Dawn Penfold Dawn Penfold on Job Searches & Hiring: The Latest Trends

Tax Breaks for Job Hunters

November 30, 2007

By Dawn Penefold

Looking for a job is a taxing experience on a number of levels. But there is some good news in one very unlikely area — there are actually tax breaks for those conducting a job search. Expenses are deductible if you itemize - to the extent that they exceed 2 percent of your adjusted gross income - and only when you are looking for working the same field as your prior job. Covered expenses include resume printing, postage, search related phone calls, airfare, car rentals, gas and lodging if you have to travel out of town on your search.

Remember, expenses are deductible even if you don't get the job. Talk to your accountant about deducting internet costs. The jury is still out on this one.

How To Reply To A Job

November 30, 2007

By Dawn Penefold

An email came across my desk yesterday from a hiring official who had posted a job up on our job board. She asked if the ad could be taken down since they had filled the position and she realized it was on the board since a candidate stopped by in person to her office with a resume. Knowing that this was quite odd I inquired to learn more.  Not only did the candidate stop by, but she had her mother with her.

When responding to a job, respond only according to the directions in the ad.  Never drop it off in person or call (unless you have a very close business relationship with the hiring official - and even then, it can be deemed unprofessional).  I know that many of you are trying to stand out from the others in this tough job market, but make sure you stand out in a professional manner, not one that marks you as too forward, unprofessional or desperate!

If you must stop by (but please don't), never, never bring your mother along.

Holiday Job Hunting

November 29, 2007

By Dawn Penefold

This can be the slowest time of year for those looking for a new opportunity. Companies usually don't hire at the end of the year due to budgets and time off issues.  For those of you in a job search, use this time of year to plan your strategy for 2008. Create your job search business plan so that you can start the year off with a systematic approach to your next career step. This plan should include, your objectives, criteria for a new position, target audience and knowing what may stop you from succeeding.

Also use this time of year to build your network. A simple holiday card or call (not a job solicitation call), can keep your name in the forefront.

Continue reading "Holiday Job Hunting" »

The Job Search Economy

April 18, 2007

By Dawn Penfold

Market specialization is the key word in today's job market.  In reviewing our jobs for the past two years, I have seen more and more hiring officials looking for the perfect person.

20 years ago, even 10 years ago, the skill sets of a planner were transferable from industry to industry.  An association planner can do the work of a corporate planner - they just need to learn the nuances of the industry.  As well as a pharmaceutical planner  could do the work of a financial planner - again, just learn the buzz words of that industry.

Today, perhaps because everyone is stretched to the limit with work, or because the industries have become so litigious, hiring officials are hiring within their niche.  They want a person who is knowledgeable of their industries and have no need for training.

In the short run, this solves the immediate problem, someone to do the job with minimal training.

In the long run, this could have an impact on our industry.  Transferring of ideas could decrease, mentoring would go down the drain and each individual industry would start to just do the same thing with a slight twist here and there.

In a nutshell, things are looking great if you want to look in your own market segment.  The economy is good, jobs are there..however, be ready for rejection if you attempt to cross over into a new industry segment!

Will it Ever be About Me? Marketing Yourself Internally

April 15, 2007

By Dawn Penfold

Last week at an industry conference, I managed a round table discussion on "Marketing Yourself Internally".  The participants at these three round tables sessions were both supplier, planners  and independent business owners from entry level to senior 20+ year veterans.  The constant theme?  You can always learn how to better market yourself no matter where you are in your career and that it will always be an issue no matter where you are in your career.

The exchange of ideas brought about some helpful hints to assist you in getting noticed:

Make your self and expert and valuable. 
Your boss will do whatever it takes to keep you on board and protect you as long as you make him or her look good. Every single skill you learn, every single relationship you build makes you more valuable. 

Know how your boss evaluates success.
If your boss is a numbers cruncher, send them detailed reports showing your success in numbers.  If your boss is a relationship person, make sure your accomplishments are shown in the soft senses.

Ask for it.

Know what you want to do and ask your boss what it will take to get you there.  Then take action.

Understand Office Politics
No longer a white elephant in the office, it is real and should be watched.  Know who the movers and shakers are and watch them.  Find out why they are being successful and learn.

Gearing up for some time off and the aftermath

May 26, 2006

By Dawn Penfold, The Meeting Candidate Network, Inc.

On my last vacation, I was all set for a relaxing week of golf, tubing on a lazy river, sitting on the beach and enjoying great restaurants with my family.  With my clubs, I also had my laptop, my cell phone, emergency hard copies of files and I had called all the hotels that I would be staying at to insure high speed internet access in the rooms and wireless out by the pool.  The flight was delayed and I was thilled that I could work while waiting forthe plane.  I mistakenly went swimming with my cell phone (don't ask) and instead of using the dripping wet and non comunicative cell phone as a sign that I should be getting away from it all, I high-tailed 25 miles to my local phone carrier store to purchase another phone so that I wouldn't miss a call. 

