Career Coach Tips from Michelle

Image via Monster Careers

Having been a Career Coach for almost over 2 years from 2019-2021, I’ll share my dollar store advice especially to those who are aspiring career specialists, employment specialists, job developers and career/job coaches.

As a Career Specialist, you will coach students on their job search, providing them with resources and materials that will help them land employment, and foster strong connections with employers and alumni around the geographic region that you work with. As part of your role, you’ll be the key advisor to participants who are approaching the end of the program or even participants who seek your employment services in general.

Make sure the employers you partner with are a good match for your target population. Set up some time and explain to employers the kinds of services you or your organization offers so you can foster that long lasting business relationship, which will then lead to many wonderful collaborations that can be super rewarding to your target population and organization. Ensure that these employers you identify share a mutual interest in the population they are hiring. Let me tell you, these relationships will go a long way if handled successfully.

My main focus was working with students from the Accounting and Nursing Assistant programs. Therefore, a lot of my employer partners were in the healthcare and accounting industries. However, if the programs were not in session, I’d be working with job seekers that came from all different backgrounds. I was constantly offering career advice, revamping their resumes, sharing job leads with them where I see fit and ensuring they are actively applying on their own as well. I kept them in the loop of employment opportunities and events such as job fairs, career development webinars by subscribing to our organization’s email list.

On top of all, you want to make sure they can secure a job with their newly learned skills and utilize their portfolio to present themselves successfully to potential employers.

Own the process. Take the initiative to set them up for success! Be curious, ask questions! I took the initiative by leading job fairs (employers ranged from all sectors from healthcare, nonprofits, accounting, banking, service, hospitality, retail) and facilitating career development webinars to keep job seekers informed about the job market in different industries. Keep yourself up to date with the labor market trends in your area so if a job seeker approaches you with a question related to that sector, you’d be ready to have an informed answer. Remember, you are the subject matter expert who can help take the organization’s career services offering to a world-class level that will ensure the job seekers’ success.

  1. Job call prep should be 45 minutes to 1 hour of the call to ensure you are providing ongoing support for job seekers as they are continuously active in their job search. You want to provide actionable advice on their job search strategy and activities. I’ve worked with plenty of job seekers who have found jobs just to end up back in the job market because the job wasn’t what they are passionate about. This is where you as the Career Coach come in, to assist in strengthening each job seeker’s marketability, including reviewing resumes, conducting mock interviews, and facilitating work readiness workshops.
  2. During job search period, there may be more calls – make sure to do follow up calls periodically to see how the job seeker is doing and offer support where necessary.
  3. The follow ups don’t stop at the job search period. You now have a relationship with the participant. You want to provide post-placement retention follow-up services as needed.
  4. Offer mentorship – lead from the front. What I’ve learned and experienced during my job search, teach them and give them feedback to help improve.

When exploring the job seeker’s career path, you want to consider the following below:

  • Have the job seeker talk about or jot down what they want to do, where they want to get a job, etc.
    • It is a good way to learn more about their goals and about the job seeker in general
  • Work with the job seeker develop a career change strategy
    • Write great affirmations – i.e. 3 milestones and steps to reach those milestones
  • Work with the job seeker in writing their elevator pitch, LinkedIn summary and resume summary
  • Create a case study for their project if applicable (most of the time they will have something in their program)
  • Resume/Curriculum Vitae (CV) – work on building it for their career change
  • Portfolio – one of the hardest tasks because it needs to showcase their work about themselves
  • LinkedIn Profile – You may want to offer a LinkedIn training and walk them through to ensure it tailors to their new career change
  • Networking – You may want to lead a networking training session and teach them how to build connections
  • Have the job seeker research and make a list of job sites/jobs that they are planning to apply for
    • Having a spreadsheet to track the number of job applications they applied to, the number of interviews that took place and the stages of where they are in the process is helpful
  • Cover Letter
    • Gives them a chance to showcase their skills and personality that is usually not showcased in a resume/CV
  • Interviewing – Facilitate mock interviews. There are many ways to do it
    • Partner with large companies like Google, Moody’s, McKinsey, Credit Suisse, etc. They have philanthropic programs where they gather their own volunteers within their organization to partner with you and focus on upward mobility programs for the disadvantaged.
    • Have job seekers record themselves and submit it to you and you can evaluate it; provide feedback
    • Set up a 30 minute video call with the job seeker and practice with them, where the Career Coach will role play as the Recruiter or Hiring Manager and the job seeker is the interviewee.
  • Work on creating a professional development plan to improve their skillsets and create a job search plan for the next 6 months –
    • Where they are going to find their jobs? (Job Ads, Referral, Job Boards, through their program, etc.)
    • How they are going to network? (Reaching out to employers on LinkedIn)
    • Most importantly, making sure they are still active during their search – follow up, follow up, follow up.

Healthcare Career Trends (NYC Edition — Edward Lai’s Perspective)

Edward Lai speaking at a Health Event during his tenure as Corporate Director of Asian Initiatives at The Allure Group

Edward Lai, currently the Vice President of Business Development at Bensonhurst Rehabilitation Center, Hopkins Center and Fairview Rehab discusses the types of job opportunities that are trending in today’s healthcare industry, shares his own career insights and how candidates can best prepare for those career prospects.

Audience: Job Seekers — those looking to pivot their careers into healthcare or even just considering to begin their career in healthcare.

What is the Trend?

America is aging. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s National Population Projections, in the next few decades, 1 in every 5 residents will be older than age 65, a number that’s projected to outpace those younger than 18 for the first time in history. By 2050, the senior population will have doubled to 90 million. More specifically, the number of adults ages 85 and older will nearly quadruple.

According to a study by the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care, as the population ages, 8% will have cognitive impairments, 60% will have mobility limitations and 20% will have high needs.

According to Edward, “Cognitive impairments means that mental status will be down, they may not know what they may be doing at times and it happens a lot. We see a lot of these kinds of patients in nursing homes. Mobility limitations are from strokes, from surgery, and a lot of different types of effects on the patient’s well-being as they get older. I suspect the high needs are bed down patients which we will be caring for. So this is the trend in America which is why healthcare is blooming.

Ten Reasons To Consider a Healthcare Career

This is the reason why Edward ended up with this career path.

  • You’ll enjoy job security. “During Covid lockdown, there have been unfortunate events that happened like being laid off and companies going out of business — but I have not missed a day of work. I was here everyday serving the patients.”
  • You will do work that interests you. “You will get to pick the field that you find most interesting to you to pursue your work in.”
  • You can live and work anywhere you want. “Once you have that profession, like a nurse, nurse practitioner, physical therapist — you name it, technically you can work in all states and everyone needs your service.”
  • You can find a health career that fits your educational plans. “What that means is that if you don’t want credentials that require a lot of schooling. For example, you don’t want to do 4 years of nursing school but you only want to do 2 years, then studying to become a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) would be the best option for you. You are still a nurse, but a lower grade nurse — in this case that fit your needs.”
  • You can learn by reading and doing. “Healthcare is pretty straightforward.”
  • You can get help to pay for school. “Definitely true. My sister went to nursing school. There’s a lot of scholarships and grants. You want to pay for your schooling so you can hurry up and get into position to serve the population in the hospital — so there are actually a lot of opportunities.”
  • You’ll have a clear path to advancement. “You go in as entry-level and in several years, you may be offered a higher level position, whether it is a nurse manager, a rehab director, you name it.”
  • You will earn a good salary. “Definitely true, but it depends on what you consider a good salary though because most of us won’t earn $1 million a year. In general, it is a pretty good income for many folks.
  • You can work with people, or you can choose not to work with people, “because once you have the credentials, you can do a lot of things in your liking.”
  • You can make a difference in people’s lives. “This is my favorite part because this is what I do on a daily basis.”

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Projections

Employment is projected to grow from 162.8 million to 168.8 million over the 2019–29 decade, an increase of 6.0 million jobs, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported. This reflects an annual growth rate of 0.4 percent, slower than the 2009-19 annual growth rate of 1.3 percent, which was bolstered by recovery from the 2007-09 Great Recession. The healthcare and social assistance sector is projected to add the most new jobs, and 6 of the 10 fastest growing occupations are related to healthcare.

Fastest Growing Occupations

Wind turbine service technicians    61% Growth Rate $56,230 per year
Nurse practitioners    52% Growth Rate $111,680 per year
Solar photovoltaic installers    51% Growth Rate $46,470 per year
Occupational therapy assistants    35% Growth Rate $62,940 per year
Statisticians    35% Growth Rate $92,270 per year
Home health and personal care aides    34% Growth Rate $27,080 per year
Physical therapist assistants    33% Growth Rate $59,770 per year
Medical and health services managers    32% Growth Rate $104,280 per year
Physician assistants    31% Growth Rate $115,390 per year
Information security analysts    31% Growth Rate $103,590 per year
Data scientists and mathematical science occupations, all other    31% Growth Rate $98,230 per year
Derrick operators, oil and gas    31% Growth Rate $47,920 per year
Rotary drill operators, oil and gas    27% Growth Rate $53,820 per year
Roustabouts, oil and gas    25% Growth Rate $39,420 per year
Speech-language pathologists    25% Growth Rate $80,480 per year
Operations research analysts    25% Growth Rate $86,200 per year
Substance abuse, behavioral disorder, and mental health counselors    25% Growth Rate $47,660 per year
Forest fire inspectors and prevention specialists    24% Growth Rate $42,150 per year
Cooks, restaurant    23% Growth Rate $28,800 per year
Animal caretakers    23% Growth Rate $26,080 per year
Source: Occupational Outlook Handbook

Listed at #2 in job outlook growth rate 52%, a Nurse practitioner-requires a Master’s degree and extensive nursing experiences, its 2020 median pay is $111,680! These medical professionals are highly sought after because they are working in every medical settings and although they can only work under MDs and DOs; they are practitioners and can perform like a doctor rather independently.

On your #4, the OTA has a growth rate of 35% with a median pay of $62,940. The job requires an OTA license. They work with the occupational therapist.

A very familiar job to many of us, the HHA/PCA is coming in at #6 in job growth at 34%, this is due to population is getting older and the need for home care is in the raise. HHA is averaging a little over 27K in 2020. It is based by the State.

The PTA (#7) is also highly sought after by hospitals and nursing home at a growth of 33% and a median pay of 59K. PTA requires a PTA license and works closely with the physical therapist.

Edward’s profession — and folks in management positions like #8 Medical and Health Services Managers earns an average of just over 6 figures. These are folks like me in management positions, like medical site managers, facility administrators, office managers, marketing executives etc.

Rounding the top 20 growing jobs according to BLS are #9 PA which makes 6 figures and the Speech-Language Pathologist making on an average 80K.

U.S. News Ranked #3 Out of 100 Best Jobs

Nurse Practioner (NP)

“They are seen in hospitals, nursing homes and normal medical practice. They examine and treat patients independently. They don’t need the doctor to stand next to them. They make those determinations on their own. They can ensure proper illness and injured care and disease prevention. They can do treatment and recovery. They can also provide medications. Nurse Practitioners are something I know a lot about because that is what my younger sister wants to become, so she is starting as a Registered Nurse. After a few years of becoming an RN, then you can become a NP once you have all that experience, expertise and higher educations, etc. It is a very good career to have and the salary is also high.”

U.S. News Ranked #70 Out of 100 Best Jobs

Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA)

“They work very closely with the rehab team in nursing homes. They can also work in hospitals. Very good pay. This job does not require a 4 year degree. basically you just need to get the license. It’s roughly about over 1 year. A lot of people get an Associate’s Degree within 2 years. It is a very easy occupation to enter. The salary range is $55K-$67K annually. Based on this compensation and work environment, this is a very rewarding profession. You basically work in a rehab gym — it is very safe, quiet and this position typically has its own schedule. It is very flexible and spaced out. You normally would work with each patient for about 45 minutes to 1 hour at a time. The COTA helps patients perform activities of daily living as they recover from their illness and injury. The COTA basically works under the Care Plan.

In case you are not aware, Occupational Therapy is not like Physical Therapy. OT focuses more on the upper body like using your hand movements, getting up from your bed, etc. PT focuses more on the lower body.”

U.S. News Ranked #28 Out of 100 Best Jobs

Home Health Aide (HHA)

“It is pretty surprising that the HHA position is ranked so high in the BLS Projections and U.S. News 100 Best Jobs. You may think working as an HHA is so simple since there is no specific educational requirements. You can just obtain a license from many places fairly easily. Many HHA agencies do not require you to pay. You just go to school, they pay for your license or they reimburse you, and you get the job.

HHAs spend a lot of time with their clients in their own home and assist them with their daily living and activities such as cooking for them, cleaning up the house and accompany them to medical appointments, etc. This job is very high in demand right now and it doesn’t seem to stop anytime soon. They have fringe benefits as well and typically in NYC I would say the salary is about $35K to begin with.”

U.S. News Ranked #13 Out of 100 Best Jobs

Physical Therapy Assistant (PTA)

“The national average salary for this role is $63K. The PTA prepares the patient and equipment for therapy and implements the treatment plans. They do exercivses, stretching, maneuvers, and they help the patient to increase their mobility. Being a PTA requires an Associate Degree. It’s a pretty satisfying job.

In senior year of high school, I went to a rehab hospital in Texas and this hospital basically opened my eyes up. I was volunteering for about 3 weeks. Everyday I was there and I saw how they worked and performed; the way PTAs assisted patients with walking them to see them get better.”

U.S. News Ranked #4 Out of 100 Best Jobs

Medical and Health Services Managers

“Including me, these are administrators, executives, directors, planners, coordinators that works behind the scenes to keep hospitals, nursing homes, group therapies and other healthcare facilities running. We are pretty organized individuals. We are administrators, we work with Department of Health, we hire the staff to provide the care to our patients.

The unemployment rate for this group is just 1.1% and the average salary is about six figures. The average number of jobs in this field are about 133K. In order for you to work in a hospital or nursing home, the minimum requirement would be a Bachelor’s Degree. If you are highly experienced in a certain area like Marketing or Healthcare Management, they can always look at other options. There is no certification per se, basically a lot of us are just providing opportunities somehow because we have been doing this for a while.

For example, I have been working in this field for 9 years in home care setting. After a while if your boss trusts you, you get more responsibilities and from there — you just grow. I am very fortunate that I was provided that opportunity.”

U.S. News Ranked #1 Out of 100 Best Jobs

Physician Assistant

“This profession is needed for medical practitioners to see patients — diagnose and treat. Normally when a doctor comes in the room to see patients, they are not really MDs (allopathic doctor) or DOs (osteopathic doctor). Those are the big doctors. In most cases, it would be the Physician Assistant that would come in to see you. The average for a Physician Assistant — they earn well over six figures and they are very important in the hospital settings because when the patient discharges, they have to be approved by the physician, but most of the time — the Physician is not available so the PA would approve most of those discharges. They would go in to talk to the patients and families to explain different procedures that they have to do and care plans, etc.

Very valuable profession, highly respected in the industry. And one of the reasons why this job is so popular is because the Physician Assistant completes their education in a short amount of time. On the other hand like in medical school, you have to go through 4 years of undergrad, and you have to have 4 years of medical school — after the 4 years, you have residency, internships… it’s just a ton of time that you have to put in and I know many people that went to medical school that failed and it’s just not too pretty.

But for Physician Assistant, some schools offer a Bachelor’s program and the most would be a Master’s program that most schools now require. In New York, I think there’s 1 or 2 schools that allows a Bachelor’s program for the Physician Assistant. So if anyone is interested in this #1 job in the U.S., you guys should take a look since there is a lot of opportunities out there for this profession.”

U.S. News Ranked #7 Out of 100 Best Jobs

Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP)

“Basically for this position, they work in schools. They work for non-profits. They are also in nursing homes as well as hospitals. The average pay is $84K.

They basically access and treat speech and language disorders. They use a lot of cards and games to help people use their speech accordingly. They are wonderful people. A lot of them have their own practice so they can help people regain their speech.

Normally, they would have a Bachelor’s or Master’s Degree. And most of these SLPs that I know have some Science Degree. But the ones who work in nursing homes, normally have a certification that allows them to do the swallow test as well — because a lot of times after the patient get a stroke, they would request a test so that we know that they can swallow. It is very important because if they can’t swallow, they can’t eat. If they can’t eat, then we might have some intensive procedures to do the feeding, etc.

A Speech-Language Pathologist does more than just speech. They would help us with these swallow tests. They do need to have a certification — that is required.”

Jobs Not Ranked But Highly In Demand

Registered Nurse (RN), Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) are a few of the many highly demanded jobs. Edward mentions that “these are not ranked by the BLS, but it is ranked as one of the 100 Best Jobs as you can see.”

Registered Nurse (RN)

“The RN position is ranked #37. Why is the RN position so popular? This is actually my recommendation to everyone. I actually missed that opportunity when I was young. I was working as a CNA in college just X amount of years ago. I was working in a nursing home and that was one of my very first jobs, actually.

When I went to college, I went to visit this nursing home in Abilene, Texas and I just feel drawn. So I started working for them as a CNA — the nursing home offered me the opportunity to go to nursing school for free and I turned it down. I was young and pretty naive and I didn’t want to get tied down because they wanted me to sign a 3 year contract.

Now if someone offers you a nursing school education, an opportunity to be and you just spent 3 years of commitment, just take it. I did not.”

So Edward answers WHY? for RN. His personal recommendation is “if you really do have the time, the investment to do this, go for the RN. Basically RNs are the first ones to access the patients. They record the patients’ medical history, symptoms. They work in hospitals and nursing homes — and they basically set up plans for patient care. They operate more into medical equipment. They have to run a lot of tests. They provide a certain comfort in a medical setting because doctors don’t really have times to explain that many things. But when the nurses are treating you, that is the frontline of care. So I believe that nursing is the most important especially since I work in a nursing home — and who’s the most important? Of course it’s the nurses.”

“The opportunity for nursing is tremendous. You start off as an entry-level RN and you start to move towards a different capacity like a Unit Manager, a Floor Manager, you know, like.. very specific units. Like the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), they pay more critical care nurses. Then you can become the Director of Nursing.”

Edward provides a personal touch to this story.. “Recently, I helped this lady from Beijing. She worked at another nursing home. She worked so hard and I can see it. She has such passion for patients so I spoke with the Fairview administrator and we were able to offer her a position as an Assistant Director of Nursing. These are great examples that if you put some hard work into things, you get rewarded. It just happened yesterday that she was able to get this position and she was very happy about it.”

“So what is the earning potential for an RN? You start off as around national average $70K? If you move up to let’s say, an Assistant Director of Nursing over here in my group, then it would be around $140K-$150K. For Director of Nursing, it would be around $180K (this is for nursing homes). If you work in a hospital setting, you are talking about high-level nurse administrators — and those would be over $200K.”

“I think that as a nurse you obviously, especially with COVID — a lot of people say that it is a very dangerous occupation and it is no fun, but that is not the case. A lot of times, you have your PPE; it’s a pretty safe environment to work in. They don’t just throw you in a dangerous (position) for no reason; you will have your protection — and as you move up, it’s pretty much going to be an office job setting. For example, I see a lot of Nurse Managers in an office setting. They are no longer on the floor. As you move up, you are more like a manager, sort of speak.”

Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)

“The LPN won’t have that much opportunities, but as an LPN — it takes fairly little time for you to complete your education and start working so potentially you can start working for hospitals, nursing homes… Nursing homes mostly, because you will be doing medication and some treatment. Not a lot though, because a lot of the assessment is done by the RN.

However, as an LPN — you have an opportunity as a lower level manager that supervises all the CNAs on the floors as well.”

Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)

“A CNA is what I started off as and in this position — it is very frontline. You care for the patients, you bathe them, etc.”

Edward emphasizes the importance that “all in all, these 3 positions are highly in demand. After you get out of school, get your license, you will get a job right away — and get a job in my group.”

Top “Entry Level” Healthcare Openings

Edward asserts that, “a lot of 2 year colleges, career schools, Allied Health schools have programs for you to complete your education and be onto a career.”

Allied Health professionals are involved with the delivery of health or related services pertaining to the identification, evaluation and prevention of diseases and disorders; dietary and nutrition services; rehabilitation and health systems management, among others. Allied health professionals, to name a few, include dental hygienists, diagnostic medical sonographers, dietitians, medical technologists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, radiographers, respiratory therapists, and speech language pathologists. Many of these professions are ranked by US News, including dental hygienist at #32, medical sonographer at #33 and respiratory therapist at #57.

Think Outside The Box

What Edward wants everyone to do is to think outside the box.

“A lot of times, people will think that all you have are doctors and nurses as healthcare jobs. But that’s not the case with a lot of stuff going on. I want everyone to put some thinking caps on to see what’s out there for them.. really. Do some research and find something that is to your liking.”

Healthcare Jobs That Typically Do Not Require a 4 Year Degree

EMT: No degree or even high school diploma required!
“I have so much respect for them. Just imagine our world without EMTs. What are we going to do? They are usually the first ones there if we need help. They perform CPR, they stop the bleeding, things like that.
To become an EMT, you just go to EMT school. Its about 3-4 months of night school or full-time day hours and you can get the license to start practicing. The average salary is around $36K. Although not a lot of money, they are highly respected.”

LPN: No degree required!
“Most LPNs already have Associate Degrees although no degree is required at this point. Certifications are necessary though.”

Pharmacy Technician: No degree required!
“When you go into Walgreens for example, they all have their license. If you go to your local Chinese pharmacies, many of them do not have their license because you don’t need that to become a Pharmacy Technician.

Medical Coding and Billing: No degree required!
“You have schools to study for medical coding and billing, and there are certificate programs for it but it is not required. Basically after Physicians treat their patients, they don’t bill them. Physicians would just hand over to the medical billers, and the billers according to what procedure is being done — they would submit those coding for payment — to the insurance companies

Medical Assistant: No degree required!
“They have a certificate program and they would have to go for an internship. Most of them are seen at medical clinics. They assist the doctor with a ton of responsibilities from the paper work to medications, to finding he right equipment, etc.”

Surgical Technician: Obtainable within 2 years, AOS degree
“You don’t really hear people talk much about surgical technologists. They basically prep the surgery room, the operation room and they prep it based on what the Physician directs them to do.. For example, if they are performing heart surgery — they will tell them it’s for heart surgery, to prepare equipment like knives, scalpels, cotton balls, etc.”

Licensed Health Insurance/Benefits Advisor: no degree required!
“Typically, you see these types of workers assisting clients with their Medicare applications/enrolling into Medicare programs or other health insurance programs. You actually need a license in order to be able to do that. Medicare programs. They have a base salary and comes with a very nice commission. You can make around $90K.”

CNA: No degree required!

Dental Assistant: No degree required!
“Certification required though.”

How To Prepare for a Career in Healthcare

  • What specific role within the healthcare industry is most suited for you? As Edward suggests, “Just because it is suitable for me, doesn’t mean it is most suitable for you. So you need to find that passion and know what you want to do.”
  • Figure out the time and money investment aspect because as Edward asserts, “some people are willing to spend 6 years of their time to pursue their dreams/goals, while some don’t have the means or patience to do so since they have to provide for their family, etc. We are all in different situations.”
  • Know your own strengths and weaknesses. “I’m bad with science, I’m bad with math so I didn’t pursue being a PA, MP, all those medical professionals. I know I’m very good with selling stuff so I did marketing and I carved out my own path based on that. Slowly but surely, I moved to this level” (now as a Senior Vice President for Business Development at Bensonhurst Nursing Home).
  • Volunteer to get a feel of the industry. “A lot of hospitals, nursing homes and social sectors allow you to volunteer. Get a feel of people. Get a feel of healthcare professionals.”
  • Have commitment towards the credential/degree requirements. “You have to be committed to be able to succeed at a high level. I truly believe that. Once you are committed into something, then you can do it.”

Q&A from Interested Job Seekers to Edward

  • Q: If I want to be a Chinese interpreter, do I have to get licence or certificate? Where can I take them?
    • A: Being an interpreter is an excellent career choice. Being certified definitely gives you a leg up. You should look into being certified as a court interpreter and/or becoming a medical interpreter, I have enclosed the website:
  • Q: I am currently in my gap year after a 16-month post-pandemic. I am an administration, office, community support, and data entry specialist. Can you advise what is the benefit as per diem basis administration position for a hospital for someone like me moving from the retail sector into healthcare/hospital? My passion is learning and helping people in the communities. I’ve left NYC for good and now living in the capital state region exploring this much-needed job market.
    • A: Don’t stay away too long from action. Basic administrative role at hospitals are highly competitive. You seem to have a lot of experience from previous jobs, but you are not standing out… so my approach would be to build some relationship via volunteering in the hospital settings and then use those relationships to help you gain entrance. Benefits for working in hospital administrative roles are great benefits and longevity.
  • Q: How long will it take to study LPN? How much is the salary range? Is it possible to take that course even if I am not a nursing student? I am an Engineer from the Philippines. Which is better to study health care aide, LPN or business management? My age is 61 but I look younger than my age and am strong. Which path would you think best suits me with a good salary and demand?
    • A: Good choice! LPN vacancy is expected to grow 11% through 2028. National median pay is 65K, but do not expect that amount especially as a fresh grad. 45K-56K in NY, with nursing home nursing supervisor also as potentials. Great job prospects. NYC schools also hires a fair share of LPN. You do not require any previous nursing school education, but you should have a high school diploma and be able to pass the NCLEX-PN to practice in New York. I would suggest you working as a HHA to start while you attend LPN school, that way you can have some income for the time-being, and that course is super short you can complete with breeze. LPN school takes about 14 months or less. It’s never too old to pursue a dream. My father earned his doctorate at age 60. Here’s a link to one of the nursing schools:
  • Q: Can I take a LPN course even as an engineering grad? How long will it take?
    • A: Yes you can take LPN course as a engineering grad, any grad, as long as you have a high school diploma and is proficient in English and math.

The Future of Nightlife and Hospitality Industry in NYC — Post Pandemic

On Wednesday, May 26th — there was an panel conversation between business and community leaders about how conversion to employee ownership can help NYC restaurant and hospitality businesses survive and thrive in our post-pandemic future.

Image via The Hollywood Reporter

“There is no question that this past year has been one of the hardest in recent history for small businesses and workers alike, particularly NYC’s nightlife and hospitality sectors who typically thrive — and residents and tourists can be out and about in all five boroughs and can engage in close quarters together.”

“We also know when there is an economic recession in tending the labor market, not to mention a lingering public health crisis that often small business owners are the first to contract. They are no longer able to support their talent, and they are no longer able to contribute their valuable goods and services that they typically have to their communities.”

“In New York City, according to the Mayor’s Office of Workforce Development report — there are 220,000 small businesses in New York and 98% of them has less than 100 employees and 89% of them has less than 20 staff. Moreover, half of the private sector of the workforce is with small businesses. That means when small businesses falter, so do our workers. Over the course of the last year, we have seen 600,000 jobs loss. We’ve seen thousands of businesses temporarily or permanently shutter. This disproportionately impact low-income workers, communities of color and young adults.”

“It is important for workforce development professionals to support those who lost jobs (laid off or furloughed) during the pandemic by connecting them to benefits, essential jobs if possible, and continue to do so as the City opens up.
During this time, it is very important to offer as much resources and tools as possible to small businesses and workers – as this is imperative in our economic recovery as well as an equitable recovery.”

According to Senior Executive Director Ariel Palitz
“Before the pandemic, the Office of Nightlife was dedicated to making sure we were supporting nightlife businesses, helping to elevate nightlife culture, promote safety, harm reduction, equity, as well as improve quality of its life. And while those are still our priorities, the pandemic really did obviously shift our energy into crisis management mode to ensure that this industry not only survives this, but comes out stronger than ever before. What the Office of Nightlife is hearing and learning from the industry is that this is still a very dark time, even though we are so grateful to see the light coming and the opening, and the return to sociability.

There is going to be a struggle coming back. This virus hit the heart of social gathering, the heart of this industry and so the recovery — the financial recovery is going to be a long road ahead. We know that we’re hearing that it’s very difficult to find employees, trained employees to lure them back into the workplace — and we know that is a real struggle that we’re working with.”

Ariel Palitz also highlights the importance of mental health — that “the mental health issues are underlying not only for the owners and workers but for patrons — and these are all the things that we are going to have to address, continue to address in a very thoughtful manner. But I bring all of this up because it’s also a real opportunity for creative solutions and to see what was a near collapse, and perhaps, even a not guaranteed return that we have an opportunity now to really look and see how can we do things that are not like before but better.”

“And so what the Office of Nightlife has done in the past 12 months was to see where are those opportunities where we can make those types of improvements — one of which was an initiative that we created called, MEND NYC. It is a five-borough initiative. It stands for Mediating Establishment and Neighborhood Disputes. Everyone in the hospitality industry knows that much of their enforcement is complaint driven. At times it could just be one person upstairs calling 311 anonymously and you don’t know who that person is or what the complaint is until you have a visit at the door.
What we created was an opportunity to mend relationships between the residents and the owners through free mediation and to find compromise through communication, and to establish direct contact — and so next time when it is a little louder they call you, and not necessarily an enforcement.
That is one creative solution I encourage everyone to check out as we start to get more and more vibe through both indoors and outdoors.
We help to launch curtains up with our partners at SBS (NYC Small Business Services) to help you through your application processes through the federal grant programs so you don’t have to figure this out all on your own.”

“We also are starting a new mental health initiative with the mental health community — new mental health community office called ELEVATE for the nightlife industry to preserve and protect venues that foster connection, creativity, and personal expression through programs to support cultural spaces and the New Yorkers who work and perform in them.

The real question: How do we innovate?

There is a willingness in small businesses to innovate all the time. And the pandemic brought on a need to innovate and to think what’s next and what’s different. Restaurants and many other businesses in the hospitality industry had to rethink about how to continue doing their business in the city. So how do we leverage that and go into more change in a way that can really help?
With small businesses and restaurants, people will always need to eat and will always need to have these establishments. How do we have them in a way that strengthens our community’s wealth and each other’s livelihood? How can we make it an experience that everybody can enjoy?

According to Rafael Espinal, the Executive Director of a non-profit called Freelancers Union mentions that — “the challenges that the hospitality industry and nightlife faced during the pandemic were rising rents, real estate playing a role in shaping which small businesses would survive or continue to exist in our communities. There was a lack of sensitivity from our neighbors on these establishments, which led to over enforcement — posed another challenge. For decades, when we talk about New York City and the overall ecosystem, night life which helped create our city’s identity/brand, was never really part of that conversation.
If we look at the numbers, there are over 300,000 jobs and over 25,000 businesses across the city. They have a huge economic impact, not only financially but also culturally.”

“Housing, infrastructure, roads fits into the overall equation — nightlife has to be part of that conversation in order to ensure that NYC continues to succeed. The pandemic has created a whole different challenge — a lot of employees have lost their jobs because of the fact that businesses had to operate at one point — at zero capacity, then at half capacity and now everything is opening up. A lot of folks are out of work, a lot of businesses had to close completely because they couldn’t make the economics to work in this time.”

“We can all agree that having a conversation around the work-cooperative model — where the employees have a stake in the business where the employees become owners of the business, it really will create a stronger foundation moving forward.
When you have more than one person who has an interest in the viability of that business, you’ll have more resources to pull from.
When there is a common goal as they open, when there is a common goal to ensure that you are producing the services to the community, when there is common goal in ensuring that all of the workers are being treated equally, there is a lot of energy there that will create a strong foundation.”

“Real estate will continue to be a question in the background. It is a little tougher to control — but we can control what the business model is going to look like moving forward. We can also control the laws/impacts that are coming out from City Hall. There is a lot to unpack here and I am excited to know what the future of nightlife and hospitality will look like.”

Best Practices — Working in Construction Industry (NYC Edition)

This Q&A (answered by a workforce development professional who worked with 80-100 companies in the Construction industry — in varying trades such as, general laborer, carpenters, etc.) is specifically for those who are looking for work in the Construction Industry and how workforce development professionals can help. This applies to employment coordinators, job placement specialists, job developers, account managers, job counselors etc. as they are gatekeepers and advocates for job seekers, in which this will help give an idea of how to counsel job seekers into getting into the field.

