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http://www.jtanddale.com Fri, 02 Dec 2011 22:43:03 +0000 http://wordpress.org/?v=2.7.1 en hourly 1 Reality: The Majority of First-time Business Owners Fail http://www.jtanddale.com/?p=1348 http://www.jtanddale.com/?p=1348#comments Fri, 02 Dec 2011 22:43:03 +0000 jtanddale http://www.jtanddale.com/?p=1348 Word Fail in RedDear J.T. & Dale: I just graduated from college and can’t find a job. I want to start my own business, but everyone says I shouldn’t do it. I have some money saved and an idea for a company. I have no experience in running a business and didn’t take any classes about it at school, but how hard can it be? Do you think I’m crazy, too? - Keith

J.T.: No, you’re not crazy, but you need to understand the majority of first-time business owners fail.

DALE: Which answers your question, Keith, the one about how hard can it be. Every successful business is a long shot. But then again, so are many of the best things in life, like finding a terrific job or a wonderful spouse. Just because they’re long shots doesn’t mean it’s crazy to try; rather, it means that when it’s a long shot, you have to put yourself in a position to get better shots, or more of them.

J.T.: You increase your odds by taking advantage of all the free resources available, including literally thousands of websites about starting a business. As a small-business owner myself, let me summarize my own personal experience: It will take four times the money you think it will to start your business, and twice as long. So you need to start with the lowest-cost business model and with a part-time job to supplement your income. That will give you more time and money to get your business going.

DALE: My best advice on how to increase your odds of success is you need to realize while it might be YOUR business, it’s not about YOU. Critical principle: You don’t go into business when you set up a website or get business cards printed, or even when you open the doors to a new retail shop; you go into business when you have your first customer. Start there. You sent us your business idea, and it sounds workable to me. Now see if it sounds workable to potential customers. Going through friends and friends of friends, you can find business owners who might need your service. Ask for advice. Let them tell you what you would need to do to get an assignment from them. Do it right, and you’ll have customers and be in business before you start the business, if you follow me.


Jeanine “J.T.” Tanner O’Donnell is a professional development specialist and the founder of the consulting firm, JTODonnell.com, and of the career management blog, CAREEREALISM.com. Dale Dauten resolves employment and other business disputes as a mediator with AgreementHouse.com.

Please visit them at JTandDale.com, where you can send questions via e-mail, or write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10019.

© 2011 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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Can You Have Too Much Experience? http://www.jtanddale.com/?p=1347 http://www.jtanddale.com/?p=1347#comments Fri, 02 Dec 2011 22:35:43 +0000 jtanddale http://www.jtanddale.com/?p=1347 Word ExperienceDear J.T. & Dale: When a company says “five to 10 years of experience” in the job description, does that mean you should have only that much experience? I have far more years of experience than people are asking for. I recently applied for a job and heard nothing. I called and found out that the job had been filled, and I got the name of the person. I looked him up, and he had half my years of experience. What gives? - Frank

DALE: Experience isn’t what it used to be. In a time when jobs were relatively constant, young employees would master the required job skills, then gain insight and wisdom through the years, ultimately getting to where they could say, “I’ve seen it all.” In a time of constant economic disruption, however, there is not one long learning curve, but many shorter, faster ones - no one ever again can say they have “seen it all.” So employers worry about hiring someone who learned the old ways and got stuck there.

J.T.: Even if you keep up on the latest techniques, there’s also the assumption that you will expect more money than someone with less experience; or you’ll agree to less now but be looking to leave for more money. Given all of that, it’s tempting to try to hide your experience. Don’t do it. Instead, leverage your experience. All your time in the field should have given you an extensive network that you can use to get in front of hiring managers and show them how their assumptions about experience are not true. A resume won’t be enough - you need a chance to let managers get comfortable with you firsthand, and see that your experience isn’t a worry, but a bonus.


Jeanine “J.T.” Tanner O’Donnell is a professional development specialist and the founder of the consulting firm, JTODonnell.com, and of the career management blog, CAREEREALISM.com. Dale Dauten resolves employment and other business disputes as a mediator with AgreementHouse.com.

Please visit them at JTandDale.com, where you can send questions via e-mail, or write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10019.

