Paper Source, a paper goods retailer with national connections, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on March 2, 2021. In an age of screens and PDFs, the ripple effect from Paper Source’s closure still reached out far beyond the company itself, affecting small paper goods businesses across the country.
The bankruptcy—and the fallout from it—serves as a brutal cautionary tale for small businesses hoping to partner with national retail chains, as one of the stipulations of the filing entails a lack of obligation to pay any outstanding debts.
Many smaller paper goods businesses reported large orders from Paper Source in the weeks and months leading up to the filing, which, to some, indicates a level of maliciousness on the behalf of the corporation. The bankruptcy claim leaves Paper Source in debt to over 250 separate vendors, some of whom are owed up to $20,000 for orders placed pre-filing.
Morning Brew points out that many of the smaller paper goods businesses currently burned by Paper Source are owned by women, and the majority of these businesses operate with small teams.
Additionally, many vendors expressed frustration at being “burned” by what they viewed as the traditional path to success. Attaining a relationship with a large retailer is, for many smaller businesses, the golden ticket; Paper Source’s questionable behavior in this case is causing some of its prior clients to rethink their partnerships in the future.
The filing comes as yet another blow to the stationery market. The pandemic certainly dampened consumer interest in things like greeting cards and the like for several months, and plenty of paper goods sellers reported that the usual holiday surge in orders wasn’t enough to make up for the damage.
Paper Source placing so many large orders in January helped these vendors feel optimistic, but the bankruptcy filing left them lost again.
While alternative retailers like Etsy and local “mom-and-pop” locations provide some relief for these poor businesses, Paper Source undeniably burned a lot of sources—and, if one considers their activity leading up to the filing, they may have done so willingly. It’s often necessary to work with larger retailers as a small business, but Paper Source certainly makes a compelling case for finding other avenues.
Had to take career gaps? LinkedIn’s latest feature helps you explain
(BUSINESS ENTREPRENEUR) LinkedIn has added a new profile feature, which will let you address any career gaps, opening doors for parents and those affected by COVID furloughs.
For some employers, career gaps can be a sign of a red flag. Years or even months of unemployment can be questionable because new technologies and methodologies are constantly advancing and changing. Someone out of the workforce might be viewed as out of practice and not up-to-date with the skills needed today.
However, employment gaps aren’t necessarily “bad”. They offer people time to explore new opportunities or interests. Someone might use that time to go back to school and pursue their passions. Someone else might use it to finally start a family, or they might just have had the misfortune of being let go. According to a report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2.5 million women left the workforce during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nonetheless, unless you’re in the middle of an interview or asked straight out, there isn’t an easy way to justify the reason for your time spent away. Well, at least there wasn’t, until now.
According to LinkedIn, “79% of hiring managers today would hire a candidate with a career gap on their resume.” But, that doesn’t mean these employers don’t want to know why. So, to help answer the question before it’s even asked, LinkedIn has added a new feature that allows users address their career gap on their LinkedIn profile.
The social media platform for professionals now offers new job titles that can better reflect your title status. For parents who’ve left the workforce to focus on childcare responsibilities, “stay-at-home mom,” “stay-at-home dad”, and “stay-at-home parent” titles are all available job title options now.
“We’ve heard from our members, particularly women and mothers who have temporarily stopped working, that they need more ways to reflect career gaps on their Profile due to parenting and other life responsibilities,” the company said. “To make it easier for moms, and all parents, we’re making some important changes to the Profile.”
In addition to the new job titles, LinkedIn will also soon stop requiring people who use one of the titles above to specify a company or employer name. When a user sets the “Employment type” field to “Self-employed”, that field will become optional.
To further address a person’s type of employment gap, the company is planning on adding an employment gap section later on. In this new field, someone can specify the reason for their gap, such as “parental leave,” “family care”, or “sabbatical.”
For the most part, LinkedIn’s gap feature seems beneficial in that it will help fill in the holes you might not want left blank. For sure, self-employed people and freelancers will benefit from this new feature because they don’t need to be attached to a company to add in their work experience.
On the other hand, what is considered too much information? Your information is public so everyone will see what you decide to share about your career gaps. And, how will this information be beneficial in helping you grow your professional network and further develop your career?
Only you can decide what’s best for you. In the meantime, LinkedIn is providing you with options that weren’t available before. And, they say they will roll out more in the future.
“Every person’s career journey is different and we’re working hard to make sure LinkedIn provides an inclusive experience for everyone,” the company blog post read.
15 tips to spot a toxic work environment when interviewing
(BUSINESS ENTREPRENEUR) Interviewing can be tricky, but this new infographic will help you look for signs of toxicity before, during, and after the interview.
