The ‘Double Whammy’ in Employment

v2_1pagerDo we, in America (and worldwide), have a people or a talent shortage? This is not a simple question to toss off now that baby boomers are slowly but surely exiting the work force and the fresh faces coming on board seem to only aspire to join the over-served and very crowded service economy. These same job seekers seem to ignore or may even deride the skilled trades sector — which, according to ManpowerGroup, has taken the No. 1 spot for U.S. jobs most in demand, for the fourth straight year. This year’s incoming college freshmen may want to take note of this.ManpowerGroup_jobdemandWhat the heck? Why is this even important to bring up? Just consider this. Manufacturing Institute (MI) predicts that 2 million factory jobs will go unfilled because of a shortage of manufacturing engineers and experienced skilled trades and production workers. MI did some math to support their assertion that effort should be made to address why there is a manufacturing skills shortage. They claim that every dollar spent in manufacturing adds $1.37 to the U.S. economy. Every 100 manufacturing jobs creates another 250 jobs in OTHER SECTORS. That, on its face, is an obvious benefit to our economy and our future.

Of course there are a host of related political issues and structural causes for this apparent mismatch of people and skills and this is not the forum for such analysis. But are you at all interested in going a little further in thinking on this subject? Then check out this Ticker Tape to read some more, not as market investment research but, perhaps, for the investment in your own career.

225AM: You Don’t Want To Do What We Do

A little bit ago, I linked to an article by Sandra Long where she discussed the importance of doing your homework before a job interview. Today, I want to talk a bit about the part that 225AM plays in that process. But first, let’s go travel back to some time between 2004 and 2008.

The dining hall where I went to college wasn’t the biggest or most state-of-the-art, but it had its fair share of goodies. It had a stir fry station, a tiny pasta bar, a salad bar, a place where you could make mini pizzas. By my senior year, I had burnt out on hot dogs and “Moroccan chicken,” so I decided to try some new things. I fried rice, made pizzas, and built pasta dishes for myself. I thought I was one heck of a cook.

Then I graduated and got my own apartment. Nobody precooked the rice or pasta there, no one chopped the onions for me, no one went to the grocery store and made sure I had everything I needed for the night’s meal. Doing these things on my own wasn’t hard, really. It just took time and my (limited) attention, and that added up.

I tell this story here because preparing for a job interview can be a lot like prepping a meal. No, the steps you take aren’t that difficult, but there are a lot of them, and it’s easy to get lost and miss something simple, but crucial. That’s where 225AM comes in. We keep track of things for you and you on track.

Here’s the secret sauce: we don’t do anything you can’t do yourself. But we will remind you of the details like routinely updating your resume and cover letter and we do the stuff that you might not have time for, like keeping track of every email, call or meeting you have with your network connections or with the hiring manager/recruiter — we keep the scrambled job puzzle pieces together in your My Activity page:

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And remember, you will always have a full picture in front of you on your Dashboard:

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At 225AM, you will always have actionable insight to your next move in getting a job. Isn’t this better than that spreadsheet?

 

College Career Services is a Buzz Kill, Really.

And my title’s assertion seems to be supported by Ben Carpenter’s Op-Ed wherein he notes that Millennial Branding‘s survey found that 61% of over 4,000 college students thought their school’s career services was unhelpful in helping them into a first job.

But Carpenter doesn’t call out career services as a failed endeavor in his piece. Instead, he is using this bit of data as a call-to-action for colleges and universities – to start rethinking and refreshing their curriculum and courses – to prepare their graduates beyond the 3-Rs of education (remember them?).

He admits that his college experience didn’t include much career training but, then again, no one else’s did either. Career paths, when I was in school, were well marked and nearly always started with graduating from high school, entering college, graduating from college, sending out a few resumes and then getting a job because there were more jobs than there were college grads. But that path has long been paved over by a globally competitive superhighway and college students need to get educated on how to get on it and stay on it, for life.

Dream On!

A lot of time, we like to post articles with tips and advice on how to succeed, or at least survive, in the job search. But sometimes you don’t need concrete advice. Sometimes you need a good pep talk. And for that, we’ll turn to Andrew WK.

Yes, that Andrew WK. As it turns out, his talents reach far beyond head-banging, partying hard, and composing thrashy rock songs that are as intense as they are fun. Mr. WK is also an excellent motivational speaker… or, motivational writer, in this case.

Just look at this tasty nugget:

…Nothing can hurt more than giving up and living with the knowledge that you abandoned hope… None of the worst potential outcomes of following what you love could ever be more painful than the empty life lived by the quitter, the one who gave up and spent the rest of their life convincing themselves they had to.

Okay, I’ll be honest. This post is just much about talking to myself as it is about sharing something inspirational. I’m about to go to graduate school to focus more on my own writing. It’s something I’ve known for certain I would do for several months, and something that I’ve been thinking about for several years, but now, two days from packing up my car and driving halfway across the country, it’s finally hit me: I’m actually doing this.

