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Career-Life Times, Issue #36--Best Careers of 2007
April 16, 2007
Greetings

Issue 36, April 16, 2007

Ready to GET HIRED, GET NOTICED, and GET AHEAD? Read on...

In This Issue:

  • Best Careers of 2007
  • When Is It OK To Ask About Marital Status?
  • Answering the “How Would You Handle An Irate Customer?” Question
  • Dealing with a Difficult Boss
  • Railroad Companies Hiring Spree Continues
  • How's Your Job Hunt Going?
  • Resources
  • Worth Quoting
  • Just for Laughs
  • Random Rants & Ramblings


    Best Careers of 2007

    U.S. News and World Report has released its annual list of the Best Careers. The magazine identified 25 professions that will be growing in demand as baby boomers age, the Internet becomes even more pervasive, and people seek better yet simpler lives. All of the jobs selected as the “best” offer a great mix of pay, status, and quality of life.

    Many of the “best” careers are what you might expect—engineers, pharmacists, and dentists. But others might surprise you--librarians and audiologists, for example.

    To see the complete list, go to Best Careers of 2007


    When Is It OK To Ask About Marital Status?

    I recently received the following question from one of my website visitors:

    “I believe questions directed to a job applicant about one's marital status during an interview are taboo and may be illegal depending on were the interview is conducted. My question is this: Is the same question appropriate and/or legal after the person has reported to work after being hired?

    Here’s my response:

    “You're right... during the interview and hiring process, questions about marital status are inappropriate.

    “The reason they are inappropriate is because it is illegal to base a hiring decision on marital status, race, religious beliefs, etc.

    “However, once you are hired those restrictions become moot. Of course employers cannot base other actions (such as promotions or firings) on those personal traits (again, including marital status, race, religion, etc.). But if the employer will be providing you with any benefits, such as life insurance and/or health insurance, they need to know about family members who may be eligible for such coverage. Obviously they would need to know about a spouse, partner, children and other dependents for whom your benefits would provide coverage/services.

    “Companies also need to know the name and status of a person they should contact in the event of an emergency... if you are injured on the job, for instance.

    “So there are legitimate reasons for an employer to ask about your marital status.

    “If there are no benefits and no legitimate reason to ask such questions, you may feel they are inappropriate and are free to decline to answer, or tell them (nicely) it's none of their business.

    “But such questions are not illegal.

    “If it becomes harassment, however--as legally defined and/or as defined by your company's policies--you can, and should, take action to have it stopped.”


    Answering the “How Would You Handle An Irate Customer?” Question

    A common interview question for positions which require interaction with customers is, “How would you handle an irate customer?”

    In a nutshell, you’d want to explain the importance of these eight steps:

    (1) Allowing the customer to vent--while remaining calm yourself;
    (2) Listening carefully to what the customer is saying;
    (3) Apologizing to the customer;
    (4) Identifying the problem;
    (5) Explaining how you will resolve the problem;
    (6) Following up to ensure the problem is take care of;
    (7) Keeping the customer informed while the problem is being resolved;
    (8) Notifying the customer of the final outcome

    Allowing an irate customer to vent, sometimes screaming and cursing at you—without getting upset yourself—can be a challenge, especially if you had nothing to do with the reason the customer is upset. But it’s the first and often most important step.

    Explain that you understand that upset customers want someone to listen to them, so you would let the customer blow off steam without taking anything the customer said personally… and you would listen calmly and carefully to what they’re saying.

    Then tell the interviewers that you would apologize to the customer, regardless of who was at fault (even if it was the customer who caused the problem).

    Explain that you would identify the problem and state it back to the customer to make sure you understand the whole situation, and that you will make resolving that problem your priority.

    Be sure to mention that you would never tell a customer there’s nothing you can do to help him or her. Regardless of the situation, you can and will do something to help. Even if you end up passing the problem along to someone else to resolve, you will stay on top of it and keep the customer informed.

    Tell the interviewer that you will take personal responsibility to ensure the matter is resolved and the customer is treated with courtesy and respect at all times.

    The best way to answer this question is to tell the interviewer about an actual situation in which you helped to change an irate customer into a satisfied customer, using these steps.


    Dealing with a Difficult Boss

    (This is a guest article by my friend Dale Kurnow)

    If you’re working in corporate America today, you’re being asked to do more with less. The economic downturn of the late 1990’s, outsourcing of jobs, and the implosion of whole sectors—all of these factors have contributed to a business environment that is fiercely competitive.

    Nowhere does this nerve wracking and high velocity approach show up more than in the modus operandi of many bosses.

    Learning how to function with a difficult boss is one of the hardest challenges you face in your work life. Have you heard the saying that people don’t leave jobs, they leave their bosses? So true! You can love your job but if you hate your boss, you will hate going to work. And you won’t last long.

    So how do you deal with a difficult boss?