© 2011 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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The Worse the Job, the Harder it is to Leave http://www.jtanddale.com/?p=1342 http://www.jtanddale.com/?p=1342#comments Fri, 25 Nov 2011 16:09:14 +0000 jtanddale http://www.jtanddale.com/?p=1342 Ask the Right QuestionsDear J.T. & Dale: My son recently began working at a refrigeration company and did not ask appropriate questions because he assumed all offices paid for a 40-hour workweek and a minimum of two weeks vacation. The employer was not forthcoming with this information either. Once he started and was given the employee manual, he discovered the company pays for only one week of vacation after completing one full year of work! Further, his hours are now 6:45 a.m. to 5 p.m., with only one hour for lunch, and he receives no differential pay. Is there anything he can do? - Jocelyn

DALE: First, the problem isn’t your son’s failure to ask the right questions. If he had known the work conditions, what would he have done differently? Did he have other job possibilities lined up? Probably not, or he would have backed out of the offer the day he received the manual. So, the problem wasn’t him; it’s this: Many people reading your question were thinking, “At least he has a job.” And that is the essence of this New Economy, with its age-old exploitations.

J.T.: To answer your question, Jocelyn, if your son is an hourly employee, then you could look into eligibility for overtime pay. However, my gut tells me if the company put these policies in writing, he’s a salaried, “at-will” employee, which means the business can set its own hours and benefits. If so, all he can do is find other, better employment.

DALE: But here’s the lousy thing about that: The worse the job, the harder it is to leave. That’s true because your son has no time off to make calls or go on interviews; plus, the job is, no doubt, physically and psychologically draining. His way out is to become skilled at networking on the job. When, say, he’s out working on an installation, he’ll meet people who might know of jobs. And he may have to carry a personal cellphone to make inquiries and do screening interviews at lunch or between customer visits. The way he’ll find energy for job-searching is to remember that there are still great employers, ones who believe taking care of employees is the best way to take care of customers.


Jeanine “J.T.” Tanner O’Donnell is a professional development specialist and the founder of the consulting firm, JTODonnell.com, and of the career management blog, CAREEREALISM.com. Dale Dauten resolves employment and other business disputes as a mediator with AgreementHouse.com.

Please visit them at JTandDale.com, where you can send questions via e-mail, or write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10019.

© 2011 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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New Management? Treat Your Job as if it’s New http://www.jtanddale.com/?p=1336 http://www.jtanddale.com/?p=1336#comments Fri, 25 Nov 2011 15:57:21 +0000 jtanddale http://www.jtanddale.com/?p=1336 Tired NurseDear J.T. & Dale: I am a nurse practitioner in a community health center. We have new management, and I question some of the new business practices. For instance, in the past, when leaving alone after-hours, I would walk out with a medical assistant. Now, however, there is no overtime, period. So if I am running late with a patient, tough luck. I also inquired why the MDs no longer have to share working nights and Saturdays. I was reprimanded for being negative. Did I cross the line? - Aubrey

J.T.: Anytime you have new management, you should treat it as if it’s a new job. That means you need to learn the new culture. New leaders sometimes invite employees’ opinions and suggestions; however, candidly, that’s rare. New management comes in having assessed the business, and has clear ideas of changes they want to make. Often these are cost-cutting measures and are not open for negotiation.

DALE: Being called “negative” is serious. That means you are seen as an enemy of the new leadership. So if you want to stay, you’re going to need to reposition yourself as a “team player.” All you have to do is say to your managers, “I really want to contribute to the new team - how can I help?” However they respond, you implement their suggestions, and after a couple of weeks, go back to them and ask how you’re doing. They will start to think of you as someone who cooperates and who cares about their opinions - in other words, a team player.

J.T.: Meanwhile, you must figure out ways, on your own, to put safety first. Make sure you don’t have to leave late, or create a “buddy system” with another employee to wait for each other. If you solve your problems yourself, and help management solve some of their problems, you’ll be a star on the new team.


Jeanine “J.T.” Tanner O’Donnell is a professional development specialist and the founder of the consulting firm, JTODonnell.com, and of the career management blog, CAREEREALISM.com. Dale Dauten resolves employment and other business disputes as a mediator with AgreementHouse.com.

Please visit them at JTandDale.com, where you can send questions via e-mail, or write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10019.

