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.

Source:
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

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Image via Money.com

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.
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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.

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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.”
https://i.pcmag.com/imagery/articles/022RtDR3pK3YShoskNnL5Dc-1..1603813687.jpg
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 lazizian@lgfairmont.com!
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 Process.st

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 lazizian@lgfairmont.com!
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.