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Career Corner
Damage Control Tips For a Workplace Disaster
Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Being a professional doesn't make anyone perfect. Mishaps can happen to anyone whether the situation is in or out of our control. Unfortunately, not everyone gets their own PR team to lessen the blow. If you find yourself in one of these embarrassing, awkward, or inappropriate situations, there are different approaches you can use to ease your way out.
And since turning back time isn't an option (no matter how hard we wish), not handling the situation the right way can add injury to insult.

Here are 5 tips to help you deal with a work move you wish didn't happen (but did):

1) Own up to it.

Shifting blame for an awkward situation only escalates the severity of it. By not acknowleding your fault up front, it makes for an even more difficult recovery. For others watching you avert the situation, it's like watching a collision. People can tell when you're either too ashamed to take responsibilty or attempting to be devious. Neither are good characteristics of a colleague and this could damage your reputation in the long run. Fess up and apologize when necessary.

2) Take immediate action.

Simply admitting fault doesn't cut it. You also have to the measures to rectify your actions. Leaving the situation be can harm your career. People will look at you differently no matter what so it's better to have look at your differently but still in a good way. Taking action shows that there is sincere regret or remorse for whatever damage you may have caused. What if you don't know what to do? It doesn't hurt to ask. In this case, it would show a great deal for your character to seek advice for fixing the situation.

3) Provide an explanation.

No context for your story means leaves your mistake open to interpretation--and that's not a good thing. In order for people to see your side of things, you have to be able to explain your reasons for doing what you did. Once they already know about it they're not going to forget so why let carry on making assumptions? Allow them to give you the benefit of the doubt but coming clean. As the old adage goes, "the truth will set you free."

4) Show growth.

Make it clear that you've learned something. Part of making mistakes is fixing them and learning from them. If you can't show that you were able to grasp the lesson resulting from your misjudgment people won't buy that you actually believe you did anything wrong. Problems are worse right after they happen and can only get better from there. Keep this in mind and try to make all the right moves there on out.

5) Do a follow up.

If the incident is still on your mind it's likely to also be others'. Check with them to reinforce the fact that your mistake is still something that you haven't just brushed off your shoulders. No matter what the severity, mistakes are something that should be taken as a lesson learned. That being the case, what you've learned should be apparent in your actions from that point on.

Resume Rookie Mistakes to Avoid
Thursday, August 16, 2012

 You can always tell the difference between someone who knows what they're doing and someone pretending to know. For someone who is new to the job-hunting game, it can be a challenge to pull off years of refined professionalism flawlessly.

These tell-tale signs are especially obvious to a hiring manager in a resume where there are clear distinctions between good/bad and right/wrong. Take a look at the common mistakes that many rookies makes that give them away as amateurs, or at least make them look that way.

1) Irrelevant job experiences.
Including irrelevant job experiences is simply wrong and looks bad. Even if you don't have much work experience in general, listing the ones you have that don't apply to the one you're applying for isn't going to help you any. Look at what they're asking for in a candidate and think about skills and experiences you have acquired, whether through a job or not, and highlight those instead.

2) Short-term positions.
This doesn't include seasonal jobs, those you go into knowing they will be temporary. The problem with jobs that you left on your own accord or were terminated from don't reflect on you as a desirable candidate. You'll have to expect that they are going to want further information about your past employment and if there might be anything you wouldn't want them to know, better to leave it out completely.

3) References.
A part of being able to put good work experience on your resume is being able to have good references from those places as well. You don't, however, have ot list these references on your resume. This part of the hiring process should already be expected. Naturally, if a potential employer requests references you would give it to them.

4) Listing responsibilities.
Your job title pretty much already sums up what was expected of you but says nothing about what you actually did. That's the information that the hiring manager cares about since that's what will differentiate you from another candidate who may have held the same position. They don't want to see a list of job descriptions on your resume, they want to see accomplishments and specific details.

5) Explanations.
Keep in mind that your resume should ideally be one page so you'll want to keep your descriptions brief. Stick to bullet points and avoid explaining why you left a job. They only want to see the "who, what, when, and where" of your past experiences. If they're interested in finding out the "why," they'll give you a call back.

6) Personal interests.
Adding a personal touch of who you are by mentioning your hobbies or interests can be good as long as they are somewhat relevant to the job. Otherwise, this approach could backfire on you. The hiring manager could start making assumptions about you. When in doubt, leave it off. Again, your resume shouldn't be your life story, rather a brief introduction to who you are. Imagine that you're speed dating with each company, what would you want them to know about you in the few moments you have of their attention?

Could Your Career Be Killing You?
Monday, July 30, 2012

Our bodies were not made to withstand some of our daily life's routines. Many common health problems arise after years of arduous and repetitive lifestyle. Usually, once we develop these bad work habits, the consequences of them will stick to the end of our careers and beyond retirement.

As a good employee you take it all for the team but is it really worth it? Luckily, there's a middle ground between being good to your work and being good to your body. Find out which habits you may be guilty of and how you can start changing them for the better:

1) Commute.

In a weak job market, having an inconvenient job is better than not having one at all. Those who spend their days sitting at a desk already have it bad by being sedentary for the majority of the time. Adding more sitting time during your commute makes it worse. A sedentary lifestyle actually takes a bigger toll on your body even though it may seem less strenuous that being on your feet all day. To be healthy, your body needs a good balance of activity. Try to find ways of incorporating exercise into your day like taking the stairs or a gym class after hours.

2) Footwear.

This is aimed more toward women but it applies to everyone. We all want to dress to impress at work but usually the nicer looking an outfit is, the more uncomfortable it is to wear. Even though you might not be on your feet as much, shoes that weren't meant for comfort will put some strain on your feet. Think of the arches in high heels, your feet aren't going to be happy stuffed into the shape of a shoe that puts all the weight on the toes. In any case, if you're going to wear shoes that aren't comfortable, bring a pair to have in the office that are. Your feet will thank you.

3) Neglecting breakfast.