In many ways, it’s not logical. I had a job that I liked in the field I wanted to be in. It was totally fine, and had I not gotten into grad school, I probably would have kept at it and been content. But you don’t dream of doing something that is just “fine.” You don’t dream of something that just makes you “content.” You dream of doing something special. You dream of doing something altogether your own. And for better or for worse, a lot of the time you dream of something impractical.

Committing to doing something impractical feels weird. Right now, I’m thinking about how I won’t have as much money coming in, and not just while in school, but after probably too. I’m taking an index of the things I like that cost money – coffee, going out for drinks, meals, music, books, etc. – and realizing that I won’t be able to enjoy them as freely as before. But that’s okay, because as Mr. WK implies, a nice espresso drink or a good sandwich can’t possibly make up for the dissatisfaction I’d feel knowing that I’m not doing what I really want to be doing in life.

Still, the practical path’s undertow is strong. It pulls us at all times. It’s pulling me now, and it also pulled me when I got my first job out of college. I felt unhappy with where I was, and I started to think about what else I could do. I thought about teaching, about working in residential life at a college, things I had enjoyed when I did them during school or in the summer. But neither was my true passion. So, I kept at it. I worked my day job and when I got home, I wrote. I built up a little list of publications that I managed to parlay into a job as a copywriter.

And honestly, I thought that was my dream for a while. I thought making a living by writing in any way would be enough to sustain me while I worked on my own stuff on the side. But it wasn’t, so I’m going a step further. And that’s another important thing to know about dreams: they change. You realize things about yourself, you realize things about the world, and your focus shifts. Because of this, it’s important to check in with yourself at every turn. You need to know the difference between finding a new set of interests and settling for something because you’re scared of being impractical.

But look, I can go on and on and on and on about this, but I won’t (not more than I already have, at least). Just read Andrew WK’s post and get inspired to get what you want.

LinkedIn: Make It Quick!

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We share a lot of articles about how to optimize your LinkedIn profile here because LinkedIn is a super important part of networking and networking is a super important part of getting a job. The problem with a lot of those articles: they make it sound TOO pain-staking and time-taking. Like, in order to get a job, you need to be working on your LinkedIn profile CONSTANTLY!

That’s why this post from The Savvy Intern is so refreshing; in it, author Wayne Breitbarth outlines what he calls a “20 minute appointment”: a series of simple, yet critically necessary, updating activities on your LinkedIn profile, each one with a short amount of time devoted to it.

No, these times aren’t necessarily set in stone. Breitbarth is really just trying to show how quick it can be to engage with your content and profile on LinkedIn. But I think it would be cool to actually take a stopwatch and go through each section. Why? Because three or six minutes probably sounds really short, like you’d never be able to update anything meaningful in that time, but in truth, there’s plenty you can do.

So go ahead. Open the article, and grab a stop watch (or just use your phone). It might seem silly, but it also might demonstrate just how easy (or at least quick) networking can be!

Photo by Tim Walker (Creative Commons)

INFOGRAPHIC: Status of Gen-Y and Jobs

Graduates

Resumes: Make ‘Em Interesting

Fresh IdeasLast week we shared an article about why it’s so important to tailor your resume to the position you’re applying to. Now, let’s add a layer. Let’s not just ask ourselves, is this relevant? Let’s ask, is this interesting. At least, that’s what Alex Malley proposes we do in his LinkedIn post, Stop sending out boring resumes. And after reading it, I’m inclined to agree with him.

Approaching things creatively can feel dangerous. Whenever you try to sell yourself to someone you’ve maybe never met before as fun, interesting, or quirky, you run the risk of that coming across as “over-eager” or “insane.” But we (and by “we” I mean “I”) often underestimate the risk of approaching things too conservatively. Something different might illicit a negative reaction, but something that’s too safe might illicit no reaction at all, which can prove just as dull for your job prospects.

Wouldn’t you rather try and be a little creative and show your true self? Then if you don’t get the job, you can at least know that it wasn’t a good fit, not that your boilerplate resume didn’t catch anyone’s eye.

Now, with that being said, you might be wondering, what does a “creative” resume even look like? No, it’s not written as a series of haikus or a vampire novel. What Malley suggests is to tell your story (in two pages) as it really is rather than distilling it down so much that you come across as some sort of job robot without feelings or insights. Then, he says to have someone read what you’ve written in front of you so you can watch how they react, which sounds terribly awkward but also very helpful.

He also says that when you’re just starting out, it’s okay to keep things basic, but I’m not sure I agree with that. When you’re just out of school and have limited work experience, any company that chooses to consider you is taking a chance. A more creative approach to your resume will show you don’t mind putting it all out there and that you’re ready to try new things.

Of course, Malley has more to say, but you’ll have to read the article to find out what it is. So go ahead, give it a peek, and then read your resume and ask yourself, is this interesting? Or better yet, ask, is this me?