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Chat Monday at noon: Pattie Hunt Sinacole, PR expert

Posted by Jack Pickell June 28, 2013 02:37 PM

JobDoc-Pattie-Hunt-Sinacole-100.jpgPattie Hunt Sinacole is a human resources expert and works for First Beacon Group in Hopkinton, an HR consulting firm. She contributes weekly to Jobs and the Boston Sunday Globe Money & Careers section.

Elevator Etiquette

Posted by Peter Post June 27, 2013 07:00 AM

As soon as I bring up elevator etiquette during a business etiquette seminar, I can be sure it will elicit some comments and opinions. Interestingly, the most mentioned issue is leaving the elevator. People always want to know what the protocol is.

They think they know what to do, but thinking you know isn’t enough. Actually knowing what to do is what’s important because when you know what to do you exude confidence. Manners are valuable because they tell us what to do and what to expect others to do in any situation. The result: Instead of wondering or being unsure and therefore unconfident, you can act in a confident manner.

Back to the exiting the elevator question. The answer is simple: When you’re in a business situation, the person closest to the door in a crowded elevator, man or woman, should step out first. Keep going, if that’s your stop, but, if it’s not, step to the side as passengers exit and then step back in. It’s always nice to reach back to hold the door and prevent it from closing on the people exiting after you.

If you remain in the elevator, one of the nicest things you can do for fellow riders who are exiting is to engage the “doors open” button to hold the doors while they exit especially if you notice the doors are starting to close.

The other frustration raised by seminar participants is about inappropriate conversations in elevators. It is virtually impossible to carry on a private conversation in an elevator without being heard by others, even if they don’t want to hear. Avoid conversations of a confidential nature such as: contract discussions, candidate qualifications, gossip (which shouldn’t be engaged in anywhere for that matter), or client/prospect/supplier issues.

The same goes for cellphone calls and conversations. People are frustrated enough by having to listen to other peoples’ cellphone conversations, but the confined space of an elevator car magnifies the problem. If your phone rings either send the call directly to voice message or answer and ask the person to wait until your car reaches its destination before beginning a conversation.

Other ways to make elevator rides pleasant for everyone:

  • When entering move to the back.
  • If you’re near the control panel ask others what floors they would like to go to and press the button for those floors for them.
  • Mirrors help to visually expand the space, but they shouldn’t be used for personal grooming.
  • If the elevator that’s just arrived looks jammed, take a pass and wait for the next one rather than forcing your way in and cramming yourself up against other riders.
  • A quick greeting “Hello” to others is pleasant, but avoid engaging others in a drawn-out conversation.

Chat Thursday at noon: Stu Coleman from recruitment firm WinterWyman

Posted by Jack Pickell June 26, 2013 11:30 AM

stu-coleman-100.jpgStu Coleman, a partner at Waltham recruiting firm WinterWyman, is a hiring and contracting expert.

I Feel I was Treated Poorly in my Job Search

Posted by Elaine Varelas June 26, 2013 10:00 AM

Q. I am a mature job seeker in a long term job search. I applied for an internship I found on craigslist at a biotech startup. I have experience in the field and was hoping that would cast me as a frontrunner.

I got an immediate reply and an interview was set up for the next day. They wanted website, white paper, PR and business plan help. I have this experience and It seemed like a perfect match. The head of the company told me he'd make a quick decision as they needed someone immediately.

Fast forward-I got an Email saying that he wouldn't hire an intern. A few days later I saw an ad for the same job on craigslist only jazzed up to appeal to a younger crowd.

I am tired of being a good guy. I would love to find a way to let these people know that this was handled poorly. What are my options?

A. Many job seekers feel they have been treated poorly or that their job search interactions were handled poorly. It is frustrating and upsetting and many employers do not recognize the impact of their actions. At the same time, job seekers' expectations and assessment of their own skill set can be unrealistic.

Internships, for the most part, are designed for students and new or recent graduates. The tradeoff is beneficial for both parties as interns receive the opportunity to learn and grow while companies can have entry level employees for now or low pay.

The movies may show more experienced professionals worming their way into a valuable internship opportunity, but that is not the company's expectation. Companies often don’t react well to surprises, which is what you were when you arrived for the interview. Your resume may have left off experience or dates which is a strategy some mature workers have tried to use. The company recognized they were not getting the candidates they hoped for, so they changed the ad to more effectively represent what they wanted.

Rather than taking your job search frustration out on this employer, promise to help other mature job seekers network and find employment; revamp your own job search efforts. With experience in biotech, investigate the services of professional associations. Start with the Massachusetts Biotech Council ( They have job listings and offer programs to job seekers looking for opportunities in the industry.

If you have a trusted colleague, have him or her review your resume to make sure it is not misleading to potential hiring managers. You may be experiencing the effects of age discrimination, but hiding your age won’t get you the opportunities you seek. You need to represent yourself well, maximize your experience and show yourself as current. Use LinkedIn effectively to connect with your contemporaries and network your way to success.

