Return to Transcripts main page

Your Money

Job Search Help; How to Ensure Employment in Difficult Economic Times

Aired December 27, 2008 - 13:00   ET


ALI VELSHI, CNN HOST: Welcome to a special edition of YOUR MONEY, "Jobs 2009, Help Wanted."
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN HOST: This hour is not how bad the job market is, it's about solutions. Understanding the current environment and how to take steps to make sure you are employed for years to come.

VELSHI: And we're going to identify specific areas that need to hire people right now and how you can get those jobs, plus careers that will be hot for the next one, five and 10 years.

ROMANS: So grab a pen and paper we're about to empower you. This next hour will contain some critical information either you or most likely somebody you know will be able to use.

VELSHI: But before we can get to the job opportunities that are out there, we want to understand the current climate.

ROMANS: Louis Barajas is a personal wealth advisor and Sonia Alleyne is a career editor for Black Enterprises and Lackshman Achuthan is managing editor of the Economic Cycle Research Institute. Welcome, everybody.

Lakshman let me start with you. Where are we right now in the job situation? Give us the big picture here.

LAKSHMAN ACHUTHAN, MANAGING EDITOR, ECONOMIC CYCLE RESEARCH INSTITUTE: We're in the second or third chapter of a recession that has been going on all year. It's intensifying as we speak and you're seeing that in terms of pervasive job losses across the country and across different industries. It's not affecting just one industry anymore. It's pretty much affecting all of them.

ROMANS: You brought along great charts to show kind of where we were in January, 2008 in terms of job loss. The blue is job gains and when you look back toward later in the year; you can see that that blue is starting to evaporate.

ACHUTHAN: It turns to red. It goes from the sea of blue to the sea of red. Red is bad that means you've been losing jobs for the last six months and that red is probably going to persist for a while. You're seeing the weakness squeeze in from the coasts and the center of the country is kind of hanging in. We know why. It was because oil and farm prices were up and so they hung in there, but we also know that those have weakened so that might turn more red as we go forward. VELSHI: For those of you who have not lost a job and many of us live in fear that that kind of thing could happen and we really discussed how it is that you have maintained your value to your company, but Sonia it's important to do that to figure out the value to your company and to realize that if your job is eliminated it may not be about you.

SONIA ALLEYNE, CAREERS ED., BLACK ENTERPRISE: That is exactly right. You can't take it personally. What most employees need to know is the function of their job, of course and how to do that well, but you also have to understand what value that brings to the company? But there's a second part to that and there's a job that's valuable to the company but then you have to look at how valuable you are to the company. Is there someone else who can do your job well and so that talks to how well you're managing your profile in an organization.

ROMANS: If you think you're doing a really good job. Or you think that your image of yourself in the office is different from other people's image of you and that's important to know especially at a time like this.

ALLEYNE: It's very important that's why you have to get support or advice from people outside of your immediate circle. Perception is reality. Whatever other people are thinking about you is actually true and so you need to talk to your mentors and your supporters and your advocates in the organization or even had conversations with your managers to find out exactly how they really think about you and the job you perform.

VELSHI: Louis Barajas is a personal wealth advisor. Luis you know if you are either in a position where you've lost your job or you think you might be one of those who have lost your job obviously your personal finances become a major, major issue.

LUIS BARAJAS, PERSONAL WEALTH ADVISOR: Absolutely. What happens if you've lost your job you've gone from crisis and the first thing you want to do is figure out what's the minimum amount of money you need to spend per month and then create some kind of plan to pay that off, because again if you've been laid off or let go, you have to take a look at unemployment and what resources you have, maybe using some of the cash from your cash value policies and there's a lot of stuff that you can get done to prepare for something like this.

VELSHI: Let me ask you this, Louis, in many people's cases when they lose their jobs many people spend very close to what they earn. So in a layoff situation, even if you're getting unemployment benefits, bottom line is you're probably bringing in less money than you were and some of your expenses are not going to be met. What is the first thing you do? Do you have a conversation with your creditors and tell them you have lost your job and tell them you may be having trouble paying. Do you go into your retirement savings if they're in a 401(k) or an IRA?

BARAJAS: You have to talk to the creditors first and you have to talk to the landlord, but what you want to do is use your equity lines of credit and your credit cards first, because if you also use your retirement plan it can be rather expensive. We're nearing the end of year what we also want to do is start preparing all of the stuff for your tax return. If you're going to get a refund, get them done as soon as possible. Start figuring out how to attract cash flow into your life. When you've lost your job, it's all about cash flow.

ROMANS: We talked about the emotional side in a minute. Lackshman, I want to ask you about where it begins and how long it happens. I mean, job losses, once we start seeing the job losses, it's really almost worse than that because people are cutting back hours, right? They've been cutting back on temp workers and they've been not filling positions that were open. By the time you start seeing the big heads rolling it's already a pervasive situation.

