Monday, December 27, 2010

How to Start the New Year Off Right

How to Start The New Year Off Right
By Ursula Anderson, eHow Member


However the old year treated you, it’s always nice to look forward to improving on it in the new year. There are lots of good ways to go about it. Not that any particular date is necessarily a good time to change your life, but New Year’s Day seems to be a good, memorable starting point.


Things You’ll Need:
• Good intentions.
• Paper and pencil (optional)
• Some self-knowledge

1. One of the best ways to start the new year is by surviving New Year’s Eve. Not drinking and driving is a good start; you should never do that anyway, but New Year’s Eve is an even more dangerous time to do it. Either don’t drink, or stay home and drink, or have a designated driver who won’t drink and can be trusted to drive carefully and defensively for the evening. Having a party at your house with all your friends, and making arrangements for everybody to surrender their keys at the door, with places for everybody to sleep, is a nearly ideal solution.
2. Some time before the new year begins, sit down with a pencil and paper, or just think deeply about what you would like to have changed about the year before. Did you have bad habits? Relationship problems? Decisions you regretted? Projects you left unfinished? Jot them down, then try to envision how you can avoid similar problems in the future. For instance, if you smoke or drink or gamble too much, make a concrete plan to cut down or quit these bad habits altogether, perhaps by joining a support group or talking to people who have already dealt with such challenges. Commit to working on relationship problems, by seeking professional help or by working it out between the two of you. Look over projects you may have left unfinished and decide whether you still want to finish them, and make plans to do the next step, or get rid of them. It’s okay to let go of something about which you no longer care. Sometimes it’s better that way.
3. Is there something you have always wanted to do, but never tried before? Throwing pots on a wheel? Traveling outside the country? Creating your own website? Continuing your education? Raising guppies? Do a little research on whatever it is. Starting something new, whether it works out or not, is a good way to make the new year an improvement over the last one. Even if you find that you don’t enjoy throwing pots or you flunk Algebra, you still put yourself out into the world and took a risk, and may have found something even more interesting through exploring new things. In any case, you woke up your mind and added a dimension to yourself when you tried something new.
4. Go through your address book. Is there anybody in there with whom you have had no contact in the past year? Did you want to, or is this a relationship better ended than renewed? The new year is a good time to take a look at the relationships you have, and how they can be improved or abandoned.
5. Be realistic. Change is hard; it’s often the best possible thing you can do for yourself, but trying to change too many aspects of your life at once can be very stressful and can undo the good effect it was intended to have. Quitting smoking, losing weight, enrolling in a photography course, committing to spending every weekend doing yard work for your grandma and reading a classic of literature every week, for instance, is bound to fail because you will overwhelm yourself. If you feel you need to do all those things, just don’t do them all at once; make priorities and do the most important ones first, no more than two at a time. Making yourself crazy is not an improvement in most cases.

Tips & Warnings

• Forgive yourself and move on. It’s not just you—nobody is perfect or had a perfect year. The key is to celebrate the good and downplay the bad.
• If you are making big changes in your life, notify the people around you. At most, you will generate support and encouragement; at least, you will have given fair warning and will feel more obligated to follow through.
• “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Sometimes, making change just for the sake of change can cause problems. Make sure you aren’t destroying anything of value. Aim for No Permanent Damage.
• Taking risks is a good thing, generally speaking, but be aware of all possible drawbacks before you jump into anything you can’t back away from after it’s done. When in doubt, sleep on it. You may be able to modify your planned change so it’s not as extreme at first.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Be Thankful This Holiday Season!

by Melissa Stilley

Life is tough. There are ups and downs. Often we fail to realize just how blessed we truly are. In today’s world we tend to take things for granted – food, clean water, hot showers, soft beds, transportation, electricity, an education. Most of us have never had to go without any of these things for more than a day or two, and then only when a winter storm made them temporarily unavailable. When you begin thinking that life is just unbearably tough, and are thinking of the things that you "want" but don't have, stop and think of those who don’t have what they "need" - the basic necessities that we take for granted every day. Did you know…

· Only 8% of the world has a car…others must rely on public transportation or walk everywhere they go.

· 40% of the world’s population lacks basic sanitation…not only are there no Lysol wipes handy, but there is no disposal system for garbage and excrement, and in many cases no indoor toilet facilities.

· Over 1 billion people (that’s a 1 followed by 9 zeros) do not have clean, safe water to drink or to cook with…what they have is dirty and often contains contaminants or bacteria.

· 800 million people will not eat today.

· Every 3 seconds, someone somewhere in the world dies of hunger.

· Only 1% of people in the world have a college education, and many don’t even have a high school education. As a matter of fact, there are many people in the world without even an elementary education.

· Americans spend more on garbage bags every year than 50% of the world’s population spends on all goods annually.

· Over 2 billion people in this world have no electricity. They do without the conveniences that most of us are accustomed to – lights, running water, heat and air conditioning, a stove or microwave to cook with, a refrigerator to keep food from spoiling, etc.

· Only 1% of the world has a computer…if you are reading this online right now, be thankful for an advantage most of us do not stop to think of.

· Between 750,000 and 2 million people are homeless in America right now – and increasingly more of the homeless population are families. Imagine sleeping under a bridge, freezing in the cold, scrounging or begging for food, not knowing from one day to the next if you will survive. Or if your children will.

Now…take a moment to pause and reflect. Think back over your day, your week, your month, even your year. Did you wake up in a bed, or even on the couch, this morning? Be thankful for the mattress you slept on, even if it may have been a little firmer or softer than you like. Have you eaten fresh, unspoiled food at least once a day this week? Be thankful…it may not have been the steak or haute cuisine you would have chosen, but it nourished your body and filled your stomach. Did you have to pay a power bill this month? Okay, it’s no one’s favorite thing, but it means that you were better off than over 2 billion of the world’s people…you had electricity and the wonderful things that go with it. Have you lived another year? Be grateful, there are those who didn’t. Every day brings challenges and we don't always have everything that we "want", but if you stop and look you will almost always find something to be thankful for…whether it be something as simple as a flower growing through the cracks in the sidewalk that brightens your day, the hug of a loved one that reminds you that you are cherished, that bite of sinfully sweet chocolate brownie that so many have never experienced, or the fact that you have the things you "need". Go, be happy, and don’t forget to be thankful for all the little things in life…and the big one’s that might not cross your mind every day.

Be blessed and have a Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Tips for Generating a Successful Resume and Finding Employment

Tips for Generating a Successful Resume and Finding Employment:
by: Melissa Stilley

First and foremost, before even considering applying, read the description of the open position in its entirety! Take a moment and ask yourself, “Am I really able to meet all of the job’s requirements?” If not, keep searching for something for which you are truly qualified. If a job calls for two years of recent experience and you have less than two years of experience, or your experience was ten years ago, then you are not able to meet the requirements. The same can be said if you do not have the education level required, or do not have experience with required software. In short, the requirements listed for a job are just that – things that are required by the employer in order for you to be considered as a candidate for their open position. When reading the job description, pay special attention to the employer’s application procedure – these days most applicants are requested to either fill out an online application or email their resume. If emailing, make sure that you send your resume in the format requested by the employer. If they ask that candidates send their resume in MS Word (.doc) format and you send it in another format, A) you show that you may have problems following directions and B) the employer may not be able to open the file, which will pretty much mean wasted time for both of you.