    In this article I profile four types of bosses: The Screamer, The Hypocrite, The Egomaniac, and The Risk Averse Boss. See if you recognize your boss.

    The Screamer

    Don’t you just love this type of boss? NOT. At least she is predictable. You can rest assured that she will erupt like clockwork.

    Watch for the telltale signs prior to erupting. Her brow will furl, eyebrows will rise and you can see the veins popping in her neck. Sometimes, she’ll just explode without any warning or provocation.

    The screamer burns out quickly. And she won’t remember what she said 15 minutes later. Screamers don’t want to be interrupted; you’ll make matters worse if you try to respond. Batten down the hatches while she blows off steam. If you can’t remove yourself, at least you know that this eruption usually doesn’t last long. As with a child having a tantrum, you have to wait till the child runs out of tears and energy.

    Dealing with The Screamer

    After the high volume tirade stops and you have an opening, probe to find out what’s behind the loud stream of words. Deliberately lower the volume of your voice and the tone of the discourse.

    Ask: “I want to make sure I understand; can we go over the most important points?”

    Learn to judge the best times to approach her. Tone of voice, body language, time of day, all these hold signs of her emotional barometer. That’s the key to getting what you need and avoiding many of her outbursts.

    One note of caution, you need to have a thick skin to deal with this type of boss. If you’re easily offended or take things personally (it’s hard not to when someone is screaming at you!), you’ll need an attitude adjustment or you will burn out. My best advice is to watch other people who work well with her, and follow their lead.

    The Hypocrite

    This boss says one thing but really means another. The hypocrite will say he wants you to take the lead but what he means is if you try to overstep your authority, he’ll embarrass you in front of staff members. Or he will say the company is hard pressed for cash and then you’ll find that he’s bought a designer suit and is planning a vacation in Europe. He is a master at talking out of both sides of his mouth. What you see is definitely not what you get!

    Dealing with the Hypocrite

    You need to figure out if your boss is just moody or if his behavior is done with intent. This is a huge distinction. If your boss’s behavior comes from mood swings, you need to keep your reactions as consistent as possible.

    Whether things are good or bad, you need to control how you respond and not join your boss on his emotional rollercoaster. Be patient and professional at all times. Use a “charge neutral” voice, an even, unemotional tone.

    On the other hand, if he alters his behavior to manipulate you, he is on power trip and patience and professionalism on your part won’t work. You’ll need to prepare an exit strategy and eventually, leave.

    The Egomaniac

    Does your boss suck up all the air in the room? An inflated personality is often part of entrepreneurial DNA. This type of boss wouldn’t be where she is without the drive and single-mindedness that catapulted her vision from an idea into reality. However, when an oversized ego defines her management style and overpowers team members, it becomes your problem.

    Dealing with the Egomaniac

    First, sometimes you need to let the boss take the credit (even if it was your idea). Okay, I can hear you saying “no way!” The reality is your job is to make her look good to clients and/or her boss. You need to do whatever it takes to help her achieve her goals (within ethical boundaries, of course). From her success, flows your success.

    Second, don’t let your being miffed at her taking the credit cloud the big picture. The big picture means helping her become successful so you can ultimately get what you want/need. It amounts to delaying immediate gratification for a bigger prize later. So, hold your tongue and communicate your personal goals to your boss when the timing is right.

    Tip: you can always let her know after the presentation that you were so pleased one of “your” ideas played a role in winning the account or having the project turn out so well. Watch the tone of your voice. Make sure you don’t sound sarcastic or mocking. Your boss will understand what you are implying.

    However, if your boss consistently overlooks your contributions, or if you are never recognized, then it’s time to start documenting your ideas. The cream always rises to the top and you can take your expertise to organizations where it will be appreciated. Until then, being a team player is the name of the game.

    The Risk Averse Boss

    He/she has zero comfort with risk taking. Any suggestions for streamlining or improving a procedure are met with a lukewarm reception.

    Further, you feel like you are carrying your boss. The day they were doling out the genes for drive and ambition, your boss was AWOL. He/she does not lead or contribute and does the minimum amount necessary. Whenever you bring up a new idea or project, it never gets anywhere. This type of boss has no desire to move to the next level. And zero desire to help you get ahead.

    Dealing with the Risk Averse Boss

    Your job is to help your boss get comfortable with risk. Suggest possible scenarios, starting with low risk alternatives, to ease your boss into the process. Your boss may need to see the advantages in written form, with the pros outweighing the cons. Strengthen your case by lining up people who will support your suggestions. Take the time to build a strong case, one that makes it easy for your boss to say yes.

    A Final Note

    Learning the techniques necessary to thrive despite having a difficult boss will serve you well over the span of your entire career. Chances are, somewhere in your work life you will have a boss who challenges your patience and sanity. Building a time-tested arsenal of methods to handle this challenge is a transferable skill of the first order.