ACHUTHAN: The same way that you would cut back at home if you had some cash flow problems. Businesses cut back and they look at people in many ways as a cost and they see the sales are down so they're cutting back on people. This is a real problem for the next couple of quarters at least. At least until the first half, really of '09 because job growth will lag whatever recovery there is and we have all of this effort to kind of stimulate the economy, but all of the business managers are saying I am not going to hire more people. I'm going try on do more with less just as any household's trying to do.

VELSHI: Which means when things start coming back not everyone will jump to hiring new people. Sonia, one of the things that you deal with if you have been laid off, but as you mentioned even while you are employed is get very aggressive with your networking at this point. Whether it's people inside your company or outside. You need to be prepared. All of us need to be prepared for the inevitable.

ALLEYNE: If you are laid off this is a good time to self-assess, in terms of what your skills are, what your talents are and what you can bring to the next organization that you join.

VELSHI: We're going to talk a little later in the show as we do almost every week now about the things that you can retrain into if you find yourself in that position because that's an important one. We've said many times, Christine and I have said that for those manufacturing jobs that have been lost across the country, there's really not much chance that those jobs are coming back any time soon.

ACHUTHAN: Not in the form they were before. However, there is this idea of recession is essentially the creative destruction. Whatever didn't work before is going to probably go away permanently. However, in that space, new ideas, new types of businesses are going to form and if you are keyed into that, you can do quite well on the upside. So that's the opportunity out of this crisis.

ROMANS: All right. Lackshman Achuthan thank you so much, Sonia Alleyne and Louis Barajas thank you so much.

OK. Are you about to lose your job? How to read the writing on the wall if you are and what to do about it.


VELSHI: There's been so much news about layoffs you probably can't help but wonder if you or someone you know is next.

ROMANS: Well here to tell how to read the corporate tea leaves. Robin Bond, employment attorney in work place and legal analyst and Nancy Collamer founder of Welcome to the program both of you, real glad to have you on

I want to talk to you first Robin about what's behind all these layoffs? We're seeing them over and over and over again in all these different kinds of industries. Is it just the numbers? Is it just business is down? You have a lot here?

ROBIN BOND, EMPLOYMENT ATTORNEY: Oh, no, while there's true economic distress, I see at least two other factors very much at play here. First of all, companies are proactively choosing to lay people off before things get bad. This is a way of making the numbers and, obviously, covering up for some prior management misjudgments. The second major thing I see is companies are cutting way deeper than they need to as a way of cleaning house and what better way to jump on the bandwagon is under the guides of economic distress to get rid of the expensive workers, the people you don't like, people that are costing you a lot of money and when you clean house this gives you an opportunity to soak up some of the great cream that's on the market with other people who have been laid off.

VELSHI: That's typical of many industries where they layoff sort of the bottom percentage of whom they don't like and then they hire as many people back. Nancy let's ask you. Warning signs, if you haven't been laid off yet, first of all, we're going to talk about what happens when you've been laid off. But if you haven't been laid off warning signs that you're next or that your company's got something big about to happen.

NANCY COLLAMER, FOUNDER, LAYOFFSURVIVINGGUIDE.COM: Well, I would have my antenna up if I see a lot of cost-cutting measures going into effect in rapid succession. So if you suddenly start to see that there's been a freeze on hiring that performance reviews are being delayed, that there is severe restrictions on travel. Extraordinary cut costing going on and you expect to see some cost-cutting going on right now, but we're talking about something that is really out of the ordinary.

The other thing to watch out for, unusual meetings going on. Do you see people in HR spending long hours behind closed doors with executives. If you see that type of thing going on definitely have your antennas up.

ROMANS: And a reminder for managers too, I think, this is not the time to be having a bunch meetings right in front of people and everyone is worried about this.

VELSHI: You are not trying to signal that there is a problem. Nancy one quick addition to that, you tell us about how you can see signs that there might be things going on. What about things that you might be involved in personally?

How do you get a sense that you might be a target of a layoff? COLLAMER: If you feel like you're the odd person out and you're want being included in key meetings. Your boss is avoiding making eye contact with you or you're not getting those plum assignments, all those can be warning signals to you.

ROMANS: We also know for both of you that when you have people around you, a lot of positions that have been left unfilled over the past year. So that's a kind of a sign when there's a hiring freeze around you, that's a sign that your company certainly wasn't adding jobs. They might be looking to cut jobs too.