Now that you have determined that you are truly qualified to apply for certain positions, take a look at your resume and see if it sends the correct message about you and your abilities…

1 – Be sure that ALL of your information is current! If you have recently moved, changed or added a phone number, been married or divorced (resulting in a name change), or ended a position, make sure that those changes are reflected. Include multiple ways to contact you – for instance, home telephone, cell phone, and email address. You don’t want a prospective employer to be interested in scheduling an interview but unable to reach you! Also, a resume that is not up-to-date gives the appearance that you are not on top of things – an impression that you do not want to give to someone that you are asking to consider employing you! One thing to think about – since you want to come across to the potential employer as professional and respectable, you might want to think hard about your email address and what kind of message it sends. If you have an email address that is your name ( or something similar, you’re probably fine. If your email address is something fun or funky (such as, please realize that this is not giving out an image that will impress an employer. As a matter of fact, it may do more harm than good. If your email address is something of this nature, sign up for a new professional-sounding email address at one of the free providers like Gmail, Yahoo, etc. Then don’t forget to check it daily!

2 – When writing the “Previous Employment” section of your resume, be sure to include ALL employment from the past 15 years, even if it does not seem relevant to the position for which you are applying. This shows a continuity of employment and keeps the prospective employer from wondering, “Where was he/she during this missing time?” If you have a gap in your employment history, explain it. It doesn’t take much space or time to include a short entry such as, “June 1, 2000 to August 12, 2000 – Relocated and actively seeking employment”, or, “March 7, 2003 to July 10, 2005 – Stayed home to raise small child(ren)”. Think of other things that you did during that time, as well – while raising your children, did you volunteer on a regular basis that might reflect positively towards your ability to perform the job for which you are applying? For instance – did you hold a position as a treasurer for your church group, or help prepare the Sunday bulletins? These could be previously unthought-of examples of your abilities. You could include this information in such a way: “March 7, 2003 to July 10, 2005 – Stayed home to raise small child(ren). During this time volunteered as treasurer for Mommies Morning Out group at Sunshine Church.” Also, when writing this section on your previous employment, be sure to be as exact as possible on your dates. Do not just put “2000-2003”. Preferably, list the month, day, and year of both your start and end dates. Don’t know the exact dates? Call your former employer and ask! Most times this information will come from either Human Resources or the Payroll Department. Other ways to find out? Look at your old paystubs or tax returns – you should have a W2 for each employer. This will at least verify the exact years, and with a little thought you can probably remember at least the month you started and the month you left.

3 – Keep it professional! A good resume will be professional in many different ways – overall appearance, wording, spelling, punctuation, grammar and more.
▪ For overall appearance, your resume should be uniform. Use the same font throughout and don’t overuse the Bold, Italics, and Underline features. If using bullets, keep it simple – use one or two types only. For instance, use squares only, or if using two types, use squares for one type of information and circles for another. Use a professional border, if any. Those smiley-faces may be cute and reflect your fun personality, but they detract from the overall appearance of a professional resume. When setting your font type, go with something traditional – Times New Roman or Arial are good options. Don’t use a font type that is difficult to read such as Edwardian Script or Lucida Handwriting. Also, avoid the use of over-capitalization. It’s okay to type your name in all caps, but typing your entire resume that way comes across as brash and unprofessional. A note about using backgrounds and colored inks – remember that you are trying to create a professional resume, not an art project or holiday newsletter. Leave out the backgrounds, and preferably stick to black ink for your text. When an employer advertises an available position they are likely to receive hundreds of resumes, which prompts some candidates to think that they need to do something to make their resume stand out from the crowd – in truth, your professional background and abilities are what will make you stand out from the other candidates, not your use of multiple colors or fancy page backgrounds.
▪ In choosing your wording, be sure that you use correct terminology, don’t overuse abbreviations, and avoid the use of slang. Also, don’t attempt to make yourself look more important by using large words that are not a normal part of your vocabulary. You do not want to confuse a potential employer by showing them one person on paper and a different one in person.
▪ Spelling, punctuation and grammar are key! The lack of proper use of these three very important things can make or break your resume. If a prospective employer begins reading your resume and thinks that you cannot spell, or cannot put together a grammatically correct sentence, they might think that you lack the education to perform the job correctly. The majority of today’s computers feature free built-in spelling and grammar checking programs. Most of these will also catch small punctuation issues. These are great programs, but should never be used as a sole solution – always proofread your resume again after using Spell-Check! You may have spelled a word correctly, but it might not be the correct word to use. An example: “Experienced with the use on QuickBooks software”. The correct word “of” was accidentally replaced with the word “on”, which is spelled correctly and therefore not caught by Spell-Check…but even though the word is spelled correctly, it is not the proper word. Thorough proofreading can catch and correct this error.

4 – The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth! When it comes to creating a resume, applicants sometimes take the “creating” part too much to heart. Avoid the temptation of padding your resume with stretches of the truth or outright falsehoods. Be honest about your title, the dates, and the tasks that you completed on a regular basis. Prospective employers DO check references, and discovering that your resume is not correct makes you, the applicant, look as though they cannot be trusted. An employer would rather see that you were a ‘Billing Clerk’ who also did some managerial-type duties than to be led to believe that you were a ‘Billing Manager’ and upon verification find out that you were not a Manager at all. Padding dates to give yourself the appearance of longer employment, and therefore a more stable work history, will almost always backfire on you. As mentioned before, if you have gaps of employment, list them along with the reason that you were not employed at the time. As for your list of daily tasks & duties – keep it concise and honest. If you didn’t do it, don’t list it. If you are to be invited for an interview, or eventually hired, you do not want to prove unequal to the tasks required because you listed experience with something that in truth you have never done before.

5 – Play it safe! Listing your first and last names, address, telephone numbers and email address are important in creating your resume, but there are some things that you should never add. First, absolutely never, ever, put your Social Security Number on your resume! While a great many legitimate employers are listing their open positions online at places like Craig’s List, Monster and Career Builder these days, there are also occasionally scam artists and outright crooks who review the online resumes or post their own ads requesting resumes. Access to your name, address, and Social would be the perfect combination to allow identity theft. Other things that you do not want to list in your resume: your date of birth, marital status, personal family information such as the name of your spouse or children, information that could let someone know when you are not home, or information about your pets. Avoid any entry such as, “My husband Ben, our 12-year old son John and I love our dog Spot and Friday night bowling!” Some people actually do list such information (usually in a “Hobbies” section or similar) on their resume in an attempt to show a personal side to the employer, errantly thinking that it will give them a little more edge on the competition. What it could, unfortunately, end up doing instead is telling a crook, “Hey – here’s my address and notice of when we’ll be away from home – oh, and our dog’s name is Spot, so call him by name and bring him a treat and he’ll think you’re a friend and let you right in!” Or, worse yet, this person now knows your child’s name, address, telephone number, parent’s names, dog’s name, and the work history of at least one parent – lot’s of information they could use to pretend to be your former co-worker or a family friend to your unsuspecting child. Want to make things even safer? If it’s at all convenient, get a P.O. Box at your local Post Office. This generally costs less than $30 for 6 months (depending on box size), and can give you a way to list a contact address on your resume, receive mail from prospective employers, and yet not let the wrong person know your physical address. PO Boxes each have their own individual secure lock and you have the key. To allow for easy mail retrieval, the Post Office leaves the lobby door to the PO Box section open 24/7 – you can check your mail whenever it is convenient for you.

