Posts tagged with: Wall Street Journal

One positive with a recession: gender doesn’t matter as much

If you’re a man or a woman, the odds are pretty good that you’re suffering these days. That’s because there’s a recession on, and a full-blown recession like this one doesn’t discriminate between men or women: It hurts them all equally.

Does this count as good news? I’m not sure. But it would have been worse, I think, to see that women were suffering more than men during this economic downturn.

But according to a story in the Wall Street Journal, women with MBA degrees are doing no worse than men with the same degrees during this recession.

A study by the research group Catalyst found that men and women were basicall equally likely to be either promoted or laid off during this economic slump.

Again, I’m not sure I’d label this good news. But maybe it is: Maybe a horrid economy has helped erase just a bit more gender bias from the workplace.

Self-employed workweek never ends

There are a lot of advantages to working for yourself. But there are some big disadvantages, too. For one thing, there’s no one responsible but you should times get tough. Secondly, it’s awfully hard to turn off the workweek.

There’s always one more thing to do before shutting off the computer at the end of the day. It can play havoc with people’s personal lives. It can even endanger a marriage.

And it’s even worse in today’s struggling economy, at least according to this story in the Wall Street Journal. The self-employed are worried that they’ll miss a big contract or a financially strong deal, so they’re more afraid then ever to take vacations or long weekends. It all adds up to nonstop work.

We all know that there’s nothing fun about working all the time. Sure, there are people who thrive on working long hours, who dedicate the majority of their lives to business. But what if that business fails? What are these folks left with?

That’s a scary thought for any dedicated self-employed professional. Unfortunately, in today’s gasping economy, a growing number of self-employed consultants, writers and business owners are facing that very question.

Are you stuck with a life that kind of sucks?

Life’s more stressful these days. My wife is returning to school. We’ve added a 22-month-old son to our family. And the struggling economy has made it more difficult than ever for me to land writing jobs.

I’ve been sending a lot of time in the evenings writing dumb-dumb content stories. If you don’t know what these are, they’re the filler stories that “grace” so many Web sites out there. It doesn’t matter much what these stories say, so long as they contain the right keywords. In other words, it’s garbage. And, unfortunately, while they’re quick to write, the pay for them isn’t great.

It all adds up to a life that, yes, sucks a bit more than it once did.

I was reminded of this when I stumbled across this video on the Wall Street Journal’s Web site. A Wall Street Journal writer interviews Michelle DeAngelis, the author of a new book, “How to get a Life that Doesn’t Suck.”

I think a lot of folks today think their lives suck a bit. They may be out of work and unable to find a new job. They may be fearful that their job is going to be yanked out from under them at any second. They may be taking on new duties at their job with no increase in pay. They may be taking yet another unpaid furlough day.

And while the job offers and raises have certainly stopped, the bills haven’t. Those come right on time every single month. It’s enough to ramp up the stress levels in most families.

I still have a good life. I have a wonderful, loving family. I have good friends. And I still have a job doing what I — mostly — love. But to be perfectly honest, I’d love to get rid of some of the suckier parts that I didn’t have to deal with just two years ago.

If you’re working, you’re in demand. If you’re not? Well …

The news just keeps getting worse for the nation’s unemployed. First, the national unemployment rate hit 9.4 percent in May, and shows no signs of dropping.

Now comes the news, courtesy of a Wall Street Journal story, that those companies who are hiring aren’t always looking at unemployed to fill their positions. No, instead they’re going after workers who already have jobs.

The reasoning goes like this: Those employees who are still working must be top-of-the-line workers, otherwise they’d already be out of a job. So companies that are hiring are frequently trying to poach these workers.

If that’s not enough to make a hard-working, smart unemployed person puke, I don’t know what is. There seem to be absolutely no breaks for today’s unemployed.

How far would you travel for a job?

Tim Ryan drives two hours to pretend that he’s a werewolf at a tourist attraction. For this he’s paid a whopping $12 an hour.

But Ryan’s desperate: He’d been laid-off from his construction job, and couldn’t find replacement work. That $12 an hour is better than $0 an hour. So what if the commute is too far to take every weekday. Ryan sleeps in an old, mold-filled cabin that he can stay in for free during the workweek.

You can read about Ryan, and others in his situation, in this Wall Street Journal story. It’s all about the growing number of job seekers traveling impressive distances for jobs that aren’t quite as impressive.

It’s something that we’ll probably see more of. After all, the nation’s unemployment rate, which recently hit 9.4 percent, isn’t going down any time soon.

I’d hate to be in Ryan’s situation. But at least he’s resourceful. That brings up the question: How far would you be willing to travel to find work? How far would you travel if that new job was a mediocre one?