This has become an increasing issue in today's society. It seems that the morning just doesn't accomodate the time to sit down and have a meal. Or some simply don't have an appetite for it in the morning. This is one of the factors as to why so many people are less healthy than they could be. People who make the time to have breakfast take the initiative to balance out their lifestyle. So why is breakfast so important?

The thing about eating habits is that meals should start early and end early. After a night of sleeping (fasting) your body needs a jumpstart of energy. This doesn't mean eating a big meal, it just means eating something substantial. Stretching your nightly fast until lunch could lead to you binging and doesn't allow your brain to perform at optimal level when you get in to work in the morning.

4) All-nighters.

Staying up all night just sounds as bad of an idea as it is. Sure, they're hard to avoid when the gravity of an assignment calls for it but all-nighters are a last resort and should not become a regular habit. Depriving yourself of sleep on a regular basis is putting you down a slippery slope. The mind needs rest and a good amount of it in order to function properly. You might think that you're being a champ by pushing yourself but there's no victory is giving it anything but 100%.

5) Eating out.

Why more people don't pack their own lunches is a mystery when you think about its benefits. Putting your own lunch together makes you put more thought into what you'll be putting in your belly. Plus, it's much cheaper when you buy food from the store or pack leftovers than spending $10-$15 on eating a or from a restaurant. For someone who works at a desk for the majority of the day, you only have to worry about pacifying your hunger rather than burning off fuel.

6) Posture.

This is one of the harder problems to prevent and correct. It's easy to get used to sitting a certain way, usually the wrong way, and bring on the back problems down the road past the point of no return. The really is no point of no return unless you've thrown in the towel. Work on relaxing your muscles and sitting up straight. You want to put as little strain on your body as possible so the goal is to sit a position that feels natural.

No matter how great your posture is during the day, sitting for long periods of time is not good for your circulation. Make it a habit to get up and stretch or walk around throughout the day get your blood pumping and loosen your muscles.

3 Questions Not to Ask In An Interview
Wednesday, July 18, 2012

What's an interview other than an exchange of questions and answers? Sounds simple, right? Well, yes and no.

At the end of the interview when the interviewer asks if you have any questions, you are should always be prepared with plenty. But it isn't about how many questions you ask, it's about the kinds of questions.

Interviews are also situations where there is most definitely a right and wrong for both questions and answers.

You should never going into an interview without a game plan, or with questions like these.

1) Who is your biggest competition?

How you find the right questions to ask comes from the thoroughness of your background research of the company. Asking about things that you can easily find out on your own just shows them that that you were too lazy to do some digging. Making it obvious to the interviewer that you don't know the first thing about the place you want to work at is a good way to sabbotage yourself.

2) What are the hours?

Here's an example of a superficial question. You aren't digging past the surface. You need to show the interviewer through your thinking process that getting this job means a lot to you. This also applies to asking things about money and holidays. Ask something instead along the lines of what the typical career path in that position is and what the company does to encourage and enhance development in its employees. Show that you're interested in being a part of the team.

 3) Can I borrow a pen?

This is not a joke. Part of being prepared means covering the bases and that includes materials. Interviewees are expected to bring their resumes, pen, and notepad at the very least. If you have a business card then by all means bring some of those too. You might thing that asking for a pen isn't a big deal and you'd be right. But it is another thing that the interviewer can take into consideration in terms of how'd you be as a worker.

How to Make Your 90-day Trial a Triumph
Thursday, June 21, 2012

Most companies have a 90-day trial period to test out new hires. For new hires, these are the most nerve-wracking 90 days of their time at a company.

Even though you've just been hired, your security at that company doesn't yet feel solidifed--because it isn't. This period is essentially the learning curve for new employees to settle in and get acquainted to the new work environment. If things aren't working out, many companies won't wait the entire 90 days to find a replacement. No sweat, right?

No transition goes without bumps along the way, especially when there's a lot riding on its success. You don't have to constantly be looking over your shoulder, though, and you really shouldn't if you want to focus on doing a good job.

Here are some tips on how to make that 90-day transition go smoothly:

1) Be open to constructive criticism.

In order to show that you're abe to perfom to your highest potential, you have to be able to take in immediate feedback. Not everyone is responsive to hearing negative comments about their work but it's impossible to improve your mistakes if you don't know what they are. Let your boss know that you welcome it and they'll feel more comfortable having someone on board who is eager to learn and succeed.

2) Keep your eyes peeled.

Observing the company culture is crucial to assimilating into it. This company saw something in you that they liked and it's up to you not to disappoint. The easiest way to show them that you're a good match is to emulating how your co-workers interact with one another. While you were supposed to outshine in the application process, your job is to blend during the trial period.

3) Know your expectations in and out.

To do well in your new work place, you'll need to have a good grip on what is expected of you there. If your resume misled them to believe you were more capable than you are, this can get you into some hot water. If they give you assignments that you clearly don't know how to tackle, you can count on your days there being numbered. Make sure that you're not getting in over your head and that you're prepared for anything that may catch you off-guard.

4) Join your colleagues for lunch.

Declining any lunch invitations is a big no-no during your first few months there. This is a great opportunity to get to know your co-workers and for them to get to know you. Socializing with them is easy and shows that you'll be a good addition to the team.

5) Stay away from gossip.

Like your first days at a new school, you'll want to avoid mixing in with the wrong crowd. If you hear gossip or someone comes to you badmouthing others, take no part of this. There's a fine line between making friends and making enemies. As a new hire, you start off with a clean slate. The last thing you want to do is tarnish it.

6) Keep a positive attitude.

Any new hire can get understandly flustered when they make mistakes in their first few weeks. But it's bound to happen and all one can do is learn to accept it. What you shouldn't do is beat yourself up about it. Your new boss will want to see that you're resilient and can bounce back. If you give up after the first try it shows that you're not able to handle challenges well. Just remember, you got picked as the new hire for some reason. Prove to them that you deserve that spot.

7) Become your own go-to person.

Instead of being the epitome of the "new guy," try to catch-on as much as you can as fast as you can. Make a conscious effort to learn the ropes and teach yourself the office logistics without having to constantly ask a co-worker. Take initiative in being self-sufficient and people will respect you for it.

