Equilibrium Institute- Delivering Core Intelligence

Apathy is not consent, it's the demand for Empowerment  

Best Foot Forward


How to become a desired candidate or select one!







By Robert Adam Jackson M.A. (Employment Specialist and Legal Aide) 


All rights Reserved 2011





“This book is a user’s manual for job hunters, a reference encyclopedia for job counselors, and a practical guide for anyone looking for tips in managing the challenges of finding and selecting a satisfying work environment.  The author condenses a huge array of career information into concise, well-grounded and helpful suggestions. He provides a wide array of exercises and resources ranging from job interviewing to managing office politics.  Rarely do you find such comprehensive guidance distilled into one easy to read volume.”



Jeffrey Prince, Ph.D.


Director, Counseling and Psychological Services


University of California, Berkeley
Table of


Pages 3-4       Preface


Pages 5-7       Introductory Summary of California’s Job Market



Pages 8-19      Section 1        Getting Prepared and Focused for Careers


  • Function and Dysfunction of Stress and Self Esteem


  • Building a Track Record to Show your Ability, Potential, and Credibility


  • Job Outlook & Career Tracks : Identifying Compatibility


  • Informational Interviewing


  • What Employers are Seeking in New Employees


  • Setting Goals and Making Decisions


  • Hope, Health, and Subsistence- Trends in Flexible Workplace Schedules


  • Leadership


  • Self Management Tool



Pages  20-25              Section 2         Getting Organized to Accurately Target and Approach


  • Application Basics & Cover Letters


  • Resume Types and References


  • Logistics: Analyzing Ads & Finding Leads



Pages  26-28              Section 3         Being Interviewed: Structure, Process, and Preparation


  • Getting Prepared to Win Inside and Out (Best Image)


  • Tips to Practice that Improve Interview Outcomes: Summary Checklist


  • Selling your Transferable Skills


  • 2 min., 30 Sec. & 10 Second Commercials


  • Questions to Expect & Ask



Pages  29-31              Section 4         Adapting to the New Job


·         Tips to Perform Well on the Job


  • Office Politics


  • Exercises



Pages  32-36              Section 5         Recruiting to Build or Support Business


  • Narrowing the Field with Tools to Identify the Best Potentially Qualified Applicants


  • Hiring Strategies, Job Descriptions and Tips On Selecting Candidates


  • Principles for Recruitment that Evaluate a Candidates Skill, Motivation, and Lifestyle



Pages  37-52              Section 6         Conducting Interviews


  • Tasks Interviewers Should Master


  • Effective Interviewing Strategies/  Things to Avoid


  • Process


  • Inhibitors/ Facilitators of Communication


  • Data Gathering and Analysis to Make Better Decisions


  • How to Use Difficult Questions to Gain Essential Information


  • Legal Considerations for Confidentiality, Employment, & Discrimination.  



Pages  53-55              Section 7         Creating or Reinforcing Productivity in the Workplace


  • Why People Stay on the Job or Not!


  • Providing References as an Employer


  • Lawful Firing or Layoffs in California


  • Employment Trends and Projections in California


  • Exercises





     This guide was developed in response to a request for curriculum to assist job seekers in getting back to work more quickly.  Later it was extended with some great insights for H.R. professionals, and hiring Managers.  The job match and selection process prompted the development of strategies to use during a candidate’s review process to help weigh in reliable evidences on top of intuitive first impressions to improve hiring decisions.  The skills shared here are transferable to many areas of life where interviewing, making positive impressions, and making important relationship decisions are involved- especially workforce development or career decisions. 



     If the indicators from the Employment Development Departments Labor Market Information Division and other State and Federal sources are accurate, the indicators suggest unless the economy strengthens and jobs markets grow as much as 40% of California’s total population are dependent on the remaining 60% whom are of working ages and employed now.  My findings reveals an approximate 14% projected unemployment rate based on the analysis of projected jobs against working age populations with partial adjustments in both youth and elderly brackets and an optimist projection in job growth trends between now and 2012.  Of those employed in California as many as 1 in 5 are reported by former Job Services chief Michael Bernick to be under-employed.  Some economists are predicting the economy to take up to five years to fully recover.  My rate absorbs the commonly underreported rate of those that drop off the unemployment rolls, but it does not account for undercounted populations such as illegal immigrants and or the homeless.    



