Solar jobs for the future

October 24, 2011 under Articles
On 140 acres of unused land on Nellis Air Forc...

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For future jobs in energy, look to the sun.

According to the National Solar Jobs Census 2011, job growth in the solar industry has seen a rise of almost 7 percent in the one-year period ending in Aug. 2011. During the next year, that figure is expected to rise by 24 percent, creating 24,000 new jobs.

Solar jobs are on the rise across the country, but no state comes close to the industry leader:California.

In Aug. 2011, it was estimated that more than 25,000 of the 100,000 solar-related jobs in theUSbelonged to residents ofCalifornia. This is more than four times that ofColorado, which was listed at second for solar jobs in theUSat just over 6,000.

As the undisputed leader of solar energy,Californiahas the potential to make it a focal point of their state’s energy policy. On Oct. 13, General Electric announced plans to build a $300 million solar panel factory inAurora,CA, which would be the largest of its kind in theUS.

Californiarepresents the burgeoning industry at its highest level. Jobs in the state and nationwide in solar energy include those in manufacturing, installation, residential, commercial and large-scale power generation. Jobs in installation alone are expected to increase by more than 13,000 by Aug. 2012.

Californiaisn’t alone in its efforts to make solar power a fundamental part of its energy plan. AlthoughTexascurrently only ranks seventh in the nation in solar energy employment at just over 3,000 jobs, theLoneStarStatealso his big plans for the sun.

Due to its massive size, abundant wide-open spaces, hot temperatures with lots of sunshine, and a fast-growing population in need of a reliable energy source,Texashas the potential to surpassCaliforniaand become the leading generator of solar power in the nation. All of this can happen in the next few years.

This week, the Solar Power International Conference was held at theDallasConvention Center, attracting over 1,200 companies from around the world to exhibit and sell solar products and services, including solar panels.

The cost of solar panels has fallen by 30 percent since the start of 2010 due to an increase in both the size of the industry and competition.  In addition, the Fort Worth-based company Entech Solar is developing new products, such as solar-powered skylights and panels that require less silicon.

Industry leaders everywhere are looking atTexasdue to its potential to become a leader in solar energy. A 30-megawatt solar farm located east ofAustinis on track to be completed by the end of this year, which will nearly double the state’s current solar energy output of 37 megawatts.

CPS Energy ofSan Antonioalso has plans for solar inTexas. They’ve proposed the building of a new facility inTexasthat would be capable of generating 400 megawatts of solar energy, which would dwarf the state’s current production levels.

The sun is a valuable resource and one that should be used to its fullest potential. Not only is it permanently abundant in some areas, but creating solar jobs in theUScan help bring out a professional sector of the society that it currently lacks. It theoretically could turn the tide of the economic collapse if other economies looked to theUSfor guidance on solar expansion.


Baker, Joseph. “The Solar Foundation Says Solar Jobs are the Bright Spot in a Dim Economy” EnergyBoom  Accessed 10/18/11

Lifsher, Marc. “Californiahas 1 in 4 energy jobs, study says” Los Angeles Times,0,3230671.story  Accessed 10/18/11

Smith, Jack Z. “Texassun may soon heat up solar power” Star-Telegram  Accessed 10/18/11

Social Networking in the Office

September 22, 2011 under Articles
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In a society becoming intertwined with social media, it seems that Facebook’s influence affects more aspects of everyday life. A recent issue of growing concern in relation to the popular fascination with social networking is the amount of control an employer can have over what their workers say about their jobs on social media profiles.

Recently, numerous cases and more than 100 complaints have been filed with the National Labor Relations Board concerning work-related Facebook or Twitter posts. More and more businesses are implementing social media policies in attempts to curb disparaging or defamatory comments posted online by employees.

The rise in social media cases has prompted the NLRB to try and define exactly which types of comments are acceptable, and where to draw the line with employers’ control over their employees’ social media liberties.

