OUT-OF-WORK AND OVER-40

PRACTICAL ADVICE FOR SURVIVING UNEMPLOYMENT AND FINDING A JOB

A business psychologist who advises companies on hiring decisions offers valuable insights into how older workers can find a job.

The anemic job market seems to be a boon for self-help books targeting the job seeker. Losing a job is not just damaging to the ego, says Laser: “With so much of our identity tied to our jobs—for better or worse—being unemployed is a devastating event and one that should not be minimized even by those who seek to define their lives with a broader sense of purpose.” Laser directly addresses “the obvious ageism” that he says is hidden in large layoffs. Securing a position, he says, is difficult for those over 40 and “almost impossible” for those over 50. He begins with a reality check on a job seeker’s “Three A’s”: age, appearance and attitude. He offers insightful advice about all three, concluding that attitude is perhaps most important because of today’s “new reality” in the job market. The author acknowledges that older workers will be quietly discriminated against, and that persistence and positive thinking will be necessary to prevail. Finding a job, says Laser, is full-time work, although he suggests that the job seeker make his or her time productive by also considering part-time employment or volunteer work since they could lead to other opportunities “to showcase your skills in front of prospective employers and key contact people.” Laser’s profession is helping employers evaluate candidates, so readers are likely to find his perspective on “what employers are really looking for” to be worth the price of the book. He makes the somewhat stunning admission that “if you look good and talk a good game, you have a better chance of being hired than someone who is not so attractive or gifted with his or her words.” At least job seekers will understand what they are up against. Laser includes the expected information about resumes, references and interviewing found in other books in this category, but the real value of this book is Laser’s unvarnished viewpoint on what older job seekers can do to make themselves appealing to employers.

 

Pub Date: July 30, 2011

ISBN: 978-1462880959

Page Count: 167

Publisher: Xlibris

Review Posted Online: Oct. 31, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2011

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Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...

THINKING, FAST AND SLOW

A psychologist and Nobel Prize winner summarizes and synthesizes the recent decades of research on intuition and systematic thinking.

The author of several scholarly texts, Kahneman (Emeritus Psychology and Public Affairs/Princeton Univ.) now offers general readers not just the findings of psychological research but also a better understanding of how research questions arise and how scholars systematically frame and answer them. He begins with the distinction between System 1 and System 2 mental operations, the former referring to quick, automatic thought, the latter to more effortful, overt thinking. We rely heavily, writes, on System 1, resorting to the higher-energy System 2 only when we need or want to. Kahneman continually refers to System 2 as “lazy”: We don’t want to think rigorously about something. The author then explores the nuances of our two-system minds, showing how they perform in various situations. Psychological experiments have repeatedly revealed that our intuitions are generally wrong, that our assessments are based on biases and that our System 1 hates doubt and despises ambiguity. Kahneman largely avoids jargon; when he does use some (“heuristics,” for example), he argues that such terms really ought to join our everyday vocabulary. He reviews many fundamental concepts in psychology and statistics (regression to the mean, the narrative fallacy, the optimistic bias), showing how they relate to his overall concerns about how we think and why we make the decisions that we do. Some of the later chapters (dealing with risk-taking and statistics and probabilities) are denser than others (some readers may resent such demands on System 2!), but the passages that deal with the economic and political implications of the research are gripping.

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our minds.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-27563-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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Essential reading for citizens of the here and now. Other economists should marvel at how that plain language can be put to...

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CAPITAL IN THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY

A French academic serves up a long, rigorous critique, dense with historical data, of American-style predatory capitalism—and offers remedies that Karl Marx might applaud.

Economist Piketty considers capital, in the monetary sense, from the vantage of what he considers the capital of the world, namely Paris; at times, his discussions of how capital works, and especially public capital, befit Locke-ian France and not Hobbesian America, a source of some controversy in the wide discussion surrounding his book. At heart, though, his argument turns on well-founded economic principles, notably r > g, meaning that the “rate of return on capital significantly exceeds the growth rate of the economy,” in Piketty’s gloss. It logically follows that when such conditions prevail, then wealth will accumulate in a few hands faster than it can be broadly distributed. By the author’s reckoning, the United States is one of the leading nations in the “high inequality” camp, though it was not always so. In the colonial era, Piketty likens the inequality quotient in New England to be about that of Scandinavia today, with few abject poor and few mega-rich. The difference is that the rich now—who are mostly the “supermanagers” of business rather than the “superstars” of sports and entertainment—have surrounded themselves with political shields that keep them safe from the specter of paying more in taxes and adding to the fund of public wealth. The author’s data is unassailable. His policy recommendations are considerably more controversial, including his call for a global tax on wealth. From start to finish, the discussion is written in plainspoken prose that, though punctuated by formulas, also draws on a wide range of cultural references.

Essential reading for citizens of the here and now. Other economists should marvel at how that plain language can be put to work explaining the most complex of ideas, foremost among them the fact that economic inequality is at an all-time high—and is only bound to grow worse.

Pub Date: March 10, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-674-43000-6

Page Count: 640

Publisher: Belknap/Harvard Univ.

Review Posted Online: April 30, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2014

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