Benefits For the Unemployed to End Early
Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Tough times for the unemployed are about to get even more trying.

Despite Congress renewing extended benefits until the end of the year, benefit checks will be stopped sooner than anticipated.

For the long-term unemployed, roughly more than five million people, their last line of survival will come to an end next month. According to the National Employment Law Project, nearly half a million people will be affected by this early cut off.

Republicans are concerned that the federal extension will hurt employment growth. Democrats on the other hand believe that the unemployed don't have many other options to turn to and that the immediate spending of these checks contributes to stimulus.

For those unemployed to continue receiving benefits, they must now prove that they have been actively looking for work with documents showing contacts of at least three employers per week.

Most states allow 26 weeks of unemployment benefits and the number of additional weeks is then provided by the federal extensions. Ninety-nine weeks became a symbol for the jobless struggle after those who had exhausted their benefits at that point.

The first few months of benefits are covered by taxes on employers, so some states are creating more requirements to make it harder for people to qualify for benefits.

Across the country, people generally apply for benefits by phone. However, in a complaint received by the federal labor secretary, Florida began requiring people to submit online applications as well as a 45-minutes assessment of their job skills.

Implementing these additonal steps has caused benefit denials to skyrocket with 30 percent of applicants rejected nationwide.

The issues of job creation and unemployment remain heated debates on Capitol Hill and has proven that their solutions are nearly impossible to predict.

As of now, the economy is not in a recession but its recovery still shaky. With unemployment benefits now being cut off, people nationwide are having to weigh options for recoveries of their own.

Balance Work and Still Impress Your Boss
Monday, May 21, 2012

It's easy for people to get wrapped up in getting upcoming work done that they lose sight of finishing the present ones. Instead of worrying about things that are beyond your control, focus on what directly affects your work right now.

Having a grip on the responsibilites you have now can help you manage any additional ones that come along. Even though you want to prove that you can handle your current workload and more, you don't have to be in over your head to impress your superiors.

This approach of biting off more than you can chew can instead cause you to look unorganized and unable to balance priorities. Proper prioritizing is important to working efficiently.

Sometimes, what needs to be finished first doesn't have to be started first. Then again, when bigger projects are put ahead of the smaller ones due first, things can get pushed back even further when deadlines catch up to you.

Here are some suggestions to help you manage your duties without having to sacrifice any:

1) Keep Track of Your Assignments.

Whether you prefer to type them into a computer program or write them down with a pen and paper, having a list of your tasks outlined in front of you really helps in getting them done. You can stay on track easier and tackle each task based on priority.

2) Start Each Day With This List.

This list will help maintain focus on a daily basis. Continue to add projets to it but remember to list them according to importance so for each assignment completed you can move right on to the next one.

3) Think Before Saying, "Yes."

Making commitments that you aren't initially 100% sure you can follow-through with will only make things more difficult for yourself. It's better to say "no" in the beginning and later be able to help out than be expected to the entire time only to cause disappointment.

4) Take Control of Your Time Management.

If you tend to just make deadlines every time, improving your time management can greatly help your work productivity. Instead of getting by, you can breeze through work and accomplish them with ease. Often, when you're racing against the clock, your work suffers. Make sure that you're devoting ample time to your work on a daily basis so that you aren't scrambling up to the last minute.

How to Show Authority At Work
Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Being taken seriously is an important ingredient for being successful in the workplace. Managers look to these people to be dependable and competent of handling any task. 

Usually, those who show confidence in taking on more responsibilities will have better chances of moving up in the company and making bigger bucks.

If you're wondering how to become the big man on top you can't get there by acting like the little guy down below.

This is where the saying, "you gotta fake it 'til you make it" comes in. To get authority, you gotta show it. When you make people believe that you're in command of your duties, and then some, you won't be faking it anymore.


Each person is charge of something and the key phrase there is "in charge." You are just as much a part of the team as anyone else but it's up to you to prove it.

Show your manager and your coworkers that you've not only earned your place but are up for the challenge of surpassing expectations.


There's nothing that shows incompetence more than when you don't seem to know what's going on. Incompetence will translate to others that you are not a leader thus people will not take you seriously. 

Instead, when you're faced with something that you don't have an immediate solution to, say something that gives the impression that you still know how to handle it.

One response example is, "You've brought up some good points, and I'll get back to you once I've thought it over." This lets you get smoothly transition out of the conversation.


When you lose control of your emotions, you lose control of everything else. Authority and control go hand in glove. People who are unpredictable cannot be relied on. In any situation from bad to catastrophic, you should always have a practical approach. People trust this kind of thinking because it takes a lot to stay calm under pressure.

Along with that, you also need to make sure to not be intimidating to your colleagues, this shows a lack of professionalism because you're demanding respect rather than earning it. Part of be having authority is being approachable.


It's difficult to juggle making important decision when concerned with how it will affect your popularity. When you're at work, doing your job needs to be your main focus. Your mind can't be clouded by others' judgments when making business decisions.

In reality, not everyone is going to agree on the same thing. Being serious about your job comes from taking the necessary measures required.


Authority comes in an entire package and its all comes together in the delivery. Your tone of voice should sound like you know what you're talking about, even if you're not 100% sure of something. If you want people to look to you for answers your responses cannot come out sounding like questions.


Or at least be confortable with it. People who get nervous by silence can't take the uncertainty and rush to fill it with sound. Be confident that the pause in the conversation is due to the other person waiting for you to say something.

In this case, take advantage of having the upper hand by easing into your response and make what you say add to your appearance of authority. Silence can sometimes work in your favor.


It's hard to exude authority when you struggle with communicating clearly. This is just another part of the package where your words need to back up your authoritative tone, otherwise you'll lose the entire effect.

The way you say things will get people to listen so you need every word they listen to to count.  Get through each word one nice and steady so that you're sentences won't come out jumbled.


Shying away from a situation shows a weakness in your ability to take initiative in solving a problem. Things can't fix themselves so if there's an issue that calls for your attention, give it. Putting it off only turns it into a bigger problem.

Figuring out a solution on your  own usually doesn't take much more than putting some thought into it. Once you've taken it care of it, people will more than likely take note of, if not be mpressed by, your ability to turn a negative into a positive.

Don't Just Choose--Decide!
Monday, April 23, 2012

People are always interested in how others come to be in their current positions. Careers are a journey, a series of processes and no two are alike even for the same job title.

People often don't have a clear-cut answer and will usually say, "I just ended up here." The fact is no one "just ends up" anywhere. Somewhere down the line, they made a conscious decision that lead them to where they are now.

Even if by a process of elimination, people still know what to eliminate and what to leave open. There are influences all throughout our lives that steer us toward one direction or another.
In order to guide ourselves down the right track we need to make sure that we're doing more deciding on rather than falling into our professions like a chip in "Plinko."

Ask yourself these questions often as a reminder for what your ultimate goals in life are and where you want them to take you.

1) Get a grasp for your strengths.
It can seem to be, but it really isn't hard to find out what you're good at and what you're better leaving as a hobby. Start with what interests you and see which of these things you have a knack for. Do you like working with people? Great with kids? Considering careers in sales, customer service, or even child care could be viable options for you.

2) Understand what you care about.
Perhaps things you care about don't seem translatable in terms of a career. For example, maybe you care about where your clothes are made but not sure how to turn that concern into a career--but you can. Maybe you had a job in sales before and were good at it. Think about places that you like to buy clothes and how you can apply your skills at that company.

3) Know yourself and your values.
Personality types play a major part in the positions a person excels in. Some people can work at a desk and others would rather spend their days traveling. Apply your own personality to what types of industries you envision working in. This will help you thrive in your job and your career.

These are not questions that are meant to have an immediate answer nor a right one. As your life goes through changes, so will your mind.

If you continually think about your career not only as something to pay the bills, but as an extension of who you are then you won't have one that you "just ended up in." You'll have a fulfilling calling that you decided to pursue.

When Taxes Get Taxing
Tuesday, April 10, 2012

It's crunch time for tax season and the issue of taxes is intensifying throughout neighborhoods across the country and on Capitol Hill.

President Barack Obama is pushing for fairer and equal class responsibility. Today he traveled to Boca Raton, Florida to promote his support for the "Buffet Rule" which calls for a tax raise on millionaires.

This move has envoked much resistance from Republicans who claim that this "millionaire's tax" would do more harm to the economy than good. Romney campaign spokeswoman, Gail Gitcho, said that the plan would raise taxes on small businesses.

Obama's proposal calls for people earning at least $1 million dollars per year, through salary or investments, should pay at least 30 percent of that income in taxes. The current tax rate that many wealthy investors pay is half that at only 15 percent. As a result, they're able to pay less in taxes for their incomes while those whose incomes are based higher salaries have a tax rate of 35 percent.

All this is brewing with only a week left until the tax deadline. The major question that this sparks among many taxpayers is whether they'll have the means to pay the taxes they owe.

Death and Taxes...and You
Though it may seem like a tempting option, simply avoiding to pay--or worse, file--will dig you a deeper hole. Sooner or later, the government will find you.

The penalties for not filing stacked on top of what you already owe will accrue interest and most likely lead to a lot of regret. Instead, file for an extension that will buy you some time in making payments.

Filling out a Form 4868 will give you an extended six months. Paying at least 90 percent of the taxes owed by April 17th will save you from getting the late-payment penalty. It does not, however, exempt you from owing interest on any unpaid taxes.

A good rule to stick by is to pay off as much as you can as soon as you can--whatever the amount may be. Taxes come around only one time a year but the repercussions of bad tax management can last years. Paying up front may be hard, but overcoming the challenges of paying additional interest can feel almost impossible.

Catch a Break
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) does offer help to those who need a break. One of thse hardship breaks is called Fresh Start that allows qualifying filers to request a six-month extension for paying their taxes without facing penalites.

To qualify, filers must have been unemployed for at least a month straight last year or up uptil the deadline date. Other qualifying factors are survivors of natural disasters or those on active military duty.

If you don't qualify but still owe more than you can afford there are other options you can consider. If you must, bill it to one of your credit cards. It's not the greatest option, but it's an option. Another one along the same lines is using a home-equity line or credit. Undesirable but feasible.

Seek help and advice when you can so that you know your capabilities. Having your taxes in order will help prevent further issues spilling over into your other finances and create money problems beyond your control.

You can ask the IRS for a formal installment agreement and if that doesn't go through you may just have to suck it up and face the music to the tune of penalties and interest--at least you won't be in jail.

3 Career Myths Debunked
Monday, April 02, 2012

People with all different kinds of professional backgrounds will offer career advice that they've come up with over the course of their own.

Since these insights are coming from a particular experience they can't always be applied to wide-range of circumstances. This doesn't mean that the advice isn't good, as they usually come from successful people, it's just that it may be more useful to some more than others.

Amidst all the advice being thrown at you, there will be some fallacies mixed up in the jumble--things that once were but are no longer relevant. To help weed out some of the less helpful stuff, for anyone, here's a compilation of career advice that are more career myths:

It's All About Who You Know.
This one is somewhat 50/50. In some cases, who you know will help but that doesn't make it the determining factor. Even though some places will be more lenient toward qualifications it's more likely that they will take your job skills more into account than your connection at the company. Companies want the balance between likeability and capability but if they had to chose one or the other, they would certainly choose the latter. For any job, you want to show that you can fit comfortably as if you already were acquainted with the team, but the charisma needs to have the skills and abilities to back it up. Realistically, it's all about YOU.

Kissing Up Will Move You Up.
Never in a million years. Kissing up is the most obvious way of showing you're incompetent. Trying to get on someone's good side through flattery shows that you're lacking some way to do it through performance. Confidence in yourself and your work is the surefire way of getting noticed and respected. Kissing up is not only ineffective but actually more annoying to the person you're doing it to. Avoid it altogether to make sure you don't get on the wrong foot with your boss and colleagues.

Work and Play Must Be Separate.
Nope. In fact, the best kind of work is the one that allows you to play while you're at it. You can have fun and enjoy yourself at work and you should. Many people end up in their careers because they find the work to be fulfilling and enjoyable rather than just the money aspect. Things like working with animals, taking care of the elderly, or even sales. Different people find different things to be rewarding and there are plenty of occupations out there that can offer that feeling. Find the place that's right for you and getting out of bed in the morning will never be a drag.

Get More Pay With a Part-time Job
Thursday, March 15, 2012

They always say that something is better than nothing, and it couldn't be truer in an anemic economy. For those who may have been out of work or are having difficulty making ends meet, there's good news.

While the unemployment rate is dropping, the media tend to neglect mentioning where the pick-up in jobs is coming from. Part-time jobs are abundant and are filling up fast. People might not be able to live off a part-time job but the flexibility in hours lets people get back on their feet.

It's common for people to work two part-time jobs and make just as much as they would working full-time. Here are some of the top part-time gigs that could make all the difference between swimming and treading financial waters.

Waiting Tables
A part-time serving job is by far one of the most sought after and attractive jobs for people looking to make quick money. Naturally, they're all after one thing: tips. People who work at nice restaurants and are exceptional at providing good guest service can easily turn their occupation into a permanent livelihood. Wait staff get to take home money on a daily basis and still receive a paycheck. The hospitality industry, however, is usually fast-paced so servers need to be quick on their feet, able to memorize the menu, and have a great deal of patience. It isn't for everyone, but those that can handle it well can find serving as a suitable career move.

Painting Houses
Work as house painter isn't exacty glamorous. Plus, the hours can be long and fairly arduous. Yet, there are plenty of people who stack up a good amount of extra cash from summers of house painting. The average salary for a full-time painter is about $31,000 a year so even earning part-time wages can prove to be very beneficial to slipping incomes.

Bookkeepers are an important part of all businesses since they are the people looking after the finances. Companies need people with solid accounting abilities and are familiar with software like QuickBooks. Bookkeeping is a niche skillset that can set those who are good at it apart from both other bookkeepers and industries. Bookkeeping work can also be part-time, done from home and during flexible hours. There's a lot of potential to earn good money in bookkeeping whether full or part-time.

Landscaping is more than just gardening. It takes a creative eye to create scenery that appeals to all the senses. People who enjoy working outdoors and hands-on would make a good fit for a landscaping job. It's especially ideal for people who want to work on their own schedule.

Many landscapers are self-employed so the only boss they have to report to are themselves. They can also end up making more money being self-employed as opposed to for another employer. Keep in mind that landscaping also doesn't have to be limited to seasons or regions. Landscaping may be needed for all kinds of work whether it be on grass or snow.

Social Media
Social media is making waves in all industries from entertainment to politics. These jobs can easily be done through telecommunications so many companies will hire part-timers to do the work remotely. Companies are looking for the extra set of hands without having to take on another full-time employee. These types of jobs are suitable for freelancers and people wanting to fatten up their wallets a bit. Part time social media specialists can earn an hourly rate from $20-$50 depending on their experience and web-savviness. There are no shortages of capable people for the job and it requires no formal education so it's best to get into it if you want somethinig to add to an existing main source of income.

When companies are down-sizing, the addition of part-time jobs are what's keeping the economy from collapsing entirely. Part-time workers benefit both the employer and employee. The employer can cut back on the addtional costs of compensating a full-time employee (like benefits and salaries) and the employee can rest easier knowing that they can expect the number in their bank accounts to always stay on the plus side.

There are plenty of part-time jobs out there, usually more than full-time, that are easy to get. Whatever the circumstance, if you've got money problems, a part-time job may be the right remedy.

Pros & Cons of Working At a Small Business
Tuesday, March 06, 2012

If you've never worked for a small business before then you might be hesitant to when you don't know what to expect. Questions might be running through your head like, "Will I still have the same benefits?" and "Am I going to be paid less?" The thing to remember about a small business is that is it still business.

While you may not get all the same perks of working for a major corporation, small businesses have pros of their that you can't get from big companies. Those who have limited their job searches because of reservations toward a small businesses, considering the following things can help you better determine whether a position at a small business is right for you.


Because your position at a small business might be more solid, you can't be expected to be paid handsomely. Small companies are usually small for a reason as they lack the endless funding that larger corporations have and need to pay the hundreds for thousands of workers it employs. In a small business setting, the rewards come in different packages. Perhaps not you benefits package, but the cordial environment is often enough to make working there worth it.

Small businesses will have few staff members which means that each person has more weight to carry. Some departments might be a one-man show so taking time off for whatever reason might be more of an issue. If you're the only person who knows how to do your job you might want to plan on pushing back any travel arrangements you might have as the chances of keeping them could be slim.

While the comradery within a small business is a good thing to have, the familiarity can be problematic in some cases. Where strong leadership is lacking, people may feel compelled to take the reins themselves while others might not be on board with that idea. Attitude
clashing between colleages can keep a small business down and if you've noticed that the position you would be taking hasn't held on to its takers for long then this might not be the place for you.


The divide between management and employees in small businesses is much less. If you have something you want to mention to the boss like an idea or a problem, the direct connection is open and available. At a small business you can expect to know your boss one-on-one and feel more of that team spirit with your colleagues.

The atmosphere is much more close-knit since you're more like one of the fish in a pond rather than a vast ocean. You get to know who you're working with on a more personal level instead of trying to memorize each and every name in department at a big company. Collaboration in this setting is much easier to accomplish because of the team feel and it's less likely that someone will be looking out for number one.

The vibe at small businesses are much more casual. Where everyone knows one another, formalities are unnecessary. Because of this, more consideration is taken when it comes to vacation days, raises, and even disciplinary actions. The business line, however, is meant to
keep things on a professional keel. Small businesses doesn't mean letting personal issues interfere and creating things like favoritism.

Small businesses tend to build a greater sense of loyalty company because you have our coworkers to look out for. When working closely with a certain group of people, the level of respect is also greater between colleauges who interact on a friendly basis as well.

Small businesses typically serve a particular purpose. Whatever it is that it specializes in, there are the those who stay heavily involved that play the role of the specialists (usually founder or high-ranking officer). These people have visions that they want realized and in doing so they'll want to bring on people they know are in it for the long-haul, people to help get the company up and going.

