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.
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.
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.
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.