Why Labor Day Matters So Much

Published: Forbes, Careers
Jill Griffin, Contributor

Today, barbecues and swim parties are what we think of when we consider Labor Day. But, the truth is Labor Day was created in the late 1800s because manufacturing workers were concerned they were putting in long hours…on average, 70 hours a week or more. The work was extremely difficult and dangerous (read Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle). More work meant more fatigue and more fatigue meant danger in many jobs.

Many union organizers began focusing on these long hours and worked to win eight-hour days and reducing the workweek to just six days. These days we take for granted that most people work a forty hour week and that anything above that is paid as overtime. But it wasn’t always so.

Surprisingly, many politicians and business owners at the time gave a big thumbs up to giving workers more time off. That’s because workers who had no free time were not able to spend their wages on traveling, entertainment or dining out.

As the U.S. economy expanded beyond farming and basic manufacturing in the late 1800s and early 1900s, it became important for businesses to find consumers interested in buying the products and services being produced in ever greater amounts. Shortening the work week was one way of turning the working class into the consuming class. More time and disposable income were two important elements of building a strong consumer economy. (Isn’t it interesting that, for better or worse, money turns out to be the primary driver of so much of the positive change we see?).

Momentum built and it became a national holiday in June 1894 when President Grover Cleveland signed the Labor Day bill into law. While most people interpreted this as recognizing the day as a national vacation, Congress’ proclamation covered only federal employees. It was up to each state to declare its own legal holidays.

Eventually it became a much observed holiday. And, why not? The American worker has been the backbone of our economic growth. During World War Two, for example, American workers turned out planes and other vitally important items that helped defeat both Germany and Japan and save Europe from further devastation. What they accomplished was nothing short of miraculous. Legendary, even.
Work has changed a lot since then, but thankfully the work still gets done every day. President Obama encouraged Americans “To observe this day with appropriate programs, ceremonies and activities that honor the contributions and resilience of working Americans.”

Like most societal change, the work is never done, really. The problems of the 1830s may be solved for the most part, but there are still issues that need to be addressed. And resolving them will take people of great courage who are willing to stand up and fight, no matter the cost.

One of my favorite movies is the 1979 film Norma Rae. Sally Field plays a disgruntled employee in a cotton factory in the rural south. (Growing up in the rural south, this movie made me think twice, and ponder my heritage.) She locks horns with factory management over poor work conditions, including long hours, excessive heat, and too few work breaks. For her efforts, Norma was severely disciplined. Enter Reuben, a union organizer from upstate New York who spots Norma’s passion and energy for improving work conditions. There’s not a love story between the two leads but instead a relationship built on a passion for seeking change and union sovereignty.

It has been said that ‘hell is having no options’. We forget sometimes that many people do not have a choice about what they do every day to earn a living. In Norma Rae’s rural community where other jobs were scarce, the cotton mill was option one of one. That stacked the deck in favor of factory management. If you hold all of the cards you don’t really have to negotiate, as a rule. Reuben and Norma faced long odds, to say the least.

I won’t spoil the ending, but I will say it’s very much worth a watch. On this Labor Day, as we sit around the pool or ride in our boat in the September sun, let’s hope that all workers who struggle in our world will win the day. Because when they do, it’s good for all of us.



It’s always exciting when you have job options to choose from , even though it can be stressful to decide which position to accept. As the job market shifts to a “candidate-driven” atmosphere, you could find yourself in a position to be selective about your next job. Job seekers who are in high-demand fields and employees who have a strong track record of career success are often in the enviable position of being able to choose their next job from multiple opportunities.

If you have the right skill set and experience, you can afford to be picky. You will be able to leverage your advantage to land a job that’s closest to your ideal position. You’ll also be able to choose a job which is the best fit for your personal circumstances and career goals.

You don’t have to take the first job offer you get, unless you’re sure it’s the perfect position for the next stage of your career. Rather, take your time and make sure your next job is exactly what you’re looking for. Here’s how to optimize your chances of choosing the best possible job when you have the upper hand.
1. Stay in job search mode. Keep yourself in “continuous job search mode” so you’re ready for opportunities as they arise. Keep all your job search documents up to date, especially your LinkedIn profile . Document your successes in your current job on at least a monthly basis and incorporate them into your resume. If your skills are in high demand, employers will often come after you, so be ready to respond to appealing options.