When we’re in the process of job hunting, we’re typically looking because we need a change, for multiple reasons. Any interview sparks hope. Because we’re sometimes so willing to make that change, we often put our blinders on in the hopes that whatever comes is the perfect opportunity for us.
With those blinders, however, it can be common to miss some red flags that tell you what you really need to know about the job you may be applying or interviewing for. Luckily, Resume.io is here to help.
They have developed 15 warning signs in their infographic: How to Spot a Toxic Work Environment Before You Take the Job. Let’s dive in and take a look at these.
First, the preparation before the interview. Red flags can shop up from the get-go. Here’s what to look out for before you even meet face-to-face (or over the phone/Zoom).
- Vague job description: If there is nothing substantial about the description of the job itself and only buzzwords like “team player,” be on alert.
- Negative Glassdoor reviews: These reviews on company culture are worth taking into account. If multiple people have a recurring issue, it’s something to be aware of.
- Arranging an interview is taking forever: If they keep you waiting, it’s typically a sign of disorganization. This may not always be the case, but pay attention to how they’re respecting you and your time.
- Your arrival comes as a surprise to them: Again, disorganization. This is also displaying a lack of communication in the company.
- The interview starts late: See the last sentence of #3. Not only are they disrespecting your time, but they’re displaying a lack of time management.
Now, for the high-pressure situation: During the interview. Here’s what you need to be keeping an eye on (while simultaneously listing your strengths and weaknesses, of course)
- Unpreparedness: If the interviewer is scattered and not prepared for your conversation, this may be a sign that they don’t fully understand the tasks and expectations for the job.
- Doesn’t get into your skill set: If they don’t ask about your skills, how can they know what you’re bringing to the table?
- Rudeness: If the interviewer is rude throughout the interview or is authoritative (either to you or to a panel who may be present,) be on alert. This is just a sign of what’s to come.
- Uncommunicative about company values: If it’s different from what’s on their website or they seem spacey about company values, this is a red flag.
- Your questions aren’t being answered: If they’re avoiding answering your questions, they may be hiding an aspect of the job – or the company – that they don’t want to reveal.
Finally, the waiting game. Once the interview is complete, here are some less-than-good things to be on the lookout for. Keep in mind that some of these may be hard to gauge seeing that we’re in the middle of a pandemic and many companies haven’t returned to their offices yet:
- Brief interview: If the interview was too short, they are either desperate or have already filled the position. Either way, bad.
- Quiet workplace: This may be a sign of a lack of teamwork or a tense environment.
- No tour: If you don’t get to see the office, again, they may be hiding something.
- Offer on the day of interview: Not giving you time to think may be a sign of desperation.
- Leaving you waiting: Again, if they leave you waiting on an answer like they did with scheduling, it’s a sign of disorganization and disrespect.
While one of these 15 things happening doesn’t necessarily mean the job is a bust, a few of these things happening may be an indicator to look elsewhere.
This startup makes managing remote internships easier for all
(BUSINESS ENTREPRENEUR) Internships during COVID are tough to manage for many employers, but Symba aims to present a unique solution.
Internships are among the innumerable practices disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Some might argue that the loss of the corporate version of hazing that defines many internships is not something to be mourned. But the fact remains that internships are crucial for both employers and employees. Fortunately, a company called Symba might have a solution: Remote internships.
It’s a simple, intuitive solution for the times. That’s why big-name industries like Robinhood and Genentech are turning to Symba for help in constructing their own digital internship platforms.
Symba is, in and of itself, akin to any employee management system. Prospective employees sign into their Symba account via the landing page of the company for whom they are interning, after which point they are able to review their workload for the day. They can also see communications, feedback, other profiles, group projects, and more; they can even access onboarding resources and tutorials for the company in case they get lost along the way.
The key difference between Symba and other management tools—such as Slack—is that Symba was built from the ground up to facilitate actionable experience for interns at little to no detriment to the company in question. This means that interns have a consistent onboarding, collaborative, and working experience across the board—regardless of which company they’re representing at the time.
Symba even has a five-star ranking system that allows employers to create and quantify areas of proficiency at their discretion. For example, if an intern’s roles include following up with clients via email or scheduling meetings, an employer could quickly create categories for these tasks and rate the intern’s work on the aforementioned scale. Interns are also able to ask for feedback if they aren’t receiving it.
While Symba doesn’t facilitate communications between interns, it does include Slack integration for the purposes of collaboration and correspondence as needed.
On the managerial side, employers can do everything from the previously mentioned rating to delegating tasks and reviewing reports. All data is saved in Symba’s interface so that employers have equal access to information that might inspire a hiring.
While it’s possible that Symba will struggle to maintain relevance during non-internship months, the fact remains that it is an exceptionally viable solution to an otherwise finicky problem during these trying times—and some employers may even find it viable enough to continue using it post-pandemic.
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