Let's Talk Work

because there are two sides to every story

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Workplace Violence

Shooting in Aurora, Illinois

Photo Credit: time.com

The tragedy that plagued an organization and the families it employs has been front-page news since Friday. These workplace shootings are far too common, as are those in schools and other places.

What steps has your organization put in place (or are they at least planning to) in order to prepare for such an unexpected event
At the very least, it should start with comprehensive pre-employment screening that should include background checks that reach beyond your current county or state.
A zero-tolerance policy should be developed that accompanies appropriate disciplinary and grievance procedures.
What about violence prevention training, for all employees?
We have fire drills, of course. However, such a traumatic event such as active shooting in or around a workplace, will cause confusion and chaos and potentially lead to more tragic consequences when no one is prepared.

Workplace violence is not just about a shooting. From vandalism to product contamination, from stalking to domestic violence, from arson to attempted homicide, or worse – homicide – as we are all witnessing too close to home. An incident could be a personal attack on an entire organization or just on one person, and not always from inside the organization, but also from outside the organization. Consider what happened at Mercy Hospital only months ago; still traumatizing staff to this day.

So, we are addressing employers today. How are you preparing your organization? If such an event were to occur — do your employees know where they should go? Is there a safe place to hide? How does one take personal protection from your position in the building? How should someone respond if coming face to face with the aggressor? Is your organization prepared appropriately when conducting a termination, from security staff to a secured area?

There are many measures that employers can take, and of course – they will depend upon the type of industry involved; whether accessed by the public or only vendors. There are so many factors. We are interested in your thoughts on this matter, one staring us all in the face.

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Heads Up – on Your Job Search

First things first. Attitude speaks volumes. It can be present in the way you write, of course the way you speak by phone, your social media interactions, and especially how you present yourself to an employer. This starts with your resume, your cover letter, and even how you apply to a job. Keep these points in mind from experienced corporate recruiters – perspectives from their side of the desk.


  1. Pay serious attention to any direction within the job posting. This could be hidden within the body of the description – sometimes to gauge who is paying attention to the direction, and who is not. When an employer anticipates a high level of interest, this could be one way they elect to weed out candidates at the onset. Why? If the candidate isn’t following a simple direction of ‘how to apply’ then how will they be paying attention to the details of the job? This is where ‘attention to detail’ comes into play right away.
  2. Proofread and re-proofread your cover letter and resume. We all can spend a lot of time working on it, get buried in it, and blinded by our own light! A fresh set of eyes can be helpful. Sending a resume with spelling errors, grammar inconsistencies can rule you out before you’ve had the chance to interview.
  3. If there are gaps in your resume that are 6 months or longer, be sure to explain them at least in your cover letter. If you happen to get laid off after a decade or two at a company and are fortunate enough to get a severance package, maybe you decide to use a couple of months to regroup. No one should hold that against you. Not everyone has such an opportunity to do so, along with the financial security blanket that may allow for such. For the most part, any prospective employer wants to know what are you doing with your time – productive, educational, caregiving, whatever.
  4. List and discuss your accomplishments in a job, not just a bullet list of duties. You may have been ‘responsible’ for some things, but aren’t we all? What makes you stand out in the roles you’ve had that could make you shine in an interview? How might you contributed to improvements, efficiencies or more?
  5. And a final note – be sure that you carefully review any cover letter, document or email. Do not send such an introduction by simply editing a letter from another. Too often, a different job is mentioned or even worse, a different employer. Dear  ABC Company, when you thought you were sending it to XYZ, and you didn’t save and re-read or re-proof that letter. When this is the case, your resume getting even a once-over is unlikely.

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Question Your Profession

A question for you. Do you ever wonder why you do what you do? Did your career pick you or did you make the choice? Do you ever consider what you might do next?

Working Caregiver Male

Curious. Have you ever questioned your career? It’s value to others, is it challenging  or meaningful enough; or is it thankless?

Some people can come to a crossroad early in their career. Maybe they’ve been enlightened through academics and found a different path along the way, then changed direction and ran with it. Or maybe they realized they were not a good fit. They weren’t being taken seriously, that no matter how hard they worked or even with the best of work ethics, a career path just didn’t seem to make sense anymore.

Have you found yourself in such a predicament? Maybe changing careers early because a unique opportunity presented itself, or just maybe, you were part of a workforce reduction…and you realized that there is less room at the top now, or that technology has eliminated too many jobs. If so, was this early in your career, or maybe much later – and possibly too late to turn back the hands of time?

What could be next for you? What might you do to prepare or have you already been dreaming about something? Please reply and share if you are willing.