Robin let me ask you a little bit about what to do. For Citibank, for example, earlier this fall cut 50,000 jobs and there were thoughts that -- who knows how many more finance industry jobs are going to be lost. What do you do? Do you walk out the door with your self esteem in your handbag or do you need to start getting smart right away about how to make sure that you make the best out of this situation in terms of the payout and the like?

BOND: Absolutely. You need to be proactive. As you see these signs of distress that Nancy was talking about. The first thing you need to find out is what does my company say about severance? Learn what the policies say now and start figuring out what you will need to make the transition. An average number is four and a half months of time to find a new job today. That's an average number so that gives you an idea about what you need for severance pay. If you don't see that number there, you have to figure out what am I giving the company of value that will inspire them to give me more money and continue my healthcare longer by giving them a release agreement? Are you agreeing to a non-compete agreement? These are kind of things that are worth more money.

VELSHI: A non-compete even in an environment like this where so many people are being laid off, is that of value to anybody?

BOND: A non-compete, I see a tremendous amount of activity in the are of non-competes right now and non-solicitation agreement.

VELSHI: Which means you can't solicit other people from your place of work once you've left.

BOND: Correct. Or you can't solicit the clients of your former employer when you leave. Whether or not this is enforceable is strictly a matter of state law and the facts that pertain to everyone's situation. Of course, if you can get them to pay you six months of severance in exchange for six months non-compete you'll probably be OK with that. Let's negotiate for what we want and give the company something that it wants in exchange, too.

ROMANS: Nancy, give us some of your tips of how to make the most of the severance package. The writing is on the wall and you are going to lose your job and other people are too. Don't panic. Make sure you get the most out of that deal. How do you do that?

COLLAMER: As Robin just said, you should know what you're entitled to in your severance package. Find that out ahead of time if at all possible. Recognize too however, that if you're part of a large company lay off; your ability to negotiate is probably going to be very restricted. Companies put together the severance plans with a lot of care and there's going to be very little room to bargain.

ROMANS: Nancy Collamer, thank you. Robin Bond, employment attorney, thank you so much, both of you for helping us do that.

VELSHI: Well it might take time to take a different approach to finding a job, but how do you get the job search results that you want with some simple steps? We'll tell you.


VELSHI: Some of us have jobs and some of us are worried about losing jobs and some of us have been out of jobs. If you've been looking for a job for a few months and you're starting to get frustrated, it might be time to reconsider your approach.

ROMANS: Liz Wolgemuth with U.S. News & World Report joins us now with some ways to search more effectively. The first step to every job search is getting the resume together. How important is that?

LIZ WOLGEMUTH, U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT: Well, obviously, the resume is key and it's really important to be clean, concise and have proper grammar. One of the things that many of us have been trying to do is write the objective statements on the top of the resume.

ROMANS: What is the objective statement? I have never done that before. What is that, exactly?

WOLGEMUTH: It's supposed to speak to the kind of job that you're looking for, but a lot of people sort of throw away that space because that's like prime real estate at the top of your real estate. A lot of hiring managers are only spending like 10 to 15 seconds on each resume, probably less than a recession when there are more people applying for jobs and you want to really grab them with that top statement. You don't want to leave it bland. You want to keep it short, concise and you need one word that sort of speaks to your skills or to your accomplishments, but if you can't do that, if you feel like you're not equipped to have that precise writing or you don't have the time for that, drop it. Leave it off your resume and let your work experience be at the top and let that really sell you for hiring managers.

VELSHI: Let's talk about networking. We discussed this earlier in the show, the idea whether you're losing your job or you lost it. Networking is important. What's one of the most effective ways for a job seeker to network?

WOLGEMUTH: For people out of market for a while or maybe they've been in one job for a couple of decades or they were at home with taking care of their kids, get on Linedin, create a profile and track down your former colleagues. You'll be surprised by the number of professionals that are on there.

ROMANS: That is one of those social networking sites; it is like the grown-up version of myspace.

VELSHI: A grownup version of your address book.


VELSHI: That's a good tip. Let's talk a little bit about you're applying for jobs and you are not getting a good response. That's very, very frustrating. What are you supposed to do?

WOLGEMUTH: Well, you sort of need to reconsider your method. A lot of people are firing out resumes all over the place because they're finding openings only on the Internet. You want to carve out a piece of your time every day to get off the Internet and cold call companies. Get your resume, get your name and get your face out in front of people, go knock on doors if you need to, it's old-fashioned, but it's effective but you want to get out there before the opening is posted.

ROMANS: Take a look at your skills, the skills you have and then you try to figure out how those skills might fit in new industries. And this is something that when we talk about retraining which is important. You can be in accounting and laid off, but you can figure out a way to translate those into health care, for example, or education or some other kind of growing industry, right?