At a small business, people aren't seen as expendable which alleviates some of the stress and worries that some at larger companies may have about having their jobs handed over to the next qualified candidate. A person overseeing how the company expands is much different than some unknown entity at the top pulling strings. In order to build a strong company, a small business needs a strong foundation therefore your position will unlikely be eliminated.

Makings of a Stellar Employee
Friday, February 24, 2012

Why be a good employee when you could be great employee? And why stop there when you can be a stellar one? Employees who excel in their positions find that they make their way up to even higher ones faster than if they had been "good enough" rather than "better than the rest."

It doesn't take much to be a great employee if you can do what's expected of you. Everyone should be proactive, reliable and take the initiative. What sets them apart from the others is that they have those extra "it" factors.

Be better than the rest, here are some ways you can:

They're a little...out there.
Think about people who leave an impression in your mind, people you don't forget. They probably had something about them that was unique. Whether it was their humor or a certain way of doing something, we all have our things. We live in a day and age where quirky is good, being an individual is encouraged and what everyone should strive for. Their oddness is endearing to some extent and shake things up a bit. Companies like people like that because they add some color to the company culture. Never hold yourself back from having a lively personality. If people don't know who you are then they can't remember you.

They don't restrict themselves to job descriptions.
Smaller companies especially need people who are self-sufficient. When there are less people, they need everyone to pull their own weight since there aren't any spare bodies to hold their hands the entire way. People who can think of their feet and roll with the punches are valuable on any team as they stimulate production within the operations.

Instead of needing someone to tell you what to do, be able to prioritize despite what's written in the job description. Help even when help isn't asked for, granted your interference is beneficial in the end. Being a go-getter and getting things done will leave a bigger impression than playing an expendable role.

They know the right balance between work and play.
While companies can appreciate people who can incorporate a fun attitude at work, they can appeciate more those who know when it to pull it in. Your awesome personality is the bonus that the companies gets for hiring such a good worker. Don't ruin a good thing but trying too hard. Remember, they're paying you to get a job done, not just to grace them with your presence. Be able to read people and situations. Awareness of your surroundings will keep you from being the person that doesn't get their work done.

They give kudos to their colleagues.
It always feels good to get recognition for your work whether it come from your boss or a peer. Public praise is a good mood booster and motivator. Stellar employees have no problem spreading the love and genuine niceness gains respect.

They keep the negative comments to themeselves
If there's a real problem, don't bottle it up. Handle it maturely and prepared with some solutions to it. When you need to bring these things up though, don't make it a huge deal by creating a scene or getting people involved that are irrelevant to the issue. Bringing up a sensitive issue in private speaks volumes for your character and judgment as they can sometimes set others off in a group setting.

They're not afraid to be the squeaky wheel.
You've heard of the saying "the squeaky wheel gets the grease" and the same principle applies here. Not everyone is feels comfortable speaking up either in private or not. This is what makes a stellar employee shine. They can empathize with the quiet ones and serve as the voice for them. Knowing that others might have questions that they're afraid to ask themselves and take it upon themselves to do it for them is an admirable deed.

They have something to prove.
The desire to prove to others your potential is good self-motivation as it gives you something to work for, for yourself. Whatever doubts that others may have cast upon you can spark the drive within that gets you far in your career. Your skills, education, experience, and smarts are all important but they don't do much without fuel to get them to push you forward. Stellar employees have a deeper desire within keeping them going.

They have an eye for improvement.
Stellar employees satisfied with good enough and are always looking for something else to fix or tinker with. They're always trying to make a good thing better because they want to as opposed to an employee who does a job adequately because they were expected to. Stellar employees to the unexpected and are noticed for it. Stellar employees are essentially over achievers and not because they're trying to overshadow anyone else, they just want to keep putting their potential to the test.

Why the Wage Gap?
Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Ever feel like you're being treated differently than your colleagues or former classmates? Well if you're a woman, you might be but not for why you think.

You may have already known that there's a wage gap between men and women working in same position, but did you stop to think about why in these modern times it's still occurring?

Women who are paid on a salary, a salary she worked long and hard to earn, it can be an discouraging and upsetting fact to know that her male counterpart is being compensated more. Male counterpart in terms of her major, that is.

So before jumping to the frontlines of the Occupy movements, wage disparity has a long history and there are a lot of factors included that need considering.

Over the years, an extensive laundry list has been accumulated as to why companies are still paying women less. Things like, age, maternity leave, industry, etc, but here's another spin to it. 

According to data provided by PayScale, leading fields that have the biggest wage gap are: architecture, education, and criminal justice. In these fields, men are earning 5 percent more than their female counterparts.

Close behind is business and marketing/management with a 4 percent wage gap and finance and accounting with 3 percent. While the gender composition doesn't have an impact on the pay difference, the career outcome might.

Pay levels in certain careers can greatly vary so whether a man and women both earn business degrees, the career each ends up pursuing could be the determining factor for how much they make.

Last year, more than 20,000 U.S. business school graduating seniors were surveyed by The New York Times for their most recent ranking of undergraduate business programs. They surveyed seniors from 139 schools who disclosed both their gender and future career plans.

What the data revealed was that male business grads were more than likely than female business grads to seek out careers in finance and consulting. So where were these business savvy ladies heading? The numbers showed that they were more than likely to go into Human 

Resources and marketing. The largest number of respondents, 5,623, reported back that they planned to pursue careers in finance. In this group men outnumbered women 70 percent to 30 percent.

Marketing, the next largest group, included 4,048 graduates and there women outnumbered men with 66 percent to their 34 percent. In third place for the largest group was accounting where the genders were evenly split.

Salaries for all business majors now average $48,144, accoring to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, but the pay depends on major and industry as well. Think of it this way: a business administration major working in the retail industry (a common career move) can expect an annual salary of about $35,190 while another of the same major will make $60,040 working in a hospital.

So after all this, if you consider that more men are applying their business degrees in careers in finance and consulting then more are bound to end up making more in these higher-paying industries. And it goes the other way around for women pursuing careers in lower-paying industries such as HR and marketing.

