Everyone would like that—it’s easy to like that.
If I ask you, “What do you want out of life?” and you say something like, “I want to be happy and have a great family and a job I like,” it’s so ubiquitous that it doesn’t even mean anything.
A more interesting question, a question that perhaps you’ve never considered before, is what pain do you want in your life? What are you willing to struggle for? Because that seems to be a greater determinant of how our lives turn out.
Everybody wants to have an amazing job and financial independence—but not everyone wants to suffer through 60-hour work weeks, long commutes, obnoxious paperwork, to navigate arbitrary corporate hierarchies and the blasé confines of an infinite cubicle hell. People want to be rich without the risk, without the sacrifice, without the delayed gratification necessary to accumulate wealth.
Everybody wants to have great sex and an awesome relationship—but not everyone is willing to go through the tough conversations, the awkward silences, the hurt feelings and the emotional psychodrama to get there. And so they settle. They settle and wonder “What if?” for years and years and until the question morphs from “What if?” into “Was that it?” And when the lawyers go home and the alimony check is in the mail they say, “What was that for?” if not for their lowered standards and expectations 20 years prior, then what for?
Because happiness requires struggle. The positive is the side effect of handling the negative. You can only avoid negative experiences for so long before they come roaring back to life.
At the core of all human behavior, our needs are more or less similar. Positive experience is easy to handle. It’s negative experience that we all, by definition, struggle with. Therefore, what we get out of life is not determined by the good feelings we desire but by what bad feelings we’re willing and able to sustain to get us to those good feelings.
People want an amazing physique. But you don’t end up with one unless you legitimately appreciate the pain and physical stress that comes with living inside a gym for hour upon hour, unless you love calculating and calibrating the food you eat, planning your life out in tiny plate-sized portions.
People want to start their own business or become financially independent. But you don’t end up a successful entrepreneur unless you find a way to appreciate the risk, the uncertainty, the repeated failures, and working insane hours on something you have no idea whether will be successful or not.
People want a partner, a spouse. But you don’t end up attracting someone amazing without appreciating the emotional turbulence that comes with weathering rejections, building the sexual tension that never gets released, and staring blankly at a phone that never rings. It’s part of the game of love. You can’t win if you don’t play.
What determines your success isn’t “What do you want to enjoy?” The question is, “What pain do you want to sustain?” The quality of your life is not determined by the quality of your positive experiences but the quality of your negative experiences. And to get good at dealing with negative experiences is to get good at dealing with life.
There’s a lot of crappy advice out there that says, “You’ve just got to want it enough!”
Everybody wants something. And everybody wants something enough. They just aren’t aware of what it is they want, or rather, what they want “enough.”
Because if you want the benefits of something in life, you have to also want the costs. If you want the beach body, you have to want the sweat, the soreness, the early mornings, and the hunger pangs. If you want the yacht, you have to also want the late nights, the risky business moves, and the possibility of pissing off a person or ten thousand.
If you find yourself wanting something month after month, year after year, yet nothing happens and you never come any closer to it, then maybe what you actually want is a fantasy, an idealization, an image and a false promise. Maybe what you want isn’t what you want, you just enjoy wanting. Maybe you don’t actually want it at all.
Sometimes I ask people, “How do you choose to suffer?” These people tilt their heads and look at me like I have twelve noses. But I ask because that tells me far more about you than your desires and fantasies. Because you have to choose something. You can’t have a pain-free life. It can’t all be roses and unicorns. And ultimately that’s the hard question that matters. Pleasure is an easy question. And pretty much all of us have similar answers. The more interesting question is the pain. What is the pain that you want to sustain?
That answer will actually get you somewhere. It’s the question that can change your life. It’s what makes me me and you you. It’s what defines us and separates us and ultimately brings us together.