WOLGEMUTH: That's really important. I will say that accounting may hold up pretty well during a recession and all industries will be hurt a little bit, but health care will hold up better. The public sector will hold up better. So if you can find a place to find these transferable skills that will work well in a government job, that's really important.

VELSHI: Liz, finally, be flexible. Christine and I talk about this all of the time. If you have the ability to be flexible and some job seekers don't, but if you can move, there are parts of the country that are better. There are other types of industries that are better for you.

WOLGEMUTH: I know it's hard for homeowners to be flexible as far as location and geography goes. But there are all sorts of things that when you really step back and look at your requirements and you look at what you've been expecting and what your bar has been, there are all kind of areas where you can be more flexible. Maybe you can accept a part-time job. Maybe you can accept a temp job. Maybe you can kind of do contract work. There are a lot of areas where you can be more flexible and the more you can -- it's just math. You can increase your odds of finding something.

VELSHI: Liz, pleasure to talk to you. Thanks again to your good help to our viewers. Liz Wolgemuth is a reporter with the U.S. News & World Report.

You know what else you can do to make sure you keep the job.


VELSHI: Take some vitamins.

ROMANS: I know.

VELSHI: Are you going to make it?

ROMANS: I have a cold upon is it that distracting.

VELSHI: It saddens me you might be sick and I might not work with you.

ROMANS: I'm not sick. I'm fine, right? OK. Now that you have all of the right tools to search for a job, we're going to tell you where you can find jobs, open jobs right now.


RICHARD LUI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Now in the news, on this Saturday for you, angry protests following Israeli air strikes on Gaza. Palestinian medical sources now say at least 205 people died. Israel defense forces say the attacks targeted Hamas compounds and were a response to Hamas rocket attacks on Israel.

A shocking scene in Philadelphia. A fire there ripping through this house killing seven people including three children. Six of the victims were found huddled together in the basement against the only exit door. Two people were rescued and two others escaped. Officials suspect a kerosene heater may have started that fire.

We have some new information about a Christmas Eve shooting rampage and fire in southern California. Nine people were killed by a man in a Santa suit. Police say the suspect, Bruce Jeffrey Pardo later killed himself, but he was apparently planning a getaway. He had $17,000 and a plane ticket to Canada.

Severe weather creating treacherous conditions across much of the United States and Seattle for instance an awning there weighted down by wet snow collapsed falling on a firefighter and seriously hurting him. Rising temperatures are melting heavy snow fall meanwhile and other parts of the Pacific Northwest and Midwest raising the risk of serious flooding.

All right. Now back to YOUR MONEY.

ROMANS: Every week we've been telling you about growing industries. Industries in this country that are hiring right now. Every month we look at the unemployment number and there are all these industries where they're just shedding jobs, but there are some that are growing.

VELSHI: That need positions filled immediately. Here to tell us what they are and how to qualify for them. Dennis Damp, the author of "Health Care Jobs Explosion" and Jennifer Merritt career journal editor for "The Wall Street Journal."

Dennis thanks to both of you for being here. Dennis let's start with you. We picked out a couple that you told us about in the past. Let's get right to them. These are jobs in the health care industry and one of them that you talked about is a medical transcriptionist. Tell us a bit about that.

DENNIS DAMP, AUTHOR, "HEALTH CARE JOBS EXPLOSION:" They basically will transcribe the notes that doctors dictate for the official records for the organization. It's a great job. You can work part-time or full time. My editor for many years worked part-time as a transcriptionist because she wanted to stay home with her young children and it was a perfect fit for her. You start at about $30,000 a year or work for a major organization or work independently and they're hiring about 18,000 a year.

ROMANS: That's good news.

What about physician assistant, and this is not the same as a medical assistant that we talked about previously. Tell us about this one.

DAMP: Yes, physician assistants treat the overall care of the patients, the diagnostic, therapeutic and preventive care of the patient under the drug supervision of a physician. They prescribe medications in 48 states and it's a great occupation. If you don't have the time and inclination in 10 or 12 years to be a physician, you can get into this field with as little as two years of college. Most have a B.S. degree and average pay is $75,000 a year.

VELSHI: That's incredible. That's a lot of pay.

Jennifer, you were looking at some education jobs, another growing area. Elementary school teachers. Let's start with that.

JENNIFER MERRITT, "THE WALL STREET JOURNAL:" You know, there's such a shortage of teachers all over the country that a lot of states are letting you become a teacher with your bachelor's degree and you have 18 months to get your certification and you can earn $45,000 a year plus a sign-on bonus and there are a lot of retirements.

ROMANS: High school counselors, too. This is a job that you told us before that you think is a great growth opportunity with good pay for people.

MERRITT: Absolutely. You can make $57,000 a year after a few years and up to 75,000 or more and you need a master's degree in counseling but there are more people retiring and leaving the field than there are graduating. So it's a great opportunity for someone who is trying to figure out what to do right now.

