Monday, April 23, 2012

5 tips for new grads; start by ignoring the headline in today's papers

Today the front pages of The Tampa Tribune and the Tampa Bay Times ran an article on the grim future for new college grads.  It was the same Associated Press article.  This drives me crazy because it lists the issue and no solution.  One 23 year old described "months of fruitless searches........graduated in 2012 with a creative-writing degree."  What was really telling was his comment, "I don't even know what I'm looking for." Then the article gets career help from a Harvard economist! URGGGG.   Careers aren't numbers--they are people first!  Numbers are the results of what people do.

So here are 5 tips to help you experience a springboard, not a cliff,  when you graduate:

1:  WORK:  Internship, part time jobs, seasonal, volunteer:  Get some experience, get some references, get some discipline.  The internship will give you experience in something you may like or love or even realize you don't like!  All that is useful information as to what your career path will look like.  I realized after a government position that I didn't like it.  It didn't seem like I mattered.  I had a great office and hardworking boss and co workers but overall--what did we really didn't matter to anyone (at least I couldn't see it)--so I went to private industry.

Internships, part time jobs and seasonal work will give you people who will provide a reference as to your attitude and your skills.  I worked at The Old County Busch Gardens one summer.  It was hard work.  Lots of walking in the park, selling high end imports in my story.  I met great people and learned about processes in a business--from customer service to closing out my cash drawer to display marketing.  I grew up in a family business and I was surprised how much I learned growing up that was true in this business too!

Volunteer where you can meet business owners.  There are loads of charities who would appreciate your ability to apply your marketing skill, your creative writing, your financial knowledge or your organizational skills.

What about discipline?  No one fires you when you don't make class.  You need to know that you need to get to work on time-ready to work.  That doesn't mean excuses for traffic.  You work through headaches. You become part of a team and understand what it means to contribute to something bigger than yourself.

2.  Practice engaging in a conversation!  Ask your parents' friends and ask employers to help you interview.  What are your strengths?  How are you working on your weaknesses?  Pick 5 companies you admire and talk about why you like them?  Research them so you can ask questions that are intelligent-not questions that can be answered by Google.Go to a free networking event. Practice chit chat.  How do you start a conversation?  How do you end the conversation?  Make eye contact. Remove piercing hardware, cover tattoos and practice your handshake.  ( of course if piercings and tats are integral to the job-show them). All are part of a good impression.  Read one of the top business books or biographies.  It will give you something to discuss.

3.  Put pressure on your college career center.  Hey, I love talking about "fixing the world" especially with a good bottle of wine-but it doesn't' pay the rent.   Your career center should prove as an assessment place, help you explore firms, share search engines with you and sites that will give you insight into a company.  They should teach you how to read a basic profit and loss statement so you can decide if a company is good or bad-financially.  Alums should reach out to the career center first.  If you wouldn't hire a grad-why should people hire you?  Parents and students need to get more from their career centers.  They should be the facilitator and the catalyst.  A good career center can show off the degree and  the powerful alumnae network.  And for the college/university it is an investment--the sooner the new grad is making money the sooner the former student will have money to give back-especially to a school that prepared him/her.

4.  LinkedIn, LinkedIn, LinkedIn--and this is not a commercial.  This is where you spend your time on line.  Understand the relationships people have. Read job titles.  Read the summary of what people have done in those jobs.  Post articles of interest in your field.  Are you leaning towards photography?  Let people know about a cool article on the latest HDR technique.  Join groups so you will get to know those people. You can join up to 50! Ask questions; build relationships.  Too many times I see-"I need a job." or "Can you tell Mr so and so about me and send my resume."  Are you kidding me?  This isn't about you.

People hire people who will solve their business need. What is the business problem you solve?  The world does not owe you a job--but you owe yourself a job.  You are missing out on the great feeling of contribution and pride that comes from doing a great job in whatever you do.

5.  Writing!  Have a killer resume.  Your resume should include a profile or summary at the start which includes what you know as well as how you work.  For instance:  "Bi-lingual proven leader with an economic degree.  Experienced in customer service and retail financial operations.  Known for dependability and initiative."  List your experience and then your education.  Your resume should have a section on your Honors and Awards (like Dean's list), a section on Leadership (like Swim Team Captain) and a final section on Community  (participant in Relay for Life).  Your resume should stay the same but your cover letter should change to  address a particular job.  Research the firm.  Be sure your language mirrors the language of the firm.  For instance if one of their company values is entrepreneurial spirit-talk about your  experience from your record breaking Girl Scout cookie sales to the fund raising at the sorority.

And here is a bonus tip:  Take the assumptions being made about new grads to your advantage.    Summarize in your interview and cover letter something like this:  "Some people believe that new grads are so busy texting that we don't know how to work.  I do know how to work; I do know how to apply what I have learned in my jobs and I have references who will share why I am a good employee.You aren't taking a chance on me because I am a proven example of a good employee."

Okay, hope some of this helps you or a new grad.  If you want  more help for your student (you did hire him/her an SAT coach or  a soccer coach) then call me(813-920-9030).  Give a graduation gift that is an investment in your new grad.  That first job will set the stage for their future earnings.  Don't let your student be a victim.

