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

OCCUPATIONGROWTH RATE, 2019-292020 MEDIAN PAY
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: https://www.certifiedmedicalinterpreters.org/
  • 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: https://www.amg.edu/lpn-program/
  • 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

Effective Communication and Networking with Employers

https://img.money.com/2020/06/200630_fciccolella_money_final.jpg
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.
https://www.themandarin.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/networking.jpg
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.

https://assets.entrepreneur.com/content/3x2/2000/1593532666-GettyImages-1248900431.jpg
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.

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.

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.