About pbilodeau01

Born in Berlin, N.H.; bachelor of arts, major in journalism, Northeastern University; master's degree in urban studies, Southern Connecticut State University; was an editor and reporter at New Haven Register, an editor at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and a reporter at The Meriden Record-Journal. Now a freelance writer and editor.

IN JOB INTERVIEW, BE YOUR BEST SELF

#JobInterviews #BeYourBestSelf #jobs #employers #employees
Many theories abound about how to behave in a job interview.
The best advice is to not just be yourself, but be your best self.
If you try to be someone you aren’t, to try to impress the interviewer, that fakeness will show, either during the interview or after you are hired. Perhaps the worst thing one could do is to convince an interviewer that he or she is hiring someone he or she is not.
Therefore, be who you are. Be proud of who you are. And, tell the interviewer that you would be a great hire, just the way you are.
However, one should be conscious of some nervous habits one has, and try to control them. Nervous habits, though usually harmless with regard to job performance, can be a turn-off. That’s part of being your best self.
While being yourself in an interview, you also have to convince yourself that YOU would hire you, if you were the employer.
There’s a natural tendency to either dwell on our weaknesses, or to be overconfident in ourselves. Part of being your best self is to be confident, without being overconfident. It’s also to embrace one’s strengths, rather than be consumed by one’s weaknesses.
As you are being interviewed, don’t hesitate to interview the interviewer. Asking questions is not a sign of weakness. Questions can be empowering. After all, you want to be sure the job for which you are applying will suit you, as well as you suit the employer.
Also, don’t hesitate to ask for what you want. If the answer is no, then perhaps the job will not suit you. In this labor market, one should not be forced to take a job that will not work for him or her.
Also, be aware that no job, or situation, is perfect. When you evaluate it, try to figure out the potential for your growth. Sometimes, starting with something less than perfect can lead to bigger and better things down the road.
If you are allowed, take time after the interview to think about whether you want to take the job. Very likely, an employer will give some time, albeit not a lot of time, to think about it. The employer, too, usually wants time to think about whether to hire you. Be skeptical about situations that appear to be no-brainers. Sometimes, once you get in, such situations are not what they seemed during the interview.
If you get time to think about whether to take a job, it won’t hurt to talk to people you trust about your decision. Don’t necessarily rely on the advice of others, but use that advice to help you make an informed decision.
Some jobs can be temporary ports in a storm. If you feel that way about a job for which you are interviewing, don’t give that away. Very few employers – at least good ones – are looking for temporary hires. It’s OK to look at a job as a step toward something better down the road, even if it may not be with that specific employer. But, if you intend to work at a job for a time, and then leave, give it your all while you are there.
Part of being your best self is being secure, even confident, about who you are. You may be different from other candidates, but it’s incumbent on you to display how those differences will benefit the employer.
Be advised, also, that an interviewer may, for some reason, not like you. If you sense that, say thanks, but no thanks, to the job.
Today’s labor market is tight, but not necessarily easy to navigate. If you perform in an interview as your best self, you likely will not go wrong.
Peter

PASSION, BILLS AND LIFE

#passion #bills #life #DoWhatYouLove #jobs #LoveWhatYouDo
“Passion doesn’t pay bills.”
So says the beginning of a TV ad for Etsy.
This makes one think of childhood, and something everyone’s parents may have said.
You may passionately want to be a rock star, the conversation then proceeds, but not everyone can be a rock star. You have to find something steady that will make you a living.
Play your guitar at home, during your off hours.
It’s certainly true that not everyone who wants to be a rock star will be. Competition is fierce, and there’s a lot of talent out there. The difference between one who makes it as a rock star and one who doesn’t may involve a lucky break or two, or meeting the right person.
But the conversation with one’s parents almost always seems to devolve into encouraging the child, regardless of age, to settle for something he or she may not want.
We can extrapolate further. How miserable, and regretful, will this child be 40 years later that he or she did not pursue his or her passion?
Very likely, a lifetime of paid bills may be no consolation.
One should have a twofold consideration in the pursuit of life. What do you WANT to do? What do you have to do to get what you want? If you don’t get what you want immediately, what do you do in the meantime? The second part is: What do you do to ensure you have a good life throughout? What plan do you put in place to make that happen? How do I make enough to live well, save well, invest well for the future etc.?
The answer is to be both idealistic and practical. Give yourself some time to pursue your passion. If you fail initially, put a Plan B in place as you continue to pursue your passion. What you earn in Plan B can buy you time to get to Plan A.
Sock away a portion of what you earn toward your future, and invest it prudently. Don’t raid that stash for frivolous expenditures.
Perhaps you are the person who has not yet found his or her passion. Perhaps you started with a relatively secure Plan A, and it is treating you OK. You are content. Yet, you want something more.
(Remember, too, that secure Plan A’s are fleeting. They may not last as long as you want them to.)
Or, you may have a passion that is not necessarily paying your bills, but you want to keep pursuing it.
In short, if you have a passion, don’t be afraid to pursue it. Pursue it because you enjoy it. If it pays off financially, consider yourself fortunate. Do something, preferably something you don’t hate, to accommodate your practical needs for as long as you need to. (Hopefully, for as long as you want to.)
Try to live the life you want with few regrets, so you can reach your death bed not wondering what could have been. Not everything you want to happen will happen, but make sure that if things don’t happen, it is not because of something you did, or didn’t do.
Passion may not pay all of your bills, but if they pay some, you would probably have achieved your goals. If they don’t pay any bills, make sure your Plan B does not stop you from pursuing your passion.
Peter


HOW BADLY DO YOU WANT IT?

HowBadlyDoYouWantIt #attitude #perseverance #GoForIt #desire
It’s easy to feel down when you observe what’s going on around you.
Sometimes, you have to look hard to find the good.
Sometimes, when you are in a bad mood, you have to look at what’s good in your life to pull you out of it.
You may want something that you think might be out of reach. Perhaps, it’s not.
So ask yourself these three questions: How badly do you want it? What are you willing to do to get it? When are you willing to start going for it?
There is always hope.
But hope doesn’t get you what you want. You have to add effort and desire to that hope.
So, a quest begins with desire. You have to really want something to achieve it.
Then, you have to determine how willing you are to do what it takes to achieve it.
That may be the toughest question of the three. Once you have the desire, you need to think that it’s possible. If you want it, and determine that it’s possible, the needed effort should come.
That brings us to the last question: when will you start?
If you want something badly enough, you’ll want to start doing what you need to do as soon as possible – never mind how busy you think you will be.
If your goal involves helping others, it’s always a good time for that.
Now also may be a good time to reflect on what you want to do with your life. We’ve been through, and are still going through, a pandemic that has changed many aspects of our lives.
It has provided time to reflect – to analyze what we were doing and whether it was worth it to keep doing it.
If what you were doing before the pandemic was not fulfilling your goals, it may be time to think long and hard about how much effort you want to keep putting in, without getting the results you want.
It may also be time, if you like and appreciate what you were doing, to perhaps find new ways to do it.
Regardless, keep the three questions mentioned above in mind. Use them to determine not only what you will do now, but what you will do next.
What’s next, if you do things correctly, could be just exactly what you want.
Peter

REMOTE WORK BECOMING A TREND?

