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“It’s a bad economy.”
“We’re in a recession.”
“You gotta take what you can get.”
“Nobody is hiring anymore.”
“Those old jobs are not coming back.”
We are hearing a lot of negativity about the job market these days. The fact that the unemployment rate is hovering around 9% nationwide is not helping our general lack of optimism. While a 2010 map of unemployment shows a more reasonable unemployment rate of 2.8% for Billings Country, North Dakota, it shows a much more chilling realization for Imperial County, California where the unemployment rate was 27.6%. As anyone will tell you, this is an animal we’ve never seen before, and most of us are not quite sure how to deal with it.
In May, an article was published about the new rules for the job interview. I found these rules such as “research, research, research” and “ask questions” to be somewhat refreshing. Many of the online articles that give advice such as “always write a thank you note”, is somewhat dated and doesn’t work in every case. I’ve also discovered that these articles have gotten so many hits, that it seems everyone is taking this advice. If everyone is using the same advice, you can no longer fully distinguish yourself. If the employer can’t remember you, then why hire you?
I am not pretending to be an expert on the job interview process, but I do have some insights that I picked up during my own search. Hopefully, these “rules” will be useful to some of you.
There Are No “Rules” For Every Job Search
This one is pretty hard to swallow. Most people just want to know what to do and how to do it. There are no hard and fast rules. Every industry is different and every company is different. Sometimes the hiring managers have the final say, and sometimes it is human resources. The person reviewing your work may not necessarily know the exact qualifications needed for the job and how to screen them. Some hiring managers appreciate thank you notes and some have no time to read them. Some allow follow-up phone calls and some prefer email. Your best bet is do to as much research as you can, and use networking sites such as LinkedIn to learn more about the company as well as the kinds of people that they normally hire. Are you similar to the typically hired employee? Does the company value diversity in interests and education? It is your job to find out these small details and make them work for you. It could give you an advantage over someone else who does not know these little bits of information.
Grammar and Tone Speak Volumes
Everyone knows that a well written cover letter and resume will help you not get disqualified as easily as poorly-written ones. Hiring managers get hundreds, sometimes thousands of applications for a single position. Having documents that are not perfect will work against you. However, many people forget about the tone that they use when write cover letters. Your voice and personality can really shine through when you use the correct words. Syntax and semantics can also reveal a lot about you. Do you write as if you are confident or entitled? Are you apologetic for circumstances in your work history or ready to prove yourself? These are subtle differences that can make all the difference in how you are perceived by a hiring manager. Be careful with your written language.
Don’t Fool Yourself Into Thinking Interviews Are A Simple Process
So you landed an interview. Fantastic! Your work is not done. Depending on the industry and the amount of applications you may be subject to multiple interviews. This could be a good thing or a bad thing. It could indicate that they really want you or it could mean that they have several close candidates and they are unsure of who to pick. I was recently subjected to four interviews with nine different people over the course of several weeks. No one can tell you whether you should keep granting a company interviews or give up and move onto another company. It really is up to you. Use your discretion or your gut before turning down multiple interviews. It may not necessarily be a bad sign.
Know What You Can Offer The Company
Unfortunately, it is an employer’s market. It’s a potential employee buffet, and the employer can interview as many people as they want, and decide not to fill a position if they don’t find the right person. It’s up to you to let the company know what you can offer them. Are you good at driving up sales? Let them know that. Are you especially frugal and can save the company lots of money? They need to know that. Do you have some innovative ideas that can help them open up to a new market? They want to hear that from you. Don’t offer up too many of your valuable ideas, so that they get free brainpower from you and you receive nothing in return. It is a give and take atmosphere, but at the end of the day, it’s still business. They have something to offer you, and you have something to offer them.
Know What is Important to You About Compensation
Do you need to make a lot of money to pay off bills? Do you need health insurance to take care of yourself or your family? Do you need time off? Will flexible hours allow you to take care of a special needs child or an ailing family member? You need to know what your priorities are, and if a company can meet them for you. You should aim to be flexible, but it still is a business transaction. If work/life balance is important to you, do not be so quick to settle on a job if it will take away from that. While we cannot always have everything we want from an employer, it is important to maintain your health and sanity, not to sacrifice everything.
Just Be Yourself
This can’t be stressed enough. These days, an employer can easily find out if you are lying about your qualifications. These things are so easily checked that you should not waste their time nor yours. You should always be on your best behavior when on an interview, but don’t fake it. Employers want the most for their money, and if you have the qualifications it will help. But if your personality does not match up with theirs or their company culture, then they will be hesitant to hire you. Giving the most accurate yet best presentation of yourself will do you more favors than not. Always remember, just because an employer can’t hire you for a position, doesn’t mean that their other hiring manager friends at other firms can’t.
Ebonye Gussine is a graduate student in the Master of Science in Business Management & Leadership Program at the CUNY School of Professional Studies. She loves writing, reading, and is an avid fan of John Steinbeck’s works. In her spare time she sings off-key and travels to new places.
The recent Eurozone sovereign-debt crisis has caused a serious dilemma for not only the weaker economies of the European Union within the Eurozone, but also the stronger ones. Germany, the fifth largest economy in the world and one of the leading EU countries has played a big role in the attempts to solve this crisis, which has put it in a bit of a rough position in its internal political sphere in regards to bailouts for countries like Greece, Portugal and Ireland, and the possibility of future default, yet has also given it an advantage in influencing the economic policies of weaker Eurozone countries who are dependent on bailout money. After many deliberations amongst EU leaders, the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) was approved, which will replace the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) upon its expiry in June 2013.