This chocolatier's sweet on creating tempting confections

Posted by Cindy Atoji Keene June 25, 2013 11:44 AM

By Cindy Atoji Keene

As the chocolatier charged with innovating new flavors for Chocolate Therapy in Dedham and Framingham, Rick Gemme is most inspired by his travels around the world. After a recent trip to Turkey, he experimented with a date and cardamom chocolate; a visit to Malta produced a citrus-tinged truffle. “I’m constantly in search of the perfect chocolate combination, which, in my opinion, is something that's not too sweet and has a little bit of savory; maybe a little salt. This makes a nice contrast – not all one flavor note,” said Gemme, who said that Chocolate Therapy sweets capitalize on the heart-healthy, antioxidant benefits of chocolate by adding other “superfoods” such as green tea, ginseng and cold-pressed olive oil.

Q: You attended the Culinary Institute of America. What did you learn there about chocolate making?
A: The CIA is intense; almost like a military school but the classes are on food instead, of course. The chocolate class is crammed into three weeks of eight-hour classes. We learn the science behind tempering and the production of chocolate and all confections. You start with a basic ganache then move onto molding, then sugar pulling, taffies, and more.

Q: What’s the most difficult kind of chocolate to make?
A: The chocolate part is easy – it’s what you add to it that’s difficult. I make a blueberry lemon basil truffle with pectin jelly inside – if you’re not stirring constantly with a whisk, you can get lumpy hard spots. It’s supposed to have a nice short texture but instead turns chewy.

Q: How do you source ingredients for the chocolate?
A: At food shows, various vendors offer a range of that samples. There can be as many as 30 different companies with five lines of chocolate or more each. It’s mind boggling: organic, single origin, multi-origin, 99 percent, super dark, super bitter.

Q: Does chocolate reflect the source or origin of the bean?
A: Chocolate is like wine; flavors can vary from region to region. Chocolate from Ghana, for example, can taste fruity while chocolate from the Dominican Republic might reflect coffee tinges. Even in the same country, one side of the mountain or another might have a very different flavor.

Q: What’s your all-time favorite chocolate shop?
A: Hugo & Victor in Paris. The French have such respect for food. Stepping inside is like entering a fine jewelry store. Truffles sit in cases like diamonds.

Q: Do you have any culinary rookie moments?
A: I did a vocational program in high school where I was sous chef for the day. I put a pot of water on the stove then forgot about it and left it on high heat for five hours. When I came back, there was no bottom left on the pot.

Q: Isn’t it tough to resist eating chocolate all day?
A: Sampling the chocolate is the best part. But I don’t gain a lot of weight because I run through this kitchen about a thousand times a day. People think that chocolate making is a sedentary job but if you’ve ever seen that comical candy conveyer belt scene from “I Love Lucy,” that’s how it is here. We’re just flying around.

Career change challenges

Posted by Pattie Hunt Sinacole June 24, 2013 07:19 AM

Q: I am a late bloomer and I worked in construction for eight years before I found out what I really wanted for a career. I went to school, graduated, got my certification, but right now prospects are very tight. How do I create a resume for a career in Radiology Tech, when I am not presently working in that field, but I am working full-time?

A: Congrats on finding a career that can bring you joy! There are some who never find what truly makes them happy in their work life.

You were smart to select an occupation in healthcare. Overall, healthcare is an area of expected growth and, in particular, the employment outlook for radiology technologist is quick positive. For more information about this role as a career, visit
Changing fields is a challenge, but not an insurmountable one. I see more and more people change fields within the workforce today when compared to past decades. A few tips for you:
- Stay connected to the career services office of the school from where you graduated. Often the career services office receive job postings and information on who is hiring within your field. They can also help you write a resume which discusses your work history but also conveys your intent to use your recent degree.
- Join a professional association. The American Association of Radiologic Technologists ( is one to consider. There are also career services available through this professional association.
- Join LinkedIn and begin following potential employers. Join career-related groups on LinkedIn.
- Start networking within the profession. Networking opportunities might be available through your college, community, local library or professional association.
- Use free resources available. Visit There is quite a bit of content that could be helpful to your job search.
- Several years ago, there was an article posted on specifically addressing career changers. It is still applicable today. You can read this article by clicking on
Changing your career is achievable. Good luck!

Chat Monday at noon: Pattie Hunt Sinacole, HR expert

Posted by Angela Nelson, Staff June 23, 2013 12:29 PM

JobDoc-Pattie-Hunt-Sinacole-100.jpgPattie Hunt Sinacole is a human resources expert and works for First Beacon Group in Hopkinton, an HR consulting firm. She contributes weekly to Jobs and the Boston Sunday Globe Money & Careers section.

13 problems with brainstorming new ideas

Posted by Paul Hellman June 21, 2013 11:00 AM

How do you get ideas at work? The only method that really works, according to many people, involves Starbucks. Others mention brainstorming.

Brainstorming has been around since the 1930’s, but it’s far from perfect. What are the problems? Well, let’s brainstorm:

1) Bad name. “Brain-storm” sounds painful. Which would you rather do, brainstorm, or play golf? I don’t even play golf, but it still sounds more appealing.

2) I realize that the item we’re on now, #2, isn’t really an item at all, but that’s what happens when you start brainstorming.

3) Back to the bad name. Let’s check the dictionary. Brainstorm means “a violent fit of insanity.” Golf may mean the same thing, but golf sounds better.

4) “Your first 94 ideas could be silly, stupid or completely harebrained—that's good!—quantity leads to quality.” Those are standard instructions when you prep a group to brainstorm.

5) The problem is that some people don’t want to say anything that’s silly, stupid or completely harebrained.

