I have some swamp land in Georgia to sell you for residential housing development

Don’t believe everything anyone tells you. Well, I mean, have SOME trust in people or you’ll end up a miserable, friendless old cynic. What I’m referring to are reviews on the Internet, possibly biased friends, potential future colleagues, company websites ….expounding on jobs, companies, salaries…

Company websites: I may be stating the obvious here (never stopped me before) but companies want to portray themselves in the best light, for future business, public relations, attracting the best staff. Even if it’s on the whole pretty good, and in fact can be excellent when the CEO remembers to take his medication, these are not particularly powerful selling statements. Websites emphasize the positive – the awards they won, the revenue they produce, the awe-inspiring education of the hedge fund management team. They don’t mention the high turnover rate of staff; they can’t even really say anything like, “And our staff turnover is much less than the competition.”
What’s your point, Margaret?
It’s a few pieces of the jigsaw puzzle, but it isn’t enough by itself to tell whether it’s going to become a seascape or skyscape. At the moment, it’s just a few nice blue jigsaw pieces.

Review websites. Shouldn’t really mention any by name, one of the best starts with a letter near the end of the alphabet. These reviews are unfiltered, Doris Lessing-like stream of consciousness and should be taken for what they are. Sometimes true, and accurate, either praising or criticizing the service they were given, sometimes horrendously off kilter. Who knows what the motivation is:
For the 5 stars out of 5 reviews:
a) It really was a 5 out of 5 service and the world just has to be told.
b) They are related to the owner of the establishment.
c) They were somehow paid to write a good review (“Want a free dinner?”).
d) Their standards are low (“It was the best grilled cheese sandwich I’ve ever had. And I didn’t see a single cockroach all evening”).
e) They want to see their name in print.
f) They want to make their names as blog writers.

For the 0-stars-and-big-raspberry out of 5 star reviews. Let’s say X has criticized a staffing service. In fact I’m going to make it X and Y, because I’d have to keep writing he or she to keep it grammatical and I’d go nuts trying to re-word it not to do that.
a) They came in with unrealistic expectations about what sort of jobs they wanted. A million reasons, no point in enumerating them, the poor souls were just unrealistic. The agency couldn’t find anything. Not the agency’s fault. If they can place and earn a fee, they’ll do it. So X and Y take to the Internet about how useless the agency was. Or even “I’ve been to several and none of them gets back to me. What’s their problem?” Now, class, join up the dots here….. what’s the common factor in not being sent out for interview by several agencies? That’s right – X and Y. But they don’t listen to well-meaning advice about their resume, wearing their gang beads under, not over, their T-shirts, or refusing to brush up on their computer skills. Many agencies, Merit of course being one, can give you free tutorials for you to practice MSOffice at home. Take us up on our kind offer, don’t look at us as though we have two heads: we’re trying to help.
b) The economy has been, how shall I phrase this without using profanity, not good for several years now. It’s getting better, but it’s still problematic, and the job landscape in New York has changed, so it’s more of an uphill struggle that it was. If we get the jobs, we’ll ask our clients to consider you, but please don’t be writing on blogs/websites that the staffing services were useless.
c) No-one’s there to say, “That’s rubbish”, explain to you why your review is indeed rubbish and get you to take your comment down. So it stays there forever, giving people the wrong impression.
d) Gosh, sometimes the comments are valid. But how can you separate out the gold from the fool’s gold (who remembers from chemistry class that’s iron pyrite?)
e) and f) above still apply.

So read everything on the Internet with a pinch of salt. Even Wikipedia gets it wrong quite a bit because it’s written by people like you and me, and they don’t employ enough editors to fact check (Note to self: Maybe I should send them that three bucks they keep requesting). Use your judgment, ask people you KNOW who have had direct contact with the agency. I suppose since this is a blog I’m putting up on the Internet, I’m including myself in all this. Oh gawwwwwd. If you do disagree with my blogs, then write and tell ME and I’ll listen. Of course, if you love them, write and tell me and I’ll listen with a smile on my face.

