Friday, March 29, 2013

How the Business World Works


I have two links today for your reading pleasure; warning, both are a bit long. Together, they tell a story about what work is today--how it works, how it's changing, and what drives it. Both caught my attention on the blog/aggregator Digg (

The macro story is about Samsung. How did it zoom from a "meh" company languishing on the back shelves of Circuit City (remember them?) to the one company able to challenge Apple, at least for now in cell phones?

Don't get me wrong. I'm a died in the wool Mac enthusiast. I had my hands on the very first Macintosh model that ever worked off the production line, the Mac 128K in 1984. I was sold immediately, and eventually (with the gracious support of my parents in those lean grad-school years) got my hands on the third-ever Mac model, a 512KE. (Microscopic! The numbers refer to RAM; my current Mac could be called the "Mac 8,388,608K.")

But back to Samsung. Here is the story of its business strategy. It's run as a dictatorship. I can't imagine that working there was pleasant at some junctures. But the linked article outlines a clear (and obviously successful) business strategy. It's not a business model for everybody, every organization. But it's brilliantly logical. Study it--find out how companies make decisions, not only about how to hire, but how a real organization works in the world today.

The second link is micro. The title, "Your iPhone kills jobs," is perhaps a bit misleading. It's not about how the job you thought you were headed for when you enrolled in college as a freshman has gone out the window due to outsourcing.

Instead, it's about how mobile electronics (iPhone, and undoubtedly Samsung) are becoming a tool to place an extra buffering layer between you and the people who decide what you will be paid, or whether you'll be paid. When you (the employee) are removed in space and time from the person who makes the decisions, you get paid less.

Interesting side note: it discusses the New York city Automat--where my Pop-Pop worked for many years.

My favorite quote from this second link: "You paste on a plastic smile and do your work as efficiently as possible." 

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Solution #3: Work for Free!

Are you a visual learner--got a few minutes to watch some videos that may change your career, maybe your life?

I've watched one in full, and parts of others. The one I watched was 

Video 3: The New Way To Work: Charlie Hoehn. He starts out describing a situation I imagine many of my students find themselves in--unemployed, staring down a lifetime of underemployment. His recommendation? Work for free. Yes, he does tell you how to get around to getting paid for your work. But it's a fresh, gutsy approach--if I were still in my 20s, I might seriously consider it.

The rest of the videos appear equally promising! 

The Best Stuff on the Web

Whether you've just gotten a new computer (or mobile device), or you've had your device for a long time and wondering whether you are missing something--there's a website for that.

The blog Make Use Of is a good first stop for both non-geeks and geeks-in-a-hurry who want to locate "the best" applications for a variety of devices--iOS and Android, Mac and Windows. The link I've supplied today allows you to select your device, and scroll through various kinds of applications, each with its own thumbnail review. 

Of special note for those of us who are cheapskates: many of the offerings are free. Why pay for a program when you can get a freebie that does 99.9% of what you want? 

My favorite find: LibreOffice, a free alternative to Microsoft Word (and the rest of the suite: Excel, PowerPoint, etc.) 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Business Cards: How to Use

Yes! A business card can offer you a chance to make an impression as a professional who knows the unspoken rules of the business world.

The first link above gives some basics on how to receive others' business cards. Japanese business etiquette isn't necessarily the same as American, but there is a valuable concept embedded there: see the card as the extension of the person. Treat it with respect.

The second link offers a snappy idea for business cards: include a Q code on your card. Your recipient can use a mobile device to view the code, which then automatically opens a browser window with your chosen "landing site." This may be your homepage, a video resume, or another online way that you have set yourself apart from the crowd.

The third link puts business card use into a broader context, the "networking conference." This is a broad, general term that could refer to job fairs, professional conferences (academics have these all the time), or events organized by local groups in your community.

For some extra help, type "business card" into the search box on my blog to see previous articles on where to get cards, and how to use them.

Remember, business cards are not only for those who have a job; they are symbolic slips of cardboard that can help you get a job, too!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Freelancers Band Together

With fewer fulltime jobs available in the U.S., more workers than ever are finding that to keep a roof over their heads and a tofu roll in the oven, they must work freelance.

Freelance work can feel liberating--you set your own schedule, and you can turn down jobs you don't like. But it can also feel scary--you're on your own for health insurance, tax issues, fair working conditions. (You don't have to be paid minimum wage if you're doing the work at a flat rate for the project.)

