ALC Consulting

September 28, 2009

Appearing at a Library Near You

Filed under: Techniques — Anne Cloward @ 8:31 am

I am teaching job hunting workshops at the Beaverton Library on the following dates:

    September 29

    October 20

    November 3

    November 24

    December 1

All sessions begin at 6 pm and run for two hours. The format is set, but there is plenty of time for individual questions and concerns. We also have a Yahoo Group composed of those who want to communicate between sessions.

For more information, contact me at

I promise you, this is not your ordinary dull dreary and depressing time. I focus on fun and finding out what works!



The Secret to Finding Jobs When “There Are No Jobs”

Filed under: connections,job search,Networking — Anne Cloward @ 6:18 am
Tags: , , ,

Condensed from an article by Richard N. Bolles, (author of What Color Is Your Parachute?) in Bottom Line Magazine, September, 20009.

Common Strategies That Do NOT Work

% Success



7% Mailing out resumes /submitting or posting them online They get lost in the massive pile. Often are scanned by machine and never get viewed by human eyes.
7% Responding to ads in trade journals Only lower level positions are posted here.

Might work if you have an exotic skill set.

10% Responding to ads on Internet job sites These jobs are usually posted as a last resort or if you are in IT. Your information is often sold and you get a lot of spam.
5-24% Responding to jobs in newspapers Mostly low-paying minimum wage jobs are posted here.
5-28% Working with a private agency or search firm Many employers are cutting costs and not using them. Recruiters are struggling.

Best Strategies That Do Work

% Success



33% Networking for leads Employers like personal recommendations. Build your network
47% Knocking on doors unannounced at employers of interest Works best on small to medium companies, NOT large corporations.
69% Calling on companies of interest listed in the Yellow Pages Works with small companies. Best to schedule and informational interview.
70% Partnering with other job seekers More eyes looking out for you, but you need to reciprocate.
86% Taking inventory of yourself, then targeting potential employers It can give you a focus and clarity that other seekers don’t have.

Upon reviewing this information, how will you modify your job search?

September 25, 2009

Everyone Back in the Pool!

Filed under: job search — Anne Cloward @ 12:46 pm
Tags: ,

One of my favorite memories from my summer is spending time with the grandchildren at the beach. They love the ocean, as I do. We will be returning again throughout the fall. This picture was taken on the most glorious day, just before Labor Day. It was 94 degrees in Portland, and about 80 this Saturday afternoon.

I know that it has been a while since I posted, but it’s time to get back to work here.

To me, this is really the beginning of a new year. The beginning of the school year has always stirred excitement in me with dreams of new adventures and opportunities, much more than any old party in the end of December. One of my favorite memories of this time was buying new school supplies, pencils, pens, notebooks. And then there were the books. A new book full of information and stories that I hadn’t read yet. This is my idea of pure heaven.

So, for all of you job seekers, get back into the search mode. Though my evidence is anecdotal, the landscape is changing. Recruiters are calling again. Jobs are suddenly popping out of the woodwork. Even though there are still more applicants than positions, this is a change in the air, and not just the falling of leaves, either.

September 9, 2009

Best Practices II

After the First Day

Oops! This never got posted when it was supposed to. Anyway, here goes.

Life in the office takes on a general rhythm, most of the time, and the unfamiliar begins to feel more comfortable. I struggle during meetings my first week or two, to learn names, company acronyms, and programs. If nothing else, I can observe how the team interacts and how meetings are run.

There are some personal habits that I try to follow here. I have listed them here, not in any particular order.

Create and send a weekly status report to your boss, and to the account manager or recruiter, if they would like. It is a one-page document that lists what has been accomplished for the week, what the goals are for next week, and any problems or other information the a manager needs to know (vacations, changes in work schedule, etc.) Some project managers have requested them and then use them for reports to their bosses. It’s a tool that helps assure management that you are aware of priorities and are on the same page.

If the account manager for the contracting firm does not want to view it, that’s fine. But I offer to email it weekly. I use it for myself to track my progress.