2. Create a profile of your ideal job and employer . This will help you to identify attractive positions and pass on other jobs that you don’t think would be a good fit. Consider what type of employer would be perfect for your personality and work style . To do this, think about the elements of your current and past jobs that you have enjoyed the most and write them down. Ask yourself: Which activities are most satisfying about your current job? What might you like to avoid in your next job? What do you want in terms of work-life balance?

What is your ideal company culture ? Which jobs would be most satisfying for you to work at ?

3. What else would you like in a job? You should also consider what might be missing from your current job. For example, if you enjoy planning events, are you doing enough event planning in your current role? Perhaps your current job offers insufficient opportunities for advancement, or your boss is too autocratic and you’d like more freedom to make decisions and plan your workflow.


4. Consider your perfect job. Take some online career assessments to help you to identify other values, interests, or personality traits that you might want to tap in your ideal job. You might also want to enlist the help of a career counselor if you are struggling to identify key aspects of your ideal career. If you have a dream company you’d love to work for, now might be the time to connect with them .

5. Know your worth . One of the advantages of being in high demand is the opportunity to upgrade your compensation. Research the going rate for your job through salary sources online, surveys by your professional organization, and informal networking with fellow professionals. Review these tips for determining how much you’re worth .

6. Do you want more money? If you think you should be making more, consider asking for a raise or target other jobs that have higher compensation. Many employers will match an offer from another organization. In some cases, a competing offer or changing jobs may be the only way to secure a substantial increase in pay. Be careful that you don’t issue an ultimatum to your current employer if you aren’t ready to change jobs. You don’t want to lose the job you have before you’re ready to move on.

7. Get more skills. If the next job you’d love to have requires skills or knowledge that you don’t fully possess, or you want to expand your current responsibilities into new areas, explore whether you can incorporate or build upon these skills in your position. Your employer may be more flexible than you think in modifying your job if you are a highly valued employee, and they don’t want to lose you.

Also, investigate classes and training opportunities to acquire the right background for your next job. Your employer might even agree to pay.

8. Help recruiters find you. When there are worker shortages, employers become more proactive in recruiting passive candidates . They will be more likely to utilize search firms to fish for candidates and mine prospects from LinkedIn. Consider utilizing a recruiter to help you find your ideal job, but make sure that you don’t let them redefine your goals to meet the supply of jobs that they are promoting. Develop a complete LinkedIn profile , keep it up to date, and your next job might find you before you find it.

9. It’s okay to say, “No thanks.” Don’t be afraid to turn down a job offer that seems less than ideal. If you are in high demand, other offers will come your way. You might be better off staying in your current job until you find something very appealing. Excessive job hopping can be a red flag on a resume, even for workers in high demand. Here’s how to turn down a job offer .

10. Tap your connections. Reach out to contacts for information , advice, and suggestions about jobs. Share your profile for an ideal job and ask them to recommend positions within their sector. During worker shortages, companies often pay employees a bonus for candidate referrals ; recommendations from current staff are usually given careful consideration under any circumstances.

The Trillion $ Problem | June 2019

This $1 Trillion Problem Can Be Fixed by Asking Employees 2 Questions

A study has concluded that voluntary turnover in this country is ‘self-inflicted’ and could be easily avoided.

By Marcel SchwantesFounder and Chief Human Officer, Leadership From the Core@MarcelSchwantes; Source: Inc.

One harsh truth in the human capital space has remained true for over two decades: 70 percent of U.S. employees are disengaged in their work and workplace right now.

It should come as no surprise that, according to a report by Gallup, 51 percent of American workers are actively looking for a different job or watching for openings.

Gallup says that those who have already jumped ship have cost U.S. businesses $1 trillion.

If you’re a number-crunching CFO and your company has high turnover, you’re sweating bullets. Do the math: The cost of replacing a single employee can be anywhere between one-half to twice that employee’s annual salary.

There are other hidden costs that come with a voluntary turnover–a decline in team morale, distrust in management, uncertainty about the future, and unhappy customers.

Ask 2 important questions to stop the bleeding.

According to Gallup research, “52 percent of voluntarily exiting employees say their manager or organization could have done something to prevent them from leaving their job.”

Done something in the form of caring enough about their employees as people–as valued human beings.

