While the holiday season is supposed to be full of “good tidings and cheer”, we all know that this is not something that comes easily to many of us. Between long lines in stores, wallets that grow empty as the season goes on, and angst over what to get the person who isn’t happy with anything, the “cheer” part of the holiday season sometimes goes by the wayside, especially in the workplace. However, there are things you can do to make the holiday season less stressful and more enjoyable for you and your coworkers.
Know your staff and their holidays:
If you are a department head, you should have an awareness of what customs/traditions your employees follow during the holidays. Saying “Merry Christmas” to the Account Manager who celebrates Hanukkah can be offensive, even if you don’t mean for it to be. If you take your staff to lunch as a holiday gift, try to organize the luncheon on a day when they are all present. Some staff may take days to celebrate holidays in their own cultures/religions, rather than the customary Christmas Eve and Christmas Day dates that most companies shut down.
Gifts for coworkers:
Many of us already have too many people on our shopping list during the holiday season, and adding coworkers to that list sometimes puts us over the edge. If you have a group of co-workers you feel you need to buy a little something for, suggest drawing names and doing a gift exchange. Set a strict price limit, and encourage the co-workers to give gift ideas (within the price range) to help the buyer find something appropriate for that person. If you decide to buy for someone outside of the gift exchange, make sure you set up a special time away from the workplace to exchange gifts. Or, forgo the gift giving completely and instead do a cookie exchange or potluck with your coworkers to keep the mood festive. Both options cost less and still give you the holiday social time with your coworkers.
Gifts for the boss:
This is a tough one. If you are the person who has been assigned the task of organizing the gift for the boss, there are a few things to remember. First, salaries are not the same. Find a gift where everybody can chip in and not have their wallets cleaned out. Set a limit (maybe $10/person) and if people want to give more they can. Have a card at your desk ready to go so when your coworkers bring you their donation, they can sign the card before they leave. Be prepared for those who may not want to donate and don’t badger them. Finally, when you are ready to present the gift to your boss, gather everyone together and give the gift to your boss as a group.
Gifts for clients:
Before you even think of giving a gift to a client, make sure you are very clear on the gift-giving/receiving policies for your company, as well as your client’s. Many companies have established strict guidelines regarding what types of “gifts” can be exchanged between customers and suppliers, buyers and sales associates, etc. While some companies have a zero-tolerance policy on receiving any type of gift, they are not opposed to business luncheons. If this is the case, take your client out for a nice lunch and express your gratitude in words instead of a gift that could get you, or them, fired.
By following some of these simple guidelines, you can make your holiday celebrations in the workplace light on the stress and heavy on the cheer!
Finding the right Social Media balance takes more than just knowing how to update your profiles. Firing off quick Twitter updates or Facebook comments will not get you noticed on job boards or help you find open positions.
If you’re not receiving the right kind of attention through Social Media, you should change your strategy. You must be able to connect with your Social Media peers. It’s not as simple as it seems and you must be diligent.
Learning on the fly can be hard, but these tips will help you on your way:
1. Update your LinkedIn profile with the most accurate, up-to-date information.
I cannot advocate this enough – you need to a strong representation of your talents, skills and experience in order to have a fully functional LinkedIn account. Review your Summary and Specialties areas with appropriate keywords, phrases and any information prospective employers look for. Have past coworkers give you quality recommendations. Return the favor with similar recommendations from people who have helped you. Build your network by inviting past colleagues and friends who you want to stay connected with.
2. Post your resume to the right online job board.
You want to be highly visible on job sites so that HR managers can find your resume. Some HR managers search job boards, LinkedIn and niche job sites – you need to have your resume in the right place so that when the opportunity comes along you have your resume where people can find it.
3. Update LinkedIn status bar along with your job board resumes.
LinkedIn sends weekly emails to your connections which gives a summary of the activities their connections are involved in. Updating your status allows these connections to know that you are actively looking for a new position.
Recruiters who browse job sites also get weekly updated resume notifications. Whenever you update your resume or save a new one, it gets posted to the job board, allowing HR managers to see your resume more often. Get your name out there!
Talk to your family, friends, colleagues, or anyone. Talk to anyone who might know of an open position with a company you like. You can have them make introductions through LinkedIn to the appropriate person within their company. Many people find their jobs through networking situations, so it’s always a good idea to talk to people and explain that you are interested in their company or open position. Don’t rely on email. You want to be able to actually speak with the right person – putting a face to a voice or an ear to words will go a lot further than simply emailing someone.
5. Create your professional online identity.
This is a combined effort of Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+ in a coordinated effort to showcase your talents, skills and expertise. Building yourself up online gives you credibility beyond simply seeing a resume. If HR managers can find out pertinent information about you online, it will improve your chances.
With the recovery finally on, people are looking for job options that will be around for while. So what kind of options do job seekers have when it comes to long-lasting careers and what type of careers should be avoided?