Keep your own “to do” list and other job aids. I often am asked to create several different documents concurrently for a project, and I track where they are in the writing process. If there is a style guide for the company, I use it. If no style guide exists, I create one for my personal use. If there is no glossary of terms, I create one.

On some projects, peer editing is the norm and it’s good to know who is supposed to be reviewing what. When sending a document out for this kind of review, I will include guidelines, asking the reviewer to focus on content and let me worry about grammar and spelling.

Keep administrative documentation in order. Documents that I need to keep may be either in electronic format or hard copy, but I keep them for tracking purposes:

Employment agreements

Confidentiality or Non-disclosure agreements

Any correspondence from the contracting firm regarding details of my assignment

Time sheets (copies, if the boss needs the originals)

Status Reports

Company phone directories,

Meeting notes with assignments marked. (To go on to my “to do” list)

Have an end of day routine. Even if I am in the middle of something, I leave my cube in order. Papers are either filed or put into an inbox, and other materials are put into the trash. Now, the boss may have the most cluttered desk I have ever seen, but as a contractor, I don’t have that luxury. It also helps to keep track of things.

I check my calendar for the next day. There is nothing more distressing than coming into the office and finding I have in five minutes or five minutes ago that I had not been aware of. If possible, I print up any documents or agendas that I need for the meeting. Walking into a meeting late because I was doing some last minute printing is unprofessional. Printers are fussy creatures and can detect when you are in a hurry, and immediately run out of toner or jam on you.

During the day, use the calendar that usually comes with email. Many companies use an electronic calendar to schedule meeting and conference calls. I use it, and set up an alarm to be set at least 15 minutes in advance, (adjustable to the circumstances.) If it takes me 20 minutes to get to the conference room, I set the alarm accordingly.

Always create an agenda. If you call a meeting, and send it out to the participants, asking for feedback and attach any relevant documents. Many times team members appreciate having the documents in advance and actually read them. Agendas make meetings more productive and it seems that you are organized. A focused meeting makes the best use of peoples’ time. The most common complaint I hear is about non productive meetings that keep the “real” work from getting done.

Try to be a team player. One phrase that is really unprofessional is “that’s not in my job description.” Sometimes the task may not be a part of a normal job description and the request is outrageous, but other times, it’s better just roll up my sleeves and get the job done. More than once I have printed up documents for meetings or prepared boxes to ship. You do whatever you need to in order to meet a deadline or complete a project. An AA may work for several departments and is not available to be at anyone’s beck and call, and often that means a contractor does what needs to be done.

Often I will receive a request from a co-worker for help with a Word document, since they assume I know all about the program. Some IT types don’t know how to use the program well and get frustrated in trying to get the page to work right. If it is quick fix, and I am able to help, I will oblige. The same goes with Visio. I try to explain what I am doing, so they can repeat it on their own. This does not mean I am giving classes on using Word, it just means, I help a co-worker with a report using a tool they don’t know all that well..

Another thing contractors have to deal with is the corporate culture and the unwritten rules that govern them. In some companies, the rules for employees are different than for contractors. I been in companies where long time employees shoot the breeze for half an hour every morning, make long personal phone calls, take two hour lunches and think nothing of it. Such behavior in contractors is totally unacceptable, and a good contractor behaves accordingly. I only make personal phone calls (dentist and doctor appointments, for instance) during lunch, and keep them short. I do not give out my company phone number, but use my cell phone.

People who have worked together for a long time find themselves sharing some personal events, be they a new addition to the family, a wedding, or even a birthday. On some assignments, I have signed good wishes and sympathy cards, admired new babies, and even participated in a secret Santa exchange. When asked to participate in breakfast exchange or pot luck, I do more than bring a bag of chips. At other companies, the line has been drawn and contractors are not asked to participate. It takes time to learn what the rules are in a company regarding contractor participation, but if asked, I participate.

