Turning Downtime Into Job Offers

Bob Larson, CPC

Career Report

May 2018— Issue 219

Turning Downtime Into Job Offers

If there’s one thing that most unemployed job seekers have in abundance, it is time. And yet many of them misuse it. According to an article in The New York Times, that’s because in the post-layoff life it can be easy to put off completing activities and projects. Unlike when you’re working, no one will come after you if you don’t finish them.

But having a structured schedule can change all of that, turning downtime into productive time and helping to improve one’s chances of finding a job.

Without a structured schedule, the article pointed out, it can be very easy to go to the gym, have a leisurely lunch, take a nap, and watch some TV before dinner. Or you may engage in a whirlwind of e-mail messages, Googling, calling and appointment-making, only to realize that very little of it got you closer to finding a job.

“Having no structure is the biggest enemy to being organized and being focused,” said Julie Morgenstern, a productivity consultant in New York and author of “Time Management From the Inside Out.” According to Morgenstern, job seekers should create specific work hours and a time map along with mini deadlines, she said. Like many other experts, she recommends treating job hunting like a full-time job.

Kimberly Bishop, chief executive of a career management and leadership services firm in New York, added that looking for a job involves so many steps that trying to define and prioritize them can be overwhelming. “I don’t think that there’s ever a time that the job search process is easy,” Bishop said. Because it is not something people tend to do on a regular basis, few are truly skilled at it, she said, but “being prepared and having a plan and a process brings confidence.”

To begin, Bishop told the newspaper, set aside a physical space for job hunting and devote from several days to a week solely to laying the groundwork for your search, she said. Too often, Bishop said, people fling themselves into making appointments and arranging interviews before they even have their résumés updated or know what kinds of jobs they should realistically seek.

Prepare résumés, write sample cover letters, assemble your references, and put together samples of your work, she recommended. Compile an inventory of your skills, accomplishments and honors – Bishop calls this a “success folder” – ready to be shown or recounted during interviews.

“Once the job hunt gets started, it’s so easy to become overwhelmed with just the management and organization of paperwork,” Bishop said. So create files, either paper or computer ones, to keep track of where you have applied and where you have had interviews.

After this initial preparation it’s time to get started in earnest, the article pointed out. Morgenstern suggests dividing the day into three compartments: preparation and research, meetings, and follow-up. “Mixing it up” this way can stop you from obsessing about things and from being paralyzed by perfectionism.

Bishop echoed this sentiment, saying it is dangerous to spend too much time on any one thing. Some people spend all of their time in front of the computer sending unproductive e-mail messages and applying for jobs for which they aren’t qualified. Other people spend all day at networking meetings and informational interviews without doing the concrete work that leads to an actual application or an interview.

In the article, Morgenstern suggested this sample day of varied activities: From 9 to 11, do background research on companies that you will be applying to or interviewing with. Research unconventional industries that may fit with your skills. Take an online career assessment test. Generate a list of contacts for networking purposes. Look up networking organizations.

Between 11 and 2 or 3, you might meet with a friend or former colleagues or a career counselor for lunch or coffee. Try to schedule a meeting every day, or five meetings a week. “These benchmarks keep you from becoming complacent or depressed,” and keep you connected with the outside world, Morgenstern said.

Then go home and do follow-up work, she said. Send a thank-you e-mail message to the person you had lunch or coffee with and forward any articles or leads that you may have mentioned. Send thank-you notes that day. Do not put that off, she added.

End every day by planning the next one, plus the two days after, Morgenstern said. This “three-day arc” puts your job search in context and enables you to pace yourself. “People are energized by getting things done,” she said. “Energy then begets more energy and more productivity” and that begets confidence. Then, she said, when you’re calling people on the phone or meeting with them, you radiate confidence and increase your chances of being hired.”


Finally we have experienced some warm spring weather and the job market continues to warm and at times even over heat.  We have been experiencing challenges in finding great talent in several niches.  Client plans for hiring continues to increase and the unemployment numbers remain in record low territory.

So this remains a good time for job seekers and hopefully wages will see an increase for all in the near future.

We do see job descriptions being restructured as the nature of productive work continues to adjust to innovative market conditions.