Word Processor Position International Law Firm Midtown NY 75k perm (3rd shift)

3rd shift from 12 AM to 8 AM

•Perform a wide variety of advanced administrative and document production assignments, including extensive typing, revising of legal documents, conversions, formatting, troubleshooting, transcribing audio files, and proofreading while managing own time to meet multiple objectives.
•Handle more complex assignments.
•Maintain accurate records of all work completed through the department’s workflow tool and retention of completed jobs in firm repositories.
•Maintain utilization and productivity standards for position.
•Provide seamless support to all principals submitting jobs to the 24/7 team regardless of job type, submission method, physical location, etc.
•Operate independently as well as a member of the 24/7 team.
•Act as a resource for others in department.
•Coordinate and communicate daily status and special instructions to next shift to ensure a seamless transition in workflow
•Troubleshoot document and/or technical inquiries.
•Solve moderately complex problems and completes work independently.
•Enhance professional growth and development through seminars, literature, meetings, workshops, and in-house training.
•Assist with the orientation and cross-training of new department staff.
•Operate and have a working knowledge of all equipment and software available to the 24/7 team.
•Coordinate, prioritize and schedule assignments to ensure deadlines are met.
•Work with the attorneys and other users to determine reasonable and realistic time frames to complete the jobs.
•Ensure the accurate and efficient completion of all requests submitted to the 24/7 team to the satisfaction of attorneys and other users.
•All jobs should be quality controlled before sending them back to the attorneys.
•Assist in creating, formatting, revising and proofreading jobs submitted to the department.
•Assist attorneys/paralegals from regional offices as necessary.
•Communicate to the Supervisor any and all issues relating to operation, staffing and other problems that may affect the efficient workflow in the department.
•Practice and foster an atmosphere of teamwork and cooperation.
•Perform any and all other duties as necessary and/or as assigned by manager for the efficient functioning of the department.

HR Consultant $25hr Midtown NY Global Investment Company

M-F (full-time hours)
Must sit onsite in New York. No opportunity for remote.

HR Consulting Associate – Job Description:

The HR Consulting Associate is responsible for support within the Global HR Consulting team. The HR Associate team partners with the HR Generalists in supporting 2,100+ employees globally. A successful associate will provide employees a first level of assistance with guidance and support contributing to and facilitating the development and application of the HR function.

Participate in all levels of coordination of the day-to-day HR Consulting team including but not limited to the following:
• Data entry and maintenance within the HR PeopleSoft system
• Internal process creation and improvements coordinated with members of other HR functions (i.e. Recruiting and Talent & Org Development)
• Immigration support for sponsored employees
• Employee relocation processes including liaising with vendors, and employees to ensure a smooth process
• New Hire Orientation program
• Employee officer on-boarding program
• Reporting in conjunction with the HR Analytics team
• Various aspects of voluntary and involuntary termination processes
• Employee relations assistance
• Performance management and compensation processes
• Ad hoc and special projects as needed

• Minimum of 2 years Human Resources experience
• Four year college degree
• Familiarity with Federal and State employment law
• Proficiency in MS Office (Outlook, Excel, Word, and PowerPoint)
• Preferred experience with PeopleSoft
• Flexible to work overtime as required, in-line with business needs

• Displays a high level of integrity
• Thrives while working under pressure in an intense environment
• Ability to multi-task, organize, and prioritize while meeting rigorous deadlines
• Demonstrates discretion in an extremely confidential environment
• Experience navigating in a complex, matrix organization
• Applies sound judgment
• Successful working with partners in global offices
• Demonstrates high accuracy, resourcefulness, and attention to detail
• Exhibits aptitude for learning global employment practices
• Possesses advanced project/time management skills
• Exudes professionalism and maturity
• Displays results oriented thought processes

Questions You Wish They Wouldn’t Ask At Interview. Episode 1.