For most of my adolescence and young adulthood, I fantasized about being a musician — a rock star, in particular. Any badass guitar song I heard, I would always close my eyes and envision myself up on stage playing it to the screams of the crowd, people absolutely losing their minds to my sweet finger-noodling. This fantasy could keep me occupied for hours on end. The fantasizing continued up through college, even after I dropped out of music school and stopped playing seriously. But even then it was never a question of if I’d ever be up playing in front of screaming crowds, but when. I was biding my time before I could invest the proper amount of time and effort into getting out there and making it work. First, I needed to finish school. Then, I needed to make money. Then, I needed to find the time. Then … and then nothing.
Despite fantasizing about this for over half of my life, the reality never came. And it took me a long time and a lot of negative experiences to finally figure out why: I didn’t actually want it.
I was in love with the result—the image of me on stage, people cheering, me rocking out, pouring my heart into what I’m playing—but I wasn’t in love with the process. And because of that, I failed at it. Repeatedly. Hell, I didn’t even try hard enough to fail at it. I hardly tried at all.
The daily drudgery of practicing, the logistics of finding a group and rehearsing, the pain of finding gigs and actually getting people to show up and give a shit. The broken strings, the blown tube amp, hauling 40 pounds of gear to and from rehearsals with no car. It’s a mountain of a dream and a mile-high climb to the top. And what it took me a long time to discover is that I didn’t like to climb much. I just liked to imagine the top.
Our culture would tell me that I’ve somehow failed myself, that I’m a quitter or a loser. Self-help would say that I either wasn’t courageous enough, determined enough or I didn’t believe in myself enough. The entrepreneurial/start-up crowd would tell me that I chickened out on my dream and gave in to my conventional social conditioning. I’d be told to do affirmations or join a mastermind group or manifest or something.
But the truth is far less interesting than that: I thought I wanted something, but it turns out I didn’t. End of story.
I wanted the reward and not the struggle. I wanted the result and not the process. I was in love not with the fight but only the victory. And life doesn’t work that way.
Who you are is defined by the values you are willing to struggle for. People who enjoy the struggles of a gym are the ones who get in good shape. People who enjoy long workweeks and the politics of the corporate ladder are the ones who move up it. People who enjoy the stresses and uncertainty of the starving artist lifestyle are ultimately the ones who live it and make it.
This is not a call for willpower or “grit.” This is not another admonishment of “no pain, no gain.”
This is the most simple and basic component of life: our struggles determine our successes. So choose your struggles wisely, my friend.
Great employees and employers show mutual admiration (Shutterst0ck)
Employees and employers have a shared interest in discovering the attributes that define the all-time favorite employees. Employees want to be the most-favored, and employers seek to attract those individuals who seem irreplaceable.
Michael Gottlieb is the founding partner of Momentum Law Group – a law firm that serves entrepreneurs. At a recent meeting of his monthly CEO round table, he asked the group, “ What attributes would you use to describe your all-time favorite employees? ” The list of attributes is surprising. Even more surprising is that the group of 12 CEOs all agreed on the list.
At the top of the list: Lack of drama. These favorite employees don’t complain. They don’t seek attention. They don’t gossip. They simply perform their jobs without a need to draw attention to their professional or personal challenges. They don’t see a need to remind others of how challenging the task might be. They don’t call attention to the fact that someone else didn’t complete their task.
Jeff Lesher, Principal at EntreQuest, an award-winning consultancy with a vision to shift engagement in the work world to transform the real world, says, “Most highly valued employees not only perform their jobs admirably – with skill, focus, and passion – they do so in a way that demonstrates their commitment, first and foremost, to the work.”
Harry Burns: There are two kinds of women: high maintenance and low maintenance.
Sally Albright: Which one am I?
Harry Burns: You’re the worst kind. You’re high maintenance but you think you’re low maintenance.
Most high-drama people don’t see themselves as dramatic.
The next item is commitment to operational execution. Top employees don’t just talk about ideas or identify problems. Rather, they always focus on how to accomplish the task at hand. These talented individuals know that there is a big difference between having intention and getting things done. The most valued employees know that nothing matters until it is implemented and achieving results.