Federal law allows workers to discuss certain issues, such as their jobs or working conditions, no matter if the discourse occurs in person or via social media. The National Labor Relations Act protects employees and permits them to post comments or converse about topics of “protected concerted activity.”

When this crosses over into complaining, badmouthing or discriminatory remarks, it’s not always as easy to define. Some would like to believe that employees cannot criticize a workplace in any way on social media, but this isn’t true, either.

It’s all too easy for a disgruntled employee to take to the Internet in order to express their dissatisfaction with their work situation. The Internet preserves these comments forever, but they were born out of ill-tempered feelings and of resentment toward an employer.

This isn’t like talking with co-workers by the water cooler. There is no solid proof in verbal conversation, and comments are soon forgotten. What some people don’t realize is how easy it is for employers to monitor employees’ Facebook pages and see everything that they have to say.

In a country built on the idea of freedom of speech, it’s a little discouraging when that right is made difficult to stand by because of one person’s unacceptable comments. Then again, a company shouldn’t be blatantly attacked because of one disgruntled ex-employee’s point of view.

As Facebook continues to grow its empire and permeate common culture, employer social networking policies may require a much more defined set of regulations and even punishments for those who break the rules.


Collins, Grant T. “NLRB: Law Protects Employee’s Facebook Comments, Employer’s Social Medial Policy Is Unlawful”

Hahanel, Sam. “Facebook policies tricky for employers, workers” Associated Press

Longnecker, Emily. “Employer Facebook policay changing workplace social networking” Indianapolis

Using LinkedIn to land a job

September 21, 2011 under Reviews

With over 35 million members in more than 140 different industries, LinkedIn is a rapidly-growing professional social network used by company executives and job seekers alike. Executives from all 500 of the Fortune 500 currently have profiles, and the site is used by almost 150,000 job recruiters.

That said, LinkedIn could be a valuable resource in searching for a job if it used to its fullest potential. A common problem that many people come across with LinkedIn is that they set up their profile, connect with a few old colleagues and don’t know really know where to go from there.

  • Completing your profile

Creating a LinkedIn profile is an important step to take, even if looking for a job isn’t a top priority. In such a fragile economic climate, one can never be too careful in preparing themselves for layoffs or cutbacks. Setting up a profile is easy, but a lot of times users leave it at that and never finish.

Companies like to use LinkedIn to locate passive job candidates. Instead of having to sort through stacks of resumes of applicants, employers can seek out potential employees with the necessary skills and qualifications that meet the needs of the position and the company.

  • Network building

After completing the profile, the next step is to build a network. Job seekers should realize the potential of their contacts to help them grow their career and find their next job.

Initially, one should connect with people whom they know and trust – friends, co-workers, former colleagues and other contacts of a business relationship. Once a solid foundation of direct contacts has been established, it’s time to build upon that and broaden the network.

When looking for a job, the more people someone knows the better. Being connected on LinkedIn doesn’t lead to an automatic job – that’s where recommendations come in.

  • Network utilization

When prospective employers view a candidate’s LinkedIn profile, seeing recommendations from past employers and colleagues can work wonders in one’s job search. Job seekers should never be afraid to ask for recommendations, even if they are still employed with the company. They will always come in handy in the future, and sometimes the circumstances of dismissal might prevent a post-employment recommendation.

One thing that many people fail to do once they have established a network is to use it to its fullest potential. This means letting contacts know that they are in fact looking for work. As a network of professionals, people know people in the right positions to hire new employees.

The status update feature can be used to let one’s network that they are in search of a new job, or if one prefers to do this more discreetly, private messages can be sent to contacts of choice. Sometimes, it might not be the best idea to let current employers know that a new job search is underway.

LinkedIn is an excellent alternative to the exhausted resources of traditional job boards, trade publications and sites like Craigslist. It must, however, be used to its fullest potential in order to have a positive effect.

LinkedIn users should remind themselves that they are a part of a professional network, where like-minded people are interested in expanding their networks and linking up with prospective employers.