Job gains have averaged 125,000 per month but there are still industries that will take a tumble. So here are the industries you should shy away from:
1. Data processing and hosting services
Many of these jobs are being shipped overseas, so if you’re not a high-level IT professional, you should probably look for new employment options. Many companies practiced cost-cutting procedures so some of the jobs may stay here.
2. Apartment rental and home buyers
Apartment rental peaked in 2005 but with a wave of mergers and acquisitions among large apartment complexes, these jobs are being phased out. Lagging construction will keep the need for new apartments low until more apartment complexes are built.
3. United States Postal Service
The U.S. Postal Service has been usurped by email and competing companies such as FedEx and UPS. The post office is considering closing some offices and reducing staff to meet budget requirements. This is on top of the 147,000 jobs that have been cut since 2007.
4. Soft drink companies
This industry received a wealth of growth as new products were pushed to market, but now the same products are experiencing blow-back as the industry overgrew itself. It now seeks to pull back the reigns on existing products to make way for traditional drinks.
5. Wired Communication
As more companies go digital and the number of cell phone users increases, less wired services will be offered. This means a drop in the number of wired customers and an overall drop in the industry. Some phone companies are offering internet service in order to offset this, but the gains will be minimal.
Everyday life is all about bargaining and negotiating to get what you want or need. Whether at work, school, or home, you will always find a time of day where you will need to rely on your best negotiating skills, especially if you are trying to get ahead or make a point.
When asking for a salary increase, your negotiating skills need to be developed, sharpened, and communicated in a professional manner. One of these skills is showing confidence in your request and approach. If you are lacking confidence when you ask for an increase, your boss may see that you also may lack confidence in showing that your work is worth getting a raise.
To truly show confidence in your negotiations, you must be prepared. Before you sit down in front of your boss to negotiate a new salary or benefits (i.e. and extra week of vacation each year), consider the following:
- Define your goals before you start the negotiating process. What is the highest/lowest monetary amount you are willing to accept? If you can’t get an extra week of vacation, would you settle for 2-3 days of additional vacation time?
- What have you prepared to prove your worth/point? Do you have quantitative examples of your achievements in your current position?
- Have you practiced HOW you will ask for a raise or enhancement to your benefits package? What is your introduction to the situation going to be? Create an agenda for your conversation and use strong keywords that will make a point. Try to prepare for any objections or questions that your boss may fire back at you and come up with concrete answers to prove your point(s).
- Don’t only practice your words. During negotiations of any type, your body language is also important. Are you able to keep your language in check if the discussion grows heated? While eye contact is a great tool, staring down your boss with a scowling face to get what you want is not.
- What is your stopping point? How long will you fight before you know your request is a lost cause?
- Are you prepared for the fallout if your boss denies all of your requests? Are you okay with just going back to your to your office and continuing on with no extras? Will you threaten to look elsewhere for employment, and if so, will you be prepared if your boss encourages you to take your career elsewhere effective immediately?
The bottom line is that you need to be prepared before you enter into any type of negotiations at home, with your supervisor, or with a colleague or client. Successful negotiations aren’t just about getting what you want, but more about building stronger relationships and having the confidence to ask for what you deserve and/or are worth. If you’re able to get some or all of what you asked for, well…that’s a bonus!
(Guest post by Maria Rainier who blogs about education and online degrees)
Google+ may not yet possess the charms necessary to attract the hundreds of millions of users boasted by its competitors, but it still has strong features to woo users who give the service a chance. As a social networking service, Google+ strikes an ideal balance between casual and professional styles, giving the user potential to grow their contact list through social networking or the sharing of interest-based information among similar users. Google+ already attracted over 50 million users, yet it has some of the most outspoken detractors of any social media service.
Why is Google+ such a divisive entity? In my opinion, it comes down to user loyalties among the well-established social networks: some people enjoy Facebook and Twitter for what they have to offer and others want something different. I’d like to briefly explore the pros and cons of using Google+ based upon three criteria pivotal to all social networking services: content, design, and privacy.
The content on Google+ is largely generated by users sharing their information because they’re eager to share the information with their friends. Because Google+ has such a small active user base relative to other social networks, the users on Google+ have to extend extra effort to search out contacts with similar interests. Unlike on sites like Facebook, you won’t be slammed with a barrage of content from thousands of users to sift from. Due to Google+’s optimal filtration systems, you might not have much activity at all on your stream (similar to a Wall or Newsfeed feature) when you first set up your Google+ profile.
People evaluating Google+ can choose to view this from a positive or negative perspective. On the one hand, the small user base presents an ideal setting for users to found new organizations, networks, and contacts among like-minded people looking to make meaningful connections. On the other hand, people might be turned off by the effort they must put into searching for and cultivating a rewarding contact pool. Google+ tries to ease the burden of searching for new contacts by transferring contacts from other Google services (Gmail and Google Reader, among others) to your contact lists, but if users will have to put time into searching for users outside of their sphere of familiarity.
