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Ted Canova shares his thoughts on communications, marketing and social media. He welcomes your comments to his blog.

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Declaring "War on Unemployment"

Posted on 5 April, 2011 at 17:00 Comments comments (263)


"Am I done at 44? Is nobody going to want to hire me?" wonders Tim Zaneske from Michigan.


Tim’s fears are played out in every town across America. Ordinary people who are out of work longer than they ever imagined. People you stand next to every week at the market, around the neighborhood, or in the stands of your kid’s events.


People whose faces are familiar but whose daily and deep-seeded stress is invisible. The chronic unemployed have little to celebrate these days. So we grasp whatever straws we can to tell them they're not forgotten. This week, out of nowhere, 2 Democrats and 2 Republicans will meet to discuss extending unemployment benefits to all groups, including “99ers.”


This is the unifying label for Americans who have run out of unemployment benefits. While the government does not keep track of how many 99ers live amongst us, one service estimates it’s about 1.4 million people. Add another 4 million Americans who the White House believes will become 99ers this year, and you have a growing voting bloc. Evenso, a meeting last week at the White House went seemingly nowhere.


Unemployment benefits do not make a lifestyle. The goal of unemployment benefits has been to provide people with about half their normal income. But that’s not even close these days. While the average unemployment check is $295 a week, the average weekly salary was $865, meaning unemployment benefits really replaces just about a third of someone’s salary.


Unemployed people would rather work than receivce $295 a week from the government. With hiring basically stagnant, labor expert Timothy Bartik with W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, wants the federal government to create a temporary jobs program. Put the jobless to work improving community, repairing schools, renovating parks, cleaning up abandioned property.


Getting long term unemployed back to work would also help fuel the recovery by putting money back into every community they serve. Bartik reminds us the longer people are out of work, the longer their skills decline, their confidence erodes and their health problems, mental and physical, increase.


While lawmakers battle this week over budget cuts, paying for a jobs program or extending unemployment benefits seem like a long shot, for now.


But there's one group not waiting for someone else to draw a line in the sand. “Our nation has declared war on poverty…war on drugs…even war on obesity,” said National Urban League President and CEO Marc H. Morial. The group is calling on Washington to "declare war on unemployment, and urban America is the battlefront.”


Linked together, creating jobs, extending benefits and declaring war is a strategic plan to move America forward.


"And The (Jobs) Oscar Goes To....Fargo"

Posted on 26 February, 2011 at 10:50 Comments comments (17)

Most of America hears 'Fargo' and goes right to the award-winning Coen Brothers movie. A wood chipper, a bunch of "you betcha's" and auto salesman Jerry Lundegard's spiraling money problems.

In real life (you mean the movie was fiction?), North Dakota has the lowest unemployment rate in America at 3.9%. It's biggest problem is the envy of the nation: they can't find enough workers to fill open jobs.

We're dreaming to think this could happen in your state. Or are we? Marci Alboher, VP at Civic Ventures in New York, points to research that bodes well for the unemployed nationwide. "In less than 10 years, we're going to be facing a severe talent shortage in this country, to the tune of about 5 million jobs."

The reason: boomers wil retire (later than they had hoped) and Generation X is not large enough to fill those jobs.

10 years is a long time, but Marci has some immediate advice for you. Listen to her interview on Job Talk America and hear what sectors show the most promise.

As for Fargo, it plans to cross the border in May to hold a jobs fair in Minneapolis. It's hoping to sell North Dakota jobs, and maybe even a repeat performance in this dialogue between Jean and Jerry Lundegaard:

"How was Fargo?"

"Yah, real good now."

February 26, 2011

Debating Jobs Is Good Medicine

Posted on 20 February, 2011 at 10:49 Comments comments (28)

Not long ago, it was hard to move the meter to spark a conversation about job creation. Talking jobs took a back seat to debating healthcare, even though unemployment has a far deeper impact than health insurance.

Thankfully that has changed. The unemployed will benefit. While the country's leaders are divided on how to create jobs, the topic is sparking sustained coverage and conversation, as this week's headlines attest:

  • Nevada Assembly Passes 'Nevada Jobs First' Legislation
  • For Denver's Next Mayor, It's Jobs, Jobs, Jobs

As lawmakers finally get on the job talk bandwagon, our friends and neighbors struggle more than ever to find work.

If you're unemployed, you are well represented in the story 19 'terrifying' facts about the job market. If you're over 55, your average length of unemployment goes from 22 weeks to 43 weeks. That is a big, big deal.

A bigger deal is how job unrest is sparking worldwide revolt....even playing a role in Egyptian President Mubarak's demise. In America, the demand for jobs will no longer be swept under the rug.  Unemployment has become personal, as family and friends now join the ranks of the previously ignored. In America, unemployment no longer happens to just 'someone else.'

February 20, 2011

It's Time To Present "The New You"

Posted on 12 February, 2011 at 10:48 Comments comments (0)

If you are job hunting, it's easy to focus on the tangibles: your resume, your elevator speech and your Linkedin connections.  Complete them and a job seeker feels a wonderful sense of accomplishment. 

But what if the information you are sharing is no longer the  truest snapshot of yourself? After all, your resume is a reflection of your career. As much as you tailor it for a job at hand, it still points to places you've been and accomplishments you've achieved....all in the past. 

I am not suggesting you erase your hard-earned resume. Professionally, it's who you are. But I am asking that before you apply to your next job, you take a closer look at yourself, so you can present the real and passionate "you" to a potential employer. 

Try this 5 minute exercise and see what happens.

Right now, open a blank document on your computer. Make two lists: one with your perceived strengths; the other with the things you love to do in life. 