Charge the client for time spent doing productive work. If Dave in St Louis is on the phone for two hours working on a problem with me from 11 to 1, I do consider that time that is charged to the client. Time spent in cafeteria with co-workers for lunch is my time and off the clock. My goal is to be productive and make the best use of my time while I am there on the job. Late or early meetings or overtime spent meeting deadlines are part of my work ethic. My focus is on making sure the job gets done and the client is happy with the documentation that is produced.

One Major Issue

We contractors are busy often quite independent people, who may have more than one iron in the fire. But some contractors carry this too far, and in the process give all contractors a bad name

I worked with a fellow writer who took advantage of the fact that our boss was one floor away and was not a hands-on manager. His side business was an e-commerce website and at least half his day was spent filling orders and emailing customers’ he even used the client’s PC to conduct his business.

Another entrepreneurial soul with whom I worked had several programmers working under him on a separate project for a different firm. When their programs needed debugging, he would spend hours on his cell phone talking to them, at the same time charging for his time spent onsite.

One fellow contractor was a multitalented person. He ran a dance studio, was a personal trainer and taught at the local community college in addition to the assignment he had taken on to provide training for an application being developed by our client, a major financial institution. He was constantly late to every meeting and often would be found out in the hall advising a client on his workout routine. Deadlines were missed, and the user documentation went out without any review. Training materials were thrown together at the last minute and went out without any testing. He had committed to the training effort, but several hours a day were spent on his other enterprises, and it showed in the quality or lack of it, in the incomplete training materials he sent out.

These three may have thought there was nothing wrong in what they were doing, but they were stealing from the client. The client becomes aware that the contractor has other interests that are requiring his time and attention and is not happy. The contracting firm often suffers also, since the next time they recommend a contractor; he or she is not regarded favorably. The damage has been done.

The client is being billed for a contractor’s time and expects the best from the contractor. When he feels he is not getting his money’s worth, the relationship between the client and the contracting firm suffers. A once favorable relationship has been compromised and the contracting firm finds it difficult to place a new contractor there.

August 19, 2009

A Cautionary Tale–Part 1

Filed under: Outrageous,Scams — Anne Cloward @ 5:32 pm
Tags: , ,

As a job seeker, I find it disheartening that there are many people putting forth all of their efforts to make money from desperate people. These next few posts will deal with scams that I have found in my Inbox lately.

Obvious Scams

Dear Cloward Anne,

My Name is Azim Bin Abdullah ,a legal practitioner with Azmi Norah & Associates in Kuala Lumpur,Malaysia.I found your contact/profile some where over the internet and it gave me the greatest joy,that you are the one I have been looking for.Whom I strongly believe could execute this transaction with me.And being more positive that with your capability,that this transaction of transferring (US$19,000,000.00) Nineteen Million United States Dollars will be successfully accomplished.

My purpose of contacting you is for you to help secure the funds left behind by my late client,to avoid it being confiscated or declared unserviceable by the Bank.Where this fund valued (US$19,000,000.00) Nineteen Million United States Dollars deposited by my client before his death.

This Bank has issued me a notice to contact the next of kin or the account will be declared unserviceable and the fund diverted to the Bank treasury,So far all my efforts to get a hold of someone related to this man has proved abortive.Hence,I have contacted you. I am actually asking for your consent to present you to the Bank as the Next of Kin/beneficiary of my late client’s fund,since you have the same last name,so that the proceeds of this account can be paid to your account,then we can share the fund on a mutually agreed,based on percentage.

All the legal documentations to back up your claim as my client’s Next of Kin I shall provided them.All I require is your honest cooperation to enable us achieve this transaction.

The intended transaction will be executed under a legitimate arrangement that will protect you from any infraction of the law.However,if this business proposition offends your moral ethics,do accept my sincere apology.If on the contrary you wish to achieve this goal with me,then kindly get back at me with your interest immediately for further details.

Kindest Regards,
Bar.Azim Bin Abdullah (Esq)

When you see something like this, you hit Delete immediately. At least that is what I thought until I heard from an American in Africa who has a background in security who had to rescue some guy who came over to claim his money. The man was badly beaten for all his troubles.