6) Brainstorming requires individuals to be good at blurting. That means you can’t carefully monitor what you say. You can’t have a vigilant, internal editor.

7) Your internal editor needs to be out-to-lunch, half-asleep, or heavily medicated
, and therefore, perfectly willing to let a lot of crazy stuff fly right out of your mouth.

8) Not everyone operates like that. Do you prefer to talk before you think? You’re probably brilliant at blurting. Talking may be the way you think.

9) On the other hand, you could be the sort of person who thinks first, talks later (or remains silent), in which case, blurting is not your long suit.

10) I once worked with a group of senior executives who were quiet and reflective. We’d gather for a retreat to identify the next year’s critical priorities, and I’d say, “Why don’t we brainstorm?”

Dead silence.

11) A year later, I tried the same thing. Dead silence.

12) Then I tried brain-writing, a first cousin of brainstorming—except there’s no blurting. In fact, no one is allowed to talk. Each person writes ideas on post-it notes and then sticks them on a wall.

Within minutes, we had 30 ideas. (Then we talked.)

13) What does all this mean?

Tip: To get new ideas, vary your approach. Don’t assume that what works for you will work for others. Try brainstorming. Try brain-writing. Try Starbucks.

© Copyright 2013 Paul Hellman. All rights reserved.

Friending Your Boss: Too Much Too Soon

Posted by Peter Post June 20, 2013 07:00 AM

A colleague commented to me the other day that he had been mildly surprised to receive a friend request from an intern who had recently started working at his firm. His comment raises the question: When is it appropriate to submit a friend request in business?

Before you decide to send a request to connect or friend, think about:

  • The social network you are making the request on.
  • The relationship you have with that person.
  • What you want to achieve.

The two gorillas of the social networking world are Facebook and LinkedIn. In a nutshell, think of LinkedIn as a networking tool and contact management system designed for business relationships. Facebook is more of a place for people to socialize and connect on a personal basis, although businesses have certainly found a way to use Facebook as a marketing platform as well. But for the individual, use Facebook for personal life and LinkedIn for business.

So, my colleague’s intern should have been looking to connect with him through LinkedIn, not Facebook. But, timing also made a difference to her request. As she had just started at this company, he had no real relationship with her yet. Consequently, from his perspective her request was like receiving a request from a stranger. Her better course of action would have been to wait a few weeks before sending her request.

For the intern, she should have answered the question “What do I want to achieve with my request?” before she sent it.

If she is simply trying to build a relationship with my colleague, her best approach is to do it in person at work first. She has the advantage of being in front of him and impressing him every day with her work and her effort. That is a decided advantage over anyone who seeks to connect and build a relationship only through the online community. Even if her goal is to friend him on Facebook, she should first give him a chance to get to know her better She should also consider just what kind of access she wants him to have on her page.

If she is seeking to get him to be part of her professional network, again, the relationship she builds at work with him is a much better way to encourage him to join. Once she’s established a track record with him, then complementing the in-person relationship with a request to connect on LinkedIn would be appropriate. Timing is everything.

Chat Wednesday at noon: Judy Shen-Filerman from Dreambridge Partners

Posted by Angela Nelson, Staff June 19, 2013 10:05 AM

100_judy_shen_filerman.jpgJudy Shen-Filerman is founder and principal of Dreambridge Partners in Arlington, a cross-cultural leadership development firm.

Have I Been out of Work for Too Long?

Posted by Elaine Varelas June 19, 2013 10:00 AM

Q. I have been looking for a job for six months. I'm concerned I'll be considered as being out of work for too long. Toward the end of a recent interview, I was asked what I have been doing. I talked about my job search and keeping current in my field, but I’m not happy with how I answered the question. What should I have said?

A. Every job search takes time. No one ever thinks landing a job will take as long as it does and even organizations can’t believe how long it takes them to fill positions. In every job search, candidates are encouraged to be responsible for what they can do and everything they can influence. This is not the time to sit back and wait for people to Email you, call you or find you on LinkedIn.

How you approach your job search is of interest to most hiring managers and recruiters. They need to see a positive person with high energy and an optimistic outlook; however, you may not always feel that way. A long job search can negatively impact all of these attributes, but you need to make sure to give one hundred percent in all networking meetings and interviews.

What have you been doing? This is an open ended question that can shed light on many aspects of who you are. Your answer might reveal a bitter disappointed job seeker who communicates, ”I have been looking for a job! What do you think I have been doing? Don’t you read the papers? The economy is bad and all that stands between me and work is you asking me questions about what have I been doing!”

While this may feel good (in your mind), a better approach is, “I have really been focused on my job search. I have met some great people in many industries and had the opportunity to learn about different types of companies. I am catching up on my professional reading. You know the stack of books and articles you have waiting for when you have time? Well, I have really focused on a few areas I have had an interest in, and am enjoying this new information.“

Great answers are a start, but this professional self isn’t enough. The difference between a good interview and a great interview is the added dimension you can share about why you would be a great colleague. For example one might say, ”I’ve also taken this time to coach my son’s little league team. It’s been a wonderful experience for us both. I wanted to maximize this time and I am using it well. After I land my new role, I’ll re purpose that energy to my new job."

These are just examples of how to develop relationships that move you beyond a talking resume. If you were the one hiring, who would you choose?

