Content for Job Seekers
Wish lists are big this time of year, not only among kids and parents, but among employers, as well. Organizations are looking ahead to 2014 and hoping they'll find just the right kind of talent to meet or exceed their business goals. Knowing what's on those wish lists, therefore, is a critical component of any successful job search.
Not all employer wish lists are the same, of course, but as with kids, there are certain "must haves" that appear on almost every organization's list. What are this year's favorites? Well, there are a number of old standbys and a couple of new additions that are sure to put a big smile on just about any recruiter's face. And, here's the top five on this year's Happy Job Search List.
1. State-of-the-art knowledge and skills.
Employers are no longer competing against cheaper labor, but against smarter labor throughout the global marketplace. How can you wrap yourself up as a smarter job seeker? Enroll in an academic program or certification-granting training course in your field and add that ongoing education to your resume. Prove to employers that you see yourself as a "work-in-progress," not someone whose expiration date has passed.
2. The ability to contribute to the organization’s success.
Employers no longer need people who can do the work; they need those who will excel at it. How can you put a bow on your ability to make such a contribution? Help others be successful in their jobs. Find one or two blogs, discussion forums or other online venues where you can share your expertise with others in your field and then contribute regularly. Those you assist just might turn out to be people who are looking for great coworkers to refer to their employer.
3. A flexible approach to work and employment.
Change is the new norm in business, so employers’ workplace needs are constantly in flux. How can you avoid being seen as someone who’s stuck in a rigid box? Do your homework on the strategies being used in your field to reduce costs and improve productivity (e.g., telecommuting, virtual organizations) and make the effort to get yourself (and your family) comfortable with them. Then, signal that flexibility on your resume.
4. The capacity to work in a wide range of situations and circumstances.
In these days of lean staffing, employers need multidisciplinary workers who can perform competently in different assignments. How can you celebrate your good will toward organizations that make such adjustments? Acquire ancillary skills (e.g., the ability to speak a second language, knowledge of new software programs) that enable you to pinch-hit for another employee or excel at more than one job and promote that capability to employers.
5. The dedication and competence to bring originality and creativity to your work.
Employers know that what wins in today’s competitive economy is innovation in product or service design, development, sales and marketing, delivery, execution and support. How can you prove you’re not regifting the same, old capabilities that have always been used in your field, but instead bring an original spark to the job? Create a “smart resume” which highlights both your quantitative accomplishments and your imagination – the ingenuity you use to achieve them.
Employers know that they’re unlikely to get everything on their wish list when recruiting for their openings. However, the more of those gifts you offer in your job search, the more likely it is an employer will grant you your wish and offer you a great job.
Thanks for reading,
Visit me at the all new Weddles.com
Peter Weddle is the author of over two dozen employment-related books, including A Multitude of Hope: A Novel About Rediscovering the American Dream, The Career Fitness Workbook: How to Find, Win & Hang Onto the Job of Your Dreams, The Career Activist Republic, The Success Matrix: Wisdom from the Web on How to Get Hired & Not Be Fired, and WEDDLE’s Guide to Employment Sites on the Internet. Get them at Amazon.com and at the all new Weddles.com today.
October Conference Board Report
Help Wanted OnLine
According to The Conference Board Help Wanted OnLine (HWOL) Data Series, online labor demand decreased by 257,000 for the month of October.
"Slow overall economic growth has left labor demand flat in the first 10 months of 2013. Even though the labor demand level still hovers around 5 million/month, the October loss leaves the 2013 year-to-date basically flat. This continues the trend we've seen this year with gains in one month being offset by declines the next month," said June Shelp, Vice President of The Conference Board.
Even though many professions have seen a decrease in demand, there are always several occupational groups that experience modest gains. For the month of October, Sales occupations fly solo, serving as only 1 of 22 industries that experienced an increase. This includes Retail Salespeople and First-Line Supervisors and Managers of Retail Sales Workers.
Whether you're reading this on a laptop, desktop, smartphone or tablet, you need to ask yourself a very important question: "Am I ready for Mobile?"
As we prepare to wind up 2013 and take stock of the past year we are heading straight into the ASAE Tech Conference in Washington, D.C. where today's CEO/CIO/CTO Pre-Conference Program: Technology Perspectives for the Association C-Suite is sure to be an eye-opening experience. And I expect mobile will be a big part of the discussion. BlackBerrys, iPhones, Androids, iPads, Surface tablets, Kindles... Different devices. Different OS languages and protocols, different screen sizes and resolutions. And they're selling in the billions of units. So I'll ask again, has your organization prepared for the mobile explosion?
