DEAR JOYCE: I took a job too quickly because I was desperate. I jumped into the job with no training to teach me the ropes. My company is in an industry that's changing fast and so are my hours -- every couple of months. The stress is killing me. I guess I should have asked more questions and done my homework on the company before signing on. What now? -- No initials please.
Without commenting on your current mental and physical stress, I can only state the obvious: research a better map before heading into a new job. There are a great many social networking resources available to find out what a company's jobs and culture are like, but it's not always so easy to get a clear picture of privately owned businesses and industries.
Plunkett Research in Houston publishes many of the best industry guides available. Each of Plunkett's regularly updated industry-specific guides reports on trends, technologies, market research, finances, glossaries, profiles of leading companies and contacts.
Among industries featured in 2013 guides: "Manufacturing & Robotics," "Games, Apps & Social Media" and "Green Technology." See the entire list on the website plunkettresearch.com.
Because these are comprehensive business and library publications, and are priced accordingly, seek them out in public and university libraries.
TIPS: Plunkett also advises you to ferret out the real state of affairs in small businesses using these resources:
"Check The Business Journals (bizjournals.com) for companies of all types and VentureBeat (venturebeat.com) for venture-funded firms. Consider buying a credit report from Experian.com -- it might be the smartest investment you ever make."
If you're worried about spending 25 hours a day trusting-but-verifying the viability of startups and other small firms, Plunkett offers practical advice:
"To do a job search, there's no sense in trying to become a financial analyst on your own. Short-cut your task by choosing reliable references."
DEAR JOYCE: My 43-year-old daughter has been out of work for 14 months. She believes she doesn't have a chance to regain employment because of discrimination against the jobless. Isn't that illegal? -- M.F.
I wish. A couple of years ago, a ridiculous requirement that "only currently employed job seekers should apply" began popping up in job listings. This dramatically unfair requirement injured the employment chances for countless "long-term unemployed" job seekers, who usually are defined as individuals who've been without employment for more than six months.
But discrimination against the unemployed is not illegal in most places, says prominent "Philadelphia Area Employment Lawyer," John A. Gallagher, who represents employees in employment law cases.
Writing in his excellent blog (employmentlaw101.blogspot.com), Gallagher explains:
"Discrimination against the unemployed may be rampant, but it is not illegal. In fact, referring to this obviously distasteful hiring practice as 'discrimination' is misleading. Simply stated, and like it or not, one's status as 'chronically unemployed' is not protected under federal discrimination laws, and therefore does not constitute illegal discrimination."
So, why isn't joblessness included in federal discrimination laws? President Barack Obama proposed banning discrimination against the jobless in 2011; his effort fell on deaf ears.
According to my online search, New Jersey, Oregon and the District of Columbia have passed laws prohibiting discrimination against the unemployed, and New York City has a similar new law that starts next month.
GRADUATION GIFT IDEA. Give a book, "The New Digital Age: Reshaping the Future of People, Nations and Business" by Google executives Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen (Knopf). In the next decade, the number of Internet users is forecast to grow from 2 billion to 7 billion, which is likely to bring astonishing change for new graduates.
(Email career questions for possible use in this column to Joyce Lain Kennedy at email@example.com; use "Reader Question" for subject line. Or mail her at Box 368, Cardiff, CA 92007.)Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun