The Desk

January 2, 2016

Exposure and Expertise

Businessman giving an used book to another businessman, learning to survive

Businessman giving a used book to another businessman, learning to survive

There’s a constant search for the best qualified candidate to be added to your workforce. They come to the table with all the education that’s required by the job description. They have the right amount of experience performing the tasks that need to be done. They are aware of the terminology and use it in appropriate context. They are wonderful when it comes to timely execution and speed. Why do they have all of these gifts? Where can you find more of them?

No doubt some of these skills were gained in the classes they took. Still others were developed with exposure to various technologies. Still other things were learned through conversations and reading all manner of trade and recreational content.

How useful all of this knowledge proves to be depends on its source and the amount and type of education that accompanied it. If it was merely parroting something without any appreciation of what the expression means or its history, not to mention the why of its use, then it’s simply doing because you were told to do so when x, y, or z occurred.

You can break a contract but taken literally, it’s difficult to see how a piece of paper can be broken. How many who don’t have exposure to that term understand that violating the terms of the agreement can result in losing the benefits of the association? We can talk about algorithms. That’s a fine and fancy name for having different bases of measuring things that are already in daily use. We count denominations of money using a base of 10. However, we measure distances, space, and time with a base of 12. All of those are algorithms. Does the neophyte realize this? Perhaps not. They’re simply intimidated by this new word and concept that’s been put before them with no explanation.

Taking a skills test can be similar to taking a classroom evaluation of the last section that was taught. However, screening and selection tests such as the LSAT or the SAT are an entirely different thing. If the applicant has never experienced an evaluation process of that type, it shouldn’t be expected that they will perform well on literally their first exposure – unless, of course, there’s some form of genius lurking in those brain cells.

Scalia recently opined that Blacks should not be put into the better educational institutions because they have poor learning skills. That might be true were it not for the fact that educating Blacks has historically been an after thought (if that much). Like women, they were to be kept uneducated in order to have better control over the population and keep them in a state of being disenfranchised. And even in that ethnicity, plus the combinations that created racial and ethnic Creoles, there have been those who found patrons who saw the benefits of providing quality education to them. In the alternative, the population found ways to gain even the rudimentary gems of education in order to propel them into something more.

Education is a prized aspired to by all races and ethnicities. Each family sees it as the tool that will bring fulfillment of the promise of a better life and empowerment. But that promise cannot be realized if the mentoring and educating to create the employable candidate is not provided.

So develop your employee education programs to your advantage. Also develop mentoring programs with an eye toward reducing apathy while increasing engagement and productivity. The exposure to the concepts and terminology will provide you with more than just the ideal candidate for the next step on the ladder.


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June 9, 2014

The Growing and the Going

Here’s some interesting news. The job market is opening up again. Unemployment claims are down from the April 2014 statistics. “Over the year, the unemployment rate and the number of unemployed persons declined by 1.2 percentage points and 1.9 million, respectively.” (Employment Situation Summary of June 6, 2014) Nonetheless, the critical questions are

  • In what industries is there positive growth?
  • Are there age limitations on these opportunities?
  • What is the average salary?
  • How much education is required?

Growth Jobs

Now these are some excellent things to take into consideration. The first article I found lists seven careers that are growing while offering compensation at significantly more than a minimum wage. All of them require at least an Associate’s degree. But the average pay starts at approximately $22 (computer support specialist and paralegal) and increases to just over $34 (diagnostic medical sonographer and dental hygienist). Sandwiched inbetween are occupations such as police officer, web designer, and registered nurse.

It’s important to also state that “all wage information [is] from the U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Employment and Wages data, May 2013.”

A police officer is going to have age (35 years) and physical agility restrictions. The LAPD puts their officers through their specialized training and schooling. For some reason, it seems they are also required to learn penmanship. This would be a good occupation for someone who knows how to take orders, show restraint, know the difference between a situation that requires active intervention and when just talking the individuals into calmness is appropos. This occupation also requires good listening skills and being objective.