Image via Raconteur
  • What is promising in this career, past and future?
    • There are always things being built, so the sector will always be here, especially in NYC.
    • The trades — the ability to specialize in a skill or art form, something you can work towards, becoming an expert in a skillset.
    • Unions — everyone wants to be part of the Union and is a big draw for construction workers, however not everyone is aware of the politics and how to apply.
  • What is the path to getting into a Union?
    • Path 1: Pre-apprenticeship → Apprenticeship → Work in field → Union (Takes time and commitment, depending on the trade — the time/difficulty varies)
    • Path 2: Open-shop is experience based, advocating for yourself and learning on the job and pursuing opportunities in the field, pursuing training on your own time
  • How does recruiting work for candidates with no experience for construction jobs?
    • You need thick skin for this field. Being precise and direct with your pitch to forepersons and site supervisors. Employers have a lot of options (finding walk-ons) but if you can provide them with a skilled worker, you set a good precedent for promising candidates. Send out your most qualified and skilled candidates first to build trust (i.e.. sending strong electrician candidates)
    • For entry level positions, they look for attitude, work ethic, and dedication. A pain point for employers are employees not showing up on time and not being sober.
  • How do I screen candidates for construction jobs?
    • If it is a skilled person, you need to make sure their skills and experience are legit. You need to test them with job specific questions to the trade (terms, processes, scenario questions), and ask them for how much they are looking for (a skilled worker will know their worth)
    • For entry level, ask if they can complete the basics — can you show up on time, can you commit, can you tolerate the realities of the job (weather, physical tasks), and their interest in construction. Be honest with them about the realities of the work.
  • How do you respond to employer feedback on members working at their sites?
    • Don’t feel like you have to apologize for a specific person. This is not a rare situation for there to be employee feedback. Let the employer know that you will follow up with the member and the option that you are also looking for a replacement. The more timely the turn around, the better since construction companies are focused on project timelines as it affects their finances.
    • You will never be able to avoid challenges. You just need to be able to move with a sense of urgency.
  • Recommendations to address members when waiting to hear back from construction jobs:
    • If it’s an active job and the candidate is waiting for very long, move on to other options. The employer is most likely uninterested.
    • Avoid waiting jobs since they aren’t always guaranteed (change in timeline, pending permit and contract approval, etc.). Have them contact you closer to the start date.
    • Best bet is to keep looking until you have an immediate start date. Take “I’ll call you back” as a no. The norm is a same-day job offer.
  • How do I know I am working with a legit employer? How do I vet a company?
    • There are a lot of shady companies. Speak to your candidates after their interviews to assess the company. Look out for red flags (i.e. interview location, feedback from employers, etc). Scout out the location yourself.
    • Transparency with the candidates builds trust. They will keep coming back and you can rely on them to assess employers.
  • What are the pros and cons for open-shop for entry-level candidates?
    • Unions pay more is a pro. Being an employee of the union is a con due to the wait time after your contract ends (working 4-5 months of the year, starting at the bottom of the list) since you are sharing opportunities. You cannot work outside of the union for side jobs because you will be expelled. You need to work positions or jobs outside of your union position.
  • What are some off-the-book tips?
    • You need to understand that the industry is very tribal. A lot of electricians tend to be Hispanic. Concrete laborers tend to be Polish, Russian or Jamaican due to trades in their place of origin. Employers have these notions and hire based on them. Employees must have thick skin, trying to stick it out. Plumbers and electricians require attention to detail.
  • How can we continue to empower our members in the construction sector?
    • Educating our members on workers’ rights and how to navigate the filing process.
    • Changing the notion that you need “thick skin” in this industry because it perpetuates discrimination and unprofessional work practices acceptable.
    • Make change by working with a small construction owner and be their HR and their support system to create a different environment.
Image via Redshift by Autodesk

CNYCA’S COVID-19 Economic Update: Job market behavior in a pandemic—no easy answers

Disclaimer: Content in this article was obtained from NYC Employment + Training Coalition’s (NYCETC) NYC Workforce Weekly and the Center for New York City Affairs (CNYCA) to serve as a resource for job seekers and those who are curious/interested in learning more about the current economy of the workforce.

Original article HERE / Past installments on CNYCA’S COVID-19 Economic Update HERE

We’ve all seen the “Help Wanted” signs in the windows of our neighborhood businesses. It’s a reassuring sign that business is coming back, and that our sequestered days might be waning. On the other hand, how can it be that jobs are going unfilled when we know that three-quarters of a million New Yorkers are jobless or have exited the labor market over the past year?

Many businesses are right to ask whether the extra $300 in weekly unemployment benefits available through September 6 is keeping workers home. But as journalist Greg David noted in a recent article in The City on this issue, “it’s complicated.” David cited a recent Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce survey in which 42 percent of businesses felt that federal unemployment benefits were discouraging return to work. Yet, the Brooklyn survey, according to a report in the Post, also found that 41 percent of businesses said they couldn’t provide enough hours to employees, 28 percent said employees had moved on to other jobs, workers had safety concerns in 12 percent of the cases, and employee health issues were cited by five percent of businesses. And several businesses also noted that lack of child care was keeping some workers home.

Clearly, a multiplicity of factors is influencing job market behavior as pandemic business restrictions are eased, Covid case rates decline, and vaccinations become more widespread. It is not so clear cut that unemployment benefits are the primary cause for some jobs going unfilled, although the availability of benefits likely does make it possible for many of the unemployed to exercise greater latitude in making decisions in the best interests of their families, personal health, and career choices. But isn’t that appropriate considering that the unemployed lost their jobs due to a public health emergency not of their making, and that the pandemic has upended livelihoods and family circumstances for millions?

Beyond survey perceptions there are various economic indicators that reinforce the notion that there are no simple or easy answers on this question. Even though an earlier $600 weekly federal unemployment supplement ended at the beginning of August last summer, there was no local job surge in ensuing months. Rather, the second wave of Covid infections beginning in October kept the city’s overall job level flat for several months. Jobs didn’t start to rebound strongly until February and March (NYC added 90,000 jobs over those two months), even though the new $300 weekly federal supplement began in early January.

Employment in restaurants—where unfilled job openings are most common—rebounded some in the fall, fell off again during the winter, and started hiring again in February. This erratic pattern may have signaled an instability that deterred workers from returning. (April payroll data for New York City will be released on May 20.)

The fact that employment in child care centers has not risen appreciably since November also supports the notion that the lack of child care capacity has been preventing some parents from returning to work. The March 2021 employment level was still 21 percent below the pre-pandemic level, and there was a severe crisis in child care accessibility and affordability before the pandemic. The very slow pace with which the State has been moving to disburse emergency federal child care funding has further exacerbated the child care situation.

Since most neighborhood businesses are not back to full capacity, many are not able to offer their employees full-time schedules. Unlike other states, New York State’s partial unemployment system is particularly antiquated and confusing for workers to navigate. There are “cliff effects” as the figure below indicates, where an additional hour of part-time work can dramatically reduce partial unemployment benefits, unduly complicating a worker’s decision about returning to work part-time. State legislators and the governor have had proposals to remedy the problem since January but have not yet reached agreement on a resolution. Meanwhile, an estimated 25 percent of the two million-plus UI recipients in New York State are receiving partial benefits.

Several news reports indicate that some restaurant businesses have raised pay offers or enhanced benefits to attract workers back. That is what labor economists would expect to happen when recruitment problems persist. The need for higher pay is particularly warranted given that New York State pay regulations permit a “subminimum wage” for tipped restaurant workers of $10 an hour whereas the wage floor for most New York City workers has been $15 since the beginning of 2019. Since most restaurants are far below pre-pandemic business levels, tips are likely a fraction of what they previously were.

Effective Communication and Networking with Employers
Image via

How you network during your career search involves how you show up. This is super important since this will determine how the conversation will go.

When you pick up your phone for a job interview or just to speak with an employer that you scheduled a call to speak with, first impressions are paramount. Why? Because the minute the first impression you give to that person, that’s what they remember you by or as, and that first impression will determine whether you go to the next conversation or whether they want to have a follow up conversation with you.

For instance, you want to introduce yourself and initiate how you found out about the job posting. Express your interest and share with the employer on what you knew about the company. If the company is into serving the community, mention that. You want to be able to give the company a quick snapshot recap of who they were in your eyes and why you want to be a part of that brand.

The most common question that I am sure that you have been asked during an interview was, “Why do you want to work for Company ABC?” Make sure the things you mention are not just your interest but also what you know about them. This includes your response to how the company aligns with what they are doing, what their missions and values are and how you can relate/contribute to them.

You can say something along the lines of, “Company ABC stands for a lot of things that I believe in. I see that you do a lot of things in the community and for the community.” Share relevant experiences that you have done in the past — say like a part-time job to pay off your student loans, internships, etc.
If you have worked for a job that involves youth and if everything Company ABC does in the community is helping the youth, that would be something good to share with them. So when they have a youth from the community saying they want to work for that company because they do that on such a larger scale, they would be excited to hear your motives and what you are driven by. “I want to gain experience”, “I’m a quick learner”, “I am able to multi-task”.

Chances are, the employer will be intrigued by what you have told them and they will want to bring you in for an interview. Therefore, first impressions are paramount when you think about networking. The first minute that you show up, the first way they see you should make a positive impact in that moment. So it’s in that moment where you can make a difference.

Many job seekers often think that networking can be thrown to the side once they land the job. Networking isn’t over once you begin your job. It is crucial to continue building that relationship by following up and staying in touch with your connections. Being ready to experience new things and asking insightful questions to learn about someone are always helpful to keep the conversation going.

What is Effective Communication?

Communication is a process and there’s so many processes we go through. If you break down the word Effective Communication:

Effective is defined as “successful in producing a desired outcome or intended result“.
Communication is defined as “the imparting or exchanging of information or news“.

Now if you bring those two words together, Effective Communication is defined as “verbal speech or other methods of relaying information that get a point across. It is also when you achieve a desired outcome by sharing key information or news. Simply put, it is being able to clearly convey a message to the other person.

So, what makes it effective — what is your desired outcome? And is the desired outcome of the conversation the intended results? That is important when you think about effective communication. We communicate in multiple ways everyday. But how you communicate is very important. Is it the outcome that you want to get it across to the other person or to the audience? And when you achieve that, you can see that you achieved that because you get results or immediate, instant feedback from the person or audience that you are talking to.

An example of an effective communication is when the person you are talking to — listens actively, absorbs your point and they understand it. You also need to listen in a way that gave the full meaning of what’s being said and makes the other person feel heard and understood. It is a two way street — you are sharing, but you are also absorbing, and you are actively listening to the other person on their response.

What Are Some Barriers to Effective Communication?

  • Judging the other person — Sometimes when someone is talking to us, we are already deciding or thinking about the outcome/sizing them up.
  • Not paying attention to the other person you are talking to — This shows that you are not intently listening and this can distract you from conversing with that person and they can see if you are not paying attention.
  • Assuming intent of the other person — You are going to assume the message that the other person is trying to get across to you without listening to the person that is speaking to you.
  • Using technical language — One thing that has always been uncomfortable in effective communication is when people use jargon and words that we are not familiar with. This crosses a block in others not understanding or comprehension what message the person is trying to get across OR what you are trying to get across to the audience.
    • For example, a hiring manager/recruiter can refrain from using any corporate language (from within their organization) when he/she is trying to share about what the company is to the job seeker — who doesn’t know fully anything about that company.
    • Some companies use acronyms like clothing brands to communicate internally that externals might not know, so that is when the full name/phrase/word will need to be elaborated.
    • Don’t use technical language if you don’t know if the other person knows it. You are really just trying to build a relationship with that person.
  • Providing solutions or unwanted advice — Sometimes, you can provide a solution to something and that person did not ask for the advice yet. This can be a quick way to deescalate the conversation and might end up cutting it short. Wait for the open door. Wait for someone to say, “Oh — what did you think about what I just shared with you?” Actively listen to the information that they are sharing and engaging you with. Let them open the door for any questions/opinions that they may have for you.
  • Avoiding the concern of others
  • Not having an open mindset going into the conversation

What Happens in a Conversation When We Communicate Effectively?

  • Nodding your head — showing the other person that you completely understand
  • Builds and fosters a great relationship with others
  • Builds better trust
  • Increases your engagement — People want to ask questions. It becomes more of a conversation rather than just a topic of effective communication.
  • Improves productivity
  • Provides clarity and direction — If it’s communicated clearly between you and the other person, it will be executed exact on what needs to get done. If there is no clarity or direction, this will lead to more questions — as a clear indication that you did not understand, nor did you actively listen in that conversation of the initial communication, or the statement made by the other person was not clear enough.
  • Promotes team building

Effective Communication Skills

  • Active listening
  • Being aware of non-verbal communication
    • As you are communicating, you are paying attention to their body language. If you are communicating and someone is looking down, that’s saying that the person is not engaged with you right now; they’re not with you; they’re not understanding what you are saying. Also, there could be a possibility of that person not being open to what you are sharing.
  • Asking questions
    • When you are communicating effectively, you can also ask questions and the other person can ask questions as well to ensure that engagement is happening two-way.
  • Be clear
  • Clarify & Summarize
  • Be empathetic
    • Especially when it comes to someone else’s opinion
    • Be empathetic as well when you are sharing out information.
      • What are you communicating?
      • Is the information that you are communicating — is it for everyone? Or are you leaving certain people out?
    • Be inclusive in your communication
  • Give feedback and be open to it
    • Feedback is a gift. People will always give you feedback whether you want it or not. Sometimes
  • Be honest
    • Always be authentic and be your true self while you are being your professional self.
      • If you are in an environment where you are in an interview, the way you communicate is super important. There are words that you wouldn’t use in an interview that you would when you are communicating casually with friends/family.
  • Control your emotions

Listening is a skill that not too many people do well on. And it’s because people listen to respond versus listening to understand. If someone is communicating to you and sharing an idea/thought or even introducing themselves, you don’t want to interrupt them. You want to continue listening to them so that they can have their moment of their introduction. When it’s your turn to speak, then it’s your turn to speak.

There is a moment where there is someone on the other side who will say, “Hey do you have any questions for me?” and that’s when you can ask the questions and anything that you need more clarity on. However, when we listen to respond, it doesn’t have the conversation to flow easily. It doesn’t help the conversation. It makes it like a roadblock and a barrier because they are sharing potential opportunities and you are not listening to their perspective. It’s not always your perspective, it’s someone else’s as well.

You need to have an open mindset when you go into any conversation.

5 C’s of Effective Communication

Important for not just in the workplace or job search but also in daily life.

  • Clarity — Be clear
  • Consistency — Be consistent with your communication style. Show up consistently. Don’t give different communication styles. Be clear and stick to the information that you are sharing. Don’t share one information with one group, and then change your complete content on what you are sharing with another person.
    • If you are consistent with your connection, they will have to be consistent with you.
  • Creativity — Be creative in your approach. You will meet different people (networking).
    • Are you creative in the way that you are connecting with this person?
    • Every person requires a different approach. You won’t be able to just say the same thing to different people. You do have to curate that message and tailor it into your person and audience.
      • Knowing your audience is very important when you are communicating to that person or your audience.
  • Content — Make sure the content is relevant to what the other person wants to know. Or make sure it’s content in reference to content. Make sure what you are sharing makes sense.
  • Connections — The connections that you make are super important. Even in that communication when you are connecting with — what is the impression that you are going to leave for that other person

How to Be a Better Communicator

  • Be slow to speak, but quick to listen
  • Practice your speech in front of a mirror
  • List down your affirmations and manifest them
  • Be clear

In a job interview, if the interviewer asks the interviewee — “Tell me about yourself”, that is the moment for you to get your elevator pitch. Your elevator pitch would need to stick to the question and not go off into something else. Practicing would help your elevator pitch be delivered in the right way.

Example: “Hi my name is ______, I work in recruiting services. I applied for this job because I saw all the work that you have been doing behind the scenes for candidates. The candidate experience is super important to your brand. I am very interested in learning how to expand on my knowledge in how the candidate experience shows up from your company’s point of view. I am very excited to be here today to learn more. I am ready and eager to learn.”

Just being able to share that upfront when you have that moment to share who you are.

Have a plan. Go into the conversation with an agenda so that you don’t digress. Stay on top to apply your outcome. Have an agenda on whatever you are going to talk about today. That way, people will have an idea on what you are going to be talking about, that you execute everything that you want to execute, and that you and your attendees walk away knowing the content that both parties discussed about.

Career Networking

Networking is defined as “involves using personal, professional, or academic contacts to assist with a job search. Networking can be a good way to hear about job opportunities or get in at a company you’d like to work with.”

You find out information when you seek information, so it involves you actively reaching out to someone else who has the job that you want or works at the company that you want to work for. It also involves you using some of your personal and professional contacts. There’s people that you will meet everyday that will become a part of your network. As you meet someone, they become a part of your network. That could be from social media, in-person event, phone, LinkedIn, or any kind of online platform.

If you master networking, a cool tip to remember is to start with what you know. You will have a different approach every time to someone that you meet. Knowing the time and place is important. There’s a time to network, there’s a time to say “Good morning, my name is Michelle” and keep it moving.

For example, you are at an event. You are showing up to the event. There is a room of people, you are at the door and you are trying to get inside the event, and someone walks up to you at the door and greets you. If they are trying to network with you at that time, that is not the time to network. You will be blocking the entrance while others are trying to get into the door to the event. That is not the right time nor the right place.

Let’s say you are at a job fair. You walk around the room and you get to meet different employers. That is absolutely the right time to network. Networking with the golden mind of not taking up too much of that recruiter’s/team’s time by knowing when to move on to the next table. State your name, what your interests are, “here’s my resume”, or “I applied online”. Any quick facts that you could share with the HR team and anything that you think would be good for them to know about you, say it at the table. Grab the employer’s business card and gifts if there are any freebies left out on the table, and come back.

The recruiter’s most likely going to say, “If you have time, I am so sorry because the line is so long. I am trying to get to everyone but if you have a minute, come back to the table and let’s talk again.” But it’s all about how you predicate and present yourself to the recruiter because it let’s them know and gives them the impression if they are sparked to have another conversation with you or not.

Benefits of Networking

  • Develop your career
  • Build your personal brand — How do you show up? How you show up is how they will perceive you. When you show up at a networking event, you don’t ask for a job. You ask for information. When you’re at a job fair, that is the time for you to talk about a job. But when you are at a public event, and you are seeing someone in the room that you have always wanted to talk to, don’t ask for a job — ask for information.

    Example: “Hi my name is ____. I’m not sure if you remember who I was from last time. I was the person who did the community event with you … (and so on) I’ve always wanted to know, could you tell me a little bit about what you do, so could you share what it is that you love most about your brand/company? Or a little bit of the work that we did together last week?”
  • Re-evaluate your qualifications — After networking with someone, they may share a nugget about that job and that could leave you with — “Wow I didn’t even think about that.. I would need to re-evaluate the qualifications that I may have left out of my resume because I thought that I would need to leave Volunteering off my resume. But he just told me that he volunteered at 3 city jobs, and that was what helped him get the job.”
  • Support from your community — Having a community — and that is a community of people that you met. That helps you to get more support and more people for you to go to and get advice from.
  • Raise your profile — If you are on LinkedIn, and if you are not — you should sign up. It is the #1 career networking platform. People get to know you because you are adding people, building your connections and it raises your profile to the level of “Wow this person is connected to this person I know.” When people see that you are connected to these people, it helps to raise awareness and they will want to reach out to their connection who knows of that person that they want to get to know more about.
  • Get fresh ideas — Sometimes, when you are networking — you learn new things from somebody else in the conversation and that’s a part of re-evaluating your qualifications.
  • Gain more knowledge
  • Get career advice

Do’s and Don’t’s of Networking

  • Knowing a time and a place — Don’t corner someone at a door or in an inappropriate place where you can’t network and it prevents them from moving.
  • Let them be the person to want to talk to you. Do not force the conversation if the person is not engaged, or if you did not build that initial contact or relationship.
  • Have your information ready. Don’t introduce yourself and blank out when they ask you to tell them about yourself. Be ready. When you network, you need to have your stuff ready. You want to make a good connection. You are exchanging business information — such as a phone number or email. Don’t take it personal if they do not want to give out a phone number. They may not have a phone number. They may just communicate via email.
    • Be empathetic to some of those barriers/things that may be
  • Leverage social media. Such as, getting on LinkedIn. If you are not on that platform, you will need to sign up. Create your profile, have your resume, have a line up of who you are, the interests you have, etc. Get that polished and then start adding to your network.
  • The most important part of networking is TALKING. If you are afraid to talk to someone else because you are shy or introverted, it is highly encouraged that is to get in front of the mirror and practice.
  • Another important part of networking is FOLLOW UP. You meet great people everyday and you never talk to them again. You have to keep the conversation going. Say “Hi, I’m not sure if you remember me. Just checking in to see if there’s any opportunities” and this can be via email. That is to keep the networking going and this gets the person to remember you. You want to have a network that is not going to let you go, and instead keep you in the loop.
    • Even if you don’t get a job with them or you don’t get the outcome that you really wanted, it still shows them that you are a real person and that you want to keep this network/conversation going.
    • Share a success story when you met with someone, because with your story — you can help to empower someone else and they will totally understand you. They will understand some of the things you have faced as a candidate. Maybe it could be applying for a job, or some of the things that you have implemented on your last job so that they’ll get who you are as a person. It’s not always about the professional aspect. It can be the little things — likes/dislikes that your network can relate to about you. That can bring your network closer to you.
  • If you are networking virtually like on Google Meet or Zoom, it is encouraged that you have your camera on because people will get to see you and the conversation becomes more meaningful and interactive. It shows that you are present, engaged and fully paying attention. Make sure your background is not distracting. Connection is through eyes — eye contact. This allows us to learn from each other.
  • If you don’t know how to start a conversation, you can lead it with an ice breaker! This gives the opportunity for people to introduce themselves.
Image via TheMandarin

Returning To The Office = Uncertainty?

After months to a year of remote work, many have felt uncertain about returning to their office due to not wanting to pay for commuting expenses, waking up a few hours early to look for parking space, etc. We all know that WFH is cost effective, it reduces overhead and creates a happier work environment. But there are also some who feel excited and recharged to go back into the office, as there are those who are far more productive in a stimulating work environment rather than at home where there are always reasons to procrastinate/be distracted.

According to the Wall Street Journal, “Some 43% of 1,046 remote workers surveyed by insurer Prudential in March said they’d be nervous about their job security if they stayed home while others returned to in-person. Yet the data indicates many of us really don’t want to go back, at least not every day. Nearly nine out of 10 workers in the same survey said they want to work from home at least once a week after the pandemic subsides; one in three said they wouldn’t work for a company that forced them to be on-site full-time.

How serious is your company about remote work?

Will staying home hurt your chances for promotion? Will leaders reverse course in a year, ordering you back? Tips on reading the risk, from professor Ashley Whillans:

Office downsizing: If your company is shedding real estate, that could be a sign that it’s committed to a flexible model of working.

Hiring from afar: Are new employees from around the country onboarding into fully remote roles? Or has the company been focusing on recruiting local talent in the past several months? If it’s the latter, executives might be switching gears.

Signals from the boss: Pay attention to what leaders are doing, not saying. “Do you see your bosses Zooming in from their offices?” Dr. Whillans asks.

Subtle perks: Is your company offering things like free lunch to those who come back? That’s a sign they want you there.

Should You Go Back to the Office? — Wall Street Journal Article

This can be a big thing to consider for employees who have relocated to another area to be closer to their family.
Image via Entrepreneur

Here’s what others are saying:

  • “Any company that doesn’t offer a WFH option for positions that were able to be effectively executed in WFH mode during COVID lockdowns will lose significant amounts of talent. It makes no sense to impose draconian “be in the office” rules if productivity was not affected. Anecdotally many businesses found productivity went up! And if you factor in potential savings in office space, utilities, parking space, and so on, there’s even room for a 5-10% reduction in productivity and still being better off with a WFH model.”
  • “COVID fast-forwarded how we work by decades. It proved that working from home wasn’t just possible, it proved that it worked well. For myself, and many that I know, going back to an office is a deal-breaker.
    The biggest pro, for me, is it gives me back up to 2 hours per day that I would have otherwise wasted sitting in traffic. I can use that time to get a jump on the day, be more productive, or just get some extra rest when I need it. This alone has dramatically improved my quality of life.”
  • “If you desire to switch careers, now is the time.
    If you desire to go into business for yourself, now is the time.
    If you want to work for a company that has what you need, now is the time.
    If you want to go back into office to your old professional life, now is the time.
    Whatever you decide, now is the time to do it. Just approach it as a respected business partner on your way in… or on your way out.”
  • “It’s already happening in many ‘essential’ places.
    The fulfillment centers is where one can probably see that ‘Great Resignation’ taking place right now, as many workers are leaving these jobs for other opportunities, preferably ones with more favorable working conditions.
    Through the worst of this pandemic, many ‘essential employers out there only paid ‘lip service’ to combating COVID-19 at their workplace and I know one ‘essential’ employer out there in the Reno area where they initially undertook a response to alert all employees when they discovered new cases in their workforce blasting out voicemail to all employees, only to abandon it because people called in sick the next day.
    A lot of ‘essential’ employers out there treated their workforce as nothing more than ‘pawns’ in a chess game to the point that many workers got fed up and left when the next opportunities presented themselves… There’s only so much mandatory overtime people will put up with and so much abuse, like making people work in a Reno-area warehouse filled smile from California wildfires and doing nothing to monitor the air or even filter the inside air to clean out the smoke so it doesn’t irritate people’s eyes, throat and lungs as they work.”
  • “I haven’t worked in an office setting in almost a decade. WFH is way better. If you need to come into the office for an important meeting, that is one thing, but showing up everyday to sit in a designated place to do the same job in the same way you can from your home makes no sense. And if this pandemic has demonstrated one thing, it is that with the availability of Zoom and other digital interfaces, face to face sales is not really that crucial to the overall outcome of the sales process. The days of firm handshakes, 3 martini lunches and power ties are over. It doesn’t take any of that to close a deal. Offering a good service/product at a reasonable price and then DELIVERING are what makes a business/salesperson successful. Not showing up and knocking on doors. That is 20th century stuff and we’re living in a 21st century world.”
  • “Anyone quitting to prioritize their health should not be judged. There are great ways to earn a living these days without having to rely on this old paradigm of an in person 9-5 requirement.”
  • “There are a lot of unemployed people still. Particularly women (including older women), instead of countless articles focusing on how ’employed’ people don’t want to go back to the office (for understandable reasons in some cases) and nurturing of those workers, how about sending a little love to us unemployed folks?
    All I ever hear is how the unemployed ‘aren’t motivated to go back to work’ because of a $300 supplement, which barely helps me pay my health insurance. I’m ‘lazy’ because I don’t yet want to give up on my career as a C-Level Executive Assistant because no one wants to hire me for the job I’m qualified to do.
    And yet unemployed folks are being reasonable and justified in demanding they be able to do their work at home or else. (Again I’m not against this choice but with so many unemployed people maybe if you don’t want to go into the office, someone else will. Imagine how this all sounds to someone who is truly struggling to pay bills). How about my mental health and well-being? Trust me if you are an EA who doesn’t want to go back to the office, I’ll do that for you. And I loved working from home but if it’s not a choice, it’s not a choice.”
  • “If your job doesn’t require you to interface with the public, what’s the problem about working from home? I can take my work home, and only go in for meetings. I just need access to the cloud and the Microsoft Teams account. I can get access to email. Traveling to work is a cost.”
    • “I agree! It’s a mindset shift by many employers, though. People are used to physical oversight – in my honest opinion, if you don’t trust your employee, why hire them in the first place?”
  • “This is an interesting topic for those fortunate to work from home. It has been a rough year working from home but there are many positives, as well. Many companies didn’t do well in keeping company culture going during the pandemic. With jobs opening and potential flex environments, what could employers provide employees to get them to stay?”
  • “Companies that were mindful of company culture and the employee experience before the pandemic were more likely able to pivot when the pandemic hit. Companies that were/are less mindful of such things were already in a hole, and the pandemic deepened that hole. With that in mind, companies in the latter situation are going to need bigger overtures to keep employees.”
    • “An excellent point! Many organizations take their culture for granted.”
  • “I can’t get past the guy wearing a mask in his own home office. Beyond that, we are seeing people leaving positions for remote jobs, leaving the uncertainty of maybe staying remote versus a sure thing. It is worth it to some to bet on a new company versus betting on having to go back in the office. With that said, people need to work or will need to work once the government stops extending unemployment, so I think those companies who do better with office employees versus remote will do so, and other companies that have found equal to or greater success may opt for the remote.”
  • “I believe there is an impending great resignation on the horizon as everyone has been evaluating what is important to them over the past year. I also believe for those staying put, when you return to the office it will be like meeting your colleagues for the first time all over again. The people you knew and worked with are forever changed for their unique experience over the past year.
    Whether you decide to return to your current position’s office or decide to try something new, don’t forget every person experienced a life altering change in some way. Have some patience, and extend some grace. Even if you ‘know’ someone they have been fighting silent personal battles that shape who they are now. Conferences will be different, team meetings will be different, expect to learn together anew.”
  • “Existing employee can become a fast Exiting employee. What happens when they leave in droves? Honesty solicited should be both ways. If a company chooses to bury its head in the ground and not address the real reason why TALENT leaves, they will soon face the constant turnstile before it eternally known that the organization is toxic. That leads to wider gaps in consistency (in program and service) which throws off any possibility of higher level strategic planning and subsequent achievement right out the door. If your organization relies on human beings (particularly high performing ones) treat and value them as such.”
  • “Anytime I speak to someone who is ready to give in their notice I ask them two questions:
    1. Do you have a job lined up?
    2. If not, do you have 3-6 months of bills saved up in case the job search takes that long?
    I get it, you want to quit, you are tired and frustrated.
    Or you don’t want to commute 30+ minutes to work just to show a senior leader you are working.
    With the pandemic and people talking about ‘back to work’ because you know we have all been on vacation for the last year.
    You absolutely have the right to look for an all remote position. But don’t quit before you have a job.
    On average a job search can take few weeks to few months. Do you have that much money saved for bills? Or someone who can support you?
    Start with your job search. Still show up everyday at your job as if you don’t have any intention of leaving.”
Image via PCMag

Should Employers Still Require College Degrees?

Recently, Wall Street Journal has published an article and the title explains it all: Some CEOs Suggest Dropping Degree Requirements in Hiring.

This is a realistic perspective we are looking at since many college graduates are coming out with a degree and no job, while employers are having a hard time filling certain entry-level positions as well as higher-level positions due to unrealistic job descriptions that make it a competitive job market for many.

Should degrees be immaterial? Because the focus should be on hiring the right person. In many cases, degrees are seen as a petty economic development scheme and that is the belief on how much talent gets passed up. There is a saying in the HR world, “I can teach you the treasury and payments pieces you need. The things I’m looking for are not taught in school.” However, many HR staff nowadays are not qualified to sift through applicants to find the right candidate, but only the right keywords. This calls for a need to change the practices and lower the keyword bar to allow more applicants to be seen.

This trend doesn’t apply to all fields however, since for instance, the tech world’s insatiable demand for tech workers and coders. Tech giants like Amazon has never required a degree for line workers in their distribution centers. There will always be the discussion of providing skill training or education in colleges and career preparatory schools.
Also, for STEM field. Will corporations train workers only on the niche requirements of the job?

Here is something to consider, if CEOs and hiring managers were to drop degree requirements — this will require manager conditioning since they link it to the likeliness of the success of an individual in a particular role. Many individuals have graduated with a degree but have never directly worked in their field of study as long as they have the applied skills and meet their requirements/qualifications, which questions the relevance of a degree.

Here is how others have been responding to this topic and this resonates with a lot of employers and job seekers.

  1. “College degrees have long been used to screen in and screen out prospective employees. Diversity issues aside, removing the requirement theoretically would certainly open up the talent pool for candidates. For employers, not requiring a degree would address the labor shortage across industries.

    On the flip side, people with degrees have also found it challenging to get hired. In reality, people even with the right skills and experiences have challenges finding employment which goes beyond the degree/no degree topic.

    The real problem is that employers have done themselves and workers a huge disservice with unrealistic job descriptions and hiring practices. Much of this has been done to combine multiple roles into as few as possible, while others have wage levels that hinder recruitment. Then on top of that, the business of hiring has gradually lost the human touch with an over-reliance on automated screening tools. Unless you use the right words, phrases or even the right font, you’re screened out.