6 – Always include a cover letter! Your cover letter is your chance to tell the potential employer something about yourself that might not be listed in your resume. This is the place where you can mention the title of the job for which you are applying, a brief synopsis of why you feel that you would be a good candidate for the position, and any other pertinent information. Is the job in a city that you will be moving to, but haven’t settled in yet? Let the employer know that you will be moving to the city, and give a firm date. Don’t just state that you are planning to move there or that you’ll be moving in December – tell them, “I will be moving to (name of city) on December 15th (give whatever date you are moving) and am available for interviews prior to my relocation”. If you are changing states and it is too far to drive for an interview, suggest that you are available for a phone interview at any time. Some employers use initial phone interviews to screen applicants and decide if they have the potential to be the right fit for the job and company. Also, in your cover letter list your salary requirements and whether they are negotiable. After all, if you would like to make $55,000 a year but absolutely HAVE to have at least $45,000, you do not want to lose out on a possible salary of $50,000 (if that is what the company has budgeted for the position) because you didn’t mention that your requested salary is negotiable. At the same time, you do not want to waste either your own time or that of the potential employer if they are only offering $40,000 annually and you are not able to accept the job for that rate of pay.

7 – Cell phone music and voicemails: Remember that you want to give a potential employer every indication that you are a professional, so before beginning the job search process, think about what your phone says to someone calling to schedule an appointment. Do you have music that plays while the person waits for their call to connect? What type of music is it? If something classical or along the lines of ‘elevator music’, that may be fine. If it’s a party song, a song with lyrics that could be objectionable or anything unprofessional, your best bet is to remove it! You can always reinstate it once you are hired. Also, think about re-vamping your voicemail message. Is your current message aimed at your friends and family or towards an employer? If your message is more casual, you might wish to change it to something along the lines of, “Hello, you’ve reached (use your real name – not some cutesy nickname like “Nicky-poo”). I am unable to take your call at this time, but if you will leave your name, number and a brief message I will return your call as soon as possible. Thank you and have a great day!” Remember to put a smile in your voice when you record your message, speak clearly, avoid background noise, and if you hesitate, say ‘ummm’, or don’t sound happy to hear from the person, simply re-record it until it sounds good.

If you follow these guidelines you will be able to create a professional resume that will be a good representation of you and your abilities. This is what prospective employers are looking for – not frilly designs, resumes that are incomplete or out of date, or one’s that are not professional. You want the employer to be able to read over your resume quickly and see that you are the best candidate for their open position. One other tip…the propensity lately has been for people to include a photo of themselves in either the cover letter or the resume. An employer is not interested in how cute you look in a photograph; they are interested in what you can bring to the table, what you can do for their company. Including a photo is not professional, so avoid it at all costs…even though it seems (for some reason) to have become trendy…

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The forgotten meaning of Christmas

Compliments of:

By anyone's standard, the way Christmas is celebrated today is a gross commercialization of the most important birth in history. Unfortunately, Christians are not immune to this materialistic mentality for they also, for the most part, have compromised the message of giving and have adjusted to the commercialism of the holiday season. We give a myriad of useless gifts at Christmas because it's expected of us, and we feel guilty if we don't. The closer we get to Christmas, the greater the pressure to give, and the more depressed and unworthy we feel if we can't give.

As it was meant to be
For centuries Christmas was celebrated as a noncommercial holiday, and feeding the hungry, providing clothes and warm blankets to the poor, and giving special but simple gifts to pastors, missionaries, and poor children were a natural part of the celebration. Even in early America, Christmas was usually a time for feasting, going to church, giving to the poor and needy, and feeding the hungry. If gifts were given, it was of secondary importance and was usually restricted to small children, pastors, missionaries, and missionary converts. The celebration generally remained unchanged in America until the prosperity of the 1950s, when commercialism and materialism began to take the upper hand. This has happened so much that, presently, commercialism and gift indulgence have seemingly displaced the centuries-old Christmas tradition of providing for the poor and needy.

Getting back to basics
Obviously not all of our current Christmas celebration is bad; in fact, the holiday season provides opportunities for families to reunite, and it also allows a pleasant break from our daily routines. However, our celebration has become terribly imbalanced. The correct way for us to refresh and renew our holiday celebration is to take some positive steps to establish a better balance in our celebration.

The first of these steps is to pray and to seek God's guidance in determining a reasonable amount that should be spent for Christmas. The second step is to develop a budget that categorizes the amount of money that will be set aside for Christmas. We honor the One whose birthday we're celebrating by being good financial stewards of all He has entrusted to us. Step three is to stick to the budget and do not buy an item if it is not budgeted. Step four is not to use credit cards unless the entire balance is paid off in January, or when the bill comes in. Do not carry a credit card balance past 30 days. The fifth step is to do some kind of family ministry service, such as purchasing food or toys for needy families or giving to missions. Families should commit to give a minimum of a tithe of the budgeted Christmas spending amount to needy causes, but some may want to commit an equal amount spent on gifts to these special projects. Giving to meet the needs of others (usually through a charitable or nonprofit organization) allows children to see the purpose and value of their sacrifices, as well as that of their parents. "Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?' The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me'" (Matthew 25:37-40).

Although there are multiplied dozens of ministry opportunities or charity sponsored services to which Christian families can commit to give, in order to provide for the needs of others, the following are some that we encourage Christians to consider.

The poor in America
Although the poorest of the poor in America are generally more wealthy than 75 percent of the world's population, this does not negate the fact that America has millions who are trying to live by the most minimum of accepted living standards in order to exist in the most money-driven, materialistic society on earth. The total number of people in America who live below the poverty level ($16,660 for a family of four; $10,638 for a family of two) is 34,476,000 or 12.7 percent of America's total population. Of these at least 72,000 children below the age of 18 will be forced to live in poverty at least half of their childhood years. Less than one-third of these will have no gift to open on Christmas morning and 20 percent will have nothing to eat on Christmas day.

Think of the joy a Christian family could give a poor family this Christmas by including in their holiday budget funds to provide a Christmas meal for a poor family and gifts for the children to open on Christmas morning.

The unemployed in America
America's unemployed in 1999 numbered 6.2 million or 4.5 percent of the available workforce, with another 16.7 million earning less than poverty level. To these unemployed Americans, Christmas gift giving could be very meager. The funds they do have could be enough to buy a simple Christmas meal for the family, but gift giving very well could be absent from the family this Christmas.

With help from committed Christians, this could be a pleasant Christmas memory for families of the unemployed, rather than a negative memory.

The homeless in America
Seven hundred fifty thousand Americans are homeless on any given night. Over the course of a year, as many as three and one-half million people experience homelessness for some period of time; of these, 1.35 million are children below the age of 18.

The fastest growing group of homeless people consists of families with children. Today, families make up about 36 percent of the people who become homeless. The typical homeless family consists of a young unmarried or lone mother with two or three children.

Unless private or city homeless shelters or organizational missions provide a Christmas meal and small gifts like gloves, hats, blankets, or small toys to homeless families, chances are their Christmas will be just like any other day on the cold and cruel streets. What better way to fulfill the words of Christ spoken in Matthew 25 than to provide for the needs of the homeless.

Those alone in America
In 1998 there were about 64,518,000 family households in America (households with at least one dependent child living at home) of which over 54,317,000 were married-couple families.