Fake Jobs and Phishing Scams

These fake jobs often look legit. They even come with a logo from a major job board. But they only exist to lure you into revealing your banking information.

Dear Sir/ Madam

Would you like to work online from home and get paid weekly?

A T AND T WIRELESS TELECOMMUNICATION needs a bookkeeper in the United State,Canada europe and some part of Asia,so we want to know if you will like to work online from home and get paid weekly without leaving or affecting your present job? A AND T WIRELESS TELECOMMUNICATION run a Telecommunication and Accessories firm here in Hong Kong and we need someone to work for the company as a representative/book keeper in the United State of America, Canada,Europe and some part of Asia

Our company produces various Telecomminications equipments,and Internationally envied of which we have clients we supply weekly in the United states, Canada ,europe and some part of Asia

Our clients make payments for our supplies every week in cheques and via bank transfer, so we need someone in the United State of America and Canada. to work as our representative and assist us in processing the payments from our clients and will be entitled to a renumeration.

All you need to do is to receive payments from our customers in the United States,Canada,europe and some part of asia.deduct 10% commission and send the balance to us.

Do let us know if this is of any interest to you by responding via CEO personal email address:
with the following details.


Warmest Regards,
Mr. Daniel Lee,
International Sales

The scam is simple:

  1. The scammers wire money to you with a stolen or fake check.
  2. You deposit it into your personal bank account.
  3. You wire 90% of the money to them.
  4. By the time the bank notifies you that the check is stolen, they are long gone and you are on the hook for the money.

Note: I used to work for Wells Fargo documenting their International Wire Transfer computer program. That is the way legitimate companies transfer money.

Next: Other schemes to part job seekers from their money.

July 30, 2009

Taking a Break

Filed under: LIfe Balance — Anne Cloward @ 9:25 pm
Tags: , ,

Sometimes I get too serious for my own good. I get weighed down with all the negative stuff that comes over the Internet and the airways and I start believing it. That is when I need to pull back.

The temperature in Portland this week has been hot, very hot. We reached 107 degrees yesterday, and 105 on Monday. So, even though the air conditioning has been on, I have taken advantage of the pool. You know, you can have a very nice business meeting just treading water. I talked with an associate for two hours while hanging out in the pool.

And to counteract so much of the bad vibes, I have been enjoying this video posted on YouTube.

There is such much happy energy here. Check it out and just enjoy yourself.

July 29, 2009

You Said What?!

Filed under: Interviewing — Anne Cloward @ 6:10 am

I did not want you to miss this one. It arrived in my inbox this morning. I want to give full credit to the author.

You Said What?!

43 Things Actually Said in Job Interviews

By Rachel Zupek, writer

Bottom of Form

“I’m not wanted in this state.”
“How many young women work here?”
“I didn’t steal it; I just borrowed it.”
“You touch somebody and they call it sexual harassment!”

“I’ve never heard such a stupid question.”

Believe it or not, the above statements weren’t overheard in bars or random conversations — they were said in job interviews.

Maybe you were nervous, you thought the employer would appreciate your honesty, or maybe you just have no boundaries. Whatever the reason, you can be certain that you shouldn’t tell an interviewer that it’s probably best if he doesn’t do a background check on you. (And yes, the hiring manager remembered you said that.)

We asked hiring managers to share the craziest things they’ve heard from applicants in an interview. Some are laugh-out-loud hysterical, others are jaw-dropping — the majority are both. They will relieve anyone who has ever said something unfortunate at a job interview — and simply amuse the rest of you.

Hiring managers shared these 43 memorable interview responses:

Why did you leave your last job?
“I have a problem with authority.” – Carrie Rocha, chief operating officer, HousingLink

Tell us about a problem you had with a co-worker and how you resolved it
“The resolution was we were both fired.” – Jason Shindler, CEO, Curvine Web Solutions

What kind of computer software have you used?
“Computers? Are those the black boxes that sit on the floor next to the desks? My boss has one of those. He uses it. I don’t have one. He just gives me my schedule and I follow it.” – Greg Szymanski, director of human resources, Geonerco Management Inc.