    While degree/no degree is an interesting issue, the change needs to go deeper into hiring practices.”
  2. “I’ve been gainfully employed for over 25 years without a 4 year degree, until this strange time of Covid. I’ve never experienced the challenges this time is seeing with the automation, key word and degree requirements which have made job searching a heart wrenchingly difficult experience with very little ability to by-pass the ‘Black-Hole’ that these systems have created, despite having a Master’s Degree level of hands on experience. It is a huge dis-service to organizations needing to full positions and the economy.”
  3. “An ‘overhaul’ of recruitment/hiring practices is very much needed, as in this area new technologies have made it impossible for anyone to show their worth. Algorithms are destroying job prospects and careers before they’re even started. We are reduced to key words and phrases instead of people.”
  4. “When I was looking for a role I quickly realized that some major corporations have outsourced their recruiting to the lowest bidder, which doesn’t always produce the best outcomes.

    Then there is the infamous ATS. It was disheartening to know that human eyes weren’t reviewing my resume, now the algorithm decides whether I would make it to the next round based on the number of times the exact keyword shows up in my CV.

    I feel that some companies use frightening job duties and requirements to thin the applicant pool. I have abandoned applications due to the 30 bullet points on roles and responsibilities that didn’t sync with the salary and I didn’t want to work 14 hours a day.

    Dropping degree requirements and training people for career progression on the job is a great start, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg.”
  5. “I feel there are too many ‘requirements’ on most job postings today; even if you do have a degree it may be in a different major, or if you have experience it’s not enough experience, etc.
    Many job postings intimidate potential applicants, not to mention force marginalized people to attend for profit schools (VERY expensive vs. state schools), while accumulating massive debt because they are easier and faster to get into than a private or state school where you need transcripts, essays, recommendations, etc.
    Most working adults don’t have the time or resources to even start the process, not the mention the ability to take classes in person (state/private were late in offering virtual learning programs.”
  6. “The arbitrary rules regarding college requirements for most of the entry-level positions created by outdated systems that no longer reflect our society hasn’t made sense for quite some time. In addition to these requirements, we often ask for candidates to have 2-3 years in experience that many wouldn’t have. It’s truly hard to address the gap in opportunity if some of the world’s most prominent employers aren’t rethinking their stance.”
  7. “Can’t wait for them to drop the ‘mandatory required’ 3-5 years of prior experience at appear in most entry level positions. A real barrier to entry is not the degree, it’s the ‘requirements’ that are out of step with the duties of the position and are used as a way to acquire skilled labor without training or workforce development investment.”
  8. “Having a degree doesn’t make you more intelligent than someone without. Many people moving up in a company gain valuable experience but at some point can reach the glass ceiling of ‘degree’.
    There seems to be many glass ceilings a company can implement to create the illusion of talent but in effect it is exclusivity.
    A degree doesn’t make you a harder worker, more dedicated worker, a worker that has the innate capability to solve problems or even the desire to take on challenges and find solutions.
    A degree is just a piece of paper to create a hurdle to jump over or a way to narrow the interview process and candidates.
    Many people without degrees start their own company doing work they were not allowed to get compensated for from a corporation.”
  9. “To me we wouldn’t be having this conversation if the cost of higher education was controlled, because I think we can all agree that more education is better than less. I don’t think the answer is necessarily don’t require degrees, but rather create opportunities for people to get them more affordably and maybe even faster. It can be done if we all believe in it. Free community college. Low interest rates on federal loans. Innovative fast track programs. And probably many other things that I cannot think of right now.”
  10. “I see this as a double edged sword. For many places it is simply gatekeeping as a barrier to entry since I have always assumed that the reason for requiring a bachelor’s degree of a candidate was some sort of proof that you can accomplish a task. On the flip side of the coin I have a master’s degree in Organizational Leadership. There are many jobs that are asking people to have a master’s degree and then only wanting to pay $15 an hour.”
  11. “In some ways, the college degree has historically functioned as a screening device in the workplace rather than a realistic determinant of a job candidate’s ability. Dropping the requirement for a college degree for certain jobs makes sense, and could broaden opportunities considerably for job entrants. However, our primary educators must get the job done. They need to prepare their young students with the foundational skills needed to adapt to the demands of career.”
  12. “What do you look for in an individual? Can you coach ‘passion’? Can you learn ‘work ethic’ from having a 4 year degree? What is the future benchmark for a highly successful hire?”
  13. “Some of the smartest, most capable people I’ve known in my career didn’t have a degree. Clearly it matters in many instances, but certainly not at all. Attitude can’t be taught but in many cases aptitude can be.”
  14. “This would place the responsibility of preparing students, for the workforce, back on high schools. I’m all for that but it is going to require a reegineering of our public school systems. I teach at the undergraduate level and I feel many times that I am doing what should have been done in high school. Also, will these same CEOs make a commitment to entry level talent development programs to ensure employee retention and growth? It is time to look at higher education and job placement in a total systems approach, not as silos.”
  15. “Although the sentiment is dead-on, I would urge organizations to consider whether or not the job(s) in question is/are the starting point for a career progression that indeed does necessitate such a requirement (e.g. Bachelor’s, Master’s, etc.). If an organization hires an employee lacking in the future requirements at the time of hire, what strategies are in place to ensure that the employee(s) are qualified for the higher roles when the time comes. Corporate educational assistance budgets appear to have taken a hit — if not nonexistent — but can play an important role in succession planning. Education isn’t always the panacea it’s made out to be, but lack of education can also be of equal importance.”

With companies having their own operating systems, that are for the most part different from the degree, the path forward is that they should teach what they are doing with far greater success than the other.

Picking an Imperfect Job versus a Perfect Job

While the job market is changing overtime, and will continue to change due to the pandemic, people will most likely have to pick up jobs that will lead to disappointment — as a result of the job shortages.

So the question is if you were offered a job that wouldn’t necessary fit what you are looking for, should you take it?

If you are starting your career as a recent college grad or transitioning to a new field but aren’t quite sure on a path, here are some advice that will hopefully point you to a direction:

  • For what is worth, look for what satisfies you. The better you like it, the better you will perform in the field/role. If it feels good, you excel at it and you should do it. You wouldn’t buy a pair of shoes you didn’t like, that didn’t fit or were not fit for purpose.. would you?
    • The perfect job is not about what it is, but rather how it makes you feel and drives you to make things better. That is called your passion. Your passion is something that you enjoy doing everyday, where it doesn’t feel like a job; never phased you or felt like a chore. Instead, you let it motivate and drive you.
  • Check out some online psychometric tests or career personality tests (like a Myers Briggs Personality Test) to work out suitability, style, character, leadership, ideal career, etc.
  • If you like your role, you should also pay attention to the work environment around you. Stay away from negatively charged people, atmospheres where they can be unproductive, infectious and lead down the path to nowhere.
  • In any job/internship/volunteer that you have had, what part of each of them did you enjoy the most? Write that down as a job description somewhere.
    • Imagine a person like yourself doing that job and try to morph one to five of them that may exist into a job that exists and even more or less, take your best qualities and apply for jobs that you know you can excel at. Learn more of their internal work flow. Apply that to your thinking cap. It doesn’t hurt to give it a try.
  • Weigh the pros and cons of any new job. If you find a job that you think will challenge you and the pros outweigh the cons, consider the new job instead. However, you will need to be passionate about what you do, so then it will feel like you’re getting the work done.
  • The most important step is to simply apply. This is often overlooked because job seekers get discouraged when they do not hear back after submitting 100+ applications and that networking is the only avenue to take. However, often these days, people do not apply and are collecting pandemic unemployment assistance — which means they are not even entered into the race to land a new opportunity.
    • Most times, you do not know if a role is actually perfect for you until you have gone through the interview process and have been able to gather more in-depth information about the responsibilities, team, culture and company. But the key is to at least apply. That is step one.
    • A lot of job seekers have not been applying because they are afraid of rejection. Do not be afraid to apply for a job because there is nothing to lose while going through the process. Up until there is an offer on the table, there is no reaction required — it’s all information-gathering until a final decision needs to be made.
    • If you apply for as much opportunities as possible (of course, opportunities that pique your interest), and if you land an interview, that is a bonus. You will still gain valuable skills from going through another interview process. You will learn what to expect and what skills employers are looking for. This is still a win-win.
  • We only really get to know how warm the water is by putting our foot in it. Apart from when it seems so obvious that the job is not right, accepting an “imperfect” job is not always as bad as we always think. How many of us can put our hands on our hearts and say without any doubt for the jobs we really enjoyed, we knew that they would be like that before we accepted them?
    • Any acceptance should be capable of challenging your abilities. That’s needed for the drive we all have.
  • Expectation is the root of disappointment so keeping a realistic perspective is the key to finding the balance in a new job. Maybe not “perfect” but more like “ideal”.
    Now if the actual position, company culture or benefits are wildly misrepresented by a potential employer, then that is a different story.
    Transparency is paramount on both sides to achieve the best outcomes because it is absolutely possible to have a job you love at a company worth your time and your efforts.
    • Live by the “Don’t expect, but settle for just good enough” mindset.
    • This isn’t often spoken about but I am sure a number of us can relate to below:
      • Finding a balance is more important than setting unrealistic expectations of what you expect and want from a job.
      • Sometimes when you say you found the best/ideal job you ever wanted, but things are not the way you expected internally (i.e. employee conflict), you will still end up leaving your so-called “best job”.
      • There is no best job, best boss, best colleagues. But you can always work on the best version of yourself. Do not aim for the job to be the best. Rather, aim for yourself to be the best. This is a more realistic approach, perhaps.
  • As mentioned previously, there is no such thing as the perfect job. Only a multitude of jobs that offer opportunity and possibility.
    • That doesn’t mean one should accept any job. Definitely, one should spend time in self reflection and introspection to try to determine what a good fit may look like: a job that plays to your strengths, skills, character and passion.
    • Once that is determined, make every effort to go about the business of seeking opportunities that provide a good fit.
    • Once you are in that job/position, do your best work and be the best you possibly can be. Create success for yourself.
    • Success brings passion, not passion brings success.
  • Rarely is anything truly “perfect”. It is important to know your “must haves” and what is negotiable, all while keeping in mind your present circumstances.
    After that, you should also consider whether this position could act as a stepping stone to an ultimate goal.
    Ask yourself if what you will learn on this job and the job’s responsibilities will be positive additions to your resume and skill set.
    Finally, you need to trust your feelings when it comes to the “vibe” you get from the company and the people you have met.
    If you have been honest with yourself during this assessment and you decide to take the job, you may find that it ends up to be much more “perfect” than you originally thought.
    • That being said, the keyword is trust your gut. Sometimes, we all jump into something for the fear of not having something “more stable” especially for those working on a contractual basis.
      However, the beauty of contracting is, you are not sucked into the underlying dysfunctional dynamics that may or may not be going on within the company with the Full-Time employees.
      That in and of itself is a liberating feeling. You get a chance to see what the company would be like to work for if you were a permanent employee and the company gets to see if you are a good fit for them in the long-term as well.
      Sometimes, it’s not the perfect job, but there is beauty to it.

Here is an advice from a Certified Career Management Coach:

My advice would be don’t allow perfection to get in the way of progress. Yes, it’s important to think carefully before making a decision, but sometimes over analysis can lead to paralysis.
There is some degree of trepidation when someone accepts a job offer because they don’t know what they are getting into. That’s the reason it’s important to ‘Know your non-negotiables’ as Lindsey Pollak suggests.
Have a baseline of what tradeoffs might be, then use a T-Chart to help you weigh the pros and cons. Make your decision according to where the balance is heavily tilting.

The candidate may also want to consider the following:

> Is this ‘not-so-perfect-job’ coming after an extensive, unproductive job search, dwindling funds and increasing debt?
> Will the job provide an opportunity for growth? Sometimes taking a side-way step can lead to climbing the career ladder.
> Are there new skills I could learn in this role that could benefit me in the long term?
> What’s the worst that could happen if I accept (or don’t accept) it?

Hope those pointers will help those who are sitting on the fence of indecision.

While no job is perfect, we should enjoy the ride and build up our experience to get a next better job which we aim to achieve. Rome isn’t built in just one day. The employee and employer would have to be compatible to make a good team and relationship to build up the business.

While you take your chance and shoot your best shot at whatever life throws at you, you may find the job enjoyable and can find ways to expand to your dream job. Take a job and improve it!

Career Tips: Negotiation, Messaging and Interview Follow-Up (John Hadley Edition)

Photo of John Hadley
John Hadley teaches job seekers internationally strategies and skills that enable them to tap into the ‘hidden’ job market and find the best jobs now. He also works with professionals struggling to become and be seen as influential leaders.

John Hadley was a Fellow of the Society of Actuaries in the financial services industry for 25 years. He began his career at Equitable Life, ultimately serving as Disability Income Product Manager. Commercial Life brought John in to build a new department, where he progressed to Chief Actuary. He then opened a successful consulting practice helping companies make their systems operate as advertised, which generated over $2.5 million in revenues.

John continues to be active in the community and the corporate sector. He has served on many community and industry initiatives, is a sought-after speaker on career and marketing issues, contributes regularly to a variety of publications as well as his own Career Tips newsletter, with over 9,500 subscribers. He conducts a wide variety of tele-classes, webcasts, and seminars. He has a BS in Mathematics from Stanford University, where he also satisfied the requirements for an Economics major.

Dear Career Tips: More Salary Negotiation
I’m in-between jobs. Recruiters are asking salary per hour. Some jobs are asking for salary range – this is OK. Some are contract. This means they pay per hour. How do you set a price per hour that would include benefits – medical, vacation, etc. – if these are not included?

Dear Negotiating:
There are so many aspects to negotiation, and they are so situation-specific, that it’s hard to give you a meaningful answer to such a general question. You might want to pick up “Never Split The Difference” by Chris Voss: it’s all about the psychology of negotiation, and filled with real-life examples of applying those techniques, including salary / job offer negotiations. And the techniques are pretty straightforward.

The general thought I was advised on and followed for determining the hourly rate I wanted was to take my desired annual salary (for a full-time job), add 25%-35% to cover benefits, and then divide by the expected days per year (times 40 hours) as if the contract was for a full year. I would subtract the vacation time I would plan on and holidays in the expected days, so as to cover that. In other words, if I expected to take 5 weeks off per year, I would consider the full year to be 47 weeks.

Then I would consider the length of the contract. If it’s a short, guaranteed contract (say, less than 6 months), then I’m going to add another 25% to account for the time I need to spend marketing to get my next assignment. If it’s longer, then I’m willing to compromise on that factor.
Dear Career Tips: Networking & Searching After a Break
I’m a Compliance professional with 5 years of experience in Banking and I quit my previous position several years ago. I moved to the US some time back and am in a job search. Here are my challenges: 
– I reach out to people on LinkedIn sending inmails or messages trying to network, but either get no response or just a standard response.
– How do I approach hiring managers about my career break, which I took for family medical reasons? 

Dear Compliant:
What message are you sending those people on LinkedIn?  

Are they ‘random’ people, or do you have some connection to them – some way in which you are ‘members of the same club’ that would warm up the request? I would look for any way you can warm it up – a connection, school, employer, job area or interest you might have in common. Make reference to that commonality in your message.  

Next think about whether your messages and profile are results-oriented. I hire because I need someone to produce certain results, NOT because they happen to have experience in an area. Having experience is a low bar, that just puts you in a very large pool of candidates who have experience.   

Right now, your resume basically speaks to experience and not results, so that makes me wonder about your communications in general. If the one you sent me is what you are sending others, it may also inadvertently suggest to them that your work on the job may be a bit sloppy: the font sizes and indentations are inconsistent among the bullets, and even the bullet symbols are not completely consistent.  

The career break may make a case for you to use a functional resume instead of a chronological format. Have you been doing anything in terms of part time work, volunteer initiatives or continuing education during that break? And you will need to be prepared to explain the prior gaps as well, since you were only at your most recent job for a relatively short time.  

Your biggest issue isn’t really with the hiring managers, as the break and prior gaps will make it very difficult for you to get through any screening process. Most will simply pass on to the next resume in the pile. That means you need to put almost all of your energy into building a powerful network that can speak on your behalf, and ultimately recommend you to a hiring manager directly.  

In networking, the break also isn’t a core issue. Yes, you need to have your HERO story that you are going to use in actual networking 1-on-1 meetings to engage people, but the break is a very small piece of that.  

You will need to be prepared to discuss the gap when you meet with a hiring manager, and the key there is to keep it simple, and then focus on the future. Here’s something I wrote about that in a prior issue of Career Tips:

Talking About Gaps 
I left a lucrative job in early 2016 mainly to pause and have more time with family. I am ready to return to the workforce and look forward to working full time again. How I can frame my response when asked to explain my work gap?

Dear Gapped:
First, read this article.

Basically, your story needs to be about the future, and what you can do for your prospective employer. Yes, you had a gap, and you had a good reason for it. End of story.

I had a good friend in a similar situation, though his pause was precipitated by a reorganization / layoff. He stayed home for the next several years to raise his 3 sons, something he had always wanted to do, letting his wife be the primary breadwinner. He did some odd jobs, such as window dresser, insurance salesman, and grocery store stock boy, that he could fit around his parental duties, but those duties were his primary concern.

When his kids were older, he called me, concerned no one would take him seriously for the manager level role he deserved.

We talked through what he had done, constructed a simple (true) story about taking advantage of this time to do something important to him and his family. We focused on how excited he was to now get back to work and what he could do for a prospective employer. Within a few months, he landed as the customer service manager for a bank.
Dear Career Tips: Interview Follow-up
I applied for a lower position than what I have had in the past. I am looking for work and level doesn’t matter to me; I’m older and really need a job. 

Towards the end of the interview I asked if there were any concerns he had about me. He replied that he knew I could do the job but was worried that I would be bored. I tried to quell his fears and stated that I enjoy this type of work and would want to do it.  I am not sure if he believed me. 

He stated that he thought he would make a decision within one month. On a side note, he did ask me if I would be also interested in a manager job. He is getting promoted to take over his boss’s position as he retires, and he has one employee also retiring.

Do you have any suggestions on what I should have said and if I should send him another email to discuss this?  I have already sent him a thank you email for the interview to let him know that I am very interested in this position.

Dear Interviewing:
It sounds like he was exploring you as a candidate for the manager job that would open up when he moves up. What did you say to that?

If it were me, I would have said something like:While I would be quite happy with the role we have been discussing, of course I would be interested in the manager role, were that to open up.”  

Now back to the issue of the ‘bored’ question. 

Telling him you enjoy this work deals with part of the issue, but there can be a lot going on in the hiring manager’s head around this, and your best bet is to try to explore that, rather than simply answer the question. 

For example, you could have said: “This is the type of work I really enjoy, and I wouldn’t see myself getting bored. Can I ask what you are worried might happen?” 
This would get the hiring manager to go deeper, perhaps revealing an underlying concern he isn’t verbalizing.

I’m not sure how trying to set up another meeting would be received at this point. And you would need to decide which role you really want, the non-manager or the manager.

If the latter, perhaps you could try something along the lines of:“I was caught off-guard at the end of the interview when you indicated there was a possibility of a manager role. If you have a few minutes, I’d love to discuss this with you further.”

If the former, then something along the lines of:“You seemed to have some concern about whether I might find the role boring. Let me assure you that this is the type of work I love to do, and would be prepared to dive into whole-heartedly. If you still have any concerns about this, I would be happy to have a further discussion with you.” 

You might also think about some past experience that shows how you dive deeply into technical work, and how you happily take on what others might consider ‘boring’ work. You could even add that example into the 2nd note above.

Q&A for John

John: “Help keep me supplied for future issues: Send me your questions about your career search, obstacles you are encountering at work, issues that get in the way of your networking efforts, etc. I’ll respond to you directly, and if there are insights of value to other readers, I’ll include them (edited to ensure your anonymity) in a Dear Career Tips column.”

Demystifying the Word “Commission” in Real Estate

Image via Home Real Estate of Kearney LLC

The Head of Business Development at 4 Stories, the Marketing and Consulting Division for New Developments at LG Fairmont, Leah Azizian discusses about how “commission” is a word that gets thrown around A LOT in the real estate field…

Whether it’s by:
– Starting agents who don’t fully understand how much commission/money they will make
– Clients who like to use our commission as a negotiating tool/tactic toward a price they should accept
– Seasoned agents who like to “advertise” their earnings

Therefore, Leah figured that it’s about time that we break down how much money real estate agents actually make – not out of “spite”, but to provide some more clarity around this term.

So let’s say we’re looking at a property that is $800,000. The average commission in New York City is about 5% to 6% of the purchase price. Six percent of $800,000 is $48,000 gross commission.

  1. A majority of your deals will be co-broked. The first thing to keep in mind is that 90% of the time, you are co-broking your deals with another brokerage.
    • 50% of the gross commission will be split amongst 2 brokerages.
      • So the $48,000 will get split down the middle amongst both sides.
      • That leaves your brokerage with $24,000 (that is how much your brokerage takes).
  2. There is another split within your brokerage based on what you negotiate with them.
    • So take 50% — 50% of $24,000 which will leave you $12,000 (your net commission).
  3. You will be splitting your net commission accordingly with whoever you partner with.
    • Could be your colleagues
  4. Your partner/colleague will be deducting marketing expenses. This goes for:
    • Photography
    • Videography
    • Listing platform expenses
  5. You will also have your taxes to keep in mind.

Don’t get caught up with all the glamour and glitz that you see. Your net commission is usually about a quarter (1/4) or 1/3 of the gross commission.

Leah has also cleared up misunderstandings from clients who made comments or had questions below. Hopefully some of these questions answer yours!

  1. People always tend to grab big numbers by guessing…
    • Leah: Always… the gross numbers by us tend to get marketed frequently, leading to lots of misunderstandings. Time we clear things up!
  2. Great post! A vendor/supplier should never have to break down their numbers for their clients. If the client doesn’t trust you, then he’s not a right fit for you. Of course there are always basic negotiations guidelines, but to get down to your actual numbers? Never!
    • Leah: Agreed, precise/actual numbers should never be disclosed. This post was meant more on the conceptual side, for people to see that there’s more beyond the gross numbers. It is easy to calculate a 5-6% commission. But in reality, that’s not what we take home…
  3. On behalf of all realtors, thank you Leah! It’s imperative that the public understands the commission structure, perhaps it will bring more clarity and perception to light.
    • Leah: Agreed, there are plenty of more conversations to be made…

If you have any questions for Leah regarding New Developments, learning more about the real estate field, or even working in the real estate field, please reach out to her via LinkedIn or!
LG Fairmont is hiring a Licensed Real Estate Salesperson and if you have an entrepreneurial mindset, then you may be the ideal candidate. Don’t miss out on this great opportunity!

Sales Tips and the Number One Mistake Sellers Make

Like many of you, Leah Azizian (The Head of Business Development at 4 Stories, the Marketing and Consulting Division for New Developments at LG Fairmont) get a ton of messages where people just automatically pitch their service or product before saying hello or introducing themselves — it is something that everyone will see more and more as LinkedIn grows.

Image via

Leah’s Sales Tips

According to Leah: As a real estate advisor, the word SALESPERSON has always invoked mixed feelings. It may come off as a surprise to many of you, but I think it gives off an impression that we’re just there to make money and that we’re there to sell you. Which is why I think salespeople usually have a bad reputation of being dishonest. Ultimately, I think it overlooks all the time, attention, and care that we put into every single relationship and deal that gets across the closing table.

When pitching your product, it’s super important to:

1. Understand whether your product or service is even suitable to that person. That person may just get automatically turned off because that product is just not attractive or appealing to them. And I think you have to keep in mind that it may not be attractive to them, but it may be attractive to a friend or a family member.

The best thing to do is to…

2. Try a build a relationship with this person that you are speaking with — even if it’s over messaging. They may not be a client — but their friend, sister or brother may be. Be curious. Be genuinely interested about the person. You know, you see them in a certain type of field — ask about it. Ask what inspired them to get into that field.

Important Note: Try and build some type of thread of relatability because once you it’s SO much easier to tell them about you and who you are, how you can grow your business together and just network with more people.

People just tend to forget this and if it’s not a way of doing business in real life, it’s definitely not a way of doing business over messaging.

Leah also highlights the importance of the POWER OF COLLABORATIONS. This doesn’t just apply to those who are in the real estate field, but wherever. If you are in the sales field, you understand that there is this stereotype that exists.. that negotiations have to be really aggressive and pushy and dominant in order to make it happen.

This stereotype couldn’t be any more wrong. Don’t get it twisted — negotiations don’t have to be aggressive to be successful.

You will see when you get into sales — that the best negotiations and the most successful deals where the best value is achieved, is usually when both sides work really well with each other and they respect each other, and they can get creative and collaborate to make both sides happy while still respecting the fiduciary duties and the client confidentiality.

There is a power of collaboration that exists throughout all sales industries. We see this in the real estate field, that when both brokers can work well with each other and RESPECT each other, it opens up a world of opportunity — to creativity, happier clients (on both sides of the table) and greater value achieved overall.

The Number One Mistake Sellers Make

  • They price their homes far above the market rate
  • To make things even worse, they drop the price of their homes in increments instead of doing one major price drop

What Leah means by this is:

Exhibit A: Home in the Upper West Side

  • Started at $2.94 million
  • Dropped to 2.595 million over a span of several months
  • Timeline: Decreased 0%, Decreased 1%, Decreased 4%, Unavailable, Relisted, Decreased 2%, Decreased 6%

Exhibit B

  • Started at $4.9 million
  • Dropped all the way down to $3.9 million

The best practice is to stop overpricing! Selling a home can be an emotional roller coaster, and when it comes to pricing a home, we often find that sellers tend to lean toward pricing a certain way. The mistake mentioned above is what should be avoided!

If you have any questions for Leah regarding New Developments, learning more about the real estate field, or even working in the real estate field, please reach out to her via LinkedIn or!
LG Fairmont is hiring a Licensed Real Estate Salesperson and if you have an entrepreneurial mindset, then you may be the ideal candidate. Don’t miss out on this great opportunity!

CNYCA’S COVID-19 Economic Update: NYC jobs resumed their return in February and March after a flat four months

Disclaimer: Content in this article was obtained from NYC Employment + Training Coalition’s (NYCETC) NYC Workforce Weekly and the Center for New York City Affairs (CNYCA) to serve as a resource for job seekers and those who are curious/interested in learning more about the current economy of the workforce.

James A. Parrott, the Director of Economic and Fiscal Policies of the Center for New York City Affairs (CNYCA) at The New School has prepared the latest report of NYC’s economy issued February 2021.

New York City lost 750,000 payroll and self-employed/independent contractor jobs on average between the months of February and December in 2020. The loss for the entire year was the worst single-year city job decline since the 1930s. The partial rebound since last spring has been called a K-shaped recovery for good reason; many in the bottom half of the economy have lost jobs or earnings and are experiencing severe housing and food insecurity, while most of those in the top half of the income distribution retain their jobs, and many have seen their financial assets rise in value. Signs of serious economic distress are multiplying, long-term unemployment is skyrocketing, many of the new jobs emerging are lower quality than the jobs that have been lost, and many of those returning to jobs are only working part-time. The city’s underemployment rate is 25 percent. This report examines the Covid-19 economic and employment impact in New York City at the end of January 2021, assesses the several labor market challenges for the year ahead, and discusses how much and what kind of job growth the city can expect in the year ahead. The report looks at the demographic and industry contours of the job market effects and investigates how the pandemic has exacerbated wage and income inequality.

James A. Parrott

Like the national picture to some extent, jobs have resumed returning in a handful of New York City industries in the past two months. The latest New York City jobs numbers released on April 15th showed a 40,000-gain in March and the February numbers were revised upward by 12,000, to show a 48,000-job gain over January. This follows four months of backsliding after an initial rebound during the late spring and summer months of 2020 from the low point reached last April. Still, the city’s payroll job count remains 585,000 below the pre-pandemic level.

New York City’s 12.5 percent jobs shortfall from pre-pandemic levels is two-and-a-half times the nation’s five percent falloff from February of 2020 to March of this year. Job losses in the city have far exceeded those in the rest of New York State where the decline over the past 13 months has been 7.6 percent. Sixty percent of New York State’s pandemic job losses have taken place in the city, which accounted for 48 percent of all Empire State jobs before the pandemic.

The table below shows the detailed New York City industries sorted into the three categories useful for analyzing the pandemic economy. It indicates the monthly job gains for February and March of this year as well as the extent to which the February-to-April job collapse in the early days of the pandemic has been made up in the months since. Even with the moderate gains in the past two months, New York City has only recouped 37 percent of last spring’s job losses. Only a little more than a third (35 percent) of the 725,000 job losses sustained in the face-to-face industries have been regained. 

While every industry had either job gains or very small declines in March 2021, only six industries had significant job gains in February and March, accounting for over 80 percent of the net job increases during those two months. Food services and drinking places added back over 23,000 during the two months (but were still down by 140,000 compared to last February). Private colleges and universities (part of the private education industry) and local government brought back workers (16,000 and 10,000, respectively) over the past two months after cutting headcount in December and January as the second Covid-19 surge spread. Home health services (within health care) added 8,200 jobs, temp agencies (within administrative services) 8,100, and motion picture production (part of information) 6,100 jobs, with all three industries reaching their highest levels since the widespread pandemic cutbacks. 

The remote-working industries have been much less affected by the pandemic than the face-to-face industries, with a net decline of 6.4 percent vs. 23.5 percent in the face-to-face industries. Nevertheless, finance and insurance has reduced employment slightly since last April and the job rebound in professional, scientific, and technical services has been only six percent. Health care, on the other hand, has regained 88 percent of the job reduction experienced between February-April 2020.

Interview Preparation – Retail Industry (ZARA Edition for Entry-Level Job Seekers)

As the retail industry slowly opens back up, more and more job applications are being submitted and students are in dire need of jobs to pay off their student loans and tuition. But also, if you are highly interested in fashion — you may want to consider applying as well.

To give a general idea on how to prepare your job application and interview for the retail industry, this post will focus on one of the brands, ZARA.

Watching the video below will be helpful to those who are interested in learning more about the company before applying. (You can find the original PREZI slides HERE)

Zara’s History

Zara is the richest valued stock in the apparel sector. They have 2,259 stores globally and 21 online stores. In 2019, the leading brand of the Inditex Group was Zara with a global net income of over 19.5 billion euros and almost 600 Zara Home stores in operation around the world.

Zara’s Customers

Understanding Expectations and Various Positions

Preparing For the Interview

Normalize Prioritizing One’s Mental Health

Image via Wall Street Journal

While WFH during the pandemic has been a toll for a staggering number of workers’ mental health, it is important to normalize making our mental health a priority instead of prioritizing our workload. That could come later. Just like how we do not expect elite athletes to perform without rest and recovery. There is no sustainable productivity improvements without addressing well-being. This goes for “connected employees” – those who are heavily engaged and connected to their company, role and colleagues.

Industrial Safety & Hygiene News suggests 5 effective steps to take in the workplace: 1) Establish workplace mental health programs, 2) Encourage mindfulness breaks, 3) Have an open-door policy, 4) Conduct mental health safety training workshops, and 5) Promote health work-life balance.

Companies need to have/implement policies – no checking of email, phone calls or any company business while being away on vacation. The company can wait so we can have the employee back at full capacity upon his/her return from well needed time off.

A Human Resources Director mentioned “I used to be a connected employee. No more – when I am gone on vacation from now on, I will not be taking my cell phone or my laptop. It can wait. If something catastrophic in HR happens, my team knows how to get in touch with me. Short of an employee death or a workplace violence act.”

The trouble during this pandemic is so many people have “worked” during their staycation/vacation. Sadly for many of us, it’s do as we say and not as we do. Poor mental health isn’t sustainable for WFH.

While this pandemic has headed into an economic boom, it could last into 2023. Therefore, right now couldn’t be a better time to start thinking about taking “mental health days” and the mental health’s impact on the human physiology. You cannot perform at your job if your head is operating in a not-so-optimum environment. Mental health days are absolutely real and absolutely necessary. With the way things have changed virtually at every workplace, looking after mental health is equally as important as physical health. It is crucial to have days to unwind and refresh. We are not robots are we are not meant to function 24/7.

Tips on how use your mental health days/breaks wisely:

It is true that when employees take a mental health day, they come back refreshed and more creative. Giving permission for yourself to relax and do something outside of work resets your brain for new thoughts, ideas, and promotes energy.