To keep your most talented and innovative knowledge workers, managers need to ask two questions that exceptional, human-centered leaders would ask:

1. A question about the employee’s job satisfaction.

Those 52 percent of exiting employees say that in the three months before they quit their jobs, no manager came to check in with them and have a meaningful conversation about how they were doing, how they felt about their work, and whether they were happy.

2. A question about the employee’s future with the organization.

The $1 trillion problem may be drastically reduced if managers have the presence of mind to sit down with employees and talk about their future with the organization. This, too, was a question never asked in the three months prior to an employee’s exit, says Gallup.

I agree with Gallup’s position that the problem of voluntary turnover in this country is “self-inflicted”–managers do not do everything in their power to make things right and put the employee first. In hindsight, exiting employees in the Gallup study said “their manager or organization could have done something to prevent them from leaving their job.”

Bonus: Three more questions.

Gallup’s solution to your turnover issue is simple: “Train your managers to have frequent, meaningful conversations with employees about what really matters to them” in order to win them back. You can ask three additional questions:

  • What’s frustrating you?
  • What are your dreams?
  • Where do you want to go?

The bottom line of asking these questions is to let your employees know that you truly care about them as people, that you value their work and their successes. But it has to be done authentically. Asking without an intent to care is simply disingenuous, and people will have an adverse reaction.

Managers who stay involved with what employees are doing–without micromanaging–keep track of their employees’ wins, goals, dreams, and fears, and support them along their career paths. This gives employees a high awareness of their place within the company and the value of their successes.

This is what will elevate managers from simply managing functions and tasks to becoming influential and respected leaders who win the hearts and minds of employees.

Going Through A Late Career Change? 10 Survival Tips

SOURCE: Forbes Coaches Council

Decades ago, the majority of people chose an industry and stuck with it through their entire careers, from college graduation through retirement. In today’s market, where job-hopping, industry-wide downsizing, and “second act” careers are all prevalent, it seems that anything goes – and this can be a good thing for professionals who want to (or have to) change careers in their 40s or 50s.

It may seem daunting to switch to a new industry after several decades climbing the ladder in a different one, especially if the change is abrupt and not by choice. However, it’s certainly not impossible, and you may even find that you are happier, less stressed, and more fulfilled after you start your new career.

We asked members of Forbes Coaches Council how to deal with a career change late in your professional life. Here’s their best advice.

Members of Forbes Coaches Council share their insight.All images courtesy of Forbes Councils members.

1. See This As A New Beginning

Everything in life comes full circle one day. You can’t control events, but you can control how you perceive things. See your job loss as a new beginning. It’s not the end of the world. This is finally a beautiful opportunity to do what you always wanted to do – disconnect from the mundane for some time, and then evolve as a much stronger person with more clarity than ever before.   – Anjali ChughCosmique Global Inc 

2. Disconnect Your Identity From Your Profession

Whenever I coach clients through a transition, whether it’s a professional athlete leaving their sport or an executive transitioning from their corporate position, this question of identity comes up, and it’s vital that it be addressed. If you base your self-worth and self-definition on your title, transitions can quickly lead to depression. Your value is intrinsic to your humanity, not your job.   – Debra RussellDebra Russell Coaching, LLC

3. Embrace The Gig Economy

The job may have left, but you still have intellectual capital you could parlay into another successful career. If a full-time job with perks and security is your goal, and it’s not happening fast enough, participate in the gig economy, working on a project-by-project or interim basis. This will keep your skills sharp, and fill the gap until the right opportunity comes.   – Daisy WrightThe Wright Career Solution

4. Aggressively Pursue New Training

You may not need to pay for technical certifications or semester-long classes, but any new employer will want to see your absolute commitment to change, your ability to adapt, your commitment to learning new information and applying that knowledge. Older workers post job-loss often spend too much time worrying and not taking immediate action to update, augment and improve their knowledge.   – John M. O’ConnorCareer Pro Inc. 