Doyle, Alisson. “LinkedIn and Your Job Search.” Job Searching

Monty, Kaye. “Ten Waysto Use LinkedIn to Find a Job.” How to Change the World

Nash, Adam. “The Basics of Using LinkedIn to Find a Job.” Linkedinblog

It’s the communication age…sort of

September 16, 2011 under Articles

Everyone knows that when applying for jobs, it’s best to get the hiring manger’s name and address the cover letter directly to him or her. It’s personal, it shows that you’ve done your research, and that the resume isn’t a cookie-cut document. Right?

Well, what if you can’t find the name of the hiring manager?

In today’s Information Age, it’s actually getting harder and harder to find the name of the person you’re addressing your resume to. Why? Well, I’m sure the reasons are many, but the growing paranoia about privacy on the Internet is certainly a leading cause.

Although we supposedly live in the “Social Age,” people are becoming more and more reticent about being accessible via the Internet. It could be a fear of identity theft, or of too many salient details about a person’s private life becoming public knowledge.

Whatever the reason, it’s harder to find the name of the person you want to write at a company via a web search.

The solution is, then, to go old school. Instead of relying on the internet (hard, I know) you may have to pick up the phone. Surprisingly, company receptionists are often armed with information you’re looking for, such as who you should address resumes to in the company.

A little chitchat can even pry other information out of them like the best day to send resumes and how many internal applicants there are versus external.

The key is that although the Internet puts a wealth of knowledge at your fingertips, there are still good reason to try human-to-human contact from time to time. Don’t restrict your communications to the online world – sometimes you have to go rogue and talk to people.

How to Make the Career Fair Work for You

September 12, 2011 under Articles

Some people cringe at the thought of going to a career fair, and they might not be totally to blame for this sentiment. You dress nicely, bring some resumes, and then you are herded like cattle into a large building full of prospective employers to be scrutinized under their magnifying gaze. It can be nerve-wracking, time-consuming, and a lot of the times results in you going home empty-handed, discouraged and confused. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

One should never enter through the doors of a career fair unprepared. You cannot simply expect to show up and be handed a job. Unfortunately that’s just not how it works. One of the most important things you can do to prepare for a career fair is to check out which companies will be there. It always pays to do your research.

Once you have found out which employers will be attending the career fair, you can then look into who is actually hiring, how many positions are open, and exactly which jobs they are looking to fill. Some employers might show up and not even be hiring at that moment. This does not mean that you should pass them up, because they will always take your resume, and you never know when something will open up.

When you do your research, you can check out which positions are open and which ones you think you maybe suited for. This will give you a target instead of just wandering around aimlessly, hoping that somebody picks you up like a divorcee in a singles bar. After you figure out which companies and what jobs you want to go for, you can then prep yourself on what you want to say upon meeting them. Highlight your skills and interests pertaining to the job, and talk about your past experience and education that could be useful to the company. This is a lot better than simply stating, “I’m here and I want a job.”

As always, networking is very important This is true in the career fair world, before and after. By some stroke of luck, if you do your research, you may find out that you actually know someone in one of the companies at the job fair. It always pays to know somebody – a foot in the door. At the same time, when you are at the career fair, you should look at it not just as a chance to find a job but as a chance to meet new people and add to your list of contacts for the future. The more people you know the better. This is not just in terms of employers and recruiters but also for fellow job-seekers and career professionals. Once someone gets hired in, you never know, they may just call you up and inform you of an opening.

Career fairs can be stressful and may even seem like a waste of time, but that’s only if you’re looking at it all wrong. You have to prepare yourself, be confident and seize the opportunity. And even if nothing comes of it, at least you met new people and gained some experience for next time. And don’t forget to wear something nice!

Construction Employment at 15-Month High

September 6, 2011 under Articles
Building construction

Image by Toban Black via Flickr

There’s good news from the job front, if you are in the construction industry. According to a recent study by the Associated General Contractors of America, construction employment hit a 15-month high for July this year. For those workers hit especially hard by the recession, this is music to their ears.