It seems that unfortunately for minimum wage workers and many essential workers, mental health days do not exist. These workers are spending so much time prioritizing the needs of the community, but they need to prioritize themselves first in order to better provide for the community. We need advocacy for more sick day pay to include mental health for this population. Labor laws must change to acknowledge mental health as a priority — to be inclusive to minimum wage workers as well as other worker segments.
Illness is NOT an opportunity to get caught up or ahead. It is the way our bodies speak to us to indicate something is amiss and requires attention.

In addition, many managers need to remember to encourage their employees to take vacation time. It is also the employee’s responsibility, but during this period of working remotely, it seems like a lot of folks forget to take breaks, and others who do — end up feeling guilty when they see their colleagues not taking vacations or days off. Management needs to keep making it clear that if you are entitled to time off, take it. No ramifications.

It is okay to ask yourself the question, “Am I OK?” everyday. If you cannot say yes to that, then you cannot expect yourself to be able to be productive and be your best self at work. It is okay to let colleagues know as well. To have that support system and to be okay with putting yourself first is so important. It needs to be normalized, as so many workers have that temptation to work from bed.

This is a reminder that we all must set our mental health as a priority everyday. Do not forget the Out of Office message. With so many working from home in this past year, it is imperative to take relief breaks throughout the day. Just as in the workplace, we can push ourselves too long and experience burnout.
More people nowadays, took a pandemic to realize and be more aware, of both the greater need for mental health days, the working de-stigmatization of it, and knowing that we all have days where our minds are tired — and it’s worse for folks with long lasting mental health issues.

We are living in a time where the normalization of mental health is starting to gain traction. Health is holistic. It encompasses not only the physical but the mental, emotional, psychological, spiritual and financial components of individuals.

Below, NetQuote surveyed 1,012 Full-Time American Employees about their mental health.

CNYCA’S COVID-19 Economic Update: NYC job losses proportionately greatest among largest U.S. cities

Disclaimer: Content in this article was obtained from NYC Employment + Training Coalition’s (NYCETC) NYC Workforce Weekly and the Center for New York City Affairs (CNYCA) to serve as a resource for job seekers and those who are curious/interested in learning more about the current economy of the workforce.

New York City’s Covid-19 payroll job loss was 13.6 percent over the first year of the pandemic, more than twice the 5.9 percent national job decline and greater than the job losses experienced in the next 14 largest U.S. cities. These data reflect the annual revision to the monthly establishment payroll employment data that was released by the New York State Labor Department on March 11th (see next item below). San Francisco’s 13.2 percent job loss and Los Angeles’ 12.1 percent decline were close behind New York City’s. The next five cities – Philadelphia, Boston, Miami, Washington, D.C., and Chicago – were clustered in the -9 to -10 percent range. Four cities among the 15 largest in the country – Riverside (CA), Atlanta, Dallas, and Phoenix – had smaller job declines than the nation overall.

The New York City metropolitan area had 9.9 million jobs in February 2020, or 6.6 percent of the 151 million national job total. During the pandemic’s first year, the metropolitan area had an 11.2 percent job decline; the rest of the metro area outside of New York City saw jobs fall off by 9.1 percent compared to the city’s 13.6 percent decline. New York City had 3.1 percent of all U.S. payroll employment as of February 2020. 

The Labor Department’s revised payroll employment data also revealed that New York City’s job losses in 2020 were greater than previously reported. In our February 12th report, New York City’s Covid-19 Economy Will Not Snap Back, we wrote that the February-December 2020 payroll job loss was 507,000, a decline of 10.9 percent. The job level for last December has now been revised downward by the Labor Department to show a drop of 575,000 from February, a revised job falloff of 12.3 percent. The annual revisions are based on administrative data compiled in connection with the payment of employer payroll taxes for unemployment insurance purposes. (The employment figures cited here are not adjusted for seasonal effects since pandemic-related impacts have been much greater than the usual pattern of seasonal ups and downs.)

The January employment levels dropped further because there had been some seasonal hiring in November and December that then ended. Even with a moderate 40,000 increase in February employment levels, the February 2020 to February 2021 New York City change shows a drop of 635,000 jobs, or 13.6 percent. The table below shows these 12-month job changes for individual industries grouped into the three categories (Essential, Face-to-Face, and Remote-Working) we feel best reflect the predominant dynamic caused by Covid-19 economic impacts. 

The revised data underscore the now-commonplace observation that the Face-to-Face industries have borne the brunt of the adverse pandemic economic and employment impacts. Led by the steep job losses in leisure and hospitality and the arts and entertainment industry, Face-to-Face industries as a group have seen a 25 percent drop in employment compared to a seven percent decline in the Remote-Working industries and a slight three percent decline in the Essential category. Nearly four out of every five New York City jobs lost over the past year have been in the Face-to-Face industries, where most workers do not get paid if they don’t work and where only a tiny fraction of workers can do their jobs remotely.

The annual employment revision saw a handful of industries with significant downward revisions while a smaller number of industries had upward revisions. Two of the hardest-hit industries had sharp downward revisions: hotel employment was revised down by 44 percent and eating and drinking places had a 12 percent downward revision. On the other hand, the other among the three hardest-hit industries –arts, entertainment, and recreation – had a 44 percent upward revision in its job numbers. However, as the above table shows, this industry still suffered a 51 percent job loss over the past year.

Child care employment was revised down by 21 percent and the revised job levels for temporary employment agencies were 30 percent lower. It had earlier been thought that given its essential role, employment had been fairly stable in grocery stores and drug stores; however, the more definitive administrative data resulted in a 10 percent downward revision in the number of grocery store jobs and a 17 percent negative change in drug store employment. There was a surprising upward revision elsewhere in the retail sector, with clothing store employment revised up by 43 percent. Among upward revisions in the Remote-Working industries, employment in publishing was reported to be 10 percent greater in the revised data, and there were upward revisions of five percent in investment banking, six percent in computer services, and eight percent in management consulting.

The Future is Hybrid

Image via The New Indian Express

Many working parents do attest that being able to work remotely or working from home was very labor-saving. They are able to dedicate time to work as well as be present for any schooling issues that their children are dealing with, on top of not having to deal with the stress of morning traffic. If they had a choice, they would prefer not to return to the office or in other words, the pre-pandemic Monday to Friday, 9-5 world.

However while there are many who praised working remotely/from home, there are many instances where employees miss/crave human interaction. There are some individuals who find that going into the office gets them out of their home. We all know that the thought of solely working from home full time would trigger mental health challenges as well.

Many employees are looking to a hybrid schedule — as it would be a nice middle ground for both companies and employees, especially where technology is available and accessible.

However, there are certain roles that make it impossible to work from home/remotely in the long term. Business domains, meeting clients, sales & marketing, human resources responsibilities, to name a few. Interaction can be hard if the client/candidate refuses to show their face on the Zoom camera, making it hard to make decisions without knowing their facial expressions.
Of course, you may be thinking it is possible through FaceTime but not everyone has an Apple device. Sales people don’t need to be in the office and HR has been working remotely for the past year.
Great, but have you ever thought about doing something and doing something well are two different things? Because it is very challenging to work with new grades in remote setup. Building trust and bonding is missing with the rest especially with new hires.

While it is completely understandable why so many folks desire to continue working remotely due to the convenience — it is functional, but far from optimal not only for the businesses but for all folks. Individuals who will continue to work remotely will find limited opportunities to grow in the firms as being out of sight, out of mind will have a new meaning. The interactions that happen on Zoom will never replace those that happen in a conference room or in the office, we all know that. There is concern for working parents where they will have a lot of time to tend to their kids and taking coffee breaks/bathroom breaks, but at difficult times like these, companies still seek ways to cut out those that they consider unproductive.

What we are seeing is a reflex reaction to the situation imposed upon us. There will always be some folks who perform better with greater flexibility, as well as those who need the structured environment. Just as those who enjoy the comfort of working in pajamas and those who feel more professional and productive in business casual. However, the reality is twofold. We have not yet seen the leveling out, which is a great argument for the hybrid environment. That being said, since adaption and adoption haven’t leveled out, there will be an ebb and flow. This may depend on developing new habits for productivity or even dependent upon what type of project/assignment is being worked on.

Employees are curious on how effective the hybrid model will be, since there will be those who get more face-to-face interactions with leadership may receive a natural competitive advantage for promotions. This raises a question — Will this create a divide? Where folks willing to go into the office, would volunteer to go in 5 days a week as a career development approach and the folks who prefers not to, will shift to companies with their entire workforce being remote?

The skills that we all have in our more traditional ways of working aren’t the same as the skills we need in a more flexible working environment. While many employers favored the positive impact location that independent work has had, they fear not being able to measure output the same (such as effective communication/engagement with internal staff).

A hybrid future is most likely, why? It can provide an excellent alternative for those who need flexibility, but also enjoy coming into the office. Of course many miss the human interaction, but not many miss the 1-2 hours of traffic, budgeting for gas, car repairs, etc. The next crucial step toward building a hybrid work environment will need to be led by leadership, where they empower their workers to have full autonomy over their own schedule. This is how companies will help more workers enjoy the flexibility that they deserve while providing them the support they need to make a successful transition.

Many individuals couldn’t work their ideal roles because employers didn’t offer flexibility. Moving forward, a blended approach is a great way to show flexibility — which empowers employees as there is a shared sense of trust and responsibility when employers allow employees to find a greater balance between work and life.
As work life will change, it opens up our freedom of choice. Some days/weeks, it will be better for our mental and emotional health to either be in the office or to work remotely. This is the best option to keep everyone happy, but also be ready to pivot again if necessary.

There are also pitfalls for hybrid future, meaning there will be less office space needed. As they are consolidating and closing locations in major cities worldwide, commercial real estate investors are showing desperation in demand, bellowing and pleading that there will be a return to the old ways.

What would be interesting, is to see the effect and hopeful reduction in the burnout that could happen when saying you do not have to take a full vacation (working remotely for a few days and not burning out on your Paid Time Off). Time will definitely tell, for those hoping to see the work/life balance become healthier with such flexibility.

College Students Encounter Obstacles of Financial Insecurity

Image via The Balance

Amid the pandemic, college students are encountering food and housing insecurity — one of the main obstacles of graduating on time and succeeding as it hinders their long-term career goals/path.

This poses as a financial crisis to many college students and recent graduates. Once again, Millennials and Gen Z’s are bearing the brunt of those who came before them.

It is not hard to believe that many students have lost financial support from their parents as a result of the pandemic, and that it would lead to food scarcity for them and not being able to pay their full amount of their rent, mortgage or utility bills. They may have lost their own supplementary jobs as well due to the long hiring freeze of many companies since March 2020, although many sectors have been slowly picking back up.

The status of their financial well-being affects between 68-72% of their mental health, leading to anxiety and depression being the highest among college graduates. Entry-level hiring has been almost cut off entirely and even STEM majors are going to have an absolutely degrading experience looking for their first job right out of graduation.

For many college graduates/recent graduates, it seems that this financial crisis leads to no hope for them. And the term “financial crisis” fits this current circumstance as there is a net inflation of tuition for certain college degrees. We are about to hit the fourth wave of the virus, and while things still are not entirely back to normal, the goals that these students set have been energy draining instead of motivating them during this situation.

Graduating from the Class of 2020 is extremely hard as this was the year that led to burnout. Additionally, there were many instances where graduates have shared the same concern about closely giving up on the idea of becoming what they studied for, while endless applying for jobs in their field that led to rejection and being ghosted by the employer.

It is going to be a major crisis for the United States if we turn our backs on an entire generation when graduates are trying to enter the workforce.

So what if you are currently lost? What if the job/career that you are looking for is currently on a hiring freeze or a decline? No vacancies at the moment? You still need to make some kind of income to keep a roof over your head.

  1. You either get creative and start your own side gig/freelance project such as starting a website/blog and get paid for it. Or if you can create your own shampoo product or using your design skills to start your own clothing line online, go for it!
  2. Or you can take a step backwards, and apply for jobs to keep you busy. Even if it isn’t the job that you are looking for, it is still a good chance for you to develop new skills that you can display on your resume.

According to Dorie Clark’s article at Harvard Business Review, he mentions something similar that will probably speak out to the crowd who is going through a tough journey right now.

Dorie states, “Unfortunately, meeting those urgent needs sometimes means that longer-range goals get shunted aside. A year into the Covid-19 pandemic, many professionals have found themselves turning down coveted promotions in order to maintain flexible hours, accepting positions in fields they actually want to leave, or saying yes to jobs they’re overqualified for or unexcited about because they simply need the money.
Those decisions — while painful — may be necessary in the short term. But a temporary departure from your professional goals doesn’t mean that all is lost. It’s essential — and possible, even with a busy day job — to stay focused on your long-term career trajectory, so you can rebound quickly and get back on a path that feels right for you.”

Below, is a survey that illustrates the population that is most vulnerable to food and housing insecurity.

#RealCollege 2021: Basic Needs Insecurity During the Ongoing Pandemic

How Zoom And Other Software Tools Are On The Rise in a Post-Pandemic World

Image via NextPlane
Image via TechJockey

As the world reopens, many companies have learned that online collaboration works at a lower cost. Moving forward, tech darlings such as Zoom, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams and Cisco Webex can replace certain in-person meetings in which everyone or half the group traveled. In other words, the future will be more of like a hybrid environment. Some meetings could happen on Zoom, while others will remain better off as in-person.

Many current WFH employees have questioned if conferences will offer options of in-person or virtual. More employees will have the opportunity to attend at a lower price or even at no cost if virtual is a choice. However, many have also complained about developing Zoom fatigue due to burnout/companies overusing or improperly using the software.

Some agreed that there should be adoption and continuation of e-signature platforms in the post-pandemic world. Depending upon circumstances, suggested tech darlings will still have a role to play but at the same time, usage will drop off dramatically if folks seek ways to engage face-to-face.

Firms have also invested a lot in work-from-home infrastructure and they see that employee productivity hasn’t suffered. Moreover, company costs are plummeting as there is no longer a need for real estate. NYC is already seeing a huge decline in office space — leading to its devalue of commercial space. If working from home or remote work will continue into the future, this leads to the reason — finances.
Along the same lines, business travel won’t be coming back anytime soon to the levels that it used to be pre-pandemic — due to financial reasons as well.
A Regional Director at a software company stated that in a way, we are all victims of our own success, because if we weren’t able to conduct business using remote tools and our company’s bottom lines were hurting, we’d all be back on the airplanes tomorrow!

The pandemic has ushered in an era that was always technologically viable for the past decade, but culturally not acceptable. Yesterday’s “office” is not what tomorrow’s “office” will be. Remote work and Zoom is here to stay as we move forward.

For many employees currently working remotely, Zoom fatigue is real however they do not have to face nightmare traffic or the fear of being a few minutes late due to a train delay because of a sick passenger. The quality of life that zero-commuting hours have provided is not something that many want to give up.
Productivity has turned out to much higher for certain folks on a Zoom call when they do not have to pay attention to the portion of the meeting that doesn’t apply to them.
In addition, Zoom’s turning on/off camera feature allows folks to gain control over their participation level while yesterday’s “office” meetings did not give them that option.

Let’s put it this way — face-to-face has mostly qualitative benefits. Zoom and other tech darlings have more quantitative benefits as you can put a cost savings on how many less miles you have traveled, how much less utilities are being spent, etc. Many companies that were opposed to remote work are now implementing it as a standard form of work.
Even in the event that the current generation of business leaders usher in the return to offices and lead to a drop off of Zoom and other tech darlings, tomorrow’s business leaders (not to mention — the one’s that are more tech savvy), won’t forget that they could accomplish a lot of their work remotely.
In other words, Zoom and other tech darlings may face a slight drop off in the short-term, but their long-term future is looking bright.

All in all, companies will need to balance cost with profitability. So far, we have mentioned that there are folks with both sides of the spectrum.
There are those who feel that they need to have everybody in a room for brainstorming future projects and can’t get what they need done via Zoom meetings.
Then there are those who say in-person group meetings were a waste of time, and they can get much more done with a quick Zoom meeting where folks can say their part and tune out/leave if there are parts of the meeting that they are not accountable for.
Additionally, while some folks enjoy commuting to work, they will not want to spend wasted hours in traffic, so having a flexible and hybrid schedule kind of option would be beneficial to both parties.

This also leads to a theory that some folks have believed that while there will be some companies that will continue to allow their employees to work remotely, they are hoping that the option will become part of a company’s “benefits” package. This could be part of the new market as many job seekers are seeking remote positions.
Many businesses found Zoom to be a huge asset to them as their customer pool has expanded globally instead of locally, which helped their business grow immensely during the pandemic.
Even if some companies reduce their usage of Zoom, there are families who have adopted that software to stay in touch with loved ones at a distance.

Eventually, a return to workplaces and classrooms will decrease the need for Zoom meetings. However, the pandemic also showed so many companies how to do business with minimal travel travel and office costs — and this learning will continue to drive the market in many ways.

Word of the Day – EVOLVE

The most important thing/word I’ve learned in the workplace this week – Evolve.

Evolve immediately. You may have committed meetings/webinars/workshops to attend but if sometimes important internal meetings can occur last minute. Evolve, you get it done – then you flip back to where you need to be.

Many employees stay at a company where the company believes in their people. Employee retention matters to the company as well. Be at a company where you can grow from within and allows you to continue growing as a person. Be at a company where it feels like you found yourself in, where they can see that your values are aligned with their values/mission. Be at a company that stands for everything that you believe in as well.

For example – your favorite part of your role in the workplace could be engaging with consumers and that can help you develop to who you are today.

When you consider applying for jobs, think about “What does this employer look for in talent?” If you are looking to work directly with consumers – you may want to do more research on that specific company that you want to work for. That company may list their ideal characteristics on the description – to name a few: someone who is friendly, a team player, someone who cares about their customers by delivering the best experience, and being influential to others.

We all know that there is so much going on in the world today, let alone a pandemic that we are still going through. Ask yourself when applying to jobs or the current role you are in (whether you are entry-level, mid-level, management or executive level – “Can I be someone who can bring a positive light to someone else?” Now this question can only be answered by yourself. An employer can coach/train you on the responsibilities for the role, but something that cannot be taught is how you show up. Your punctuality/attendance is always on you. Once you get into work, there can be perks such as employee discounts – and this depends on your performance – which can be a competitive process.

If you are looking to go into leadership roles when it comes to moving up within the brand, knowing what you want – each sector/employer has so many different critical experiences that you get an opportunity and exposure to. For example, let’s say for the retail sector. You could be a sales associate but the merch team or visual team may come in and ask you some questions about, “Hey, what are consumers saying about this product? What is it that they want?”

Sometimes, you get those opportunities to have a conversation – and those are the opportunities that are the meaningful ones because once you share what you know and your insights, that team would not want you – but they NEED you.

Eighty percent of your development and your growth is on you and twenty percent is on your leader because there is a plethora of opportunities within the brand. When you share what you want to do with your manager/supervisor, you get to sit down and have that conversation with them. You need to own your career development, share with your leader what you want and what you are looking for, know where you want to go. Then based on what you want to do, your leader will try to help you get there however, the number one driver of that is going to be YOU.

Always latch onto a mentor at work – someone who is there that is doing the job that you want.

An NYC recruiter from a global retail brand that I work close with once told me, “When someone tells you that you want to be in a role, don’t see that as a threat. But see it as a great thing that someone wants to have the job that you have. As a leader, you do your job well so you can train someone else to do that job well. So when someone tells me that they want to be a recruiter, I say ‘Great, let me show you the basics – this is what we do – obviously we need to get approval from your leadership team/employer.’ We can spend some time to chat and once there is that opportunity to stretch or get that experience, I will share with them possible openings that they can apply to and if they get the job – then they can get that experience and grow from there.”

It can’t just be you knowing what you want, but your leadership team and those mentors that you surround yourself with should know as well.

Re-envisioning the Workforce Development Sector and Labor Market Updates (March 2021)

Please note this data applies to the Greater New York City Metropolitan area and the United States only.

For many workforce development agencies, there are many factors that prevent job seekers from pursuing their dream jobs/careers.

One of the top factors would be the lack of specialized training/certifications in the field that they are looking for. Workforce practitioners have also mentioned that there are young people who need to work and cannot afford the classes, the program hours are increased, they have language barriers, not work ready or do not meet specific qualifications of the training programs.
What can the workforce development agencies do to remove this barrier for job seekers? Part of it comes to strengthening partnerships with other workforce agencies and employers versus building new training programs that are relevant for job seekers. For example to be specific, organizations may want to look into building long-term and patient partnerships (ideally in retail or hospitality) if that is what their demographics are looking for.

The second top factor would be the lack of job specific work experience – and this applies to both what job seekers can offer to the employer, and what employers are looking for in the ideal candidate. Some candidates that workforce agencies work with, may have narrow goals and expectations but not having a plan B. On the other hand, employers want what they want and are not so interested/engaged in what the referral has to say about the candidate. This means the agencies need to have those conversations with the employers up front more, especially when initiating a relationship. It is not a product that workforce agencies are pushing — but more so a relationship and partnership that they want to build. Not all employers see it that way, they see it more as a product. The transactional product versus quality partnership experience problems definitely supplement and overlap.
Also, because of changes caused by this pandemic, we can see retail and hospitality declining (as data is indicated in the later part of the labor market review). For those from the world of NO, it is important to educate employers on what is reality – the unemployment rate.

The third top factor would be educational requirements. This is often the case as certain employers are looking for — let’s say someone in their Accounting department to do some bookkeeping, processing invoices, etc. If your organization offers a training/certification program that caters to job seekers that are looking to land an Accountant/Bookkeeper job right out of completion, chances are 50/50. There are employers that do not consider graduates who do not hold a degree in Accounting, so it can prevent job seekers from obtaining employment with just the certification.

The fourth top factor would be life circumstances — which all of us go through in our lifetime. We are humans. Health concerns (with COVID still around), lack of consistent support system (energy, engagement, inspiration, motivation, stability) and childcare concerns (child remote learning, and taking care of child while parent is working from home) all play a role in this factor.

What changes should be considered when re-envisioning the workforce development sector?

(Suggested from workforce development professionals)

  • More workforce agencies working collaboratively when approaching employers for sustainable business partnerships.
  • Sector-specific training and upskilling programs in deep partnership with businesses.
  • Improve funder relationships and expectations, inaccurate or unrealistic requirements and metrics based on the populations served/sectoral needs.
  • Increase the focus in career exploration with job seekers; training program development and re-programming to meet the future of workforce.
  • Deeper, structural partnerships and consistency between businesses, government, social service and educational institutions.
  • Build house account with employers on a daily basis to better track interviews/screenings while using that tool to evaluate candidates (Deliverables make it difficult to build what we really need for participants).
  • Quantifying the need for bridge programs for jobs that are in high-growth fields.
  • Improve business trust in workforce development providers’ participants.
  • Adjust business expectations for labor market.
  • Reduce organizational competition.

Labor Market Updates/Review

As of March 2021 — the overall NYC Labor Market indicates that in 2019, there were about 4.5 million jobs and by 2025, there will be an uptick to about 4.6 million jobs; which will result in about a 125,000+ gain.

NYC projected growth sectors by occupation, Standard Occupational Classification (SOC)

  • Community and Social Service Occupations
    • Overall 94,000+ jobs as of 2019 to 106,000+ jobs by 2025; resulting in 12,000+ jobs gain
    • Social and Human Service Assistants: 19,000+ jobs as of 2019 to 21,000+ jobs by 2025
    • Child, Family and School Social Workers: 15,000+ jobs as of 2019 to 13,000+ jobs by 2025; resulting in > 1,000+ jobs gain
    • Educational, Guidance and Career Counselors: 11,000+ jobs as of 2019 to 12,000+ jobs by 2025; resulting in > 1,000+ jobs gain
    • Mental Health and Substance Abuse Counselors, Community Health Workers, etc.
  • Construction (growth sector by business classification)
    • Overall: 138,000+ jobs as of 2019 to 133,000+ jobs by 2025; resulting in 5,000+ jobs decline
  • Healthcare Support
    • Overall: 446,000+ to 363,000+ jobs
    • Home Health and Personal Care: 287,000+ jobs as of 2019 to 363,000+ jobs by 2025; resulting in 124,000+ jobs gain
  • Computer and Mathematical Occupations, including technology
    • Overall: 146,000+ jobs as of 2019 to 170,000+ jobs by 2025; resulting in 24,000+ jobs gain
    • Software Developers, Analysts and Testers: About 45,000+ jobs as of 2019 to 56,000+ jobs by 2025; resulting in 11,000+ jobs gain

NYC projected loss sectors by occupation, SOC

  • Food Services
    • Overall: 243,000+ jobs as of 2019 to 300,000+ jobs by 2025; resulting in 43,000+ jobs decline
    • Fast Food and Counter Workers: 85,000+ jobs as of 2019 to 82,000+ jobs by 2025; resulting in 3,000+ jobs decline
    • Waiters: 77,000+ jobs as of 2019 to 61,000+ jobs by 2025; resulting in 16,000+ jobs decline
    • Cooks: 43,000+ jobs as of 2019 to 39,000+ jobs by 2025; resulting in 4,000+ jobs decline
    • Food Prep Workers: 28,000+ jobs as of 2019 to about 25,000+ jobs; resulting in 3,000+ jobs decline
    • Attendants and Helpers: 21,000+ jobs as of 2019 to 17,000+ jobs; resulting in 4,000+ jobs decline
    • Dishwashers: 15,000+ jobs as of 2019 to 12,000+ jobs by 2025; resulting in 3,000+ jobs decline
  • Office and Administrative Support (SOC 43)
    • Overall: 638,000+ jobs as of 2019 to 629,000+ jobs by 2025; resulting in 9,000+ jobs decline
    • Administrative Assistants and Secretaries: 134,000+ jobs as of 2019 to 125,000+ jobs by 2025; resulting in 9,000+ jobs decline
    • Others: Clerks, Human Resources Administrators, Payroll Assistants, Processors, Typists, etc.
  • Retail
    • Cashiers: 75,000+ jobs as of 2019 to 68,000+ jobs by 2025; resulting in 6,000+ jobs decline
    • Salespersons: 117,000+ jobs as of 2019 to 103,000+ jobs by 2025; resulting in 14,000+ jobs decline

3 Entry-Level Tips and a Guide to Joining the Real Estate Industry (NY Edition)

Guide to Joining the Real Estate Industry (NY Edition)

Over the past few months, there has been many questions from individuals who are thinking of joining the real estate field. The Head of Business Development at 4 Stories and a Licensed Real Estate Advisor, Leah Azizian has created a short guide and provided 3 entry-level tips for job seekers to consider below.

Leah’s 3 Entry Level Tips

  1. Consider whether you want to join the Residential field or the Commercial field.
    In a nutshell, the Residential route tends to be a lot more emotional based. There’s a lot more hand holding involved, so you’re helping people find their homes. You really need to put yourself in their shoes and understand their current living situation, and it’s a totally different ballpark.
    Commercial, on the other hand, you’re working with investors or you’re generally working with clients who are usually focused on the PRACTICALITY of a space and on the level of return that they will be achieving.
  2. Do a lot of research on the firms and brokerages that you want to join. Keep in mind that when you’re going on those interviews, you are learning from them as much as they are learning from you. So be sure to ask the right questions.
    You really want to be able to understand the level of training that they will be offering, you want to understand the culture of the company, and you want to understand what they will expect from you.
    Sometimes, they expect certain GCIs (Gross Commission Income) to be met, so keep that in mind.
  3. Whether you are a beginner agent or a seasoned agent, you might understand this. Think about whether you want to be an independent agent or if you want to join a team. There’s a lot to learn from both ends.
    Generally, when you are joining a team, you’re really shadowing experienced agents more and you’re helping them more just with the efficiency of their day, but you’re also learning a ton.
    As an independent agent, it’s a lot more hands on and initiative involved. There are a lot more mistakes you’ll likely incur, but there will be a lot more that you will be learning from.
    There are pluses to both, but if you can find a brokerage that incorporates both elements, and where you could lean towards both sides, and join a team that offers both – even better.

Leah’s Guide to Joining the Real Estate Industry (NY Edition)

1. Complete 72 Hours at a NYS Real Estate School – Do some research and look into different real estate schools nearby that you can attend. Schools usually offer in-person classes and online classes. Personally, the difference I experienced was that it was difficult to grasp the information during the online classes. The online instructors placed a lot of information on the slides and it was also not copy & paste-able, so a lot of time was spent typing notes from the slides and it wasn’t clear what was key information. But again, this was just my experience…

2. Take your School & State Exams – The rule of thumb is that the school exam will generally be more difficult than the state. The school does this in order to prep you for the state exam. In New York State, the passing measurement is 70% on the exam.

3. Associate with a Brokerage – Just as in step 1, it’s important that you do your research, interview, and speak to agents at different firms. The way I see it, there are usually two routes that an agent can take:

  • Option 1: Associate as an “Independent Agent” – which means starting off essentially on your own, building and relying on your own network, and taking on all essential tasks solo.
  • Option 2: Join a team that is already established and/or form a partnership with another agent you trust. Joining a team that is already established allows you to lean the ropes of the game and rely on a more developed network and steady cash flow. People tend to underestimate how much activity is involved with being a real estate agent. You are the CEO of your business; you are responsible for all tasks from marketing to creating your newsletter to growing your clientele to answering all emails to attending viewings, pitches, meetings etc. Having a team or forming a partnership with another agent, will allow you to juggle more and be more efficient.

Questions to keep in mind when interviewing with different brokerages, or teams:

1. What is the brokerage’s goals in the next year and 5-10 years? How is the brokerage planning to grow? This will help you get a better understanding of the company mission, and whether there is any potential opportunity for you to be directly involved in the company’s growth (this last part is for the overachievers & ambitious ones out there).

2. If interviewing a specific team, what role do they expect you take on when joining the team? What kind of schedules or systems do they have in place as a team to keep themselves organized and productive? What can you expect to learn most from joining the team?

3. As an independent agent, who will you be reporting to (who is your floor manager)? And, how often will you be touching base with them? 

4. As an independent agent, does the brokerage have any expectations from you as to what to produce in gross sales volume?

5. What resources does the brokerage or team offer to its agents; in terms of agent training, tech support, or marketing? (For new agents, understanding what type of training you can expect will be valuable when choosing a brokerage).

6. Does the brokerage or team supply client leads to its agents?

7. What is the commission split? (It’s important to understand this for leads provided by the firm v. leads closed from an agent’s network)

8. Are there any fees that you will be expected to pay (such as, desk fees, technical support, transactional fees)?

Personal Tip:

I can’t stress enough that if you’re thinking to joining the industry for a quick buck, think again. 

Being in the real estate field requires a lot of patience, hard work and hustle. Believe me when I say that clients will easily recognize if you’re in this to make your commission, or in it to genuinely help in their investment. NY has the most dense population of real estate agents, and it’s so easy to filter out which are in it for the long run and which aren’t.

I also get a lot of questions from people who aspire to be developers, investors, or “flippers”. In this case, I always suggest working for the person who holds the position you desire. If your goal is to become a developer, reach out to a development firm and see what they need help with (as an internship or volunteer work). While it isn’t a bad idea to become a salesperson and understand the buy/sell process, I believe you will learn a lot more in the field that you are specifically looking to be in. 

Hopefully, the tips that Leah has provided were helpful to readers who are considering to enter the field or are intrigued to learn more about the field. If you have any other questions or would like to speak more about what it’s like to be in the field, reach out to Leah at or connect with Leah on LinkedIn.

The Lantern House | 4 Stories Development

The Head of Business Development at 4 Stories, the Marketing and Consulting Division for New Developments at LG Fairmont, Leah Azizian speaks about The Lantern House, “an exquisite project in West Chelsea that was developed by Related Companies. The Architect on the project was Heatherwick Studio & the Interior Designers (also British Influence) were March and White Design.”

Data used in this video is from MarketProof New Developments

Now what I love about Heatherwick Studios’ vision here is that he was inspired by the big windows in the Victorian homes in the UK. So he wanted to create a project that essentially when you are standing by the windows, you almost feel as if you’re immersed in the city and in the skyline of New York City.

Last week, we spoke about 124 West 16th Street – which is another project in Chelsea that managed to sell out in one year. This week, we’re going to speak about the Lantern House.