#RemoteWork #WorkingRemotely #coronavirus #COVID-19 #FlattenTheCurve
If you thought working from home, or, at least, away from the crowded office was a temporary solution to combat a contagion, think again.
Now, 40.7 million Americans expect to be working remotely by 2026.
Meanwhile, 86.5 million freelance workers are expected by 2027.
Those statistics come from Upwork Inc. Statista data, and were part of a Bloomberg News article also published Sept. 30, 2021 in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The article says that businesses, in a survey of 1,000 hiring managers, have increased their willingness to use freelancers.
The coronavirus pandemic was a catalyst for this trend. But it probably has been building for a long time.
If you are in business, it’s better to pay for tasks than hours. When employers hire people as employees, there is a tacit, if not written, agreement that the employee will work, and be paid, for however many hours they are hired for.
Sure, employers can cut, or add to, an employee’s hours at will, in most cases.
But the employers are essentially paying for time. It means more security for the employee, and more obligation for the employer.
Sometimes, that security and obligation also comes in the form of non-salary benefits, adding to the employers’ costs.
When employers hire freelancers, there is no such obligation. The freelancer performs a task(s) and gets paid for that task. That’s much less secure for the worker, but, at the same time, provides more flexibility for the worker to do other things.
The ultimate flexibility for the worker is the ability to work from home. He or she may not get as much from the employer in this arrangement, but the tradeoff (no commuting to a work site, for example) may be worth it.
For some, the fear of loss of secure employment may not be desirable. Some depend on an employer’s benevolence. But, for others, being one’s own boss, essentially, provides coveted freedom.
Given issues with child care, inflation and the increasing costs of commuting, being one’s own boss, in the long run, may be a great tradeoff to the old time-for-dollars, strict schedule model.
To work successfully from home, however, you have to be sure that distractions, like children, won’t hurt your productivity. You still have to give the boss what he or she wants, when he or she needs it.
In short, the trends toward more freedom, flexibility and freelance work are coming. That may not suit everyone, but there may be little anyone can do about it.
It’s best for everyone to prepare for those trends now. That may mean staying with your on-location job and work a gig on the side. Perhaps that gig could be your answer to following the coming trends.
Peter

LABOR SHORTAGES TO AFFECT SUMMER VACATIONS, TRAVEL

#LaborShortages #SummerTravel #labor #jobs #workers #employers
Resorts, restaurants and other entertainment venues are reporting labor shortages.
These employers say the number of applicants for work at summer hot spots are down. They may not be able to fill the jobs they have available.
NBC News reported on this problem May 15, 2022.
There are a number of issues here. First, these jobs are usually seasonal. The ideal applicant is a college or a high school student out of school for the summer.
Why aren’t they applying? There could be a number of reasons, but suffice it to say that the workplace, in general, is changing.
Since the pandemic, workplace safety is a bigger concern than ever. These young folks may be more cautious about a job that involves interacting with a lot of people, particularly if they don’t know the vaccination status of those people. After all, they don’t want to get sick, or worse, over a job.
Also, many of these jobs, particularly in hospitality, don’t pay well. As employers of all stripes are fighting over fewer workers, perhaps these students may have found other, more lucrative and less stressful job options.
Thirdly, as much as kids want to hang at, say, a beach area for the summer, what are their housing options, and are they affordable? No one wants to spend everything they earn to eat and sleep near a resort workplace.
These labor shortages contribute to the inflation we all see. If employers have to pay more to attract workers, customers will have to pay more.
That goes for every link in the supply chain. If there are labor shortages at the end of the chain, there are probably labor problems throughout.
It’s great for the economy for workers to have options. As an employer, perhaps you have to make working for you a better option. You have to find the “sweet spot” that makes you, your employees and your customers happy. It’s a tough balance for some establishments, so one has to be creative to make it work.
If you are a worker, by all means evaluate any available option you have. Money is certainly important, but a work situation that fits your needs and that you like is critical. Otherwise, you will not be happy no matter how much they pay you.
For the first time in a long time, workers are in the driver’s seat in many instances. These workers, in general, are NOT sitting home collecting government checks. They want to work, but also want to be treated well, want to feel safe and secure and want to feel, for lack of a better term, at home.
It can be a tall order to create an ideal workplace. Certainly, some jobs or tasks will be no one’s favorite thing to do. But the employer has to make those burdensome, necessary jobs and tasks as rewarding as possible.
The old idea of ruling a workplace with an iron fist will not attract or retain the best workers.
You need rules, certainly, but you also need an atmosphere that workers want to be in and want to make even better.
You might be surprised to learn that you can create such a workplace without too much hardship. You just have to think, ask questions and learn what people want.
It never hurts to ask workers what they are looking for. The answers may yield simple solutions
Peter

GRADS GLAD TO BE OUT; NOW WHAT?