You see, the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Smart Connected Device Tracker expects tablet shipments to surpass total PC shipments for the first time in the fourth quarter of 2013. And smartphones will continue to ship in record volumes, surpassing 1 billion units in this year alone.
Let me boil all that info down into one simple thought: mobile is upon us.
And we all have to be ready for it. Is your organization prepared? Is your site and Career Center optimized for the mobile revolution? If you answered a resounding "Yes!" then carry on and start to enjoy the holidays! If, on the other hand, you're not sure that your site visitors are having an experience that meets their evolving expectations then I recommend reading up on Responsive Design.
Responsive Design or Responsive Web design (RWD) is a Web design approach aimed at crafting sites to provide an optimal viewing experience—easy reading and navigation with a minimum of resizing, panning, and scrolling—across a wide range of devices (from mobile phones to tablets to desktop computer monitors).
For those of you who like to get in the weeds, Smashing Magazine has a great article on what goes on under the hood. For those who prefer to take a "big picture" look at Responsive Design, you can download our latest white paper on the subject right here. It was written by members of our Technology team and shares the topics we considered as we saw mobile usage on our career centers starting to grow substantially. As part of the association community I wanted to share our learnings and experiences in the hopes that it can help your organization sort through some of the same challenges we grappled with as more and more of our users started accessing our sites via mobile devices.
Stay mobile, my friends!
At this very moment there's something really cool happening in our nation's capitol. Tactics are being developed and hundreds of passionate people are engaged in an important cause. No, you may not have seen it on the evening news. It has nothing to do with partisan politics or foreign policy but we are excited and encouraged about the work being done.
For the past few days 300+ people assembled in DC for Close-It, an inaugural summit dedicated to solving our nation's skills gap crisis. There was thoughtful debate on many topics, including the role of credentials, certifications and training vs. traditional degrees. If you've missed my previous posts on the skills gap or are unfamiliar with the skills gap crisis, the problem is simply this: Millions of Americans are currently out of work, but there are about 4 million jobs that are open but can't be filled because employers can't find employees with the skills they need. Period. Huge problem that, left unchecked, would surely spell disaster.
The corporate leaders, manufacturing innovators, educators and, yes, associations that were in attendance and leading sessions have been inspiring and motivating. It's beyond comforting to know we all share a common goal to create a new education to employment paradigm.
Jamai Blivin, founder and CEO of Innovate+Educate (the summit organizer), led an interesting session where she shared her belief that industry must be a key driver in systemic change in both education and the workforce. Innovate+Educate has become a leading voice across the US for industry alignment that will help advance college, trade and vocational schools and career readiness across the States.
Another fantastic session was led by Toni Preckwinkle, Board President, Cook County, IL. What a powerhouse - a true trailblazer on workforce initiatives. There's so much more to tell you about, but the bottom line is we're finally ready to start tackling this problem. I'm happy to report associations will be represented strongly for their ability to offer education and training across myriad industries.
My colleague John Bell and I were excited when we wrote The A+ Solution, but being here in DC this week with over 300 like-minded folks has really energized me. People are coming together to demand action be taken and we need to be the ones to take it. The skills gap is a huge problem in this country and I'm thrilled to be part of the movement to help close it.
Wow, what a couple of days. I'll check back in with you with more thoughts on the Close It Summit. In the meantime, you can follow me on Twitter @Boxwood_Pres using the hash tag #CloseIt.
Thousands of tweets. Well over 100 articles in respected publications. TV commentaries. And that's just in the month of October. The skills gap topic is clearly an important and relevant issue. Associations can make—and should be making—a difference yet are being left out of the conversation.
Well, not surprisingly, one media outlet has gotten the story right. In Need Skills to Pay the Bills? Associations Can Help, Associations Now tees up the skills gap challenge with an eye toward the role that associations can play. The story references industry studies, includes comments from the Executive Director of the Precision Machine Products Association discussing the skills gap challenge in manufacturing and includes highlights from The A+ Solution.
With all of the skills gap media coverage I think it's fair to say we're on to something. We're already contacting the reporters writing on the skills gap to bring the role of associations to their attention. We'd love to add your voice to the growing list of association professionals supporting our position that associations have a significant role to play — with resources and infrastructure in place today. Overlooked far too long, it's time to help associations get the recognition they deserve. Join us by signing our petition — we'll be taking it to Capitol Hill to get policymakers educated on the role associations can play solving our country's skills gap challenge.