Since July of 2020, they’ve managed to put over 40 units into contract. Keep in mind that Chelsea is a neighborhood that’s extremely congested. There is over 750 units available amongst new developments for sale, and over 580 units in just West Chelsea alone. So let’s dive into what makes this project stand out from them all.

Tell me the specs…

The Lantern House is a 2 tower project that’s comprised of 180 units – mostly of one bedrooms and two bedrooms. The one beds are starting at $1.4 million, the 2 bedrooms are starting at right under $2 and a half million, and there’s an average offering price per square foot of right under $2,750.

What’s so awesome about The Lantern House is that the 2 towers actually connect right underneath the High Line, which is an area that’s been seeing a ton of development in the past few years and a lot more to come.

Another awesome feature about The Lantern House is that they offer purchasers the choice between a darker finish and a lighter finish.

Finishing thoughts …

Overall, The Lantern House has a handful of unique qualities that really stands out from them all. The first being the facade. It leads us to question, “Should we be seeing more projects being built with unique facades in the years to come?” and also, “Should buyers have more of a hand in their finishes and more of a choice in what’s going to be installed in their home?”

If you have any questions for Leah regarding New Developments, learning more about the real estate field, or even working in the real estate field, please reach out to her via LinkedIn or!
LG Fairmont is hiring a Licensed Real Estate Salesperson and if you have an entrepreneurial mindset, then you may be the ideal candidate. Don’t miss out on this great opportunity!

New Development Spotlight of the Week – featuring MarketProof Data

According to the Head of Business Development at 4 Stories, the Marketing and Consulting Division for New Developments at LG Fairmont, Leah Azizian states that “there were only a handful of projects that saw major success. And, one of these projects was 124 W 16th Street in Chelsea.” Watch her video more below to learn more about this project.

Data used in this video is from MarketProof New Developments

124 West 16th Street is a 15-unit, 11 story building that was officially launched in February of 2020 – exactly one year ago. And just this past month, they sold out on all their units. Twelve months! Keep in mind, we went through a pandemic where from March through June, they weren’t able to do in person showings. They managed to sell out their building completely.

Why is this so remarkable?

Almost every feature about it was kind of rooting it against itself. The developers bought it in 2012. They acquired from the church which is right next door, which they ended up actually building above. But they bought it in 2012. I’m sure it wasn’t their intention to launch a building during the year of 2020, and when you look at the building specifically, you’ll find that the majority of the 15 units… 9 of the 15 units are 4 bedrooms or more. Square footages were starting at 1,500 square feet. The average selling price according to MarketProof was over $2,600, with the average price of $5.8 million, so this takes a very specific buyer. And usually in buildings like this where they’re luxury buildings – especially boutique buildings, we see a lot of international buyers flooding the gates and acquiring these properties. But considering that we weren’t able to have these type of buyers coming in, it’s so incredible to see that regardless, they were able to sell out completely in one year.

So how did they do it?

Every single one of these units have these gorgeous, great rooms with fireplaces. Every single one of the units featured private outdoor space, no more than two homes on every floor share a private elevator landing. They couldn’t have launched this building in a more perfect time. They launched a building that checked off the boxes of every single buyer during COVID. And because of that, they were incredibly successful with their launch.

If you have any questions for Leah regarding New Developments, learning more about the real estate field, or even working in the real estate field, please reach out to her via LinkedIn or!
LG Fairmont is hiring a Real Estate Salesperson and if you have an entrepreneurial mindset, then you may be the ideal candidate. Don’t miss out on this great opportunity!

3 Follow Up Email Templates to Send After Job Interviews (by Recruiter, Lee Ann Chan)

“What’s the best way to follow up with an employer after a job interview?” Recruiters like Lee Ann Chan and I personally receive this question a lot from job seekers that we coach and place, and according to Lee Ann, “most candidates don’t want to come off as desperate or annoying (their words, not mine!) but they also don’t know the best way to approach employers for their interview updates.”

Below are the recommended follow-up emails and templates from Lee Ann to use when you want to check on your status and keep establishing a professional presence.

Effective Virtual Interviewing (Spectrum Edition)

Image via Charter

During the interview process, there are many ideal competencies and traits that Spectrum is looking for. Spectrum likes their employees to be great communicators, problem solvers, adaptable, detail-oriented among others, enthusiastic efficient and don’t forget – technologically savvy! These are what make a successful employee at Spectrum.

Spectrum’s Talent Acquisition Senior Recruiter of 15 years in the Greater NYC area speaks and shares his 9 tips in this article to job seekers.

When preparing for that interview, a hiring manager typically reaches out to Talent Acquisition and asks to schedule an interview. In most cases nowadays since 2020, that interview will most likely be virtual instead of being in person. This scenario is becoming increasingly more common. Nearly 75% of executives use real time video to interview their leading candidates and 50% of them leverage it to narrow down their applicants. The process enables employers to open up their talent pool to interview candidates who live all around the globe, and not just the ones who live down the street. It also cuts down on traveling expenses.

So with that virtual interview or video interview, well it’s a normal job interview that leverages video technology where a lot of conversations take place remotely. So rather than meeting face to face, the manager and the candidate are going to connect with each other online using video softwares. The tools typically required for these types of meetings involves a computer, a built-in external/internal video/camera and a microphone, a reliable internet connection (try not to do it wirelessly because most of the time that won’t work very well), and headphones if desired.

So generally a video interview follows the style of a traditional in-person interview. Here’s going to be a few key considerations to keep in mind:

  • For perspective employee, try to make that pitch by a video conferencing software such as Skype, Zoom, Google Hangout. It may be a bit daunting, especially if you are not accustomed to it.

I will give you 9 virtual interviewing tips to reduce the stress, aid in helping you stand out of the crowd, and in the end hopefully help you land a job – whether that is with Spectrum or with another company, these tips still work.

1. Test your technology. The minute you agree to a virtual interview, you need to ensure that you test your technology and ensure that you are set up for success. You want to also check your internet connectivity, you’re going to confirm that your camera and microphone is working. If the picture is blurry or you’re experiencing an echo, you might need to buy a different webcam, you might need to not use the computer’s built-in microphone – but use the speaker phone instead or a separate phone. So this is going to be hard to do 5 minutes before so you don’t want to wait until the day of the interview to figure it out. Most computers these days will allow you to use the audio and video connection. Some of them, will have a choice of using just one single device for this video and the audio. But when you have the option to use separate devices, that is the option you ought to take (one phone for the video portion and one phone for the audio portion – like a phone, laptop or tablet).

Of course in some instances, you are able to just only use that one single device but that’s only going to work if everybody is on the same network – for example, if you are doing internal interviews. But when everyone is on separate networks, the best practice is ensuring you don’t lose the connection altogether – if you prefer to use separate devices.

Here’s a note to keep in mind. On the day of your virtual interview, you will also want to test your internet connection again even though you tested it a few days before. Make sure you do it on the morning of.

Being technologically savvy is one of the 10 traits that employers are going to look for. If you come onto the virtual interview fumbling around with your audio or your lighting during the call, you’re giving the hiring manager a reason to question if you’re the right candidate for the job. Make sure you do not only test it beforehand, but on the day of, you’re going to test it again.

2. Be aware of the surroundings. You’re going to set the scene, minimize the amount of distractions while testing your technology, determines where the interview is going to take place. You want to find a room with optimal lighting, preferably near a window or a wall. Somehow, you’ll be able to guarantee that you are the focal point of the conversation. So the best practice in relation to lighting is to simply set up a bright light that is focused on your face. This should at least as bright as or be brighter than the background behind you. Therefore, this will help you and your personality stand out. It will minimize the background. Also, if you are using window lights as the light changes, because sometimes it gets very bright and sometimes it gets very dark – where in some cases it will cause your camera to start struggling and it will become a distraction to the interviewer instead of the help you thought it might be. Choose the lamp effectively.

Whether you sit on your living room couch or home office, be sure to tidy up your surroundings. It is hard to convince the employers that you are detail-oriented or you are organized, when they are looking behind you and they visibly see papers all over your desk. This might sound remedial, but trust me – as a recruiter, we see this all the time. You need to think, sit in front of your computer and look at yourself and behind you – what the hiring manager will be seeing in the background.

Once you have all of that settled, you are going to want to limit your distractions. This means turning off the TV, turning off the stereo, closing any nearby windows just so you can muffle traffic and neighborhood noise.

3. Sit down and be prepared to engage. Just because you’re in front of a computer, doesn’t mean you can search the web for answers in a middle of an interview OR avoid to start clicking around when a hiring manager asks you a question. So you want to appear focused and ready to answer the question without the help of the internet. No one wants to think that you are cheating on your answers. Trust me, it happens.

You want to do your research on the company ahead of time before you sit down. Print out a copy of your resume and have it near by so you don’t get the key talking points that you want to bring up. However, as with any interview, you’re going to come prepared with answers to any coming questions. This isn’t particularly an interviewing conference call, but there are some that you are going to know how to answer. For example, “why are you interested in the role?”, “what do you know about the company that you are interviewing with?”, “what do you consider your greatest weakness?”, “what do you consider your greatest professional achievement?”, “tell me about some of your challenges and how you dealt with them”, “what are you looking for in a new role and why are leaving your current role?”

The key here is, you want to avoid memorizing each response. That’s not engaging. You don’t want to over rehearse. Instead, write some high level thoughts down on a post-it and stick it to your computer. So being aware of how far your eyes are moving from the screen, because if your notes are far away, it will appear that you are searching for your answers and reading them instead of engaging in that dialogue.Note that you don’t want your notes resting on your lap or from a place where you want to look far away from the screen. In that case, it is going to come quite apparent that every time you are answering a question, you are looking away from your interviewer for an answer. Of course, that is not a good plan.

You want to come prepared and engaged. And how do you engage? You will do that by practicing our next tip below.

4. You have to come mentally thinking about this being a “dialog”, not something that is memorized. So you are going to have to practice. Practice on your dialog that you will have with your interviewer. Don’t focus on trying to memorize all of your anticipated responses. You’re not going to get all of your questions asked anyway. When you have an interview, you want to have a good conversation. Not rehearsing the points that you memorized, because you are going to sound like a robot throughout the interview, whether you are answering, asking or even giving your quick elevator pitch. It is easy to tell that you do not sound genuine.

It is a good practice to run through a practice with your friend. Pull your family members in and have that conversation. This is going to give you a chance to rehearse with different personalities since each person will be asking you a question or answering you a bit differently and it will throw you off so that you will be more ready when you begin to interview with your employer.

So while you are practicing your interview with your friends and family, it might seem a little awkward. But one of the keys that will benefit you from doing that though is you will have a safe atmosphere where it is okay to make mistakes. You can learn from them. You may not have answered the way you thought you should have or you didn’t come across the way you anticipated. That’s where you can hone in your interview skills so that you are better prepared for the real thing.

It is really important that when you are interviewing, you’ve got to keep it really simple. You don’t want to feel like you have to give a long-winded answer if a short answer will do. You won’t know that until you practice some of those answers. So being able to be clear and concise is the most important thing that you are going to need to do in a job interview. So a great answer will always tell your interviewer at least 3 things. Every one of those answers put it on the back of your mind. That answer ought to say what you did on the job. You don’t want to say how well you did what you did on the job. And the very important one you ought not to leave out, because most people do, is your answer ought to tell what was the impact of the action you had on the business or project. So what you did, how well you did it, and the impact it had.

When you prepare those types of answers and you are able to give them freely without memorizing them, or at least not sounding like you memorized them, now you are ready to have a dialogue with your interviewer – and not just a rehearsed, memorized set of answers.

Well that in fact, brings us to our next point. First impressions still count, even in a virtual environment. In with that in mind, there will be 2 tips that I’m going to mention.

5. Monitor your body language.  Obviously, you can’t firmly shake a hiring manager’s hand or easily exude enthusiasm through the video, but what you can do is monitor your body language. The main way to communicate confidence during these interviews; well, you’re going to sit up straight, you’re going to smile, you’re going to keep your camera at eye level. You want to avoid the tendency to look at yourself on the computer monitor while you talk. I would suggest you put your computer/laptop on a box so that your eyes are right on the center of the screen and you’re not looking down on yourself, or having to look far up because research shows that employers are more likely to remember what you say if you are maintaining eye contact. So you want to keep your focus on your camera when you’re talking – not looking at the hiring manager. The time when you look at the hiring manager is when he/she is talking.

This brings us to the 6th tip here. You gotta make those first impressions count.

6. Dress for success. So you might be sitting on your bed, but you shouldn’t look like you just rolled out of the bed. You want to dress like you’re going for an in-person interview. Just because a person can’t see what you are wearing from waist level, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do your best to dress. For men, you’re going to wear a button up shirt and dress pants. For women, you might want to consider a dress, skirt and/or a blouse. Besides not knowing if for some reason you’re going to have to suddenly stand up in the middle of an interview, well professional clothing will show that you are serious about the job.

Well, there are personal benefits as well. Studies show that people feel the most authoritative, trustworthy and confident when they are wearing formal business attire. So when you feel good about yourself, it is easier to execute a lot of these tips especially our next one.

7. Connect on a Personal Level. You never know how many interviews a company may conduct for a position. You may be at a long list of people that the hiring manager or recruiter spoke to that day. That’s why it is important to make that small connection. So don’t be afraid to have a short aside about a common interest when you’re in an interview. The recruiter or hiring manager might enjoy the break from the routine questions that they have gone through that day.

You and I know that it is not easy to connect with everyone, but it is a crucial part of the interview. Don’t be afraid to share about yourself or connect about that one thing you discovered that you both like. Take a moment and touch on it, because you want the interviewer to be able to remember a story you told or a common interest that you both share. That is one of the best ways to prevent you from simply blending in with everyone else who came in and interviewed for the same spot.

Trust me, these little tips are what we as recruiters go through each and everyday. We trust that that investment in your time and you will be able to remember these. Use them on yourself and you will see the difference in your own interviewer.

Now, making that connection will really come from a predetermined mindset to employ this next to last tip.

8. Be Yourself. The hiring team is essentially looking for the interviewee to answer 2 major questions. The whole point of the interview: 1) Can you do the work that they need? But guess what, there’s another side. 2) Will you be able to fit into the company culture and department that the hiring manager has as well?

A key task for the recruiting and hiring team is in determining whether in fact, yes – you can do the work, but how will you fit in the team/company’s culture? This can be challenging during your virtual interview because there’s this physical disconnect. We don’t get to see your whole body and we don’t see how you reply to every question, or are your feet moving around a lot, or are you twirling your fingers. We don’t get to see a lot of those verbal or visual cues that helps to go along with your comfort level. So it’s more difficult for your interviewer to understand your enthusiasm or screen them, so make sure that you are more expressive when you are answering the questions.

If you want to use your hands, you may want to do that freely. Let your expressions be bold. If you are a more of a straightforward kind of person, be sure that you’re using those active listing techniques so that your dialogue is free and flowing between you and the interviewer.

Some people are great interviewers. They’re going to be able to tell your vibe. They’re going to be able to tell if you’re going to fit the company culture right off the bat. With that being said, you want to be able to walk away and give your interviewer a reason to push you to the second round of the interview, by shining a light on how you can help the organization grow.

This begins with not just with can you just do the work, but can you fit into the company culture. They are not looking for a robot. They are looking for you. So be sure that you are being yourself on these interviews.

This is going to lead us to our last point.

9. Don’t forget the Professional Graces. As soon as that interview is done, you’re going to do some immediate follow up within at least 24 hours of the interview. You’re going to send an individual Thank You Email to everyone you met. Sometimes they don’t provide you with that information so you should send that Thank You Note to your recruiter and they will forward it to the leadership team. But, make sure you’re taking that extra step.

Put it in a Word Document so you can upload it to your profile so the next recruiter can see that you’re communicative and that you possess those professional graces. It’s not only going to show that you valued your interviewer’s time, but it’s going to give you the opportunity to resell yourself and express your unique traits that you can bring to the role, or share any talking points that you forgot to address.

If there was something specific that you have bonded over during the interview, you want to mention it briefly and follow up in the Thank You Email so you can keep it on the top of your mind.

Or, if the interviewer brought up a particular business challenge, you’re going to use that to follow up; as a way to propose that potential solution – saying something to the affect of: “It was fantastic to have met you today and I remembered one of the challenges that the business had was ITEM A and here’s what I have done in the past that I can do to help.”

You want to keep the email concise of course. It is not a paragraph. You want to just leave a short note and leave a lasting impression, not one that will immediately end up in the circular file because it was too large or too long.

These are the key tips that we as recruiters have seen either in people that are not employed OR employed effectively. It helps them stand out and be remembered. They bring the right successful profile, but if they’re not able to get the hiring manager to remember it, then that becomes a challenge.

New Year’s Resolution for Job Seekers

Image via Ashley Brooke Photography

Job searching in the middle of a pandemic has been the most challenging for job seekers. Job seekers have been blindly applying for 10 months or more and building their network. Some have been plugging away and applying to jobs since March and have had little success with interviews and no offers with no feedback. And some have been forced (by the pandemic) into starting their own businesses/side hustles to pay off student loans, rent, debt, etc.

Whatever the case may be, job searching has always been challenging. However, the best way for it to be a success is to remain positive, and to not give up. Giving up is not an option. Show employers that you are willing, wanting and able to work!

Here are some New Year’s resolutions to help jump start your motivation and pave way to a successful job search.

  1. Connections can help a great deal. Spend more time talking to people than submitting your application to posted job ads.
    • The quickest way to get back into the job market will be your network and your referrals. Who knows that a 30 minute coffee chat could turn into an opportunity of a lifetime.
    • You would be surprised that you will have connections in your circle who know about the existing job vacancies that aren’t posted on job boards. In other words, the hidden job market.
    • When reaching out to your connections, you may want to follow the email template below:
      • “Hi [Connection’s Name],

        I hope this email finds you well. How was your holiday season and New Year’s? It is shocking how 2020 flew by.

        I wanted to reach out because things have changed at [Current Company] and am specifically looking to transition to [Job Title] at [Industry/Sector/Company] where I can utilize my [Insert Relevant Skills] to be able to do [Insert Desired Activities].

        I wanted to reach out to see if you know of anyone who could connect me to such an opportunity. I understand that this is a big ask and your time is valuable. If it is too much right now, don’t feel any pressure as I totally understand.

        Either way, I hope you are staying healthy and safe. I look forward to catching up with you soon!

        Best Regards,
        [Your Name]”
  2. Update your resume.
    • Your resume should always be different and tailored based on the job description. Study the job description carefully and proofread your resume before uploading it on the job board because you want to get past the Applicant Tracking System.
      • Education: Don’t just focus on the schools and institutions that you have attended. Include organizations that you were involved with as well! If you had a GPA that is higher than a 3.0, showcase it and be proud of that achievement!
      • Work Experience: I mention this all the time but make sure your duties are not only duties, however make it into an accomplishment by incorporating quantifiable metrics using numbers and percentages. Also, tailor it towards the field that you are interested in.
      • Leadership Experience: This is important whether you are looking for a job or internship. If you were active in many organizations and clubs, list it and highlight that leadership because that is always going to be a plus.
      • Skills and Projects: Again, just like your work experience, tailor your relevant skills towards the field of interest. If you have worked on special projects that were tailored towards the specific field of interest, include that as well.
    • Have your peer, mentor, career coach or a professional critique your resume.
  3. Hone your interview skills.
    • Have a friend or family member interview you and provide feedback.
    • Participate in mock interviews. Especially during this pandemic, many virtual platforms are partnering with big companies (such as Moody’s, Google, McKinsey & Company, Credit Suisse) to connect with nonprofit organizations and social ventures to give back and provide these free services to job seekers.
  4. Sharpen your skills.
    • If there is a specific field you are looking to go into or a job that you want to apply for, study the job description closely and discover if your educations and skills are going to be a good match.
    • If you do not have the skills that the employers are looking for, you should look into taking online classes that will help you move forward in your intended field.
  5. Map out what you are looking for.
    • Don’t just randomly apply for jobs because you need a job. Seek purpose in the kind of job you want. Make sure your job search has a path. What is it that you really want in your job? Do you want to work entirely remote? Do you want to work on-site? Do you want to work flexible or set hours?
    • Follow the SMART goal outline via FlexJobs.
      • (S)pecific: What industry or sector do you want to work in? Do you want to stay local, or are you willing to move? How much do you need to earn?
      • (M)easurable: To meet your goal, how many resumes will you send out per week? How many networking events will you attend each month?
      • (A)ttainable: Do you understand the difference between your dreams and your goals? Keep in mind that some things are beyond your sphere of influence. You cannot control how many interviews or offers you get, but you can set a goal for the number of business connections you’ll make each month.
      • (R)ealistic: What can you achieve in this moment? If you have little experience, it’s unlikely you can move directly into a C-level job. Be honest with yourself about what you can achieve right now, but also plan for bigger and better goals in the future.
      • (T)imely: When is your deadline? This aspect of goal setting is often overlooked, but deadlines—even arbitrary ones—are important motivators. Since you can’t control when you’ll get hired, you may find that a resolution such as “I will find a job within the next six months” is less effective than “I will apply to at least five vacancies this week.”
  6. Target specific companies that you are interested in working for.
    • Make a list of your top target companies
    • Research, research, research them!!! Anything you can find such as articles, interviews with executives, surveys, podcasts, etc.
    • LinkedIn is a valuable platform for you to use in landing your dream job at your target company. From there, you may want to locate contacts who can refer you into your target role such as a hiring manager, team lead, recruiter or a friend who was hired there.
    • Reach out and cold email them.

4 Holiday Out-of-Office Templates By Recruiter, Lee Ann Chan

Lee Ann Chan, the Americas Campus & Diversity Recruiting Program Manager at Agilent Technologies (the Santa Clara, California office), has reminded all of us that while we are away during the holidays to spend time with our family members and loved ones, it is crucial to maintain that relationship — whether you are going to be away for a few weeks or even a month.

Lee Ann Chan is a huge people-person and spent several years in Acquisitions before being inspired by her mentor to change career paths and be a Recruiter, which she absolutely loves! She finds that it is an amazing feeling to help job seekers find opportunities for smart people to do awesome things, and she is grateful that she can be a part of it.

Lee Ann brings in her 13+ years of combined experience working with professionals in both the private and public industries and have placed over 1,200 individuals in permanent opportunities across the United States. The roles Lee Ann have recruited for include: Finance, Analytics, Accounting, Engineering, Human Resources, R&D, Data Science, Legal, Supply Chain Management, Security, Procurement, Facilities Management, Clandestine Service, Product Management, and Life Sciences.

In addition, Lee Ann provides career coaching services to those who are job searching, soul searching, leading and managing, or trying to find new ways to advance within their careers. She supports her clients by helping them revamp their resume, interview style, and job search strategies; make seamless career transitions out of specific industries or professions; develop powerful relationships with recruiters, hiring managers, bosses, and co-workers; and elevate their personal brand in the workplace and market.

Lee Ann’s specialties include the following: Talent Acquisition | Diversity & Inclusion Strategies | Campus Recruiting | Technical Recruiting | University Relations | Career Consultant | Career Coaching | Resume and Cover Letter Reviews | LinkedIn Training | Networking | Public Speaking | Professional Development | Social Media | Personal Branding | Program & Event Management | Relationship Management | Metrics & Data | Sourcing | Interviewing

If you feel that you are seeking for these kinds of services, please feel free to connect with Lee Ann on LinkedIn and shoot her an InMail and connect.

Below are some really insightful out-of-office templates that Lee Ann has created for employees that I will share below for you guys, which are free to use depending on what is best suited for you and your company — “while we are all finishing up some tasks and preparing for the holidays.”

Wishing you all a safe and wonderful holiday season and a prosperous New Year!

Staying Engaged In Your Job Search During the Holiday Season

Image via Woman’s Day

Although the holiday season is the most exciting time of the year, don’t be fooled. It is also the busiest time for many people. The job market is indeed, the most active during this season.

While COVID-19 has caused considerable disruption to services for many employers, you may be thinking — Will this impact holiday hiring?

According to iCIMS’s Monthly Snapshot Report for September, “During the height of the pandemic, hiring for full-time retail roles dropped to account for only 28% of hiring activity during April and May. In August, we’re seeing an increase in the demand for full-time employees, now making up 34% of all hires—still 10 percentage points away from pre-pandemic levels.” The retail industry is going to be busy as they are in dire need of seasonal workers especially during the holiday season.

This is a good time to apply for jobs since job seekers often suspend their job search during the holidays and will be spending time with their loved ones. This often means that there is less competition for jobs however, this can also lead to missed opportunities. This also means that there will be fewer resumes to compete with, and your skills/experience may be a potential match to the employer (since many employers are STILL looking to fill their roles before the New Year).

It is completely understandable that job searching during the holidays are not meant for everyone. If you are one of the job seekers who are planning to suspend your job search for the season, you want to take this time to stay on top of your organizational skills. Revamp your resume and cover letter so that when you are back in your job hunt, you won’t have to stress over proofreading and overlooking the little details. Set yourself reminders, organize your notes/folders and prioritize your goals so that you can avoid making the same mistakes that you have previously made throughout your job search.

While it is important to spend quality time with your family and loved ones, if you are one of the job seekers who has too much free time — during your downtime, don’t forget to stay productive and continue your job search in hopes that your holiday gift will be landing a new job!

So, what if you were interviewed right before the holidays and are in the process of waiting to hear back? This is the most stressful stage for job seekers, especially for those who anticipate that they may not have gotten the job. But then, you don’t want to come off pushy. What is the best way to follow up? If you were out of the workforce for a while and want to reconnect/network, how do I approach them during the holiday season?

❄ Send Holiday Greeting Cards to Recruiters/Hiring Managers
࿏࿏ Not all recruiters/hiring managers will remember you since they have met a lot of other faces as well. Be sure to include a brief reminder of who you are, your point of contact at the company.
࿏࿏ As you pick out your holiday card, please be sure that the card is appropriate and generic.
࿏࿏ Not all job seekers will invest their time and effort to do this, so this can potentially set you apart from others.

❄ Discuss About Your Employment Status / Job Search At Holiday Gatherings
࿏࿏ It is important to let your friends, family and distant relatives know that you are looking for a job. You will never know who they may know. They may know of someone who is working at your target employer. Or, they may even be an employee of your target employer.
࿏࿏ Making new connections or re-establishing old connections can actually land you a job offer even by just casually speaking to them about what you are looking for.

❄ Use This Time As a Networking Opportunity
࿏࿏ Virtual fundraisers and virtual Zoom holiday parties with friends during this time allows you to connect and mingle with many like-minded individuals that you connect you to potential jobs that you want to work at.
࿏࿏ While it is a holiday party, make sure you don’t come off as too professional and stiff. Remember, this is a time to gather and enjoy your time with friends. You do not want to come off as desperate, however you just want this topic to casually arise in the conversation.

The Changing Landscape and Job Outlook in the Media and Entertainment Industry

Image via ShingShing

Since pre-COVID-19, in this industry today — it is certain that digital will replace print. With consumers seeking for simple and swift methods of accessing content, this has led technology to advance rapidly. Many companies, let alone media giants and tech giants — are shifting toward Internet delivery, which will heavily increase online streaming and smart media more than it ever did before. According to Srijan, “apart from leading players like Netflix and Amazon, several others like Apple, Disney, HBO Max and WarnerMedia are joining the streaming domain, making it even more complex. There’s an increasing competition, coupled with the need to meet customer expectations.

Moving forward from this point on, Deloitte highlights three critical issues to consider in 2021 for the industry — “1) Renewing the focus on customers’ needs; 2) Converging and remixing entertainment experiences; 3) Repositioning to monetize advanced wireless networks.Check out their full report for more great insights on the job outlook for the telecommunications, media and entertainment industry!

While the trends in the industry are swiftly shifting, so will the career trends. Job seekers, if you are looking to pursue a career in the field — please refer to the chart I have created below regarding the job outlook between 2019 to 2029.
Disclaimer: All information are obtained from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (I have included links for more information)

OccupationJob DutiesEntry-Level Education2019 Median PayJob Outlook between 2019 – 2029What To Do
Film and Video Editors and Camera Operators“Film and video editors and camera operators manipulate moving images that entertain or inform an audience.”Bachelor’s Degree
– $59,810 per year
– $28.76 per hour
“Overall employment of film and video editors and camera operators is projected to grow 18 percent (+12,400) from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations. The number of Internet-only platforms, such as streaming services, is likely to increase, along with the number of shows produced for these platforms. This growth may lead to more work for editors and camera operators.”How To Become One
Broadcast and Sound Engineering Technicians“Broadcast and sound engineering technicians set up, operate, and maintain the electrical equipment for media programs.”Post-secondary non-degree award or certificate– $45,510 per year
– $21.88 per hour
“Overall employment of broadcast and sound engineering technicians is projected to grow 9 (+13,200) percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations. Growth is expected to stem from businesses, schools, and entertainment industries seeking to improve their audio and video capabilities. They will need technicians to set up, operate, and maintain equipment.”How To Become One
Editors“Editors plan, review, and revise content for publication.”Bachelor’s Degree– $61,370 per year
– $29.50 per hour
“Employment of editors is projected to decline 7 percent (-8,700) from 2019 to 2029. Despite some job growth in online media, declines in traditional print magazines and newspapers will temper employment growth.”How To Become One
Multimedia Artists and Animators“Multimedia artists and animators create images that appear to move and visual effects for various forms of media and entertainment.”Bachelor’s Degree– $75,270 per year
– $36.19 per hour
“Employment of multimedia artists and animators is projected to grow 4 percent (+2,800) from 2019 to 2029, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Projected growth will be due to increased demand for animation and visual effects in video games, movies, and television.”How To Become One
Photographers“Photographers use their technical expertise, creativity, and composition skills to produce and preserve images.”High School Diploma or Equivalent– $36,280 per year
– $17.44 per hour
“Employment of photographers is projected to decline 4 percent (-4,800) from 2019 to 2029.”How To Become One
Producers and Directors“Producers and directors create motion pictures, television shows, live theater, commercials, and other performing arts productions.”Bachelor’s Degree– $74,420 per year
– $35.78 per hour
“Employment of producers and directors is projected to grow 10 percent (+16,000) from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations. Job growth in the motion picture and video industry is expected to stem from strong demand from the public for more movies and television shows, as well as an increased demand from foreign audiences for U.S.-produced films.”How To Become One
Reporters, Correspondents and Broadcast News Analysts“Reporters, correspondents, and broadcast news analysts inform the public about news and events.”Bachelor’s Degree
– $46,270 per year
– $22.25 per hour
“Overall employment of reporters, correspondents, and broadcast news analysts is projected to decline 11 percent (-5,800) from 2019 to 2029. Declining advertising revenue in radio, newspapers, and television will have a negative impact on employment growth for these occupations.”How To Become One
Art Directors“Art directors are responsible for the visual style and images in magazines, newspapers, product packaging, and movie and television productions.”Bachelor’s Degree– $94,220 per year
– $45.30 per hour
“Employment of art directors is projected to decline 2 percent (-1,800) from 2019 to 2029. As traditional print publications lose ground to other media forms, employment of art directors is projected to decrease in the newspaper, periodical, book, and directory publishers industry.”How To Become One
Writers and Authors“Writers and authors develop written content for various types of media.”Bachelor’s Degree
$63,200 per year
– $30.39 per hour
“Employment of writers and authors is projected to decline 2 percent (-3,100) from 2019 to 2029.”How To Become One
Announcers“Announcers present music, news, and sports and may provide commentary or interview guests.”Educational requirements for announcers vary. Radio and television announcers typically need a bachelor’s degree in journalism, broadcasting, or communications, along with other experience gained from internships or working at their college radio or television station. Public address announcers typically need a high school diploma with some short-term on-the-job training.– $39,790 per year
– $19.13 per hour
Overall employment of announcers is projected to grow 1 percent (+700) from 2019 to 2029, slower than the average for all occupations.How To Become One
Interpreters and Translators“Interpreters and translators convert information from one language into another language.”Bachelor’s Degree– $51,830 per year
– $24.92 per hour
“Employment of interpreters and translators is projected to grow 20 percent (+15,500) from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations. Globalization and large increases in the number of non-English-speaking people in the United States will drive employment growth. Job prospects should be best for those who have professional certification.”How To Become One
Public Relations Specialists“Public relations specialists create and maintain a favorable public image for the organization they represent.”Bachelor’s Degree– $61,150 per year
– $29.40 per hour
“Employment of public relations specialists is projected to grow 7 percent (+19,700) from 2019 to 2029, faster than the average for all occupations. The need for organizations to maintain their public image will continue to drive employment growth. Candidates can expect strong competition for jobs at advertising and public relations firms and organizations with large media exposure.”How To Become One
Technical Writers“Technical writers prepare instruction manuals, how-to guides, journal articles, and other supporting documents to communicate complex and technical information more easily.”Bachelor’s Degree– $72,850 per year
– $35.03 per hour
“Employment of technical writers is projected to grow 7 percent (+4,300) from 2019 to 2029, faster than the average for all occupations. Employment growth will be driven by the continuing expansion of scientific and technical products. An increase in Web-based product support should also increase demand for technical writers. Job opportunities, especially for applicants with technical skills, are expected to be good.”How To Become One
via U.S. Bureau Labor of Statistic’s Occupational Handbook

Below I have asked a recruiting professional to provide some insight and updates about the media and entertainment industry as of today. Danny Gonzalez has been in the Recruiting industry since 2016. He started his recruiting career at Univision, a broadcast media company, where he has recruited for several roles within the business, i.e. Accounting, Finance, Public Relations, Sales, etc. He continued on with his experience and talent at JP Morgan Chase & Co., Morgan Stanley, Amazon Web Services, LiveRamp and CyraCom.