Single-parent family households (a single parent with at least one child living at home) numbered almost 38 million. Of the 78,382,000 children that lived in these single-parent households, 32 percent lived with the mother only and 4.4 percent lived with the father only. Many of these children will have only one parent with whom they share Christmas this year.

Childless households numbered about 27,430,000. Of these 22,581,000 were households in which the householder was living alone. Almost nine million of those were over the age of 65. Today about one in eight Americans are aged 65 or older. Of these, approximately five million live in assisted-care or full-care facilities. Unfortunately, less than 45 percent of these receive more than two visits per year from family and/or friends.

In 1999 America had in excess of 12,850,000 high school students and over 2,300,000 college and university students. Of these close to 15 million students, 460,000 are foreign exchange students who had come to America for educational opportunities that they could not find in their home countries. Most of these foreign students will not be able to return to their homes for Christmas. So, unless they are invited to spend Christmas with American families, a major portion of them will be alone for Christmas.

There are also 27,000 American students studying abroad. Some of them will not be able to afford to fly back home for the holidays, which will leave many to face Christmas alone. What joy a card or a phone call or even a ticket to come home could bring to these students who are so far away from home.

Loneliness is devastating enough to deal with on a daily basis, but during the Christmas season it can be the catalyst that drives those who are alone into deep depression—in some cases irreversible depression. What better way can Christian families show the love of Christ on the celebration of His birth than to provide comfort and fellowship to those who will most likely be alone this Christmas? Locally, Christian families can either visit those who will be alone or invite them to share Christmas with their families. For those who are farther away, Christian families can write letters, send cards, send gifts, make telephone calls, send money (check or money order), or arrange for someone locally to visit those who will be alone this Christmas.

Those behind bars in America
One out of 150 people in America is incarcerated. There are 1.8 million this year who will spend Christmas behind bars, which will leave over 500,000 children without at least one parent this Christmas.

Many of these prisoners will not even receive a card from family or friends, much less a gift or a visit. In addition, many of the half million children of prisoners will have little or no Christmas unless we as Christians submit to the commandment of Jesus and provide for the needs of those who are in prison. For prisoners, physical and material needs are generally met by the controlling governmental agency, but their emotional and spiritual needs often are neglected and the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of their children very often are forgotten.

Foreign considerations
Although largely ignored by the mainstream media, Christians in many countries worldwide are suffering forms of persecution unrivaled since the time of the early Roman martyrs. There were more people martyred for their faith in Jesus Christ in the 20th century than in all the previous nineteen centuries. According to World Mission Digest there were some 100 million martyrs in the 20th century alone. Many countries officially condone torture, arbitrary arrest, and summary executions. Out of more than 200 countries in the world, only 30 are truly parliamentary democracies in which human rights are guaranteed by law. In most of these 200 countries, Christians and Christian families will celebrate Christmas either in secret or privately with very little fanfare. Most may have enough funds perhaps to buy a simple meal for Christmas, but because the majority have an annual family income of less than $700 (on a percentage basis the cost of living is much higher than in America. For example, the average cost for a loaf of bread is $.75 or almost a half day's wages.), virtually none will have the funds to provide gifts for their children. Without help from Christians in America, most of these oppressed fellow believers will have an extremely sparse Christmas celebration, if any at all.

Presently America has 410,000 missionaries from all branches of Christendom, of which 140,000 are Protestant missionaries. However, 303,500 of these missionaries minister to people who are already Christian in the 30 countries in which human rights are honored.

The total U.S. income in 1998 was $12.3 trillion. Of that amount, 1.73 percent went to Christian causes. Of the 1.73 percent, 5.4 percent went to foreign missions and 87 percent of foreign missions giving went to support work among those people who were already Christians in the countries where human rights are upheld.

In these countries, most missionaries will probably spend Christmas with their local Christian friends, because they will not have the funds to return home to celebrate with their families. The meal probably will consist of local and cultural delicacies and gifts will be simple—perhaps hand-made—if there are gifts at all. In the other countries of the world where human rights are not guaranteed, many of the missionaries will not be able return to America and spend Christmas with their families because of lack of funds, and they will not be able to celebrate Christmas in their field countries unless they celebrate in secret or privately. It is almost certain that local friends will not be part of the celebration, for fear of detection. Depending on available funds, a meal may or may not be part of the celebration; but, because most missionaries serving in these countries lack funds, gifts more than likely will not be part of the celebration.

Providing enough money to a missionary family to buy a Christmas meal and a few gifts could very well turn a lonely holiday far from home and loved ones into a joyous and memorable celebration.

Of a world population in excess of six billion, one billion are starving to death (not having eaten anything for 50 days or more) because of drought, pestilence, war, or others forms of either man-made or natural catastrophe. There is little hope for their survival. Another one billion are starving (not having eaten anything for 25 to 50 days). The chances of their survival is 50-50 if food is given to them immediately. A third billion are hungry (not having eaten anything from 5 to 25 days), but chances are good that they will survive if food is supplied. Eight hundred million more are malnourished (not having eaten the right food for at least 10 days). Recovery is near 100 percent if these people can receive the right kinds of food. So, of the six billion residents of the world, more than half are starving, hungry, or undernourished. Surely American Christians can afford a few dollars to help feed those who have no way of feeding themselves.

This Christmas season 13 percent of Christians in America will give at least one dollar to the homeless and 51 percent will give either funds or their time to some nonprofit organization. Notwithstanding, the typical Christian family in America will also spend $1,000 this Christmas season on gifts and the family Christmas meal. In light of Jesus' Matthew 25 mandate, shouldn't we as Christians re-evaluate our giving habits this year and try to move a little closer to what Jesus had in mind?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Let Thanksgiving Inspire Your Job Search

Compliments of:

Who doesn’t love Thanksgiving? Lots of good food and no need to shop for presents. It’s a day of turkey dinners, family gatherings and reflection; a holiday with deep roots dating back to 1621. Thanksgiving is a favorite holiday, our time to focus on everything for which we’re grateful.

Especially while job hunting, Thanksgiving is about seeing the good in our lives and feeling appreciation despite outer circumstances or conditions. Our happiness isn’t about how much stuff we’ve accumulated. Rather, it’s about feeling grateful for who, what and where we are right now. It’s about gratitude for how far we’ve come, what we do and for the challenges we’ve worked through.

Gratitude and the Law of Attraction

Gratitude is critical to the success of our job search. According to Rhonda Byrne, author of The Secret, we attract what we think about and concentrate on through the universal Law of Attraction. When we focus on our cup being half full, we attract more abundance and prosperity. This includes job opportunities.

Conversely, when we think that job hunting is hard, and focus on the jobs we didn’t get offered, we attract more rejection and disappointment. It’s been said that, “Attitude is everything.” That’s especially true in job search. Although we may not control anything outside of ourselves, we are in control of what we think, feel and do.

This Thanksgiving, why not try these 4 simple gratitude steps to improve your job search?

1) Start a Gratitude Journal

Oprah Winfrey has credited her success in part to keeping a gratitude journal, logging in at least five items each night for which she’s grateful. This shifts your energy. “What we think about and thank about, we bring about”, according to Dr. John Demartini, The Secret. Adopt an “attitude of gratitude” and start writing down five items each day for which you are grateful. This gets easier after a few days and soon it starts to shift your mindset from lack to prosperity.

2) Focus on Prosperity

Jack Canfield, co-author of the series of books, Chicken Soup for the Soul, suggests focusing on prosperity and abundance. Focus on inner joy, peace, vision, and the outer things appear naturally. “Your voice and vision on the inside”, he adds, “must be louder than the noise outside.”