TheUnited Statesadded 8,000 construction jobs last month, and unemployment rates in the industry fell from 17.3% from a year ago to 13.6%. This does not necessarily mean that anyone who knows how to wear a hard hat and wield a hammer is in the clear.

In comparison to other sectors of the workforce, the construction industry is still lagging. According to a recent article in the LA Times, workers in other trades may be faring much better than construction workers. The retail industry added 26,000 jobs last month, and the manufacturing industry added 24,000 jobs. These numbers dwarf the mere 8,000 jobs added by the construction industry last month.

Even in relation to its own industry, construction still has a long way to come. For the month of July, employment in construction was at 5.5 million, which is 28% lower than its peak level in April 2006. Even though overall construction employment is up, some areas of the industry are struggling while others are booming.

Construction workers in nonresidential building and specialty trade are doing especially well, with 10,200 jobs added in July. This is a strong indicator that factories, power projects and hospitals are being built, whereas the fall of the housing market is still impeding new house construction.

Residential building lost 1,600 jobs in July. It’s no surprise to anyone that the housing market is still struggling, and therefore building new houses is not a top priority. More than 25% of the homes sold last year were foreclosures. Why buy a new house when you can get one from the bank for a fraction of the cost? Unless you are a McMillionaire, this idea makes a lot of sense.

According to a recent survey conducted by and RealtyTrac, the housing market may not fully recover until 2014. As of last December, they had predicted that 2012 would be the year for housing to bounce back. After extensive research done this year, the numbers show that the market is a little more downtrodden than originally presumed.

Of course every silver lining has a touch of grey, to quote the Grateful Dead. You have to take the bad with the good. The construction industry may be doing a little better than last year, but there is a long path toward full economic recovery in all industries. Either way, it’s good for everyone to read the news and see something positive in terms of hiring and the job market.

Salary Negotiations

September 2, 2011 under Articles

Negotiating a salary can potentially be the most important thing you do during a job interview. After all, despite everythnig you say, you’re really just in it for the money, right? So you want to get as much as you can.

There’s been a lot written on the subject, but we ran across this article that had a nice spin on it and wanted to share it with you.

Strange Salary Negotiation Strategies


Chrysler Employees Caught Drinking & Getting High on the Job

August 29, 2011 under Articles
ZJ Jeep Grand Cherokee

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In today’s economy you try and hold on to a job, kind of like your suitcase. Even if you may not absolutely love every day of work, it’s okay; most people don’t. But if you make a decent living and can make it through the day without losing your mind, then life is good. There are plenty of people out there who are out of work and would gladly take your job. Shoot, they’re probably even more qualified for it.

With that in perspective, it’s not very smart to jeopardize your employment. With so many people banging at the doors of employers, you like to stay on your boss’s good side. That’s why it’s somewhat baffling that this week, nine union workers employed by the Chrysler Group at the Trenton, Michigan engine plant were suspended for drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana before their shifts and during their lunch breaks. This story first appeared in the Detroit papers last week, and this week USA Today ran a story announcing their suspension by Chrysler Group. But wait, it gets better…

Not only did they get caught boozing and getting high on the job, they were caught on video by the local news station. Tipped off by a couple other workers at the plant who worried that the delinquent behavior was threatening the safety of their workplace, Fox2 News captured the nine UAW workers on tape and showed it to the people in charge at the Trenton plant.

The Trenton engine plant employs 500 United Auto Workers. They manufacture the new Pentastar V6 engines that power a variety of company vehicles. The nine workers in question are awaiting an investigation that will ultimately determine their status of employment.

According to today’s article by USA Today, this is not the first time that Chrysler employees in Michigan have been busted by Fox2 News for getting inebriated on the job. Last fall, two workers were laid off for one month without pay and two others were terminated for the same type of behavior at the Jefferson North Plant in Detroit that manufactures the new Jeep Grand Cherokee.

