Blog Posts by Marci Alboher, Working the New Economy

  • Can unemployment become "funemployment"?

    With the national unemployment rate at a whopping 9.5%, it has now reached the point where even if you're working, you know plenty of folks who are out of work. And while it's safe to say that the majority of the unemployed need and want to be working, a new attitude has arisen around a subset of the unemployed. It's called "funemployment" and it's taken hold among those who are working to squeeze some enjoyment out of their time off. The term is showing up on blogs and Facebook groups and has been chronicled in a few buzz-generating newspaper articles, like this one.

    I've been talking to lots of folks about funemployment and yesterday I appeared on NBC's Weekend Today show to talk about the phenomenon with Jenna Wolfe (you can watch the video here.) Here's some of what I learned.

    Funemployment isn't new
    There have always been people who have been able to enjoy a period of unemployment either because they have the financial means to feel secure or an ability to remain positive during

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  • 5 online job search tricks

    Getty ImagesGetty ImagesNow that so much of the job search process happens online, the most common complaint I hear about is the "black hole" -- that mysterious place to which resumes seem to travel from the moment an applicant hits the "send" key. If you're involved in a job search where you feel like you repeatedly send out resumes in response to ads and rarely hear back, then it might be time for some new online search techniques. Try these 5 tricks to shake things up:

    Answer questions on Linkedin

    Your strongest chance of being hired is to find ways to show off your expertise and build relationships in your field. One easy way to do this is to troll the "Answers" section on LinkedIn and start responding to questions where you think you can be helpful. People whose answers get high ratings show up on a list of experts. Nabbing one of those spots is a terrific way to ensure that people using the site to fill a position will find your profile.

    Play around on Twitter, which offers a slew of ways to search

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  • How to break into freelancing

    Getty ImagesGetty ImagesI can't go a day without talking to someone about how to get started as a freelancer, consultant or entrepreneur. Some folks are going solo by necessity; others are betting on themselves over employers in a market where jobs are no more stable than gigs. I spent the weekend with my cousin and her fiance who had both been laid off from jobs in adventure travel. We brainstormed about how they could build careers as entrepreneurs or consultants.

    A few days later I had lunch with a colleague who is in the midst of a negotiation with her boss about moving from employee to consultant because she thinks she'd have more opportunities if she diversified her client base rather than remain at one company.

    Those conversations came in handy this morning when I was interviewed by Tory Johnson on how to break into freelancing for a video series promoting her new book, Fired to Hired, which will be published in early August.

    Here's a summary of our chat:

    Dip into freelancing while keeping your job.

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  • How to improve your email etiquette

    Getty ImagesGetty ImagesRecently, I started using an old family friend as a travel agent. Before then, we'd never had occasion to email one another. From the start, I was shocked to find that she regularly wrote her emails exclusively in all uppercase letters. I politely mentioned that using all caps in an email is the equivalent of screaming in voice conversations and she said she appreciated the tip. Still, I couldn't help wondering how a professional could get by today without mastering one of the most basic tenets of email manners.

    And that's not the only email etiquette breach that makes me scratch my head. Every time I have to scroll through 50 email addresses before reading a message from a colleague who used the cc rather than bcc function, I find myself wishing that some kind of licensing or training were required before people were allowed to get on email.

    Since that's never going to happen, here are a few ways to ensure that your email style makes you look as smart as possible and doesn't annoy

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  • Life: One big interview

    Getty ImagesGetty ImagesWe all know that most jobs come through unofficial channels -- introductions from friends or colleagues, poaching from other employers, old boys' and new girls' networks. I'm proof that many interviews take place when you don't even know you're being interviewed.

    I got my first job as a lawyer when a classmate asked me if I would meet his father, a solo practitioner who was looking to hire someone. It was 1991, a terrible job market, and I had graduated with no offer in hand. My friend, with whom I'd worked on law review, had hand-picked me to fill his father's position and the job proved to be a perfect launching pad. My next legal job came through a woman I met at a boring conference who convinced me to skip the afternoon sessions to go shoe shopping with her. We had a great day gabbing and window-shopping, and I thought she might become my mentor as she was a bit ahead of me in the same field. About a month later, she called me in for an interview in her legal department. I had no

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  • How to help someone who's been laid off

    Getty ImagesGetty ImagesLast week, I had yet another coffee date with an acquaintance who was recently laid off. Before we met, I thought a lot about how I could be helpful to him without offering tired cliches like "It will all work out for the best." Less than a year ago, I lost what I had thought was a dream gig -- writing a regular column and blog for The New York Times. As I prepped for my meeting, I tried to remember how I was feeling during that time and which people made me feel good and which made me want to clock them. Here's what I came up with.