3) Visualize Without Limits

Joe Vitale, also featured in The Secret, suggests closing your eyes in the morning and visualizing what you want without limits. Then focus on what you’re grateful for. He mentally reviews a gratitude list in the shower. He then releases all of this to the Universe, while breathing deeply. Canfield adds that, “Energy flows where attention goes”.

4) Be Grateful When a Job Falls Through

This may sound strange at first. However, when you pursue job opportunities, always leave the Universe the option to deliver the “right” job to you. It’s important to acknowledge that you don’t know which exact job is best for you. Be grateful when a certain job opportunity falls through, and always detach from a specific outcome. When job opportunities fall apart, the job wasn’t right for you. Who knows why? No matter. Surrender to the Universe, knowing that the best job for you, will come to you at the right time.


The wise give thanks for what most of us take for granted. Spend a few quiet moments during this Thanksgiving holiday to try some of these simple, yet powerful steps. These steps, based on gratitude and the Law of Attraction, will not only help move you toward the right job for you at the right time, they’ll also enrich your Thanksgiving weekend and last well beyond the turkey leftovers.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Boost Your Career by 2011

Compliments of:, Monster+HotJobs

Year-end reviews may seem like light years away, but it pays to plan ahead and prepare. That's what Lindsey Sparks did while working for a staffing company in Oklahoma. "I keep both a hard copy and an electronic folder with achievements and compliments I've received," she says. "When review time comes, I pull those out and incorporate them into my self-review, and bring some of the best compliments and successes to my review."

Those strategies have served her well. In fact, her preparation and initiative have made her one of the youngest people in her company's history to be promoted to management. Whether you yearn for that corner office or simply hope to survive your first review at a new job, we've compiled expert tips on how to ace your annual review.

Solicit feedback before your review.
The last thing you want during a review is to be blind-sided by negative feedback. To avoid this scenario, seek out your boss for periodic check-ins. "This gives you a chance not only to report on things but also to get his or her input," says Shawn Graham, the author of "Courting Your Career." "It doesn't have to be formal. It could mean sending an email. Running into them in the hallway can be just as helpful. In those cases, you can transition into the conversation with 'If you have a second, I'd like to get your input.'" Then implement whatever suggestions you get, to ensure that you're on the right track come review time.

Document your achievements.
As mentioned above, Sparks keeps a list of her accomplishments and achievements, and you should, too. "Look for ways you can say how you saved money or increased revenue," suggests Alexandra Levit, a workplace consultant and the author of "New Job, New You." "This requires a couple of weeks of thought. The goal of this is to be able to go into your review with a clear sense of how the organization is better off because you worked there."

Set realistic expectations.
People often go into a review expecting a promotion or a fat bonus. In this economic climate, though, that may not be realistic. However, Levit says you can look at the company's organizational structure to see what the logical next step might be in your own career progression. "You want to make sure you understand how [promotions] work at your company," she explains. If you're hoping for a raise, she adds, you can look at salary statistics from or similar sites to see what's reasonable for someone with your job title and level of experience. Your list of achievements also comes in handy here, because it helps show why you're worth more than your current salary.

Prepare yourself for negative comments.
Unfortunately, even with the right preparation, sometimes negative feedback is simply part of the review process. According to Graham, "It's safe to say there's going to be some negative feedback at some point in your career. Stay calm and don't get defensive. If you tend to get overly emotional, it [may be] hard for you to do that, so visualize possible feedback in advance. Your boss looks for cues about how you're able to incorporate and address the feedback, and the worst thing you can do is receive feedback and shrug it off." Instead, see it as a growth opportunity and look for ways to demonstrate improvement at your next review.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Recent College Grads Should Consider Staffing Agencies

Compliments of:

When I was a sophomore in college, I remember having a conversation with a couple of friends about jobs. They were seniors, and we were discussing their hunt for jobs for after graduation. So confident that a good job would surely pan out, one of them had decided to buy a new car. After all, he was going to have a nice salary, he reasoned, and he would need a nice new car to get to and from his job. So he decided to buy a brand new red Saturn. At the time, I was impressed – he seemed so grown up, and I was also jealous of the prospect of a nice new car and the salary that we all assumed would follow shortly. Not having kept track of him after graduation, I now wonder – did he find a job that quickly and one that paid well? Since most people I know, myself included, had some dues to pay before the plum job with the good money came along after graduation, I wonder how that car payment ended up treating him.

Let’s face it – it’s not all that easy to get a job after college. Sure, yes, maybe you took all the right classes, (or maybe you followed your heart and majored in Art, only to find that well-paying painting gigs are a little hard to come by), and maybe you even have an internship or two to list on your resume. But times have been tough in the past few years, and there are some very qualified people out there who have been in the work force for much longer than you. And they are out vying for the very same position you are aiming for.

So what’s a recent college grad to do? Especially when you not only need a career, but some good old-fashioned money? Answer: Consider a staffing agency. Staffing agencies (also often known as temp agencies) generally offer a variety of
hiring options, including temporary, temporary-to-permanent, and direct hire positions. You can often start work almost immediately and (hopefully) even end up with a job that will provide you with a strong start in the corporate world.
Here’s the run-down on what these staffing terms mean:

Temporary jobs are the kind where an agency sends to you a client of theirs for a short time to fulfill a certain position.
These can be anything from receptionist, customer service, data entry or any kind of short-term need a company might have. Generally, these jobs run about a day to a few weeks, although some offer long-term temporary positions, where the “temp” (that would be you) works for several months, or even years. (Yes, it has been known to happen – some people are just very happy working this way!) While working as a temp, your salary is paid by the staffing agency. Payday is usually
once a week, which is a nice bonus for those living paycheck-to-paycheck, as many recent college grads are. You can generally pick up your check directly at the agency, although some places offer direct deposit into your checking account.

Temp-to-perm jobs start out with you working as a temp for the agency’s client. All the usual rules apply, including your
salary being paid by the agency. However, if the client likes you and you like them, they may offer you a permanent position.
If this occurs, then they hire you from the agency, and you become an official employee of the client. Temp-to-perm
positions are great because it is a good way to check out a job and/or a company before anyone makes a formal
commitment to each other.

Direct hire positions begin with a company who has an open position that they have filed with the agency. The agency then acts as a middleman between you and the company hiring. You will go through an initial interview with the staffing agency
first and they will then speak to the company about you – this is a huge bonus because you have someone who acts on
your behalf with the company. Consider the agency to be your very own personal sales team…who wouldn’t want someone talking you up to a potential employer? If everyone agrees it could be a good fit, you generally will go through an interview process with the company itself (with the agency assisting with the arrangements), until you are hopefully offered the job!

So how does it work? Most staffing agencies require an appointment, although some will accept walk-ins. You can often browse agency websites for potential positions and to find out what their general procedures are for interviews.

Once you have made an appointment, be sure to bring with you a couple of copies of your resume. The agency will want at least one on file, and it is handy for them to have an extra copy or two. In addition, be sure to bring a couple of forms of ID. When you make your appointment, it’s a good idea to ask if they need you to bring anything else with you. Once you are
there, you will fill out an application and other general paperwork (including a W-2, if you are going to start out as a temp, as this makes you an employee of the temporary agency). Agencies will often also have you do some computer tests for
various proficiencies that you have, including MS Word/Excel/Powerpoint, as well as typing, etc. These tests can take some time to complete, but they are worth it, as the agency can then inform clients of your test scores and be sure that you are a good fit for the skills that the client is seeking. So be patient, and be sure to give yourself a couple of hours for your appointment when you are making your plans for the day.

