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Companies Ranked “Best to Work for” Not So Hot

You see the lists all the time in newspapers, trade publications, online…the supposed “Best Companies to Work for”.

Given the economy’s continued woes, I decided to put on my job seeker hat and see what it would be like to try to contact these supposed best of breed companies, as a potential employee.

Nothing speaks to greatness like having someone express a tremendous interest in joining your company…or so I thought. I wanted to see what it would take to establish a dialog with them. The results would make your head spin.

I used as my list the 2009 Society of Human Resource Management “Best Companies to Work for in New York State” in the Small/Medium Category (15-249 Employees.) Since most jobs are created by companies categorized as small companies and you would obviously assume that a “Best Company to Work for” would be worth targeting, these are the companies I decided to pursue.

Of the list of 20 companies in NY State, I excluded those that were outside of the NY Metro area (my target area.) That left me with nine companies. I then researched these company’s core businesses, including their products and services, competitors, management, recent financial performance, competitors, etc.

Then I developed a VERY targeted cover letter to each of them, in which I addressed their specific business challenges. I offered my twenty plus years of strategic planning, marketing management, and new business development experience in B2B business environments. I also spoke of my expertise in providing solutions as a consultant to small and mid-sized businesses.

The results were disappointing TO SAY THE LEAST! Not ONE of those nine companies responded to my initial inquiry seeking an audience with that member of the management team. Nor did they respond to any of my subsequent voicemails and email follow-ups.

These are the Best Companies to Work For”? Welcome to today’s lack of professional courtesy workplace, as evidenced by the best of the best.

No wonder so many disgruntled professionals are leaving Corporate America to start their own business ventures or are checking out of the workforce completely.

Brand New YOU: Self-Promotion for Career Success

You need to be able to tell your story in ways that differentiate yourself as a job-seeker or businessperson. This means defining what makes you UNIQUE.

In marketing parlance, your unique offering is referred to as your Unique Selling Proposition. Start by identifying your 4-5 major career SUCCESS STORIES. These are your marketing CASE STUDIES. These tell how you have delivered exceptional service and achieved outstanding results.

Next, build a rolodex of client / boss references – these are your testimonials. Have them handy, and keep up contact with these folks. Identify your personal FEATURES and BENEFITS. When you develop your own personal brand, it requires you to think about yourself as a product. and your personal PRODUCT features and benefits consist of such things as: the degrees you obtained, the academic institutions you attended (stay active through their alumni organizations), your certifications, continuing professional development, software skills, professional accreditations, industry Association memberships, volunteer work, the charitable organizations you are affiliated – any and everything that define and contribute to your personal BRAND.

You MUST find out what are your peers, bosses, and clients identify you with – whatdo they think of when they think of you as a brand. It’s not enough for you to have a brand statement – you need to compare and validate your desired branding with the marketplace’s perception of YOU.
An organization’s brand is its one key differentiator and gives it competitive advantage by being associated as certain things by its customers. You MUST do everything in your power to defend your brand name aggressively. If any of your co-workers or employees in your organization are speaking negatively about you or taking credit for your work, confront them immediately.
Publish – publish – publish! Submit articles to the key publications that cover the industry or industries you work in or sell to. Maintain your very own blog on subjects that apply to your industry or business. Author or contribute to any white papers you can, that cover scholarly topics or key business trends. Publish a book – go the route of self-publishing, if you have to.
Participate on industry panel discussions.
Land a speaking slot at your industry Association’s annual national, regional, and/or local conferences. Offer to speak for free, if you have to. This will help you to become a subject matter expert on the topics that matter most to your career and professional development.
Actively promote yourself whenever and wherever you can in your organization – up and across the organization. Provide your elevator pitch in writing to all of the people in your social and professional networks sothey can sell you when they are in appropriate networking situations.

Industries Experiencing Rapid Growth Means Jobs

Despite the continued dire state of the economy, not all industries are struggling. In fact, some industries are experiencing significant growth and with it, an upsurge in jobs creation.

* Turnaround Management & Restructuring Firms: companies in distress are turning to consultancies that possess the talent and expertise needed to help them with bankrutcy protection, restructure their business, sell off distressed businesses, renegotiate bank loans, navigate through M&A activity, and other areas of expertise.
* Construction: after decades of neglect, major Metropolitan areas are beginning to plan for and implement major upgrades to their infrastructure. Projects include highway expansion, bridge resurfacing, waterworks projects, and more. Architecture and engineering firms are the organizations to benefit and are experiencing a huge spike in hiring.

* HR Consulting Firms: as companies continuously outsource their non-core competencies, more and more organizations are turning to consultancies to manage their HR functions.

* Mortgage Foreclosure & Bankruptcy Law Firms: a necessary sign of the times. Now as always, go to where the jobs are. Don’t debate the ethics. Look for job opportunities.

* Green Technologies: Enough said. Green collar jobs are popping up everywhere, from waste management to alternative energy, to recycling.

* Healthcare: the aging Baby Boomer generation places tremendous strain on our entire healthcare industry and managed care is the next great area for high job growth. There is high demand for home healthcare service providers, nurses and nursing aides, physician’s assistants, and other managed healthcare service providers.

* Risk Management: the need for uninterrupted business continuity drives risk management industries and growth sectors.

* Business Continuity: Because of the 24x7x365 business enterprise, in a post-9/11 world there can be no network outages. Data centers, stock exchanges, hospital ICUs all need to operate without interruption. Data MUST flow uninterrupted across the global network.

* Security: We continue to be a world at war and with that, challenges persist to ensure global security. Consider support services like biometrics, night-vision and stealth technology, private security firms, defense contractors, military analysts, and other key stakeholders of the global military industrial complex.