A dental hygienist is also going to have physical demands on their abilities. Standing for long periods of time and the ability to reach, especially at odd angles, are things that should be considered.

The jobs that require personal interaction with people will also require good listening skills, sensitivity to what’s happening with the person with whom you’re dealing, and the ability to tactfully and accurately give instructions. Where reports need to be prepared as part of the follow up, good grammar and spelling are imperative.

Take a look at the occupations that are enumerated. Some of them can be accomplished while seated, even seated at home. So don’t rule out web design just because you can’t sit in the traditional cubicle. (In fact, maybe you want to celebrate that one!)

Shrinking Demand

The next five occupations are noted as having “salary information and projected job growth rates from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2012.” The growth rates between 2010 to 2020 are low, in some cases only 5%, in one case as low as 0%. In other words, these are jobs to be avoided if you’re looking for long-term opportunities.

But I began to scrutinize the jobs a little closer and paid closer attention to the descriptions. Perhaps it isn’t so much a matter of the jobs dying as much as the titles are changing to something else. While a teller may be a job that holds little promise of a future (and low pay), it is a starting point in the world of finance. There is some merit to considering it as a job to get you through school at night while earning your degree – and the qualifications for the next step. That occupation is compared to opportunities as a financial analyst which requires more sophisticated skill sets and more advanced education.

Likewise, it was surprising to see that fashion designer is a fading occupation. However, the article attributes a number of factors such as competitiveness and allure of the trade contribute to its low pay. On the other hand, a position as an art director is a much more lucrative situation as far as compensation, growth, and opportunity for career diversity – not to mention prestige.

What’s in a name? It seems, quite a bit. The dental lab technician is a low paying job with little growth prospects. But turn that into being a dental hygienist and the options explode. Much like the teller jobs, it appears the lab tech is an entry-level situation that can be done while gaining education in order to take the next step.

A craft and fine artist has a lot of competition going against it in addition to poor economic conditions. However, before leaping into a career as a graphic artist (much more lucrative), consider the markets that the fine arts and crafts fields offer. Rehabilitative services can be delivered to those whose motor skills are impaired or in need of development. That creates opportunities for a broad age spectrum from small children who need to learn how to hold and manipulate instruments in order to do many things all the way to seniors who need to maintain their motorskills – and all the folks on the spectrum inbetween.

Which leads me to the last category of jobs that are fading – credit authorizer compared with actuary. While the availability of online credit reports is creating pressure on the life of the credit authorizer, there will still be banks and real estate businesses (title companies, for example) that will rely on the authorizer’s collection of data. Again, it’s a starting point; it doesn’t have to be done in a cubicle; there are low physical demands although the need for care in collecting and interpreting data for the correct individual or entity is paramount.

There for the Taking

These forecasts aren’t in a crystal ball. Anyone can access them for free by using the Occupational Outlook Handbook, a comprehensive tool published by the federal government. Portions of the information is available by using the salary calculator tool on any job website. And there are also salary websites (whose calculator tools are usually part of the job websites) such as or Use them in combination with other tools or just use one. Do your research. Keep yourself on a positive plane.

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January 5, 2011

Using Your Skills and Networks

Job search can be a real challenge. Sometimes it’s handled well and people seem to bounce back from a short-term setback with zeal in what appears to be no time. Others have a long detour and a lot of learned lessons that leave the apprentice not too well for the wear.

There’s talk that jobs in the Midwest are short on availability. Even though rents are much lower there than New York or Los Angeles, affordable housing is simply a pipe dream if you’re homeless or living on the streets.

Yet, today we have a story about a man who’s in the Midwest and homeless. It seems he’s in the right place at precisely the right time with just the right skills and definitely more than the required motivation. This man with the golden voice just got Opportunity buried into his lap thanks to his using his voice, the training he got in refining that skill, and the community on Reddit to advance his opportunities for housing and a career in the industry that he loves.