Monday, March 5, 2012

You May Need Bigger Bulletin Board--yep, here comes another legal posting!

Well, a federal district court upheld (3/2/12) a National Labor Relations Board's (NLRB) rule that requires employers to post notices informing workers of their right to join a union.  Several trade and business groups challenged the NLRB rule including The National Association of Manufacturers and the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation along with the National Federation of Independent Business.  

So, what is this poster?  It informs employees of their rights under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). It must be posted in a conspicuous places, informing them of their NLRA rights, together with Board contact information and information concerning basic enforcement procedures.    The notice state

"Under the NLRA), you have the right to: 

  • Organize a union to negotiate with your employer concerning your wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment. 
  • Form, join or assist a union 
  • Bargain collectively through representatives of employees’ own choosing for a contract with your employer setting your wages, benefits, hours, and other working conditions.
  • Discuss your terms and conditions of employment or union organizing with your co-workers or a union.
  • Take action with one or more co-workers to improve your working conditions by, among other means, raising work-related complaints directly with your employer or with a government agency, and seeking help from a union.
  • Strike and picket, depending on the purpose or means of the strike or the picketing.
  • Choose not to do any of these activities, including joining or remaining a member of a union"

The notice also lists several examples of unlawful behavior under the NLRA and instructs employees how to contact the NLRB with questions or complaints.

Employers are also required to post the notice in a foreign language, if 20 percent or more of the employees in the employer’s workforce speak a language other than English.   The NLRB is translating the poster into 26 other languages.  The rule additionally requires that employers who regularly communicate with employees via electronic means, such as a company intranet site, also post the notice electronically, or provide a link to the NLRB site. 

The notice must be posted by April 30, 2012 and it must be an 11/x 17 paper.  The court struck down much of the enforcement in the original rule but it is clear that employers who fail to post the notice could face an individualized determination that failure to post the notice was unlawful. 

Oh, you can get the copies of the poster for free from the NLRB or download it a at Get poster from NLRB

Now, you may wonder if you are an employer required to post this--the answer is probably yes if you are a private employer.  There are several public-sector employees and others who are excluded--including workers employed by a parent or spouse.  Details are at the bottom of the poster. Also, the Board did agree to exempt the US Postal Service for the time being due to the organization's unique rules under the Act. 

Here's a link to read some of the FAQs: NLRB FAQ on poster
Yes, there still could be appeals.... 

And for a little light reading--and for your reference--here is the rule: NLRB rule on poster.

I'll publish some info on protected concerted activity. It can be tricky.  

Friday, February 17, 2012

After 6 years: Wage & Hour Class action suit against Novartis settled for $99M!!!

So Novartis isn't waiting for the US Supreme Court ruling and is settling the wage and hour class action lawsuit for $99Million!

Novartis says its pharmaceutical sales representatives fit the "outside sales" exemption of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).  The plaintiffs didn't agree and felt they were unlawfully classified as exempt and denied overtime. The $99 million is an award for the eligible class members of nearly 7,000 and 30% in attorney's fees.

The class members averaged total compensation of $91,500 and they worked an average of 10 to 20 hours of overtime each week.

The settlement includes resolving overtime claims, meal periods and/or compensation for rest breaks, will provide itemized wage statements, maintain and keep accurate records, pay employees in a timely manner during or at the conclusion of their employment and provide compensation for off the clock time.

The decision is still to be made by the US Supreme Court.  This case has been litigating for nearly six years.

I pulled the detail information from several sources including press, trade magazines, attorney notices.  
This case will have a ripple effect. The impact of a law designed in the 1930's for the jobs of today will continue to create issues between employees and their organizations. More on that at a later time. 

Monday, January 30, 2012

Deadline this week---Feb 1 for OSHA 300A posting

February 1 is the date when employers covered by the Injury and Illness Recordkeeping Rules of OSHA need to post the official summary of all injurires and illnesses occurring in the prior year. This is fondly (:-)) known as the OSHA Form 300A.   The summary must be posted in the place where other notices for employees are posted.  The summary must remain posted through April 30, 2012.

But--before the form can be posted but after it is completed, a company executive must certify that he or she has examined the OSHA 300 Log and "...believes....that the process by which the information was recorded, ...and...that the annual summary is correct and complete."

The executive is assuming responsibility and accountability for the accuracy of the process and the information.  This is generally not the person who keeps the day to day records.

OSHA can cite an a employer if the OSHA Form 300A is not posted as required.

Are you a covered employer?  Here are some excerpts from the web site.  The link follows the info:

  • Every employer - regardless of size or industry - must orally report any incident that involves the death of a worker and/or the hospitalization of three or more workers. You must call your local OSHA office or 1-800-321-OSHA within eight hours. You don't have to report most highway or commercial carrier accidents, but you must report fatal heart attacks that occur at work. 
  • If you have 10 or fewer workers, you normally do not need to keep injury and illness records. Remember to include temporary employees under your direct supervision in that count. And if you're in one of the exempt low-hazard industries, you don't have to keep records unless OSHA or BLS asks you to participate in their annual surveys. 
This is a presentation script on OSHA recordkeeping from OSHA.  Enjoy :-)