VELSHI: I love this next one. It's the concept of a virtual administrative assistant. We've sort of read about this in the past, what are they and what can they make?

MERRITT: It's catching on and they can earn between about $20 and $60 an hour depending on the complexity of the work they do and the independent consultants or even psychiatrists and counselors will hire a virtual administrative assistant. You work from home and you can work part-time and you're their administrative assistant and you have a lot of flexibility in that job.

ROMANS: With no overhead. I'm thinking of it from my point of view. VELSHI: We all need one, right?

ROMANS: Right. So these are the up things we should be thinking about. The way you can use your talents to try to reach out. If you have a talent, if have a talent for being an organizer. How do you start that, a virtual assistant?

MERRITT: There are a lot of firms out there that are advertising on or Career builder looking for virtual administrative assistants and in a lot of cases you can find a job there. There are also some specific job boards that post these positions.

VELSHI: All right. Dennis, Jennifer, stick around we're going to look beyond next year and check out the jobs you could be training for in five years or ten years next.


VELSHI: Many of the jobs that have been hot for the last decade may not be the brightest career path for the future.

ROMANS: Let's look into our crystal ball for a bit. Back with us Dennis Damp and Jennifer Merritt. We want to look at some of the jobs that will be hot going forward. What you should be training for for the next five years and the next ten years, what you should be encouraging your children and grandchildren to get involved in, the things that are going to grow. I want to start with you Dennis. Computer system analyst earns about $75,000 a year. What do you have to do to train and be ready for this job of the future?

DAMP: They basically analyze the operation environment of the company they work for and integrate new technologies. They modify lands and local area networks and wide area networks. They develop databases and work on security issues. It typically takes a BS degree, but those who have an inclination for computer are often self-taught can also enter the field. However, most enter with a BS degree. The pay is $70,000 a year and they're looking to hire 140,000 between now and 2016. It's a great opportunity for those who like computers and want to get in that field.

VELSHI: You know one of the things Dennis pointed out was that health care jobs are projected to grow 25 percent by 2016, so that's probably 3 million jobs. Jennifer you mentioned a job in your notes of a patient advocate.

MERRITT: This is increasingly popular. There are companies that have been set up, Pinnacle Care, Health Advocate that actually help you walk you through the health care process and companies are actually hiring these firms to offer the service as a perk or adult children are hiring to help with their aging parents from afar. The job pays very well and you need a bachelor's degree and it helps if you have a background in social services, but you don't have to have one. You just have to help people.

ROMANS: If you have someone who is in elder care or assisted living or in some kind of a rehabilitative hospital situation, you know that it takes a lot of help to pay where insurance lags and other things and right down to the social worker part of it like connecting you. I could see how there could be a need for that. When two people are working and trying to care for somebody else it could be difficult.

VELSHI: Dennis let's talk about environmental science and protection technician. It's not a bad starting salary, $40,000.

DAMP: They work basically in the organization to determine any hazardous materials in the environment. They do air sampling and they test water. They do due diligent audits prior to, during and after any type of major project to determine any impact on the environment. There are also occupational safety and health specialists and work basically to look at the hazardous communications areas. It's a growing field because of the greening of America.

ROMANS: It sounds like that's the kind of job where you can get out from behind the desk yourself and get out in the field and start to meet people and do some things on field tests and the like. So that's kind of interesting.

DAMP: They also expand in occupational safety and health arena and when they do that they can expand their salary by 20 or 30,000 more a year by getting into the OSHA regulations.

VELSHI: You're predicting a 28 percent growth rate in that for 2016. The computer systems analyst is a 5 53 percent growth rate.

ROMANS: These are real jobs of the future.

VELSHI: Jennifer, genetic counselor. Talk to me about it that.

MERRITT: This exploded as more genetic tests are available. It's expected to grow another 30 percent in the next five years. You need a master in genetic counseling but there is a two year program and in your last year you're actually in the clinic doing the work. So you help counsel people. You give them genetic tests and prenatal tests and predisposition for heart disease. You're in a helping profession there and it's growing like mad and more and more people feel that this will just become a part of the regular health regiment as time go by.

ROMANS: Dennis, we have the other one here. Air traffic controller, $122,000. Is that a starting salary or is that an average salary?

DAMP: No, the starting is around 40. I was a control manager for Technical Ops for many years before the FAA at the Pittsburgh Tower and they basically control traffic in and out of airports and maintain safe separation. I talk with them and provide advisories and route them around air problems such as weather disturbances and so forth and bring them safely in to land at an airport and local terminal facility like I worked out of Pittsburgh.