Top employees know that their commitment to customers and accomplishment can help to grow the business and engender customer trust. These superstars always follow-through and don’t need reminders of what is important .
Initiative: Confidence And Internal Motivation
Top employees don’t wait around to be told what to do. Once they know the goal and they are self-motivated to move toward that goal each day. Nothing will get in their way. Some might see them as stubborn. Most see them as possessing superpowers.
Their greatest superpower is the ability to receive and internalize feedback. They have sufficient confidence and self-awareness to accept constructive criticism as a way to improve, without seeing the input as negative.
This superpower only surfaces in work environments where employees are not punished for taking risks. Confident self-starters will happily take constructive feedback. If you punish them for taking initiative, they’ll sit back — probably while searching for a new job where they can unleash their initiative.
What The Experts Say
According to HeliosHR’s CEO, Kathy Albarado, “The fact that CEOs cite a desire for ‘No drama’ could point to a gap in hiring practices. With the right screening and interview process, you should be able to spot those most likely to be valuable members of the team.” Kathy encourages employers to seek similar attributes that the Girl Scouts of America teach young women: Courage, Character and Confidence. The courage to take risks, the character to follow through,and the confidence to take feedback.
Gabe Muller is the COO of Glassman Wealth Services, named “Best Place to Work” in the Washington DC area by Washingtonian Magazine and the Washington Business Journal three years in a row. “I love the three attributes of 1) Solution orientated mindset, 2) Adaptability; and 3) The ability to receive feedback and collaborate with others.”
Notice that the themes are consistent with the CEO round table that Michael Gottlieb assembled. Also take note that nobody is listing skills, educational background or certifications. While those capabilities are important, nobody said that their all-time favorite employee had the best technical skills.
The best employees get stuff done with passion and results. If you don’t value your employees who demonstrate those attributes, rest assured that another employer is anxiously waiting to meet them.
It’s Your Turn
What do you think makes for favorite employees? Share your thoughts in the comments or join the conversation on LinkedIn- https://www.linkedin.com/groups/4499329 or Twitter.@winerycareers.com
It’s critical to note that people who’ve made a real difference aren’t all privileged, advantaged or “special” by any stretch.
Many come from disadvantaged families, crushing circumstances and initially limited capabilities, but have found ways to pick themselves up and rise above their circumstances (and their genes) to transform their own lives and those around them.
Researching these makers, shakers and disruptors, and working with our own clients who shape the world around them in powerful and constructive ways, We have observed 9 core behaviors that set them apart – habitual ways of behaving and approaching life and work that distinguish them from those who long to make a difference but can’t or won’t find the way.
The 9 core behaviors of people who positively impact the world are:
- They dedicate themselves to what gives their life meaning and purpose.
- They commit to continually bettering themselves.
- They engage with people in open, mutually-beneficial ways
- They invest time and energy not in what is, but what can be.
- They embrace critique.
They spread what they know.
They uplift others as they ascend.
They view the journey as the goal.
They use their power and influence well.
Now go out and impact the world!
There’s an enormous amount of research suggesting that emotional intelligence (EQ) is critical to your performance at work. TalentSmart has tested the EQ of more than a million people and found that it explains 58% of success in all types of jobs.
People with high EQs make $29,000 more annually than people with low EQs. Ninety percent of top performers have high EQs, and a single-point increase in your EQ adds $1,300 to your salary. I could go on and on.
Suffice it to say, emotional intelligence is a powerful way to focus your energy in one direction with tremendous results.
But there’s a catch. Emotional intelligence won’t do a thing for you if you aren’t genuine.
A recent study from the Foster School of Business at the University of Washingtonfound that people don’t accept demonstrations of emotional intelligence at face value. They’re too skeptical for that. They don’t just want to see signs of emotional intelligence. They want to know that it’s genuine—that your emotions are authentic.