As always we thank everyone for their support as we celebrated our 38th anniversary bringing the “Best Staffing Options” to employers and job-seekers.

Artificial Intelligence Transforming Workplace

Bob Larson, CPC

Career Report

July 2017

 Feature Story



Move over, managers, there’s a new boss in the office: artificial intelligence. The same technology that enables a navigation app to find the most efficient route to your destination or let an online store recommend products based on past purchases is on the verge of transforming the office, according to an article in The Wall Street Journal.

In fact, AI promises to remake how we look for job candidates, get the most out of workers and keep our best workers on the job.

These applications aim to analyze a vast amount of data and search for patterns—broadening managers’ options and helping them systematize processes that are often driven simply by instinct. And just like shopping sites, the AIs are designed to learn from experience to get an even-better idea of what managers want, the article pointed out.

Consider just a few of the AI-driven options already available. A company can provide a job description, and AI will collect and crunch data from a variety of sources to find people with the right talents, with experience to match—candidates who might never have thought of applying to the company, and whom the company might never have thought of seeking out.

Another AI service lets companies analyze workers’ email to tell if they’re feeling unhappy about their job, so bosses can give them more attention before their performance takes a nose dive or they start doing things that harm the company.

Meanwhile, if companies are worried about turnover, the article pointed out, they can use AI to find employees who may be likely to jump ship based on variables such as length of time they’ve been in the job, their physical distance from teammates or how many managers they’ve had.

Still, the same data-analysis technology that promises to make managers more effective also sweeps them into uncharted territory. With its relentless focus on facts, AI seems to overcome supervisors’ prejudices, but it can have its own biases, such as favoring job candidates who have characteristics similar to those the software has seen before. Automated decision-making may also tempt managers to abdicate their own judgement or justify bad decisions that would have benefited from a human touch.

These systems, though, are fairly new, and we really don’t know yet whether they make decisions that are as good as or better than human managers, the article noted. And it would be difficult to devise a foolproof way to test that.

The AI systems’ thirst for data can lead employers to push the boundaries of workers’ privacy. Clearly, it is incumbent upon managers to use them wisely.

That said, according to the article, many companies profess concern for privacy and include in their tools features designed to keep data they collect under customer control, if only to enable customers to comply with privacy policies and laws.

Here, according to the article, are a few examples of some of the ways AI is remaking hiring and managing workers, and some of the benefits and downsides it may bring:

  • Companies using AI for personnel management may start implementing it before workers are even hired—to help them find the best candidates for jobs. Such software spots the most promising resumes among what may seem like an unmanageable deluge, or widening the net so employees can find a more diverse pool of candidates than they would select on their own.
  • Once managers have hired ideal candidates, artificial intelligence can help keep them productive by tracking how they handle various aspects of their jobs—starting with how they use their computers all day.
  • Companies can also track employees’ whereabouts in the office. And AI is also beginning to help managers peer into personal aspects of job performance that used to be left up to managers’ instincts and observations—for instance, attitudes toward the job.
  • Some AIs aim to predict when employees may be winding down their career and advises how to keep them on board.

For all of their promise, though, these systems raise a number of issues–some of which are evident today, while others may take time to become clear. Privacy is an obvious concern when tracking employees, particularly personal behavior. Systems that sort job candidates also raise questions. But despite this, the use of artificial intelligence as a workplace management tool is clearly an emerging business trend, which should be watched closely.


Bob Larson’s scheduled speaking engagement at this year’s annual NAPS conference is scheduled for September 21st in Denver CO.. This year’s session, entitled “Talent Acquisition Lessons Learned on the Yoga Mat”, will combine the knowledge of his 39 years in Talent Acquisition with the philosophies learned through his 16 years on the Yoga Mat.

For additional Information about this event  https://naps360.site-ym.com/page/ConferenceOverview

Present Moment Awareness: For More Placements
Bob Larson, CPC

“Talent Acquisition Lessons Learned on the Yoga Mat”

16 Years on the Yoga Mat – 39 Years doing Talent Acquisition – We work in a “instant” results, “instant” information, “instant” communication environment. Our clients look for us to respond instantly, 24/7. For example, one of our staffing assignments had us covering the three U.S. time zones with the client located at a 17 hour differential. Sleep for us to service this client was not an option.