Financial counselor helps low-income move out of poverty

Posted by Cindy Atoji Keene June 18, 2013 01:54 PM

By Cindy Atoji Keene

There's a truism that says, “It’s expensive to be poor,” said Sandra Suarez, who helps low-income families move out of poverty. As part of her role as a financial counselor at Compass Working Capital, a Boston-based non-profit, she helps break the generational cycle of poverty by helping build savings, repair credit, and achieve financial goals. Suarez, who grew up on welfare, said that the disenfranchised are more susceptible to unfair or deceptive practices such as check cashing services, payday loans and other lending methods that prey on poor people.

Q: You grew up on welfare – how did you manage to move out of poverty?
A: The only thing I knew about money while growing up was that my family didn’t have enough of it. My mom was a single parent who lived off small welfare checks in subsidized housing. I wanted a better future, so I became the first person in my family to attend college. But I was still struggling financially, so I took a financial coaching program through Compass Working Capital. I found out how to save money, improve my credit score, increase my wages and even was able to eventually buy a house. Having been in my clients’ shoes, I am in a unique role that allows me to understand the challenges low-income families face and how to help them navigate their way out of poverty.

Q: Why do people fall into trouble with their own financial mismanagement?
A: It’s usually because of lack of know-how and lacking the right financial skills.
Finances are taught at home, and for low-income families, this isn’t a priority. It becomes a vicious cycle – people are just thinking about getting by month-to-month. It becomes a matter of “Do I pay the gas or groceries this week?” They’re not thinking about “What’s the interest on my credit card?” or “Should I be saving at a different bank?” These bad habits and lack of knowledge is passed on.

Q: Do people on public benefits have a lot of misconceptions?
A: Some recipients of food stamps or housing vouchers think they can’t have any savings. So they literally put money under the mattress; in a jar or coat pocket; ask another family member to hold it, or send it to their country. But eligibility for the housing voucher, for example, might only take into consideration the interest earned during the year, and not the amount of actual savings. I also show people how little interest is actually earned while savings can build, and also how it might be worth paying some income-based rent because of the value of having the housing itself.

Q: Is it true that when people think about their financial goals, they’re too often only thinking about buying a car or home or other big goals?
A: Yes, people have big dreams or aspirations such as “making a lot of money” but they don’t know how to achieve these goals. I tell them to think “SMART”: Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic and Target Date. For example, if a goal is to start saving money towards homeownership, a small, actionable and measurable step is to open a savings account and have $25 dollars or some other amount automatically withdrawn from your paycheck.

Q: What about that saying, “It’s expensive to be poor”?
A: Low-income people might be using check-cashing services, where a high percentage taken out to cash each check. Or perhaps they’re renting-to-own, which ends up costing three to five times more than an item is worth because of interest and charges. Or they might be late paying their credit card bill – and interest hikes up if you’re even just late one time in payment. Finally, someone might be struggling to get by, but still have internet, cable, and a cell phone – and still eating out. I show them how all these expenses add up.

Q: Do you encourage the use of lending circles?
A: No, because after contributing your set amount to everyone else in the “circle,” often by the time it’s your turn to get the money, the other lenders often disappeared or defaulted. Many of our clients are Latino, and lending circles were a common practice between Dominican Latinos, but it’s of course it’s better for money to be banked with a reputable lender.

Q: Almost everyone has a financial indulgence – what’s yours?
A: A weekend trip to an amusement park for my kids, age 13 and 8. Our last trip was to Canobie Lake Park and they loved it.

Bullying by a supervisor

Posted by Pattie Hunt Sinacole June 17, 2013 07:08 AM

Q: I joined a company in Boston in late 2013. The culture is problematic. Our supervisor regularly demeans and ridicules employee mistakes. Instead of dealing with it privately, he reprimands employees in a public manner. He picks on a few of my quieter colleagues, who he knows won’t speak up for themselves. It is horrible to watch. My supervisor is a smart guy. Are there laws against bullying and harassment?

A: It is unfortunate that you have to deal with such behavior within your workplace. The subject of workplace bullying has garnered increasing attention in recent years. Employees who are the victims of bullying in the workplace have reported having feelings of shame, humiliation, anxiety and even more severe psychological or physical reactions. Reduced employee productivity and morale, higher turnover and absenteeism rates and even increases in medical and workers’ compensation claims can be linked to workplace bullying. Many states have proposed legislation that would prohibit bullying in the workplace and impose liability on employers and bullying employees under certain circumstances. As of today though, no state has passed such a law.

I consulted Jeffrey Dretler, a partner in the Boston office of Fisher & Phillips, a national labor and employment firm. Dretler shares, “There is anti-workplace bullying legislation (House Bill No. 1766) pending in the Massachusetts state legislature, which is scheduled for a hearing before the Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development on June 25, 2013. The website tracks the status of workplace bullying legislation across the country and can be a useful resource. Another good source for information is the Workplace Bullying Institute, whose website is On a related note, in 2010, Governor Deval Patrick signed into law landmark anti-bullying legislation which prohibits bullying in the schools, with particular focus on cyberbullying, and which requires schools to create and implement bullying prevention plans.”

Pending legislation does not help your current situation though. You could discuss the situation with your human resources department. Many companies have policies which prohibit bullying or harassment in the workplace. A company can discipline such behavior even if such behavior is not illegal. If you are a union member, contacting a union representative for counseling could also be worthwhile. Dretler adds, “If bullying behavior is motivated by membership in a protected class, this could be a violation of state or federal anti-discrimination or harassment laws.”