     Thus, short of major favorable changes in the economy, and perhaps more realistic and more sustainable measures of productivity, job seekers are becoming more competitive and employers can be more selective in the hiring process as a greater number of young people are entering a marketplace where fewer opportunities exist. 



    Since 1970, the U.S. has experienced a national cyclical economy that tends to slump from four to five percent to a peak of nearly a 10 percent unemployment rate every seven or eight years.  However, the year over year rate increase of nearly five percent from 2008 to roughly 10 percent in 2009, in California specifically, has not been exceeded since the Great Depression.  Since 1970, U.S. unemployment rates, which only account for those reporting their unemployment and drawing the benefit, have tended to see three to four year recovery periods following the steepest points, but current trends and forecasts of growing State’s and a widening Federal deficit points to a very tangible prospect the U.S. has not hit rock bottom just yet.  Recently, concerns over inflation and the value of the U.S. dollar are surfacing as a possible deterrent for foreign investors whom currently are significantly aiding the U.S. Federal government with loans. 



     With news breaking reports about private equity firms forcing many otherwise healthy dominant U.S. companies into closures due to unscrupulous yet legal trading practices, the picture of a second round of major layoffs impacting over a million employees along with growing tensions in many parts of the world – all present real questions about the ability of the global marketplace to rebound as quickly as we might hope.  Loopholes defiantly need to be addressed to restore the balance between greedy desires, the greater good of global economies and more sustainable lifestyles and economies of the future are being demanded by expanding populations that live to be older and have come to enjoy many luxuries and technologies not previously available.  




     This text is about seeing people get better informed and developing their potentials and discovering how vast the world of work is.  By examining the trail and errors of experience, and embracing education, readers can be involved in expanding the frontiers of their lives and the lives of others.  While the text will help with recruitment, it may also help focus people on finding purpose and fulfilling careers. 



     As former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger clarified in an environmental conference address in 2010, when people stop looking to declarations or Government interventions for solutions and rely on their own ingenuity to build more sustainable economies, we will be able to enjoy the fruits of our labor and have more stability overall.  The future rests in the hands of the people, but as Horace said (65-8 B.C.), it is up to each and every one of us to, “seize the day.” 



With confidence in you,






Robert A. Jackson- Analyst













Introductory Summary of California’s Job Market



Facts and trends in California’s Job Market



     The projected jobless rate in California of ten to fourteen percent (over one in ten workers) is based on projected jobs against available working age populations with adjustments made in youth and elderly brackets and relying on an optimistic job growth trend estimates.  The figure could be higher.  In simple terms if jobs continue to grow as currently projected in many sectors, California may still have a huge section of the population without jobs to compete for, in addition to a large unemployed population.  The figure does not account for underground economies and illegal immigrants which make up a portion of California’s overall economy.  Further still, the types of jobs available may not match the qualifications of job seekers due to skill deficit trends. About “twenty two percent of jobs projected through 2014 will require a bachelors degree or higher” (EDD’s strategic plan 2007-2011), which will create a complex flow of talent into and out of California unless the local workforce is adequately trained.  With nearly 30 percent of the population expected to be foreign born by 2025, with most of them predicted to not be the educated immigrants needed for the available jobs, the question remains how California’s infrastructure can balance employer and residents demands.



     In California, more than 70% of the job growth is concentrated in five major industry sectors: professional and business services, education and health services, government, retail trade, and leisure and hospitality (EDD’s Strategic plan 2007-2011, Feb. 2007).



     EDD’s strategic plan cited data that reinforced higher education is associated with lower unemployment, higher wages, higher family income and better health.  Parental education is associated with better health, enriched development and greater educational opportunities for children.  Across these measures, Latino’s fare far worse than any other group.  California is presented with a scenario of the majority of immigrants being over 18 and needing to address educational needs of the population in general to help them be employable in expanding industries and to help business remain competitive with a skilled workforce in California.



     When considering rising health costs, growth in populations, and high school drop-out rates in California, a difficult situation only seems to be moving in a more negative direction.  By 2030, a thirty seven percent increase in California’s population from 33 million to over 46 million is expected while the total percentage of the population over 65 will increase by over 130% (4.7 million people) during the same period (EDD’s Strategic plan 2007-2011, Feb. 2007).



