You Got a WARN Notice. Now What?

In the current economy, it’s not unheard of companies shutting down. According to a report from USA Today, the companies that closed the most stores in 2013 include major retail stores such as Best Buy, Sears, J.C. Penney, Radio Shack, Barnes & Noble, Gamestop and Office Max.

When large organizations are involved in massive layoffs, they must give their employees a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) notice. This gives employees that are laid off the opportunity to look for work and receive severance packages.

What is a WARN notice?

A WARN notice protects your rights as a worker in the event your employer has a massive layoff. Under the WARN Act, an employer must give written notice 60 days before the date of a mass layoff or plant closing to all eligible employees.

If your employer does not give you the required notice, you may be able to seek damages for back pay and benefits for up to 60 days. Additionally, your employer may agree to additional severance pay and continued health benefits in the event of a mass layoff.

Why did I get a WARN notice?

As an eligible employee, you received a WARN notice because your employer file for bankruptcy, needs to reduce the workforce or is selling the business.

Who is covered under a WARN notice?

Typically, an employee is covered under WARN if their employ has over 100 full-time employees and are planning a plant closure or massive layoff. It will include the following information:

  • An explanation of whether the layoff or closing is permanent or temporary of 6 months or less.
  • The date of layoff or closing and the date of your separation (Your employer has some leeway in predicting the dates on which workers will be separated.

When does a WARN notice become effective?

The clock starts ticking the moment you are handed the WARN notice. But keep in mind that a verbal announcement at an all-employees’ meeting does not meet the WARN Act requirements. Also, preprinted notices regularly included in each employee’s paycheck or press releases to the media do not meet the requirements.

Can I waive my right to a WARN notice?

You cannot be required to waive your right to advance notice under WARN. Usually what happens when an employer closes a facility or has a layoff, is that it will ask its employees to sign a document waiving their right to file a lawsuit against the employer.

Waiving the right to make claims against your employer means that you agree to not to sue the employer for additional financial compensation or any other benefit because of your job loss.

In most cases employees sign away their rights to sue because they are offered additional severance pay or extended health benefits. By signing the waiver voluntarily and knowingly, you may have waived any claims you have under WARN or other employment-related laws.

Where do I go for information about my WARN notice?

When WARN notices are handed out, the Human Resources department will usually handle all severance packages and questions by employees. If you are not satisfied with the answers, you can also contact an attorney specializing in labor and employment law.

The US Department of Labor can also be a resource where displaced workers can get information on job training and get more information on how the WARN Act works. More information on the WARN Act can be found at http://www.dol.gov

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What You Need to Know Before You Accept a Job

Sometimes you will be forced for financial reasons to take any job you can get. But as most workers know, there is a reason that those types of jobs don’t last very long. The most obvious reason is that a job taken out of desperation is not usually your dream job. In order to get your dream job, you will need to become outwardly and inwardly observant to land the job that brings you professional and personal satisfaction.

You will need to ask questions of your prospective employer and of yourself. Some of the questions you should be asking include:

Who will you report to?

It’s never a good idea to accept a job where you will be reporting to someone who seems difficult to work with or has a reputation of being unreasonable. Be sure it is clear whom you will be reporting to and whom you will receive direct orders from.

Does the job excite you?

Considering that you will spend at least 40 hours at the office, not to mention, the hours spent commuting, the job should excite you. Most people are excited by work due to good pay and a chance to use their talent on a daily basis. But what excites different people is, well as different as each of us. Make sure the job excites you, not what excites your family or friends.

What is your vibe of the organization and of its culture?

Turn the tables on your employer in a subtle way. Use your interview as the opportunity to interview the employer. Try to find out what the company is doing to ensure it will be a viable and profitable organization 5, 10 or even 15 years from now.

An equally important question is to ask how the job and department fit into the organization as a whole. You want to make sure the department you are being recruited for is planned to stay in the organization for the long run and not just a temporary division that will disappear when a project is completed.

Be sure to ask about working relationships with other departments in the company. Ask about what projects different departments have worked on together. This will help you get a sense of the atmosphere of the organization. Is it friendly and are employees helpful towards each other?

Some employers will ask what a supervisor or co-worker from a previous job may say about you. This is an excellent opportunity to ask the interviewer how current employees feel about their jobs and the company. For example, has the organization won any awards for best place to work?

This information can also be researched online and on social networks. Some ex-employees are willing to talk freely about their experience at any organization. Listen carefully, especially for several comments that have the same issue or issues come up. That can be a red flag about an employer.

Are you going to be compensated fairly?