Chat live on 6/17 with Job Doc Elaine Varelas

Posted by Jack Pickell June 13, 2013 12:42 PM

Elaine-Varelas-100-new.jpgElaine Varelas, managing partner of Keystone Partners in Boston, has over 20 years experience in career consulting, executive development and coaching. She contributes weekly to Jobs and the Boston Sunday Globe Money & Careers section.

When an Online Friend Isn’t Who You Expect In-Person

Posted by Peter Post June 13, 2013 07:00 AM

Q. Recently I met up with a friend for lunch for the first time from an iPhone social application. We went to a chain sandwich restaurant/deli. It is the type of place where you order from a front counter and later staff comes around to ask if everything is okay, asks if you need refills and to take up your plates. I was appalled at how my friend would snap his fingers in the air while exclaiming "Excuse me!" to get the attention of staff on the other side of a divider to demand more napkins and a refill of iced tea. The station where napkins were was within eyesight, and I personally would have got up and grabbed one myself. The most appalling thing is that he never said please or thank you. Is it me or was his behavior totally out of place? If it is out of place, how do I bring this to his attention?

G.T., Beaumont, TX

A. The short answer is, his behavior was out of line. Snapping fingers or loudly calling out to a waitperson is simply boorish behavior. Wait staff deserve to be treated respectfully. Just because they are serving or waiting on you doesn’t mean they are beneath you and undeserving of respect. I’m not sure what he was trying to prove but whatever it was, the message was lost on you, the wait staff, and the other customers at the deli.

Your situation highlights a larger issue: Will an online friend make a good in-person friend? One of the biggest downsides of online friending is an inability to see or hear the “friend.” All you really have to go on is the words on the screen, no sound and no visual clues. Without these clues you are missing a large part of who that person is. And you have no clues as to how the person interacts with groups or in social situations. Unfortunately, in your case, without those clues you ended up in an embarrassing situation.

Be it business or social in nature, my advice for people who want to move an online friendship to an in-person one is to do what you did: Meet in a neutral place for a reasonably brief get-to-know-you encounter. A coffee shop or a deli is a perfect location. As a result, you found out your friend has a lack of manners that makes you uncomfortable. You’ll have to decide whether to address his behavior with him, end the relationship, or ignore what happened because you don’t want to do something to hurt the relationship. Unfortunately, ignoring his boorishness will only frustrate you time and time again. So unless you want to call it quits with this guy, at least in the real world, gently clue him in that he’s not making a good impression and hope that he takes your critique in the spirit it is given. Good luck.

How Long Will My Job Search Take?

Posted by Elaine Varelas June 12, 2013 10:00 AM

Q. I am looking for a job and am worried that my severance won't last anywhere near as long as it will take to find a job. Is there a formula to predict how long my job search will take?

A. Preparing for a lengthy job search is important and your financial preparation is only one piece of the process. Everything you can do to ease the stress of the job search to focus on the work of the search will speed things along.

Many people want to take time off before starting to look for a job. Time off sounds great, but you must be prepared. Have your resume ready in case you are asked for it or someone mentions an opportunity of interest. There is a certain amount of work needed for every successful job search and you have control over how much time it will take you to do that work.

The rule of thumb is that it will take one month of job searching for every $10,000 of salary that you were earning; if you were making $30,000 it will take three months, $60,000 six months. It's hard for most people to imagine a job search taking that long and it may become a challenge to focus on the day to day search. A job search for a salary of over $50,000 will involve meeting about 100 people. You can choose to do that level of work over four or five months, or over eight to10 months.

The Division of Labor Force Statistics reported that the length of time it took job seekers to be successful in their job search increased during and after the recession. The length of time almost doubled; a far greater share of job seekers spent longer than a year in the job search before they were successful. The number of job seekers who stopped looking for work entirely increased drastically.

Every aspect of the type of job you are looking for is helpful in determining the length of your job search. Assess what is happening in your targeted industry. How is the economy affecting that area? If that area is downsizing, add weeks to your search. If you have a highly sought after skill or are willing to relocate, cut weeks off your search.

Who you are as a job seeker will help determine how long your search will take. Older job seekers (over 55) can anticipate a longer job search. Are you willing to network and good at it? Cut weeks off your search. If you are only applying to jobs online and not meeting with people to develop a network, add weeks to your job search. Every job search method has levels of success and the most successful job seeker will use them all to find the right job in the least amount of time.

Riding the wave of stand up paddle boarding enthusiasm

Posted by Cindy Atoji Keene June 12, 2013 09:44 AM

By Cindy Atoji Keene

The feeling of “walking on water” is a description that’s often given by stand up paddle board (SUP) enthusiasts. “From a distance, stand-up paddle boarding looks exactly like walking on water,” said Cape Cod native Justin Labdon, founder and owner of Adventure Chatham, an outfitter for vacation recreation, including stand-up paddleboard lessons, tours, rentals and equipment sales. While on the board itself, the deck is literally only an inch or two above the waterline, bringing you much closer to the water than you feel when on a large boat or other watercraft, said Labdon, himself a paddle board devotee.