    When you reach out to someone who's recently been laid off, keep in mind that layoffs hit people differently. The good news is that there's little shame in being out of work today. Still, for almost anyone who has been laid off, it is a sensitive time; emotions can be unpredictable. So try to be gentle. Especially if you're a member of the family. What might be considered a polite observation by a friend could easily be interpreted as offensive meddling by

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  • Are dads the new working moms?

    Getty ImagesGetty ImagesThe voices of working mothers have long dominated much of the conversation on work/life issues. But lately, and with a new generation of men coming down the pike, it seems like men are chiming in more often, giving voice to what it feels like to be a stay-at-home or involved dad or how it feels to blend their working and parenting lives.

    On Daddy Dialectic, a popular blog about 21st century parenthood (which has spawned a new book, The Daddy Shift by Jeremy Adam Smith), Smith and other fathers record their daily experiences and philosophical musings on fatherhood and philosophical musings, much in the style of so many mommy blogs. Typical posts describe his son's favorite imaginary characters, give advice on how people can support the parents in their communities, and offer thoughtful discussions of gender roles.

    Deborah Siegel
    , who is working on a book about how men's changing roles are affecting women says it is not as simple as saying that dads are the new moms. "Dads are the new

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  • Would you let a web site make decisions for you?

    Getty ImagesGetty ImagesI spend a lot of time thinking about improving the way I make decisions, so I was intrigued to learn that two new Web sites, Let Simon Decide and Hunch, offer free services to help on that front. At first, I thought the whole idea of going online to work on making decisions sounded hokey, but I have a weakness for tests that promise to help with self-awareness and these sites have a little of the same feeling.

    If you like to make lists of pros and cons, you'll probably like Let Simon Decide, which feels like the more serious of the two. Simon (as the site likes to be called) is promoting itself as a tool to make career decisions, among other things, so I spent some time checking it out. To start, the site takes you through a series of questions to identify your decision-making style (e.g. When you buy a car, do you research different models, specs and costs, or buy it based on how it looks, or a little of both?). You also get a chance to identify your goals, your current life

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  • Career advice from my readers

    Getty ImagesGetty ImagesUsually I'm on the advice-giving side of things. But some readers have recently given such good advice in the comments that it's about time to shine the spotlight on those wise souls who are teaching me something about careers, putting me in my place when I've failed to see the whole picture on something, or simply disagreeing with me.

    Here's a few of my favorite nuggets from the comments section:

    In response to "Who's finding jobs now?" came this practical bit of advice from "Jennifer S" on preparing for an interview:

    After three months of searching and a few interviews that I felt didn't go well, I decided to really prepare for the next interview I had. I copied and pasted the job description into a blank document, left space under each one, and wrote the strengths and experience I had for each qualification listed. That way I could talk about how my experience directly related to the job I was interviewing for. Then I looked up frequently used interview questions and prepared

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  • 5 common interview questions and how to answer them

    Getty ImagesGetty ImagesWhen I posted about how to ace a telephone interview, several people wrote to me saying that whether the interview is on the phone or in person, there were several questions that they anticipate with dread. I've been collecting those questions and talking to some pros about how best to answer them. Here are the top five, with suggested answers. Of course, there are no right or wrong answers, only ways of thinking about answers that will get you to the next stage of the process. Have a look at these and when you're done, chime in if you have better ideas about how to approach any of these questions:

    What's your greatest weakness?

    It's an interview cliche, but it still gets asked. The key is to come up with something that is truthful, yet doesn't impact your ability to do the job, according to career coach and blogger, Miriam Salpeter. More important than what you identify as a weakness is the part about how you've overcome it. Salpeter offers this example: A computer programmer might

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