    Dale Kurow, M.S., MCDP, is an author and a career and executive coach in New York City. Dale works with clients across the United States helping them to become better managers, figure out their next career moves and thrive despite office politics. Visit Dale's web site at http://www.dalekurow.com/newsletter to sign-up for her free monthly e-zine "Career Essentials," chock full of useful tips and strategies you can use immediately.


    Railroad Companies Hiring Spree Continues

    My friend Sean Martin just sent me the following message to pass along to readers who might be interested in working for a railroad company.

    Here is a copy of a recent article from the Surface Transportation Board:

    U.S. Class I Workforce Larger in February

    As of mid-February, the Class I railroads employed a total of 166,405 people, a 0.6 percent increase compared with mid-January's level and 1 percent rise from February 2006's count, reports Progressive Railroading.

    The executives/officials/staff assistants workforce segment totaling 10,219 posted the largest year-over-year increase at 6 percent, while the maintenance-of-way and structures staff totaling 34,154 registered the largest month-over-month gain at 2.8 percent, according to Surface Transportation Board data.

    The Class Is' maintenance of equipment and stores workforce in mid-February totaled 30,281 - 1 percent larger than last year's and 0.2 percent bigger than January's ranks. In addition, professional and administrative staff rose 1.5 percent to 13,885 compared with January's level. The workforce segment increased less than 1 percent year over year.

    Meanwhile, the large roads' transportation (train and engine service) staff decreased 0.4 percent month over month to 70,681, but increased 0.5 percent year over year. Transportation (other than T&E) ranks totaled 7,185, a 0.4 percent decrease compared with January and 2.3 percent drop compared with February 2006. (End Article)

    As you can see, the railroads are still on a hiring spree! If you’re looking for an exciting new career, this might be worth checking out.

    For information on how to dramatically improve your odds of success at landing a job with a major railroad company, go to this site: GetARailroadJob.com.


    How's Your Job Hunt Going?

    (This is a guest article by my friend Kevin Donlin)

    If your job search needs a jump-start, it pays to sit down and analyze your situation. You should carefully question everything you're doing. But, be careful -- the wrong questions can be harmful to your career health.

    Example: Never ask yourself questions like, Why can't I find a job? Or, Why won't anyone hire me?

    Such "Why" questions will prompt your brain to give you excuses instead of answers -- you're too old/too young/too experienced/too stupid, etc. There's not much you can do about being young or stupid, is there? Which just leads to more frustration.

    Instead, when analyzing your job search, ask yourself empowering "How" questions like, How can I generate just one networking lead today? Or, How can I meet someone who works at 3M?

    Such "How" questions lead to actionable ideas like these: you could call an old buddy from high school, someone you worked with two years ago, a neighbor who works for 3M, etc.

    See the difference?

    Let's follow this logic and replace two common "Why" questions with more-empowering "How" questions that can get you hired faster ...

    1) Why is my job search taking so long? This "Why" question will produce more frustration than answers. Instead, examine every aspect of your search and ask yourself this "How" question: How could I improve this? Analyze the following:

  • Where you look for job leads each day

  • The resume and cover letters you send out

  • Your networking activities

  • Your job interview skills

    If you could improve each of those areas by just 10%, you would enjoy an overall 40% increase in the effectiveness of your job search. Do that and you can't help but get hired faster.

    2) Why aren't employers calling me?

    This is another question that will generate a long list of frustrating possibilities, none of which is fun or useful to contemplate. Instead, ask yourself, How could I get in front of more decision makers who can hire me? Answering this "How" question will encourage you take positive action. For example, you could:

  • Write down the names of the 5 companies you most want to work for. Research those companies at www.ZoomInfo.com. Then, email the people in your network asking for an introduction. (This is made easier if you have a profile at www.LinkedIn.com.)

  • Call 5 of the most successful people you know and ask them, "How did you get your last 3 jobs?" This gives you a double benefit:

    1) You will learn new ways to meet hiring managers and recruiters. That's the obvious benefit.

    2) Your calling for advice will flatter those people, making them more likely to remember and recommend you to potential employers. This is the not-so-obvious benefit. (Is it self-serving, too? Perhaps, but it's not illegal or immoral is it?)

  • Write a blog about your industry that gets you noticed by recruiters and hiring managers. This is not a quick fix, but it's a great way to improve your visibility and employability for the long term. (You'll find a couple of excellent articles on blogging for employment at www.CareerJounal.com/jobhunting.)

  • Finally, if employers aren't calling in response to your emailed resume, it may be because they never got your resume. Spam filters are set on "Kill" these days, making email more unreliable than ever. If there's a job you really, really want, consider sending your resume by FedEx. I know it costs a few bucks. But a FedEx envelope, addressed by name to the hiring authority, has a 100% chance of being opened. That means your resume will get read. And that's what you want, right? Besides, if you're applying to a carefully targeted list of employers, you won't be FedExing hundreds of resumes -- it will be more like 5 or 10. So this can be money well spent.