You will then meet with one of the agency’s recruiters and have an interview – during this interview, they will get a good
feel for your background, skills, and what kind of jobs you are seeking. Be sure to let them know what kind of positions
you are open to – whether it’s just temporary, temp-to-perm, or direct hire. And be flexible, if at all possible. Agencies love
to meet a bright, educated prospect that is willing to try just about anything! People who are willing to go out on a variety of temp jobs while the agency is searching for a temp-to-perm and/or permanent position for them are considered golden by agencies. Remember that if they like you, this will translate when they are talking to clients about you!

During the interview, they will probably talk to you about positions that they have open, if any of them are a good fit for you. Here’s one of the greatest things about staffing agencies – you could have a job lined up before you even walk out the door! And while you are working temporary positions, the agency can be looking for permanent positions for you. In other words, you’ll be earning money while experts are working to find you a job…now THAT’S a smart situation!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Conquer Your Career Fears

Compliments of: & Monster+HotJobs

For most people, Halloween conjures scary images of witches, goblins, and ghosts. But for many workers, there are other fears lurking in the shadows all year: like the fear of being reprimanded, laid off, or stuck in a dead-end job. According to Ford R. Myers, president of Career Potential, LLC, and the author of "Get the Job You Want, Even When No One's Hiring," "the American workplace is largely driven by fear. Most bosses use fear as a mechanism to control and drive the employee's activity."

How can you conquer those fears and succeed in the workplace? Read on.

Fear #1: What if I get laid off?
Given the unemployment rate, layoffs are a chillingly real possibility for many workers. However, you can cope with that fear by actively building your
network. "Regardless of whether you believe you'll be laid off, you should proactively engage in your professional community," says Michael Woodward, PhD, an executive coach and the author of the "The You Plan." "Belong to your professional association or community organizations. ... The difference between those who stay unemployed and those who are quickly able to get back on their feet is that the latter have strong networks."

Fear #2: If I don't get laid off, but others do, will I be able to handle the added responsibilities?
When companies downsize, often the best employees get "rewarded" with more work. This can cause job-performance anxiety, especially if the new tasks are outside your skill set or if you're afraid of adding
anotherproject to your to-do list. In this situation, Woodward suggests reaching out to your boss and coworkers for guidance. "Knowledge helps create certainty," he says. "You could wallow in that stress or you could say, 'I need some clarification on a couple of points.' It's an opportunity to broaden your skill set and to make yourself more valuable in the future."

Fear #3: Will I be underemployed forever?
Often younger workers end up in support roles where they may not feel challenged. More-experienced workers can also wind up in this predicament due to a layoff or workforce re-entry. However, thinking ahead to your next position keeps things in perspective when it feels like you're endlessly folding t-shirts or fetching coffee. "The smart person does not just ... do what the boss tells them and nothing more," says Myers. "They should consistently grow their credentials. Step up for the juicier, more challenging assignments. Show up earlier; leave later." Remember, the old model of your boss or human resources managing your career is no longer applicable. It's up to
you to determine your next steps.

Fear #4: What if my boss yells at me again?
A boss who yells or criticizes you in front of others can really damage morale, so Myers advises that people be "very, very careful about the culture that they choose." Another thing, he says, "is to be very proactive and clear with your boss when you first get hired about how you establish the relationship and set the right precedent." If you're already in a job with a toxic boss, you can sometimes manage a situation (and prevent future problems) by discussing it in a calm, nonthreatening manner. "Don't bring it up in public and don't point fingers," Myers advises. "Say to your boss, I have a concern about something that happened. I'm not sure what your motivation was. I may have misunderstood, but this was my perception; I'd like to get your take on it.'"

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Who's Hiring Now: 5 Hot Industries for Fall 2010

Compliments of & Monster+HotJobs

As another tough year winds down, some parts of the economy are showing signs of life. So where are the jobs hiding? We asked two career experts--Brendan Courtney, president of the national recruiting firm The Mergis Group, and career coach Robin Ryan, the author of "60 Seconds and You're Hired!"--to pinpoint this season's best sectors and the most in-demand (and well-paid) jobs.

(All salary data is from The salaries listed are median hourly salaries for full-time workers with five to eight years of experience and include any bonuses, commissions, or profit sharing.)

Health Care
Registered nurses ($61,300) are always in demand, particularly for emergency rooms and other hospital settings. In addition, new federal medical-billing requirements have created a growing need for anyone with experience in health care information technology, such as information-technology specialists ($50,547), medical-billing clerks ($33,036), and medical-billing managers ($42,759), says Courtney.

"Accounting professionals within health care are being highly sought after to do federal-compliance health care IT," he says.
Ryan notes that our aging population means (recession or no) that demand for physical therapists ($67,575), occupational therapists ($65,214), and physician assistants ($89,375) has continued to grow.

Federal Government
If you think the federal government hires only low-paid workers or only people in Washington, D.C., think again on both counts, says Ryan. There are branch offices of many agencies across the country, and few workers consider federal jobs, so getting hired can be easier here than applying in the private sector.

"People think there's a civil-service test," she says, "but that's long gone."

Due to a wave of baby boomer retirements, coupled with the change of administration, the government is hiring 10,000 people a month, according to Ryan--a level unseen since the 1960s. They're hiring professional-level people, too; she says that nearly half of federal hires in the past several months have been for jobs paying more than $100,000.

Among the roles Ryan sees in demand: project managers ($60,687), senior civil engineers ($79,725), plumbers ($42,577), and electricians ($45,524).

The government is a major employer of health care workers, too. As troops return from overseas deployments, the need for medical help is, sadly, rising. Ryan says small health clinics located near military bases, as well as big military hospitals, need staff.

Financial Services
From the federal financial bailout of big banks to recent banking reforms, changes in federal oversight of the financial-services sector have created a need for accountants ($47,712) with experience in regulatory compliance, says Courtney.

In addition, big banks are beginning to rebuild their staffs after the mass layoffs of 2008, Courtney says. Loan processors ($33,613), loan underwriters ($52,869), and mortgage brokers ($64,732) are all in demand, he says. Not all the jobs are at the banks themselves, either--third-party loan-servicing companies also offer opportunities.

Orders are starting to pick up for some light-manufacturing companies, says Ryan. For instance, she says, "Microsoft has 4,000 job openings" for software engineers ($52,869), customer-service representatives ($31,589), and more.

The past couple of months have seen rising retail sales, the U.S. Commerce Department reports, and Ryan says companies are starting to hire sales help again. While much of the current hiring may be seasonal for the holidays, retailers will be trolling the holiday-help ranks for sales representatives ($43,914) and sales managers ($61,734) they want to keep.

Most in demand, Ryan says, is anyone who can work a daytime shift--perfect for many people who are currently out of work. Stay-at-home moms looking to re-enter the workforce are also having some luck lining up 9-to-3 shifts.

"I personally know three people who've done that recently," she says.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

15 Toughest Interview Questions (and Answers!)

Compliments of Tania Khadder | Excelle

1. Why do you want to work in this industry?

Bad answer: “I love to shop. Even as a kid, I spent hours flipping through catalogs.”