#graduations #GraduationSeason #education #jobs #careers
It’s graduation season, and we tend to see it as an end.
But, it’s really a beginning.
Consider the adage: it’s the first day of the rest of your life.
Most grads have plans. Some will go to college, grad school or some other higher education. Others will get jobs. The main thing to hope for is that where you go next is someplace you want to go.
At graduation ceremonies, the exiting students will hear messages like, “find your passion.”
If your passion won’t pay the bills, exercise your passion, but also find something that will make you a living.
If you are graduating from college, hopefully you are not saddled with debt. If you are, hopefully your education will help you pay it off comfortably.
If you are graduating high school, hopefully you’ve thought long and hard about either college, work or some combination – say, work full time, school part time or vice versa.
Remember, too, that college is not for everyone. Make sure that if you go on to college, you are prepared in every way. It’s OK if you do not think college is for you. There are other endeavors you can pursue that will educate you and potentially make you a living.
Most importantly, always think about the future, no matter what you will do. One day, you could get married and have a family. One day, you will retire. On the latter, here’s hoping that you can do it on your own terms. Not everyone can say that.
Both of those life endeavors require preparation, financial and otherwise. If you have a job, set aside a portion of your paycheck — even $5 a week – for savings. Start with a bank savings account. As it grows, get some good investment advice and act accordingly.
Be disciplined enough not to dip into your savings for frivolous expenses. You want a good nest egg for your retirement. Those who retire comfortably had made good decisions when they were younger.
You CAN create a nest egg and still enjoy life now by watching where your money goes. That means prudent spending.
Also, whatever you decide to do, remember to give rather than take. As you give and help others, most of what you want will come to you.
So, as you go through graduation ceremonies, celebrate and enjoy. Then, give thought to where you go next. Work hard, but play, too. Form relationships. Make everything you do less about you and more about others.
No matter what you do, your potential is infinite if you make it so.
Go into adulthood with the attitude of setting goals and achieving them, no matter how long it may take and no matter what circumstances befall you.
It’s not what happens to you that matters. It’s how you deal with everything that happens. Finding something good in every situation is a good first step.
As stones cross your path, find ways to go over them.
Best of luck to all the grads.
Peter

TRUCK DRIVER SHORTAGE LIKELY TO BE TEMPORARY

#TruckDrivers #SupplyChainProblems #trucks #drivers #TruckDriverShortage
The shortage of truck drivers is certainly hurting the supply chain.
A New York Times article by Madeleine Ngo and Ana Swanson published Nov. 9, 2021, calls the shortage the biggest kink in the supply chain.
The article was also published Nov. 14, 2021 in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The article attributes the shortage to long hours and uncomfortable working conditions.
The article tells the story of Michael Gary, 58, who took a truck driving job in 2012 to help pay off more than $50,000 in student debt. He finally quit Oct. 6, 2021.
“I had no personal life outside of driving a truck,” the article quotes Gary.
The American Trucking Associations reports that the industry is short 80,000 drivers, according to the article.
Trucking is one of those industries undergoing a transition. Decades ago, with most truckers represented by the Teamsters Union, trucking was still a tough job, but it paid relatively well.
Now, the job is still tough but is not paying well enough for some to endure the long hours, time away from home, sleeping in trucks etc. Some companies are beginning to increase drivers’ pay.
Most young workers looking for a career also can see the writing on the wall. Self-driving trucks, though not here in large numbers yet, are coming. So, why start a career that may become obsolete in a few short years?
But, as with most transition periods , this one is messy.
Though we need truckers, and lots of them, now, we may not need nearly as many in the future.
Truckers, by law, can only drive so many hours at a time. Then, they must rest a certain number of hours.
Often, those rest periods are unpaid, as is the time spent waiting to load or unload.
It’s one of those professions, as brought to the fore by the pandemic, that workers have to ask themselves whether the job, compensation etc., is worth the sacrifices to home and other personal life.
There are many songs you could hear on the radio that glamorize life on the open road. They portray it as an adventure.
But, in reality, it is grueling. To help ease the pain of being away from home, and to legally log more hours on the road, many married couples share truck driving duties.
Still, it’s a real hardship to spend that much time away from home, missing your children, social relationships etc.
In short, trucking is not for everyone. Though drivers are badly needed now, the future is likely to tell a very different story.
Peter

RETIRE TOMORROW? GREAT! THEN WHAT?