    Now go out and make your own luck!

    Kevin Donlin is President of Guaranteed Resumes and the creator of GetHiredNow.TV. Since 1996, he has provided job search assistance to nearly 10,000 people. Author of "51 Ways to Find a Job Fast -- Guaranteed," Kevin has been interviewed by USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, CBS Radio and others. His latest product, The Instant Job Search System, is available at InstantJobSearch.


    Resources

    Job Interview Success System. This is my guaranteed system for helping you ace your next job interview. See the details here: Job Interview Success System

    Best Job Sites

  • Best for veterans: HireVetsFirst.gov;
  • Best for job seekers over 50: SeniorJobBank.org;
  • Best job search engine: Indeed.com;
  • Best general job site: JobCentral.com;
  • Best for entry level and college students: CollegeJournal.com.

    Videos. Go here for an excellent source of job-search videos you can watch online: Job Search Videos.


    Worth Quoting

    "Continuous effort—not strength or intelligence—
    is the key to unlocking our potential."
    ( Winston Churchill)


    Just for Laughs

    Male Vs. Female at the ATM Machine

    A new sign in the Bank Lobby reads: "Please note that this Bank is installing new Drive-through ATM machines enabling customers to withdraw cash without leaving their vehicles. Customers using this new facility are requested to use the procedures outlined below when accessing their accounts. These procedures are based on extensive research. Please follow the appropriate steps for your gender.”

    MALE PROCEDURE:

    1. Drive up to the cash machine.
    2. Put down your car window.
    3. Insert card into machine and enter PIN.
    4. Enter amount of cash required and withdraw.
    5. Retrieve card, cash and receipt.
    6. Put window up.
    7. Drive off.

    FEMALE PROCEDURE:

    1. Drive up to cash machine.
    2. Reverse and back up the required amount to align car window with the machine.
    3. Set parking brake, put the window down.
    4. Find handbag, remove all contents on to passenger seat to locate card.
    5. Tell person on cell phone you will call them back and hang up.
    6. Attempt to insert card into machine.
    7. Open car door to allow easier access to machine due to its excessive distance from the car.
    8. Insert card.
    9. Re-insert card the right way.
    10. Dig through handbag to find diary; with your PIN written on the inside back page.
    11. Enter PIN.
    12. Press cancel and re-enter correct PIN.
    13. Enter amount of cash required.
    14. Check makeup in rear view mirror.
    15. Retrieve cash and receipt.
    16. Empty handbag again to locate wallet and place cash inside.
    17. Write debit amount in check register and place receipt in back of checkbook.
    18. Re-check makeup.
    19. Drive forward 2 feet.
    20. Reverse back to cash machine.
    21. Retrieve card.
    22. Re-empty hand bag, locate card holder, and place card into the slot provided!
    23. Give dirty look to irate male driver waiting behind you.
    24. Restart stalled engine and pull off.
    25. Redial person on cell phone.
    26. Drive for 2 to 3 miles.
    27. Release Parking Brake.


    Random Rants & Ramblings

    Are you waiting until retirement to do the things you love? Saving every dime to build up your retirement nest egg? A friend of mine did that. Once he’d set a date to retire, he kept talking about what he was finally going to do when he was “free.” Going on fishing trips with his grandson was at the top of his list; they hadn’t done much of that, as vacation time and money were being hoarded for “life after work.” My friend had a calendar next to his desk, and he’d put a big red X on each day as it passed and his retirement date drew closer.

    With less than three X’s to go until his last day on the job and big farewell party, he had a massive stroke and died.

    At his funeral service were displayed the fishing poles and other gear he’d recently bought, but had never used.

    I’m not sharing this story to scare anyone. But we all tend to think we have endless tomorrows and plenty of time to do what we really want to do… some day. What if some day never comes? My advice? Don’t be foolish and spend all your money or sabotage your retirement plans, but don’t sacrifice too much in the present in order to prepare for the future.

    Enjoy life. Now.


    So, what did you think of this issue? Any suggestions? Topic ideas? Questions? I really appreciate your feedback. Please send me a note at Bonnie@Best-Interview-Strategies.com

    Please forward this to your friends!

    Thanks!

    P.S. To prevent your email service provider's spam filter from interrupting delivery or this newsletter to your email inbox, please add Bonnie@Best-Interview-Strategies.com to your address book or "safe list."

    P.S.S. I apologize for the glitches (especially in links) you may see if you receive this as straight text. If you can receive your email in HTML format, choose that and it'll look a lot better.

    Bonnie
    www.Best-Interview-Strategies.Com

    Lowe-Commotion Publications
    442 Gatehouse Dr.
    Vacaville, CA 95687

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