The ESM is meant to safeguard financial stability within the Eurozone and provide assistance to Eurozone member states who are experiencing financial distress. Starting in June 2013, all new sovereign bonds will include a Collective Action Clause (CAC), which will enable creditors to pass a decision, based on a majority vote, to change the terms of payment through application of a standstill, an extension of maturity or an interest-rate cut/haircut in the case of insolvency. The purpose of the ESM is essentially to make default less risky for creditor countries. The problem is that this doesn’t solve the problem of the heavily indebted economies of Greece, Portugal and Ireland and their subsequent affect on other, stronger Eurozone economies such as Germany.
One obvious flaw in the ESM is the fact that it’s just not enough to fix the problem; the fund amounts to €700 billion, allowing for a €500 billion loaning capability, of which each member country will contribute €80 billion each in annual installments that begin in 2013 while the rest will be made through guarantees, direct purchases of government bonds in the primary market or what Wolfgang Münchau has called “callable capital” – when shareholders supply the depleted fund with new capital – a highly unlikely scenario. A mere €500 billion will not cover the debt problem of Greece by itself, let alone that of Ireland, Portugal and other countries teetering on the brink of a debt crisis such as Italy and Spain whose economies simply cannot afford to be further burdened with bailouts for another member state. Furthermore, the ESM fails to tackle some of the most pressing issues regarding the restructuring of the financial systems of all the Eurozone countries that are suffering financially, something that is needed if this crisis is ever going to be settled in the near future.
Eurozone countries with AAA ratings, which are limited to Germany and France, have devised a get-out-of-jail-free card of sorts: the privilege to not have to actually put up the cash for the fund but simply give a guarantee. This will certainly work to their advantage but that at the same time will work toward the demise of the weaker economies, who do not get such a privilege, which seems likely to produce those awful long-run effects that any economics student is so often advised to avoid. It is understandable that Germany and France do not wish to be burdened with the debt of the fiscally irresponsible, if it can be said that simply, yet nonetheless, a customs union/partial economic-union bears with it certain responsibilities and certain burdens, a fact that is always in direct competition with the social welfare programs of the participating countries and thus, will produce a political nightmare for those involved. But if Germany and France allow this circle of debt to continue (Italy backing Spain backing Greece backing Portugal backing Ireland, etc.…) at some point, the bubble will burst and they will be forced to fork over the money and commit political suicide or let the whole Eurozone economy collapse. In the meantime, speculation may kill any chance that the weaker countries have of digging themselves out of the hole, only deepening the problem even more. As an example, Portugal’s government bond rating went from an A- to a BBB after the announcement of the ESM in March, pushing Portugal ever closer to the abyss of dire insolvency.
This does not mean that the ESM is a bad thing. On the contrary, it’s a step in the right direction, but it fails to promote stability amongst Eurozone countries and burdens those who are already on the brink of financial collapse. Countries whose fiscal problems have led them to the point where they must tap into the ESM will be forced to follow “pro-cyclical budgetary policies”, whose tactics of budget cuts and tax increases may not necessarily work to the advantage of the country in question. Another reason that this might cause problems is the fact that a decrease in the money supply of any given country produces a rise in interest rates and a subsequent appreciation of the currency. The last thing that any debt-stricken Eurozone country needs at the moment is an increase in the Euro, which is too strong for many of the weak countries to handle. Of course, the CAC allows for interest rate cuts, but these must be approved by a majority vote, and speculation damages must be taken into consideration; if investors start pulling out due to interest rate cuts, this would also increase the problem.
Another suggestion that has seen some media time has been that of a single European Bond that would replace all national debt in the Eurozone. This prospect was heavily advocated by Wolfgang Münchau in an article for the Financial Times; the flexibility that would be offered by such a mechanism, including the option to be sold and traded on secondary markets could provide an alternative to “cross-country transfers”. Alas, this option might be an even more difficult sell on the internal political scene since combining Germany and France’s AAA bonds with those of the less fortunate is not something that either of the former would be too keen on, and in fact, the idea was shot down by the German Finance Minister in 2009.
Unfortunately, the Eurozone is between a rock and a hard place. Germany’s economy is running strong but the struggling economies of Greece, Portugal, Ireland, Spain and Italy are in dire need of a revamp. The most important thing for the EU to do right now is to jump in to the gritty task of restructuring the failed financial and economic systems of these countries and demand that the government’s of these countries make a serious effort to stabilize, organize and amend their economic and financial infrastructures in a way that will help them to work their way out of the crisis slowly (Buiter et al.). This will be no easy task and will demand the active participation of all debt-ridden Eurozone countries. The future may seem bleak but at some point, the Eurozone countries will be forced to a point where they will have to stop “muddling through”, as Münchau calls it, and take a decisive action. Just what this action may entail remains to be seen.
Nina Michael is in her junior year in the BS in Business program at CUNY School of Professional Studies. Nina has been all over the world and loves traveling; she currently lives between Italy and New York where she works as a professional English teacher and translator. She loves languages, food, coffee, wine and a good book; she is also a first-rate bartender.