Employment Survival: Find Your Niche

To MBA or Not to MBA?<%0>"><%-3>To MBA or Not to MBA?<%0>

Resumes: First Step

Next Step, Blackjack?<%0>"><%-2>Next Step, Blackjack?<%0>

HR Deals

Jobfinding Groups

Separating Fact from Fiction

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These stories were published in U.S. 1 Newspaper

on April 22, 1998. All rights reserved.

Survival Guide: Career Planning

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Employment Survival: Find Your Niche

Now that the idea of working for the same company all

your career is a moot point, how does one persevere? Don Andersson

uses this analogy: think about employment security as opposed to job


The one-time manager of Union County, the only county in New Jersey

that has a professional manager, Andersson now runs his own human

resources consulting firm, the Andersson Group, based in Cranford.

Andersson, who espouses a style of personal entrepreneurism, speaks

at the Professional Roster Thursday, April 30, at 7:30 p.m. at Lawrence

Public Library, Route 1 and Darrah Lane. Call 609-921-9561.

The key to making the shift from job security to employment security

is to learn one’s professional niche. The problem isn’t intention,

it’s lack of focus, he maintains. "I’ve got to know what it is

I want to reach out to, who are my potential customers, what are my

current capabilities in addressing those wants," says Andersson.

"What additional R&D do I need to do on myself so I can be that

much more capable of meeting my customer wants?"

Andersson, who got his undergraduate degree from St. Bonaventure University

in 1957 and followed that with Rutgers MBA in 1986, has spent decades

working as an internal consultant. But he doesn’t honor the age-old

tradition of hiding behind titles or qualifications. "I’m no longer

a `director of this’ or a `vice president of that’ but I’m coming

in as a partner in accomplishing something," he says. "We’ve

got to make a radical shift in our thinking, that is to look at ourselves

as a combination of a unique set of skills and experiences that separate

us from everybody else."

Andersson has two areas of expertise and never introduces himself

as a just a consultant. "I define the business I’m in in two ways,

one is, primarily, I work with senior executives who want to land

a quick position and with corporate executives who want to attract

and keep the best people," he says. "That positions what I

do in terms of what potential customers want of me and I know that’s

what I can deliver on. And that’s very different from saying I work

on retention issues."

When doing a resume, Andersson instructs people to scrap their reliance

on titles and employment histories. Instead, he urges them to tell

the readers what they personally can do to meet customer wants.

The problem is, most people don’t know what this is. "They know

they’re busy and they can tell you a number of activities that they

carry out but they can’t tell you what they’re really in business

to accomplish for somebody," says Andersson.

The same goes with organizations. "My experience has also shown

that most organizations and sub-parts of organizations don’t know

what they’re in business to do," he says. "It doesn’t mean

they’re not busy, it doesn’t mean they’re not committed, but it does

mean that they have not clearly articulated what kind of business

they’re involved in. So everyone with the best intentions is working

real hard but they’re not on the same page."

In one job Andersson was working with a CEO of a major financial institution

and his top team on strategic planning. The team hit a spot where

people were spinning their wheels and Andersson intervened, asking

the CEO and the team to write down the five key issues they felt they

were trying to accomplish. When show-and-tell time came, says Andersson,

his exercise revealed gross incongruities between the CEO’s and the

team’s strategic visions.

"Today we’re probably going to hold five or seven professional

positions in our lifetime and most of them are going to be in different

organizations," Andersson says. "Because of that we run a

real risk for ourselves if we allow others to take charge of us and

our future. We have to take charge of ourselves, that means we can’t

simply settle for a job."

— Peter J. Mladineo

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To MBA or Not to MBA?

One standard career decision that almost everyone considers

at some point is whether to go back to school for an MBA. The business

press feeds on this dilemma by doing endless reports and opinions

on the pros and cons of that investment.

If you are among those pondering the MBA, it may be useful to look

beyond this year’s commentary and instead review how the reputation

of the MBA degree has fared over time. Carter A. Daniel, the

director of business communication programs at Rutgers, covers that

territory in "MBA: the First Century" (Bucknell University

Press, 1998, $52.50 hardback).

At first glance this academically-organized tome (290 pages plus 40

pages of footnotes and index) seems destined for an early trip to

the remainder bins. But then the drama of the subject and the unusually

clear prose draw you in. Daniel has a PhD in English as well as an

MBA, and he is one of those rare academics who writes clearly.