According to lead researcher Christina Fong, when it comes to your coworkers,
“They are not just mindless automatons. They think about the emotions they see and care whether they are sincere or manipulative.”
The same study found that sincere leaders are far more effective at motivating people because they inspire trust and admiration through their actions, not just their words. Many leaders say that authenticity is important to them, but genuine leaders walk their talk every day.
It’s not enough to just go through the motions, trying to demonstrate qualities that are associated with emotional intelligence. You have to be genuine.
You can do a gut check to find out how genuine you are by comparing your own behavior to that of people who are highly genuine. Consider the hallmarks of genuine people and see how you stack up.
“Authenticity requires a certain measure of vulnerability, transparency, and integrity.”
–Janet Louise Stephenson
Unicorns are hard to catch. Back in the 1500s, it was believed that only fair young maidens could gain the trust of these elusive, horned creatures.
I’m no fair maiden. Still, in my time, I’ve had the luck of getting close to many magical unicorns … in the form of “unicorn” employees. Not to be confused with unicorn companies—startups valued at $1 billion or more—“unicorn” employees, for me, are staff who possess a unique set of qualities that make them extremely rare and valuable. Like actual unicorns, they’re hard to find, but once hired, offer up enormous benefits in the workplace. To name a few, they shatter expectations, raise the bar for everyone and are simply a joy to be around. Unicorn employees can literally take your business to the next level.
Whether you’re looking to build a unicorn army, or hoping to boost your own value in the workplace, here are the five key qualities of unicorn employees:
You aren’t limited by your job title.
In the span of about 5 years, my company, Hootsuite, went from a 100-person tech startup to a 1000-person global company. Through this stage of “hyper growth,” employees who truly flourished were flexible and intellectually curious.
Earlier on in the business, this meant having the ability to wear many hats and excel at varied tasks, critical at a fast-growing startup. For example, just because somebody’s job title was “Office Administrator,” didn’t mean she would shy away from pitching in on a major marketing campaign by helping brainstorm some catchy tweets.
Later, as the company grew, unicorn employees jumped at the chance to dive deeper into specific, growing areas of business, which needed good people. Some even decided to move across several departments. I saw unicorn employees make surprising leaps—one even went from financial specialist to software engineer. I think this is so important to employee growth that we recently launched a new pilot initiative, called the “stretch program,” to help people expand their knowledge and expertise across the business … and grow their unicorn horns.
You think big and small.
Exceptional employees are able to think strategically. This means having the ability to take a step back and see the overall company goals, or the industry as a whole, then apply it to your work. To be effective in business, you must be able to see the big picture.
On the flipside, while big-picture thinking is critical, I’ve also found that the best employees also know the devil is in the details. Running a business requires meticulous attention. A minor copyright issue, improperly executed email campaign, or even what seems like a small technical glitch can end up being catastrophic, affecting a lot of clients in a short period of time. The best employees are those who take the time to read the fine print. These are the types of people I know I can entrust with serious responsibility.
You have true grit.
The concept of “grit” has made its way into popular culture recently, perhaps sparked by psychologist Angela Duckworth’s popular TED talk and book, on the subject. She defines grit as “perseverance and passion for long-term goals,” and says it’s a crucial factor to achieving success.
I couldn’t agree more. Being an entrepreneur since I was a teenager, I’ve learned that the business world is like being on a boat in the open sea. Whether it’s a patch of rough waves or an unexpected storm, unexpected obstacles are inevitable. During these turbulent times, having grit—a dogged persistence—can help you keep focused on the destination. In fact, that very outlook helped my billion-dollar company weather the storm and get to the next level. Unicorn employees have true grit, and are able stay calm and focused on the task at hand, even on choppy seas.
You’re respectful by nature.
The ability to work well with others is a skill that benefits any workplace. It seems simple enough, but you’d be surprised.