Sure, everyone has their own vices and no one should judge another person on how they get their jollies. But the workplace is by definition, the place where work is done, and not where one uses recreational drugs for their own personal enjoyment or self-medication. Even if these workers were so far gone that they need to get their fix just to get through the day, there is a certain something called discretion. Didn’t these guys ever go to high school? It’s one thing if the boss smells booze on your breath, and it’s something entirely different when you are caught on video putting ‘em back and toking up.

A job is not something to be taken lightly these days, because you never know when you are going to be put out. There are most definitely nine other UAW workers probably just sitting around at home who will gladly replace these guys and wait until they punch out at the end of the day to catch a buzz.

In College? Visit you Career Center

August 19, 2011 under Articles
NEW YORK - JUNE 24:  A job seeker works the ph...

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Though it’s easy to get distracted from this amongst all the frivolity, the primary goal of college is to prepare students for their careers, i.e. move out of their parents’ house, which is the only reason parents pay for their kids to go to college in the first place (I kid). That’s why it’s surprising, but common, that the career services office is typically an underutilized service on college campuses. They provide basic services — or extensive if you wish — career guidance and placement services for students, services that are only available to current students and will be immensely helpful upon leaving school.

Counselors at your college career center can help you choose a first job and career path that’s right for you. They use self assessment tests to determine your personality, interests, motivations and abilities and help you decide on an major of study designed to meet your career goals. It’s a good idea to see combine and coordinate the advice of both your academic and career counselors, if they’re not the same person.

The college career center will also help you research various occupations for when you get your degree. Counselors will provide resources to find information and organizational contacts. Career services centers have libraries full of career and job-related information. They will also maintain connections with staff and alumni who are willing to discuss their career paths and experiences with students.

They will also help you with the job hunt; advising you on your resume and cover letter, suggest internships during summers that will pay-off later, and even, in some cases, provide job placement services. The dividends are endless.

College career centers are a valuable asset to college students, and they are helpful at every academic stage. Explore your college career center at the first opportunity and take advantage of the powerful resources available you as a college student.

Job Hunting is Expensive

August 12, 2011 under Articles
SAN MATEO, CA - JUNE 07:  A representative wit...

Remember the days when people would get a job right out of high school or college, stay with the same company for 30 or 40 years, then retire with a pension and a gold watch? No? That’s because those days are long gone. Even families that saw generation after generation work at the same auto manufacturing plant have had to change their way of thinking, and possibly even their locations because of our changing economy, and the ensuing upheaval in the auto industry. People are much more mobile now than ever, and for many, picking up and moving to a new city for a job is a viable option.

But even if you’re lucky enough to find a job just a few miles down the road from where you live, you’ll still incur expenses during your job search. From the 50 cents you spend on a newspaper to peruse the classifieds, to the four bucks per gallon you’ll use up in gas driving from job interview to job interview, a job search comes with real costs.

If you’ve ever been on the other side of a job interview, you probably have some stories about people showing up for their interviews in some questionable attire. You would think job interview attire would come down to common sense, but for some reason, not everyone seems to understand that there are just certain things that shouldn’t be worn to a job interview. A good rule of thumb is, if you’d wear it to a club, you shouldn’t wear it to a job interview. But if it’s been a while since you’ve been to a job interview, or you worked in a casual environment at your previous job, your wardrobe could be lacking in good interview options.

Anyone can perform their own job search these days. Between newspapers and the Internet, there are more resources than ever before to help people find jobs. But if you really want to cover all your bases, a job placement agency can be a big help. Some companies work exclusively with placement agencies, not advertising open positions anywhere else. Recruiters also have extensive networks and connections they can use to help their clients find the best jobs. The best thing is, placement services are usually paid by the companies that contract them to find candidates, so you’ll get a great service without having to pay out of pocket.

A serious job search may take you all over town, or even into neighboring cities, and that can add up in gas costs. Try to schedule interviews at companies that are near each other to take place on the same days. This will mean less driving for you, and that you can also schedule more interviews in one day because you’re spending less time getting from one to another.