#retirement #RetireTomorrow #UseYourTimeWisely #EnjoyYourRetirement
If you retired tomorrow, regardless of your age, what would you do then?
Many, if not most, see retirement as a type of utopia – no work, sleep in, no worries etc.
In reality, many never give much thought to what they will do when they retire. They see the end of their W-2 life as just that: an end to be achieved.
They’ll worry about what’s next, well, next.
Even if money was not going to be a problem, at least in your mind, how you spend your time may be the key to a fulfilling retirement.
Some financial advisers sell themselves as a guide to their clients’ longest vacation.
But vacation and retirement are not the same. A vacation is a temporary R&R period. Retirement, when it comes, is usually forever.
Some people are retired by their employers, often before they want to be. That adds an extra burden and importance on what a person will do next. Sometimes, that does not mean R&R.
The pandemic has prompted others to retire, perhaps prematurely, for a lot of reasons: workplace safety, job insecurity etc.
So, where do these questions lead? It’s not just finances that make a good retirement, though being financially OK, even comfortable, is vitally important. But, to make a retirement successful, enjoyable and fulfilling, a person should give thought to how he or she will use his or her time, now that his or her personal rat race has ended.
In short, retirement is a state of mind, a state of health and a state of relative wealth.
It begs the age-old question: if you had all the time in the world, how would you spend it? As a corollary: if you had all the money you could want, how would you spend it?
Both are possible, at virtually any age, by making the right decisions, sticking with a plan and pursuing it with vigor and tenacity.
The adage: “do today what others won’t, so you can do tomorrow what others can’t,” applies here.
But as you do today to get to tomorrow, think about what tomorrow can bring. Think about the freedom to do as you wish. Use that time to do good for others. Use that time to pursue the things you had little time to pursue before, but always wanted to do. Use that time to make the world a better place for you, and all.
Before you get the time, take the time to know how you will spend it. Work to gain the resources that will give you the options you want. Work to clear your head of negative energy, and infuse positive energy.
Make a plan, starting as soon as possible after you start your career; follow the plan to a great degree. Certainly, you may deviate a bit to, say, buy a house, but such a decision will ultimately fit into your plan. If you make a plan and follow it, then decide how you will spend your time.
You’ve made and followed your plan. Now, make the time and make a difference.
Your world can be what you make it. So, make it with care.
Peter

ONLINE EDUCATION AND ‘NORMAL SCHOOL’