There's a group called Freelancers Union set up as a response and resource to the need for knowledge, networking, ratings, and all-around mutual support. It crossed my path in the Sunday New York Times article I've linked below. 

It's worth a look-see, even if you are not planning to work as a freelancer. You may want to think about it; or you may find yourself freelancing by default; or you may find yourself supervising freelance workers.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Why does the economy stink?

If you are angry about the financial meltdown that started in 2008, and aren't sure why the Dow Jones (a stock market index) is up and jobs (you know what those are, right?) are down, here's a way to get some insight by watching an enjoyable film.

NU's Edward W. Hutton, Assistant Professor of Commerce, will be screening the movie Too Big to Fail about the financial crisis, on Wednesday, April 10, from 5:00-6:30 pm in Bisgrove 350-351. After showing the film, he will be leading a discussion group on the topic "Can this happen again?"

"Too Big to Fail," according to IMDB (, "Chronicles the financial meltdown of 2008 and centers on Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson." It gets 7.2 stars (a respectable rating--worth seeing--just a few points shy of the ratings for the latest James Bond film Skyfall). It runs an hour and 40 minutes, and stars James Woods, John Heard and William Hurt.

Seeing Red

Should you wear red for a job interview? Although the article I've linked today is mostly about dating, there is perhaps a lesson about how to dress for interviews here. Red attracts attention. I'm not suggesting you cover yourself from head to toe in red. But perhaps a pocket square for gents, or an accessory for ladies, might gain you the kind of attention you're looking for!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Resume: Customize

"I am a very hard worker with a great willingness to learn." This is a circular file headline for your resume. It may be true; you may even be among the top 1% of applicants in the pool. 

But if you don't customize your resume for the position, you're toast.

It's not as hard as you might think Here's a great article that shows you how to make sure your resume gets past the ATS (computer-generated "thumbs-up/thumbs-down" sorting process--the dreaded applicant tracking system). 
  • Scan the ad or posting copy for keywords. Include those in your resume. Where relevant, match those keywords to something you've actually done. 
  • Quantify--give numbers, percentages; write something more than "I was really, really successful."
  • Follow directions. If the job posting tells you to draw a blue star in the top right page of your resume--then draw a blue star in the top right page of your resume! 

Monday, March 18, 2013

Read News, Get Out of your Bubble

Read the news every day--good point. You really don't want to have the "deer in the headlights" look when a prospective employer tries to start a pleasant conversation with you about something that's making headlines everywhere except your head.

When you apply for jobs, you really want to know if there's a spin or an angle you can use in your cover letter, or your conversation (or a spin to avoid, for that matter) that will help you stand out in a crowded field.

Besides--reading the news has gotten a heck of a lot more fun over the past decade or so. The Hack College blog I've linked to recommends on source for news that is interesting, quirky, but nevertheless based on solid reporting -- Kicker.

Another fun and dazzling way to consumer news, with apps for both iOS and Android: Flipboard

Digg (both app and online formats) also has a well-curated, eclectic assortment of goodies.

By the way, if you've cobbled together your own newsfeed using Google's RSS reader, you probably know that Google is pulling the plug on their RSS service as of July 2013. I understand that Digg is working to create a new RSS aggregator to pick up the slack; I don't know what it will look like, or what my other options are right now--but be aware of the transition upcoming!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Fake it 'Til you Make It

Here's a good primer on how you can take control of body language--visual cues that offer a prospective employer an insight into who you are, and what you can offer. 

Note that this article doesn't simply tell you to "have confidence"--rather it tells how to show you have confidence. You've probably heard the old adage that "it takes money to make money"? Well, you can build your confidence by exhibiting confident body language. Not only will you get feedback that says others believe in you; but the act of behaving confidently will change your perceptions of yourself.

Added bonus: if you're talking on the telephone, remember to keep your physical body language in key with what you would be doing in person. You can hear someone smile over the phone, and you can hear someone standing (or sitting) up straight rather than slouching.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

All's Fair at the Fair

A quick review, as you think about the upcoming Niagara University Career fair on Wednesday, March 20, courtesy of Boston College's Career website. (See my blog post here for more about the NU career fair!)

It's a great article--short, sweet and to the point. (Be aware that BC's fair is for education majors--ours is for any major!)

Extra goodies: at the end of "tip #4," you'll find a link to a video on their website. Here, you have an 11-minute mentor in the palm of your hand, which will help you map out a strategy for working the career fair like a pro. If you'd rather go right to the posting on YouTube, here's the link:

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Don't Apologize for an English Major!