© 2011 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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Manager Told Me I Don’t Dress Professionally http://www.jtanddale.com/?p=1326 http://www.jtanddale.com/?p=1326#comments Fri, 18 Nov 2011 17:23:11 +0000 jtanddale http://www.jtanddale.com/?p=1326 Young Business WomanDear J.T. & Dale: I graduated last year and landed a job as an administrative assistant. This is not what I want to do, but I’d hoped to move up to a marketing role. I just had my first annual review and assumed it would be a good one. Instead, I was given a list of things to improve. The worst was they told me I don’t dress professionally and to advance, I need to reconsider what I wear. How could they let me go a whole year without that feedback? I can’t look at anyone at work, and am looking for new jobs online every night. — Lara

J.T.: Well, Lara, you aren’t going to like me very much, but I hope you’ll consider what I’m about to say: You need to stop the “all-about-me” show if you want to have professional success.

DALE: Ouch! Isn’t a job review all about her?

J.T.: No, it’s about her work. And she got an average review, not a bad one. Unlike in school, it’s common for companies to reserve high ratings for only the top 10 percent of their staff. So, Lara, you’ve got room for improvement, and your manager did you the favor of explaining how to advance. I think you’d be nuts to leave this job! You clearly are valued there, and they care enough to want to guide you to success. Trust me when I say this is something you don’t want to throw away.

DALE: J.T. is right, Lara; nevertheless, you’re right to think you should not go a year without feedback. A good boss doesn’t wait for the annual review, but gives quick doses of advice and encouragement all year. That was the genius of the book, The One Minute Manager by Kenneth Blanchard, Ph.D., and Spencer Johnson, M.D., which came out nearly 30 years ago. Even so, there still are plenty of bosses who fail at this. And when that happens to you, you have to go to them and get feedback. At least once a month, go to your bosses and ask how you’re doing and how you could be more effective. Plead for candid advice, not just empty praise. Not only will you become a star employee, you’ll develop a much closer relationship with your managers, who will see you as someone destined for promotion.


Jeanine “J.T.” Tanner O’Donnell is a professional development specialist and the founder of the consulting firm, JTODonnell.com, and of the career management blog, CAREEREALISM.com. Dale Dauten resolves employment and other business disputes as a mediator with AgreementHouse.com.

Please visit them at JTandDale.com, where you can send questions via e-mail, or write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10019.

© 2011 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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People Who Work Sitting Down Make More Money http://www.jtanddale.com/?p=1322 http://www.jtanddale.com/?p=1322#comments Fri, 18 Nov 2011 17:09:53 +0000 jtanddale http://www.jtanddale.com/?p=1322 Seasoned Businessman on LaptopDear J.T. & Dale: I am trying to help my brother. He quit his job about three years ago because of back pain. He was close to being fired, and instead he just quit. He was told he could not file for unemployment insurance because he’d quit. He’s been trying to get disability ever since, and is still waiting for another appeal. He will be homeless within three months, age 50, and he doesn’t know where to go for help. What can he do? — Sophia

J.T.: I’m so sorry to hear about your brother’s situation. The sad reality is had he waited to get fired or laid off, he could’ve gotten unemployment. Also, had he stayed and applied for disability before quitting, he might have had a better outcome. I am so very sorry I don’t have any good news for you.

DALE: This is one of those cases where bad news is better than no news. Rather than continuing to wait for yet another appeal, I hope you’ll urge him to just decide help is NOT coming. He has to figure out what work he can do and get moving forward.

J.T.: Without knowing your brother’s skill sets, it’s hard to get specific about jobs he could pursue, but if he has good clerical or computer skills, he could apply via job sites such as Elance.com and Guru.com, where some companies hire contractors who work at home.

DALE: If your brother isn’t qualified to do computer work, maybe he could do sales. He might have to start in telemarketing or collections, but the important thing is he quits waiting and STARTS. He may discover a prosperous new career. You might pass along a line from Ogden Nash: “People who work sitting down get paid more than people who work standing up.”


Jeanine “J.T.” Tanner O’Donnell is a professional development specialist and the founder of the consulting firm, JTODonnell.com, and of the career management blog, CAREEREALISM.com. Dale Dauten resolves employment and other business disputes as a mediator with AgreementHouse.com.

Please visit them at JTandDale.com, where you can send questions via e-mail, or write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10019.

