Unemployment

Heading into a yoga class in Miami last week, I met a woman who was also from New York. Like most of us, she walked fast and talked fast. But even for a New Yorker she seemed a little…on edge.

She worried aloud about whether she was experienced enough for the class, worried about where she was going to go next, worried about the apartment she’d bought in a neighborhood she didn’t like.

During our conversation it emerged that she’d lost her job a couple of years ago and was still unemployed. I sensed that her jobless state didn’t cause her sprawling anxiety, but it did seem possible that it was part of a dreadful spiral—unemployment feeding unhappiness, making it harder to find a job, which caused more unhappiness…

Miami has a lot going for it–sun, Art Deco style and carb-loaded Cuban food. But just try finding work there.

A new report from job search engine Juju.com ranks the job search difficulty in 50 US cities. Washington DC is the locale where you’re most likely to score a gig–it has 1.18 unemployed people per advertised job opening. Miami, meanwhile, comes in at the bottom of the batch. For every job ad, there are more than nine people looking for work. Check out the rest of the rankings…

99er n./ a person who has gone through all 99 weeks of unemployment benefits.

This is one of the sadder definitions in our recession glossary. According to a story in the New York Times several days ago, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that by June, 1.4 million people had been out of work for at least 99 weeks–the maximum time you can collect unemployment, even with all the extensions that Congress has tacked on to give people more of a safety net in tough times.

Let’s put that a different way: A population almost the size of Philadelphia has been out of work for nearly two years

It’s not just a load of Web 2.0 hype—you can find a job using social networks, according to Brad and Debra Schepp.

“ We’ve spoken to many people who use LinkedIn, Twitter and even MySpace to find jobs—regular 9-to-5 jobs or consulting gigs or freelance work,” says Brad, who with his wife authored How to Find a Job on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and Other Social Networks.

I get pitched a lot of job-hunting books. Most of them should have been made into pamphlets instead. But after my first glance through the Schepps’ book, I quickly made a few adjustments to my LinkedIn profile—and I’m not even looking for a job. Here are ten of their tips for getting the most out of social networks.

Get on LinkedIn

The site has become so widely used, that if you don’t have a profile…

If you care about this issue, you’ve probably heard that the US Senate voted 60-40 to keep emergency unemployment benefits going. Long story short: Good for jobless peeps, bad for the deficit.

Millions of people stopped getting checks in June when the program expired in June. According to the Washington Post: 8.7 million people were receiving jobless benefits at the end of June. A little more than half received state benefits, which are typically available for 26 weeks. The rest were receiving extended benefits financed by the federal government, which are due to run out soon unless the bill before the Senate passes. The Labor Department estimates that 2.5 million people had been cut off by the end of last week.

The House is expected to okay the bill this week…

What’s good about getting laid off? Helping kids with cystic fibrosis. Starting a coffee roasting business. Teaching yoga. Becoming a painter. Lemonade is a beautifully shot 40-minute documentary about a group of people who used to work at an advertising agency, and the opportunities they created for themselves. It’s so appealing, we won’t even point out that our Lemonade Makers came first.

Oops. Just did.

Two major companies announced major changes today. San Francisco bank Wells Fargo is eliminating 3,800 jobs as part of a “restructuring”–a small number compared to the 278,000 who work for the company, but big for the people who will lose jobs. More than 638 independent consumer finance offices will be closed.

Meanwhile, pharma firm Merck is closing eight plans and eight research sites, including two outposts in the US. It’s canning a whopping 16,000…

For nearly five months, I’ve been trying to fill a few positions at our human capital firm, and along the way I’ve learned quite a lot about the many ways job candidates can blow their job prospects—obvious and not so obvious. In this still-challenging economy, it is not what the company can do for you, but what value you bring to the company. You should focus addressing any issues that could keep your candidacy from moving forward, and try NOT to shoot yourself in the foot with one of these moves.

Being Arrogant

Hiring managers want people who are confident—but most also want team players who work well in groups. There is a very fine line when it comes expressing confidence in an interview and what hiring managers see as being arrogant or cocky….

Just when you’ve gotten used to spending your days curled up in a pink Snuggie watching game shows, UPS knocks at your door to deliver your future.

It comes from the law school you’ve been deferring for two years in hopes that you’ll find a scholarship, strike oil, or win big on Deal or No Deal. Inside is a leather bound notebook and a brochure showing how much fun you’d be having at said high-priced law school. There are pictures of attractive (but not too attractive) twenty-somethings playing soccer on the lawn and holding Tarts for Torts bake sales.

You almost buy it. Then you remember that the only thing worse than being broke and unemployed is being a broke, unemployed and $200,000 in debt.

Here are eight reasons it’s unwise to hide out in law school during the recession.

1. Paying $150,000 to defer unemployment will not get you a job

Since it’s nearly impossible to take economics courses without destroying your GPA, law students tend to bypass courses that help them understand the obvious: the supply of lawyers is greater than demand. Hence, you may not find a job after law school…

Most of us have heard so often that it’s important to have a personal brand that we’re sick of it. The overuse of the term is beginning to devalue it. I’m not a box of cereal; I’m a human being, you might say.

That is true. And it is increasingly difficult to find a differentiator as the competition for jobs and consulting assignments is so fierce. Maybe it’s because we’re looking at ourselves as a business. We’re using dull and dry terms to describe ourselves: team player, proven track record, top producer. They don’t exactly leap out and grab someone by the throat.

But a review in The New York Times last week of two young pianists got me thinking that we should be looking at it in a different way. The Times music critic began: “Many young classical musicians feel pressure to stand out.” Well, who doesn’t? It’s not just pianists; everyone in this tough economic climate is looking to stand out. But it was another sentence that really got my attention: “It is not enough to play an instrument – or sing or conduct – brilliantly. You have to search within yourself and define your artistic identity. Your performances should convey what you believe in, what excites you.”..