Don’t just say you like it. Anyone can do that. Focus instead on your history with that particular industry, and if you can, tell a success story.

Good answer: “I’ve always loved shopping, but my interest in retail marketing really started when I worked at a neighborhood boutique. I knew our clothes were amazing, but that we weren’t marketing them properly. So I worked with management to come up with a marketing strategy that increased our sales by 25% in a year. It was great to be able to contribute positively to an industry I feel so passionate about, and to help promote a product I really believed in.”

2. Tell us about yourself.

Bad answer: “I graduated four years ago from the University of Michigan, with a Bachelor’s in Biology — but I decided that wasn’t the right path for me. So I switched gears and got my first job, working in sales for a startup. Then I went on to work in marketing for a law firm. After that, I took a few months off to travel. Finally, I came back and worked in marketing again. And now, here I am, looking for a more challenging marketing role.”

Instead of giving a chronological work history, focus on your strengths and how they pertain to the role. If possible, illustrate with examples.

Good answer: “I’m really energetic, and a great communicator. Working in sales for two years helped me build confidence, and taught me the importance of customer loyalty. I’ve also got a track record of success. In my last role, I launched a company newsletter, which helped us build on our existing relationships and create new ones. Because of this, we ended up seeing a revenue increase of 10% over two years. I’m also really interested in how companies can use web tools to better market themselves, and would be committed to building on your existing platform.”

3. What do you think of your previous boss?

Bad answer: “He was completely incompetent, and a nightmare to work with, which is why I’ve moved on.”

Remember: if you get the job, the person interviewing you will someday be your previous boss. The last thing they want is to hire someone who they know is going to badmouth them some day. Instead of trashing your former employer, stay positive, and focus on what you learned from him (no matter how awful he really was).

Good answer: “My last boss taught me the importance of time management, he didn’t pull any punches, and was extremely deadline-driven. His no-nonsense attitude pushed me to work harder, and to meet deadlines I never even thought were possible.”

4. Why are you leaving your current role?

Bad answer: “I can’t stand my boss, or the work I’m doing.”

Again, stay away from badmouthing your job or employer. Focus on the positive.

Good answer: “I’ve learned a lot from my current role, but now I’m looking for a new challenge, to broaden my horizons and to gain a new skill-set, all of which I see the potential for in this job.”

5. Where do you see yourself in five years?

Bad answer: “Relaxing on a beach in Maui,” or "Doing your job”.

There’s really no right answer to this question, but the interviewer wants to know that you’re ambitious, career-oriented, and committed to a future with the company. So instead of sharing your dream for early retirement, or trying to be funny, give them an answer that illustrates your drive and commitment.

Good answer: “In five years I’d like to have an even better understanding of this industry. Also, I really love working with people. Ultimately, I’d like to be in some type of managerial role at this company, where I can use my people skills and industry knowledge to benefit the people working for me, and the company as a whole.”

6. What’s your greatest weakness?

Bad answer: “I work too hard,” or for the comedian, “Blonds.”

This question is a great opportunity to put a positive spin on something negative, but you don’t want your answer to be cliché — joking or not. Instead, try to use a real example of a weakness you have learned to overcome.

Good answer: “I’ve never been very comfortable with public speaking — which, as you know, can be a hindrance in the workplace. Realizing this was a problem, I asked my previous employer if I could enroll in a speech workshop. He said “yes.” I took the class, and was able to overcome my lifelong fear. Since then, I’ve given lots of presentations to audiences of over a 100 high level executives — I still don’t love it, but no one else can tell!"

7. What salary are you looking for?

Bad answer: “In my last job I earned $35,000 — so, now I’m looking for $40,000.”

“If you can avoid it, don’t give an exact number. The first person to name a price in a salary negotiation loses. Instead, re-iterate your commitment to the job itself. If you have to, give a broad range based on research you’ve conducted on that particular role, in your particular city.”

Good answer: “I’m more interested in the role itself than the pay. That said, I’d expect to be paid the appropriate range for this role, based on my five years of experience. I also think a fair salary would bear in mind the high cost of living here in New York City.”

8. Why should I hire you?

Bad answer: “I’m the best candidate for the role.”

A good answer will reiterate your qualifications, and will highlight what makes you unique.

Good answer: “I’ve been an Executive Assistant for the past ten years — my boss has said time and time again that without me, the organization would fall apart. I’ve also taken the time to educate myself on some of the software I regularly use (but didn’t really understand the ins and outs of). I’m an Excel whiz now, which means I can work faster, and take over some of what my boss would traditionally have had to do himself. What’s good enough for most people is never really good enough for me.”

9. What is your greatest failure, and what did you learn from it?

Bad answer: “I never finished law school — and everything that’s happened since has taught me that giving up, just because the going gets tough, is a huge mistake.”

You don’t want to actually highlight a major regret, especially one that exposes an overall dissatisfaction with your life. Instead, focus on a smaller, but significant, mishap, and how it has made you a better professional.

Good answer: “When I was in college, I took an art class to supplement my curriculum. I didn’t take it very seriously, and assumed that, compared to my Engineering classes, it would be a walk in the park. My failing grades at midterm showed me otherwise. I’d even jeopardized my scholarship status. I knew I had to get my act together. I spent the rest of the semester making up for it, ended up getting a decent grade in the class. I learned that no matter what I’m doing, I should strive to do it to the best of my ability. Otherwise, it’s not worth doing at all.”

10. How do you explain your gap in employment?

Bad answer: “I was so tired of working, and I needed a break,” or “I just can’t find a job.”

Employment gaps are always tough to explain. You don’t want to come across as lazy or unhireable. Find a way to make your extended unemployment seem like a choice you made, based on the right reasons.

Good answer: “My work is important to me, so I won’t be satisfied with any old job. Instead of rushing to accept the first thing that comes my way, I’m taking my time and being selective to make sure my next role is the right one.”

11. When were you most satisfied in your job?

Bad answer: “I was most satisfied when I did well, and got praised for my work.”

Don’t give vague answers. Instead, think about something you did well and enjoyed that will be relevant at this new job. This is an opportunity for you to share your interests, prove that you’re a great fit for the job and showcase your enthusiasm.

Good answer: “I’m a people person. I was always happiest — and most satisfied — when I was interacting with customers, making sure I was able to meet their needs and giving them the best possible customer experience. It was my favorite part of the job, and it showed – I was rated as “Good or Excellent” 95% of the time. Part of the reason I’m interested in this job is that I know I’d have even more interaction with customers, on an even more critical level."

12. What did you like least about your last job?

Bad answer: “A lack of stability. I felt like the place could collapse around me at any time.”

Try and stay away from anything that draws on the politics, culture or financial health of your previous employer. No matter how true it might be, comments like these will be construed as too negative. Also, you don’t want to focus on a function that might be your responsibility in the next role. So think of something you disliked in your last job, but that you know for sure won’t be part of this new role.

Good answer: “There was nothing about my last job that I hated, but I guess there were some things I liked less than others. My previous role involved traveling at least twice a month. While I do love to travel, twice a month was a little exhausting — I didn’t like spending quite so much time out of the office. I’m happy to see that this role involves a lot less travel.”

13. Describe a time when you did not get along with a co-worker.

Bad answer: “I’m easy to get along with, so I’ve never had any kind of discord with another coworker.”