Q: Is there more to stand up paddling than meets the eye?
A: For basic stand up paddle boarding, there really isn’t that much you need to know. There is definitely a sweet spot on the board, though, that’s the best spot for balance. Paddlers also should be familiar with different paddle strokes. It can also get a lot more technical – making turns and maneuvers take time to master. But for general family fun and just going out to the pond and paddling around, it’s a quick learning curve.

Q: What’s the latest gear for stand up paddle boarding?
A: As the sport has progressed, boards have gone from looking like big surfboards to more specialized niches. The biggest advance are displacement boards that are longer and more streamlined, shaped almost like a sailboat or kayak. They cut through the water 30-40 percent better and handle open chop better.

Q: Is it a good workout?
A: I like to compare it to biking, which can be either leisurely or strenuous, depending on how much effort you put into it. With paddle boarding, if the paddle motion is done properly, using your body and not arms, and it develops core body strength. Going into the wind and waves is even more of a challenge. I feel it in the hips and in all sorts of torso muscles that I didn’t know existed.

Q: How did stand up paddle boarding get started?
A: Some say that back in the 1950s, Hawaiian surf instructors would stand on their surfboards to take photos of their students. About a decade ago, big name surfer guys like Laird Hamilton reintroduced the sport, experimenting with new types of boards that could be used even where there were no waves. From there it really took off.

Q: What are the best places to go stand up paddle boarding?
A: It’s important that newbie stand up paddle boarders learn their paddle skills on flat water before venturing out into the surf lineup, both for their safety and that of others. I try to direct people to the fresh water ponds that so abundant on the Cape – they have warm water and are sheltered from the wind. Marshes, little inlets, rivers, and the harbor are also great.

Q: Ever seen any sharks?
A: I’ve never seen a great white shark, but if you wear polarized sunglasses, you can see tons of fish, crabs, and starfish. In the Chatham Harbor, the seals will pop up right next to you.

Re-entry to workforce after a six-year leave

Posted by Pattie Hunt Sinacole June 10, 2013 06:13 AM

Q: I am re-entering the workforce after a six-year leave and finding it difficult to find a job. My resume is showing my last employer which is in the automotive industry. What should I do with my resume to make it more appealing?

A: Congratulations on your decision to return to the workforce! Job hunting is a challenge alone. You have shared two additional challenges to your work history which may be additional challenge: a six-year gap in your work history as well as recent experience in the automotive industry.

Let’s start with discussing the six-year gap first. One option is to create a functional resume. Instead of using the chronological format (starting with your most recent role and working backwards), consider a functional format for your resume. A functional resume focuses less on the dates and more on your accomplishments and/or skills. You may have several different headings in a functional resume. The headings may include achievements or they may present your skills within specific areas (e.g., technical skills, operational skills, leadership/supervision or manufacturing expertise). For examples of different resumes (including the functional resume), visit

Let’s tackle the automotive industry now. Several reports in 2013 indicate an upswing in hiring within the automotive industry in 2013. Even with the recent hiring surge, the auto industry will probably never offer the same pay and benefits to many workers as they have in the past. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, one area of growth within the automotive industry is auto repair and maintenance. Visit to review what industries expect to see growth in wages.

There may be other industries to consider. If you have expertise in manufacturing, it may be worth considering industries with projected long-term opportunities. For more info, visit to review the expected fastest growing occupations. Notice that many of them are healthcare-related.

Good luck in your search. Be open to different roles and industries. Opportunities not always come from where you expect them!

Chat Monday at noon with Pattie Hunt Sinacole

Posted by Christina Reinwald June 9, 2013 10:05 AM

Pattie Hunt Sinacole is a human resources expert and works for First Beacon Group in Hopkinton, an HR consulting firm. She contributes weekly to Jobs and the Boston Sunday Globe Money & Careers section.

When Leaders Swear

Posted by Paul Hellman June 7, 2013 11:00 AM

The other day, while a U.S. CEO was being reprimanded by his board for "salty language" (a front page Wall Street Journal story), I was abroad, eating breakfast.

It was a buffet, and the young woman seated nearby was struggling with her choices. She began with noble intentions: a dry omelet and a few rice cakes.

(Rice cakes, if you've never tried them, are similar, I imagine, to eating Styrofoam packaging material. But with less calories.)

She nibbled at the omelet, nibbled at the rice cakes, then pushed her plate as far away as possible, and got up.

A few minutes later, she returned with a new plate featuring an impressive stack of pancakes and several juicy strips of bacon.

Sigmund Freud, had he been there, would have noted the never-ending struggle between what he called id (your raw drives) and superego (your disciplined, controlled side).

The problem with swearing at work is that it looks like you've got a loose, out-of-control id.

But work is about control, starting each day when the alarm goes off—oh, no!—and you force yourself out of bed.

Also, if you're a leader, people notice everything you do—from what goes into your mouth to what comes out—and everything you do communicates your standards.

Does that mean that you should never swear, that you should commit, at the buffet of language, to a salt-free, rice cake, verbal diet?

Well, the thing about swearing, as comic George Carlin observed years ago, is that there are some words you're allowed to use some of the time, but not all of the time.

Let's be situational. Consider at work:

1) Swearing at others. This one is easy: don't.

2) Swearing to impress others. People with a high need for power, noted psychologist David McClelland, often use provocative language.

The motive here is simply to get a reaction. It doesn't really matter to you whether others like you, or your language.