They handed it over to the ground control; they either sequence them in for immediate landing or put them in a holding pattern and when they land they safely get them to a terminal. The opportunities are rather extensive. They're hiring 17,000 over the next ten years. Most of the controllers today will leave within ten years because there's an age limit. They can't be over 31 to get in and you have to leave at age 56 and that doesn't leave a huge window. They can make from 120,000. They work with professional specialists called system specialists and that group along with the air traffic controllers provide the safest national airspace in the world.

They're also offering a $20,000 sign-on bonus for new recruits which are phenomenal. In the federal sector like one of your earlier guests alluded to, there are many opportunities and they'll even offer up to $60,000 for paid tuition assistance to get you into these critical positions.

VELSHI: Tough job, though. It's a high-stress job. If you don't like stress in your job, that's want one for you.

DAMP: Toughest job I ever had, but the best job I ever had as well.

VELSHI: Very rewarding.

Jennifer you have one, if you're an air traffic controller you might need this one. A life coach.

MERRITT: Think of a life coach as a personal trainer for your life. They can help you overcome obstacles and help you figure out what to do next and work on your relationships and it's like a therapist without the stigma of therapy. You can make up to $50 to $75,000 a year. And you can get a certification through the International Coaching Federation. It takes about six months and costs about $5,000, but it is increasingly popular.

ROMANS: Wouldn't that be in a tough economy, wouldn't that be the first thing you cut back on? I have to get rid of my life coach because I can't pay for the kindergarten bill.

VELSHI: You may need that in a tough economy then you do otherwise. That might be the time if you have a spending problem or you need to get fit. People can change their lives in a recession.

MERRITT: Absolutely. When I was researching this, their business is picking up because people feel they need the help now.

ROMANS: All right. Jennifer Merritt thank you so much. Dennis Damp.

VELSHI: I have learned a great deal from this.

ROMANS: We're going to quit our job. We are not quitting our job.

All right. Dennis Damp, Jennifer Merritt thank you so much.

VELSHI: We asked you for your questions and you sure did respond, thousands of e-mails to our money mailbox. We will tackle the issues that you are telling us are most important to you coming up next.


ROMANS: Positioning yourself to get a job in a down market is tough, but not impossible. Meet one job seeker who is learning how to make himself stand out from the masses of the unemployed.


ROMANS (voice over): Aspiring comic Danny Rouher would rather be standing on a stage right now telling a joke, even if it gets just a few polite chuckles, but he's cueing up in this line of thousands for a chance for the day job he has been looking for since July. Steady and dependable is what he needs to pay the bills.

DANNY ROUHER, JOBSEEKER: What you saw today was three blocks worth.

ERIC WINEGARDNER, MONSTER: Three city blocks worth of competition so it's how you distinguish yourself from the crowd.

ROMANS: Career expert Eric Winegardner says it's OK to tell potential employers you have a passion out of their line of work.

WINEGARDNER: Be very forward with the fact that this is who you and this is what you want to do because if you're engaged in your non-work hours that makes you a far more productive employee while you're there.

ROUHER: Be up front and totally honest.

ROMANS: That and being prepared. A polished, focused resume targeted to the job you want. A professional look, ready hand shake and a 30- second intro that might get your new boss hooked.

ROUHER: You're not going to find anybody with a better temperament that's easy to get along with and as comfortable as dealing with people as I am. I do it professionally.

ROMANS: Most importantly, a positive attitude even in this market, at a job fair where turnout is so big, it surprises even the organizers. Optimism can make you stand out.

WINEGARDNER: Everyone needs the comedian in the office.

ROUHER: Professional water cooler and story teller guy. There's probably a job like that on Monster.


ROMANS: A lot of people at those job fairs. You have to learn how to stand out. Companies are hiring even in this economy. Thousands of jobs are posted on career sites like Monster and Jobfox it is all about making a match. Get out there and make as many as online and personal contacts as you can to find the next job.

VELSHI: We asked you to send us your questions and concerns about the job market and we have a team here to give you advice. Brad Karsh joins us now and he is the president and founder of Job Bound. We are rejoined by Robin Bond, employment attorney and Sonia Alleyne career editor at Black Enterprise. Welcome to all of you. Thanks for being with us. Brad let's start with you. We have an e-mail from Gregory who says, "I have a BS in computer science, but I am not using the skill in my current position. I tried to transfer to another department in my company, but my employer seems unwilling to help me move. I'm willing to relocate in order to use my knowledge of computers. What should I do?"

BRAD KARSH, JOB BOUND: Great question and it is tough now. Here is my first piece of advice. Do not quit your job even if you're want happy with what you're doing now, given everything that's going on, what you want to do is start looking for the job while you still are employed. Be active about the job search and start looking at different locations and looking at different companies and get your resume out there.