Feel free to connect with Danny afterwards on LinkedIn.

Michelle: What does the future of the Media and Entertainment Industry look like in a post-pandemic world?

Danny: From a half glass full standpoint and depending on which services are being provided; both good and bad. Whether you are a TikTok influencer or a company like Netflix, the script has been flipped. Nielsen, a known and reliable resource for media giants, announced their plan to combine traditional and digital TV ratings, to accurately reflect a world in which audiences are watching TV both live and on-demand, across a variety of different streaming services and devices. I anticipate Marketing to be a very demanding profession in the next coming years.

Michelle: Many aspects of this industry heavily hinged on physical attendance to produce profits – such as sports arenas, concerts and movie theaters. But because of COVID-19, it has imposed restrictions on public gatherings. How will this affect their services?

Danny: Great question! It is true that these type of services that rely heavily on physical attendance, i.e. movie theaters. AMC took a huge hit and is still suffering from this, however, another company like Universal, are striking while the iron is hot. For example, their digital marketing has picked up through social media, and are inclined to the option to share their movies-on-demand. Streaming Services, i.e. Netflix, Hulu, HBO Max more than ever are bringing in exclusive movies that you can only watch through their services. Most notably, Wonder Woman 1984 will be going straight to HBO Max with fans excited about this.

Michelle: What are the pros and cons of media shifting fully virtual?


  • Pros — On-demand and access mean exactly that. No longer the need to wait in queues or tickets being sold out for events. 
  • Cons — While the price of a movie ticket may be on the high side, as a consumer, is the trade-off worth paying the same price to watch at home? There are certain experiences that are worth in-person vs. digitally. 

Michelle: On the bright side, the digital takeover makes a positive impact for consumers who are still committed to their TVs and online shows. Today, many consumers are viewing, sharing and listening to more online content and with COVID-19, it is forcing those who don’t use technology, to use technology. Do you think artificial intelligence and automated jobs will take over many existing jobs in the industry?

Danny: This has always been the thought/concern for several years now, however, it will take some time before we get there. In any event, I recommend folks to brush up on their communications skills now more than ever and see which tools are and have been the most efficient and effective, i.e. e-mail, phone, conferencing platforms, and whether to go with audio only or audio and visual.

Michelle: Where do you see opportunities for advancement/growth for this industry moving forward?

Danny: Personally, the opportunities that I see for advancement/growth in this industry moving forward are in —

  • Digital Marketing
  • Customer Service
  • Conferencing Platforms

Michelle: What is your advice for those who are interested in pursuing a career in the industry?

Danny: I totally encourage it!! In fact, there is a great organization, T. Howard Foundation, whose mission is to promote diversity in media and entertainment for underrepresented groups and underserved communities within the media and entertainment industry. Check them out!  I have personally engaged with the T. Howard Foundation and some of my family members and friends have secured job placements through T. Howard. Good luck!!!

Breaking Into the Tech Industry (Microsoft)

Image via Dribbble

Emily Chan is a Talent Sourcer for Engineering and Operations at Microsoft. In Emily’s role, she pipelines top engineering talent through various online sourcing methods (her favorite one being LinkedIn) and find these candidates a home at Microsoft.

During her free time, you can find Emily drinking coffee, buying (too many) plants, and working on a passion project called Sparkline! Sparkline (formerly CEO Mindsets) is an initiative that focuses on empowering students to secure their dream jobs and internships through practical resume, interview, and networking tips. Recently, they have been hosting different workshops on personal branding, LinkedIn, etc. at different colleges and it’s really great to have the opportunity to interact with their audience.

Sparkline is looking forward to expanding their reach to more colleges in the new year! If you’re interested in collaborating with them, feel free to reach out at and they’ll work together to bring your idea to life!

Emily Chan (Talent Sourcer for Engineering and Operations at Microsoft)

Now, we will delve deeper into the Q&A below where I have asked Emily to provide her input for those who are looking to pursue a career in tech or those who are interested in heading into tech. Emily is excited to share a bit about the tech industry and offer some insight for those who are interested in breaking into this dynamic industry!

What are the kinds of careers that Microsoft offers for those who are interested in applying for a tech role there? What are the specific digital skills needed?

Microsoft offers a lot of different kinds of careers in tech – some examples are software engineering, mechanical engineering, hardware engineering, etc. You name it, Microsoft probably has a role. I specifically focus on recruiting for software engineers. In terms of skills needed for it, most of my roles require working knowledge of an object-oriented language like Java, C++, or C# and experience working with highly available and scalable distributed systems. There aren’t too many hard requirements because we recognize everyone has a different story and we want to focus on hiring engineers with a growth mindset and good potential!

Last month, Microsoft announced that they want to help create millions of tech jobs in the UK. How do you think this will help shape the industry?

This is an amazing initiative that will not only boost the tech industry, but help the UK’s economy as well. Technology is the future and businesses will only be able to sustain themselves if they include tech in their business strategies. This initiative will not only help expand and accelerate the path into the tech industry but will also aid in creating a more diverse talent pipeline in tech.

Is training offered for those who are looking to pivot their career direction or those with zero experience in tech?

Although Microsoft offers extensive training for new employees to learn our tech stack, we do expect candidates to know the fundamentals of computer science and to have some experience working in tech.

If you are a recent graduate with no experience in tech, I encourage you to apply to our amazing internship programs! That’ll help you get your foot in the door for full time opportunities.

If you’re in the middle of your career looking to switch into tech, I recommend either 1) going back to school to learn the basic fundamentals of computer science and then applying for our internships/full time roles or 2) taking a coding boot camp and gaining some industry experience at smaller tech companies before applying to Microsoft. 

How do you get your foot in the door?

Network, network, network! LinkedIn is a great place to get in touch with people working at your dream companies. Do some research about them and reach out for a coffee chat to learn more about them, the role, and the company. Build and maintain that relationship and more often than not, they’ll be happy to give you a referral. 

One disclaimer I want to make for this is that you want to make sure you meet all the basic qualifications first! If you don’t, you can network all you want, but it’ll be very hard to land the role. This is because those are the basic skills you need to succeed in that role and companies are not going to bring a candidate into situations where they won’t succeed.

What should a job seeker be aware of when working at a tech company?

Be comfortable with ambiguity and be able to adapt quickly. Things are always changing whether it be a customer requirement or a new technology.

How does the job market look currently for tech?

More now than ever, the tech space is growing at an increasingly fast rate. Especially with the pandemic, everything has shifted to virtual and people are relying more and more on tech. Companies are working on innovative products to adjust to the modern workplace and modern society so there is such a high demand for good engineers in the tech industry. It’s a really exciting time to be in this space!

Technology is one of the top growing industries currently. How much has it grown compared to pre-pandemic? What are the most in-demand careers and skills right now?

As I discussed earlier, tech is in demand now more than ever. Everything is virtual now and even after the world goes back to “normal,” a lot of things will remain virtual.

I can’t speak for different companies since the tech stack varies, but overall, Microsoft looks for working knowledge of an object-oriented programming language and industry experience with highly available and scalable distributed systems.

Why Mock Interviews are Helpful and Even More Crucial Right Now

Image via Freepik
  • Eight months later, we are still at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Job seekers WILL appreciate the opportunity to hear the much needed feedback on their interviewing skills. It is certain that there are questions that job seekers had since the start of the pandemic, that they awaiting for. This is a good time for interviewers to schedule a virtual interview using platforms like Zoom, Google Meet, Cisco Webex, especially career experts and coaches to patiently and holistically give job seekers their answer and provide them with insight on the job prospects.
  • You have another person (such as a career expert) who can give you so much insights on how to answer behavioral or situational questions, how to outline your strengths/weaknesses by providing some good examples and key takeaways, how to be more structured in your answers, etc. You can use those tools and their constructive feedback to practice on — before going on your actual interviews, such as telling good examples or stories with answers and telling stories in a concise and easy way to digest.
  • Job seekers will be able to gain more perspective on what they had initially perceived as impediments, such as their employment gaps and lack of professional experience. With the interviewer’s feedback, not only will the job seeker be able to gain more confidence with what experience he/she already had, but he/she will also have a better understanding on how to present their strengths (plural here!) and weaknesses.
  • You can always practice with a professional (like a career coach or a friend/family member who is very well rounded with the interview processes) who is great at giving constructive feedback that’s also actionable! Job seekers would appreciate this as they would love to hear more of the in-depth perspective from their interviewer’s side on why some of their answers weren’t as successful. One of the areas that interviewees often get stuck on is where specifically they can pull back or delve deeper into… and this depends on the type of questions they are asked and how they formulate their answers.
  • Job seekers will find it very helpful in their answers to questions where they lack confidence in themselves. They will most definitely use their interviewer’s ideas going forward in their job search. (Note to interviewer: Make sure your input is valuable and gives meaning to the job seeker!)
  • Obviously, mock interviews offer job seekers/interviewees this opportunity to practice with their interview skills. It is definitely going to be a wonderful/life changing experience for them to learn more about the things that they should be doing and not be doing in the actual interviews. When they have someone to practice with, it allows interviewers to catch things and point out mistakes that the job seekers did not catch or notice — and this is where their suggestions come in handy for the job seeker’s interview and resume. And this begins with the interviewer’s patience in answering all of the interviewee’s questions and concerns to set them up for success.
  • Many job seekers need that guidance and help with acing their actual interviews! To make it as informative and helpful as possible to the job seeker, interviewers should take their time to explain where the interviewee did well, where he/she needed to improve, and provide some examples/situations of how to handle certain interview questions.
  • Mock interviews allow job seekers to learn something and walk away with new knowledge and tools to use for their future interviews (for example, they may learn a new way of answering questions when it comes to identifying a problem and being able to articulate how they solved it). In a nutshell, job seekers will gain that valuable experience which felt “real”. More importantly, it should help the interviewee self-reflect. Not only does it help improve the way the interviewees answer questions or ask questions, however it will allow the interviewer to provide excellent critique of their resumes and body language, as well as tone. This will certainly help job seekers with future prospects, boost their confidence/speech as it will allow them to prepare more professionally.

How do you know when you are in good shape to make a case for your candidacy with employers?

  • You’re thoughtful and well spoken about your experiences and skills.
  • You’re creative and solution-oriented and offered a great example of such an instance.
  • You’re succinct and articulate in framing your experiences.
  • You prepared a number of stories and situations from your previous experience to concisely demonstrate skills and capabilities that the interviewers will be looking for.
    • You developed a strong pitch outlining how your experiences and strengths match the role’s job description.
  • You did a wonderful job in walking through your past work experiences in showing concrete and numeric examples of how you succeeded by training your storytelling muscle, as well as getting into the nitty-gritty of your projects.
  • You focused not only on your soft skills, but you strongly infused your responses for your hard skills/technical abilities.
  • You discussed about your strengths and weaknesses.

Suggestions on how to be more ready and how you can improve:

  • When describing these scenarios to your interviewer during the mock interview, you could definitely insert just a touch of levity to the story so that it would resonate that much more with the prospective audience.
  • If applicable, you can emphasize your past leadership experiences more, where you have led teams. This is a hard to come by skill and you have one or more instances that you can speak to. Be more assertive in announcing this experience. If you add more humility, you could advocate more for yourself by calling this out. You can also highlight your listening skills as having developed when you were leading teams, but also highlight that team leadership.
  • When providing examples from your past experience/s, you should outline the challenge or problem that you have faced, and then key levers that you used to resolve it. This framework will help the interviewer understand the situation from the outset and ensure the main points are lost in the story.
    • With more preparation, you can select examples that better demonstrate the challenges that you have previously faced and how you overcame them.
      • For example, managing deadlines. This example can be shaped to show the actions that you implemented and how you established visual tracking of work to confirm on time completion rather than focusing on frustration at missed deadlines.
  • Show that confidence when providing examples of your experiences. You can practice to be more confident, and show that — that you own your attractive skill set to prospective employers.
    • An example can be, how you conducted data analysis. Expand on it by highlighting your achievements and accomplishments, and not just mentioning what you did.
    • Sometimes job seekers may dilute these examples or apologize to their interviewer for lack of complexity, however you should remain confident in your experiences and present them as such.
  • You may have great experiences and past roles that position you well for upcoming interviews, but you will need to refine the way you deliver the examples to better demonstrate why you are the best candidate for the role.
    • Example: You may have experience on building pages during your tenure at Deloitte, but this example can be enhanced to demonstrate your executive communication development and experience, your ability to summarize complex issues as well as outcomes from your analysis and modeling.
  • Using the STAR Method could help you build your base and hit home on the results of your past work experiences/projects.
    • Tying this in with the concrete and numerical examples into your responses for the behavioral questions, could really drive home your skills and successes.

How To Land a Job at Spectrum and How The Process Works

Have you been laid off, permanently furloughed or looking to pivot into a new career in 2020? You may want to consider a career in cable because Spectrum is always looking to building a bright future in spite of change. They build it with their products and services, however they can’t build them unless they have people like you.

Below are Q&A’s that a recruiter has answered on behalf of the job seekers.

  1. Suppose you come in as a Customer Service Representative, with minimal experience from at least 6 months to 1 year. If you are looking to go into another department, do you offer training for that?
    In fact, the customer service job posting only says you need 6 months of experience working with customers. It didn’t have to be from a call center and you don’t need to have a tech background. Once you go onboard, and generally after 6 months you go on an internal career progression.
    There will be courses that you are required to take to move up. For example, in customer service – there are 4 levels of customer service. During your tenure, you do get merit increases but your bigger jumps in pay come as you complete the industry courses that we pay for and have you assigned to, so it’s really up to you where you go.
    The key here is, once you get to Customer Service Level 4, that’s where you can start applying for let’s say a Floor Coach — which is lower than a Supervisor or you can decide whether you want to move over to the Quality Assurance Department, another department — but those are not internal progression roles. So for folks that are in the Customer Service Level 2 for two years, the company doesn’t prevent you from applying for a Supervisor — but in many cases, those who applied for the role, have already completed Customer Service Level 4, they’ve finished all their courses, and they’ve already moved over to Quality Assurance or something like that … so your internal competition tends to be as strong as you coming in externally, because you are competing with everybody who has the same and higher skills.
  2. What percentage of Spectrum jobs require a college degree?
    I will not be able to give you a specific percentage however, I’ve went through the number of departments I’ve been in — Sales, Customer Service, IT, Engineering, Field Operations, etc., but in all of those I can only recall where it’s a Manager or Director role where a degree is required.
    Most of the other departments will say that they prefer an Associate’s or Higher, except for the Entry-Level roles. In their case, they prefer a GED or higher.
    But remember, “prefer” doesn’t mean you can get the role without it because they will appear on every job you look on the website. It will either say “A degree is required” OR “With a degree OR equivalent experience”.
    By enlarge, most people aren’t bringing in a degree when it’s lower than a manager or director. They’re bringing some technical certifications with them, they’re bringing a high school diploma/some college, because we are focused to train you ourselves. We’ve got so many courses that we want you to take, that the department offers. You’ll be trained to become an industry expert sometime within the first 5 years.
  3. Does the Spectrum Careers page indicate the salary range?
    No they don’t. However, I suggest that you check O*NET OnLine because Spectrum is a federal contractor and our jobs are linked to that website. So if you see a job title, let’s say 70,000 technicians and you see that their average salary is $30,000 a year. It gives you an idea.
  4. I come from a Graphic Design background and I want to go into a career change — possibly heading towards becoming a future technician? Are there any trainings that Spectrum offers?
    Yes and no. If you’re going for a different career, there’s going to be some minimum qualifications there. You will hear that you can create a Functional Resume that focuses on your career skills as opposed as to where you work.
    Look at the job description as it’s posted and you’ll see all the skills on that job description that you know that you can do.
    Once you craft that resume, you can show those skills and how long you’ve used them. And your work history will be on the bottom.
    Once you upload that resume, the recruiter will go through that folder and the system will flag you (to have your resume looked at) because you have the skills that the job has posted. That is how you get your foot in the door, I’ll be straightforward as a recruiter; we are required to look at every single resume. We have to interview those who are the most qualified first.
    Once you have those crossover skills that you have listed on your resume, it will increase your chances of getting noticed and that phone call for the interview since you are showing them that you can bring that talent, those skills, those tools to the table.
    You will then fall into the range of 1-100 of being the most qualified because you are still competing with how many people applied to that position — how much experience and skills they have. There’s a little bit of luck in terms of changing roles as well.
  5. Are there any trading schools for skills training related to what Spectrum is looking for in Field Tech? For example, if I want to become a low voltage technician?
    Absolutely. Thankfully, there is the Workforce Investment Act that is funneled through the U.S. Department of Labor and the Workforce 1 stations where you can get training for those specific skills. You are capitalizing on what the federal government has already put in place.
    So when we post a job for a technician, I’m going to be looking for someone who has about 6 months of technical experience where we typically find folks in that minimum range who graduated from APEX Technical School. Let me be specific. So a person who has graduated with a certification in low voltage from APEX Technical which is a 900 hour course, they may come in as Tech Level 1 if they have no other technical experience. But they are still considered because they have the minimum experience. So we interview that person. Again, don’t forget — it depends how many jobs that are there and how many people that applied at the same time.
    But I am the one who usually call those candidates myself — to bring folks in from Tech Level 1 so by the time they are in Tech Level 5, we train them up from the beginning. Generally, it would be $17.50 for this role.
    However, if a person graduates with their Network+ certification, that’s going to start at $26.50 since they will come in as Tech Level 4. Now, you would have made a difference of starting at $17.50 an hour to $26.50 an hour — just by doing that on your own. We also pay for the courses. However, if you paid for them yourself you will now just start at a higher level.
  6. If I do not have any experience. Will any trade school experience be credited? Are low voltage cable installer courses helpful?
    APEX Technical, Comptia Network+, Comptia A+ Certifications, NEW (Non-Traditional Employment for Women), BICSI  – are all certificate programs / providers we like to interview for the entry-level Field Tech.   They will come in with only their Technical training cert between $17-$26.50 (depending on several variables).
    Workforce Investment Act will pay for many of the training programs on your behalf through a Workforce 1 Center and their “training voucher” program. Stop by your WF1 office for details.
  7. How much of a hindrance would something like a very long period of unemployment be in getting hired? No one would hire me because I have been unemployed for a while and my unemployment just keeps getting longer and longer because of this. It’s a vicious cycle.
    It is, and I understand that 100 percent. Good thing I will tell here is, that answer will vary depending on what company you go to – but as of 2013, you might see on our website – that we do not discriminate against anyone based on their employment history.
    Now, it’s not uncommon for people to be a Director and they’re applying for an entry-level role. Many employers will say they would be overqualified. However, Spectrum doesn’t do that.
    Some of them who are out of the workforce for 4 or 5 years, many employers would say they are unreliable. Spectrum doesn’t do that. We only go based on the job description and your qualifications.
    So if you apply for something within Spectrum that you’ve done or did in the past, you will get a call. You just have to be ready to perform and bring up those skills in you. You wouldn’t get declined based on your length of unemployment. You will get the offer or not, based on how you perform on the interview.
  8. I saw a Customer Service position in a Spectrum store. Are they salary based or just commission based?
    The Retail Store / Cable Store rep has both part time openings and full time openings.  There are two types of roles.
    One is a Customer Experience Rep – that will be the title when it’s posted. It’s entry level and is wage based. No sales. You might also see it posted from time to time as a “store greeter”.
    The Retail Store Rep is the other (so titled; in some areas of the country its called simply “Cable Store Rep”. NYC its called “Retail Store Rep”. This is also hourly wage. No upselling is a requirement for the role, however, should you upsell and close the sale, you would get commission on the upsell. So, in this case it’s “base + Commission” in practice, but technically, its just hourly wage.
  9. Will AI automation take over all customer service jobs? I always prefer people to people.
    Great question! And your suggest of preferring “people to people” indicates there will be in person service reps for the foreseeable future for us.  
    Remember, Spectrum needs customers to be able to connect with their services and with the company in a way that best benefits the customer experience.
    A number for customers are not tech savvy and still mail letters at the post office, and some are “customer service savvy” and would rather not wait in line for a chat or a phone call, so its easier for them to just go into the store, since they know that will be the solution to their problem anyway. And some are very Tech saavy, and would not want to speak with anyone in person, or via phone – they get their need met via chat only.
    So for now, Spectrum Stores and store associates are an important part of the Charter organization. Additionally, we have the Customer Help Desk who uses both phone and Chat to manage customer needs.
    Spectrum Store employees help the Sales & Marketing organization drive sales, retain customers and provide personal interaction and knowledge through exceptional customer service. With more than 3,500 retail employees and nearly 700 stores nationwide, Charter has more locations than many top retailers. To find a Spectrum Store near you, click here. You can also find some details on Cable Store Reps.
    That said, while Call Center, and Cable Stores and the in-person experience are an essential customer link for us right now, as noted in the presentation, the future changes due to changes in consumer tastes and interests.  For sure we will anticipate the change, and adapt to it as need dictates in order to relevant.
  10. Will they train and field technical without any background experience?
    It’s not out of the question; and it has been done frequently in the past. However, the key factor here is how many spots do we have open when you apply.
    Let’s say we have 100 Field Tech spots available. We fill 80 of them with people with some experience.  If we still have open spots and no new candidates with experience apply, then, the hiring managers start to look at “cross-over skills”… that is what OTHER skills do you bring as shown on your resume? Does your resume show a history of consistently sticking to your goals; do you stay on jobs for a long time or short; during the interview, did you come across as teachable and focused on success, or “just need a job” attitude.
    So, technically, the answer is YES, but in practice, usually we don’t post so many Techs spots that we run out of candidates with “some” experience.
  11. What if someone has over 20 years experience in customer service not call center experience?
    That’s a win-win for us – depends how it works for you.
    The customer Service – Video Repair rep is hourly pay; no commission or sales.  It currently pays $20/hr.
    If you have 20+ years in customer service, customer account management, resolving customer concerns.  You’ll do well on the interview.
    But, there is a computerized assessment you would have to first pass to get the interview.  The test is designed to answer the question, “Has this applicant the aptitude and / or experience to work in a call center?”
    If you’ve worked in a call center (like 311, Geico, Telemarketing, Survey Center), for certain you’ll pass the assessment based on your experience alone – but if you’ve never worked in a call center but have the aptitude for it, you’ll still pass the assessment. But, if that really just isn’t your thing, for sure you wouldn’t pass the assessment – then, the system will notify you your application will not be moved forward.
    If all of those factors work for you, then, you should give it a try and apply.
  12. Is Spectrum currently hiring for interns in marketing/communications? If so, how much training is provided to assist new hires?
    Yes and no.
    We have an annual internship program across the country.  The internships post the first week of February, and interns are selected for the summer internship by May.  They start their paid internships in June and continue until the middle of august.  This year’s internship ended on Friday, August 14th, 2020.  We did have Marketing interns this year.
    However, how the program works, is, in December, each department that WANTS to have an intern will submit the request for an intern at that time (to ensure it gets costed into the budget for the next year.)
    Then, when budget review is complete, those departments whose budget allowed for an intern will then send a request to the Talent Acquisition department to secure an intern for the program.
    So, while its very usual to have Marketing interns each year, it’s not ALWAYS the case, and we don’t actually know yet what departments will request interns. So, best bet is to wait till February, then visit the website and search for the word INTERN. All internship roles will be posted. Apply to the one you meet the job requirement.  (Generally, there is a lot of competition because very little experience is required – instead they are looking at educational goals, volunteer experiences, what you major currently is in school… that sort of thing. Obviously having some prior experience related to the Major will be a plus).
    The only other option is Spectrum Networks usually has a 1 year internship. But, its not paid. You work in the Broadcast media division for 1 year as an apprentice – kind of, I should say. Then, a job full time job is offered to you after you graduate in the department you’ve been working in. It’s a lot of work, and not everyone’s cup of tea. But, it can work for the right person. It will also post usually in February when they have it.
    In either case, though, training is part of the internship – its designed to give you real work experience in a role / department related to your degree.
  13. What the hourly rate are for Customer Service Representative? How many hours per can you work? What are times for work schedule?
    If you apply to the NYC locations for example, the CSR is $18.50/hr base pay + $0.75 for Night Differential base on shift
    Current Training Schedule Six (6) weeks
    100% attendance mandatory
    TUESDAY – SATURDAY 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
    After Training Work Shift: 1:00 pm – 10:00 pm (anticipate having this shift for at least 6 months or more before having a chance to change shifts.) | (Two consecutive weekdays off, will be required to work Saturday & Sunday as part of the work schedule and most holidays)
    Normally a 40 hr work week; but overtime is available at times. Generally, floor leadership will seek volunteers for overtime and Exceptional Employees sign themselves up for it.
  14. How should I apply & what are recruiters exactly looking for on resume or cover letter?
    Apply here: General job applications are found at the website :   Once they apply, they can let you and I know, and I’ll take a look and offer advice or make connections deemed appropriate.
    In general, a good resume must have : 1) Contact Section 2) Chronological Experience Section (covering at least the last 7 years), and 3) Education / Additional Skills, Certifications section

a.       I advise to read the job description first. Each job will have a section that shows “required qualifications/skills” and possibly a “preferred qualifications” section as well.

b.       The Resume MUST list how your job experience matched those hiring manager requested skills and experiences.  (other sections will include education and training as well.)

c.       Remember to list accomplishments as well on your resume – they should tell us

                                                               i.      What you did

                                                             ii.      How well you did it

                                                           iii.      Its impact on the business / project

So, the resume is the first chance the hiring manager gets to see if you can perform the duties of the role.  Use it as your marketing tool to highlight how you’ve done what they’re requesting.

The MTA Is Expecting To Lay Off Thousands of Workers and Cutting Services in Mid-December

Image via Pinterest

Around mid-March when the NYC lockdown happened due to the highest cases, subway riders have descended rapidly to over 90 percent. As the phases slowly reopened in the recent months, subway riders still remained below 70 percent compared to pre-pandemic. Road traffic, including the tunnel and bridges have plummeted significantly throughout the months.

MTA service reduction and layoffs are all dependent on the federal government’s funding and the economic activity across the New York County. The MTA is expected to lay off at least more than 9000 workers if they do not receive any significant amount of funding because they need $12 billion in federal emergency funds to keep the system running as is.

According to Fox5, NBC (Source 1) and (Source 2), and CBS, below are the statistics:

  • “MTA officials have asked Congress to cough up $12 billion in federal aid by the end of 2021 to stay afloat.”
    • “The MTA has been asking for a bailout from the federal government. It did receive $4 billion in stimulus funds, but for the additional $12 billion to be approved it would likely need to pass through the Senate.”
  • “Some of the other cuts will reportedly include laying off more than 8,200 workers on subway and buses… and more than 1,100 Metro-North and LIRR employees.”
  • “Some weekend service would be slashed entirely while weekday train schedules would be cut by about 40%.”
  • “Fare hikes are also a possibility. In August, transit officials said a Metro-Card swipe could go up from $2.75 to $3.75.”
  • “The MTA received $4 billion from the federal government earlier this year but has asked for an additional $12 billion. It is uncertain whether additional money for transit assistance will be included in future COVID-19 stimulus bills.”
  • “Motorists and mass transit riders in New York are already facing fare and toll increases next year. Tolls and fares are planned to increase 4 percent in both years, New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said earlier this month.”
    • “The board is considering a number of options to raise fares on buses, subways, the LIRR and Metro-North by 4%. Tolls could go up as much as 8% or $6.70.”
    • “The projected fare and toll increases would raise $145 million in 2021 and rise to $650 million by 2024, according to the report.”
  • “Even if normal ridership returns by 2023, the MTA still projects budget deficits totaling more than $19 billion through 2024, according to DiNapoli’s report. Included in that is a projected $6.3 billion deficit in 2021, which would be more than 50 percent of total revenues. The report called the gaps ‘historic in nature.'”
  • “‘Increased cleaning and disinfecting of the subway, rail and bus systems — which has included the rare step of closing subways overnight — is costing the MTA about $1 billion in unplanned expenses,’ DiNapoli said. He didn’t have an estimate for how much the MTA is saving by the overnight closures, but said any savings are likely being offset by the costs of cleaning.”

For Retail Employees: How To Appreciate Your New Job During COVID-19

There are 25 million Americans unemployed to this day. On the other hand, 12 million Americans are set to lose unemployment on late December 2020. There are tough days for folks ahead of time.

For those who just secured a new job during COVID-19, many prefer working full-time rather than part-time because they want to make a decent amount of income to pay off their bills, rent, mortgage, etc.

If you are a new hire for retail employers like CVS, Duane Reade, Starbucks, TJ Maxx, Wholefoods or Target, you may be wondering why you are only getting part-time hours (20 hours per week) when you thought that it would be a full-time schedule (because you applied for a Full-Time position), and at a minimum wage of $15 per hour.

Instead of being disappointed that you are only a part-time employee or thinking about quitting to look for another full-time job, you want to take this moment to appreciate the job that you have because many individuals are laid off with no jobs, individuals are being ghosted by recruiters after 10 interviews and there are individuals that are on the verge of homelessness, while they are still struggling to find jobs.

First, unfortunately Sales Associates and Team Members always start off as part-time employees (especially if it isn’t during the holiday season) with the opportunity for periodic full-time hours or promotion to full-time employees based on performance. On top of that, you must understand that during this unprecedented time — many employee hours and pay are being cut as well.

In the first month, sometimes new hires work less than 20 hours because supervisors are still trying to place them into the existing schedule.

Image via CB4 Spotlight

Second, Black Friday and Christmas is right around the corner which means that the holidays are upon us. Therefore, it is suspected that most staff will be getting more hours over the coming weeks so long as business picks up for the retailer.

Lastly, it is recommended that you should bring this goal up with your Team Lead, Department Supervisor or the Captain/Store Manager. You could start by stating that you are enjoying the work, happy to be part of the team, and interested in additional responsibilities. You can then follow up with questions such as:

  • “Can I cover or pick up additional shifts?”
    • Picking up shifts from co-workers requires and allows you to develop relationships at work.
  • “I noticed that X can be solved with Y, can I take on that project with additional hours?”
    • Asking supervisors at the end of a shift if they need support tomorrow or the next day shows that you are taking ownership and asking them to give you the opportunity to make smart decisions on your own instead of relying on them.
  • “I noticed that X shift is one that is difficult to schedule, can I step up and add that to my workload?”
    • Providing your phone number to a scheduling supervisor, letting them know that you are available to pick up shifts will tell them that you have an open schedule.

It is all about open communication and relationship building. Increased trust and dependability leads to more hours.

The Hiring Process/Timeline on the NYC Real Estate Industry

Zoé Kellerhals-Madussi, the President of Sales and Marketing at LG Fairmont, was raised and educated in France, Switzerland, Italy and the United States, lending a multi-cultural and linguistic perspective to her client skills. With a degree in corporate communications and a specialization in luxury marketing, Zoé previously worked in marketing high end commercial real estate.

Leah Azizian, the Head of Business Development & Project Feasibility at the Developments Division at LG Fairmont, has recently launched a podcast called, “Real Estate Untapped” which is available on Spotify and Apple, featuring both conversations with other people both in and out of the real estate industry.

