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These stories were published in U.S. 1 Newspaper
on April 22, 1998. All rights reserved.
Survival Guide: Career Planning
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
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
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
— 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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.
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.):
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.
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.
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.
<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.
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.
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.
& 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.
Student Center, SC 229, 609-586-4800, extension 3304, E-mail: email@example.com.
Professional career counselors Jack Guarneri and Gail LaFrance offer
a counseling and testing program for $190.
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.
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:
20th high school reunion and soon heard this friend recount a heartbreaking
story, along with a plea to borrow some money.
wants to pursue a relationship — but only after verifying this
woman does not have a husband and family at home.
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
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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