In 1902 Dartmouth first awarded a degree in Commercial Science. Daniel

uses this date to start telling the ups-and-downs story of how business

studies earned respectability. In 1926 the "ill-conceived and

short-lived" Harvard Business Reports was supposed to apply the

principles of law (with decisions based on precedents) to the science

of management. It didn’t work, partly because legal principles are

established by decision, whereas business principles are judged by

success in the market.

Undeterred, the business schools continued to spread their wisdom

and even managed to escape responsibility for helping to trigger the

Depression. One of the few critics was Virginia Gildersleeve, dean

of Barnard College, who declared that emphasis on technical training

had produced "the current economic mess."

When World War II struck, "business schools responded by getting

involved in the country’s affairs to an even greater degree and enlarging

their collective ego still further . . . accumulating even greater

reserves of public esteem and self esteem."

In 1949 "one of the major assets that business schools had was

the public’s perception of them as mighty weapons in the war against


In the 1960s the number of undergraduate business degrees doubled

and PhDs tripled, rising 884 percent from 1958 to 1975. During the

Vietnam War business schools concentrated more on ethical and social

concerns and paid more attention to the careers of their graduates.

"The amazing MBA emerged from the fracas stronger than it had

been before."

From 1971 to 1979, when universities began to realize their MBA programs

were cash cows, they began to innovate. Wharton established the Busch

Center for Research, the University of North Carolina adopted a modular

curriculum, Harvard opened a three-week institute for entrepreneurs,

and Northwestern offered training on how to manage change.

"After a mostly sunny decade," Daniel writes, "MBA schools

suddenly became the objects of a storm of criticism in the early 1980s,

with complainers ranging from the new president of Harvard to nearly

every business magazine and every major newspaper in the country.

Much of the criticism was already obsolete by the time it was made,

since business schools had been continuously working on self improvement."

Are you planning to enroll for your MBA now? This book could help

you decide whether to take the trendy new subjects (ethics, Total

Quality Management, global studies, entrepreneurism, or leadership

skills) or stick to the tried-and true like finance and marketing.

Is your MBA more than 10 years old? This book will put your degree

into context.

— Barbara Fox

Rutgers’ MBA program has scheduled on open house for Saturday,

April 25, 1 to 4 p.m., on the Livingston Campus. RSVP to 973-353-1234

or E-mail admit@gsmack.rutgers.edu

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Resumes: First Step

Many people mistakenly believe that a resume’s purpose

is to get a job. It’s not, says Paul L. Dyer, an industrial/organizational

psychologist who wrote "The Ultimate Job Search Survival Guide,"

a just-published $14.95 paperback by Peterson’s, the Carnegie Center-based

publishing firm. Dyer’s book belongs to a "survival guide trio"

that includes volumes for the new employee and for the worker in a

home office. It combines the "do what you love and the money will

follow" approach with nitty gritty tips such as how to organize

yourself, your time, and your job search. An extra-useful appendix

contains everything from questions and possible answers to interview

questions to research sources in both print and online.

"Think about your own purchasing strategies," suggests Dyer.

"Would you buy a car based solely upon a brochure? Of course not.

Yet most cars cost less than the annual salary you’re asking an employer

to invest in you."

"Think of the job search campaign as an introduction of a new

product," writes Dyer. "You represent the product, and your

resume plays a vital role in the advertising strategy. You have a

20-second visual ad that must grab a potential employer’s attention.

Like the automobile company with a new model, you want the potential

buyer to take you for a test drive. In 20 to 30 seconds your resume

should convey that you obviously are a person worth learning more


The most critical part of your job search is not doing your resume,

says Dyer, but getting yourself ready to excel during the job interview.

Don’t flub it.

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Next Step, Blackjack?

If you are bored with nine-to-five and yearn to escape

from your cubicle, consider going back to school — not for an

MBA — but for vocational skills. The Bureau of Labor Statistics

predicts that professional jobs will remain constant but that by the

year 2000 skilled labor will increase to 65 percent of the workforce.

And blue collars don’t necessarily earn less than their white collar

brethren, says Ismail Ghazalah, a Ohio University economics

professor who contributes to the 615-page, third edition of "Peterson’s

Vocational and Technical Schools and Programs (East and West)".