Fall-offs, cancelled appointments, no-shows, MIA clients and candidates, client’s poor communication/feedback, failed background checks and just the fact that our product (candidate) has a “free-will” adds to our world-wind challenges and disappointments.

At times you operate in a panic mode, searching for candidates, job-orders, concerned that budgets are being slashed, expenses are under double scrutiny and in the back of your mind you wonder if/where your next job-order will materialize.

Learn how Yoga Philosophies’: “staying in the moment”, “breath control”, “flexibility”, ‘relaxation”, “patience” and “just sitting” can bring positive – sensible – realistic results to yourself, your billings and build confidence within your department and organization.

No organizational charts, PowerPoint presentations, strategic plans, metrics or mission statements will be offered. Only peaceful, simple solutions will be offered. Attend this session with an open mind and it is strongly suggested you leave your PDA’s and shoes outside the room… Namaste



Five Questions to Never Ask in an Interview

Bob Larson, CPC


Career Report

June  2017

 Feature Story


Five Questions to Never Ask in an Interview

Hiring managers and HR pros will often close out a job interview by asking an applicant if he or she has any questions themselves. This is a great opportunity to find out more about the job and the company’s expectations, but you can’t forget that the interviewer hasn’t stopped judging You. Here are five questions from an article published by Monster.com that can make a bad impression on your interviewer and potentially scuttle your chances of getting the job.

1. When will I be promoted?

This is one of the most common questions that applicants come up with, and it should be avoided, said Rebecca Woods, vice president of human resources at Doherty Employer Services. “It’s inappropriate because it puts the cart before the horse.” Instead of asking when the promotion will occur, Woods said a better approach is to ask what you would need to do to get a promotion.

2. What’s the salary for this position?

Asking about salary and benefits in the first interview “always turns me off,” said Norma Beasant, founder of Talent Human Resources Consulting and an HR consultant at the University of Minnesota. “I’m always disappointed when they ask this, especially in the first interview.” Beasant added that the first interview is more about selling yourself to the interviewer and that questions about salary and benefits should really wait until a later interview.

3. When can I expect a raise?

Talking about compensation can be difficult, but asking about raises is not the way to go about it, Woods told Monster.com. So many companies have frozen salaries and raises that it makes more sense to ask about the process to follow or what can be done to work up to higher compensation level. Talking about “expecting” a raise, Woods added, “shows a person is out of touch with reality.”

4. What sort of flextime options do you have?

This kind of question can make it sound like you’re interested in getting out of the office as much as possible. “When I hear this question, I’m wondering, are you interested in the job?” Beasant said. Many companies have many options for scheduling, but asking about it in the first interview is “not appropriate,” she added.

5. Any question that shows you haven’t been listening.

Woods said she interviewed an applicant for a position that was 60 miles from the person’s home. She told the applicant that the company was flexible about many things, but it did not offer telecommuting. “At the end of the interview, the applicant asked if she would be able to work from home,” Woods said. “Was she even listening? So some ‘bad questions’ can be more situational to the interview itself.”

With the economy the way it is, employers are much more choosy and picky, the Monster.com article pointed out. Knowing the right questions to ask at the end of interview, and staying clear of ones that hiring managers find inappropriate, can clearly help you stand out – in a good way.


The summer months are almost here and unemployment continues to decline and skill shortages in numerous niches continues to experience hot competition for top and not-so-top talent.  We at Berman Larson Kane find that we have to dig deeper and deeper into our ATS and make more phone calls and solicitation emails to discover good candidates for our clients.

We thank all of you for the privilege of helping you staff your teams and for the confidence of job-seekers to allow us to help with their job search and career development.

Bob Larson, President BLK will be a featured speaker at the NAPS convention in Denver Co. in September  http://www.naps360.org/page/2017Agenda .  His talk titled “Talent Acquisition Lessons Learned on the Yoga Matt”.  Bob will share his combined 40 years in talent acquisition with his 20 years experience  on the yoga mat.  “Many of the lessons I’ve learned on the Yoga mat like listening closely, present moment awareness and beginners mind are so relevant to our recruiting profession” say Bob.