     A reduction in spending and increases in taxation as suggested by Mr. Moran of the Congressional Budget office may be a viable solution to help stabilize California’s infrastructure to support the delivery of needed services in California traditionally supported by the State (Moran 2006 cited in EDD’s Strategic plan 2007-2011, Feb. 2007).  In contrast, since 2000, a near thirty percent reduction in federal dollars from Workforce Investment Act and a 9.2 percent reduction in state funds through the Wagner Peyser program has resulted in an almost forty percent reduction leading to 2006.  Since 2006, the state has worked to reduce spending and cut wages of the remaining State of California workforce nearly 15 percent.  Automation has been a priority statewide and efficiency measures to help the state balance the need for reductions in spending have been applied, but the public has been hit hard during a time when the need for many cut services is actually increasing due to higher unemployment and a growing population in need of public services in general.  



     Overall, significant concerns exist regarding the long-term sustainability of California’s Unemployment fund and the Federal Social Security Administrations Benefit programs according to many economists and government leaders.





Conclusions and Recommendations





     California needs to integrate its immigrant populations more fully into the fabric of life.  If that population was provided legal work visas and paid taxes, then they could help fund greater access to education and health care.  Logically the cost would in the end be lower than they are currently since many people end up in Emergency rooms as a first resort.  Furthermore, the cost savings from improved immigration policies would free up law enforcement and related systems to concentrate on more severe crimes. 



Jobs Expansion


     One way to increase jobs is to alter the full-time work week to 32 hours which is already common in many parts of the world simply because those countries recognize productivity is about the same considering people are better rested.  This solution could further help reduce layoffs.  A reduced work week would also encourage greater community involvement, stronger parenting, and it would create more opportunities to have a greater number of people employed.  In turn there would be greater skill transference, less unemployment, and less crime.  Considering the average growing length of unemployment, it may be worth examining the development of programs that could place people in subsidized jobs as a way of increasing skills, giving active job references, and allowing recipients of unemployment a way to partially earn the continued checks once the checks begin to surpass the required employer contributions.



Further Observations


     Studies indicate crime and poverty go hand in hand.  Thus, more sacrifices and sharing more resources to have a more balanced and fairer way of life overall is key.  In California, political instability is leading to economic uncertainty.  Companies are growing sick of an unreliable infrastructure and widening education deficits in California’s labor force.  Employers and new employees in California are growing wary of the cost of living, and even some resource issues such as power and water costs are encouraging companies to bring their business to other States.  Unless the leadership in California steps up to the plate, offering drastic reforms to reduce real property costs, and lower costs of living to re-establish more reasonable costs for health care, education, and housing options, California will see a growing exodus of talent, or a massive increase in strife caused by the fall-out of a growing impoverished population.  In the end, the bill will be more if we make the wrong choices and act without future generations in mind. 



     Unless tax systems, production models, and lifestyles formulated to be fairer and more sustainable- achieving education reforms and igniting a positive movement for sustainable living is less likely.   If we want to win the war and reduce terror, I suggest we re-examine the strategy and put into place more immediate and realistic measures of progress towards peace to increase mutual trust locally and between states and nations.   







                                                                                                                 Credit: Dierdre Luzwick


Section 1


Getting Prepared and Career Focused





     There are two processes I suggest to job seekers.  Make a list of your dream jobs.  Describe them in detail including duties, location, environment, co-workers, pay scale, benefits and so on.  Then, explore that in the real world and find out if jobs like that exist and what skills and experiences are needed to obtain them.  Evaluate yourself and what would be needed to obtain the dream job and make long-terms plans that can help you obtain something like that at some point in the future.  In the mean time, the jobs you perform can have some relevance in terms of building your credibility and your skills in preparation for the long-term goal.  If your long term dream job does not exist yet, learn how creative individuals have started businesses, model some entrepreneurs and evaluate the function the dream job can serve or compromise somewhere for the next best thing, if necessary.  The other process involves the short-term needs.  What salary do you need to pay your bills or meet minimum requirements?  What work history do you possess that is relevant to current job market needs?  What kind of work do you like to do?  What skills do you have and which industries are they relevant for?  What values and workplace environment requirements do you have?  What do the people who know you best think you could do well?  How soon do you need to get back to work? 