Vocational program graduates have earned more than two-year college

graduates for 15 years. Though the study is 10 years old, in 1988

the average vo-tech earnings were over $35,000 compared to just over

$25,000 for the community colleges.

The Peterson’s book, priced at $34.95, has data on more than 5,000

programs, ranging from cabinet making at College of the Redwoods in

Eureka, California, to the Midwest Horseshoeing School in Macomb,

Illinois. New Jersey’s offerings include the expected plethora of

computer training schools and community college program but also feature

some more adventurous choices: a floral design school in Madison,

a bartending school in Montclair, a broadcaster’s training center

in Trenton, a home furnishings and equipment installation school in

Howell, a welding school in Linden, and a dog grooming school in Chatham.

Or go to B/M Casino Dealers School in Atlantic City and trade in your

PC for a deck of cards.

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HR Deals

The New Jersey Department of Labor is again offering

a spate of human resources management classes at fire-sale prices.

Starting this month, employers can take classes in interview selection,

performance appraisals, and employee handbooks. Last year, more than

1,600 employers attended seminars on five topics, at a price of just

$10 per class. Here is a schedule of sessions in the greater Princeton

area (each starts at 9 a.m.):

"Policy Manual/Employee Handbooks" is Thursday, April

23, at the labor building in Trenton. "Selection Interviewing

and the Selection Process" is given three times, on Tuesday, April

28, at Georgian Court College in Lakewood; on Tuesday, May 12, and

Thursday, May 14, at the labor building in Trenton; and Tuesday, June

2, at the Somerset County Building in Somerville. "The Art and

Science of Performance Appraisal" will be given on Thursday, May

28, at the labor building in Trenton. Call Jesse Behrens at

609-984-3518 for more information.

Here’s another HR bargain — the HRLine, a by-phone consultation

service that’s free to members of the New Jersey State Chamber but

might cost as much as $90 an hour if you consulted a private consultant.

Dial 609-461-4602 and you will be connected to Andrea Schutz,

a human resources consultant with 20 years’ experience. She has worked

for Educational Testing Service, Lenox, and Mathematica, and can dispense

loads of advice that could stave off a lawsuit.

The service runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Calls received by 3 p.m. will

be returned on the same business day; calls received later will be

returned the next business day.

The Greater Trenton Job Developers Association is hosting

a county-wide employment expo on Wednesday, May 20, 8:30 a.m. to 12:30

p.m. at the Crescent Temple, 50 North Clinton Avenue, in Trenton.

More than 55 employers from Mercer County and surrounding areas will

have representatives on hand interviewing applicants for positions

in accounting, nursing, hospitality, sales, computers, clerical, paralegal,

and social services.

The roster includes Summit Bank, Merrill Lynch, Forrestal Center,

A-1 Limousine, Princeton University and Met Life. For more information

call Lorraine Whittaker at 609-393-9793.

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Jobfinding Groups

<B>JobSeekers is a self-help group designed to assist

persons involved in a job search or contemplating a career change.

Volunteer coordinators provide a supportive atmosphere where participants

can explore the possibilities open to them. Meetings are every Tuesday

at 7:30 p.m. at Trinity Episcopal Church’s Pierce Hall on Stockton

Street. There is no charge; the group complements the work of the

Professional Roster. Call 609-924-2277.

The Job Club, at the Unitarian Church, Cherry Hill Road,

Princeton. A free job search workshop is offered on the first Monday

of every month at 7:30 p.m. by Susan and Jack Guarneri, national certified

career counselors. On second Mondays, same time and place, the Job

Club offers a free support group for career changers and job hunters.

Call 609-771-1669.

The Professional Roster, 842 State Road, Princeton, 609-921-9561;

fax, 609-921-9572. Call between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Monday through

Friday or 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesdays. Members pay $30 annually. The Roster

lists job opportunities and offers one hour of career counseling for

$25 to newly registered members, with additional hours available at

$20. Volunteer coordinators try to match people with jobs — and

this organization attracts job listings that do not appear elsewhere.

There is no fee to employers.

Project Re-Employment, sponsored by the Jewish Family

& Children’s Service of Greater Mercer County, offers week-long workshops

for developing job search skills. Ten people in managerial, technical,

or professional fields can attend each of the workshops taught by

specialists from the Department of Labor at the JFCS conference wing,

707 Alexander Road, Suite 102. The program is open to the public and

is free but preregistration is required. To register call 609-987-8100.

