Free web resources for job hunters

Humans are resources or assets, just like computers, which we routinely toss in the garbage when they can’t cope with the hot, new features programmers build into their latest software offerings. The manufacturing industry is merely swapping out assets endowed with Skill Set A for those having Skill Set B. Russ Kratowicz, PE, offers these registration-free web resources to improve your financial lot in life.

By Russ Kratowicz

The confluence of mass layoffs in the manufacturing sector and industry executives bemoaning the shortage of skilled workers appears to be self-contradictory. Actually, it presents an opportunity that might be ripe for exploiting. Humans are resources or assets, just like computers, which we routinely toss in the garbage when they can’t cope with the hot, new features programmers build into their latest software offerings. The manufacturing industry is merely swapping out assets endowed with Skill Set A for those having Skill Set B.

Survival depends on learning the skills that will be in demand and being nimble enough to hop, skip and jump to a higher-quality source of daily bread before the layoff steamroller flattens you as it paves the way for economic progress. Helping you be prepared to launch a successful job search is a matter of self-interest on my part. I want to retain you folks as Plant Services readers. And I can’t do that unless you’re on a payroll somewhere.

So, my friends, put on your coat and tie, look sharp and join me for another slog through that digital morass we call the Web as we search for practical, zero-cost, noncommercial, registration-free resources that you might find useful for improving your financial lot in life. Remember, we search the Web so you don't have to.

The big picture

Premier Search Associates, Inc., Barrington, Ill., is an executive recruiting firm that posts a series of extended discussions that might help with your career move. Here is where you’ll find advice for each step in the job-changing process. The agenda starts with 10 tips for building a powerful resume and lists nine potential enhancements you might be able to use. Another section explains the role of the executive recruiter and the proper way to work with one, should you choose to use that service. Other sections focus on seven important aspects of interview preparation and a basic strategy for getting through the big event. If you get lucky, you might be able to make use of the advice offered in the section on resigning from your current position. The overall idea is to make your exit in as classy a manner as possible. This material and more resides at http://www.psearch.com/job_tips.htm. It’s a good read.

A tax on all

Inflation erodes everyone’s buying power in equal proportion. But inflation’s a problem only for people who lack sufficient discretionary income; a category that I suspect includes more of us than you might think. If your income can’t keep up with inflation, your standard of living is spiraling into a major decline. That fear can be a great motivator for some. To illustrate the inflation concept, I direct your attention to an interactive feature on the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics Web site. Pay a visit to http://data.bls.gov/cgi-bin/cpicalc.pl for an inflation calculator based on consumer price index data going back to 1913, the first year our hired hands in Washington, D.C. started tallying the number. The online calculator converts a dollar amount in a given year to a dollar amount in a different year, which is a good way to determine any trends in your standard of living. Perhaps you’ll find out if a raise or new job is justified. The largest dollar amount the input field accepts is $10,000, so you’ll need to use your multiplicative ability.

Ol’ Whatshisname

We’ve always been told that success is merely a question of who you know. That’s why two skills that can help satisfy your career wanderlust are the ability to network yourself closer to that ideal job and knowing how to market yourself to the person who controls the job offer. Effective marketing is a people-oriented, relationship business and the folks who earn their coin in the marketing arena generally can recall the name of someone they’ve met, perhaps only once, years ago. That ability is more than brute strength memory. Consider the two articles at Azriel Winnett’s Web site that offer mental tricks for achieving near total name recall. The first, “Why Can't I Remember Your Name?” by Scott Ginsberg, is found at http://www.hodu.com/name.shtml and the second, “How to Remember Names” by Loren Ekroth, is at http://www.hodu.com/names-conversation.shtml. The important point the authors make is that you’ve got to start by really wanting to remember. The rest is a cookbook approach that uses your own creativity as a major input.