5. Become A Mentor

It’s often hard to just stop doing something. Take the experience you have gained over your career and use it to help the next generation of professionals and leaders. Become a mentor to someone who is starting their career in a field that you worked in. Share your knowledge, and learn some things from the younger generation. As a mentor, you can develop meaningful connections.   – Kathy LockwoodBlue Water Leadership Coaching 

6. Embrace The Unknown

Many times, work and identity go hand in hand. What do you do when you aren’t the wise voice of reason amongst the team? You embrace the unknown and allow yourself to be open. It’s scary, it’s uncomfortable, but it’s the chance to explore another area of your life. Think back to childhood – what interested and captivated you that you could still do now? It’s never too late to reinvent yourself.   – Maresa FriedmanExecutive Cat Herder 

7. Highlight Your Transferable Skills And Enthusiasm

The key to a modern-day job search is showcasing transferable skills and utilizing an updated resume format. Research current resume trends for your intended career goal and highlight your skills and accomplishments (not just job duties). Transferable skills can be used in multiple job types or industries, such as organizing. Finally, highlight your interest because employers are seeking passion.   – Megan WattDream Catalyst Labs 

8. Know Your Value And Pivot If Necessary To A New Career

First, know your value. Many companies want to hire experienced executives for their wealth of knowledge. Next, if you’re in a career that is “disappearing” in the new economy (like journalism), or that favors younger workers (like digital marketing), do a career pivot. Identify your skills and passions and transfer them to a new career. Stay positive, network and move forward.   – Rebecca BoslDream Life Team 

9. Make Your Encore Meaningful

Begin considering what will give meaning to your legacy and encore career early. I coach professionals to begin this process of defining meaning during mid-career. Nurture your network to set up volunteer or paid opportunities to do something that you love. If this plan is in place, an abrupt job loss is not so jarring, and a retirement can be a soft landing rather than a loss of identity.   – Sharon HullMetta Solutions, LLC 

10. Continue To Grow Your Knowledge And Stay Relevant

In the digital age, it’s imperative to stay relevant and up-to-date on the latest trends in personal and professional branding.  For example, keeping an updated LinkedIn profile that accentuates your brand and value, as well as continuing your knowledge and training no matter your age, shows commitment and dedication to remaining in-tune with the skill set of your industry.   – Wendi Weiner, Esq.The Writing Guru 

How to Make a Potential Employer Fall in Love With You


Looking for ways to impress a potential employer? Want to make your résumé or job application stand out from the pack?

This from an employer: “In the past few weeks, I’ve reviewed 480 résumés and applications for 16 different positions. I’ve interviewed 22 candidates and brought 6 back for a second, more intense round of interviews. Believe me, I can tell you what rang my chimes!”

“Some of this advice may surprise you. Some may even make you angry because it doesn’t seem fair or right to you. I can’t guarantee that all employers will agree with me, but why take a chance in this employers’ market?”

heart Only apply for jobs for which you qualify. The “NO” pile of applications is increasingly made up of people who don’t even remotely qualify for the advertised position. Why waste the time? If you find yourself applying because it’s an area of work you might want to get into, or think you’d like, don’t bother UNLESS you can make the stretch and fit between your qualifications and background and the described opening. Otherwise, you are wasting your time.

Each application or résumé gets less than 2 MINUTES of time; usually it’s a 30 SECOND SCAN! You need to quickly qualify yourself as a potential candidate because the employer doesn’t have or take the time to do it for you.

heart Write a targeted cover letter that introduces your key qualifications and highlights your “fit” with the position for which you are applying. Address the letter to the person conducting the candidate search, when known. DO NOT presume familiarity and write, “Dear Carol.” Until someone knows you, the name is “Ms. Landry.” Additionally, the cover letter needs to specifically address the available position. Spelling and correct grammar do count. So does the spacing of words on the page or email screen and an attractive overall appearance.

heart Target the résumé to the job. Would you like to know how many people are looking for a “challenging opportunity to utilize my skills with a progressive employer who will provide opportunities for growth?” Customization counts. Customization is everything when you are looking at substantially different opportunities, too. Say, you are looking for a training position or a marketing position. The identical résumé won’t sell your skills for either field.

heart Lead with your strengths. What makes you different from 40 other applicants? On your customized résumé, start out with the background and experience most important for the position you seek. The stage of your career is also highly relevant to the placement of information on your résumé. If you are just graduating from college, lead off the first portion of the résumé with your education and degree.

The key is to make it easy for the résumé reviewer to see that you are qualified for the position. You want your résumé in that “YES” pile awaiting an interview!