It was interesting that about the time that the golden-voiced Ted Williams story was going viral on YouTube late yesterday afternoon I was talking with a cab driver about those who are down on their luck but cheat or use shortcuts to pull themselves out of trouble. I observed that in those cases, the person will take on the traditional opportunity. Unfortunately, they scam the system by injuring their own self in order to gain short-term, not very profitable tools to gain income and relief. The self injury provides a stream for the short term (maybe three to six months), creates a Worker’s Comp record for them, and decreases their credibility. Ultimately, they keep finding themselves back in the same circumstances or maybe even worse. Meanwhile, their alternative paths to empowerment make those who are willing to provide a hand up or an open door become jaundiced and leery, thereby making them unwilling to repeat the generosity lest they be exploited again. Those who have genuine desires and goals, not to mention talent, are left to struggle against the stigma and prejudice.

Not so in the case of Williams. He’s using his intelligence to help him leverage himself and his talents to beat down the prejudices and stigma toward a person in his temporary circumstances and start his journey down the road to his personal success as he defines it. He’s availing himself of the assistance provided by his virtual network on Reddit to gain the reach he needs to market himself.

His story is so refreshing that it makes me wonder how many other real and virtual communities are actualizing these and other types of connections with referral opportunities for their members of whatever age or background.

August 25, 2009


It was 40 years ago this morning that I began investing and the significance of making good choices became acutely underscored in regard to education, training, good listening skills, and communication. The awareness of where to network, as well as how, became another important factor at that time.

Being a member of a minority group meant, as my Second Grade teacher advised her students, being twice as good as our white counterparts so that we could be considered half as good. That meant being prepared for the rejections that would occur throughout our lives that were based on the mere color of our skin and texture of our hair no matter what the venue. But that lesson had to be taught in an indirect manner so that it felt as though it was intuited knowledge. Thus, acceptance and the true meaning of diversity, recognizing all of the races and cultures and ethnicities and blendings that caused our existence could be embraced and celebrated. That also spelled understanding discrimination without needing to endorse it nor waging a war about it. Sometimes the best way to defeat the hate is to simply wall it up in a container and then stow it.

These are all fine things to consider. It’s admirable to aim for accomplishing them as far as developing a person with a meaningful existence who will increase the value of their workplace. They will improve the community for the fact that they passed through that space and did positive things as they impacted it. They strove to do the best possible in the workplace and everywhere else. These are the factors in our investments. But its the return on investment, the ROI, that gives us the bottom line on whether the training and development was properly handled.

Do they fight resistance with all of the tools at their disposal, being selective about which to use at the proper time and in the right measure? Or do they become complacent and accept the dregs that smack of insult instead of the measure to which they have worked to earn and merit?

What type of ethics do they ultimately practice, whether in spite of or because of our training? The question also needs to be raised as to whether our input and training would have made a difference. We question whether we should have been more adamant about certain matters as our capital was being developed. There are some who would tamper with our product and interject negative influences that should not have been part of the training. Still others will attempt to approximate what they see us using but they have no sense of how to replicate the lessons. Therefore, their theft mangles the training and undermines the development regimen so that remediation is not just necessary, it is mandatory.

The issue of knowing when to let go in order to test both our own selves as to our abilities at development as well as the product to see how well it performs becomes critical as time passes. It’s important to do periodic quizes. Taking the small steps to curb disaster are easier in those small increments rather than wait until one payload is ready to be delivered and fails.

After going through all of the development and training of our investment in our future, we want to see our dividend and returns at least doubled. If they aren’t, there’s disappointment in the effort. What still needs to be considered in this regard is whether we’re using the proper measuring stick. It could be that we’re using the one for the architect when the activist logorithm is the correct rule. No matter. It’s important to have a sense of how much return we’re getting on that investment.

October 13, 2008

Candidate Face Off

Filed under: Hiring — Yvonne LaRose @ 9:17 PM
Tags: , , ,

These presidential debates and Town Halls are starting to move me back into Total Immersion. Everything I see has some relationship to job search, sourcing, recruiting, candidate development, retention, and promotion. They have me thinking quite a bit about diversity and legitimate qualifications. And they’ve got me thinking a lot about interviewing.