Let’s Get the Workforce Investment Act Re-authorized to Ensure Critical Training and Development Programs are Available for Workers
The shutdown is over, and we need your help to ensure that legislation keeps pace with national workforce development needs. Boxwood Technology has added our name to a sign-on letter started by the National Skills Coalition urging Congress to vote on the re-authorization of the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 (WIA) now—and not later. Over 180 other organizations from the United Way Worldwide and Goodwill to the National League of Cities and U.S. Conference of Mayors have signed on, too. Will your organization join us in supporting this important funding for workforce training and development?
It takes less than five minutes. Here’s a direct link to learn more about the letter and to sign it: Friday is your last chance to sign on to the letter and tell the Senate to bring WIA to the floor.
What's in it for associations?
Great question. You see, the WIA specifies how state and local governments for workforce training programs and employment services can access and use Federal funding. WIA was signed into law 15 years ago; it passed with a caveat that the act must be re-authorized every 5 years so that legislation can be responsive to the changing needs of American workers, employers and industry.
We’re currently 10 years overdue for re-authorization. In the interim, professional societies and trade associations—organizations that often have best-in-class training programs for their respective fields and industries—are primarily unable to educate individuals through federally funded programs. Associations are unable to provide these services largely because of WIA regulations on how potential training providers get approved.
Our book, the A + Solution outlines the invaluable contributions that professional societies and trade associations could make if able to provide workforce training programs and resources to communities and job seekers across the U.S. The book also calls for WIA to amend processes and regulations regarding the eligibility of training providers. But for now, that’s putting the cart before the horse.
First, Congress must bring current proposals for WIA re-authorization to a vote.
We agree with the National Skills Coalition: While we believe that “improvements could be made to the Senate’s WIA bill, including providing dedicated support for sector partnerships, it is important that the bill move through the legislative process.” Clearing this hurdle will allow us to further advance our mission of helping professional societies and trade associations gain a more visible role in workforce development programs.
Over 1,000 sector partnerships have been developed across the U.S. in recent years—WIA’s reauthorization would help facilitate local economic development and help future partnerships to develop and flourish. Imagine the benefits this could have on your sector and industry.
Will your organization stand with us on this? If yes, sign up here. It will only take a few minutes but the potential benefits could be felt for decades.
Thanks in advance for helping us raise our voices for change.
Christine Smith & John Bell
Here we are on the second day of the government shut down and I find myself, like others, wondering how we ended up here. I guess I had more faith in our legislators to problem solve. Although on further thought I have been challenged to understand why our policymakers for so long have overlooked associations as a potential solution to the workforce crisis.
Associations are open for business today and the federal government is not. Associations are offering continuing education, professional development and training programs for thousands of Americans today while 82% of the Department of Labor (DOL) workforce is furloughed. According to the DOL guidelines for sequestration, employees on furlough cannot help job seekers even if they want to do it on their own time — it is forbidden to work as an unpaid volunteer.
Association programs are running despite legislative stalemates and delays in federal funding. Trade associations are providing industry reports, trends and analysis while the Bureau of Labor and Statistics is not (the monthly jobs report will not be issued this Friday as planned). Before the shutdown, economists had forecast gains of 180,000 new jobs in September. The markets were expected to rally. Now analysts and the markets will struggle to interpret data, not to mention determine the effect of the shutdown on the overall economy.
The rich resources, programs and initiatives of associations are not halted on the basis of a government shutdown. These resources should not be overlooked - especially now. Help us demonstrate support for including associations as part of the solution to our country's skills gap crisis by signing our "Include Associations" petition. To learn more about this initiative visit www.TheAPlusSolution.com. I hope you'll add your name to the growing list of association supporters.
I've been thinking about our country's unemployment problems a lot lately and the widening skills gap behind it. And, well, I haven't just been thinking, I've also been writing. I've recently co-authored a book with my colleague, John Bell. It's titled The A+ Solution. We feel, as I'm sure many of you do, that associations may very well hold the key to solving this critical skills gap crisis and can help get America back to work.
Here's what I know to be true. There are currently more than 12 million people out of work and our political leaders have been scrambling to pass various job acts and reforms in an effort to create jobs. And while there has been some recent success (as our declining unemployment rate suggests) there are also more than 3 and a half million job openings that employers can't seem to fill. The reason? Technology. Yes, technology has rapidly and seriously outpaced the education of our current workforce. Hence the skills gap crisis. Legislative initiatives can only go so far to close this gap. To my point, the Comprehensive Employment Training Act (1973), Job Training Partnership Act (1982) and Workforce Investment Act (1998) were all put into action to train and develop new members of the United States workforce. And yet in 2013 there are 885,000 people who have simply given up looking for jobs despite that fact that employers currently have those 3.7 million openings. 600,000 in manufacturing alone. Dozens of states are facing massive shortages in the skilled trades. This is simply not going to be solved by the Hill alone. It will be solved when we truly understand the problem, take responsibility, and rethink—no, reinvent—the way we not only create jobs in this country but in the way we train people for those jobs as well.