But maybe it should.

3) Swearing at a situation. Imagine a bad day. First, your computer crashes. Then the stock market crashes. Then your airplane crashes. At some point, you might say something stronger than "darn."

There are "moments in life," says psychologist Steven Pinker, "when the point for politeness has passed."

Tip: If you're a leader, use salty language like salt—sparingly.

© Copyright 2013 Paul Hellman. All rights reserved.

Thank-you Notes: Obligation or Opportunity?

Posted by Peter Post June 6, 2013 07:00 AM

Q. Hello Peter,
I really need some help with these issues.
Question: What is the appropriate protocol for giving token gifts of appreciation in business? Please advise on the protocol for additionally sending thank-you notes after a gift was given.
Situation Summary:

  • My women’s group gave a women’s leadership forum event.

  • We hosted approximately twelve panel speakers.

  • At the conclusion of each panel discussion, we gave each panel presenter a token thank-you gift to acknowledge their participation. [The gift was a silver coffee mug engraved with our organization’s logo.]

  • Subsequent to the event, one organizer of the event asked if we sent follow-up thank-you notes to the panelists.

  • The president responded by saying we gave thank-you gifts.

Please advise on etiquette protocol for this type of situation. Is it proper etiquette to send an additional thank-you note to each speaker for their participation?
M. P., New York City, NY

A. First, the issue of a gift. Really it’s very nice of you to give a gift, especially if the speakers were also being compensated for their participation. If they were participating without compensation, the gift becomes a more important gesture to acknowledge their effort on your organization’s behalf.

Now, the thank-you note. Because your organization gave each speaker a gift and, in the process of giving the gift, acknowledged its appreciation for their contribution in front of the audience, your organization has fulfilled any obligation it had to send a thank-you note.

That said, what is really important about a thank-you note is not the idea of obligation, but rather that of opportunity. The president’s perspective is one of “Do I have to do it,” rather than one of “I want to do it.” The “have to” is a vestige of an attitude about thank you notes that implies they are an obligation and a dreaded task. The “want to” evolves out of a desire to reach out and touch people and build relationships. It’s not that the speakers will be miffed they didn’t receive a thank-you note. It’s more a matter that a thank-you note after the event is one more way for them to appreciate your organization and to encourage them to want to be involved with you in the future. Essentially, there is no downside to sending a thank-you note, and there is potentially much to be gained by it.

And, by the way, the thank-you note recipients will not think, “Why did they send me a note?” Rather, they’ll think “How nice” and appreciate the kindness your note conveys.

So think opportunity rather than obligation, and send the thank-you notes.

What You Need to Know About LinkedIn Profile Pictures

Posted by Elaine Varelas June 5, 2013 10:00 AM

Q. I have learned I need a LinkedIn profile to conduct an effective job search; I have my jobs, education and even one reference from my old job on my profile. Some people say I need a picture, but doesn’t that just set me up to be too old, too fat or just not right for the job? I’d rather put in a symbol or leave it empty.

A. Congratulations on recognizing the value of LinkedIn for a job search. LinkedIn has a massive user base and according to its reports, a new member joins every two seconds. Before people meet you, they want to do an initial assessment of what skills you bring, your educational background and anything else which might offer a compelling reason to meet. Recruiters, hiring managers and networking contacts are also looking for some commonality in other connections and what your references have to say; and yes, they want to “see” who you are in person via your picture.

Your LinkedIn profile is your professional presentation and your picture is part of that. Leaving the ”ghost,” or the shadow that shows no photo has been added, indicates an incomplete project; that is not the message you want to provide to potential employers. Adding a great photo enhances your online brand and makes you more approachable to initial contacts. To make sure that happens, you need to select the right picture.

The right LinkedIn picture is a current photo of the professional you. Unless you wear a tux in your everyday job, do not choose a picture of you in a tux, or a wedding dress or a bathing suit. You also don’t want to have a piece of someone’s arm around you from a photo you cropped. If you are in a creative field, feel free to have a super close up that has an artsy appeal, but most people should have a head shot on a day you look your very best. Make sure your hair looks good, you are making eye contact and you have a real smile. Your attire, makeup and jewelry should be professional and not too overwhelming that any attention is dawn away from you.

Ask your professional colleagues for feedback. Make sure you don’t look dated, there is no glare in your glasses, you aren’t wearing sunglasses and as your closest friends would say, “You look as good as you can.”

Anything else in the photo makes a statement, but is it the statement hiring managers are looking for?. Profiles of a person wearing a cowboy hat may play in other geographic areas, but are a topic of speculation in Boston. Symbols or clip art are also questionable. What is the message? Is your profile an advertisement for a business, or a more personal statement? LinkedIn is the professional site. If you want to showcase other skills – you on a surf board or riding a horse, Facebook has a place for those.

So, start taking potential profiles pictures, get feedback and use it to complete your professional profile.

Golf ranger keeps play on course

Posted by Cindy Atoji Keene June 4, 2013 11:15 AM

By Cindy Atoji Keene
As a golf ranger at The Captains Golf Course in Brewster, it’s Jim Davidson’s job to prevent bottlenecks and keep the pace of play at a reasonable speed. It typically takes about four to four and a half hours to play 18 holes of golf, said Davidson, but when players start lagging behind, he rides over in his distinctive ranger cart with its red flag and gives a gentle reminder to speed up their game. “I’ll offer tips or insight to golfers on the quirks of each hole and how to play it, or help people find their golf balls on the fairways.”