So why in the ever-lovin' bejeezus did you take an English major?

You have nothing to apologize for! Here's an excellent article that explains why English is a smart move for students who want a broad range of possibilities upon graduation--and how they can leverage their passion for literature into a solid set of job offers.

You have the ability to communicate--about anything, not just about Shakespeare. A March 2012 survey reveals that "'oral & written communications’ was the second most popular search term employers used when reviewing resumes for positions designed for recent college grads; 45% of employers search for this term" according to this blog entry.

With the explosion of social media marketing, that means you have what it takes to grow within this growing field.

However, you can't just waltz into a job with your shiny new English degree: "it’s up to the student to take charge and create their own opportunities. This might mean filling up their elective slots with business courses or internships." (Cringe: 50 extra bonus points if you can spot the grammar error in the first sentence... clue--it has to do with noun-pronoun agreement.)

Please note: I was asked to remove a link to an article posted on the website "" because some changes in Google created problems reaching that site. You can still visit that site and search for "English" to find articles related to the value of an English major.

Job Fair at NU, 03/20/13

Please plan to attend the Niagara University Job Fair!
  • Title: Career Expo, 2013
  • Date: Wednesday, March 20
  • Time: 2:00 to 4:00 p.m.
  • Location: Castellani Art Museum

This year's employers represent a broad array of opportunities including full-time, part-time, summer, and internship positions.

Employers include:  
  • FBI, New York State Police, City of Cheektowaga Police
  • Life Technologies, NY State Department of Agriculture
  • Praxair, Walmart Global Distribution, Leonard's Express, Fetch Logistics
  • Summit Educational Resources, YNN Your News Now
  • Citi, Target, GEICO, Prudential, Northwestern Mutual, Mass Mutual

These are real employers with real jobs, and in most instances they are ready to hire our students regardless of their major.

A complete list of attendees is available at

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Women's History Calendar at NU

March 19, 2013; Tuesday Noon-1 p.m. LL Gallagher 110.
Brown Bag Lunch, Hosted by NU Health Services. Discussion of Women’s Health. 

March 20, 2013; Wednesday, 7:15 p.m. Dunleavy Rm. 127
Film: Miss Representation. A Documentary Film by Jennifer Siebel Newsom.                    Moderated by Hope Russell , Women's Studies Instructor, NU

March 21, 2013; Thursday, 7 p.m. Dunleavy Rm. 127
Lori Soos and Women’s Healthcare Initiative, Niagara University

March 25, 2013; Monday, 7 p.m. Bisgrove Hall Rm. 350
Women and American Politics Panel Presentation and Discussion. Dr. Nancy McGlen, Dr. Jamie Pimlott, and Dr. Shannon Risk

Stand Up, Stand Out, While you're still in College

Here are 10 basic steps to standing out as a job-seeker. What's interesting about these 10 steps is how many of them you can get started on from even your first year of college. And if you are heading out the door for graduation--there is still time to get some of them well underway.

You might choose to pick up a language, or learn an additional skill-set. Even if you don't have room on your curriculum card for formal classes in Spanish or computer programming, you can still find clubs and interest groups where you can get some basics.

Socializing, networking, and promoting yourself are easier in college too, because you have a built-in community surrounding and supporting you.

And since you're in Niagara University, a Vincentian institution which promotes service learning, it's easy to locate volunteer opportunities that will let you shine in an area you are passionate about--whether it's addressing concerns about hunger, interning in a social-media related field, or some other interest.

Friday, March 1, 2013

It Pays to Think Nonprofit

According to the Harvard Business Review, nonprofits are having a difficult time attracting talent. No, they're not describing a shortage of unpaid volunteers and interns--rather, they're describing a shortage in managers and executives in permanent, well-paying positions. 

The HBR references a pretty serious study from 2005, pointing out the reasons for this shortfall in talent. You can see the broad overview here, and you can find a link to download the whole report:]

There have undoubtedly been changes since the 2005 study. However, that HBR is writing about it suggests the problem remains. Paid leadership in nonprofits is hard to find. The HBR report is geared toward the existing leadership in nonprofits--not to job-hunters. But I'm sure you can reverse-engineer the insights. 

There are jobs to be had, if you are interested in this sector. As a Niagara University student, your service learning experience gives you a serious leg up on the competition.