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Friends, it has been far too long since this blog was updated. Aimed at a weekly update early on, but work (and life) can get in the way. Sorry about that!

Bipartisan agreement 1

This “let’s talk work” concept/name was selected after realizing that this blog is intended for both employers and employees — managers and subordinates; people with a seat at the table and those who construct the tables; those who broke a glass ceiling and those who clean the glass; workplaces and virtual workers; those who teach and those who are taught; top of the chain and lowest on the totem pole. You get the idea.

I wonder, is there something you would like to hear (read) more about? Are there legal issues or new ordinances you have concerns about? Are there career interruptions or career crisis that you need to address?

Would appreciate hearing back from you on what you might like to learn about on occasion. Let us know, and maybe we can address those needs.

All the best on this rainy President’s Day here in Chicago.

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whole paycheck

Did you guess right away where I was going with this? I’ll cut to the chase:

Whole Foods Market. While attending a Halloween-themed class on cheese and wine pairings, of course – I was observing the employees hard at work.

Those who attend culinary schools more than likely imagine themselves in a fine dining environment, and maybe not so much in retail of a food market. However, it can be a good match. A trained palate can serve very well in a variety of arenas.

Combine food knowledge with personality, people skills and high energy! A winning combination for such marketing events (i.e. classes) to welcome attendees, recognize them, invite questions and make it all fun, while positioned in the department that features all the accompaniments such as the featured cheeses (and then some) the crackers and other delicacies. We taste. We like. We may buy.

That was just the cheese. Partner that with a skilled beverage pro that can select wines (and ciders) to pair with the cheeses and fruits; create mulled drinks and other cocktails, and all not too far away from the liquor department.

Pass around the yet-to-be opened packages of all to-be-tasted treats to let us see what they look like, hear the price, the specials, and other options while this fun learning opportunity (holidays are coming) is turning us into ‘customers.’ A team-based activity and effort that is inherent to the culture at Whole Foods Market.


Brilliant marketing!

But let’s talk working there…”I’ve heard” that the pay is not so great and it may be difficult to transfer from one department to another, or especially another location.

They are highly competitive, internally.  They are very much team-based. So, if one is more of a loner, or prefers more solitary work, then WFM may not be a fit. Being open and trustworthy are other characteristics of the work culture, and of course, whom they hire.

Granted, this is a retail environment, but reasonable hours – not a 24/7 operation so that works well for many. It is a people and community focused workplace.

So, I attended to experience their efforts on promoting wine and cheeses, and ideas – and all was good; even great! Yet, at the same time, I was observing what is most likely a marketing business model and the employees in action who make it a seemingly great place to work!

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Is the grass always greener?

Do you want a career change, or just a job change? What might make someone leave a job, a company – that has been quite good to them from day one? Are you seeking a work and life balance that you’re not getting? What about income or benefits? What are you risking by leaving a company that has been stable and good for you so far?


or PLAN B?

First, it simply may be for a change of pace and tasks. Maybe something more creative. Or, it could be because you can’t get comfortable in the workplace culture or with the leadership you report to. Often, it’s when one has had enough, of something.

However, leaving on good terms – on really good terms, is always the best no matter what your reason. Will that door be open for you again, if you need it?

Many companies have a ‘no rehire’ policy in place. Sometimes that policy has been mandated because of management being burned by one employee or another. Yes, managers get burned, too. To protect themselves from all kinds of risks, to avoid a recurrence of nepotism, or to simply not welcome back someone who thought the grass might be greener.

Be sure to know your company’s rehire policy (if they even have one) so that you can make an educated decision should another opportunity come your way. Be as honest as possible about your resignation and if there is even the slightest chance the grass may not be so green on the other side, don’t burn bridges. Make nice. Let your current employer know how grateful you were for the opportunity you were given, and that you would hoped to be able to reapply in the future if desired. And if you really want to keep that door ajar, keep in touch. Call your former boss or co-workers. Let them know how things are going. There’s always a honeymoon period with a new job. “I love my new boss; my commute is so much better; people are so nice here; there is so much to learn.” Yes, I’ve said that all myself. After spending a full month with one side of a corporation and then being catapulted into an entirely different mindset and culture and environment. While I knew where I was headed, I hadn’t realized the difference between corporate and actual workplace. And what a difference it was.

So the grass is not always greener. It may have been presented to you that way. Or it may just turn out that way. Any new job can turn upside down for unanticipated reasons. Just don’t be blindsided and don’t let the doors hit you on the way out. Keep them open.