Some say that it is not appropriate to ask what the salary is during an interview. But this is the best time to ask what type of salary structure and the benefits plan are available. Each person knows how much they need to support their lifestyle and should know what their worth is. If you are unsure how much you are worth, you should do a quick Internet search for salary calculators. You should have a good idea of your worth before you start negotiating your salary and benefits.

Is there opportunity for growth?

When a candidate asks this question, the typical response is that the organization likes to hire from within. But a savvy job seeker will dig for a more specific answer. You want to know how the company is committed to the career development and training of its employees. An employer that is truly committed will have a training plan set up and will be able to discuss in detail how and when an employee qualifies for additional training to move up the company ladder. For example, they should be able to tell you the percentage of top managers that were promoted from inside the organization.

What is being expected of you?

A job description can usually give you a good idea of what is expected of you. But it’s also a good idea to ask about other duties that may not be listed on the job posting you applied to. While most employers cannot every single thing that you will need to do, you should know of any major duties not listed that may be needed in the position.

Before accepting a job offer you need to understand your day-to-day tasks and who you will be working with. You should also be clear on the expected work hours, start date, work locations, travel required, dress code and relocation opportunities.

Do you think you will “fit in”, feel comfortable and succeed in this organization?

After getting some or most of your questions answered think about your gut feeling. Do you feel that the energy is right for you? The best jobs are usually the one you had a feeling things would work out and that you are happy with the compensation, work hours, etc.

You need to ask yourself if the position a good match for my skills, interests, aptitudes, values and long-term goals. If you are not 100% “feeling it”, then you should dig further into the company and within yourself. If you still feel something holding you back, evaluate whether it’s just cold feet or something that you cannot accept or live with.

As you can see, finding the perfect job takes time, some homework and being inquisitive. Believe it or not, employers appreciate candidates who are interested in asking questions of them. It demonstrates a sincere interest in the organization and someone who is looking for more than a paycheck.

5 Simple Steps to an Awesome Resume’

Even the best writers need a little help now and then writing about themselves. The hardest part of writing a resume’ is knowing where to start. A resume’ is a tell-tale of what you have accomplished. You will need to show enthusiasm yet maintain professionalism. As an experienced Human Resources professional I have reviewed thousands of resumes’. Everything from the good to the bad and even the ugly. The following steps should help get you started on the right track to getting that job!

  1. Write or type out a rough draft of your past jobs, education and special skills. Remember to include volunteer work as well. Your rough draft should list all the tasks and duties performed at every job held. Each job should contain a 2-line summary describing your title and main duties. It should be followed with 3-4 single line descriptions in a bulleted format. Follow the old writer’s rule-no more than 10 words per sentence. A professional resume’ is clear and easy to follow.
  1. Tailor your resume’ to job description, if possible. Highlight matching skills and keywords but be honest! Most employers conduct background searches. In the last 3 years, I have noticed an increase in the use of background search firms by companies. Do not jeopardize your status now or in the future by creating a fictional resume’.
  1. Make sure your resume’ is grammatically correct–without typos! If you are not a strong writer hire a resume’ writer. They usually do not charge much to review your resume’. Use the same size font throughout the text in your resume’. The only exception is your name which should be a few fonts larger. You want the hiring staff to remember your name, right? Use only one physical address, phone number and email address. And be sure to use correct contact information to make sure you get a response.
  1. Use plain white or beige stationary to create a professional resume’. Keep resume’ to two pages maximum. Do not use personal or flowery stationary. Same rule applies to the use of silly fonts, pictures or graphics on your resume’. You want your qualifications to stand out not the pink butterfly stationary. And yes, I have seen a resume’ on such stationary. And no, it probably will not get you the job. Keep it simple!
  1. On a final note do not add references to your resume’, age yourself by adding dates to educational information or include memberships or hobbies that are irrelevant to position. References should be supplied on a separate reference sheet.

Finally, remember to add a cover letter to highlight skills that could not fit in your 1-2 page resume’. Please keep in mind that your resume’ is the first impression you are making to the recruiter or hiring manager. You want to make sure that you impress them with your skills in a professional resume’. Most recruiters spend about 1 or 2 minutes reading each resume’. You have one shot at impressing them. Make sure you give it your best!