What salary were you making at your last job/last three jobs?
Thanks to NYC legislation in November 2017, it’s illegal to ask that question. It’s also a no-no in Oregon, New Orleans and Puerto Rico. If a potential employer asks you because they didn’t know the law had changed, or they didn’t care, try to swat them off respectfully. “I’m not comfortable answering that question. It’s against the law now to be asked… then put on cheery, upbeat smile… “ But I can talk about my salary requirements if you prefer.”
If for some reason they repeat the question with a “But it would be very helpful to us to know where you would fit on our salary structure,” then repeat the answer. I mean, they repeated the question. “I’m just not comfortable answering that question. Sorry. But I think my salary expectations are in line with the market rate.”

Simple really. There are going to be NO problems whatsoever implementing the new legislation. Hahahahahah.

Problem # 1
The salary of the job after which you’re lusting. It has a range in their budget of eg $80,000 – $125,000, or $55,000 – $75,000 depending on a whole slew of factors. The company doesn’t have a clue what to offer you. They don’t want to offer too low, “Will $80,000 be exciting? “ and have you storm out their offices insulted. To make sure they don’t lose you, they say, “Will $115,000 be exciting?” You answer graciously, as though having seriously considered it, “Yes, that seems fair, thanks.” And then high-five everyone on the 6 train home because you are currently making $78,000. The company may or may not find out but, MY, will they be ticked off if/when they do. Also if they could have got you happily for $ 85,000, that’s $30,000/annum they have frankly wasted. Overpaying several employees is not the way to keep your overheads low. Firms have budgets and are also not in the business of being Fairy Godmother social workers.

Problem #2
Why is the range $80,000 – $125,000? Good question. Because the company will pay someone with, say, five years of experience $80,000 but they have to accept that people with 20 years of relevant experience have earned the right, and clawed their way to earn it, to make $125,000. Their experience is PROVEN. Potential is good, proven can often be better…
The numbers $80,000 – $125,000 and $55,000 – $75,000 were chosen arbitrarily to make my point. Such a wide range though is not unusual, whether it’s for e.g. EA/PA to a hedge fund Managing Director, CFO to a $billion outfit, or Junior Account Manager in an advertising agency.

Problem #3
a)I’m underpaid, have been for years. How do I catch up, and get the market rate?
b)I’m actually paid more than the top end of the range. I know I can’t get that again but how much of a pay cut do I have to swallow without shooting myself in the foot, or getting caught up in mixed metaphors?
c)How do I get reliable intel on salary ranges for my job? Can staffing agencies help? How do THEY get their information?
You’ll just have to do your research e.g. Glassdoor/SHRM surveys. Recruitment agencies have access to all this stuff through the job assignments they get, and having a good relationship with their clients. Sometimes advertised jobs on sites like LinkedIn, CareerBuilder, The Ladders, when they’re not annoyingly writing “Salary doe”, will give specific numbers. It helps enormously to have a recruiting service act as an intermediary bwtween the client and potential employee. If you have to negotiate on your own behalf with no outside help… we feel your pain.

What salary are you looking for?
If asked by the recruitment agency, that’s easy… just say what you want and let the chat begin. A good recruiter will talk you through whether you are realistic, sometimes even tell you, “You’re worth more”, and what to say at their client/your future employer interview. With luck, your answer can be along the lines of, “My recruiter deals with all that.”
If you found the company without a safety net aka staffing service…we feel your pain. Do your research, don’t be greedy, don’t be a door mat, and show you are flexible, not rigid, in your thinking.

Mutual Fund Administrator Midtown NY 85k-90k

Mutual Fund Administration
•Review financial statements of various closed end, open end and alternative investment funds
•Monitor and analyze revenue and expense of the funds (dividend projection and expense analyses)
•Communicate with outside vendors, internal departments (Marketing, Compliance, Product, Performance, Legal) and management.

