Friday, April 3, 2009

Job hunting? Watch what you post online

With the rising unemployment rate, I've seen quite an increase in the requests that my company gets for resume service.

I recently did one (pro bono) for a friend who had one heck of a pedigree, degrees out the yin-yang, and job experience that would make any recruiter sit up and take notice. That notwithstanding, she was still laid off from the financial corporate giant that she had been diligently working for in excess of five years. They downsized, and she was just one of their victims of late.

Everyone assumed she'd land another spot somewhere quickly. One glance at her resume, and even I was convinced. But the positions, even if they're out there, are few and the market is highly competitive. The jobless rate has soared up to 8.5 percent nationally, and the U.S. Dept. of Labor has estimated that at least 660,000 jobs in American have been slashed.

We overhauled her resume, sent out some feelers, she pounded the pavement and waited. After a smattering of interviews that went nowhere, she got a solid lead at a good company, for a position similar to the one she left, and for a higher than entry level salary. She went back for the second, and then third, interview. A lot of hand-shaking and winking, she confided. Things looked promising.

She didn't get the job.

But not because she wasn't impeccably qualified. Not because her references didn't sing her praises. Someone in the human resources department scoured the social networking sites, and found some questionable photos of her on her My Space page. She was in a thong bikini in some, and in a couple of others she was guzzling drinks at a local bar with friends.

So? I said. But apparently, they informed her, that was not the kind of image they wanted their employees to project. And they used it to weed her out, and hire number two on the list instead. That's their prerogative.

Here's the thing: Her profile was set to private. Probably not a big deal to navigate around for some savvy IT guy, but the fact that they want to that trouble is a little creepy.

So I did some digging. And found out that this is the newest trend with companies and their prospective hires. The Internet is a marvelous place to scrounge up info on people. What that commercial says is true: Once you put it out there, you can't take it back. Anybody can see it.

Point taken. And a painful lesson learned for my ashamed friend.

With each resume I do, I include a set of white papers on successful job hunting and interviewing tips. Now, I've rewritten them to include advice about social networking pages. If you My Space, Bebo, Facebook, or anything else, yank off anything that may seem even a bit inappropriate. Even comments. Even music.

Hey, I know this seems a bit extreme, but so is unemployment. Not only do you need to cover every base when job hunting, but apparently you need to cover your fanny as well.

In the case of my friend, quite literally.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Low-cost health care center opens in North Pinellas

More than 45 million members of our American family do not have health insurance. The elderly. Families. Children.

About 3.8 million of those people live in Florida, and struggle daily between feeding their family and getting the proper affordable health care that could save their lives. Choices are few, and the heartbreaks are many.

Some people make too much money for government assistance, but not enough to go to the doctor, or to get health care for their kids. For some, the emergency room becomes their primary health provider, a practice that helps no one but adds to a vicious cycle.

In our area, though, a not-for-profit group has been providing low-cost quality health care for the past 20 years. Community Health Centers of Pinellas offers primary care for adults and children, quietly spread out in four Pinellas County neighborhoods.

Last week, they opened a brand-new center in Tarpon Springs, to serve the people in the northern part of the county.

Community Health Centers at Tarpon Springs held their grand opening Friday the 27th. The location at 301 Disston Avenue will give people a low-cost choice for primary health care, pediatric services and dental care as well. The center also offers obstetrical/gynecological care, Well Woman exams and pharmacy services.

The need for this kind of care is astronomical – and is growing exponentially with the plummeting economy. People want a place to turn to not just when they are sick, but when they need routine check-ups and immunizations.

The CHC at Tarpon Springs, like its other four centers, will also give patient education and nutritional counseling through registered dieticians, components vital to staying healthy.
Unfortunately, it is a sign of the times, but it’s nice to see another resource pop up for the demand.

Here are the five Pinellas locations:

Community Health Centers at Clearwater
1020 Lakeview Road
Clearwater, FL 33756
(727) 461-1439

Community Health Centers at Largo
12420 130th Avenue North
Largo, FL 33774
(727) 587-7729

Community Health Centers at Pinellas Park
6237 66th Street North
Pinellas Park, FL 33781
(727) 544-2284

Community Health Centers at Tarpon Springs
301 Disston Avenue
Tarpon Springs, FL 34689
(727) 944-3828

Johnnie Ruth Clarke Health Center
1344 22nd Street South
St. Petersburg, FL 33712
(727) 821-6701

For more information on hours and services, you can also log on to