This study alone can't umbrella all the reasons for the age gap but it's hard to say that it's simply due to discrimination against women, though that can't be ruled out either. Instead, choice could be another major factor--a practical one for those who might need to so they can to start paying back loans or want to start a family for example. But these certain choices also have certain outcomes that follow, certain things like the size of a paycheck.

Do Cover Letters Matter in a Digital Age?
Friday, February 10, 2012

Where there's a resume there is surely to be to cover letter attached, as it should be. But times are changing and with it are everyday practices we've been so used to since, well, forever.

Cover letters are nice; they're every hiring manager's best friend because they offer an introduction and some supporting information to the resume. Imagine reading what seems like the same document hundreds of times, a cover letter makes understanding them that much easier.

But resumes aren't just limited to paper anymore thus allowing them to come in a variety of formats. With more companies using social networks to recruit candidates, profiles are starting to take over the role of cover letters. Companies are able to learn more about the
candidates through their social media sites better than what they choose to include in a cover letter.

That being so, are we now seeing the what is to become the slow death of cover letters? That's for you to judge but here are some reasons that some suggested as to why you may want to reconsider sending one and why you should continue the practice.

It's Still Relevant
The value of a cover letter rests on how it's executed. Done incorrectly, hiring managers may have preferred it have been left out to begin with. Depending on the type of job as well will play a factor into how essential it is to include one. Some tech companies don't care much for an introduction as they do for experience and qualifications in the field. That doesn't mean cover letters shouldn't be bothered with, just that they should be more to-the-point and brief. In this case the letter should be more of a functional summary of their experience pertaining to the position.

Sometimes, cover letters are more important for social media and tech job seekers where companies seek employees who are critical thinkers, well-rounded and whose knowledge isn't limited to tech jargon. Reflecting that in a resume is difficult to do. At the same time, if the first person who sees your resume (usually an HR manager) isn't familiar with all the computer programs and other tech related information on your resume, the cover letter gives it a personal touch that will speak to them.

You Are Your Cover Letter
Just like a resume, a cover letter represents who you not only a candidate but a person. A well-written cover letter can speak volumes for you and some hiring managers see it as a way to determine your qualifications and commitment to the job. Hiring managers like seeing customized letters because it shows that more thought and effort was put in and research was done as opposed to a generic letter being sent out to a mass of companies.

When a cover letter is a generic template that doesn't relate to any specific company it actually weakens it. They're lacking in interest and keep many hiring managers from reading them. They want something that speaks directly to them and draws them in. Knowing who you're talking to is much more impressive than sending something "to whom it may concern."

Some Tips to Keep in Mind

-Find someone, anyone who could refer you. One of the many reasons why networking is so important. Knowing someone in the business can open up more doors than trying to get in on your own.

-Strong, and well-constructed resumes might not even need a cover letter. Make sure to put the most focus and emphasis on this.

-Try to find something that you can use to connect with the recruiters. This is where research on the company and exploring social
networking sites come in.

Ask For a Raise Without Fear
Monday, February 06, 2012

Asking for a raise is not an easy feat. We all want one, but are we supposed to go about asking the boss for more money? It's a tough question, one that many fear the repercussions of if things don't pan out well.

People who are considering asking this question need to ask themselves a few first. It takes a lot of guts to bring up a raise and there's good reason, but if well-prepared that anxiety should lessen. These five tips will help you working your way through such a senstive conversation:

Know Your Stuff

Do your homework and research so that you have a frame of reference to compare your current compensation. The internet has made it easier to find out information on salary ranges for your job within your field and region. The more thorough you are in your research the better you'll be able to recognize that not all jobs and people are created equal. You'll need to consider factors such as experience in the field, tenure with the company, region of the country, and size and success of the business. All of these are legitimate reasons to pay people differently for the same job.


Any time you are bringing up a heavy subject, it has to be presented at the right time otherwise you forfeit all chance of success. Bosses don't like surprises. A topic as important as this should not be sprung up without notice. When your boss doesn't see this coming it's unprofessiaonl and can be offputting. You'll want to mention to them ahead of time that you want to discuss your career, don't mention the raise specifically, then arrange a time to do so. This will give both of you time to work out your schedules accordingly. Also think about the state of the business. If times are tougher than usual then this naturally would not be a good time to ask for a raise. Opportunities to ask your boss for one are rare so you don't want to risk using up one of these chances at inopportune moments.

Toot Your Own Horn

You can't reasonably ask for a raise without providing an argument for why you believe you deserve it. Be very specific in your examples as they are stronger than general statements. Create as long of a list as you can and prioritize them so you don't run out of things to say when prompted and you get the most important said off the bat. The thing to remember is that you want to demonstrate your value, high performance, and go above and beyond your day-to-day job on a regular basis.

Nothing is Guaranteed

Your boss could have every reason to give you a raise and still decline it. Even still, be gracious and professional if you are told no. Every employers biggest cost is compensation so you're probably not the only one asking and have to consider. Business performance and budget constraints are also mitigating factors so don't feel rejected or feel that it has anything to do with you. It just might mean that another time will be better.

Thicken Your Skin

It can be a big blow to your ego but you have to understand that being declined a raise is not meant to be personal, it's simply business. Most employers would like to give their employees raises when deserved but are just unable to. You don't want to get emotional and do something detrimental to your career and later regret. Just be prepared for a "no," thank your boss for listening and ask what you can do to be reconsidered at a future point.

Of course, think about why you're asking for the raise in the first place. Everyone could use more money but that doesn't necessarily count for deserving it. If you believe that the work you put in is more than what you're compensated for then that's a good place to start but you also want to give your employer reasons other reasons. You want to compel the employer how keeping you will further benefit the company and that you're worth the additional pay. This will be a more of an incentive for them to approve your request.

The Interview Question Everyone Dreads
Monday, January 30, 2012

The silent pause in the room is hard enough to bear as you attempt to conceal the bead of sweat making its slow and steady way down your temple. The interviewer takes a longer look at your resume than you'd like--but she is and there's nothing you can do short of a diversion to stop her. Scanning the page she shows no reaction whatsoever. She's got her game face on alright and she's not about to let you read through it. She lifts her head up; here it comes. You're bracing yourself as she opens her mouth to utter the words: "So what made you leave your last job?"