     When people have a general industry or field of interest, I recommend they explore as many different jobs in those areas as possible.  For example, a writer could review a book devoted exclusively to exploring jobs for writers and read over 200 occupations for writers and learn about salary and educational requirements.  The more specific you become and the more creative you are with your investigation, the more you will learn about your interests until eventually you will feel like a match has been made.  However, don’t be surprised if in your second year of college or six months after being on the job you feel like you made the wrong choice.  However, evaluate if your perceptions are accurate. Being successful requires a balance of adapting oneself and influencing changes on the environment we are in.  Allow enough room to change directions and pursue other things when needed.  Motivation is driven by the needs.  Some needs people may be aware of, but often times there are subconscious needs, for example biological needs that exert great influences over the choices and motivations of human behavior (Schultz on Maslow, 1996, pg. 438,439).  For example, a person may make decision on what types of activities to engage in or delay based on available energy.  Certain types of food, or lack thereof, can impact mood.   Therefore, the chemistry of available nutrients, which partially depends on a person’s unique metabolism, is an important example of how the quality of thinking is impacted at a subconscious level.  It is logical to assert a lack of motivation can be attributed to a lack of focus or energy.  Malformed motivations can result from a host of explanations which clarify the different causes of abnormal behavior which range from heredity, traumatic events, malnutrition, or abnormalities which impact the brain during development.  It may appear to be an odd way to probe into someone’s character, but lifestyle preferences like diet, exercise, and social activities or clubs can be strong indicators of a person’s status and give clues about their personality type which can be important when trying to match someone for a relationship of any kind.  For example, people that have histories with large gaps in employment are often, but not always, less stable candidates. 



     A job is a very important part of life, but it is only a part of it.  Individuals often fulfill some of their needs outside of the workplace.  Try to identify what you enjoy doing and try to match your skills, needs, passion, interests, and needs with realistic goals that are congruent with the needs and demands of the work world.  Howard Gardener, Educator, suggests that people posses multiple forms of intelligence and that people can use any of them to fill a niche and make contributions to society.  About developing and nurturing knowledge and livelihood, T.V. personality pseudo historian Joseph Cambell said, “follow your bliss.”  The more focus on a career a job seeker has, the easier it is to identify possible opportunities that match the person’s interests.  Balances between practical employment interests and how those interests can be matched with skills is a consideration we all must undergo.  For example, someone really tall would not make the best horse jockey.  Physical and mental attributes can be indicators of future fields or help at least narrow the realm of possibilities.  Motivation and education are also key players in the types of employment opportunities someone will be able to pursue.  However, motivation and persistence have on many occasions trumped education as many inventors and genius minds have not been very compatible with school environments and have successes nevertheless.  However, generally speaking the more education and positive experiences you have, the more opportunities you will qualify for. 



     Looking for a job involves a number of skills and strategies.  One very important step is to make a short and long-term career plan.  While the ideal job may not be practical right away, knowing what you want, what your comfort zone is, and what your basic needs are, helps focus your job search.  Your short-term plan may be designed to meet your basic needs and will rely on skills you currently possess.  Your long-term plan may involve promotions, further education or other experience qualifications you need to obtain in order to advance on your career goals. 



Recommended further research and Testing for Job Seekers:


     Having a basic idea regarding your personality type is also very helpful in focusing and developing a career path.  Holland’s personality theory is useful for understanding potential competencies and typical work environments where people with particular traits typically do well (Swanson and Fouad on Holland 1999, pg 45.)  The basic idea is that if personality type is known, professions to consider based on the research done of people who possess similar personality traits can help introduce you to environments where people like yourself have done well.  For example, people with social traits do well in helping or service oriented careers.  Whereas, someone with a strong investigative personality trait would likely fit in research, legal, or more analytical oriented occupations.  Other helpful career assessment testing includes the Strong Interest and Skills Inventory or the Myers Briggs.  There are even tests for people with disabilities, to help focus particular fields they may be placed into with greater opportunities for success.  While testing is often expensive, some colleges and State of country affiliated programs may have limited offerings in your State and it is common these days to find some automated spin off tests online which are free, but be careful to try to find credible tests backed by some reputable entities.  It is important to keep in mind the results are merely indicators. 



     Researching prospective careers and employers is very important and it is a process that generally starts off very broad and narrows to a few main selections during the research process.  Considering your skills, the skills you intend to gain, the marketplace demands and other needs associated with your career like financial reward, environment, and l