While today's gadgets can free up time and enable us to get away more and not lose touch with the office, they also have become foes.  A study showed that 33 percent of workers say they will be checking with the office while on vacation, according to careerbuilders.com annual survey.  Adding fuel to the fire, 22 percent of workers say their bosses expect them to stay in touch with the office while away, up 16 percent from 2004.

Technology has created a sense of urgency and the opportunity to reach the office and workers 24/7 worldwide. One-in-ten workers check with the office while on vacation.  So much for  relaxing, getting together with family and friends and that all important reason for a vacation in the first place - rejuvenation!  According to this survey, 35 percent say they feel stressed about work even when they are on vacation.

On this note, I am turning my cell phone off, heading for the golf course and wish you all a Happy Memorial Day Weekend.

Would You Like to Supersize It?

May 25, 2006

By Dawn Penfold, The Meeting Candidate Network, Inc.

The other day a candidate called me in desperation (and understadably so) saying that she had been out of work for over a year and she was close to losing her home and sanity.  She couldn't afford her mortgage let along the costs involved in conducting a job search. 

Me,  being too brutally honest at times said "McDonalds is hiring".  As I listened to the long silence on the other end of the phone, I realized that perhaps I should have made my point in a more gentile way.  The point I was making  -  there is work out there, perhaps not in the field of your choice, but there is work to cover your expenses in the crucial times.  The point I was making -  consider temping, working for the local CVB, database work, yes, even flipping burgers and asking people if they wish to supersize their meal,  to cover their basic expenses, mortgage/rent, food. clothing and utilities.

I know of one colleague who worked in a drugstore in the evening, leaving the days open for interviews.  Was it professionally challenging?  Not at all.  Did it put food on the table. Yes.  Did it give this person a sense of purpose?  In the most basic sense, yes.  Ironically, this person became familiar with the system of the chain drugstore and eventually went to work for the management team.  Hmmm, you never know.

Less Is More

May 24, 2006

By Dawn Penfold, The Meeting Candidate Network, Inc.

What does it mean to be overqualified for a position, have too much experience for a position and can a candidate really step back from a management role to a planner role?  I have had candidates who have held very senior roles in meeting management.  They oversaw departments, managed multiple people, managed the budget process, hired, fired and had a high income, yet they were miserable in their work.  They were happiest planning the meeting or the event, seeing a project come to fruition and then start anew.  They missed traveling and being an active participant in the success of a meeting.  When they try to step back though, hiring officials are hesitant about hiring them because they feel that no one can truly step back for less money and be happy.  And then, I have also seen professionals take this step back and forget what it is like to do the manual work of meeting management - pack boxes, check breakouts, count chairs, work registration...is it possible to step back and be happy and how do you sell this to a potential hiring official?

Dropped calls

May 23, 2006

By  Dawn Penfold, The Meeting Candidate Network, Inc.

I am a person who has fought the use of cell phones tooth and nail.  The only time I have mine on is when I am traveling or in the car.  I am not someone who enjoys sharing my conversations with people on the train, bus, in a restaurant or on the street.  Realizing that many people have only a cell phone now and not a land line has created the sense of being able to reaching someone 24/7.  I find my self speaking to at least 10-15 candidates a day while they are on their cell phone.  The interview seems to take place in a park, on the street, on the bus.  Calls are dropped in mid interview and mid thought.  There is rarely a clear reception. 

Telephone interviews need to take place in a quiet place, with crystal clear reception and uninterrupted. 

Don’t let your interview sound like this.  Yes, I am very   (static, static) for this position.  Are you there? Can you hear me now?  Sorry about the sirens.  Is this better?  Let me go over here for better reception.  Ok, this is better.  Yes, I’ll have a half caf latte.  So, can you tell me more about the position?  Sorry, I just went into an elevator.  Hello? 

And what side of the hair should the person part their hair?

May 21, 2006

By Dawn Penfold

This is what goes through my mind quite often when I receive a job order from a company and they give me the requirements for an ideal candidate for a meetings position.  In today’s environment, I have noticed that the criteria for hire is focused on the specific niche industry and experience in these industries rather than a general knowledge of meeting management, or that all important “gut” instinct and the willingness to learn.

Financial companies require financial meeting meetings experience, medical and pharma companies want medical or pharma meetings experience, associations want association experience, incentive companies require incentive experience and corporations require corporate experience form Fortune 100 companies.

In today’s work environment, when legal requirements knowledge on certifications, legal liabilities and idiosyncrasies of individual market niches, I understand the need for an experienced person.  But, possibly, is it because there is just not ample time to train and mentor that candidate with great potential.  Will the industry get so inbred with niche planners that out of the box thinking and new ideas will go to the wayside?

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