Boom. There it is and now the spotlight is on you to make the next move in this torture chamber of an office. It's a simple question but you feel as if you're under a federal investigation. But did you really forget? She's already seen your resume! That's why you're in the interview in the first place. So relax, let some oxygen into your lungs, you'll need it to answer her question.

Many people get so nervous when it comes to explaining themselves, but the truth is there's nothing really to sweat about lest it was for some hanus reason then yeah, some extra deodorant might be in order. But for everyone else, the interviewer is partly testing you to see how well you can handle being confronted with the question as well as the answer you provide her.

Whatever reason you give her will be good enough as long as you back it up with conviction. You don't necessarily have to justify your reasons for leaving or being let go but let her know that you could still find a light at the end of the tunnel. This information isn't mandatory in an interview, but the interviewer wants to get to know you and part of you is your past and background. Surprisingly, she might be able to relate to your experience but flubbing your chance to make a real connection can give her the wrong impression.

Remember these pointers the next time you find yourself in this position and you'll save yourself from using your dressy clothes as sweat rags:

Honesty Is the Best Policy. The last thing you want to do while under pressure is to dig yourself a deeper hole. If things don't work out, you don't want to come out of there jobless and your dignity damaged. Avoid coming of as sketchy; even if you were fired from your last job own up to it. Things like that can happen to anyone for a variety of reasons. But stay positive and don't point fingers. Talk about what you learned and got out of your experience there. Keep the focus off your flaws without going around them. Just try to couple the cons with as more pros.

Cool, Calm, Collected. And Confident! Don't cower under the shadow of a question. Topple it with an even better statement. Whether you saw it coming or not, a part of you knew that it was going to come up, but whether it becomes an issue is all in how you handle it. Be prepared with an answer and know what you're going to say. Keep it short and sweet so you can address it and move on. Don't let the question control you; take command and show maturity. Make it known that you're two steps ahead of the game and are not afraid of confronting your past.

Add Fuel for the Future. Don't dwell on the past. It's there and it's there to stay but you don't have to stay there with it. Think about the good times and look forward to making many more. Tell the employer how your insight from that experience will help you in your future pursuits and that you're up for taking on this exciting new opportunity. If you show the employer that you can turn a negative into a positive it will prove to them that you are resilient and don't let an unfortunate circumstance get you down.

You've probably heard of the saying, "You're only as strong as your weakest link." Well, employers know that and in order for them to succeed, they have to have the strongest people behind them. Don't be one of the weaklings left out just because you felt dejected from a previous employer. So it didn't work out--learn from it, move on, and be better than ever. Show employers that you're ready to start fresh; that you're ready for a clean slate. Dragging baggage with you will only weigh you down. Leave the wrongs at the door, your interview is a chance to do things right!

5 Ways to Help Get Through Being Laid Off
Thursday, January 26, 2012

1) Stay calm and take a long deep breath. This may be hard, understandably, as being laid off in a tough economy is up there on the list of bad news a person can receive. But remember that it wasn't your fault, being laid off and being fired is different. You have more of a chance of finding a new job since losing your last one was out of your control.

2) You're now self-employed. You get to be your own boss in your new job of finding your next opportunity. Take it seriously and don't use this time for an extended vacation. Carry over the momentum from your last job into finding the next. Join networking groups, create a social media presence and utilize all and any resource you can that can connect you to employers and job opportunities.

3) Work with an outplacement firm or recruiter. These are valuable resources for getting help with your resume, networking, and sharpening your interviewing skills. Some people may be uncomfortable with having to sell themselves to employers so these are great places to practice these skills and make sure you're ready to get back on the market.

4) Be in control of your finances. Find someone to help you, like an independent planner, that has expertise in working with people in this this transitional period. Planning out your financial future will help you stay out of getting to money trouble. The future is unpredictable so you want to be prepared for whatever happens. Plan for the worst so even if you do find a job shortly after, you'll still have a handle on your finances.

5) Stay positive. This is probably the most important thing to do. The attitude you have during this time will directly affect the outcome of your situation. People can read through your feelings and even if you're trying to mask your negativity, they can pick up on that as well. Maintaining an optimistic outlook on your future will lead to proactive choices and get you to where you want to be. Keep in mind that you can't have ups without downs, so even though things are looking low now, remember that they are bound to pick up.

Asking for Help Through Email
Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Asking for help is hard enough as it is, and it can be even tougher to do when putting it into text. The problem that many people face is that they want to be clear enough in what they're asking for but end up complicating the question further by not simply stating it. A clear enough question needs no explanation.
Whether you've already had to or not, there will be a time in your career that you'll seek the assistance from someone with more knowledge or experience. Asking for help can seem like a lot of trouble, but it can actually keep you out of it.

But before you start firing off a slough of emails to people, you need to have a good approach if you want to receive good advice. Keep your questions focused without as opposed to vague questions like, "Any thoughts?" Yeah, they probably have plenty of thoughts, how many pages would you like them in?
Narrow what you want to know in just one, simple question. If you turn it into a quiz, they're more than likely to put it off. The quicker someone is able to get through your email, the quicker they'll be able to respond to it. Also, with a more specific question they can see that you reached out to them for a reason and have put thought into it.

Know What to Ask and You Shall Receive

When you're unsure about something, you might have a million questions running through your mind. Picking out just one and ruling out the others helps you identify what your problem really is and even help you solve some of the other side questions you had about it.

Have a rule about the length of your emails, no more than one to two paragraphs. You're more than likely to bore them or they won't know where to start in answering your question. Think your issue through and figure out what you're unable to solve yourself as opposed to seeking all the answers from others (which tends to put all the work on them).
You'll be able to close in on the real problem and solve any of the surrounding ones yourself making you more capable of accomplishing your task that you may have initially thought. People will be more willing to help you when you have a clear and well-thought out question for them to address. Before you know it, people will be turning to you for help.
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