I’m at the stage where I’m thinking what if we had a face-off between the last two or last three contenders for a C-level position. Instead of keeping the candidates away from one another and their responses to our many questions about “what if” and “how would you” or “where would you” we did things much differently. We would put them in a conference room with the members of the Hiring Committee, the full Board, and the Officers. The members of this auspicious audience would pose questions to the candidates. The questions would be based on specific topics that are pertinent to the governance and welfare of the company. A la Town Hall style debate, the candidates would respond to the questions and also be allowed additional time to respond to or refute the answer their opponent gave.

I’ve been frustrated this election year with the fact that I’m not able to easily take in the debates. Even more frustrating is the fact that it appears the candidates are falling back on speechifying and spouting rhetoric rather than delving into talking about the difficult issues and coming up with projected plans and workable designs for this nation and its people.

The frustration is exacerbated by the overwhelming amount of dysfunction impacting us due to the fascist regime under which we’ve labored for the past eight years. It is a regime that feels it is answerable to no one and is completely privileged and untouchable. It’s use of the many economic tools is without knowledge and appreciation of the inevitable outcomes from mismanagement. We shouldn’t be surprised and shocked at the pervasive amount of fallout impacting us at this date.

Why would we do something that’s this far off the traditional path of interviewing and screening? These types of debate interviews or face-offs would allow the stakeholders to see the full strengths each candidate brings to the table on a pro rata basis. These face-offs could have the advantage of showing which candidate has the strengths the company needs at this time and provide insight into how those strengths would actually be used to get the desired results.

Aren’t interviews and their content supposed to be private? That’s what we’ve been told for centuries. Perhaps it’s time to break the mold. No one has given us solid reasons why the types of responses we seek from these candidates should be obscure and occult. In fact, this is the level at which the enterprise needs to know from the outset whether the potential leader is one who is ethical and how well they articulate the goals and agenda of the company.

There are so many times when the same question is not posed to all the candidates. Therefore, how they would have answered compared with their competition is still a mystery. Yet decisions are made based on what was said, who seemed to provide the best answers, and recollections that strive to retain what was said by the other candidate some three to five weeks before. And these recollections are beside the point that there have been many unrelated meetings and negotiations and other business that has overriden this minor step in the hiring process.

Additionally, this alternative interviewing style affords us with a new perspective of the candidates. C-level workers are the leaders of the corporation. They are the vision of not only where the company is going but the best way to get there. They set the tone for the style and manner in which things are done. They are the role models. How they handle challenges, pick up theirselves when there’s a misstep, their communication strength, and graciousness are all part and parcel of what we’re trying to get right. Having these candidates face one another is a true test of how well they can handle the challenge of facing any opposition.

This is a time when the stakeholders can get a very accurate picture of what the candidates see as the major emphasis and focus for the company. It is also the time when everyone can see and hear how well the candidate has prepared himself with knowledge of the company, its standing, and other important aspects that relate to making decisions on behalf of the company.

Does the candidate play to his or her own strengths or does s/he use denigration to gain position over their contender? How solid is the candidate’s knowledge of the issues facing the company? It’s important to know whether the person appreciates the competition’s brand compared with that of the company as well as whether they have ideas about how to enhance that image. Having them discuss these matters on a page for page basis is much better than getting caught up in something that takes us off in another direction that simply does not compare.

If nothing else, having these simultaneous interviews does something very important for the company. It allows the contenders to know who the other is. Wherever the also ran goes, there also goes a new contact and a relationship and respect that was built on clear and open communication.

Perhaps this proposed final interview of C-level candidates is over simplified. Maybe it wouldn’t work because the human factor in any situation is always the one that simply cannot be predicted. It is always possible that between the two final contenders, one is more ruthless and unethical and will then turn back to their competitor’s company and let the word slip that they met the other candidate while having talks with the company about a mission critical vacancy.

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