© 2011 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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Ethical to Search Other Jobs for a Competing Offer? http://www.jtanddale.com/?p=1318 http://www.jtanddale.com/?p=1318#comments Fri, 15 Jul 2011 17:07:07 +0000 jtanddale http://www.jtanddale.com/?p=1318 Handing Person MoneyDear J.T. & Dale: I am a tenured faculty member at a small college. I have very good teaching evaluations and serve on numerous committees. The college’s salaries have fallen substantially behind those of other similar institutions. I requested a raise but was told the college needed a competing offer to entertain a raise. I do not want to move, and I am torn about whether it is ethical to search out other positions for the purpose of obtaining a competing offer. Any suggestions on my next move? — Art

Dale: You easily could rationalize your seeking out competing offers just by looking at college football and basketball coaches, those masters of ratcheting up their salaries by making visits to other campuses. But ethics isn’t the lowest common denominator. Instead, let’s answer two questions: Will getting offers that you know you aren’t going to take require you to manipulate people, using them as a means to your end? Will you need to deceive them? Yes, and yes. Two yeses equal one big NO — you can’t justify it, not in Dale’s Little Book of Honorable Behavior.

J.T.: OK, but…What if, Art, you could see yourself actually taking one of those offers? That changes everything. You have every right to demonstrate your value and let your college compete to keep you. Just make sure you mean it; otherwise, there’s the chance you’ll have your bluff called. If you go to your administration with your higher offer, they could say, “Take it,” and gladly find themselves someone they could pay even less.

Dale: As for a next move, here’s another option: Find out who among the faculty has gotten raises and why. I’m guessing they didn’t all have higher offers. Rather, I’d bet many are getting grant money or corporate donations, or media attention, or something else beyond teaching and committee-ing. Your administrators are forced to spend their day on economic realities like revenues and expenses; if you talk in that language, they’ll be more likely to hear you.


Jeanine “J.T.” Tanner O’Donnell is a professional development specialist and the founder of the consulting firm, JTODonnell.com, and of the career management blog, CAREEREALISM.com. Dale Dauten resolves employment and other business disputes as a mediator with AgreementHouse.com.

Please visit them at JTandDale.com, where you can send questions via e-mail, or write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10019.

© 2011 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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Are People Abusing Unemployment Collection? http://www.jtanddale.com/?p=1315 http://www.jtanddale.com/?p=1315#comments Fri, 15 Jul 2011 17:01:12 +0000 jtanddale http://www.jtanddale.com/?p=1315 Shoving Money in PocketDear J.T. & Dale: I recently met a woman who’d managed a coffee shop for several years, then moved to a job with a bank. After only four months at the bank, she was let go. That was five months ago, and she says she isn’t in any rush to find a new job, since she can collect unemployment. She said this in a joking tone, but it’s not funny to me. I’m a hardworking person, and I wonder how many other folks are using unemployment to excuse themselves from finding a job. — Ella

J.T.: I’m sure there is a group of people out there who are abusing the system. What percentage of the 14 million people who are between jobs fall into that category? We can’t be sure. But I can be sure of this: In the past year, I’ve worked with hundreds of professionals who’ve been out of work for a long time, and all of them felt strongly they were doing everything they could to get a job. However, as we started to dissect their job searches, we discovered they weren’t using the right techniques. The rules for job searches have changed, but the people seeking jobs haven’t been schooled in those new rules. Eventually, such job-seekers lose momentum and give up. Perhaps the woman you met falls into that category.

Dale: So, Ella, that woman may be making light of her situation rather than admitting to failure and hopelessness. On the other hand, she might be a layabout who’s misusing the system. The cost of trying to figure out which she is, multiplied by 14 million, would end up costing far more than the amount currently wasted, so we as a society put up with the slack in the system. Moreover, let us not forget that we Americans are a generous people and that unemployment benefits have saved millions of marriages, families and lives, all while helping to hold off a repeat of the Great Depression. So, instead of directing your anger toward the unemployed, I invite you to join me in directing it where it belongs: the greedy merchants who were running the financial companies that dragged us into the economic mire.


Jeanine “J.T.” Tanner O’Donnell is a professional development specialist and the founder of the consulting firm, JTODonnell.com, and of the career management blog, CAREEREALISM.com. Dale Dauten resolves employment and other business disputes as a mediator with AgreementHouse.com.

Please visit them at JTandDale.com, where you can send questions via e-mail, or write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10019.