#OnlineLearning #NormalSchool, #education #teachers #studemts
Parents and students of all ages have had to deal with a lot of school online.
But two Georgia Tech computer scientists are arguing that online learning can be as effective as in-person classes.
Their book, “The Distributed Classroom,” by David A. Joyner and Charles Isbell, was the subject of a column by Maureen Downey, who writes education commentary for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Her column was published Sept. 28, 2021.
“No matter the age of their children, most parents favor a return to ‘normal school,’ which they define as how they learned – a teacher in front of a room and students in desks,” Downey writes.
But Joyner and Isbell call for classes spread across many locations and times, totally contradicting the belief that parents and teachers must meet together in a room at fixed times, Downey writes. (As an aside, the fixed time and classes were designed to teach kids promptness and how to follow a schedule, skills they would need in a “normal” workplace.)
“There are several features we developed of the past year that students want to continue, such as recorded classes. Going forward, I think we have to disentangle several developments that went together during COVID-19, but don’t have to go together going forward,” Downey quotes Joyner.
She writes that the professors don’t envision a student sitting at his or her kitchen table staring at a screen all day. Students can take online classes while going to school. The professors also believe online learners can form bonds with each other, as do graduate students in Georgia Tech’s Online Master of Science in Computer Science(OMSCS) program, the column says. (Another aside: if students form bonds on social media, why can’t they do so through online classes?)
Previously, a question had been posed: if Student X wanted to take a class with Professor X, who may be miles away, why can’t that happen? Professor X is teaching his or her class anyway, why not let him or her teach it to thousands, even millions, at a time?
If Professor X’s lecture time isn’t convenient for Student X, couldn’t Student X view and listen to the class on a recording?
If COVID-19 helped advance those concepts, what will education look like in the future? Instead of School X having, say, three third-grade classes, how about one third-grade teacher and several teacher aides to offer one-on-one assistance, help grade papers and other work etc. ? Yes, the students can be in a school building if that’s preferable.
It may mean that students may get to know the teacher aides better than they know the teacher, but it could save school districts lots of money and help alleviate teacher shortages etc.
Taking the concept further, how about one teacher for multiple schools, again with aides helping individual students?
The teacher would do the same work preparing for classes. Online allows for interaction among students, though, in this scenario, a teacher teaching hundreds or thousands of students would make lots of interaction between teachers and students in real time difficult.
Educators, in general, have vivid imaginations. School systems and politicians, in general, can constrain such imaginations.
We will all have a front-row seat to watch how education evolves, how student life changes at all levels and how those who study can flex their time to accomplish whatever activities in which they need and wish to engage.
“Normal school” may look a lot different in years to come.
Peter

WORKERS HARD TO FIND

#LaborShortage #workers #employers #GreatResignation #BetterJobs #entrepreneurs
Evidence suggests that jobs are easy to find, and workers are hard to find.
So writes Paul Krugman, a New York Times columnist and economist in a column also published April 10, 2022 in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Krugman points out that experts, including himself, have been telling the “Great Resignation” tale, saying the pandemic has forced lots of Americans to rethink work, their jobs, child care, going back to unpleasant environments etc.
But he now points out that he has changed his mind, as new data evolve.
He says Americans are switching jobs, but going to better ones. They are not leaving the labor force in large numbers (and collecting government checks to stay home). Instead, they are going to different work.
One reason Krugman cites, attributing to economist Dean Baker, is many workers are becoming self-employed. They are gig workers, to use current parlance.
Employment figures, naturally, do not include the self-employed. “Reshuffling has involved Americans concluding that they could improve their lives by starting their own businesses,” Krugman writes.
The second reason is immigration, or lack thereof, according to Krugman. An immigration crackdown over the last several years, enhanced by the pandemic, resulted in fewer available workers. To boost the economy, Krugman says, “we should really try to reestablish our nation’s historic role as a destination for ambitious immigrants,” he writes.
In decades past, it has been argued that too much immigration takes jobs from Americans and lowers wages for U.S. workers. Today’s immigration argument, though often not voiced aloud, is that it’s less about jobs and wages and more about demographics and potential new voting patterns.
Because the employment numbers are so hidden, they blur the status of the economy. If employers can’t find workers, or have lost the ones they had prior to the pandemic, those employers should spend more time evaluating how to better attract or retain workers, rather than complain about labor shortages allegedly caused by current government policy.
Workers are out there, albeit fewer than there were prior to the pandemic. There are not a lot of eligible workers sitting home collecting checks. They are working on THEIR terms, performing services that they know how to do, for those willing to pay for them.
If employers believe that different government policy can force workers back to old ways, they will be very disappointed when it doesn’t happen.
If you (desperate employer) know someone who used to work for you, but is now in his or her own business, ask that person why he or she made such a move.
Very likely, they will tell you chapter and verse why. You may not like the answer. But, if you are wise, you will learn something from it.
Starting a business when you’ve always been an employee is a big step. Not everyone who does so will succeed. But, even if they don’t, they may never return to what they used to do, or where they used to do it.
Remember, too, that workers have more choices than they’ve had in years. Most will take advantage of better opportunities that are presented to them. Some will succeed as their own bosses. Wishing it were different, if you are an employer, will not make it so.
Peter