A few years ago, I put out a job posting for a high-level sales role. Many people applied, and after a series of interviews, I had some top candidates in mind. However, when I checked in with my executive assistant at the time, I was shocked to find out how many of those people who had been personable and courteous to me, had been downright rude to her.
Unicorn employees are respectful by nature, and would never treat someone—regardless of title —in this way. It’s something that absolutely sets a stellar employee apart from an average one. In fact, this is so important to the well-being of our staff, it’s been built into two of our four core company values: “Respect the individual,” and “lead with humility.”
You get it done.
A few years back, LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner sent out a short status update on his platform: “In simplest terms possible, the people I most enjoy working with dream big, get it done, and know how to have fun.”
The update blew up, striking a chord with the tens of thousands of people who commented and liked it. (Weiner followed up by writing a full post on the topic.) Like him, I too am a huge proponent of having fun at work and believe it’s crucial to success. However, I can’t stress how important it is for people on the job to be able to get shit done. After all, no matter how great a co-worker is to be around, if he can’t produce actual results, his presence is isn’t ultimately helpful and may even be damaging to others. Great teams can be shattered by a single member who can’t get shit done.
Meanwhile, studies have shown that top performers contribute to a business 10 times more than their average counterparts. In fact, some firms, including Microsoft, claim that figure to be 100 times.
The bottom line: At the end of the day, you can be respectful, multi-talented, tenacious, detail-oriented and a big thinker. But if you don’t produce real results and move the needle, all those traits are wasted. You must be able to execute. It’s an essential unicorn quality.
For companies and business leaders, it’s probably worthwhile to put some extra time and effort into chasing unicorns. Unlike their mythical counterparts, they’re very real and they can change your company. And for unicorn employees in the making, it’s never too late to grow your strengths and make yourself more rare and valuable than ever.
CEO @ HootSuite
Image: Evonne Heyning
Celebrating 21 years in the Wine Industry
There’s two things you need to know, right off the bat, about these hiring criteria.
First and most obviously, the six criteria on Danny’s list are psychological traits, not technical skills. Even though it is generally easier to hire for technical skills, whether they are knife skills in the kitchen, great customer-centric leaders like Meyer feel confident that they can teach technical know-how to almost any newly-hired employee, but on the other hand find the idea of teaching empathy, teaching work ethic and so forth to be essentially a fool’s errand, much better addressed in the selection process than in post-employment training and discipline.
The second point is this: Even though you’ll be hiring for personality traits rather than technical skills, you still need to develop highly-skilled employees before they even face the first customer. Otherwise, you’re doing your customers (and your company) a huge disservice.
Meyer: “I used to think that you could just hire people for their emotional skills and if they had the six essential emotional skills, that’s all it took. I learned the hard way that you can’t unleash somebody’s hospitality unless you have first completely drilled all the systems, the technical skills and know-how that are needed, to a point of excellence.”
In other words: These wonderful, warm personality traits that you have hired your new employees for aren’t going to manifest themselves in ways that are useful to your customers until the training for skills is complete and has become second nature.
Meyer compares this to learning to drive a stick shift.
I remember when I first learned to drive a stick shift [as a teenager back in St. Louis], I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. And until I had learned to be proficient at doing that, I wasn’t having any fun while I was driving. I wasn’t switching the stations on the radio dial. I wasn’t telling jokes to my friends. I wasn’t pointing out the beautiful trees on the side of the road.
At that beginner’s stage, I was “all systems all the time.” But once I learned those systems, how to shift gears, find a sticking point when I was on a hill, all those kinds to things that are really taught. Once I cleared all that out, that’s when I could get back to being myself and pick the best music for whoever was in the car, tell jokes with people, you know, enjoy the scenery.
So even though the emotional skills that lead to hospitality are not really teachable, but they are also not revealable until first you’ve learned the systems, the technical side of getting the job done.”