© 2011 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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Giving Credit, Getting Credit http://www.jtanddale.com/?p=1311 http://www.jtanddale.com/?p=1311#comments Fri, 08 Jul 2011 18:47:50 +0000 jtanddale http://www.jtanddale.com/?p=1311 Giving Credit on Paper Reading "Good Job"Dear J.T. & Dale: I love my work, and in the beginning I loved working for my boss. However, during the past year I have realized that she has been taking credit for my work behind my back. In the past six months she has gone so far as to actually tell me that she is taking credit for some of my most successful implementations. I’ve also learned another department head has been instructed to keep an eye on me and make sure outside departments don’t ask me to join them. I want to look for a new job, but who do I ask for references, and how do I leave this job when my boss has such power over me? — Carrie

Dale: Well, Carrie, you’re not going to like this, but here’s the truth: Just as the general gets credit for winning the war without ever firing a shot, so your boss gets to take credit for everything in the group. Sure, the ideal boss would make sure to pass around credit like dinner mints, but get this: If your boss would try to give away credit, she’d get double credit; others would think, “Not only did she get a great idea out of her group (N.B.: HER group), but she was so gracious about spreading around the credit!”

J.T.: Nevertheless, Carrie, you need to establish your own reputation, separate from your boss. So here’s what you do: Next time she compliments you on one of your successful initiatives, just say: “I’d be really grateful if you would share that about me on LinkedIn. Can I send you a recommendation request?” The same with your colleagues. You’ll build a public recommendation base that you can use when looking for a new job.

Dale: I doubt the boss will be lured into that plan, but it’s worth a shot. Remember, however, the easiest way to get promoted is to get your boss promoted. Consider treating her as an ally instead of an enemy, and you two might accomplish marvelous things together.

J.T.: Part of any such arrangement needs to be that you get the visibility you deserve. Set up a meeting with your boss and ask what her biggest professional goals are for this year and how you can help her achieve them. Then, tell her your goal is to grow in the company by getting more visibility. Tell her you’ve been advised by your mentor (if you don’t have one, then that’s ME!) to get to know other company executives and learn the various ways people rise in the organization.

Dale: That’s high-risk, but I like it. You go in with a plan to be allies and rise together. Of course, your boss will take credit for the idea, but if it works, who cares?


Jeanine “J.T.” Tanner O’Donnell is a professional development specialist and the founder of the consulting firm, JTODonnell.com, and of the career management blog, CAREEREALISM.com. Dale Dauten resolves employment and other business disputes as a mediator with AgreementHouse.com.

Please visit them at JTandDale.com, where you can send questions via e-mail, or write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10019.

© 2011 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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Non-referenced Employers Can Still Hurt You http://www.jtanddale.com/?p=1308 http://www.jtanddale.com/?p=1308#comments Fri, 08 Jul 2011 18:41:43 +0000 jtanddale http://www.jtanddale.com/?p=1308 "Beware" Sign on PlatformDear J.T. & Dale: A former employer (that I quit) manages to keep giving information to companies when I apply for jobs. I’ve had other jobs since this employer, and I don’t even list the old company as a reference. How is it possible for them to know where I’m applying? — Joey

J.T.: Most likely, the new companies are doing background checks. Just because you don’t list an employer on applications doesn’t mean it doesn’t show up in a background check. That’s why companies do them! When they do, they are likely to contact the old employer, and that’s when they get the information.

Dale: So, there’s no point in leaving the old employer off your applications. Doing so will make a prospective employer either dismiss you immediately, or put special emphasis on checking you out with that company. Instead of ignoring that part of your past, you need to “inoculate” against whatever it is the new company might hear. Explain in the interview you quit and the old employer resents you. Then, make sure you have several great references in order to make the net effect positive. That way, when they call your old nemesis and they hear bad things, they think, “That’s just what Joey said I’d hear,” and there you are, Mr. Honest. Not bad.


Jeanine “J.T.” Tanner O’Donnell is a professional development specialist and the founder of the consulting firm, JTODonnell.com, and of the career management blog, CAREEREALISM.com. Dale Dauten resolves employment and other business disputes as a mediator with AgreementHouse.com.

Please visit them at JTandDale.com, where you can send questions via e-mail, or write to them in care of King Features Syndicate, 300 W. 57th St, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10019.

© 2011 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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