the network for professionals, LinkedIn, that they do not seem to realize how important this is for their careers.

Example One:
Connie shunned Social Networks and had no use at all for LinkedIn while she was (very well!) employed by a prominent, international brand in transportation. Then, her employer merged with another company, her postion was eliminated and she was laid off. She then decided to create a LinkedIn profile, where all her listed positions were "past". Even though mergers and lay-offs are not an employee's fault, did Connie realize that recruiters might not favor someone who is not currently employed?

Example Two:
Kathleen has a very busy job with a hip global consumer goods company. When asked why she has no LinkedIn profile, her response was that her employer does not allow it and that she does not want to start one on her own time, because "I work 55 or more hours a week and when I get home I want to do other things". Her absence from LinkedIn makes her invisible to recruiters who may be searching for candidates to fill a position even better than the one she has now.

Example Three:
Doreen's situation is similar to Kathleen's, although, unlike her, she complains a lot about her workload and the menial tasks the CEO of this high-profile membership organization expects her and her direct-reports to perform for him (such as picking up his dry cleaning or having his car washed - can you believe it, in 2009?). She knows she should expand her skimpy LinkedIn profile and update it regularly, but she says she has no time during the day and is too tired in the evenings, while her week-ends are spent shopping or with friends. How will she find her next job, if she ever decides she is tired of her current employer, or he of her?

It is my hope that women in "Corporate America" will begin to think of themselves more as entrepreneurs, responsible for their own careers, and in doing so employ all the necessary tools at their disposal. Among these, a LinkedIn profile is at the top - effective and free!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Getting a Pay Increase

Congratulations to nearly 7% of Georgia workers - you are getting a pay increase on Friday, when the minimum wage goes up from $6.55 to $7.25 an hour.


Beverly Johnson, legislative chair of Kansas Business and Professional Women said, "We are all in this together. People working hard and responsibly should be paid an amount valuing their personal human dignity. For example, we need 'ditch diggers.' I don't want to dig ditches. If I want my ditches to be dug, then I should not be paying the least amount that a 'desperate' person will work for. I must pay fairly in a way that will assure he can afford necessities and preserve his human dignity -- even if it means I earn a little less." More than 8% of Kansas workers will receive a raise.

"It's a myth that a minimum wage increase kills job development," said Lya Sorano, founder of Atlanta Women in Business. "To get out of this recession, we need more money to circulate. That happens when people get bigger paychecks, who today can't afford to buy the goods and services they need -- goods and services from some of the same people who seem to be opposed to the increase."

"The stress of poverty puts the mind in a place of worry instead of work," said Nancy Denker, owner of Focus Ink in Albuquerque, NM. "Living on a shoestring is not the best incentive for workers. Business owners must realize that as our community prospers, so will business."

Monday, July 20, 2009

News - the way it used to be

Following today’s noon news on TV, which was perhaps a minute or two shorter than usual, and which I had turned on while preparing lunch, there was a “news interview” by one of the station’s on-air talents of a local car dealership owner. Unless one paid close attention or knew “how these things work”, it was indistinguishable from the “news” that had preceded it – a murder, a boating accident, the imminent minimum wage increase, the 40th anniversary of the lunar landing – but the interview actually was a disguised advertisement. The car dealership owner advertises heavily on TV, in spots that are readily recognized as ads, and I guess he was “owed one” . . . .

Then I sat down with my lunch, opened this morning’s paper (The Financial Times) and read Walter Cronkite’s obituary.

Wow! Just as the differences between planet earth and the moon are amazing, without comparables, so is the difference between the news of 40 years ago and today’s news.

My first memory of Walter Cronkite’s broadcast genius was the 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago, then the 1969 lunar landing and all throughout, his coverage of the Vietnam war – as horrendously ill-considered then as the Iraq war of more recent vintage.

Television newscasts certainly have changed in the past half-century, and not for the better.

And that’s the way it is, July 20, 2009.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Minimum Wage Increase

I support a minimum wage increase and hope you do also.

Do not allow yourself to be persuaded that a minimum wage increase kills job development. Who can live on a minimum wage anyway? Can those who oppose the increase? I dare them to try!

WASHINGTON - July 16 - When the federal minimum wage rises from $6.55 to $7.25 an hour on July 24, the national Let Justice Roll Living Wage Campaign will celebrate - and call for another increase to $10 in 2010. (read more.....)

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Politeness Gone Too Far – Way Too Far

So, the evening had started off horribly (Read: “Phoenix & Dragon Flames Out”, below), but now we were in the event room, where I took it upon myself to tell the organizer and the presenter what had just occurred next door (the organizer excused it by saying that “Candace has just hired a few new people; I will speak with her about this"), and ready to hear the presentation, which both my colleague and I had been looking forward to.