Meyer and his Union Square Hospitality Group restaurants hire for what Meyer calls an employee’s “hospitality quotient.” These are the six traits he feels are required for an employee to have the potential to provide true hospitality to the guests of his restaurants.
Here’s his list of six traits to hire for, which I’m using here with his permission and hope you find useful.
1. Optimistic warmth (genuine kindness, thoughtfulness, and a sense that the glass is always at least half full);
2. Intelligence (not just “smarts” but rather an insatiable curiosity to learn for the sake of learning);
3. Work ethic (a natural tendency to do something as well as it can possibly be done);
4. Empathy (an awareness of, care for, and connection to how others feel and how your actions make others feel)
5. Self-awareness (an understanding of what makes you tick;
6. Integrity (a natural inclination to be accountable for doing the right thing with honesty and superb judgment).
Looking for Work? The Wrong Way to Get Your Job Application Noticed
In a hyper-competitive job market, some people looking for work will do whatever it takes to stand out. There was the student who designed a Lego set in an attempt to land an ad agency internship.
A graphic designer slapped his resume on a four-pack of home-brewed beer. And more than one desperate job seeker has donned a sandwich board in an attempt to find work.
These job hunting stunts might capture the media’s attention, but do they actually lead to job offers?
In some cases, yes. Brennan Gleason, the man behind the “résum-ale,” as he dubbed it, quickly landed a job as a creative director for a digital marketing agency with the help of his one-of-a-kind C.V. But quirky job hunting approaches don’t always yield quick results.
It took Dan Conway, aka the Extreme Job Hunter, a year to find work, despite engaging in stunts like auctioning himself off on eBay and sending pizza to potential employers.
Outlandish job search techniques are more common, and may be more effective, when the applicant is in a creative field like marketing and design, perhaps because they’re a way for people to show off their skills to potential employers. Leah Bowman, the student behind the Lego resume, told Careertopia that, “For most companies, this type of application might even cross the line to inappropriate.
For advertising agencies, however, I felt that showing my creativity and personality would be an asset.” But even designers and marketing pros should proceed with caution; one quarter of executives in this field surveyed by The Creative Group said gimmicky resumes were unprofessional.
Still, job hunters in all fields are under pressure to get noticed by hiring managers, who are often inundated with resumes for every job posted. The competition can inspire some desperate moves. While the instinct to make yourself stand out isn’t a bad one, some applicants take it too far, engaging in bizarre behavior than can torpedo their chances of getting the job.
“Candidates are realizing that an extraordinary cover letter and resume with strong references aren’t enough, that if you really want the gig, you have to stand out from the competition,” Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer for CareerBuilder, said. “Unfortunately, what many aren’t realizing is that the catch is making sure you do that in a professional, respectful way.”
Overzealous job seekers don’t always realize there’s a fine line between the charmingly creative job application strategy and the wildly inappropriate. Hiring managers surveyed by CareerBuilder shared stories of candidates who took an out-of-the-box approach to getting noticed, including:
What is it about looking for work that inspires people to act in a way that seems designed to turn off hiring managers? Alison Green, an HR expert, blames the “charlatans of the job search advice world, telling people they need to ‘stand out’ and be ‘memorable.’”
The creative job application gone wrong. How to rise above….
Candidates who want to rise above the pack might decide it’s a good idea to mail a cake and a framed picture of themselves to a hiring manager (as one candidate did to a reader of Green’s Ask a Manager blog), but such brazen moves can backfire. “I was so incredibly creeped out by this gesture … I was afraid to eat the cake and couldn’t look at him and didn’t even call him for an interview,” the receiver of this unique “gift” recounted.
Those looking for work would do better to focus on substance rather than sizzle when trying to impress a would-be employer, say most career experts.
A strong resume that outlines past accomplishments and clearly shows how your past experience relates to the position you want is a must, according to CareerBuilder. (And remember, only Elle Woods can get away with a scented resume on pink paper.)
A robust social media presence that shows you’re an expert in your field can be an advantage when an employers searches for you after receiving your resume.