What are your hobbies and interests?
“[He said] ‘Well, as you can see, I’m a young, virile man and I’m single — if you ladies know what I’m saying.’ Then he looked at one of the fair-haired board members and said, ‘I particularly like blondes.'” – Petri R.J. Darby, president, darbyDarnit Public Relations

Why should we hire you?
“I would be a great asset to the events team because I party all the time.” – Bill McGowan, founder, Clarity Media Group

Do you have any questions?
“Cross-dressing isn’t a problem is it?” – Barry Maher, Barry Maher & Associates

“If you were a fruit, what fruit would you be?” – Megan Garnett, Articulate Leadership Team, Articulate Communications Inc.

“What do you want me to do if I cannot walk to work if it’s raining? Can you pick me up?” – Christine Pechstein, career coach

“I was a chamber of commerce executive once hiring a secretary. [The candidate asked] ‘What does a chamber of commerce do?'” – Mary Kurek, Mary Kurek Inc. Visibility Consulting

“Can we wrap this up fairly quickly?  I have someplace I have to go.” – Bruce Campbell, vice president of marketing, Clare Computer Solutions

“What is your company’s policy on Monday absences?” – Campbell

“If this doesn’t work out can I call you to go out sometime?” – Christine Bolzan, founder of Graduate Career Coaching

“How big do the bonuses really get once you make associate? I hear it’s some serious cash.” – Bolzan

“[The candidate asked,] ‘Can my dad call you to talk about the job and the training program?  He is really upset I’m not going to medical school and wants someone to explain the Wall Street path to him.’ The dad did call. Then that dad’s friends called and I ended up doing a conference call with a group of concerned parents … long story.” – Bolzan

“If I get an offer, how long do I have before I have to take the drug test?” – Bolzan

“When you do background checks on candidates, do things like public drunkenness arrests come up?” – Bolzan

“Can I get a tour of the breast pumping room?  I heard you have a great one here and while I don’t plan on having children for at least 10 or 12 years, I will definitely breast-feed and would want to use that room.”- Bolzan

“So, how much do they pay you for doing these interviews?” – Jodi R.R. Smith, Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting

Why are you leaving your current job?
“Because I (expletive) my pants every time I enter the building.” – Abbe Mortimore, human resources manager, True Textiles Inc.

“I was fired from my last job because they were forcing me to attend anger management classes.” – Smith

Why are you looking for a job?
“Cigarettes are getting more expensive, so I need another job.” – Pechstein

“My parents told me I need to get a job so that is why I’m here.” – McGowan

Why do you want to work for us?
“Just for the benefits.” – Jennifer Juergens, JJ Communications

“My old boss didn’t like me, so one day, I just left and never came back. And here I am!” – Matt Cowall, communications manager, Appia Communications

“I saw the job posted on Twitter and thought, why not?” – Rebecca Gertsmark Oren, communications director at The Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity

What are your assets? (as in strengths)
“Well, I do own a bike.” – Pam Venné, principal, The Venné Group

What are your weaknesses?
“I get angry easily and I went to jail for domestic violence. But I won’t get mad at you.” – Pechstein

“I had a job candidate tell me that she often oversleeps and has trouble getting out of bed in the morning.” – Linda Yaffe,
certified executive coach

“I am an alcoholic and do not deserve this job.” – Deb Bailey, owner, Power Women Magazine & Radio Show

“I’m really not a big learner. You know … some people love learning and are always picking up new things, but that’s just not me. I’d much rather work at a place where the job is pretty stagnant and doesn’t change a lot.” – Michaele Charles, Voice Communications

When have you demonstrated leadership skills?
“Well my best example would be in the world of online video gaming. I pretty much run the show; it takes a lot to do that.”  – Rachel Croce

Is there anything else I should know about you?
“You should probably know I mud wrestle on the weekends.” — Venné