This podcast is definitely a humbling experience for those who are thinking about going into the real estate field or would want to learn more and her first quick episode speaks about why Leah joined the industry and what real estate means to her.

Below, I have interviewed
LEFT: Leah Azizian (Head of Business Development & Project Feasibility at the Developments Division at LG Fairmont)
RIGHT: Zoé Kellerhals-Madussi (President of Sales & Marketing at LG Fairmont)
to get their input regarding the hiring process/timeline

Please note that Leah is providing insight to prospective agents, or those seeking to join the industry, while Zoé is providing insight from the brokerage’s perspective.

  • For someone who is unsure about where to begin in real estate, what would your advice be for him/her? 
    • Leah — I’ve noticed over time that some people are interested in achieving a particular role (for example: becoming a developer, or real estate attorney), but still consider obtaining a real estate license first and becoming an agent in order to understand the fundamentals. While I can understand the thought process behind this, I usually advise against this. I believe that if you have a certain vision in mind, it’s best to connect with people who hold the position closest to what you are seeking. This way you’ll get the most clarity as to whether the vision you have for yourself is worth following through with.
  • For someone who is interested in becoming a real estate sales agent, how do they begin this process?
    • Leah — Once you have obtained your license, it’s time to choose a brokerage to associate yourself with. I generally advise to begin speaking with different brokers and/or brokerages before you officially obtain your license in order to get the wheel rolling. Make sure you take the time in every meeting to ask the right questions to understand the brokerage’s vision, team culture, and what’s expected of you. You can find a list of important questions here.
  • Is there room for advancement/professional growth?
    • Leah — Real estate agents by nature are independent contractors, and essentially work for themselves. So “professional growth” is defined as something else in the real estate field. It generally correlates more directly to personal career growth, than growth within the company. This can be seen with the type of clients you work with (for ex: progressing a higher end clientele), or the type of projects you choose to work on. A fair share of agents also choose to advance their career by partnering with the right agent or broker to establish a team together, and produce greater sales volume. However, depending on the brokerage you associate yourself with, there may be room for you to advance in helping the brokerage grow as a whole; this is usually most prevalent amongst younger firms that are still expanding.
  • Is training provided for an unlicensed realtor?
    • Leah — Generally, brokerages won’t associate you into their firm or provide training until you’re licensed. Once you are licensed though, it’s good to keep in mind that the level of training that each brokerage provides differs. Some will hold the hands of beginning agents more and provide extensive hours of training, while others will keep it to the basic necessities and encourage you to learn through experience. 
  • What kind of attitude would an ideal candidate possess? 
    • Zoé — At LG Fairmont, we seek a few attributes when hiring agents. Because the barrier of entry is so low in this industry, it is difficult to figure out who could be a good candidate based on their resume. Rather, character weighs in strongly. Because we are a small group, it is important that any new member is someone who we see will not only fit in but be an asset to the firm. The personality trait we seek is an entrepreneurial mindset. If you are someone who is willing to get your feet wet and do what it takes to become successful, you will fit in properly. Curiosity also goes hand in hand with that. Because real estate agents are independent contractors, they must be capable of asking questions at all times to learn the most possible. If you are not curious and you are not a go-getter, you will not be successful in this industry. 
  • What are the challenges that they will face in the industry?
    • Zoé — The biggest challenge in this industry is the lack of stability. There are constant ups and downs. Mostly, you will do this on your own. No matter what firm you join, if you don’t understand the importance of proactively seeking a circle of allies, you will be on your own. The lack of stability will make you a very strong person but it will also create moments where you need to step out and breathe. I believe one of the most important roles I provide as President of Sales and Marketing is to consistently find better ways to tackle that lack of stability. That is the biggest role of a brokerage: to tackle the instability and create a support system that will be reflected in your pipeline. The busier you are, the more stability you create.
  • What sets LG Fairmont apart?
    • Zoé — Let’s be honest: every brokerage offers similar services. Many times, clients believe that because you are an agent from a firm they recognize, the agent will be better. This is the power of marketing. It does not reflect the truth though. Agents that do not offer great services can be found anywhere. Fantastic agents can also be found across the industry. As I mentioned before, what we are constantly seeking to improve at LG Fairmont is how to help agents create stability and successful careers. This includes leads, a fair and open split system, a management team that is always there to help, marketing, and a boutique atmosphere. We also do not believe in upfront costs for agents so you do not pay a desk fee with us. 
  • Real estate agents have to put on multiple hats. How do they get all of this work done?
    • Leah — Being an independent contractor provides you with a certain liberty that other career paths don’t, but it can be easy to get caught up in the moment and work on tasks that either won’t monetize well or provide you with long term value. It’s important to train yourself to stay as organized as possible, and prioritize the tasks that align most with the goals you are aiming to achieve. I usually pause throughout the day and ask myself whether I am working on the tasks that currently matter most. 
  • How are real estate agents paid?
    • Leah — Real estate agents get paid through commission only, that is earned upon closed deals. 
  • How do you land your first client? And continue to build that network?
    • Leah — You can land your first client through anywhere and everywhere. Real estate is a people’s business, built on trust. You don’t need an extensive network to land your first client. All it takes is one person who you know and trust, to refer you to someone looking for a home. You continue to build your network by focusing on building wholesome relationships with others. If your focus is on meeting others, and building relationships, the clients will follow. 

A New Wave of Coronavirus Means A New Round of Layoffs

Image via CSISMag

The U.S. economy has lost at least 15% of jobs or more in every sector/industry. While many jobs are slowly picking back up, no industry has fully recovered yet. Most white-collar jobs (jobs that are professional, performed in an office or administrative setting) have transitioned to working from home, however blue-collar jobs (jobs that require manual labor; skilled or unskilled) have remained to be essential, so therefore they need to be on site. You can read more about the difference of white-collar jobs vs. blue-collar jobs here.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, below shows the percentage of jobs in each industry that were cut and the percentage of job cuts that recovered as of November 2020.

Industry% of jobs in the industry that were cut% of job cuts that has recovered
Administrative and Waste Services17.4941.01
Air Transportation15.28-36.88
Amusement, Gambling & Recreation58.0651.05
Arts, Entertainment & Recreation53.7740.13
Clothing & Accessories Stores61.8359.24
Dentist Offices56.293.24
Department Stores24.8293.31
Film & Sound Recording Industries51.718.61
Financial Activities3.1541.94
Food & Drinking Places49.3961.85
Furniture & Home Furnishing Stores46.1273.65
Leisure & Hospitality49.3253.84
Museums & Historical Sites28.487.21
Professional & Technical Services5.7842.85
Retail Trade15.2179.74
Scenic & Sightseeing Transportation65.9438.02
Social Assistance16.2945.81
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, November 2020

With more job cuts and layoffs, there will be less job postings and this will impact the way that employers reassess and reevaluate their plans as they move forward. With the new wave of Coronavirus hitting this winter, many sectors and industries will be facing job deficits due to low demand.

The rate of the quitting is not unusually low despite the high unemployment rate and the pandemic. The impact of this downturn is inconsistent because some folks have no job prospects, while other folks are constantly finding opportunities. According to CSISMag, a staggering 20.7 million jobs were lost in April, marking the steepest drop in employment on record. Employers have since restored over 9 million of these jobs, but the ongoing pandemic may undercut this partial rebound.

There are some folks who have received one or multiple offers and voluntarily changed jobs during the lock down, while there are other folks who are very skilled and has talent, as well remaining diligent throughout their job search — can’t even get a slice of that opportunity; particularly those who are recent graduates, those with disabilities, illnesses, ageism or other personal reasons like taking care of children or a family member. It has become extremely difficult for folks who have extensive experience and are heads of households who need living wages. So, the longer that they remain unemployed, the harder they will be seen as employable, due to the harsh reality that they are letting those skills atrophy.

Because of the job deficits that these companies are facing, some promote internally or bring on a new external hire due to the fears of budgets up in the air. There are also a handful that are simply willing to hire entry-level workers at low wages to hedge their stakes against a declining economy.

Aside from employee layoffs, there are also many individuals leaving their jobs due to big cuts in their hours — affecting their pay. They want to find a job that is equal or slightly close to what they were making before the pandemic, however it is not easy. This leaves the labor market with more job seekers than job openings. In order for one to keep their unemployment insurance, they have to constantly apply to many jobs per week — which makes it very strenuous for individuals needing a job to finding one quickly or even at all.

NACE’s Career Readiness Tips: How To Prepare Yourself To Be More Career Ready

Today’s post will consist of very useful career readiness resources and tips from the National Association of Colleges and Employers because as I was reading their resource materials, I can similarly relate to the advice I have given job seekers.

Image via Center For Career and Experiential Education

According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) in partnership with University of North Carolina’s Career Services Center, there are 8 key competencies that every job seeker should possess as they are seeking employment:

Critical Thinking / Problem Solving and Creativity
☻ Exercises sound reasoning to analyze issues, make decisions and overcome problems
☻ Able to obtain, interpret, and use knowledge, facts, and data in this process
☻ Demonstrates originality and inventiveness

Oral and Written Communications
☻ Articulates thoughts and ideas clearly and effectively in written and oral forms to persons inside and outside of the organization
☻ Possesses public speaking skills
☻ Able to express ideas to others
☻ Writes/edits effectively and clearly (e.g. memos, letters, and complex technical reports)

☻ Builds collaborative relationships with colleagues and customers representing diverse cultures, races,ages, genders, religions, lifestyles, and viewpoints
☻ Able to work within a team structure
☻ Can negotiate and manage conflict

Digital Technology/Technical Application
☻ Leverages existing digital technologies ethically and efficiently to solve problems, complete tasks, and accomplish goals
☻ Demonstrates effective adaptability to new and emerging technologies

☻ Leverages the strengths of others to achieve common goals
☻ Uses interpersonal skills to coach and develop others
☻ Able to assess and manage his/her emotions and those of others
☻ Use empathetic skills to guide and motivate
☻ Organizes, prioritizes, and delegates work

Professionalism and Work Ethic
☻ Demonstrates personal accountability and effective work habits (e.g. punctuality, working productively with others,and time workload management, and understand the impact of non-verbal communication on professional work image.)
☻ Demonstrates integrity and ethical behavior, acts responsibly with the interests of the larger community in mind
☻ Able to learn from his/her mistakes

Career Management
☻ Articulates personal skills, strengths, knowledge, and experiences relevant to the position desired and career goals
☻ Identifies areas necessary for professional growth
☻ Able to navigate and explore job options, understands
☻ Takes the steps necessary to pursue opportunities
☻ Understands how to self-advocate for opportunities in the workplace

Global Perspective/Intercultural Fluency
☻ Values, respects, and learns from diverse cultures, races, ages, genders, sexual orientations, and religions
☻ Demonstrates openness, inclusiveness, sensitivity and the ability to interact respectfully with all people and understand individuals’ differences

The Remote Work World For The Younger Generations

Image via Pinterest

Now that working from home is a safety measure for the nation, this is a good time to scale tools, resources and people. It is an opportunity to have good, quality work done versus policing when and where. Of course, this cannot be done in all sectors/industries but wherever possible, it should be considered.

This is the time to figure out how everyone, not just future generations but also older generations, experienced and inexperienced can thrive in this rapidly changing labor market. The economy is becoming flatter and stagnant, so that will account for slower growth in many organizations.

It is immensely challenging for new hires and job seekers to make connections, regardless of age. And this especially applies to folks who are left with increased childcare responsibilities due to COVID-19 mandated school closures. With this new structure of a global online presence, everything has to be scheduled and pre-planned, including opportunities needed to socialize.

Now, how will this affect the Generation Z? Young individuals typically like to socialize and enjoy being around other individuals. However, the remote learning is causing a massive isolation — leaving them feeling stranded and lost with no plans or road map to guide them. We are losing teenagers to increased depression and suicidal rates as this is affecting their mental health.

Generally, it is hard to fathom a majority of individuals at age, to thrive in the “new normal”. We are humans that are wired for connecting/interacting face-to-face. Young individuals are grown into a highly connected and social interactive environment. The fully shifted remote work and learning can create a regimented, limiting experience for all. Feeling less connected may drive self-initiative and self reliance further and faster.

However in a way, Generation Z’s are able to thrive during this time with their digital literacy as they have grown up surrounded by technology which shows that they are capable of and more equipped for remote work, networking and learning.

For 2020 graduates — they might be able to handle this new normal of remote and digital based working, but many do not have jobs yet and are still struggling to find them. But why? Remote work can present so many opportunities and open up roles for those who do not need to be locate in that specific region to work there. However, it seems that many employers are still hiring based on a candidate’s competencies, abilities and talents rather than where they are physically located. This poses a disadvantage for recent grads with limited to no experience, since this limits their options.

A Gen Z student (’97) who has recently graduated from Hunter College, City University of New York on May 2020 says, “Upon my graduation, I recently enrolled into this program called COOP in which it is geared toward finding employment for people, and I have recognized that it is more difficult now to find a job than it might have been before. A lot of places have let their employees go, and/or started hiring freezes as well as promotional freezes. Other than that, you also have the consequence of having to do everything from home and I don’t personally live in the most ideal environment for working from home, as I imagine that this is the same for many others too.”

He argues that this remote work option is affecting him and individuals his age because they are hiring selectively based on experience/skills. “A lot of organizations will recognize that they don’t actually need as much office space as they currently have, so many places will be inclined to keep the WFH model or at least offer it as an alternative. This means you can apply to more jobs now than you might have been able to before since you won’t be limited geographically. However, this also creates more competition for every job seeker out there because we want to take this opportunity to be challenged and learn something new — but the job descriptions say otherwise. It seems like they do not want to welcome this opportunity to recent grads like us.”

The job search process has been increasingly overwhelming and stressful for young generations, however don’t lose motivation, or quit. Job seekers often give up easily. Remember why you started in the first place. Your purpose in life is to find your purpose. Stay patient and trust the journey that you’re taking. You will eventually get a job.

Your age doesn’t matter. It’s your energy and determination.

Cordia Harrington, Founder and CEO of The Bakery Cos

Going forward, employers need to implement new ways to reduce the risk of digital overwhelm and effective onboarding for new hires. They should provide a framework for remote work to help the younger generations adapt to the environment. This has to be taught instead of expecting them to find their own rhythm and process — and to do this, the employer needs to invest in those supportive tools, channels and a structured plan in place to enhance collaboration and communication.

Finding Purpose Outside of Work

Image via General & Medical

Work-life balance is essential for many employers in ensuring that their employees do their best work and live more optimistic lives. Every employee wants to work for an employer that shares the same values as them, but they also want to work for employers who believe in taking care of their employees first. Some employers offer benefits such as dedicated ‘decompress’ time, remote working arrangement, summer time off, family days and parental leave, shift rotations between team members, and flex time. However, not all employers offer those. So we must know how to balance our work and life.

If we forget the purpose that drives us outside the office, we can never fully leverage our strength in the office. Tapping into that energy can take you on an unexpected career track as well. We do more for our employers when we work strategically in terms of caring for the parts of ourselves that don’t always appear to be related to the work at hand.

For those who are working tirelessly, especially since many of us are working from home right now, do not forget this — you are not your job. You are not married to your job. This is where you ought to find purpose outside of the work you do. Set boundaries for yourself so that you can freely give to others. Tap into your gifts, talents and passions. Everyone have hobbies that make the world a better place. Life is like an onion that has many layers. We are all multi-dimensional and find purpose, big and small in different ways.

This COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated this to many of us — that our worth is not attached to a title, a company or a building. We must learn that our life is multifaceted and evolving at each moment. We are more than work. The goal is a purpose driven life where you have to find the right balance, and this includes family/friends, travel, education, experiences, careers, etc.

There are folks who lose themselves and get trapped by a salary, and not many get to use the gifts that they have. Not everyone has that luxury of working in a field that they are passionate about. Most individuals work in jobs that they don’t get pleasure or happiness out of.

And there are folks who begin to discover this purpose once they enjoy the work they do. If you love helping others, and let’s say your profession is in HR. If talent management, talent acquisition or recruiting allows you to do that, then it has enabled you to put this effect on the lives of those that you work with. You fall in love with those times where you feel that what you are doing is a reflection of the values you want to influence in the world. Finding true purpose is not often easy, but once found it is like a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Whether you are one of the two above, this serves as a reminder that it is important for all to zone out sometimes, take breather, catch up on self-care, travel and just do things where you do not have to worry about work all the time. “Maintaining a work-life balance is very important, not just for your physical and mental health but for productivity as well, both personally and professionally”, according to General & Medical. But at the same time, always find purpose and decide for yourself what place is the most inspiring to focus in the moment that you are in.

How The COVID-19 Pandemic Will Affect Millennial and Generation Z Job Seekers And What They Should Do

Image via Dribbble

Research has shown that the Millennial and Generation Z’s who have just graduated at the end of 2019, during 2020, or in the next coming years, will be facing high unemployment rates which can affect the U.S. economy in the long-run.

Image via Bloomberg

According to Bloomberg, economists say the longer that young people are forced to delay their careers, the worse their prospects will be in the future to hold a job, accumulate wealth, or even get married or start a family.

Long periods of unemployment, or working part-time gigs or temporarily in jobs outside their desired fields, can jeopardize young professionals’ future salary increases and opportunities for them to build key relationships.

For college students and recent graduates, choosing a major based on availability of jobs is a recipe for an unsatisfying life. Instead, search for something you truly enjoy, something you find exciting, and the job will come, in due time.

Image via Shutterstock

Some of you are thinking that graduating in this global health and economic crisis may have delayed your career growth, however it is definitely not a career death sentence. Take as much time as you need to chase your dreams! Everyone you know may be interested in finance, STEM, healthcare, etc. but follow your own roadmap because these paths are certainly not for everybody. It may take you a month, 6 months or 1 year after graduation to find a job amid the pandemic. Many companies have resumed their hiring and have pivoted new ways in doing so. In addition, a lot of companies are hiring workers to work from home as well, which can be a new way of reducing unemployment.

Advice and Tips For Recent Graduates

  • You should definitely continue to explore your interests, values and motivators if you did not spend as much time in the exploration process before your graduation. Through networking and pivoting, chances are you may find roles that weren’t even on your radar and; potential opportunities — that are even better than the ones that you have initially considered.
  • You want to actively connect on LinkedIn with everyone from your college community — students, classmates, recent graduates, professors, mentors, connections from your school internships, career advisors, and career centers! The best chance of success is typically from a referral.
    • Take full advantage of your college career center. Even though you have graduated, you are still part of their alumni network!
    • Take full advantage of employment centers/workforce providers that are located in your area!
      • The services that your college career center and workforce providers (non-profit based) offer are completely FREE in terms of resume critique, mock interviews, career advisement, mentorship, networking help, job placement assistance and referrals, and many more.
  • You want to actively connect on LinkedIn with your outside connections — former colleagues, friends, family members, neighbors! Set up virtual appointments on Zoom, Cisco Webex, Google Meet, Slack, and virtual happy hour, etc. You want to inform everyone that you are currently job searching and let them know what kinds of jobs you are looking for. They may know of someone who is hiring for what you are looking for and they may end up passing along a lead.
  • Do something different and take free courses that will get you out of your comfort zone. Whatever it is that you are doing, traveling, eating, cooking, working with animals/pets, people, your true passion unfolds.
    • If you can’t discover anything you like, you should consider volunteering although nobody likes to work for zero profit. At a time like this, putting your gifts, talents and skills to help a nonprofit organization really helps many folks figure out what their purposes are.
      • This will lead folks to reflect on their passions and realizing how this experience ignites them, as this is a way of connecting them to their future career paths. Not many think of this, however volunteer experience actually offers you the opportunity to lead, grow and evolve as an individual — whether it is impacting the lives of young people, helping the less fortunate or patients/elderly, will allow you to continue to pave your way forward.
      • Also, volunteer work opens many doors for you! There are individuals that I know who have volunteered throughout their whole life, which has led them into their current leadership roles.
  • Keep in mind that there are many companies that have IT, finance, project management, HR, marketing, public relations, etc. Just because the sector/industry for that position isn’t what you are ideally looking for, this is a good time to still apply to that potential employer. The point is to not overlook them!

We all know that 2020 is undoubtedly a financial and emotional struggle for many college graduates. Many students are struggling to find employment and has also lost their jobs due to the pandemic. This has increased financial stress for students who are paying bills; financially helping their parents/family; paying for their tuition (which resulted in 68% returning to their home, 22% staying off campus, 7% staying on campus, 3% went elsewhere), etc.

According to Student Loan Hero:

However, do not be afraid to ask for help. If you feel that you are struggling with food and housing insecurity, paying for online classes, paying your rent, there are many resources to help you. You may want to look into Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Unemployment Insurance and Emergency Financial Aid.

Additional Resources for NYC and U.S. Residents

  • If you live in the NYC area, there are free meals where meals can be picked up at all Meal Hubs 9:00am to 12:00pm, Monday through Friday. Meal Hubs will operate for children, families and adults.
  • If you live in the NYC area and you, or a friend or family member has a small business that has been impacted by COVID-19, they may want to seek assistance and guidance from NYC Small Business Services. You may apply for emergency loans, like the Paycheck Protection Program as well as requesting financing assistance.

The Pros and Cons of Permanently Working Remotely For Corporate/Tech Industries

Image via RescueTime

In this rapidly changing job market today, it seems that salaries are gravitating downwards due to the flexibility of allowing employees to work from home in the corporate world and tech industry. And with COVID-19 layoffs, this global pandemic has put downward pressure on pay.

Employees from software giants such as Microsoft, Facebook, Google and Twitter — were given the option to work freely from home forever, even when their offices open back up.

With this new Work From Home/Remote standard, employers have the freedom to hire from any geographic location that they desire to. This will heavily affect areas with high costs of living because they will not account for higher salaries. Basically, compensation will change drastically depending on where you live in the country as they will do regionally-based salaries. We can see that this is already impacting the tech industry, which will generate an approach to more supply because it opens up the competition significantly. In the long run, this method of compensation will drive down employee salaries. This will also result in mass migration because people will no longer be tied down to living where they work. If you think about it, working remotely versus going into an office will not only impact the salary, but also promotions and growth.

For example, companies in the Silicon Valley are lowering the salaries of employees based on where they relocate.

“Even a move within the state of California will result in lower pay: workers who decamp for San Diego or Los Angeles will take an 8% pay cut”, Bloomberg reports.

Business Insider

Many tech firms are cutting labor costs for employees who move to less expensive areas. This isn’t fair for other employees who get paid less for carrying the same job title and performing the same amount of work. This is where the cost of living brings out the factors for these companies. The factors of the economic principles of supply and demand come into play.

Pro #1. The employers that are incentivizing this “WFH permanently” option, are widening their talent pool within their area – which can be great for folks who are highly talented. So therefore, the ability for an employer to hire at a lower cost due to the larger talent pool might compress the wage for that particular position, but if it allows the candidate to apply and potentially earn that position at a salary that is higher than what’s available in their current geographic labor market, then their respective salary has increased. Let’s not forget that WFH is not a mandatory thing for everyone. This is optional as there is still people who still prefers to go to back to their workplace and cubicles.

Pro #2. WFH offers more flexibility. WFH if you want, come in if you want. As long as you get the work done, your company will benefit from happier employees, wider talent net, smaller buildings and so on. For some folks, they may have a dedicated office space in their home or studio where it makes them feel much more productive as it has given them greater freedom to have a healthier lifestyle with less stress, and to be able to take care of their children.

Pro #3. WFH also improves ecology and prevents the contamination of the spread that’s still going around. Yes, it is nice to have an opportunity to work from home as this reduces carbon footprint! This reduces time in the traffic as there will be less cars on the road, and you won’t have to feel dreadful about waking up early. Not having to commute or paying for a $20 lunch meal daily, saves you a lot. Working from home is a great idea for both employees and employers who can save on their biggest expense, which is real estate and payroll.

Pro #4. This is a big step to reduce unemployment. Think about certain populations who have been out of the workforce for so long. For example, there are individuals who have disabilities or chronic health issues that limit their work options. And individuals who had to take care of their children because they do not have anyone else to look after them. But they are ready to enter the working world again and are still in search of employment. If they have the skills to do so, all they need is to set up their dedicated work space and equipment at home. With an unemployment rate of 8.4%, there are far more potential workers who are available to bring their valuable assets to the right employer.

However, it is not possible to fully live without the face-to-face interactions. As the world and labor trends continue to change and adapt, this brings us to the cons.

Con #1. If employers are extending offers to anyone in the country versus the local area, the demand for talent may decrease. This is a huge disadvantage for job seekers that lack digital skills. Fewer and fewer opportunities are available to those lacking a baseline of technology access as well. Studies also show that for many employers, working from home from time to time will likely continue as the new normal once the pandemic subsides.

Con #2. This is something that nobody has ever thought about, but employers would need to consider the time zone difference if conference calls/team meetings/client calls are needed. This can result in burnouts since there is no micromanagement. So the key variable here is engagement, where employees should feel supported and valued even behind the screen. Leaders would need to be willing to invest in software and hardware to make it work and build realistic protocols and accountability measures to ensure the work is being done. And this would require change in the design of workflow, teams and functions, as well as clear communication of expectations.

Con #3. In the long run, this can negatively affect some of the younger generations who are beginning their careers as some are visual learners. If they do not get to interact with their team or colleagues, this can limit their development since they won’t have the opportunities to learn from others on a daily basis. We need the face-to-face interactions to stimulate our communication with both internal teams and with our clients.

Con #4. Many employees (support staff, office admin staff, security staff, transport staff, etc.) who can’t work from home will lose their employment. This goes for jobs in the hardest hit sectors (hospitality/retail) — they are becoming obsolete, such as administrative assistants, receptionists, sales associates, etc. And, what will happen to the office space once that is all gone?

Con #5. Concerns have also been raised about work/life balance — where working from home only works if your environment is adapted. In other words, not all folks live in a place that is suitable for working from home. For instance, not everyone will have access to good WiFi, office supplies, ink, technology, etc. How many companies are willing to cover for that? And if they do cover that, how are they going to pay for all of their employees? Stipends?

Con #6. Mental health. An employee’s health matters too to ensuring a productive workforce! If employees do not make time for their wellness, they will be forced to make time for their illness. It’s true. This is a hot topic that has been discussed since the beginning of the lock down because many employees prefer office interactions and collaborations. We are humans. We develop the positive energy from being around people and the relationships/interactions are definitely not the same when working from home. In many cases, in-person discussions make a bigger difference and building solid relationships is more effective when done face-to-face.

Con #7. As you draw the big picture in your head about living situations when permanently working from home, some individuals will have the idea of selling their current property just to move back to be with their families because they will save more costs on rent, utilities, electricity, gas, etc. It is a nice recourse that many of these employers are offering, however things may/will always change. What if the employer reverts their decision and decides to make their employees come in to the office permanently? Or for a specific project/collaboration? This could be a logistical disorder for some individuals who are affected by their living situations. Not many folks are willing to pay an arm and a leg to live in areas that they cannot afford.

All in all, existing gaps between the haves and have not’s may be further heightened and it’s not hard to imagine folks being passed up for positions just because they simply don’t have the infrastructure to work from home and prefer working in the office instead. This pandemic is going to have far reaching impacts to many of our cities. But also, in a positive way in that here is an opportunity to close the wage gap between have and have not’s.

The Importance of Compensation Components

Image via Lynda

Compensation and benefits are one of the most important components in the workplace. The significance of this leads to better retention rates within the company. In a career standpoint, better pay and better benefits leads to job satisfaction.

However, many employers shy away from compensation and benefits and this topic should be discussed more comfortably and freely between the hiring manager and the employee. Smart employers know that keeping quality employees requires providing the right compensation and benefits package. Compensation includes wages, salaries, bonuses and commission structures. Employers shouldn’t ignore the benefits portion of employee compensation and benefits, because the benefits sweeten employment contracts with the priorities that most employees need.

Top talent may soon be looking elsewhere for opportunities if they do not feel like they are being adequately rewarded.