Role & Responsibilities
•Review and prepare various regulatory filings – annual, semi-annual reports, Forms N-CSR, NCEN and NPORT, Proxy, Prospectus, SAI and 24F-2
•Quarterly reporting to mutual fund Board of Trustees.
•Preparation of Section 19 notices, earnings press releases, stale pricing reports, leverage calculations and dividend projections.
•Interact with all levels of management, independent Auditors, Portfolio management team, Legal, Product, and Compliance and with the various support groups within the department to accomplish organizational goals.
•Establish, build and sustain relationships with service providers such as custodian & accounting agents and transfer agents.
•Collaborate work with other members of the department to provide backup and support for the Fund Administration group

Experience / Qualifications & Skills
•5 + year experience in mutual fund accounting and/or fund administration
•Good organizational skills with ability to balance multiple projects simultaneously
•Strong communication skills
•Ability to resolve issues and conflicts independently
•Excellent computer skills

Senior Administrative Assistant Midtown NY $35/hr (70-80k)

This position is responsible for providing administrative support for several investment teams. Duties include general administrative and project based work. The ideal candidate for this position must be able to assist and act in a confidential capacity, communicate well with tact and courtesy, and project a professional image through in-person and phone interaction. Reporting to CIO
•Answer and screen telephone calls; when appropriate, refer or direct calls to appropriate parties
•Prepare, type, and edit documents using Microsoft Office
•Schedule and coordinate meetings and appointments, arrange conference calls and video conferences, book meeting rooms, coordinate catering requirements with hospitality department
•Greet and assist visitors
•Coordinate domestic and international travel arrangements, prepare travel itineraries
•Coordinate local travel arrangements and accommodations for visiting executive guests
•Prepare travel reimbursement reports and check requests and work with Finance to ensure timely payments; review expense reports
•Maintain hard copy and electronic filing systems
•Proactively seeks out ways to develop systems and continually services the needs of the team to ensure time is focused on accomplishing priority objectives
•Facilitate and track communications internally and externally
•Assist with key priorities, maintain task list
•Follow-up on meetings and assist with deliverables
•Maintain contacts directory, personnel files and records
•Perform general office duties to include, but not limited to: printing, photocopying, faxing, mailing, preparing courier packages, filing
•Maintain confidentiality of client and employee information

This position will support multiple departments, including US Fixed Income, Global Fixed Income, and other associated individuals as needed.
•Minimum 2 years administrative experience; Bachelor’s degree highly preferred
•Strong Microsoft Office Skills (Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint)
•High degree of integrity, confidentiality, initiative, accountability, and strong work ethic
•Excellent communication skills in person, on phone, and by email and voicemail
•Strong proofreading and grammatical skills
•Ability to prioritize and manage multiple on-going tasks and projects
•Attention to detail and quality of work product

Receptionist Midtown NY 35k-45k


•Welcomes clients and visitors in person or on the telephone in a professional manner.
•Operates Cisco telephone system in accordance with Firm procedures.
•Answers all incoming calls, making sure clients reach correct destinations.
•Takes accurate messages and delivers messages promptly via e-mail as directed by lawyer or secretary.
•Coordinates conference room schedules (including video conference room) and visiting attorney offices.
•Communicates catering needs to catering or appropriate department timely.
•Assists with car and travel reservations.
•Schedules meetings, including conference rooms and informs catering, IT and others as needed.
•Registers visitors utilizing building security system.
•Corresponds with Facilities regarding temperature control in conference rooms.
•Assists with loaner access cards and ensuring timely return.
•Covers message center and evening hours.
•Provides back up support to Receptionist team.
•Performs other office-related tasks as assigned by supervisor.

•Strong interpersonal skills, pleasant telephone manner, professional demeanor and appearance.
•Strong customer service skills.
•Good communication skills.
•Punctuality and dedication to job a must.

How to find/how to apply for jobs

This article could be 10,000 words long. Consultants charge fees, actual MONEY you might not want to part with if you are unemployed, to give you training sessions.
This article, on the other hand, will be shorter. And free. None of it will be brain surgery.