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observations at a job fair


It’s been just over a year since SGi hosted a job fair in Orland Park. Attending one today on behalf of a client with only a few current openings – all part-time.

Today’s event – more highly attended by both employers and job seekers. Maybe because it was free. Maybe because it was hosted by a politician who facilitates a few of these annually in area suburbs.

“Part-time is better than no time” was the best response I heard today. Good attitude.

Others – not so upbeat. Many educators being laid off due to budget cuts; other industries downsizing as they are doing more business on the cloud. Some people may not have had to endure unemployment until now; upbeat and motivated or scared. The feelings expressed can be raw – with emotions rising to the surface in even a brief encounter.

As an employer however, it is my obligation to try to maintain conversation with those who may be serious contenders for a current opening, or maybe a good prospect for a future one. However, when I ask someone what type of work they are looking for…and the response is ‘anything’, well, that isn’t too impressive. However, some older adults with a wide range of experiences may be looking for just that – anything. They may want part-time, due to early retirement, forced or otherwise. Or, simply a career change with more balance in their lives. Some are getting accustomed to being under employed.

What I have observed as that a majority of those attending were quite well dressed/groomed. They are prepared. Then there’s always the few who show up to look for a job and meet an employer face-to-face wearing shorts, or a midriff blouse, or both.  Most people have been quite pleasant, greeting employers with pleasantries and a nice smile.

And the resumes. It seems the longer employed, the smaller the fonts. Some try so hard to cram all experiences on to a page or two. Others, taking misguided advise from a friend. Resumes that have no companies listed. Still don’t get that mindset. In any case, if I was there to promote my services in resume development, etc. I would be busy for some time. But I’m not.







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of service

Who provides service?

Our military and every single individual who enlists serves our country, each and every one of us, all of us. Our churches and clergy serve our communities, our faith and our spirits. We are served by educators and their entire support system of internal service. We are served wellness and healing by our medical professionals, our insurance programs, our local health clubs – and all those who build the buildings that we enter; the dealers who sell us the cars and their ‘service’ departments who fix them and the gas stations that supply the gas albeit self-service. We reach out to professionals to help us plan trips (Kayak, Rick Steves), choose service providers (think Angie’s List). Of course, we reach out to funeral homes to help us plan those dreaded ‘services’.

We have the Internet to provide us access to information and more ‘services’ that were unimaginable when most of us were born. Of course, there are the cable and Internet and telecommunications companies that help us gain and maintain access to such a service. It takes a village.

We have professional services that some of us can’t live without: cosmetologists, landscapers, massage therapists, clinical therapists, dog groomers, mechanics and the list will never end, as our need for such services continues and evolves. And it will. Who knew Amazon would replace our shopping experiences to the extent that it has and who knew (maybe Bezos did) that it would make the impact on our daily shopping needs that it may be planning on? We probably don’t have a clue as of yet how we will be impacted, or we may already be impacted and not even know it. On a larger scale – we serve our planet. By doing whatever we can as individuals, as homeowners, as tree huggers – to contribute to clean air, green spaces and hopefully retaining what the EPA has been put in place for. A service we won’t be able to live with out.

There’s community service. Some may be assigned for legal reasons; most performed by people who are seriously dedicated to public service, whether in administrative roles or in beautifying their neighborhoods.

Writers write, editors modify and publishers publish and booksellers promote and sell. Truck makers design and build the trucks that the trucking companies buy in order to deliver the goods that are sold to us in all sorts of places, by the truck drivers who get it to those places far and wide. It takes a village.

In the workplace, many don’t often realize the service that they provide unless it is spelled out for them – in a job description or by assumption. There are those who serve customers in restaurants or banks, or retail stores and there is another never-ending list. Public service, private service, customer service. What does it mean to serve? Perform, provide, deliver; a cook can perform and create, the clerk can provide the checkpoints and the driver can deliver the food to you, or the wait staff can ‘serve’ your dinner to you. In a restaurant, you provide tips as a standard of thanks. A gratuity that can range from mediocre to outstanding, depending on the level of service. Wait staff most often rely on these tips for a living. What may go wrong in the kitchen does not necessarily reflect the abilities of the ‘server’ unless they are mindlessly going about their job; not paying attention to a delayed order, a wrong order, etc. The gratuity most often reflects the level of service, the timely attention, the friendliness, and the manner in which one is served. And in those places where gratuities are not a standard practice – service good or bad, is still recognized. The gratitude may be passed along in the form of a recommendation, or not.