First, though, we had to sit through an introduction by the event’s organizer, who started with a “brief meditation, so that you will feel your power” and then went on with a misplaced etiquette lesson. Misplaced, because my colleague and I are international businesswomen, who have traveled the world, are completely at home in culturally diverse environments on several continents, are respected in our professions and have excellent relationships with our clients. Nevertheless, we were told how important it is that we always make a good impression and make sure that people we meet like us. Neither my colleague nor I are particularly hung up on being “liked” by our clients and prospects. “Respected”, yes, but “liked” is not a prerequisite. As if that were not already – what shall I say? “unnecessary”? – yes, let’s keep it polite: it was “unnecessary”! – she then went on to lecture us on the importance of always using “please” and “thank you” in our interactions with others, giving as an example appropriate restaurant conduct. We should never order something by saying: “I’m going to have . . .”, or “I want . . .”. Rather, we must always say: “Please, may I have . . . .”, to show our respect for the waiter.

What the bloody hell!

In order not to embarrass my colleague, and out of respect for the program presenter, I stayed in my seat (good thing I did, the program was excellent!), but I had had it “up to here” with this nonsense and told the woman that when I am in a restaurant, I conduct a business transaction. “They have a piece of meat for sale that I want to buy; they deliver the piece of meat to my table and I pay for it. There is no ‘please, may I?’ involved in the process.”

That is a principle. But there’s more to it. These days, in many restaurants, wait staff is poorly trained and has no clue about appropriate interaction with clientele. I will not go back to places where I am addressed as “sweetie”, which recently happened, or where a colleague and I are addressed as “you girls”, which also happened a few weeks ago. So, according to our evening’s “etiquette trainer”, I should say: “please, may I have . . .?” to a waitress who calls me “sweetie”, just so that she will like me and recommend me to her friends who may want to hire me as a writer or publicist?

Not bloody likely!

Finally, the presenter came on, and, without blinking an eye, delivered a superb program. As the only two attendees (if you wonder about that, yes, so do I!), my colleague and I received fabulous personal attention and enjoyed the interactions that took place over the next hour. Evening saved, but who needs the hassles?

Phoenix & Dragon Flames Out

Last night, a colleague and I went to an event at Phoenix & Dragon in Sandy Springs, I at the invitation of the event’s organizer, my colleague at my suggestion.

When we walked in, the cashiers at the counter – one male, one female – asked us if they could help us. I said we were there for the event and the male cashier decided to assist us, while his female colleague attended the store’s customers who were beginning to line up behind us.

“It will start in 20 minutes; they are just setting up”, the man said, “so you will have time to look around the store”, which is exactly the reason why we had arrived early. I’ve been to at least half a dozen events at Phoenix & Dragon, going back to the time when it was still located on Hammond Drive, and bought things there on almost every occasion. For my colleague, it was her first visit; I had told her lots of good things about the store.

The man then asked if we would like to pay. Yes, fine, of course. We had not known beforehand what the arrangement would be (I had imagined we would pay the event’s organizer, but never mind). We pulled out our coupon, provided by the organizer. If two people were to come to the event together, each got $5 off the attendance fee (in these dire economic times, every little $5 helps!). He looked at the coupon with suspicion, saying he had never seen such a thing before, and didn’t it look like someone had just printed it from their computer? Yes, someone had (“jerk”)! His female colleague leaned over to inspect this ‘suspicious’ coupon also and confirmed she had never seen such a thing either. So, the guy picked up the phone and called Candace Apple, the owner. Long conversation, glances of suspicion in my and my colleague’s direction, but finally he hung up and said he would accept the coupon. My colleague handed him cash, I wrote a check – a business check, with name, address and phone number printed on it. He looked at it, turning it over a few times – more suspicion! Then he wanted my driver’s license and I told him, untruthfully, that I did not think I had it with me. Asking to see a driver’s license when a personal check is presented is common; for a business check, it makes no sense.

Another phone call to the owner. I told him: “Candace knows me and she knows my business”, which seemed to make him even more suspicious, so he came away from behind the counter and started walking in the direction of where I suppose Candace’s office is. “You know what”, I said to him, “never mind the check; I’ll just give you cash.” So, he game me the check back, I handed him the cash and he handed me a receipt. He asked for my name, which I gave him. Then he accepted my colleague’s cash and asked her of she needed a receipt. Stupid question to ask when you are paying for a business event in cash! She told him “yes”, he gave it to her and then asked for her name. “Why?”, she challenged him, “I’ve paid in cash”. He told her they “just like to keep a list”, so she gave him her name as well and we were told where the event was taking place (next door, in a different building). We could not get out of the store fast enough, I, speaking just for myself, never to return again!

Oh, the event? My colleague and I were the only two in attendance! The presentation was excellent, the introduction was another disaster. Read: “Politeness Gone Too Far – Way Too Far” – next post.