Job hunt needs calm approach
Q: The job market has been picking up, and I’ve been sending out a lot of resumes, but I’m not getting invited to interviews. My current job has turned into a dead end, and I really want a change. What am I doing wrong?
A: Match your experience to each position you apply for, and get help from people you know to find opportunities.
A successful job search requires a calm approach and a positive attitude. Let go of frustration with your current job and discouragement with your search.
How have you been finding leads? Personal connections are the most productive way to find a new position.
Identify the position types you’d like to have and companies (or at least company types) you’d like to work for. When you send an application, take time to customize your resume. Many HR departments use electronic keywords to scan applications, so you will not rise to the top if you don’t match the language in the job description.
— Liz Reyer,
Minneapolis Star Tribune
No privacy in open office
Q: Our department’s physical layout has created a lot of problems. My employees work in a completely open area without cubicles or dividers. There are no enclosed spaces where we can talk privately about confidential matters, such as personal problems or performance issues. The staff frequently complains that it’s difficult to concentrate with so many people around. I have suggested wearing headphones, but no one seems to like that idea. Instead, I get a lot of requests to work from home, which creates its own set of problems. We’re about to move to a new building, which gives me an opportunity to reconfigure our space. What would you suggest?
A: Fortunately, the completely open work environment was a fad that now seems to be dying. A little privacy should improve productivity and morale, so install cubicles or dividers to reduce noise and other distractions. Although some people can focus in a hurricane, most employees find that constant movement and conversation make it difficult to concentrate.
Do not assume, however, that a revised floor plan will eliminate those work-at-home requests. Apart from escaping office chaos, people enjoy working in their pajamas and avoiding traffic snarls. So unless you plan to eliminate this privilege altogether, you need to develop a clear telecommuting policy.
To encourage collaboration, the new layout should include a small conference room or meeting area where colleagues can gather to discuss plans and projects. And since every manager must be able to have private conversations, be sure to give yourself an office with a door.
— Marie G. McIntyre,
How to fix mistake-filled trust
Q: We hired a lawyer to make our trust. Ever since, we’ve been living a nightmare. The trust has so many mistakes and is unusable. We asked the lawyer to correct the problems. Eventually we were “fired” by our lawyer, who said we should find another attorney to help us. We have tried, but nobody wants to revoke our trust or correct the mistakes. Where do we go from here? We are seniors and can’t afford to throw money away, one lawyer at a time. (Of course, the attorney cashed our $1,000 check.)
A: Estate-planning attorney Carlena Tapella says: First, I am very sorry that you had to go through this experience. You spent money on an attorney and received work that is not to your satisfaction. I can certainly see why you are frustrated.
But I cannot recommend that you try correcting these mistakes on your own. You need the assistance of an attorney to ensure that it is done correctly. Talk to family or friends who have had trust work done and are satisfied with the services they received. Cost should not be the primary factor in choosing an attorney. The old saying, “You get what you pay for,” is often true. On the other hand, there is no need to pay thousands of dollars for a simple trust.
I suggest asking your attorney for a refund if the work accomplished was not satisfactory. You may not get anywhere, but it does not hurt to ask.
— Claudia Buck,
Salary and cost-of-living issues
Relocation to a new city often involves cost-of-living considerations.
Therefore, when considering a job and scenery change, it’s not a bad idea to first check out how your current salary would fare in a new city.
A number of user-friendly cost-of-living calculators on the Web can help you figure out your salary needs in a new location.
Here are a few:
• Best Places: A simple look at how your current salary measures up in a new town. Site: www.bestplaces.net/col/
• Bankrate.com: Calculate relocation equivalents and expenses in dozens of categories, from home and rent price to different foods and services. Site: www.bankrate.com/calculators/savings/moving-cost-of-living-calculator.aspx
• CityRating.com: Calculates the cost of living in two different states based on your current income. Site: www.cityrating.com/costofliving.asp
• PayScale: Looks at cost-of-living calculations between U.S. cities with graphs that chart increases or reductions in specific services. Site: www.payscale.com/cost-of-living-calculator
• Salary.com: Explore cost-of-living differences based on old and new home and work locations, with brief analysis details about the move. Site: http://swz.salary.com/CostOfLivingWizard/layoutscripts/coll_start.asp
— Chuck Myers
McClatchy-Tribune News Service