Next, create and send an email to those you trust. Ask them what they believe your strengths are and what types of careers they see you in.

The goal is simple: identify your passions...the work you 'get lost' in....the things you do where time flies by.

I am convinced that the new way to differentiate yourself from other job applicants isn't through resumes and elevator speeches. The best way to set yourself apart is to show your genuine passion.

After adding these elements to your resume, elevator speech and Linkedin profile, I ask one question: what employer in their right mind wouldn't see the value in hiring the "new you?"

February 12, 2011

Lean On Me

Posted on 6 February, 2011 at 10:47 Comments comments (0)

When Bill Withers released "Lean On Me" in April 1972,  he was addressing personal feelings and morals, rather than anything going on in the country like poverty, Vietnam or Watergate. 

In the 39 years that have passed since his song rose to #1, unemployment has risen from 5.7% to 9%. The numbers themselves are not startling but the feelings of the unemployed have certainly changed.

Back then, a job seemed within reach. Today, the jobless are unemployed longer, with more financial pressures and little hope that jobs will be created fast enough.

As we turn to a new month in 2011, it's important to remember that we don't need to isolate and be alone in facing our challenges. One of our regular contributors, Linda Miller of 2 Young 2 Retire in Minnesota, believes it's time to help one another...lean on one another...ask for help from one another. Boomers especially.

This Friday on JobTalkAmerica, Linda will talk more about "Lean On Me", not the music, but what it means for today's hopelessly unemployed. Boomers who have a unique story of working their whole lives and now face an uncertain present and future. Her interview will help wherever you are...whatever you're going through. I promise.

Back in '72, Withers first came up with the phrase "Lean On Me" and from there, he filled in the words to the rest of the song.

Maybe that's what we need to do today. Start with the premise that we need to lean on one another. And have faith that the rest of our story, our journey and our next careers will be easier to fill in from there.

February 6, 2011

Unemployed: Egypt vs. America

Posted on 30 January, 2011 at 10:45 Comments comments (0)
I just finished watching more than 2 hours of Sunday morning talk shows focusing on Egypt. It was a work out.

What's easy to forget amidst the low-flying military planes in Cairo, the breathless reporters, and the urgency of government officials is the backdrop as to why the Egyptian Revolt is happening.

Unemployment is at 25% and the public, from the rich to the poor, has had enough.

For months, I have wondered out loud what it would take for such an uprsing to occur in America. Guests to JobTalkAmerica believe America's jobless are invisible. Even in a land of Twitter and Facebook, Americans can't muster a sustained and unified voice to demand job creation and immediate hiring. 

U.S. unemployment stands at 9.4% with new figures coming out at the end of this week. But what keeps Americans from marching, burning and overthrowing has more to do with who's unemployed than it does with debates over stimulus, corporate profits and out-sourcing.

White unemployment in the U.S. is 8.5% compared to black unemployment at 15.8%. Teenage black unemployment is 44.2%. 

So I'm asking, how soon do you think we would solve America's unemployment crisis if those numbers were reversed and white unemployment stood at 16%?  I'll bet you it wouldn't even take until a mid-term election. Any takers?

January 30, 2011

Let's Really Sit Together

Posted on 23 January, 2011 at 10:43 Comments comments (0)

If you've been unemployed longer than you ever thought you would be, you're not alone. 43% of older unemployed workers have been without a job for more than a year.

America's economic recovery, based largely on consumer spending, cannot happen without them.

So as jobs become the rallying cry in President Obama's State of the Union address, it is important to note that job creation won't happen overnight and that jobless neighbors need help now. 

The unemployed don't care where leaders sit at the State of Union address. This Congressional Sadie Hawkins dance, with Democrats and Republicans deciding to sit together and not apart, is a mere publicity stunt. 

What unemployed people need has nothing to do with sitting. It has to do with their standing. And I'm not convinced we'll see any government agreement on creating enough jobs to help the majority of those in desperate need.

So if you're among the millions of long-term unemployed, what can you do to help yourself? Guests on JobTalkAmerica have offered specifics.

  1. Look In The Mirror: drill down to identify your inner career strengths
  2. Get Lost: identify jobs and careers that you 'get lost' in, the ones where time flies and you feel joy and fulfillment
  3. Re-design Your Resume: be sure to make the top third sing; below each job, list bullets of your 'challenges, actions and results' (CAR)
  4. Shake Up Your Network: this year, stop attending mixers with people like yourself- solicit help from new groups spanning a variety of ages
  5. Be Confident: you have self-worth, even if you've been jobless for over a year

I like to say that the seeds we planted in 2010 either haven't sprouted yet or have not worked. 2011 is the year to do it differently. Volunteer. Make yourself seen. Hire a career coach or resume expert. Mix it up.

Our goal is to plant new new get new results. Let's be excited as we watch the potential root and our careers bloom. No matter where you sit...or stand on an issue.

January 23, 2011

Outsourcing Jobs and Taxpayer Money

Posted on 30 December, 2010 at 11:48 Comments comments (598)

I'm scratching my head again this week after reading two news items. They both have to do with the United States spending money overseas. They both point to the uphill battle facing the nation's millions of unemployed. 


Could You Really Wear Your Pajamas To Work?

Posted on 23 December, 2010 at 13:23 Comments comments (10)

20" of snow also gives you a chance to read things along the highway. Like signs for work-at-home deals promising $2,000 a week. I'm smart enough to know better, but hopeful enough to wonder, "hmmm, could this be for real?"


Baseball, Tax Bills and 99ers

Posted on 17 December, 2010 at 12:14 Comments comments (0)

I'm a baseball fan. But I'm also an advocate for the employed. So when I read that the major league minimum wage rose 14 grand to $414,000, I stopped in my tracks.