I could ramble on about service, which I think I already have. What my point was intended to be – is to acknowledge all those factors that/who contribute to the end product or the end service. Technology has become a factor in everything we do or buy. But someone, a human, has created, trained, maintained whatever type of technology that is. Within an organization, there is an IT service department. These are people whose jobs require them to analyze or service the systems that other ‘people’ need to utilize to perform the specifics of their jobs. So internally, this is just one example of service within the same organization, who has customers inside and out of the scope of maybe what their job descriptions have spelled out for them.

We all provide a service. Most of us get paid for the services we provide to others. There are those who do not get paid – the under appreciated and under rated volunteers of the world. Volunteers can donate hours, days or weeks or longer to causes that have meaning to them (animal shelters), to organizations they want to give back to (hospice agency), to pay forward in a matter of education or empathy. There are so many ways to serve. Most volunteers will tell you, they get more out of their service than they think they give.

On a personal level – we provide friendship and support, when others need us. At work, we don’t (or shouldn’t) spit back the phrase ‘it’s not my job’ when we don’t feel like doing something. It takes a village. A village of do-gooders sometimes and a village of family; to be sure that our lives and our work impacts others in ways we don’t even realize yet. A good impact, an everlasting impact. You will be remembered for acts of compassion, kindness and generosity large and small. You will also be remembered for those times you could have, you should have, but you didn’t.

What are you doing for others?











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BIG little MiS tAkEs, Etc.

Some additional points – important ones.

Let's Talk Work

See Etc. Below

On my soapbox today…as I am spending a small part of this holiday weekend reviewing resumes received in response to a recent posting.

Candidates, there are a few golden rules to submitting your resumes online. Please consider the following so you don’t fall into that ‘black hole’ or get ‘lost in the shuffle’:

  1. ALWAYS name and save your documentwith your name or at least your initials. At least 1/3 of resumes just received are named as resume.doc or myupdatedresume.doc or similar. This makes it much easier for us hiring authorities to look through a long list of applicants and sort them by name, maybe alpha, in order to review them. Resumes that don’t have an identifier as their saved document name can indeed get lost in a shuffle of dozens if not hundreds more that do have some identifier.
  2. When you decide to use the template of…

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BIG little MiS tAkEs, Etc.

See Etc. Below

On my soapbox today…as I am spending a small part of this holiday weekend reviewing resumes received in response to a recent posting.

Candidates, there are a few golden rules to submitting your resumes online. Please consider the following so you don’t fall into that ‘black hole’ or get ‘lost in the shuffle’:

  1. ALWAYS name and save your document with your name or at least your initials. At least 1/3 of resumes just received are named as resume.doc or myupdatedresume.doc or similar. This makes it much easier for us hiring authorities to look through a long list of applicants and sort them by name, maybe alpha, in order to review them. Resumes that don’t have an identifier as their saved document name can indeed get lost in a shuffle of dozens if not hundreds more that do have some identifier.
  2. When you decide to use the template of someone else’s resume in order to copy and paste your own information – don’t forget to RENAME the resume and document to your own. Nothing raises the  red flag at the hiring company like two different names associated with one resume. Most likely, that is all the company will then read.
  3. Don’t associate your resume with a glaring or inappropriate email address for response. Just another Triancular_red_flagto the company about one’s professionalism.
  4. When submitting your resume, seriously, for a job, be sure that you meet some if not most of the qualifications listed. When you don’t, that sends yet another Triancular_red_flag that you probably didn’t even read the posting in full. And, if you take such shortcuts in your own career search endeavors, then what might you do on the job if hired?
  5. Always, email a copy of your resume as both your document as well as a .PDF version. Occasionally, employers will get resumes that have notes entered all over, or have some form of code or template lines on top of the content that was intended. This may say to an employer – he/she doesn’t proofread their own personal work, so we probably can’t trust them to be responsible for any workplace documentation that would be tasked with.
  6. Triancular_red_flag There are often red flags when resumes are submitted through various recruitment websites and aggregators and the intended targets (being the company) may not actually see what you intended them to see.
  7. Consider the level of the position you are applying to. Have you shown, through your own resume format, content, grammar and spelling, that you even meet the qualities required for the job?

And then some…

8.  Always be sure to place your name on each page of your resume.

9. It’s helpful to insert page numbers when your resume is more than one page.

10. There is no need to waste space on your resume with ‘references upon request’ as that is a given. If you don’t provide them ‘when asked’ you probably won’t go further in the process.

10+. Don’t even place the names and numbers of your references on your resume. Most people don’t want their contact information out there on the global resume/job search market – and wouldn’t be comfortable if this got in the wrong hands. On the other hand, have that list available to share (in person) when and if they are requested, most likely during an interview.