How to find jobs.
Use the Internet; it’s your friend. For the most part. There’s LinkedIn, and potential employers put their jobs up on it. So, if you want a job in a Manhattan hotel, google “Manhattan hotel”; 764 come up. Google “Manhattan hotel jobs” and frighten yourself with the number that come up. Pick a few specific hotel names and check them out on LinkedIn – as I said, many put their jobs on LinkedIn. Sending resumes to resume@, jobs@, careers@, info@, HR@ often equates to BlackHole@ but don’t get disheartened. It works sometimes, otherwise the companies wouldn’t do it.
There’s Monster.com and CareerBuilder.com and a slew of websites that cull from a variety of sources. I think of them as Dog’sBreakfast.com (British slang for “a complete mess”) because they’re such a hotchpotch but, again, sometimes they work.

Staffing Services. Wasn’t I virtuous not putting this first, even though I work with one? We have lots of jobs, some of them already on external websites but, often, only available through us. Clients (clients to us, potential employers to you) don’t have the time/expertise to do their own recruiting, so they come to us. We know the clients, their needs, their salary thoughts, the specific minefields and so we can basically often be your best bet to finesse your way through the process.

Prepare a 30-second positioning statement /elevator pitch about yourself of where you were, are and want to be, and try to get contact interviews with executives who can help you with leads and useful intel. “I’d really appreciate 20 minutes of your time to help me with my job search” will more likely than not work. It is NOT a meeting to ask for a job. It’s networking and eventually may lead indirectly to a job. Networking to find a new job could be an article by itself. If anyone is interested in my expanding my thoughts, let me know.
Keep in touch with former colleagues, both senior and junior, send them reminders every so often – once a month is more than enough – to let them know you’re available for work if they know of anything through their contacts. Hallmark has made billions selling cards so that people can stay in touch; thanks to the Internet, you can do it for free.

How to apply for jobs
•To keep this less-than-book-length, I shall not treat you, my regular readers (regular readers? Hahaha) as though you have never applied for a job before. I shall merely highlight a few of the pitfalls.
•Read the job spec. Apply only to those jobs which approximate to your own particular experience and qualifications. If they’ve written “must have a PhD in Neuro-Linguistic Programming” they probably mean it. If you truly, truly think your experience equates to the job’s “must have” requirements, then explain why you’re right and they’re too rigid, in a cover letter. You have one bullet point and three or four lines to make your case. Make it compelling.
•Talking of compelling, it is worth spending time on your cover letter to highlight the particular experience or achievements that will be specific for that job. Changing resumes for each job is time-consuming, won’t necessarily have the same impact as a very specific cover letter and may well leave you confused if you’re applying for a ton of jobs.
•“Please Don’t Eat the Daisies” (Jean Kerr, 1957) — a humorous book written by a harassed mother of six. On a rare evening out, she left instructions (“Don’t kill the babysitter”) that she thought were all-inclusive. It hadn’t dawned on her to tell the children not to eat the daisies from the flower arrangement on the dining room table. Some stuff shouldn’t have to be stated but alas….
•For example, check that the details in the cover letter match those for the job. Can’t believe I had to write that sentence. “Dear Mr Smith… the Acme Roofing Company… administrative assistant” when it should be “Dear Ms Jones… Tony’s Auto Repair Shop… office manager”. I have changed the names but I didn’t make it up.
•A general cover letter that clearly is being sent to everyone for every job is nearly as bad. Personalize them.
•One page is sufficient. Make it concise and easy to read i.e. use bullet points – four or five are optimal. At the end, thank the recipient for the chance to apply and politely suggest you will be following up with a telephone call (unless you’ve been told no telephone calls). “I await your response” is more likely to lead to tears at bedtime. When do you decide that no response for a few days/couple of weeks means they will never respond.

Executive Assistant Global Investment Company Midtown NY 80k-85k DOE

Coordinate and attend departmental meetings; handle agenda, minutes and follow-up tasks;
• Assist with coordinating calendars for internal and external scheduling of meetings;
• Assist with event planning;
• Perform administrative tasks such as expenses, phone coverage, conference room booking, ordering supplies, travel coordination, check requests, etc.;
• Assume additional tasks and responsibilities as required; willingness to help across teams within the institutional group is required
Highly organized, resourceful, detail-oriented person who is comfortable working both independently within a team environment
• Experienced in Outlook calendar functions
• Excellent in Microsoft software products including: Word and PowerPoint
• Able to handle multiple assignments; knows how to prioritize; understands and adheres to standards of confidentiality
• Excellent technical skills; must be able to learn various software systems
• Self-motivated, personable and able to communicate effectively with senior professionals
• 7 years+ experience working in the financial services industry and/or Institutional investment advisory experience preferred.
• Excellent (written and verbal) communication skills
• Bachelor’s degree preferred

Staffing agencies + LinkedIn can help you find a job…

At the risk of taking oomph away from the help that staffing agencies can give to job seekers, there’s a nice synergy sometimes between us and LinkedIn.

Basically I’m saying, don’t put all your eggs in one basket (oh dear, and avoid clichés like the plague). If you have decent LinkedIn details, agencies are much more likely to try to get in touch with you for suitable job assignments they have. Of course, annoyingly, so can the hiring companies who can get to you direct, and cut out us, the middle man with our middle-man fees – sigh. But one of the cornerstones of civilized society is competition, so it’s up to agencies to prove the world needs us. There ya go.

A photograph or not? Sadly (I have low self-image so have as few photographs of myself over the years as poss) your chances of being contacted are GREATLY increased with a photograph. LinkedIn, it seems to me, is somewhere between Facebook (social) and Monster (100% I-want-a-new-job). Lately though, more and more people are using it to let the world know their background should an exciting job opportunity present itself. Still useful for other stuff, let’s not forget, like contacting old school friends, joining like-minded groups, reading Richard Branson’s latest thoughts…but awfully handy for helping you job search.

Put a reasonably corporate photograph of yourself up there. I had one candidate whose photograph was taken by the side of a pool. He was wearing a very tight, very brief swimming costume and nothing else; please tell me I don’t have to explain why that was not a good idea. Don’t have it obviously cut out from a bigger photograph, with unidentified half faces, arms and legs as a surround. And remember the background – I can tell if you were in a rowdy bar or a Social Security office when it was taken.

Your Profile is crucial. Let the world know succinctly what you are (EXCEPT FOR UNEMPLOYED – more of that in a minute). Mine says “Recruitment Consultant (& NY-Scottish volunteer activities)”. Sums me up in a nutshell. I don’t actually have a more enlightening paragraph under that, and maybe I should. A good pal has expanded on her short profile thus, “Career Guidance and Counseling. Assistance with resume revision, social media job search techniques, interview preparation and follow-up. Strong relationship with clients. Training and development for Career Services Counselors. Over thirty years in Staffing/Career Services; keen ability to listen effectively, act quickly and compassionately. Member of the following Committees: Student Success, Community Service, Retention, Social Media. Mentor for Leadership Berkeley Program. Customer Service Champion, Graduation Coach. Specialties: Job search coaching and guidance; interviewing techniques, preparation and follow-up. Workshop presentation.” Blimey, we know what SHE does for a living…makes me think I should do something for myself and follow her lead.

If you’re unemployed, think of a better, less dramatic way to show you’re on the market. Companies tend to read “unemployed” as “unemployed loser” so don’t encourage them. Let them know subtly…e.g. you won’t have a current job in the profile. If you’re a consultant, that’s fine, though – it’s just when “consultant” can be interpreted as “temping while desperate” that the alarms sound. By the way, if you have your current permanent job in the profile, no-one will ask to connect with you for a temp or temp-to-perm job…just sayin’. If you ARE employed and looking for a job, don’t be specifically writing that down t-o-o obviously; again, try to be subtle about it. Human Resources or your manager might see it and realise you’re looking.

If you are using LinkedIn as a mechanism for letting the world know you’re available for employment, then the Profile is crucial. The rest will read like a standard resume, and you’ll also have the opportunity to write a bit more than you would in a standard resume about outside activities such as volunteer work or creative outlets. And if it’s a half-way decent attempt, then staffing agencies, including moi-même, and companies will be asking to connect. Which is one of the main points of LinkedIn. Remember, I’m writing this article as much for myself, a recruiter, as for you.