How to Spot the Top 7 Resume′ Lies

When the job market is tight and jobs are tough to come by, applicants desperate for work will resort to lying about:

  • Job Title (Rank)
  • Dates of Employment
  • Inflated Salary
  • Criminal Records
  • Education (e.g. Bogus Degrees-Diploma Mills)
  • Professional License (e.g. MD, RN, CPA, etc.)
  • “Ghost” Company (self-owned business)

 

The best way to identify the top 7 resume′ lies is to do a thorough background pre-screening of all prospective employees. Ideally, an employment pre-screening should be left to a professional employee screening company that has the experience and skills to perform a thorough employment background screening, including a criminal records search.

Job Title (Rank)

 The main reason candidates embellish a job title is to promote themselves into a senior position. Rather than work their way up the ranks they give themselves a promotion, which is usually attached to an inflated raise. A thorough reference check will usually reveal these self-promoters.

Dates of employment

Some errors involving dates of employment are understandable, others questionable.

When an employee is caught adding years to his tenure at a company this raises issues, such as the reasons for shorter tenure and the possibility he is covering “employment gaps.” In this situation a thorough reference check will reveal any inconsistencies.

Inflated Salary

One of the reasons employees inflate their salaries is because it is difficult to get a salary verification from past employers due to confidentiality issues. Sneaky employees are aware of this and use it to their advantage. A match against the verification of past job  titles through a reference check will help catch this type of job applicant.

Criminal Records

One of the main reasons job applicants will sometimes lie about their criminal history is fear of a rejected job application. They will lie regardless of how petty or serious the crime was.

A more serious reason is the actual covering of criminal activity with the intent to repeat the criminal behavior in a new position. Examples may be a daycare applicant who has been charged or convicted of molestation or the accountant who stole from a previous employer. It is important that all employees go through a criminal background screening.

Education (e.g. Bogus Degrees-Diploma Mills)

Graduating yourself seems to be a popular lie on resumes′. Other times the applicant has basically stolen another person’s identity by “borrowing” information on a resume′. It is important to verify an educational background so that identity thieves are avoided.

Professional License (e.g. MD, RN, CPA, etc.)

Just as some applicants are “graduating” themselves, they are adding unearned titles to their names. This will usually go hand in hand with the “bogus” diploma or fake education on the resume′. It is doubly important for an employer to verify education as avoiding this step can land an employer in court and in huge financial trouble due to negligent hiring lawsuits. This is especially important in the medical field.

“Ghost” Company (self-owned business)

A “ghost company” is a made up company or employer by a job applicant. It is added to a resume′ or job application to appear more experienced or to cover gaps in an employment history. Some applicants will use “ghost companies” to cover up gaps of employment due to incarceration. A criminal background screening is needed to uncover this possibility.

Identifying the top 7 resume′ lies

According to a CareerBuilder.com survey, only 5% of workers actually admit to fibbing on their resumes, but 57% of hiring managers say they have caught a lie on a candidate’s application. Hiring a pre-employment background-screening agency is one of the best ways an employer can help avoid unethical employees, employees with a criminal background and financial loss!

8 Tips to Stand Out in a Job Interview

Getting ready for a job interview can be a nerve wracking experience for even those with nerves of steel. But rest assured that if you have been called for a job interview you are qualified for the position. The recruiter or hiring manager now wants to learn more about your skills and who you are. By following these tips you are sure to stand out in a job interview:

  1. Dress for success. There is no need to buy an expensive outfit. It is more important to look well put together. Make sure your clothes are clean and well fitting. Dress conservatively. Dress like you are going to church or court.
  2. Groom yourself. Men with long hair should tie it back. Women should avoid overdoing hair, nails or jewelry. May sound old fashioned but these tips are time tested.
  3. Become familiar with the job description. Highlight your skills that match the details of the job. You want to match the job description as much as possible.
  4. Be on time. Prepare for unexpected traffic delays or direction problems. Murphy’s Law there will be an accident or other problem on the road. Go to http://www.mapquest.com and print out the directions to the job interview site.
  5. Research the company you are applying for. Find something that interests you about the company. This will help you answer that famous “Why do you want to work here?” question.
  6. Be friendly and extra polite to everyone you meet at the interview site. A smile and a firm handshake are important. You want to come across as a personable and professional person.
  7. Bring extra copies of your resume. Take down notes and ask questions during the interview. You will impress the interviewer as someone who is professional and genuinely interested in the company and position. Employers are more impressed with candidates who are looking for a career and not just a job.
  8. After the interview is over thank all the participants. Shake hands with the interviewers and ask when you can follow up regarding the status of the recruitment for the position. Ask for a business card so you can send a thank you note.

These tips are easy enough to follow. After a few interviews, but hopefully not too many, you should have these tips down to memory. In the meantime, feel free to print out and keep handy for your next job interview. Get a good night’s rest and good luck!