Fired Over Facebook Picture

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I read with interest a recent article from Dear Abby (May 4, 2010).  A man writes that on the first day of his wife’s work, she was called into the human resources director’s office and told she was being “let go” because of her Web site.  The site had photos of her when she worked as a model at a department store. He stated that the pictures were not provacative and that photos of their children were also on the site.  The HR director told the wife that one of the (internal) applicants had seen the site and made a complaint over one image, which led to the wife’s termination.  They consulted an attorney, as well as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and were told that they lived in an “at will” state, which entitled the employer to fire the employee without fault. 

The response was that if you live in at “at will” state, employers can fire you for any reason, unless there is a written contract, or for illegal reasons, such as age, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or disability.  The employer was found not at fault in this situation.  I hope this is a “wake-up call” for all of you who post pictures of yourself drinking or in other compromising situations, as well as the words you post.  Employers are looking at these social networking sites to see the quality of employee; this is their way to ‘weed out’ the numerous applicants they have.   This kind of tactic stinks, frankly, but that is the current state in the world of work.

Is Networking a Part of Your Job Search Strategy?

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Are you aware that 80% of available jobs are not posted on any job boards?  It is a fact that businesses are not posting over half of their jobs due to the amount of interest they receive on a daily basis. They are already overwhelmed so they keep the majority of their positions covert.  These are the jobs that they want great candidates for.  They are banking on hearing about these candidates through people they know and trust, such as family or friends.  That is why the best way to find a job is through networking – talking to the people you know, who know people, who know people, and so on.  It is about gettin yourself out there and networking your personal brand – you – to get that next position.  It is about using the social networking sites, such as LinkedIn and Facebook, or others, to let people know who you are, what you are looking for, and then to ask if they know anyone hiring for your services or field.

I will tell you a quick story about how this can work. I attended a career meeting and met someone who was looking for a job.  I sent him some links but never heard from him after.  Recently, he contacted me to inquire about a networking group that I had mentioned to him several months ago.  He came to the meeting and told the group what he was looking for. He had at least five people who said they would refer him to people they know in his field.  If he had followed up several months ago, he could be working right now! The moral of the story is how the networking process works in a job search and how powerful if can be.  So, is networking a part of your job search strategy?

Hot Career – Financial Planning

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It is a misconception that there are no jobs “out there”, that people don’t have money or that businesses are going under.  I’m not painting a picture that jobs are plentiful and that people are having financial difficulties. But, the economic picture is looking up.   One career path that is worth taking a look at is in the finance and financial planning industry.  According to a report by Ceci Rodgers on BNET, financial planning services are increasing, in fact “booming”, and not on Wall Street.  She makes the following claims:

  • Independent Financial Advisors
  • Headcount through 2012: +6.8%
  • Asset growth for independent firms in 2009: +$50 billion
  • Institutional Financial Advisors
  • Heacount through 2012: -4%
  • Asset decline for Wall Street firms in 2009:  -$185 billion
  • (Source: Estimates from Cerulli Associates)

According to the statistics, confidence in large financial firms has faded, mainly due to activities of firms, such as Lehman Brothers.  It seems that those with money to invest are needing the services of financial planners but are feeling that small firms and practitioners are more trustworthy to handle their money.   A hot career path to consider is in the financial planning industry. As the Boomers age, and retire, they will be seeking out these services in large numbers.   A career in finance could be your ticket to a long-lasting and financially rewarding career.   You must like working with numbers and be knowledgeable about stocks, bonds, and investments but these call be learned.  Take the time to explore this career path, and companies that hire, to see if a career in the financial service industry is for you.

Make Your Alumni Association Part of Your Job Search Strategy

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When you are looking for a job, whether you are unemployed, want to change fields, or move to a new position, you need to put your alumni association on your list job search strategies.  Alumni associations are a great resource, as they have assessment tools you can use, directories of employers, hold job fairs, and they help you network with other alums who could help you get a job.  It is also possible to find internship and mentorship opportunities that can help you to gain work experience that will help you to stand out from other job seekers.

One such university that is helping their alums is the University of South Florida, in Tampa.  They have implemented a program called, Career Quest, that is linking their alumni association and their career center to offer classes, online resources and an opportunity to meet with an alumni career coach.  University alumni and career centers also have connections in the community and networks with local businesses that can provide information about jobs available and to link with you the people who hire.

I myself belong to an alumni association and reconnected with a classmate from 10 years ago.  As we were catching up on our career paths since we graduated, he learned that I am a university professor, of which he had aspirations of becoming. Through my networks and contacts, he is teaching at a university.  This is the power of your alumni assocation; they make you a member when you graduate so take advantage of this powerful resource!

When Your Values Misalign with the Job

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If you are having difficulty at your workplace and feel angry and stressed, it may not be due to the amount of work you are doing or your hours.  It may actually be the result of your personal values not aligning with your work environment.  I see it over and over again, as I work with clients who come in unhappy and wanting to leaver their jobs; at times, they are worried that they might lose their jobs and feel as if they are being targeted by their boss.  Their stories can read like a bad novel:  “I’m doing all the work and XXX can come in late when they want”; they want to have parties when we should be working”, and “my boss never talks to me but he does to my co-workers.”  These behaviors occur on a daily basis in every organization across America.

While the resulting emotional feelings are real for my clients,  they are looking for relief and a way to cope and survive until they find a new job.  They don’t have any idea about what they are looking for in their next position – they just know they want out! Upon further assessment, it appears that they don’t really dislike their job but that their personal values are keeping them in total-work mode, i.e. minding those policies & procedures, but yet it makes them seem unegaged and standoffish to their boss and their coworkers.  This high value orientation, while admirable, keeps them mired in their own values and not necessarily the values of their work team or their organization.  Theses clients don’t like to “play” politics but that is what is exactly what is needed in order to survive.  I personally do not like to play office politics but recognize that we have to;  however, there are times when we need to play the political game while keeping our integrity and our values.

If this sounds like your struggles, you need to acknowledge and accept that you have high values and morals, which are exceptional qualities to have.  Observe yourself – are your values too high that you come across as standoffish or superior? Do you act defensive with your boss or coworkers, seeming oppositional?  You can learn to work with your values by being more open and making the decision to “own” your job and be the best you can. You can learn to be more open and friendly while maintaining your integrity.  You have the choice – what will it be?