So, is there a solution?
John and I believe there most certainly is. It may not be easy. It may not be a "quick fix". And it won't come solely as a result of more job creation measures from Washington. It will come from associations and trade groups working hand-in-hand with Washington. It will come from the massive and robust infrastructure associations already have in place at this very moment. The technology and the platforms associations can wield to reach out and educate employees and potential candidates who need to learn important new skills. The skills to fill those 3.7 million openings and more.
And it will come from the employers themselves. Employers need to become willing to be held more accountable for reaching beyond the outdated semantics of their human resource departments to find eligible employees. Making job descriptions and the hiring process more direct will help employers find the talent and skills they so desperately needs. Vague job descriptions that are peppered with fancy, flowery words are less likely to be found and filled by the right employee.
But Associations hold the most powerful piece of the solution. The A+ Solution!
Here is where we come in! Associations have always existed to educate, train, and keepmembers relevant in their field. Forums, meetings, conferences, training sessions, and all-access communication allows those seeking jobs or career advancement to stay up-to-date within their fields and to gain the knowledge they may lack to help further their careers. They also provide the insights and trends to help employers keep their thumb on the pulse of their industry and help them understand and plan for what potential candidates in their field need to succeed in myriad employment settings.
It's almost a no-brainer. One out of every three Americans is already a part of our nation’s vital association and nonprofit industry. By relying on and using their associations to network, educate, train, and stay up-to-date with the latest information, processes and trends, these members can learn new skills and gain the cutting edge that is so desperately needed to bridge the skills gap.
Professional societies and trade associations are the key to educating those who need more training or retraining. Key to connecting the unemployed with the needy employers. Key to supporting members as they grow and excel in their profession by helping them become life-long learners.
Now, here's where you can help
Policy makers everywhere need to start including professional organization experts in the conversation. With more than three failed job acts and dozens more being created today, we need to include the educators and the experts in these fields in the plan, the roadmap to closing the skills gap.
Associations and nonprofits with eligible training providers need to be included and recognized in a larger assembly so that their members can easily understand how to access the training and education needed to develop the skills to become part of a bigger, stronger and more relevant workforce.
Please, write to your congress member today and urge them to use the resources associations already have in place to end the skills gap crisis. We've even created a draft letter to make it easier for you to have your voice heard.
Visit the website: www.theaplussolution.com to get more details, sign our petition, and watch a video explaining why associations and nonprofits have a responsibility to stand and deliver and help get America back to work. Join us and let's start a movement. Let's provide the solution.
Thank you for reading this long. Together I know we can make a difference.
While most people look forward to August for family vacations and weekend adventures, the Annual ASAE meeting is always the one of the highlights of my summer. It allows me to step outside of my office and make meaningful connections with clients and friends while learning so much about the needs of the industry.
And this year—one of the best years by far—was no exception.
Those four days in Atlanta gave me time to catch up with old friends, make some new ones, and discuss important topics with the association executives in attendance. I found a number of the attendees talking about the keynote speaker from the opening session.
Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Won’t Stop Talking, was inspired to write the book after practicing corporate law on Wall Street. Her presentation and book outline some talking points that I had never considered before. At least one-third of the people we know are introverts. They are the ones who prefer listening to speaking; who innovate and create but dislike self-promotion; who favor working on their own over working in teams. Chances are your association is at least one third introvert-powered. Here's how to tap into their power and creativity.
1. The Way Introverts Work
While so many large companies are trending towards open offices with large, open community spaces, introverts work best in quiet spaces where they can let their thoughts lead them without distraction. Introverts are most productive and creative when undisturbed away from the confusion and chaos in a typical workday. The posh open concept offices may feel great to some but may cause others to quietly panic or shut down. Make sure there is a quiet space in your office for introverts to escape the workday flow and recharge.
We’ve all been in meetings where we’ve seen the loudest, most confident (and not always smartest or most-prepared) share their ideas that everyone runs with. Good leaders allow introverts to share their ideas by asking everyone in the meeting to submit talking points on the topic prior to the meeting and allowing everyone to share the limelight. If you’re leading a meeting, no matter how small, make sure that everyone gets a chance to share their input before or after the meeting in writing.