During the face-to-face portion of the hiring process, steer clear of common interview mistakes and take the time to ask a few questions of your own, since this shows you’re interested in the job.
Finally, don’t forget to send a thank you note. Many applicants overlook this basic gesture, even though 59% of hiring managers say a thank you note or email after an interview can boost a person’s chances of being receiving a job offer.
And if you’re tempted to send a potential employer a shoe to “get your foot in the door,” remember this: Though gimmicky tactics might get a hiring manager’s attention, it’s ultimately your skills and experience that will land you the job.
A recent jobs fair in New York. The jobless rate for college graduates in April was 3.9 percent.
Is college worth it? Given the growing price tag and the frequent anecdotes about jobless graduates stuck in their parents’ basements, many have started to question the value of a college degree. But the evidence suggests college graduates have suffered through the recession and lackluster recovery with remarkable resilience.
The unemployment rate for college graduates in April was a mere 3.9 percent, compared with 7.5 percent for the work force as a whole, according to a Labor Department report released Friday. Even when the jobless rate for college graduates was at its very worst in this business cycle, in November 2010, it was still just 5.1 percent. That is close to the jobless rate the rest of the work force experiences when the economy is good.
Among all segments of workers sorted by educational attainment, college graduates are the only group that has more people employed today than when the recession started.
The number of college-educated workers with jobs has risen by 9.1 percent since the beginning of the recession. Those with a high school diploma and no further education are practically a mirror image, with employment down 9 percent on net. For workers without even a high school diploma, employment levels have fallen 14.1 percent.
But just because college graduates have jobs does not mean they all have “good” jobs.
There is ample evidence that employers are hiring college-educated workers for jobs that do not actually require college-level skills — positions like receptionists, file clerks, waitresses, car rental agents and so on.
“High-skilled people can take the jobs of middle-skilled people, and middle-skilled people can take jobs of low-skilled people,” said Justin Wolfers, a professor of public policy and economics at the University of Michigan. “And low-skilled people are out of luck.”
In some cases, employers are specifically requiring four-year degrees for jobs that previously did not need them, since companies realize that in a relatively poor job market college graduates will be willing to take whatever they can find.
That has left those who have spent some time in college but have not received a bachelor’s degree to scramble for what is left. Employment for them fell during the recession and is now back to exactly where it began. There were 34,992,000 workers with some college employed in December 2007, and there are 34,992,000 today.
In other words, workers with four-year degrees have gobbled up all of the net job gains. In fact, there are more employed college graduates today than employed high school graduates and high school dropouts put together.
It is worth noting, too, that even young college graduates are finding jobs, based on the most recent data on this subgroup. In 2011, the unemployment rate for people in their 20s with at least a bachelor’s degree was 5.7 percent. For those with only a high school diploma or a G.E.D., it was nearly three times as high, at 16.2 percent.
Americans have gotten the message that college pays off in the job market. College degrees are much more common today than they were in the past. In April, about 32 percent of the civilian, noninstitutional population over 25 — that is, the group of people who are not inmates of penal and mental facilities or residents of homes for the disabled or aged and who are not on active military duty — had a college degree.
Twenty years ago, the share was 22 percent. Given the changing norms for what degree of educational training is expected of working Americans, employers might assume those who do not have a four-year degree are less ambitious or less capable, regardless of their actual ability.
These forces might help explain why there is so much growth in employment among college graduates despite the fact that the bulk of the jobs created in the last few years have been low-wage and low-skilled, according to a report last August from the National Employment Law Project, a liberal research and advocacy group. Today nearly one in 13 jobs is in food services, for example, a record share.
Clearly, positions in retail and food services are not the best use of the hard-earned skills of college-educated workers, who have gone to great expense to obtain their sheepskins.Student loan borrowers graduate with an average debt of $27,000, a total that is likely to grow in the future.