I suppose the answer depends on a number of factors, including how long you’ve been out of work.

Age can work against you in today’s job market

Are you too old? How about too young? Either way, it might work against you in today’s job market.

At least that’s the news from the Wall Street Journal, which recently ran a feature story about the challenges that both younger and older workers face today. Guess it’s best to be about 35 or so these days.

Labor lawyers interviewed by the Journal say that employees in their 20s and 30s are more at risk of layoffs today because their employers are hoping to avoid age-discrimination lawsuits. To do this, a growing number of them are adopting the dreaded “last one in, first one out” policy.

Some young childless workers told the Wall Street Journal that they worry that they are being targeted in layoffs, while their co-workers with families to support are protected.

For selfish reasons, I like the idea of keeping the workers with families employed. Of course, that’s because I have a family of my own, and I like the idea of keeping my job, no matter how frustrating it can be.

The perfect solution, though, would be for employers to lay off the lay-offs for a while. I think companies have already cut to the bone. Sometimes I wonder if they’re laying off more people just because this seems like the perfect time to cut expenses by forcing remaining employees to work harder than ever.

There’s no proof of that, of course. But I do have my suspicions.

People still getting fired. Just not as many

This is what passes for good news these days: According to the Wall Street Journal, while companies are still laying people off, they’re not laying off as many as they were earlier in the year.

The Journal points to this as a sign that the economy is finally stabilizing. Though, if you are one of the fewer people laid off in the last few weeks, I suppose you’d not agree.

So here’s the “good” news: Non-farm payrolls dropped 539,000 in April, according to the U.S. Labor Department. That’s better than the 699,000 drop in March.

Still, that’s a huge number of jobs lost in April. In fact, U.S. employers have shed 5.7 million jobs since the recession started in December of 2007.

The unemployment rate hit 8.9 percent in April, the highest that number has stood since September of 1983.

That last number is the key. Until uemployment goes down, the economy won’t begin a true recovery.

Are the resume’ Web sites worth it?

It’s a terrible economy out there, and job hunters are plentiful. Everyone is searching for ways to stand out from the rest of the unemployed.

So how about online resume’ sites, those Web sites promising to create an electronic version of your resume’, tricked out with video, pictures and whatever else you’d like to throw on them? Maybe you’d be better off sticking to pen and paper.

According to a story in the Wall Street Journal, the online resume’ sites don’t quite measure up. The Journal tested four popular sites, Doodlebit, WebResumePlace, InteractiveResumeServices and VisualCV. Fees for the sites range from nothing (I like that one!) to $69 a month.

Unfortunately, the Journal found that all of the sites save for VisualCV produced resume’s that were tacky. A career coach that assisted the Journal in testing the sites, said that the resume’s most of them created would turn off most hiring personnel.

It seems that, for once, traditional pen and paper media trump the latest in technology. If you’re looking for a job, send out that paper resume’. Leave the high-tech stuff to those folks who don’t want to impress their future bosses.

Some job interview mistakes that can cost you dearly

This would be funny if it wasn’t true: A growing number of candidates, once they receive a job interview, spend an inordinate amount of time during these interviews complaining about the financial hardships they’ve suffered because they’ve lost their jobs.

Look, we all know that it’s awful to be without a job. I don’t know anyone who’s done that whole “make sure you have enough savings to cover at least six months without work” thing. (Who can save that much money today?) But a job interview is not the time to confess that you’ve been eating noodles for breakfast.

A story in the Wall Street Journal points to this, and several other job interview flubs, that are keeping the unemployed, well, unemployed. These screw-ups are especially bad today when job interviews are few and far between.

Another mistake candidates are making, according to the Wall Street Journal story? Many are showing up to interviews up to an hour early. What better way to say that you have nothing better to do?

Read the whole Journal story. As usual with the Journal, the advice and anecdotes are right on. If you are fortunate enough to nab an interview in today’s dismal job market, don’t blow it by looking too desperate.

Misery loves company: Laid-off workers take to blogging

When something terrible happens to us, it’s human nature to seek out others who’ve experienced the same woes.

No one wants to feel alone, after all.

This holds true with getting laid-off, too. Fortunately — or, rather, unfortunately — it’s not hard to find someone else who’s been fired after you’ve lost your job.

Just search the Internet. Plenty of unemployed folks are blogging about their struggles to find a new job.

The Wall Street Journal recently ran an interesting story about this trend. It also highlighted several interesting blogs run by fired workers. For instance, there’s Tryout for Life and Tales from the Recently Laid Off.

Both are interesting reads. And if you, too, have recently lost your job, check them out. They contain some tips for keeping your sanity while hunting for a new job. They also serve as reminders that you’re far from home. And that, sometimes, is the one thing we all need to understand.