How to Find a New Career for the New Year

Source: Rachel Denison via SnagAJob.com

Looking for a new change for the new year? Need a different opportunity for a fresh start? You’ve come to the right place! Here are a few tips on how to find a new career so you can put your best foot forward in life.


Step Up Your Education Game

Take advantage of online universities and local community colleges by enrolling in courses that enhance your skill set or even earn you a new degree, which can help qualify you for a different career.

Classes through these resources tend to be cheaper and easier to acquire than classes through traditional four-year universities. Simply apply online or meet with a dean at the school to discuss the testing and financial requirements. Employers love to see that you care about your education and that you are willing to learn.

Regardless of how old you are or how much experience you have, you can never get too cool for school!

Brainstorm with Others

Career counselor, Barbara Sher, recommends hosting an “idea party,” which is an event for friends and family members to come together and help the person looking for a new career discover new ideas and narrow down possibilities.

Our friends and family members have close perspectives on our lives and can offer different options and resources that we might never consider on our own. You might be surprised at what they think you could excel at.

Who knows? You might have a talent you didn’t realize could shape a new career!

Test Yourself

The Muse suggests planning for your dream job by filling out the following questionnaire:

If I could choose one friend to trade jobs with, I’d choose ____________, because ____________.

I’ve always wondered what it would be like to do ____________. It’s interesting to me because ____________.

If I had the right education or skill set, I’d definitely try ____________, because ____________.

If I had to go back to school tomorrow, I’d major in ____________, because ____________.

My co-workers and friends always say I’m great at ____________, because ____________.

The thing I love most about my current job is ____________, because ____________.

If my boss would let me, I’d do more of ____________, because ____________.

If I had a free Saturday that had to be spent “working” on something, I’d choose ____________, because ____________.

When I retire, I want to be known for ____________, because ____________.

In addition to this questionnaire, there are other resources you can use to learn more about your strengths and interests. For example, taking personality tests like Visuality and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator can help you discover the perfect job.

How to Set Up Your LinkedIn Profile for a Job Search

Source: Carol Adams, CPRW | FACET Senior Career Strategist

As a job seeker, having a LinkedIn profile is critical to your success as a professional. Even when you’re not looking for a new position, maintaining an active network and a presence on LinkedIn can provide a boost to your career. Ideally, you should already have a LinkedIn profile with a decent size network, and be a regular participant on the site before you need to look for a job, but at the very least, you MUST develop a LinkedIn profile when you are in job search mode.


Because everyone, from CEOs to recruiters, to your former college classmates are on the platform, and not being onboard suggests that you’re not “with it.” This can be especially harmful if you are over 50 and already facing potential bias because of your age. In addition, maintaining an optimized profile and staying engaged on the platform can bring opportunities to you, because 94% of recruiters and hiring managers report being on LinkedIn every day, actively seeking candidates and checking up on those who’ve already applied.

So, you’re looking for a job, what does your LinkedIn profile need to look like to make you attractive to employers?

To start, ignore any advice to put “Open to Opportunities,” or “Seeking New Opportunities” in your Headline or Summary. This was standard advice for a while, but these phrases are now considered banners of desperation, and nobody wants to be seen as desperate, nor is anyone attracted to someone who appears that way.

“Studies show there are several reasons why this hurts the effectiveness of your profile,” says J.T. O’Donnell, Founder & CEO of WorkItDaily.com. “It’s been proven that recruiters have a serious hiring bias. They prefer to hire someone who is currently working,” she says. So phrases that suggest you are unemployed can make you a less attractive candidate.

Instead of announcing your situation in your profile, optimize the content to make yourself as attractive as possible to potential employers.

Here’s how:


Your Name

If you have professional credentials that help in your field, such as MBA, PhD, SPHR, CPA, SPE, etc. be sure to include them after your name so that anyone searching for someone with those credentials can find you that way.

Your Photo

Adding a photo to your LinkedIn account makes it 14 times more likely that a recruiter will click on your profile!

You don’t need a professional head shot, but you do need to look professional. No selfies. Instead, get someone to take several shots of you from the chest up against a blank wall. Just you. And no, you may not use a photo from last year’s Christmas party and try to cut out the people standing next to you.

