Taking Vacation During Tough Times

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HR Roundtable panel member Michael Haberman discusses why it’s important for employees to take a vacation, even during these tough economic times:

The other day on television one of the early evening gossip programs showed pictures of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and his family vacationing in Hawaii. One of the commentators questioned why the governor of the state was on vacation instead of fixing the stateís economic woes. His implication was that the Governor should be at his desk 16 hours a day 7 days a week working on the state’s business. I on the other hand was happy to see an executive understanding the value of stepping out of the stress and getting refreshed and reloaded.

Americans are already notorious for the little amount of vacation time they take. The U.S. consistently ranks at the bottom of poll after poll. Many employees will go years without taking vacation time or will use it a day at a time rather than in the larger chunks needed to be …

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Ask HR: The follow-up to the job interview

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While much time is spent by most job seekers in preparing for the interview, don’t forget the all-important post-interview steps. That includes of course sending a thank-you note (or e-mail) to everyone you interviewed with. But let’s say you’ve done that, and now you are playing the waiting game as far as hearing a response back from HR. How long should you wait before inquiring about your job application status?

Human resource experts from SHRM-Atlanta answered just this question for us in their monthly Ask HR column on ajcjobs. Their advice: Make sure you establish follow-up time guidelines at the conclusion of the interview. And if you haven’t heard back within the agreed upon time frame, an inquiry is certainly appropriate, but always be polite and positive in your communication.

Let us know your experiences with the post-job interview process. Do you have tips for other job seekers?

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In search of cost-cutting best practices

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HR Roundtable expert Bill Pinto discusses a variety of strategies companies are currently using to cut costs in this tough economy:

All across the country, employers are dealing with reducing their costs. Labor costs often are the largest segment of an employer’s costs, so that is the first target. There are a number of areas that could be cut, but after identifying which areas to cut, the more important part is determining how those cuts will be made.

Salary reductions are an alternative to laying off a segment of the workforce. Employers can retain more of their employees – and the knowledge they possess – by cutting salaries instead of letting people go. The simplest way to reduce salaries is to cut them across the board by a certain percentage. Some would argue this is also the fairest way to make these decisions. Others would advocate more of a Pelosian approach of no reductions or smaller reductions for those employees earning less and steeper reductions …

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Ask HR: How do you explain gaps in employment?

We asked a panel of experts from SHRM-Atlanta (Society for Human Resource Management, Atlanta chapter) the following question:

“Q. How should a job applicant explain short-term job stints without appearing to be an unstable job seeker or job hopper?”


Here are the answers from the human resource experts
. The overwhelming advice was to be honest, so don’t try to hide those gaps of unemployment just to make yourself a more attractive candidate on the surface.

Have you faced questions in job interviews about gaps in employment? How did you respond, and did you end up getting the job?

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Job hunting challenges for the older worker

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HR Roundtable panel member Michael Haberman gives expert advice on how to deal with “ageism” while job hunting:

Let’s face it, being 60 and newly unemployed is not a good position to be in. “Ageism” is alive and well and exercised on a daily basis. Obviously it is not openly stated, but report after report shows it is there. Your resume looks good, but then after showing up for an interview you start getting the cold shoulder. If you also happen to be overweight the problem is compounded. Add to that some other shortcomings, such as lack of computer skills, lack of a college education and an out of date skill set – well let’s be honest you have a problem. So what do you do? Here are some tips:

Part of your age is your state of mind. Just because you have gray hair does not mean you have to act old. Exhibit some energy and vibrancy. That may take some practice.

A second part of you age is how you look. Do you look “frumpy”? If yes, then redo your wardrobe to look …

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President Obama Shows His Cards

HR Roundtable panel member Bill Pinto analyzes recent moves by President Obama that will have an impact upon both the work force and HR professionals:

Recently, President Obama signed three Executive Orders and put to rest any questions about his views on the employee-employer relationship. The Executive Orders apply only to certain federal contractors, but they should also put HR professionals on notice concerning the direction the administration intends to take over the next 4 or 8 years.

Executive Order No. 13494 is called “Economy in Government Contracting” and limits how contractors can spend federal dollars. Specifically, the order prohibits federal contractors from spending monies on any efforts to persuade employees about bargaining collectively or not bargaining collectively. In effect, if a union wanted to organize a group of employees at a federal contractor, the Executive Order prohibits that contractor from using those monies to respond to the unionís …

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Increasing your marketability in a tight job market

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HR Roundtable member Dionna Keels provides tips on how best to market yourself as a job seeker in a tough job market:

The current job market is challenging to both employers and those whose quest it is to become an employee once again. Recruiters, who struggled to find qualified candidates a year ago, are now faced with the unique challenge of sorting through several, sometimes hundreds of qualified candidates and determining which candidate is the best fit for the position, their company and the uncertain future. Applicants are now faced with the challenge of separating themselves from the pack. In this brutal job market, where competition is intense, landing your next job can seem like an impossible task. However, there are proactive approaches to increasing your marketability in a tight job market.

Addressing short tenures: Having a steady work history is increasingly important in a tough job market. Employers view steady work histories as an indication of the …

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How to stand out at a job fair

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HR Roundtable panel member Michael Haberman gives advice to job seekers on how to stand out in a crowd of applicants at a job fair:

KIA Motors recently held a job fair in Georgia, as did the Federal Government. Hundreds, if not thousands, showed up to fill out applications. In a situation such as that how do you stand out from all the others? If the hiring company is only accepting applications and not doing onsite interviews you have to concentrate your efforts on your resume and the application. The human resources staff will be reviewing your paperwork and they will be looking, initially, for reasons to screen you OUT. Resumes that are too long, pictures attached to the resume, misspelled words on both the resume and the application, very poor handwriting, and very long time gaps or too many jobs, even for a poor economy, are all things that will screen you out.

Once your paperwork has made it through the initial screening you may get invited …

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The overqualified conundrum

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HR Roundtable panelist and SHRM-Atlanta member Bill Pinto delves into the controversial subject of being “overqualified” from both a human resources and a job seeker perspective:

With all of the recent layoffs, the market is full of individuals with years of experience and/or advanced degrees. Many of these people would love to find a job just like the one they left for the same pay. In a different market, that might be possible. In today’s market, many find themselves looking for any position that will provide income for their families. But when they try to apply for certain positions, they are told that they are overqualified for the position.

There are two sides to the overqualified conundrum. First, employees are legitimately concerned about earning a living – even at lower wages and in entry-level positions. Employees with longer work histories should be prepared to address the “overqualified” issue. Why are you interested in this position? Perhaps the …

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One company’s trash may be another’s treasure

HR Roundtable panel member Dionna Keels discusses how the unfortunate increase in unemployment can be a great resource for employers looking to hire:

In recent months, some of Atlanta’s largest corporations, government agencies and non-profits have found it necessary to restructure and cut jobs. Many of the employees who have found pink slips in their inboxes are simply casualties of war. Some, who have never experienced a lay-off themselves, may incorrectly assume that everyone affected was laid off because they were not valuable to their organizations. Remember, value is subjective. An employee whose talent is not valuable to one company may be extremely valuable to another. Many of these employees are well educated, highly skilled and possess years of specialized experience. One might assume that with this increase in viable candidates, companies with hiring needs would focus some of their efforts and resources on reaching this talent pool; however, often this is not the …

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