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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.
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