3. Touch Base
Cain suggests that many introverts will keep their heads down and stay focused on their work- it’s what makes them so successful in the workplace. As a leader, be sure to make time to check-in with all of your employees and see where they are. Small talk, catching up about a project, even just asking how their day is going can help to build camaraderie from a core group of people who will never want to bother you even if your door is “always open”.
4. Speaking of Doors...
Don’t mistake closed doors, silence, or even lack of daily interaction as a statement of anger or avoidance. Introverts unwind, process, and create best when they are alone in quiet and calm spaces. If someone you work with seems standoffish, ask yourself if they exhibit any of the other classic traits of an introvert.
5. Famous Introverts
Being an introvert isn’t a bad, or a taboo, thing! Rosa Parks, Vincent Van Gogh, and even Einstein were introverts. Although we live in a fast-paced digital world that tends to reward the boldest and loudest, Cain says that introverts are needed to keep the balance. Introverts have brilliant and innovative ideas - they just don’t share them the same way extroverts do.
6. Most Importantly
The famous introverts listed above- as well as thousands of others- accomplish what they do because of their quiet nature and introspective personalities- not in spite of them! Being an introvert is not something to overcome or to change. It’s simply a part who they are and leaders in the workforce should look at their unique perspectives and use their talents instead of viewing their demeanor an obstacle.
So, look around your association. Chances are you have more than a few people who consider themselves somewhere closer to the introvert side of the extrovert/introvert scale. Don’t try to change these unique individuals, but use the tips listed above to help them contribute fully and thrive within your association.
Last week I shared with you a handful of interesting, get-away-from-it-all “staycation” ideas in the Metro–DC area. Today we’re heading to the Midwest in search of staycation offerings that deliver family fun, romance, and luxury in the Windy City, Chicago.
Why a “Staycation”?
If you’re like most Americans, you’re probably working twice as hard these days to bring home the bacon. You work hard to increase your association’s value, to build membership, and increase non-dues revenues. Your busy and fast-paced professional and personal schedule (“Hey, mom, don’t forget you have to take me to soccer practice tonight!”) adds lots of stress to your already-stressful lifestyle. A staycation is a well-deserved treat that will allow you to recharge your batteries so you can be a happier and more productive mom, partner, and association employee.
Remember, there’s always something new to explore in your own city. And if you live in the ‘burbs or country, driving one or two hours into metro Chicago is fun and accessible. So if it’s checking out the newest restaurants, visiting museums, sightseeing, shopping, spending a day at the beach or a sexy night out on the town, Chi-town has something for you.
The historic Palmer Hilton House offers an entertaining package that will make your family’s visit to Chicago a memorable one. Called the Peacock Club, all kids receive a backpack at check-in with a coloring book and crayons, a travel journal to document Chicago’s sites, and a disposable underwater camera. A rubber duck, dinosaurs that grow in water, a stuffed peacock, and a kid-sized bathrobe and slippers wait in the room. Your kids will love watching a movie at the Friday evening Splash Screenings at the indoor pool or ordering a meal at the Lockwood Restaurant, which offers a menu as sophisticated and interesting as mom’s and dad’s!
The Swissôtel Chicago offers kid-friendly accommodations with sweeping views of Navy Pier and the Mag Mile tricked out to the max. You choose one of three themes: Shedd Aquarium, featuring the brand-new Polar Play Zone; Adler Planetarium, with its world-class sky shows; or Field Museum, featuring the largest and most complete Tyrannosaurus Rex fossil ever found. Your kids’ suite comes overflowing with stuffed animals, video and board games, toys, and bath accessories related to your theme. Unleash the magic of childhood with this great fun-filled offering!
Lap of Luxury
The Trump International Hotel & Tower rates among the top luxury hotels in Chicago, boasting a magnificent indoor pool, renowned spa, and impeccable service. Conveniently located on the Magnificent Mile, the tastefully decorated rooms have limestone bathrooms with soaking tubs and floor-to-ceiling windows, often with phenomenal views of the city.
Trump’s"Stay Like a Celebrity" package offers dinner for two at Terrace at Trump and a $50 food and beverage credit. The special starts at $470.00 per night. The City Breaks & More package includes daily valet parking, a $50 F&B credit, and discount certificates for major Michigan Avenue retailers. Rates start at $499.99 per night.
To your surprise and delight, I think you’ll discover that there are plenty of special packages and appealing amenities perfect for a family trip or intimate getaway. So if you’re looking for a brief respite from job boards and career fairs, stay local and explore what the Windy City has to offer!