But nearly all of those graduates are at least finding work and income of some kind, unlike a much larger share of their less educated peers. And as the economy improves, college graduates will be better situated to find promotions to jobs that do use their more advanced skills and that pay better wages, economists say.
The median weekly earnings of college-educated, full-time workers — like those for their counterparts with less education — have dipped in recent years. In 2012, the weekly median was $1,141, compared with $1,163 in 2007, after adjusting for inflation. The premium they earn for having that college degree is still high, though.
In 2012, the typical full-time worker with a bachelor’s degree earned 79 percent more than a similar full-time worker with no more than a high school diploma. For comparison, 20 years earlier the premium was 73 percent, and 30 years earlier it was 48 percent.
And since a higher percentage of college graduates than high school graduates are employed in full-time work, these figures actually understate the increase in the total earnings premium from college completion, said Gary Burtless, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, an independent research organization.
So, despite the painful upfront cost, the return on investment on a college degree remains high. An analysis from the Hamilton Project at the Brookings Institution in Washington estimated that the benefits of a four-year college degree were equivalent to an investment that returns 15.2 percent a year, even after factoring in the earnings students forgo while in school.
“This is more than double the average return to stock market investments since 1950,” the report said, “and more than five times the returns to corporate bonds, gold, long-term government bonds, or homeownership.”
Make the most of any opportunity by using these tips and tricks to be sure your resume goes to the top of the list
Applying for a job online can be a lot like a guessing game.
For all the effort you put into marketing your experience and qualifications, the deciding factor that gets your resume into the hands of an actual person often comes down to using the right keywords.
Most companies rely on computer software programs to review thousands of resumes and select the ones with particular keywords — not necessarily impressive accomplishments — so they can then be reviewed by a recruiter and, eventually, a hiring manager.
Unfortunately for job seekers, these all-powerful keywords aren’t revealed in the job description — at least not overtly.
Abby Kohut, a former human resources executive and founder ofwww.absoluteabby.com, said the best way to crack the code of theseapplicant tracking systems (ATS) is to put yourself in the mind of the recruiter and take your best guess at what phrases they would use to search for the best applicants for the position.
“You look at the job description, read it word by word and say ‘would the recruiter use it to search for resumes?’ ” said Kohut, who recruited for 16 years at companies in a variety of industries including pharmaceuticals, health care, publishing and education. Now, she helps job seekers and is launching a nationwide tour to teach the tricks of the modern job search.
One of the many challenges that she says her clients face is conquering these robotic searches.
“When it comes to the automated systems, the problem you have is that the only way a recruiter is going to actually find you is if you have keywords in your resume that they have in their brain at the time,” Kohut said. “The person who shoots to the top is the person who has more than one keyword.”
But the journey to the human recruiter doesn’t stop there. Once the keywords are identified, Kohut says they need to be used early and often within the resume, possibly in multiple forms.
For example, she said if an aspiring accountant is applying for a job that cites “deep knowledge of Sarbanes-Oxley” in the job description, the phrases “Sarbanes-Oxley” and its common acronym “SOX” should each be referenced in that resume several times so it will be noticed and given priority by the ATS.
Of course, you don’t want to repeat the same sentence either, so Kohut recommends changing the context each time.
If a job description stresses a “high proficiency with Microsoft PowerPoint,” for example, she said that can be reflected in three parts: having made PowerPointpresentations, having taken PowerPoint classes, and havingedited PowerPoint presentations of senior executives. It won’t win you any literary awards, but at least the strategy will get your resume in front of some eyeballs.
“It’s really just a big game now,” Kohut said. “You have to get the computer to find you instead of getting a human to find you.”
Experts have taken to calling this the “recruiting black hole” because so many resumes — good resumes — fall in, seemingly never to be seen again. But keeping in mind these tips on getting your resume through applicant tracking systems and the rules about e-mailing your resume to a recruiter will help you optimize your chances for getting noticed and moving on to the next step, snaring an interview.