Q: What makes people slow on the course?
A: It can be something as minor as not paying attention to what they're doing; spending too much time socializing, or unfamiliarity with the course. Beginners may not have the ability to play a particular type of course. I always say that the place to start playing golf is on the driving range first, not the golf course. Golfers need to put together a reasonable game first or go after-hours and not in the middle of the day. Anything more than seven to eight shots on a hole gets to be excessive.

Q: How do you know when players start to bottleneck?
A: We have standards of play. Over the years, we’ve determined that it should take 10 minutes to complete a par three; 14 minutes for a par four; and 16 minutes for a par five. The starter – the person who starts players on the course— will start people based on their assigned tee times. Each starting time allows about nine minutes for the group to get out of range so the next group can tee off. So we know what time each group started on the first hole, and we do visual spot checks to make sure a group is staying on schedule. For smooth play, I like to see is a group of golfers on the tee; a group in the middle of the fairway, and a group on the green.

Q: How do you get people to “hurry up” without getting them angry?
A: With the cart and the red flag, often I don’t have to say anything at all but just show up. If that doesn’t work, I start talking to them and find out how they’re doing and whether there are any problems. I might say, ‘I can see you’re taking excessive time on the green – it might be a good idea to reduce the number of putts you’re taking.’ Or I’ll suggest that they play ‘ready golf,’ that is, as long it’s safe and doesn’t interfere with other players, players can hit in any order, whenever they’re ready to take their swing.

Q: Often you’ll act as a fore-caddy, helping people find their golf balls. What’s the trick for finding a ball?
A: I start by asking what club they used to hit ball, which gives me some idea of how far it went. Then I’ll ask if it hit a tree or not. If it goes in the really deep grass, it’s pretty much a lost ball.

Q: What’s your weirdest experience on the course?
A: I see a lot of wildlife that I don’t expect. I see a lot of Tom turkeys strutting their stuff, and this morning, a fox ran right past me with his breakfast in his mouth, which was some type of rodent. Another highlight was a muskrat on the water hole too. I was in the cart and it came right up to me and didn’t even realize I was there.

Q: What’s your biggest trick for making a good shot?
A: I can break 100 usually. I suggest having a deliberately slow back swing – don’t try to kill the ball.

Comparing two job offers

Posted by Pattie Hunt Sinacole June 3, 2013 07:42 AM

Q: I have been job hunting for about six months. It was slow around the holidays. I became discouraged because I would send resumes to companies and would hear nothing back. Then, I started becoming smarter about using my network. I also noticed the job market seemed to pick up after January. Now I have two offers in hand. Both are good offers and I think I would be happy with either role. How do I decide?

A: Congratulations. Your hard work and persistence paid off. It sounds like you also may have made a change in how you ran your search: instead of simply emailing a resume to a company, you used your network to your advantage. Your professional network of colleagues, friends and acquaintances can be a valuable asset during a job hunt.

Two offers in hand! Good for you! Here are some of the factors to think about when making a decision:

1. Look at the complete offer, not just the salary. The salary is important but should not be the sole reason for accepting the offer.
2. When employees report high levels of job satisfaction, one factor is often critical: how interesting and challenging the work itself is. Does one role offer more challenging or interesting work?
3. Think about your career path. Which role offers you opportunities beyond this initial role?
4. Evaluate the employee benefits. Compare the medical, dental, life and disability plans. Is there a retirement savings plan [like a 401(k) plan]? Is there a company match for this plan? Does the company offer tuition aid, training programs or other professional development opportunities?
5. Understand the compensation part of the offer. Is there a base salary plus a bonus or other incentives?
6. Is one commute better than the other? Is there free parking or is there an expense associated with parking? Is either role accessible via public transportation?
7. What supervisor and colleagues seem to be a better fit for your work style?
8. If flexibility is important to you, does one opportunity offer you more flexibility than the other?

Make sure that you receive any offer in writing. A written offer helps clarify the details of the employment offer. You want to ensure that you understand the specifics of each offer.

Congratulations again! I am happy to hear that job seekers are landing in 2013!

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Meet the Jobs Docs

Patricia Hunt Sinacole is president of First Beacon Group LLC, a human resources consulting firm in Hopkinton. She works with clients across many industries including technology, biotech and medical devices, financial services, and healthcare, and has over 20 years of human resources experience.

Elaine Varelas is managing partner at Keystone Partners, a career management firm in Boston and serves on the board of Career Partners International.

Cindy Atoji Keene is a freelance journalist with more than 25 years experience. E-mail her directly here.

Peter Post is the author of "The Etiquette Advantage in Business." Email questions about business etiquette to him directly here.

Stu Coleman, a partner and general manager at WinterWyman, manages the firm's Financial Contracting division, and provides strategic staffing services to Boston-area organizations needing Accounting and Finance workforce solutions and contract talent.

Tracy Cashman is Senior Vice President and Partner of the Information Technology search division at WinterWyman. She has 20 years of experience partnering with clients in the Boston area to conduct technology searches in a wide variety of industries and technology.

Paul Hellman is the founder of Express Potential, which specializes in executive communication skills. He consults and speaks internationally on how to capture attention & influence others. Email him directly here.