Interviewers don’t like these types of ‘easy out’ answers. And besides, they know you are probably not telling the truth. Think of a relatively benign (but significant) instance, and spin it to be a positive learning experience.

Good answer: “I used to lock heads with a fellow nurse in the NICU ward. We disagreed over a lot of things — from the care of patients to who got what shifts to how to speak with a child’s family. Our personalities just didn’t mesh. After three months of arguing, I pulled her aside and asked her to lunch. At lunch, we talked about our differences and why we weren’t getting along. It turns out, it was all about communication. We communicated differently and once we knew that, we began to work well together. I really believe that talking a problem through with someone can help solve any issue.”

14. What motivates you?
Bad answer: “Doing a good job and being rewarded for it.”

It’s not that this answer is wrong — it’s just that it wastes an opportunity. This question is practically begging you to highlight your positive attributes. So don’t give a vague, generic response — it tells them very little about you. Instead, try and use this question as an opportunity to give the interviewer some insight into your character, and use examples where possible.

Good answer: “I’ve always been motivated by the challenge of meeting a tough deadline — in my last role, I was responsible for a 100% success rate in terms of delivering our products on time and within budget. I know that this job is very fast-paced, and deadline-driven — I’m more than up for the challenge. In fact, I thrive on it.”

15. How would your friends describe you?
Bad answer: “I’m a really good listener.”

While being a good listener is a great personality trait, your employer probably doesn’t care all that much. It’s unlikely that they’re hiring you to be a shoulder to cry on. You’ll want to keep your answer relevant to the job you’re interviewing for — and as specific as possible. If you can, insert an example.

Good answer: “My friends would probably say that I’m extremely persistent — I’ve never been afraid to keep going back until I get what I want. When I worked as a program developer, recruiting keynote speakers for a major tech conference, I got one rejection after another – this was just the nature of the job. But I really wanted the big players — so I wouldn’t take no for an answer. I kept going back to them every time there was a new company on board, or some new value proposition. Eventually, many of them actually said “yes” — the program turned out to be so great that we doubled our attendees from the year before. A lot of people might have given up after the first rejection, but it’s just not in my nature. If I know something is possible, I have to keep trying until I get it."

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Contract Work: The Pros and Cons of Being a Contractor

Compliments of

Accepting contract work is an option that some job searchers look at not only when they are having trouble finding fulltime work but because of the lucrative nature of contract assignments.
Typically, contract work can run anywhere from around 1 month to 12 months in length and sometimes, even longer than that.

Depending on the industry and job, contracts might differ in length but as a recruiter, this is the typical range that I tend to see available.

Depending on the specific situation, here are some possible benefits of contract work:

1. Money
Contractors typically get paid on an hourly basis for actual hours worked with no benefits or holidays paid but depending on the specific job, can often make more money than if they were doing the same job on a fulltime basis. Hence, working on contract - especially if you can find a long-term contract of 1 year or longer - can be quite lucrative. Plus unlike most salaried staff, contract staff get paid overtime.

2. Variation of Work
Contract work often allows you to change your jobs frequently especially if you are working short-term contracts. There isn't much chance of getting bored if you are constantly working on new projects or for different companies.

3. Tax Benefits
Depending on your local tax laws, you might find tax benefits if you are self-employed and have the ability to write off business expenses.

There are some possible negative aspects you need to think about when it comes to contract work. First off, some employers can be turned off considering you for a fulltime job with their company if you have a recent track record of working on contracts.

Since one of the benefits of contract work is the money you can make, hiring managers tend to be aware that many people who choose to work on contracts do so because of the monetary benefits. Therefore, they might be hesitant to hire you fulltime believing you would not stay with them long term earning a salary if a more lucrative contract appeared.

You might need to convince a hiring manager that you will stay long term if your recent work history is made up of contract work.

Also, be prepared for periods of unemployment during slow times. If you're fortunate, you can pick up a new contract when an old one is ending but it doesn't always work that way.

Following Y2K when I was working as an Information Technology recruiter, the market for most IT professionals - and especially contractors - went down the toilet as companies had spent their IT budget (and then some) upgrading their systems preparing for Y2K. After this, the dot com bubble burst and then September 11 occurred and by then, many IT professionals had been laid off and previously high-flying contractors were forced to take far less paying fulltime jobs just to get back into the workforce.

Finally, if you're accepting contract work but prefer fulltime work, keep in mind that timing doesn't always work in your favour. If you are several months away from finishing a contract and a great fulltime job comes along, what do you do? You might not be able to break your contract to take the fulltime job and the company offering the fulltime job might not be able to wait until your contract is over to hire you.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Bounce Back: Don't Let a Mistake Derail Your Next Interview

Compliments of & Robert Half International

You finally land an interview for a job you really want. You spend hours prepping for the meeting. You thoroughly research the company, practice responses to common interview questions, and develop a well-researched list of discussion topics.

But despite your diligent preparation, something inexplicably goes awry on the day of your interview. You hit a major traffic jam on the way to the office, spill a latte all over yourself, or get tongue-tied while explaining why you're the perfect person for the position.

Whether you run into bad luck or bad timing, there's likely something you can do to remedy the situation and get the interview back on track. But there are also actions you can take that will put you out of the running completely. Here are some dos and definite don'ts to keep in mind if you make a mistake during a job interview:

The problem: You built in ample time to arrive early, but Murphy's Law strikes, and you get a flat tire. You're going to be late.

Do call the interviewer as soon as you realize you're not going to make it on time. Briefly explain the circumstances, provide an estimate of when you'll arrive, and apologize for the inconvenience. Most hiring managers will understand that innocent and unforeseen mishaps occur. They might need to reschedule, but they probably won't hold it against you.

Don't leave the interviewer to wait and wonder where you are. Explaining that you will be 20 minutes late is infinitely better than offering after-the-fact excuses about why you are 20 minutes late.

The problem: You notice spilled coffee on your neatly pressed shirt just before the interview begins.

Do stay calm and confident. While first impressions matter, a stain alone isn't going sink your chances. You could even make a lighthearted, self-deprecating joke, using the stain as a vehicle to break the ice and display your roll-with-the-punches attitude and sense of humor. "I see you're drinking coffee; I'm wearing mine," you might say. You'll gain empathy and maybe even score a laugh.

Don't make a scene by exclaiming "Oh, no!" and darting to the restroom. And don't preoccupy yourself with trying to hide or camouflage the unfortunate blotch. Interviewers can easily overlook and forget a stain, but they'll definitely remember if you appeared uncomfortable and tense throughout the meeting.

The problem: You fumble in your first response by referring to the company by the wrong name.

Do maintain your composure. Quickly correct yourself and weave the right name into subsequent answers. Stay positive and remind yourself that everyone misspeaks at times, especially when nervous.

Don't dwell on the error. Allowing an early slip-up to set the tone of the interview is an even bigger mistake. Mentioning that you'd love to work for "Roger Half International" when you meant to say "Robert Half International" doesn't spell doom. But calling further attention to the gaffe by following up with, "I'm such an idiot, I can't believe I said that!" will compound the problem.

Finally, even if you feel that the interview went poorly and you have no shot at the job, it's still wise to write a prompt thank-you note to show your appreciation for the opportunity and reiterate your interest in the position. Your perception of your performance may be vastly different from the interviewer's assessment. People have a tendency to be their own worst critics.

In fact, a swift recovery from a mishap can actually work in your favor, showing the prospective employer that you can handle tough situations and quickly bounce back from setbacks.