Wear what you would wear to work, and remember it’s better to be over-dressed than under-dressed. If you work in an industrial job where a suit or dress would mark you as trying too hard, then wear a nice polo-style or button-down shirt/blouse. Gentlemen: trim your beard/shave. Ladies: hide the cleavage, please. And smile!

Your Headline – Make it Professional

The headline is weighed heavily in LinkedIn searches and should be keyword rich to brand you for the job you want, NOT the job you left/are leaving. Let’s say you want to be an HR manager, your headline might read:

HUMAN RESOURCES MANAGER – Organizational Development | Employee Engagement | Talent Management

This headline clearly tells people who you are and what you can do. You get 120 characters, so play with different words and phrasing to fill up that space, and highlight your key expertise.

Your Summary

You get 2,000 characters for your Summary, and you should use that space well to make yourself look interesting and let people know that you’re qualified for the positions you’re seeking.

Unlike most resumes, however, your LinkedIn Summary should be written in first person and allow people to see your personality. If it’s relevant to your field or your goals, include a brief glimpse into the private you. Here’s an example from a web designer:

I’m an avid photographer and world traveler. I think both of these things inform my creative vision and bring a different perspective to my clients and employers. I love images and the way they connect to storytelling.

Next month, I’m going to China to see and photograph the annual New Year’s celebration there. Through the years, I’ve visited Africa, India, Australia, New Zealand, Vietnam, Cambodia and much of Europe. I plan to travel often because it feeds my soul and stimulates my creative process.”

The Summary should not be a recap of your resume, but rather a short synopsis of your experience and value-add, along with those glimpses into the real you. Remember, LinkedIn is a social network, so don’t adopt a stand-offish tone in your writing.

Also, be sure to include your email address at the end of your Summary to make it easy for recruiters and hiring managers to contact you (many can’t see your contact information if you’re not connected).

Your Work Experience

Don’t be too quick to put an end date on your last job. You can let that ride for a few weeks or a month, while you organize your job search and grow your network. If someone directly asks why you haven’t changed it, you can honestly say that it’s on your list of things to do.

For now, make sure that both your resume and LinkedIn profile are updated and aligned. That doesn’t mean that your LinkedIn profile has to be an exact copy of your resume, but it should be close enough that any differences will not raise questions with potential employers. As with the Summary, you can make all or part of your work experience details first person to make you seem more approachable. For example:

“I started at ABC Company as a sales representatives, and was promoted after six months to sales manager, based on my ability to exceed all of my quotas and serve as the leader of my team.”

Then you can copy and paste in the rest of your bullets for that job directly from your resume, or continue on in first person, depending on what is comfortable for you.

Your Education

The LinkedIn Education section includes the following fields:

Field of study:
Activities and societies:
From & To:

Unless you are a fairly recent graduate (last 2 years), DO NOT include your GPA, and only include “activities and societies” if they are in some way universal so as to appeal to a broad base of people.

For example: If you were a member of a well-known honor society such as Phi Beta Kappa, or a sorority or fraternity, then list them, because these are organizations that everyone recognizes and understands, and they can be a bridge between you and other people.

Most of us need to fill in only three things for each degree we hold:

School: University Name
Degree: BA, BS, MBA, etc. – Use the abbreviations to appear younger.
Field of study: What your degree is in
Grade: Leave blank
Activities and societies: Leave blank (unless they fit the parameters noted above)
From Leave at null setting To: Leave at null setting unless within the last 10 years
Description: Leave blank

DO NOT include your high school diploma unless it’s the only education you have.

Your Skills

You get a maximum of 50 skills under the “Skills” section of LinkedIn. As you type, LinkedIn will offer suggestions that will help you complete this section. Be sure to include some of the same skills that you’re seeing on job postings (assuming you have them) and write the same skills in different ways.

For example: “Human Resources Management” and “HR Management” are the same thing, but one recruiter may search for the first and another might search for the second, so it’s best to list them both. A well-rounded Skills section is critically important to helping you be found on LinkedIn.

Be Active

LinkedIn only works for you if you work it. You need to be on the platform several times a week, liking and commenting on other’s post, and posting / re-posting articles yourself. You should join Groups, and follow the companies that interest you, then like/comment on their posts as well to bring yourself to the attention of hiring authorities.

In addition, engaging with your connections through occasional messaging will help to keep your network strong.

Bottom line, don’t be afraid of the platform, embrace it. The rewards can be many!