MCCC’s Career Counseling & job Placement, West Windsor

Student Center, SC 229, 609-586-4800, extension 3304, E-mail: careers@mccc.edu.

Professional career counselors Jack Guarneri and Gail LaFrance offer

a counseling and testing program for $190.

Professional Service Group (PSG) is a Labor Department-spawned

volunteer self-help group for job-hunting professionals. Free services

available include telephone and fax and use of personal computers,

photo copier, typewriters and research material.

The New Brunswick PSG is at 506 Jersey Avenue, 732-418-3304; fax 732-937-4504.

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Separating Fact from Fiction

Looks can be deceiving. And sometimes the information

that people give you about themselves doesn’t match the facts. That’s

precisely why Laura Tilden and Susan Kennedy have teamed

up to form a new business called Be Sure Investigations.

"Let’s face it," says Tilden, who has many years of experience

as a therapist helping individuals come to terms with the important

relationships in their lives, working primarily in marriage and family

counseling. "In today’s world, relationships are developing much

faster with fewer safety nets. People meet through personal ads and

chat rooms on the Internet, and communicate with beepers and E-mail.

And it’s difficult to know if what a person tells you is true or false."

Be Sure Investigations will contribute to a panel entitled "Home-Based

Businesses: How To Make Them Succeed," on Saturday, April 25,

at 2 p.m., at the New York Public Library, 188 Madison Avenue. The

panel is free with advance registration through the Ron Thomas Small

Business Forum at 212-689-5214. Be Sure Investigations is located

in Chatham. Phone 973-701-8877; fax, 973-377-7574, http://www.BeSureInvestigations.com.

"People have increased access to one another through all sorts

of new technology, yet that doesn’t necessarily mean intimacy based

on mutual trust can easily be achieved," says Kennedy. A private

investigator with more than 15 years of experience, Kennedy is one

of the few female investigators licensed in New Jersey. And she knows

New York City and its five boroughs inside and out, having worked

with many lawyers and large firms on insurance claims and corporate

law matters. She notes that she has also served more than her share

of subpoenas, which require tracking down people and information in

ways that are safe and minimize escalating emotions.

People call on Be Sure Investigations for a wide range of information

needs, says Tilden. "Sometimes people will say, `I just have a

feeling something may be wrong.’ We all have times when our sixth

sense kicks in, which we all know would be foolish to ignore. We are

a resource available to individuals — without them having to spend

hundreds or even thousands of dollars," says Tilden, noting that

the rates for their searches typically start at $150.

Employers can check on an applicant’s education and employment history.

Of special interest to many is verifying a person’s marital status,

alimony obligations, history of violence, financial assets, lawsuits,

bankruptcies, and driving record. "The people we investigate are

completely unaware of our search," says Kennedy.

"We can verify whether or not a person has graduated from a specific

school and what memberships they have," says Tilden. "But

when it comes to employment, we can usually only verify what human

resources people are willing to provide: confirming whether or not

a person was employed and dates of employment. However, most of the

inquiries we receive are related to people interested in the character

of individuals they have met, to see if people are truthful in describing

their life circumstances."

Here is just a sampling of the requests they receive:

Loans: One person just bumped into an old friend at a

20th high school reunion and soon heard this friend recount a heartbreaking

story, along with a plea to borrow some money.

Relationships: A man meets a woman on an airplane and

wants to pursue a relationship — but only after verifying this

woman does not have a husband and family at home.

Suitor Investigations: Before accepting a marriage proposal

after a whirlwind courtship, a woman takes her best friend’s advice

to see if the new man in her life has a criminal record or has ever

been issued a restraining order.

"We think the need for services such as ours will grow even stronger,"

says Tilden. "I can understand the concerns for parents to check

on the information given by a potential future son-in-law or daughter-in-law.

And increasingly, as people live longer, more family members will

have concerns about a new person in the life of their widowed mother

or father."

One mother recently explained that she has given the video "Looking

for Mr. Goodbar" to her single daughter who just moved out on

her own. And her son and daughter-in-law were given the video "Fatal

Attraction" to discourage any straying away from the marriage


"We all need to take care of ourselves first and protect ourselves

from harm," says Tilden. "Then we can move along and get on

with our lives with more confidence."

— Vivian Fransen

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