You've heard about the importance of networking and try and work your way into the job and do the stuff at night and on weekends keep your current job and when you do land something, I have another offer and either you can give me something here if you want to stay or you move on.

ROMANS: All right. Great advice.

OK, Robin this one's for you. Rick says, "I recently accepted a contract position with a company only to receive a better offer from a different company one week later. The second offer is a permanent position with a parent company of the first. Are you following? I don't want to go back on my word with the first company, but I'm concerned about my long-term job security. What should I do?"

BOND: Well you know a contractor position is a temporary one, so they are expecting that you will be leaving. The devil is usually in the details and I don't have the contract. Look at the term and termination section of any contract that he signed to make sure what is required about giving a notice to move on to this next position, but I'm definitely going to say you need to arrange a way to accept this full-time position and tell the accepting boss that you're pleased that you're keeping it all in the family. So the departing boss that you want to work out a very nice and reasonable transition and they'll think very highly of you for how professionally you've handled it.

VELSHI: In this environment that permanent position and job with benefits is very useful.

Sonia this one is for you. J.B. has written, "I lost my job in early August and I've been unable to find gainful employment since then. I have had a few interviews but nothing has panned out. I have a pretty compelling resume, but I have a hard time explaining why I'm not employed anymore. It's because I could not get along with a few co- workers and this has affected my performance. I do not want to seem like a non-team player and a poor performer. What do I do?"

ALLEYNE: He or she shouldn't be focused on the past in terms of what they did or didn't do and should talk about maybe that there was a philosophical difference. They want to move forward in terms of their direction and talk about what they want to do now in this company. Maybe the other company wasn't as -- didn't allow them to be as creative as they possibly could or wasn't as innovative as they had thought they would be.

And so now moving forward, that's what you want to focus on, all of the strengths and the positives, but you don't want -- the persons they have a compelling resume. They have to be able to speak to this and it sounds like they're wearing the burden of this past experience.

VELSHI: It's a bad time to be too particular about the environment you're in unless you're an architect or graphic designer. For the rest of us, you may want to button down on the creativity for a little while.

ALLEYNE: You really just want to focus on what you are bringing to the new place.

ROMANS: All right. Brad we have another one for you. This is from Leslie. "Is it a good idea to submit a reference letter from your supervisor with your resume and application? I'd like to make a lateral move in the clerical field. Many of my co-workers are also looking to transfer from our company due to a pending layoff. Sounds like Leslie know the writing's on the wall that there's a pending layoff next year. What do you think?"

KARSH: If you can't get your current employer to send you a reference letter. Obviously that means that you are looking for another job. So you have to be up front about it. If you can't get one, it certainly isn't going to hurt. But here is the deal with reference letters to be perfectly honest, I received 10,000 resumes when I was a recruiting director and I got lots of reference letters and references. The only people you ever include are people that will think great things about you. I always took those as a grain of salt and I wasn't going to put all of my eggs into that basket, because if you put those on the list, it won't hurt, but it won't help as much as you may think.

ROMANS: We have a lot of important job advice. And more of your e- mails are on the way, but first here's this week's "Right on Your Money."


ROMANS (voice over): America's elderly population is booming. The Census Bureau estimates nearly 20 percent of Americans who will be 65 or older by the year 2030. "Money" Magazine's Janice Revell says families are feeling stretched.

JANICE REVELL, "MONEY" MAGAZINE: These days, being in a days being in so-called sandwich situations, where you have your kids to take care of and you have your own retirement to fund and you have parents who are aging and may need your help, it is becoming increasingly problem.

ROMANS: Among those stuck in the middle, too many make the mistake of putting themselves last.

REVELL: You can't lost track of your retirement goal. If you're not prepared for retirement, you shift the burden onto your kids.

ROMANS: Revell suggests adult children help their parents plan for health care expenses.

REVELL: It's too common for elderly people to have far too much of their investments tied up into low-yielding savings accounts and checking accounts.

ROMANS: And talk about finances early before an accident or illness occurs.

REVELL: Don't wait for a crisis to hits. When that happens, people are putting $20,000, $30,000, and $40,000 on their credit cards, that happens all the time, to help out their parents in case of medical emergency.

ROMANS: And that's this week's "Right on Your Money."



VELSHI: We're joined again by our job experts Brad Karsh, Robin Bond and Sonia Alleyne. We are answering your viewer e-mails.

Let's start with you, Robin. We have an e-mail here from Katherine, "If companies are lying off employees, what is the likelihood they will be hiring new ones? Also, how can I market myself or find other options without abandoning my chosen workforce? Robin.