Christina Lee, SHRM’s researcher for total rewards strategies and project leader of the Employee Job Satisfaction and Engagement (SHRM, 2016) Report

According to Small Business’ resources of Chron, the right compensation and benefits in the workplace results in:

  • Attracting Top Talent
  • Increased Employee Motivation
  • Boost in Employee Loyalty
  • Increased Productivity and Profitability
  • Job Satisfaction So People Stay

There are 4 elements of performance pay:

Image via SHRM
Image via SHRM

Below are some discussion points that global leaders from HR and Talent Acquisition have highlighted, that folks can gain insight from:

  1. Tuition reimbursement for employees and those who have children, plays a huge role in performance pay. Not all employers are willing to provide this benefit because not all have the budget or funding to do so, especially for non-profits. However, this is a huge asset and also a good way to support employee loyalty and retention because this can help their employees continue to further their education in obtaining the necessary knowledge/credentials that can help sharpen their skills while they are performing at their current job.
    Gym membership is also another link to performance pay because in NYC, everyone I am associated with – prioritizes gym and exercise usually before or after work. Finances can one of the main barriers to health for some employees so I think that this can be a barrier that can be removed by allocating employees with that membership as a benefit.
    • Tuition reimbursement is such a draw. I have found that it’s one of the benefits that people like having access to even if they do not ultimately use it.
    • Staying physically fit can fix a host of health issues and keep the cost of health insurance down so it could be a wash or even a cost savings.
  2. Tuition reimbursement is a valuable benefit for both the employee and the employer. The employee has an opportunity to advance and develop their skills while the employee gets the benefit of having a more skilled and potentially more productive employee. This benefit and companies who offer this benefit have shown to produce more highly skilled staff as well as savings on retention, recruitment and turnover. Both the smoking cessation and gym benefits has an impact on performance. Healthier employees are often more productive and statistically spend less time on sick leave. This is an obvious and direct benefit for the employee and an more indirect benefit for the employer.
    • Particularly about tuition, smoking cessation and gym benefits being a benefit to both the individual and the company: Too often they are viewed as a benefit to the employee, but reduced sick time and higher productivity definitely help the company. 
  3. Tuition Reimbursement for Children – Considering the cost of education in Switzerland and the impact on a family spending and quality of life,  then the fact for an organisation to cover fully or partly the school tuition fee for kids will be as a very competitive benefit.
    Quality of CoworkersNowadays more and more employees are seeking for great place to work. Therefore the ranking and selection from future employees to join and current ones to remain, will start  to look or connect with the quality of staff behaviour, skills as much as the  overall in-house work life style and atmosphere.  It is unconsciously the more empowering and rewarding benefit to have and clearly links to much better performance pay than children tuition refund. It is not always about money but rather about sustainable and positive mental health.
  4. The value of job titles should align with performance of expectations set by the company. Addressing job performance is a very common way that leaderships evaluate a candidate on whether they are the right fit for a change in job title or a promotional increase. Having the opportunity to be assigned new job titles is an experiential benefit in the sense that is is an example of recognition, but it also can be part of direct compensation if this job title comes with different pay. Different employees have different values at different times of their lives. If we have an employee who has a strong work value and looks at companies as who the most competitive is and offers the most opportunity for growth, then this employee may put a heavy focus on the value of the job titles when reviewing the benefits of working for one company over another.
    The quality of coworkers can very much so be related to performance pay. Your immediate coworkers may be the people you spend the majority of your work week with. You trust them to get their responsibilities done, to assist you when you need help, to give you feedback and to make the workplace enjoyable. We risk losing good top performers if they don’t feel that connection or value their coworkers. I include managers in this as well. I think a lot of us have heard the phrase “I didn’t quit the job, I quit the manager.” Hearing this from an employee who is leaving the company is very difficult. We have to look at both sides to wonder if the right leader is in place or if this was extenuating circumstances with just this employee. If we don’t have a strong enough leader in the role, we risk the culture being ruined and losing people to competitors who have a better system of finding and placing management. Employees who feel supported, comfortable in talking to their managers and coworkers and seeking help will perform much better without the added stress or insecurity of failing. I think this can be tied into the value of a job title as well. Employees may not only value their own title and the opportunity to grow in title, but they may value the title of their coworkers and managers too. If they feel that a title is too senior or superior related to the behaviors a coworker or manager is displaying, there could be some tension and frustration. I may even argue that the health of the team engagement has one of the biggest impacts on production and performance. We can get honest and true feedback when the the team quality is high. We have people who are qualified for their positions, mutual respect for each other’s job functions and responsibilities and feelings of genuine interest in succeeding. Without a high quality team we run the risk of passive aggressive interactions, office politics, distrust of management and feedback and defense mechanisms to protect our workloads and our emotional well-being.
  5. Tuition reimbursement and gym reimbursement are the ones that stand out to me.  These two are great ways to create an incentive for employees to be productive and also to create a comparative advantage if you are hiring employees with higher education or those with certain certificates to show and/or improve their skill set to keep the talent in house. I also believe that gym reimbursement would encourage a healthier workforce if it’s included as part of the wellness package offered by an organization. Providing gym reimbursement programs could help to link better pay for performance conversations and motivation. Ensuring employees are taking care of their physical health but it also is a great tool to support emotional wellness. If people look and feel good they will produce better results.
  6. Tuition reimbursement for employees is definitely a value added benefit from an organization perspective. This is a common benefit which we have seen in the larger organization, however the medium / small firms do not provide such offers to employees. This kind of benefit helps employees in developing their skills which will help the org to get higher productivity with better revenue / margin from these employees.
    Tuition fee reimbursement for children is most useful for employees in the mid-level of the organizational hierarchy where attrition is the strongest. It can be used as a strong motivation factor to retain talented employees as it also encourages employees to put their children to good schools, which they wouldn’t have been able to afford previously.
    Advancement opportunities motivates employees to choose and certify in the area of their interest. Through this, the organization can drive a culture of learning and innovation. It indirectly opens opportunities for internal job movements and job rotations. When employees are given this sort of flexibility, it reduces attrition in the long run.
  7. Having a smoking cessation program allows and encourages motivated employees to get healthier which decreases costs for the employer. Non-smokers may be more productive as they are less likely to take smoke breaks or to be out sick. However, since not everyone smokes, having this type of program only benefits those that currently smoke.
    Quality of coworkers – Almost everyone, regardless of their position, must work with coworkers at some point. Having a respectful and positive relationship with coworkers can make even a mediocre workplace so much better. Alternatively, you could have a great employer and workplace but having a negative coworker can outweigh those pros and can even affect other aspects of your life.
    • Comparing the two areas above, I think quality of coworkers is the better option for linking pay for performance as this is something that would likely affect more employees and would be a great attribute to attract and retain employees.
  8. As a recruiter, one of the most asked questions I receive from potential hires is the Value of Advancement Opportunities. Employees want to know that they have a future with the organization, and that their work will be considered, appreciated, and rewarded with the possibility of advancement. However, I have also noticed that many candidates are not really interested in probing further. They will ask if there is a career path or opportunity to grow, but it feels as if they are ticking the box, that they have asked the question and if they receive a strong sounding “Yes”,  they move on. They don’t probe further nor do they ask about what their individual career plan would look like, what their milestones would have to be.
    I have also held focus group discussions with current employees and have noticed that female employees feel that they don’t have the same opportunities (in our organization) for career advancement in comparison to our male colleagues (for a number of different reasons but especially because they don’t believe they get the right exposure to executive management). Therefore, career advancement opportunities may be a value that is limited to a specific number of employees and not an opportunity that all employees will feel that they have.
    On the other hand, Value of Job Title is a confirmed pay for performance benefit, because it comes at a specific time and possibly with added benefits and a higher direct pay (on all 4 elements of performance pay). Employee satisfaction would be higher, and organizations can ensure that they look at the performance of their female staff and reward it directly with a higher Job Title. Therefore, job titles are a better pay to performance value than a better advancement opportunity.
    • I work with some organizations where job title is not necessarily reflective of job duties and responsibilities, but because they want to keep the incumbent happy they inflate the job title. Many employees link their satisfaction to the job title, which directly affects productivity levels.
  9. Tuition reimbursement for employee plays a major role in performance pay and is a very valuable benefit for both parties. Having the support of your employer to further your education, whether it be additional degrees or a specialized certification, is an excellent benefit for the employee. It also shows the investment the employer is making in you as they want to assist in sharpening your skills and knowledge increasing your value as an asset to the company.
    Gym membership can be viewed as a positive impact for performance. Gym memberships can be costly and deter employees from joining and participating. Helping overcome that financial obstacle as well as instilling a healthy work environment can improve the mental sharpness of the organization increasing productivity.
  10. Advancement opportunities – Opportunities to advance within a company drives progress within employees. If they know there are opportunities for growth within the company they won’t settle for “good enough” instead they will drive to get better and better at what they do so they can advance within the company. 
    Quality of coworkers – When employees enjoy working with others within their company they are less likely to leave the company. This gives the company an advantage over others who may pay better but have less enjoyable work environments. Since turnover is such a high cost, hiring quality employees, even if it takes longer, is of great benefit to the company. 
    Both of these link to pay for performance in similar ways. Employees who are more satisfied with their work environment work harder and stay longer. However, I would argue that having quality coworkers would eventually prove more beneficial to the company over advancement opportunities. The reason for this is because most people under-perform and leave their companies due to the frustration of the overall company culture. Those who lead form the culture but the employees maintain it. Having a healthy group of workers who maintain a great work environment will lead to more success for the company overall and make it more attractive than other companies within similar spheres of work. Which means less turn-over, more quality hires, and quality work throughout the company. Providing greater service and producing greater results. All because people enjoy working where they are, the culture is one of working hard and producing quality results, and the workplace is attractive to other quality employees.   
  11. Onsite daycare – the cost of daycare can be very high in some areas. It can also be challenging for parents to find a facility in which they can trust the people to keep their children safe. Once a daycare is found, parents have to take the time to drop off their children before they go to work and leave work early enough to pick up their children at the end of the day. An onsite daycare cuts down the travel time in both directions, employees can easily pick up their children without losing additional work time and they don’t have any out of pocket costs.
    Advancement opportunities – this is particularly important for people early in their careers. Employees who have career goals typically want to work for a company where they can advance their skills and experience but stay at a company where that growth is rewarded with a promotion or new role. If they can’t get that in their current organization, they will take that knowledge and experience to another company which is a huge loss to their current employer.
    Both of these benefits really tie into the place where someone is in their life. Typically, someone in their 20s or early 30s is most concerned bout getting to a certain place in his/her career before they settle down and start a family. Someone with a family, may be more likely to have achieved a management level or higher role and is looking to maximize their time at work and with their families and may prefer the daycare benefit. The most important thing to consider is what’s important to YOUR group of employees. What is the current demographic and how do you align your benefits strategy to that? As the demographic changes, how do you adapt that to where your employees are in their lives at that point in time.
  12. A huge part of someone’s performance is tied to their mental health, and a huge part of mental health is physical health – gym membership. Gyms and trainers can be incredibly pricey, but if you offer your employees cheaper options, they’re more likely to exercise and, in turn, be even more productive at work. This is something most people would take advantage of in a company, so people would really appreciate this
    onsite daycare, even more so than a gym membership, would do a LOT of employees a lot of good. There are so many people that are kept from corporate jobs because they have children and can’t afford child care. If a company offers child care at their facility, employees can bring their children with them to work and ensure they are safe and taken care of all day, worry free. This will allow them to focus on their job rather than the financial burdens of child care. This is something people would easily accept a job for, all else being equal or even close. Though gym memberships would go a long way, on site child care would be the most powerful thing that a company could offer with regard to pay for performance over time.
  13. Tuition reimbursement for children and quality of coworkers are tied for me. It’s hard to say which of these two would hold more water in linking pay for performance. I think it depends on an individual’s value and may also be influenced by different generations. For example, quality of coworkers might appeal more to Millennial employees, while tuition reimbursement for children may be more of a benefit to Gen X.
  14. Tuition reimbursement for employees is an incentive to promote further education and training, which is why it links to pay for performance. It incorporates the will to improve and strive to become better.
    Advanced job title relates to pay for performance since the title indicates to third parties which responsibility an employee has, and since most people want to live up to expectations held about them, it motivates to fulfill said expectations. Since with an advanced title, usually the salary advances as well, the title can also be seen as blended benefit and not purely experiential one.
  15. Advancement opportunities and onsite daycare are the two components that I would like to pick.
    I believe advancement opportunities offer a more direct co-relation to greater performance as one can be clear that better and greater performance can lead towards career growth and there is scope for the individual to then earn more and as a result improve the overall quality of life.
    Onsite daycare on the other hand is a more here and now benefit, which might not be applicable to all employees and hence has a limited scope in influencing performance of all employees.
  16. Tuition Reimbursement for Employees – Providing this benefit allows employers to develop top performers by ensuring they meet education requirements necessary for a promotion. Hiring within and keeping the talent in-house versus heading to a competitor.
    Gym Membership – Physically active, healthy employees who feel good are more productive, call in sick less, and contribute to a healthier, more positive work environment. 
  17. Tuition Reimbursement for Children. This is a very interesting point on linking it back to performance pay. In Asia overall, education is critical. The view that the child has to surpass the education of their parents is evident. Therefore for an organization that can provide this children tuition reimbursement, will definitely be highly regarded by the local communities in Asia.
    Value of Job Title. Yes, believe it or not, Job Titles are more important that what the job actually entails in some Asian communities. Therefore there had been ways where more higher perceptions on Job Titles are implemented to unlock this, and had been doing well in inducing performance for some organizations including mine. For example, in my organization, we change the title of “Senior Assistant Brand Manager” into “Brand Lead”; no change in job scope. This has then create a huge shift in perception on the job and making the position more attractive. As millennials said “Job Titles are how we want the external society know us, it is important!”, quoted on one of the FGDs about career in my organization.
  18. Advancement opportunity is something that is equally important to the employee and the employer. An employee who is motivated to develop a successful career path within the organization will be committed to the organization and theoretically, perform at a high level and be super productive. An employer will benefit from the employee’s growth within the company, their institutional knowledge that they develop over time, as well as expanded skills and knowledge. Driving this advancement opportunity with performance pay is a clear method to providing this benefit.  
    Second, job title is important to an employee and fits hand in hand with advancement opportunity. There are companies that will promote an employee in title only, and not link performance pay to it, and others that do link it to a salary increase. Job titles are something employees are proud of and wear as a badge (whether the job title change comes with performance pay or not).  However, without real career  advancement tied to that change in title, including things such as additional responsibilities, direct reports, and future opportunities to strive for, the change in title is meaningless.  Therefore, I believe advancement opportunities can be better linked to performance pay.
  19. Value of job title. Employees value their job title when it is meaningful to the position held. Assigning the correct job title to a position is a basic essential task. A job position with the wrong title can lead employers to many problems like pay inequity, loss of morale, turnover, etc. Employees with the incorrect job title can often be frustrated, lower productivity, and lead them to leave for a “better” opportunity. From my personal experience I can share that my company did not have the title “executive assistant”, when I was hired as an Executive Assistant to the VP Operations and Technology I came onboard with 10 years’ experience as such. At that moment, the company decided to grant the job title of ‘Executive Assistant” to all the administrative personnel working for an executive or a director. Overnight, the administrative assistants were suddenly called “executive assistant”.  This change led the administrative assistants to think that they should be earning a much bigger salary than they were. In practice, they were not fulfilling the role of executive assistants, but administrative assistants. As they start to retire or get new career opportunities elsewhere, we have replaced those positions with true to market executive assistants that do fill the position expectations and are paid according to market. I think that there is no other benefit that can be offered that would better link pay to performance than this one. At the end of the day, the correct title will reflect in a more accurate salary benchmark.
    Value of advancement opportunity and tuition reimbursement. I chose to list these two together for a reason. In an era in which long tenured employees are vanishing from the workplace, people do not wait years to advance to the next position in the same company. This alone, creates a whole host of issues and there is a definite need for employers to find creative ways to entire them to stay. Usually employees stay around 2-5 years with a company and get their next opportunity in a different company. It is very important for a company to show to its employees both: a ladder and a way to prepare for their next career step wherever they go. This way of presenting career advancement would lead a company to attract employees that are eager to learn and advance and help them all at the same time (education and promotion).
  20. I think coworker quality is an undervalued component of the workplace. In trying to create a high-performance culture, which is something my organization is working towards, it is important to incentivize the behaviors you want to encourage. For example, in our production departments, we are beginning to incentivize speed and accuracy. We do this by measuring the output of each contributor and developing goals that are tied to incentives. As we set our expectations, a culture of workers who are fast, accurate, and have high attention to detail will begin to emerge because those who cannot meet those expectations will not succeed. Employees who do meet those expectations will begin to hold each other accountable and measure their output against others (as employees are already constantly looking at their own performance in contrast to others). Thus, working alongside others who understand and work toward the high-performance culture will create more job satisfaction and will increase the overall compensation.
    The value of tuition reimbursement could be a great component of pay for performance. Tuition reimbursement could be a benefit offered based on tenure, on sales goals, on overall performance evaluation ratings, or any number of other achievements or competencies. We live in a highly individualistic culture, so rewards based on an individual’s contributions against a benchmark instead of those rated against the performance of others could be a more successful pay for performance model than the standard production output incentives.
  21. Onsite daycare is a very valuable benefit. Especially being a mother myself, I truly believe this can have a great impact on employees. Having to travel across town to take your kids to daycare and try and make it back to work on time can get really stressful. Offering this benefit to your employees really shows an organization’s support for its employees which can then increase employee loyalty. 
    Tuition reimbursement for employees is also a very valuable benefit to offer to employees. I have noticed that not all employees take advantage of this, but I think just having it as a benefit says a lot about a company. My company offers this benefit and it has allowed me to take paid HR courses.
  22. Onsite Daycare – Access to childcare is a major factor for families when considering employment opportunities as well as pay. Having onsite daycare eliminates that worry and may even result in an individual either choosing one company over another OR accepting a lower salary because the convenience of the onsite daycare outweighs the discrepancy in pay. 
    Gym Membership – Gym memberships are definitely linked to performance pay as it is an extra expense a lot of people have every month. If this was something that was paid for by a company as an added benefit it is one less thing that the individual has to pay for and similar to my argument above it may result in someone choosing one company over another OR accepting a lower salary. 
    I think choosing which component is better linked to pay for performance depends on the target audience. For example, if a company was trying to recruit a lot of younger college graduates then the gym membership may be more valuable to them than onsite daycare. Personally, the onsite daycare is more appealing for me because I know the monetary value of daycare is much higher than a gym membership. 

How The Hiring Season is Looking for Logistics, Freight and the Courier and Delivery Services Industry

Image via AuditShipment

For many decades, retail cashiers and sales associates served as a common entry point into the labor market for generations of workers. However, these positions are becoming obsolete due to automated self-checkouts and no requirement of any kind of human interaction. Beginning of the 20th century, the big transformation of technology has caused more than half of the jobs to go automated — causing the labor market to become extremely competitive for candidates, as employers expect a considerable level of technical skills for entry-level to mid-level positions.

With COVID-19 impacting store closures and bankruptcies in the fashion retail industry, there has been an uptick in the number of online orders and an increase in the U.S. eCommerce spending. This creates an unprecedented demand in hiring for more delivery workers and package handlers at UPS and FedEx in order to speed up the delivery process on millions of orders to consumers — making their services more crucial than it ever was before. COVID will set a new precedent in eCommerce penetration.

UPS is one of the many employers that has been hiring for thousands of workers since the start of the pandemic. They are still currently in good shape as all businesses and consumers drove eCommerce and shipping to a new level. UPS is currently hiring for 100,000 seasonal workers to handle and deliver to meet a surging volume of packages for the upcoming holiday season, with Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Christmas approaching. This includes “extra drivers, driver helpers and package handlers”, according to Business Insider.

“We’re preparing for a record peak holiday season. The COVID-19 pandemic has made our services more important than ever,” said Charlene Thomas, chief human resources officer at UPS. “We plan to hire over 100,000 people for UPS’s seasonal jobs, and anticipate a large number will move into permanent roles after the holidays. At a time when millions of Americans are looking for work, these jobs are an opportunity to start a new career with UPS.”

UPS isn’t the only courier industry hiring for holiday workers. FedEx is as well. They are looking to fill many critical openings that fall under these categories: Package Recovery Agent, Package Handler, Maintenance Tech, Operations Manager, CIL Material Handler, Customs Trade Agent, Forklift Operator, Warehouse Worker and Retail Positions.

If you are still looking for a job and have a driver’s license in your area, you may want to consider applying. Due to the growth of eCommerce and a decline in retail, there is an increased need for workers in the courier and delivery services industry especially during this peak holiday shipping season. UPS, FedEx, and USPS will see package volume soar by up to 70% over last year.

Image via Wall Street Journal

Labor Market Information on UPS and FedEx

via TipRanks
More information on how UPS and FedEx are doing HERE

What To Do If You Are Unsure About Your Career Path

Image via MedCerts

Many students often had this question pondering in their minds about what they should do in their life after graduating from college. Some may have studied or majored in a field that didn’t match their interests or passion, and ended up pivoting their career paths – simply because the jobs or internships that they have worked at, are depressing and unsuitable for them.

On the other hand, older individuals who have been in the same role or sector/industry for many years often want to switch careers due to the following reasons:

  • Lack of professional advancement or career dissatisfaction
    • Job Burnout/Stress
    • Job isn’t suitable for you: Being bored or depressed because of the work you do
    • Loss of interest in that specific field/sector/industry
      • Re-entering the path of self discovery
    • You want to earn more income
    • You want better benefits, perks and rewards
    • Your life has changed because you have to take care of family or an illness so workplace flexibility is a must
    • The job outlook has worsened for your career field

During this uncertain time of the pandemic, it is difficult to imagine what the future of work will look like since anything can change over the course of the next few months. However, it is still crucial to establish personal and professional goals that pave the way to success.

So the big question is, “Where do I begin?” “How do I figure out what I want to do with my life?” As you are discovering what you want to do in life, the way to do it is by shifting your mindset from looking for a job, to achieving a purpose. Remember that sometimes not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck. This is a reminder that what we want isn’t always what will be the best in the long run. You could say you have the passion to become a Mental Health Counselor because you have that kind of personality – compassion, empathy, therapeutic and you just love to talk to people. But you strongly dislike completing the caseloads and paperwork at the end of the session because administrative details aren’t really your forte.

With that being said, a good tip to consider for undergraduates or graduates who are still in school – you want to go behind the scenes in the professional world. In other words, you want to explore different career paths to see what really is your cup of tea. This will then establish your vision and clarity. Know where you want your dreams to take you.

Figure out your call to action. Prioritize what deserves your time, energy and happiness. Face the things that you have always desired to do and achieve. You want to map out a career plan/road map for yourself. What you want to do should align with your core values and strengths. Know and validate your strengths. Think about the jobs that you have worked for and think about what you do in your personal life and during your free time. List the things that you truly enjoy doing; things that bring a smile to your face and boosts your energy. Then list the things that you do not enjoy doing. Also, brainstorm and write down where you see yourself about 5-10 years from now.

You may also want to discover more things along the way. Discover what you don’t like by exploring, traveling, tasting, feeling, experiencing the things that you don’t like. Go out there and be fearless. Do the things that you’re afraid of because who knows, it may turn out to be your hobby/passion.

Another way in evaluating your core values, strengths, weaknesses, interests and skills are to take personality tests or career assessments to see where you want to be. There are numerous free career aptitude assessments that you may want to check out. Career Explorer also offers a free assessment to help you discover your career matches.

Once you have your road map in place, invest your time to hone those skills. Don’t compare yourself to your friends or connections who have landed a full-time role in Microsoft, Google, Facebook with good pay, perks and benefits. They are not you, and you are not them. Instead, you want to learn from them — and what I mean is learn from like-minded individuals — those who already have their life figured out and take advice from those who have what you want. In other words, surround yourself with individuals who are already at the level you want to be or those who possess similar goals who inspire you, motivate and encourage you to achieve your goals. Who you spend time with the most is who you will become. It’s important that you surround yourself with positive individuals — be it your friends, family members or colleagues.
Surround yourself with friends, family members and colleagues who serve as your life mentors; they believe in you even if you don’t believe in yourself. Surround yourself with leaders who will set you up for success by helping you learn, grow and taking your life to a new level!
LinkedIn is also a huge asset during your job search process. Reach out to your contacts on LinkedIn and set the tone. See below for an example.

Hello (Your Connection’s Name),

I hope this message finds you well. My name is (Your Name) and I decided to reach out to you since your background really stood out to me. I am interested in seeking for your advice regarding career transitions in (Role OR Sector/Industry) as this really piqued my attention.

If you have some time to chat, I’d love to hear more about your career trajectory and current role.

I know your time is valuable, and this is a big ask coming from a stranger. If it is too much right now, I totally understand. Either way, I hope you’re staying safe and healthy.

Rushing yourself to create success will cost you more in the long run. Speed costs accuracy. You don’t want to do that. What you should do, is lay the foundations carefully step by step. Do these things accurately and slowly, and you will get to where you want to be in life. It is never too late to rewrite your future, reignite your dreams and reinvent yourself. Keep learning and growing because your greatest achievements haven’t been accomplished yet. You matter and your value doesn’t go unnoticed. Wishing you the best of luck in your future endeavors, future leaders and topdogs! Onward and upward!

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.”

Steve Jobs (CEO of Apple Computer and of Pixar Animation Studios) via Stanford University Commencement on June 12, 2005

How To Save Your Organization Costs When Hosting a Virtual Job Fair

Image via Bryant University

Many businesses and workforce providers have shifted their in-person programs, services and operations to being fully remote and virtual due to the COVID-19 work response. Due to the highest unemployment rate in American history, workforce providers rapidly found ways to continue preparing job seekers for the job market. That way, these individuals can get back on their feet as they are being guided through their job search, as well as assisting them by securing income relief. In the workforce development field, organizations swiftly shuffled their staff resources, pivoted their programs and discovered new ways to deliver their services. This brings us to today’s post about shifting in-person job fairs to virtual job fairs.

We’ve heard about some of the top virtual career fair platforms before such as Handshake, CareerEco, Brazen, etc. However, for many small workforce non-profit organizations, the biggest consideration would be the cost – which ultimately leads them to seek for low-cost platforms. But of course, many non-profits offer free services – so a free platform may be their top choice. However, be mindful that free platforms do not have the necessary tools that your organization may desire to run a successful virtual fair.

What is an alternative? I suggest looking into Zoom. You may be thinking, “How is that even going to work? Isn’t that platform normally used to hold meetings, social networking or virtual happy hour?” Yes, however you can make a job fair happen.

Before you begin to brainstorm with your team, be mindful that:

  • Planning and preparing a virtual job fair requires as much attention from staff as an in-person job fair does, since this involves the same amount of staff and preparation to execute the plan successfully and accordingly.
  • To plan for job fairs virtually, there needs to be a good amount of controls to prevent long winded speakers, visitors and guests from interrupting the flow of the event.
  • You need to make sure that your event organizers are prepared to handle any unexpected challenges — making sure that they are very knowledgeable of the platforms being used in order to utilize features and tools to mitigate chaos.
  • You also need to make sure that your employers are prepared beforehand — how do we make sure they know the game plan and the platform features? (e.g. Set up a dry run 30 minutes – 1 hour before the actual event)

Next, you want to ask to yourself:

  • Why should our team even do or consider hosting the remote job fair? What is the purpose of this? Will our organization benefit/get anything out of doing this?
  • How is our team going to plan our job fair? Is there a contingency plan? And after your team has it all planned out, think about “why did we arrange the job fair in the way that we did?”
    • Now you’re still thinking, “How can you do this on Zoom? There are no Zoom features that can be accommodating for virtual job fairs.”
    • Option 1 (No Cost): Group the employers per session and assign a designated time for employers (1-2 representatives) and invite interested participants to join any session that they desire to – because this will prevent lagging, crashing and in case there may be any network connection issues. You can give the first half hour of each session to employers and have them discuss about their available positions or future openings and give the last half hour to open up the floor for Q&A’s.
      • How would you group them? By sector/industry? Or diversify them? Whichever you choose, make sure that it can maximize participant attendance in each session to create an engaging discussion rather than just listening to employers speak/present the whole time.
    • Option 2 (Low Cost to High Cost): Create breakout rooms to have job seekers interact with employers. However, please note that depending on the size of your audience, Zoom Rooms cost $49 per room per month. For annual subscribers, it costs $499 per year or $41.58 per (break out) room per month. Additional add-ons include cloud recording (starts at $40/month).
  • How are we going to collect resumes? What platform/tool?
    • Dropbox may be a good alternative if you want to follow up with employers individually after you have your job seekers upload their resumes for the positions that they are applying for. It is a helpful tool to consider when creating shareable folders for the employers so they are receiving resumes directly from those who are applying for them, rather than just receiving a bulk of random resumes. It can also help your team keep track of the resumes that you can follow up and reach out to for future job opportunities that you may find suitable for them, if they do not get a job through your job fair.
    • If you go with the option of Dropbox, to keep it organized, you may want to request the submissions of resumes to being renamed/formatted uniformly so that it makes it easier for the employer to access them.
      • However, it may be a challenge if one of the employers are unable to access Dropbox due to their firewalls that blocks the application.
      • A solution to that if it does happen, is to send candidate names who have applied to that employer so the recruiter can locate their applications.
    • Zoom gives you the option to upload attachments in the chat box as well.
  • How do we have job seekers register? (You may want to check out top recommendations for event registrations)
    • Personally, I like to use Eventbrite because it is a popular registration tool for creating events. In addition, it is convenient, easy to collect statistics and see your metrics, as well as following up with job seekers after the event).
  • How is my team going to execute the plan?
    • Who is the audience? In this case, it would be job seekers. But what are the demographics/population that you are looking to serve?
    • Which employers are participating? Are the positions that they are applying for going to meet the language/educational/skills requirement of the job seekers that will be attending?
      • How would our team pitch the event to employers?
        • A tip for non-profits:
          • Employers that you have established long-term relationships with, will not decline unless they do not have a hiring need for that season.
          • You also want to maintain a close relationship with your organization’s fundraisers, gala honorees and board members since they can be a huge contribution because they are your biggest supporters.
    • Work on outreach and marketing
      • Create flyers and outreach materials to get the word out to your community.
  • Outcomes: How do we follow up after the event?
    • Feedback surveys from job seekers and employers are a helpful way to improve future virtual job fairs
    • Stay in contact with employers regarding next steps on reportable number of interviews and/or hires
    • Evaluations: Consider best practices, challenges, highlights and what your team would have done the same and/or different. Also some questions to debrief on after:
      • How many resumes were submitted? Which employers received the highest number of resumes? Which received the lowest number of resumes?
        • This kind of data will be helpful to determine which employers are the most popular to pursue further relationships/partnerships in the future because the number of placements/hires matter most vs. those with barely any improvement in the number of hires.
        • This kind of data is also helpful to figure out why job seekers were not interested or qualified in a particular employer.
      • How many participants showed up vs. those who registered?
      • What kind of technical difficulties while setting up the fair (prior and during)? What contingency plan should we consider moving forward?

Technical issues to take care of while practicing dry run on Zoom

  • Avoid disrupting call-ins
    • Registration is very important to keep unwanted guests from entering in. Therefore, it is good to enable a waiting room in your Zoom account settings if you are the host.
  • Allow call-ins to raise hands if they want to speak
  • Automatically mute participants upon entry to prevent distractions/echoes
  • Disable sound when participant joins or leaves
  • Limit spamming on chat box
  • Make sure employers come prepared and have them do a quick dry run before event actually begins!

Does Work Experience or Achievements/Accomplishments Matter More?

Image via Freepik

Oftentimes, job seekers like to mention about having years of experience in a specific field or role. Experience is nice, however this doesn’t always prove to employers that you can do the job. You may have the experience, but what about your potential?

According to the PWC survey, 77% of CEOs seek for creativity and innovation in candidates.

You may have over 15 years of experience in Marketing, however you want to support your statement with relevant achievements/accomplishments (at least 2-3). You want to let employers know how you figured something out when nobody could, implemented a new idea or solution for your team or the company that would be relevant to the employer that you are being interviewed for. Of course, relevant and the most recent achievements/accomplishments would be the best impression for employers.

For those who feel like they don’t have any relevant achievements or accomplishments, especially undergraduate students – you may start thinking about your experience, education and even the existing skill sets that you already have. How were you able to contribute to the company that you were trying to help out? Tell your story in a way where it brings out your critical thinking skills, because employers look for that as well.

When you are telling your story to your employer, you want to get into the point but keep it brief and impactful. For example, if you are asked about your greatest achievements – pick something that is as relevant as possible and is relevant for the role.

Example: “My greatest achievement was leading my team and providing support to my boss which processed effectiveness to the workplace. While I was 6 months into my role at my internship, I also had the ability to train an intern who was also hired for the same position that I was hired for. I utilized my skills to teach the intern on what it was like to be an an administrative assistant, from clerical duties to assisting clients with their problems. At the same time, I also collaborated with other departments of the company to centralize the customer database for easy retrieval of information.”

Now jump more into the specifics by discussing about the actions/results you have made!

Example: “To ensure that other departments had easy access and retrieval of information through the customer database, I researched and reviewed the best practices for a more organized electronic filing system. I assessed the top needs of staff for files through means, such as conducting one-on-one interviews with the team for potential adoption. Therefore, I mapped out an organizational strategy and provided a menu of options for my staff to choose from. My research skills helped execute and improve the quality by 80% in overcoming current challenges of the folder organization that our staff was experiencing.”

Wrap it up with closure! End it by saying how you can bring your skills and required experience to the employer.

Example: “Although I loved that role, now I am looking forward to applying my leadership experience coupled with my critical thinking and problem solving skills at your company, and it really excites me.”

How to Job Search in a Virtual World

Image via FlexJobs

Current Environment – Mitigating Factors

  • State mandates businesses to close physical locations except for essential workers
  • School systems continue remote learning
  • Childcare options have become more limited
  • Lack of vaccine
  • Social unrest

Current Environment – Impact

  • Businesses announce continuation of virtual work until at least early or mid 2021
  • Candidate demand for flexible work/locations
  • Businesses supporting flexible work/locations
  • Introduction of online training
  • Push for diversity and inclusion

First, begin your self-assessment. Ask yourself, “Where can I seek for opportunities where I can use my interests, motivations and skills?”

Begin building your LinkedIn profile if you have not done so already.

Update Your Resume!

  • Be succinct and concise – limit to two pages, 10 pt font and ½ inch margins.
  • Keep formatting simple.
  • Use bullets rather than narrative.
  • List your education and employment in chronological order, starting with the most recent.
  • Use action words to describe your experience.
  • Objectives, references and interests are not required.
  • Be factual.
  • Proofread!

Creating a Network

  • Utilize LinkedIn and LinkedIn Groups to build contacts.
  • Leverage neighbors, organizations, friends, family, former classmates and co-workers.
  • Focus on people you are already connected to or ask for a connection.
  • Focus on email and LinkedIn InMail messages to reach out — avoid the phone.
  • Send notes within 24 hours of meeting someone new.
  • Plan virtual coffees/lunches.

Searching Effectively and Job Search Tools

Leveraging Indeed

  • Set up job searches with key terms and check daily.
  • Post your resume.
  • Utilize filters including remote jobs.
  • Check reviews.

Leveraging LinkedIn

  • Edit your settings for the most opportunities to be contacted.
  • Set up job alerts for the types of roles you are seeking.
  • Check who you know at a particular company who may be able to provide insight.
  • Join groups.

Leveraging Glassdoor

  • Research information about companies including employees and former employees views on management and culture.
  • Research information about a company’s interview process.
  • Search for positions (on main page or company page).
  • Set up job alerts.
  • Create profile and upload resume.

Leveraging Specialized Boards

  • Dice
  • Career Builder
  • Associations such as Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), National Association of Black Accountants (NABA), American Bar Association (ABA)
  • College Alumni Networks
  • Industry Groups such as National African American Insurance Association (NAAIA), American Finance Association (AFA)

Closing the Deal (Personal Branding)

Interview Tips

  • Be prepared for common interview questions.
  • Traditional questions focus on education, qualifications, and experiences. Behavioral questions focus on a structured pattern of open-ended questions designed to determine which skills candidates have used successfully in prior positions.
  • Focus on the kinds of questions that will be asked. Identify key requirements and competencies in job postings and compare these to your background and highlight all matches. Determine the experiences you will cite as examples ensuring that your stories are complete.
  • Practice your responses – write it down, say it out aloud, ask a trusted friend.
  • Utilize your network to gain additional information.
  • Imagine and relive your successes for several days before the interview.