When can you start?
“I need to check with my mom on that one.” – Bolzan

Use three adjectives to describe yourself
“I hate questions like this.” – Katrina Meistering

Tell of a time you made a mistake and how you dealt with it
“I stole some equipment from my old job, and I had to pay for its replacement.” – Meistering

Have you submitted your two weeks’ notice to your current employer?
“What is two weeks’ notice?  I’ve never quit a job before, I’ve always been fired.” – Meistering

Random responses
“One guy [said] ‘it would probably be best’ if I didn’t run a background check on him. Of course, I did, and learned all about his long, sordid past of law-breaking. Our client actually offered him a job as a staff accountant, but quickly retracted the offer when I had to tell them all about his recent arrest for a meth lab in his basement.” – Charles

“[A] guy said he did not have a mailing address, as he was living in a gypsy camp at the airport.” – Sandra L. Flippo, SPHR

“I went into the lobby to pick up a candidate. As he stood up, his trousers fell to the floor! [He said] ‘Oh, my gosh — they told me I needed a suit for the interview. I’ve got no money — so I borrowed this thing. It’s too big!'” – Beth Ross, executive and career coach

“Wow — I’m not used to wearing dress shoes! My feet are killing me. Can I show you these bloody blisters?” – Bolzan

“May I have a cup of coffee?  I think I may still be a little drunk from last night.” – Smith

(During a telephone call to schedule the interview) “Can we meet next month?  I am currently incarcerated.” – Smith

“[A candidate] was asked whether he could advocate impartially on behalf of the various universities he would be representing since he had attended one of them. He responded, ‘Well, I don’t like to poop where I eat, but I thought my education sucked, so I certainly wouldn’t put that school above the others.'” – Darby

July 20, 2009

Slip Sliding Away

Filed under: job search — Anne Cloward @ 11:39 am
Tags: ,

Back to old S and G again. Paul once said that the thought some of his earlier lyrics were a bit pretentious, but I do like the chorus of this one.

Slip sliding away, slip sliding away
You know the nearer your destination,
the more you slip sliding away

When you are job searching, one of the easiest things to do is to slide into a very self destructive pattern for your days. You, in no particular order:

  • Get up when you feel like it.
  • Stay in your PJs.

  • Don’t eat breakfast.
  • Sit down at the computer.

First of all, there is the news to catch up on. If you are a guy, and you did not get to watch the games over the weekend, you have to catch up on all the scores and the play by plays. Then there is your email at five different addresses, and a game or two. Then you mosey on over to a job board or two and see if anyone is hiring for a job that matches your old title. And of course the black hole of Facebook is suddenly in front of you and after playing a few games and taking some quizzes and commenting on the postings from all of your old friends in high school, you look at the clock.

  • Eat something, since it’s noon.
  • Get dressed in your ratty old clothes since no one is going to see you anyway.
  • Make a few phone calls to see if anyone is hiring, except that no one answers.
  • Apply for a job online that you really don’t want.
  • Go outside for some physical activity just to break the monotony.
  • Go check emails again.
  • Surf the web since you are so bored. Watch old comedy shows. Track down useless information.
  • Knock off since it is four and you have spent seven straight hours on the computer.

This is your coach speaking here. As a career coach, I can tell you that you will spend your days like this and keep slip sliding away. I know how easy it is to go there. I have lived in parts of the country where it snows since I started college and moved from Phoenix. I know how easily it is to just slide down that slope.

Next: How to get going and moving.

July 16, 2009

The Ultimate Group Interview

Filed under: Group Interviews,Interviewing — Anne Cloward @ 9:35 pm

All of these people get to interview this one candidate:

Whose résumé has been scrutinized to death and whose every public utterance for the past 20 years has been reviewed and reprinted. And she has kept her cool through all the hearings this week.

Go Sonia!

July 15, 2009

Now for Something Completely Different!

Filed under: Interviewing — Anne Cloward @ 4:02 pm

After all this serious stuff, let’s have some fun. I have collected some cartoons on interviewing to share with everyone.


And watch”

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