Hyperkinetic assessments

From the day you were born, you’ve been encountering new people along whatever road you’ve chosen to travel in this life. By now, I’d guess you’re pretty good at sizing up someone new and assessing whether you want to bother interacting with them on some level. Well, the hot news is that others are equally adept at making accurate assessments when you show up for a job interview. Two Princeton psychologists performed a series of experiments to determine the speed at which people evaluate others based on a facial photograph. Eric Wargo’s article, “How Many Seconds to a First Impression?” summarizes the results from that Ivy League study. Head over to http://siop.org/article_view.aspx?article=137 for the details. All I can say is that the reported speed is much faster than you’d expect. You’d best be one smooth operator when it’s your turn to sell yourself face to face.

Money crunch

You’re familiar, no doubt, with the concept of salary compression, a phenomenon that allows new employees who lack experience to command a salary approaching that of seasoned employees doing the same work. Even worse is the possibility of salary inversion, where the new employee is earning more. Whether real or merely perceived, salary compression is the price we pay for blind loyalty. On the other hand, salary compression ought to provide its own motivation to make it go away. After all, gasoline isn’t going to get cheaper anytime soon.

The mere existence of salary compression indicates that a company’s internal pay structure probably is out of touch with market realities, according to various articles that turned up. You can get a handle on the market side of the equation at several Web sites. For example, compress your mouse and squirt it in the direction of http://swz.salary.com/, where you’ll find the Salary Wizard. Use the drop-down menus to pick a broad job category and select a geographic area, click “Search” and get out of the way. The screen will fill with individual job titles that fit under your broad category. Each entry has five links. Two are marked as “free” and immediately provide info. The others ask for additional data across several screens before it asks you to register. I didn’t go there, so you’re on your own if you wish to explore.

Job bank portal

How many of us have the time to list links to as many job-related Web sites as we could identify? Thelen Reid & Priest LLP, a San Francisco law firm specializing in construction issues, is one entity that made the effort and came up with a winner. The company developed a 39-page portal with links to job programs operated by various states, craft and professional organizations, job postings from general employment Web sites and help wanted ads from a number of trade publications. Clicking on any of these links takes you to a different site, where you’ll need to search for the job bank resources TL&P claims can be found there. Dispatch your trusty mouse to http://www.constructionweblinks.com and command it to click on “Jobs, Career Exchange,” which you’ll find near the center of the screen. Happy searching. It might take you a while to review all the offerings, but I have no doubt that you’ll find something relevant to your situation.

Resumes

Who are you? What do you want? Why should I care? That is the essence of what any potential employer wonders when you show up looking for an opportunity to strut your stuff on their corporate stage. Because your resume should answer those questions, you might as well visit “ResumeLogic: Resumes for Engineers, By Engineers.” This Web site is brought to you by Think Resources, Inc., Norcross, Ga., a company that writes resumes for clients. When you load the home page, look for “Resume Writing Tips and Tools,” a set of links that explains how the modern job-hunting market operates. Learn the rules for formatting and submitting electronic resumes. Discover the latest thinking about cover letters in a digital world. The third link, the somewhat commercial “Free Resume Writing Tips,” talks about the many mistakes you’re going to make with your attempts at constructing a resume. The sample resumes you can access cover several flavors of engineer — commissioning, consulting, design, electro-mechanical, environmental, industrial, manufacturing, mechanical, plant, process, project and systems. The links to the free resume templates and free resume formats aren’t active, so you’ll find that information in the next featured site. My recommendation that you visit http://www.resumelogic.com/index.htm comes with a caveat — you get what you pay for.

The best we found

Dow Jones & Co., Princeton, N.J., publisher of Wall Street Journal, also publishes CareerJournal.com, an online portal focused mainly on executive careers. But you don’t need to be a denizen of Mahogany Row to capitalize on the surprisingly large amount of content here that should be worthy of your valuable time. For example, you might want to know salaries by title and geography or cost of living data to determine an equivalent salary in a different location, see several sample resume templates, get ideas for developing a search strategy and read a series of articles aimed at the 50-plus year old job hunter. It’s all here. Have your business-savvy mouse execute a friendly takeover of the assets found at http://www.careerjournal.com/. Most of the action on this site is accessed through the links immediately to the right of the “Home” link near the top of the screen. Take the time to explore this one. It’s worth it.

Without comment

http://www.preferredjobs.com/ [no hyphens]
http://eng-tips.4jobs.com/ [hyphen after eng]