Fans of Google+ will likely point to its gorgeous design as one of its best selling points, and for good reason. When put side to side other websites, social media or otherwise, people will notice Google+’s refreshingly clean interface, free of spammy advertisements and product plugs from random vendors. The interface itself is surprisingly user-friendly as well, enabling the user to toggle between the sites many functions with ease. You can view updates in your stream, manage the organization of your contacts through the circle feature, browse what’s the latest buzz in the blogosphere, or just browse the web, showing your friends the content you like with the “+1” button.
On the downside, people fresh to the social networking scene could be easily overwhelmed by Google+’s wide array of features. Google+ works best for people already seasoned in social media usage who know what to expect from any similar service. Even with the sleek design, Google+ could turn off many new users who want simplicity over variety.
Perhaps the most contentious aspect of Google+ is its take on user identity. Google+ users are required to give their full names in order to start a profile, and more importantly this information will be displayed for all other Google+ users to see. Of course Google+ users enjoy comprehensive privacy strictures that prevent non Google+ users from seeing their profiles at all, should they choose to hide them from public view. The main issue with the full name requirement rests with social media users who wish (or need) to remain anonymous in order to post content online. For instance, say that a progressive social policy blogger has a day job in a politically conservative work environment. In order to keep their job, the blogger writes their work under a pseudonym. That blogger wouldn’t be able to realize the potential of Google+ without revealing their name, and thus exposing their identity to those who could act against them for their beliefs. It’s a strong argument against the policy, but in the end Google contends that it will create a space for more open, honest, and personable connections between users.
Maria Rainier is a freelance writer and blog junkie. She is currently a resident blogger at First in Education where she writes about education, online colleges, online degrees etc. In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.
With many college graduates unable to find full time employment and a new crop ready to come up, many of them are starting to wonder where they will find a job. It wasn’t long ago that a college degree all but guaranteed you a stable career and higher earning potential. Now, many are not seeing the same returns they once did. So is a college degree worth it in today’s economic terms?
How do you quantify who earns more?
One area to look at is recent graduates from the past 5 years when the Great Recession began. The data shows that of those people who graduated college – nearly 90% were employed – when compared to people who did not graduate college who were employed at 64%. These figures do not show whether these graduates were employed in a field related to their degree or not. But, another telling fact is that college graduates are earning almost double that of people without college degrees. This advantage will likely stick with them throughout their working careers.
Another way that we assess the value of receiving a college degree is to compare the rate of return from investing in a college degree versus using the same amount of money for investment opportunities. College degrees are obviously expensive. Tuition, books and housing all add up to well over $100,000 for a four year degree. This is only average as some colleges cost considerable more.
So let’s say you have a recent high school graduate who has $100,000 to invest in their future. Is college the right option or would you use that money for something else? Would investments such as stocks and bonds outweigh the lifetime earnings that a college degree would bring?
The correct answer is, technically speaking, investing in a college degree. A college degree has a rate of return of 15% a year for $100,000 invested. Compare this with the average returns on the stock market at 6.5%, along with the rate of corporate bonds at 3% and other stable investments and you’re not even close.
Higher Rates of Return
A better rate of return translates into higher lifetime earnings as well. Over their lifetime, the average diploma holder will earn over $550,000 more than the average person with a high school diploma. So the incentive to receive a college education is high.
Some high school students would do well to invest in technical or trade schools that offer specialized skills which will keep them employed throughout any recession. There are opportunities out there for everyone and remember – many people who never graduated college have become successful in different fields. Think of the Bill Gates’, the Paul Allen’s and the Larry Ellison’s of the world. Not having a college degree never stopped them and it should not deter anyone from achieving their dreams.
I keep hearing how the economy is forcing people to tighten their purse strings this Christmas as many won’t be able to afford to buy presents for their loved ones. But guess what? YOU CAN!
This morning I caught a snippet of, “Good Morning, America” and a segment called, “Show Me the Money: Make Extra Cash by Renting out Your Stuff.”
Did you know that people all over the country are renting out their stuff? There are websites devoted to helping people rent out their things– rentnotbuy.com (I found a horse barn, travel trailer, and corn roaster!), us.zilok.com (sewing machine, projector, popcorn machine, 6′ ladder!). Think of the extra money you could make for Christmas!
The news woman in the segment wanted to see if she could rent everything she needed for a day trip in New York. She rented a car $65/day, a cooler $10, a FRIEND-yes, I said FRIEND $50, and even (ick) a bathroom in someone’s house! You can literally rent yourself out as someone’s ‘friend’. Only friendship, nothing else. If you live in a metropolis, this might be a great idea as you could be a city guide of sorts. Are you seeing dollar signs? One couple in the story rented A DOG for $5 a day.
If you need extra cash for the holidays, consider renting out your stuff. I’m looking around my house to see what I can find… hmmm… anyone want to rent books? A kitten? A power screwdriver (I’m sure my husband won’t mind… 😉 ), or a bike? I can help.