Thursday, September 24, 2009

Liar, Liar Pants on Fire!

Why do corporations lie to their employees? It always comes back to bite them.

That’s what happened to the Hyatt hotel company in Boston when it laid off 100 of its housekeeping staff and “outsourced” housekeeping to a company in Georgia. For sure there were savings: the Georgia company can  pay lower wages and limit benefits. Hyatt can even say, “Oops! We didn’t know,” if the Georgia company hires illegal immigrants.

One lie was allowing current employees to believe that the people they were training were substitutes for  vacations and holidays, not cheaper replacements for their own jobs. Hyatt employees were laid off with one day’s notice and no benefits or help with the job search at first – that is until the Boston Globe got a hold of the story.

Another lie is the statement on the Hyatt website that “As an employee of the Hyatt team, not only will you receive outstanding rewards and recognition, but you’ll also be a part of a family-friendly atmosphere consistently labeled with "great camaraderie."

Now, the CEO and the Governor of Massachusetts are scuffling in the press. It’s bad enough that Hyatt did what it did. Surely there were alternatives. But to lie about it , too?

Think about it. How many people in the Hyatt organization understood what the consequences might be? Paying attention to these issues is actually part of the job description in public relations and human resources. Where were they? The irony is that damage control will cost Hyatt a lot of money. Maybe even more than the difference in pay between their old housekeepers and their new ones!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Layoff Survivors: Too Depressed to Really Work

Do you know one? Are you one? Then, you know how it feels. People who have not been laid off feel angry, exploited, and  stuck. They feel bad for their friends who have been laid off and don’t know how to help. They may be doing the work of two or three people without reward or acknowledgement. Managers distance themselves and are afraid to communicate. Colleagues don’t make decisions because they are afraid to be wrong. Everyone waits for the next shoe to drop. In the meantime, productivity drops, and business goals aren’t met.

IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE THIS WAY. We’ve had enough experience with layoffs to know better. Just look at David Noer’s book, Healing the Wounds. Noer gives lots concrete examples of how to handle layoffs well. Doug Adams and I wrote a “toolkit for managers” called The Challenge of Change for Fleet Bank in the mid-1990s, which is full of ideas for managers to use to decrease the impact of downsizing. Once I figure out how to do it, I'll post pages from it. Please help me if you can!

If you are a layoff survivor, here are some simple things you can to do to stay motivated and keep your career on track:
1. Actively manage your stress.  Exercise, meditate, get medical help if you need it. Leave work at 5:30.
2. Learn something new. Take a class or a course. Get a friend to coach you in a new skill that will give you a boost.
3. Look for assignments that expand your job. What new assignment or what can you volunteer for that will look good on your resume?
4. Take care of yourself so that as things turn around, you will be in a position to move.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

200 Resumes, 300 Resumes, 500 Resumes…

300 resumes sent out with no reply. 500 resumes sent out with no reply. That seems to be how the media measures job search effort. How dumb is that!!! Sending out rafts of resumes is not how to look for a job in a recession. It just doesn’t work.

In the immortal words of John Isaacson of Isaacson Miller, the recruitment firm, hiring strangers is much harder and much riskier than hiring someone you know or has been referred to you. In a recession, when organizations are buried in resumes – both appropriate and inappropriate - hiring managers are even more likely to choose someone who is known to them in some way.

How do you get known by hiring managers? That’s where the strategic thinking comes in. What do you bring to the table? What do you enjoy doing? What organizations are likely to need those abilities? How can you connect with people who work there or in a profession you are targeting? What’s not working in my job search? What should I consider doing differently?

Sure, it’s much harder than just clicking Send on Monster. But thinking is what people are expected to do on the job. It’s time the media started to focus on the people who are getting jobs in spite of the recession, and the strategic thinking they did that made them successful.

Friday, September 4, 2009

There is No Job Market

People ask me, “How’s the job market?” When I tell them there is no one job market, they look confused. After all, people are always talking about “The Job Market” in the media.

But there are MANY job markets, not just one. There’s a market for school principals, for nurses, for executive secretaries, for museum curators etc. etc. etc. Some of the markets are global – like the one for university professors or NBA players. Some are local, like the market for dog walkers. And there is everything in between.

The right question is, “What’s the job market like for my skills now in my geographic location?” For example, what’s the market for customer service reps in Atlanta? Or, what’s the market for commercial lenders in Houston? The answer is never a one-size-fits-all answer.

It’s your job to know the market for your skills in your geographic area. Many industries tend to cluster geographically. If you are a movie producer, your career will center on New York and Los Angeles, for example.

So how do you find out what the job market is for your skills in your area? One easy way is to belong to a local professional association. They know the area, may actually list jobs, and sometimes offer out-of-work professionals free or reduced membership.

Identify your skills first, and then do some research on which employers need those skills in the geographic area you’ve chosen. You may find that you would be more marketable in a new area or with additional skills. (More on these concepts in a later post.)