* Network and Communciations Equipment: With the continued explosion in Web users, VOIP, and unified communications, it truly is all about bandwidth, data, video, and wireless. Look into systems integrators who aggregate back-end systems, middleware, and front-end applications into a single retrofitted architecture. Unified communications firms offer business-class phone, cable TV, Internet service and wirelesss…what’s referred to as a quad-play. This means growth in cable and telecomm. Hardware had its time in the sun, and so did software. Now, it’s all about the network.

Being Great…What Giving 100% Looks Like.

These days, there is a pervasive aura of negativity that seems to surround us all. People seem to be giving the bare minimum, or giving up altogether. There’s a lot of talk about workers not engaging fully in their jobs, emotionally disconnecting from their workplace.

That got me to thinking…what does it look like when people give 100%? If there was a magical “checklist” to show you what 100% looked like, what would it include?

So, what follows is my list of key attributes that reflect what giving 100% is all about. There is an implied assumption at work here that if more people embraced and embodied the characteristics on this list, we wouldn’t need Government bailouts, huge stimulus packages, and foreign countries investing in the US. We’d be great again just by re-instilling the all-powerful, uniquely “Can-Do” American optimism that tomorrow will be better.
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*You can succeed in environments of EXTREME change and distress, with little or no guidance, roadmap, or help.

* Going “above and beyond” is just part of a normal day’s routine for you.

* You are always thinking how to solve client problems?

* Do you seek out solutions to your client’s problems that they don’t know they have, or don’t even face…yet?

* How often do you find yourself saying: “I’ll get to that tomorrow?”

* Do you only have an “A” game?

* Are you truly sick and tired of hearing people making excuses or saying they are going to hold off from increasing hiring, advertising, marketing, expansion and other efforts until things ‘turn around’?

* What more would it take you to be great CONSISTENTLY?

* Do you go out of your way to take calculated risks and embrace failure?

* When was the last time you offered to coach or mentor a peer, or volunteer your time and effort?

* When was the last time you eagerly pursued a new skill for no apparent reason or immediate need?

* Do you often ask yourself….”What if…” all the time?

* How often do you get to work early and leave late?

* Do you have the ability to spot developing trends and developments to ride the wave of innovation and gain first to market status?

Well, that’s my list. How many of these can you check off on your “GREATNESS” chart? What other criteria do you set for yourself to measure your own greatness?

A Simple Way to Clean Up Our Economic Mess

I got into a totally unanticipated discussion the other night with folks at a networking event in which I was the guest speaker, talking about ways that entrepreneurs can launch a successful start up in this Depression.

Our jovial conversation turned suddenly to the topic that is on EVERYONE’S mind these days – the awful state of our economy.

We started talking about the fact that none of the captains of our business and industry, namely the CEOs and Senior Management (C Suite) of our banks, financial, and insurance institutions have been punished for their crimes against humanity.

One of the women in attendance asked me why I thought none of the people in these organizations that have ben most responsible for the damage inflicted upon our economy and most American’s short and long-term financial stability, have been convicted of crimes (except for Bernard Madoff.)

I said that our Administration won’t/can’t let that happen. Most of the folks in Treasuray, the Federal Reserve, Senate Finance Committee, etc. have strong personal ties with those in positions of power that caused most of the damage done.

Then I jokingly said: “Too bad we don’t subscribe to public executions in this country.” After a VERY awkward moment of silence, one man in our group said: “I’m glad you said that. I’ve been thinking it for a year now.”

That got me to thinking. What if…

…we arrested the people that we knew were at the heart of all this pain and suffering? After a brief albeit entirely legal trial with due process and all, we found them guilty, sentenced them on the spot, and took only 1-2 weeks to schedule the public execution via beheading?

I have the perfect venue. You set up a guillotine in front of the charging bull at the south entrance to Wall Street.

You would want to schedule the beheadings a week or two in advance, to give the employees who work in these convicted leader’s organizations and the investors whose lives they ruined, ample time to plan on being their. Of course you would want to broadcast it live over the Net in REAL time, so people in other parts of the country (or world) or people away on vacation can take time out to dial in, to observe our justice system at work.

It would serve a two-fold purpose of sending a STRONG message to those in other organizations to begin flying straight…plus it serves as entertainment, to get people away from their IDIOT box (the TV) and all that reality TV programming.

Am I being facetious? Yes. Is this the sort of thing that CIVILIZED society does…of course NOT? But I ask, do YOU have an explanation why those at the heart of creating so much destruction in so many people’s lives get of scott free, while WE have all lost most of our retirement funds, 401ks, child college savings? Is it fair that our children, and their children, and perhaps THEIR children, will have to foot the bill for this mess for decades to come?

Is our current financial mess a natural manifestation of the GREED associated with our chosen capitalist society? Digging even deeper, why have ALL our institutions – FINANCIAL, BUSINESS, ACADEMIC AND GOVERNMENT failed us these past 30-40 years?

How did we allow this to happen? What would YOU do to turn things around?

Any Good News Out There

The U.S. national unemployment rate hit 9.6%, its highest level in the last 26 years. California has started issuing IOUs and won’t be able to repay them until October. Companies continue to layoff their employees in masses, and cut back on their advertising and marketing. Is there anybody out there that has a “SUCCESS STORY” to share, to counter this ever-rising negative economic tsunami? Aside from the bankruptcy attorneys and investment bankers, turnaround firms, and the mortgage forclosure bank specialists, is anyone witnessing growth?

Tell us what has worked for you, either in your job search or running your own business.

We’d love a bit of good news right about now.