BOND: Well, companies are using layoffs as an opportunity to make room to hire some of the cream of the crop that's out on the market now. So, yes, I think the odds are excellent that you may see jobs posted even before the older employees are being ushered out the revolving door. I think the chances are very good, you know, you are going to see new jobs posted.

Now, here's what you need to do to make yourself shine as some of this cream of the crop. You need to have some great talking points developed about the good things that you have done for past employers, how you have created value and helped the bottom line. Show that you're a flexible worker, that you like to work and that you're pleasant to work with, because companies are looking for this and they also want people who can work well under pressure.

VELSHI: I must say just to add to that, and Sonia was nodding her head and Brad and I talked about this in the past, make your resume about the value you created, not just a list of skills you know. What problems did you solve and what you change for the company that you worked with.

ROMANS: Here is another one for you Sonia. This is from Robin. Robin wrote in, "I'm a freelance copywriter in New York City, and I've had steady work for over seven years. I have always thought that when the economy suffers, freelancers do well. My business has been slower than usual recently, and I've given some though to a full time position, which is not my preference. Can you shed some light on the freelance market during a recession?

ALLEYNE: This is actually a great time for freelancers because as companies are looking to cut costs, they're looking for noncommittal, noncommittal relationships. This is perfect. They can hire you for a specific reason and when the job is done, you can actually move on. The onus on the freelancer is now is really be able to sell themselves.

ROMANS: Be more aggressive in a recession.

ALLEYNE: Very aggressive, very strategic and very targeted, and because you don't know where your next opportunity is going to come, you have to be able to be prepared to talk about who you are and what you do. Those talking points that Robin mentioned, those have to be on the tip of your tongue any time you meet someone. You have to get that elevator pitch down to a science.

VELSHI: Brad, I got one for you from Hussein. He says, "I'm an accountant and have been unemployed and searching for a job for four months. I posted my resume to different job search sites but never heard back from employers. What other options should I consider?"

KARSH: I'm glad this question came up. Because this is one that I hear over and over again. And consept here is that as a job seeker you have to be assertive and not completely passive. So many people go online and apply for 20 jobs and say I'm applying for jobs. How come I'm not hearing back? It doesn't work that way. You have to think about it from the perspective of the company. They are getting flooded with resumes. They are not going to say, Hussein finally applied for the job. Hallelujah. Let's get him in here. It doesn't work that way.

At the very least, send them an e-mail, call them on the phone, and see if there are any next steps. More importantly in this time especially you must network to get your way into those companies. So find somebody you know at that company. It may seem impossible but the power of networking is quite amazing. Even now two out of three people get their jobs through networking. So go on Linked-in, go to other social networking sites. When you're hanging out during the holidays, ask your cousins, who knows anybody that works at these companies? Your crazy uncle Meryl, does he know anybody who works there? You might be shocked what you find. Go back to your career center. Years later they can help you out with contacts at different organizations. That helps in times like these.

ROMANS: I want to ask this to Sonia because so many people asked about this. It's the boss problem. "I have worked for the same employer for eight years and enjoy my job, but I cannot work for my boss. He micro manages, criticizes and underrates everything I do. Other departments and individuals at my organization value my work and give me recognition. I could report to a different department at my company to produce the same work that I am currently providing. How can I make this transition? Is this the time to be letting people know that you don't like your boss?

ALLEYNE: This is the time to actually start having conversations with your boss. A lot of time employees suffer in silence and don't explore why they are having these challenges. Take the emotion out of it. We talked about that earlier. Is it you or is that just the way he manages? The good thing he is has relationships throughout the company. So he may have an advocate. He can talk to someone above him in another department and maybe they make the recommendation. He didn't actually go and be the first person to make the move on that but someone else can make the recommendation on his behalf to offer a position to him in another department.

VELSHI: Remember our friend Bruce?

ROMANS: Yeah, I do.

VELSHI: Bruce used to come and tell me about something his boss said. I would say what a jerk. He would say, clearly I'm not communicating something to him. And would go and have this conversation with his boss who made him think what a great guy. I was smirking as you were saying this. I can't imagine every doing that. There's a way to do this and say what's not working? What can I do to make things work better? Interesting. That is very sound advice.

ROMANS: Great advice all the way around.

VELSHI: I'm really pleased. Thank you for all of you for submitting those questions to us. We're going to stay on this jobs issue all the time.

ROMANS: We really are.

VELSHI: We are learning a lot and I hope you are, too. Thank you for joining us for this special edition of YOUR MONEY.

ROMANS: Whether its job securities, finding a new job, your concerns are shared by millions of Americans.

VELSHI: We are going to continue to give you the information you need to take charge of your job situation right now.

ROMANS: Join us every week for YOUR MONEY Saturday at 1:00 pm Eastern, Sunday at 3:00.

VELSHI: We will see you then.