Kamis, 12 Agustus 2010

Top 6 Consulting Fields to Get into Now

Are you looking for a new direction in your career? Consulting offers opportunities in every sector.

by Claire Bradley,

It's a tough job market out there: people are staying put in jobs they don't like, or are stuck in the unemployment line. If you're one of these highly skilled, educated employees who can't get a solid footing in their field, have you ever thought of consulting? The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates a staggering 82 percent growth in consulting services across a variety of career fields by 2018. Here's where you can find the top consulting jobs.

Computer and information systems
If you're wondering where to find job growth in the future, look no further than IT--especially in the field of computer software engineering. The industry is expecting growth of 32 percent by 2018, much of which is likely to be in consulting. If you're already experienced in this industry and want to consult, look at specializing in areas like cyber security, networking, troubleshooting, banking, and finance. If you're looking for a new career, this industry may be a good place to start: many consulting jobs require just certification and the skills to do the job.

Human resources
Often seen as a soft sector when it comes to jobs, human resources is the place to be for consultants--overall job growth in this industry is expected to increase 22 percent by 2018, according to the BLS. Look for consulting positions within a corporate structure, advising on ways to improve anything from hiring policies to record keeping. With a more fluid job market, you'll also find good HR consulting opportunities in recruitment services (like temp services) or headhunting. An undergraduate degree is generally required for success in HR consulting.

It's not easy to run a corporation, which is why jobs in management will see a growth of about 24 percent by 2018. Management consultants comprise the largest part of the consulting industry in general, but expect the competition to be stiff in this sector. To be successful as a management consultant, a graduate degree (like an MBA) and a good sense of sales and marketing are key.

Environmental and conversation
Energy is a hot commodity and so are jobs in the field of conservation of the environment: growth in this sector is expected at 28 percent by 2018. A large portion of work is in the government sector, but consulting jobs will increase in the private sector as regulation and cost savings will force corporations to improve waste management and other practices that have an environmental impact. Consulting makes up 21 percent of the environmental engineering sector--a great place to be if this is your niche.

If you know your way around financial statements, consulting is a great career move. With increased regulation, accountants and auditors will be in high demand; the industry as a whole is projected to grow 22 percent by 2018. For increased success as a consultant, consider specializing in forensic accounting, accounting software, or international finance law, and continuing your education to a master's degree if you don't have one already. CPA licensing is a plus.

Sales, marketing, and public relations
Do you have a nose for sales or marketing? Consulting may just be for you--though expect the competition to be fierce in all sales and marketing consulting branches. The overall industry is projected to grow steadily at 13 percent by 2018. For success as a consultant, look at specializing in areas like international business or Internet marketing utilization.

The bottom line
This is just the tip of the consulting iceberg; if you're an expert in your field, no matter what it is, you can be a consultant. With corporate outsourcing and cost cutting measures being made across the board, you may find that your old job is now being performed by a consultant. Look for new career paths in consulting, for instance as a personal trainer, an image consultant, or a graphic designer. (Learn more about the field of consulting in "Consulting--Everybody's Doing It, Should You?")

If you're unsure about consulting as a career path, consider this: consultants make on average 50 percent more than their employee counterparts. If you use your connections, plan your consulting business carefully, and take the leap, you may find you're blazing a great, profitable new career path.

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Job-Hunting on the Sly

How to Tap Your Network Without Tipping off Your Boss
by Caroline M.L. Potter, Yahoo! HotJobs

Even if you have a job, you may be in the market for another one.

Your current employer may be in dire straits, or you may simply be seeking new challenges. But in a challenging economy, there are a lot of eager professionals gunning for any position -- including your present one. And because most employment is at-will, you may be fired for looking for a new job.

Use these tips to alert your network about a job search without alarming your employer.

Don't Go into Broadcast Mode

Even though you want your network to know you're looking for work, Liz Ryan, founder of and author of "Happy About Online Networking: The Virtual-ly Simple Way to Build Professional Relationships," urges job seekers, "Do not use LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter to indicate that you're job hunting!"

The same goes for mass emails. She states, "People process information differently and they may think they're being helpful by forwarding a message when, in fact, they're being indiscreet." Someone could reach out, inadvertently, to someone connected to your boss and blow your cover.

"Remember, too, that gossip is a valuable currency today," she says. If news of your search falls into too many hands, you cannot control how it is spread. "You can't put such a currency in people's hands and expect them not to spend it."

If you ask for a helping hand, ask your associates to run possible leads and introductions by you before pursuing them. The same goes for recruiters. You don't want anyone acting on your behalf without your approval, as you risk exposing your search to your current employer.

Stay Top of Mind All the Time

Because your network is your most powerful resource for finding another job, you must make sure everyone in it understands what you do and what types of opportunities you're pursuing. Says Ryan, a former human resources executive, "The best possible thing you can do for a search is enroll your job-search army! Meet with them. Talk with them. Ask about their lives. Find out how you can help them. This will get them thinking about you in an up-to-date way."

And if your network isn't big enough, she says that growing it is easiest when you have a job. She notes, "Employed job seekers have a HUGE advantage over unemployed people because they can reach out to anyone in their industry, invite them to coffee, and get to know them without asking for anything." These people may not respond to you when you're unemployed. The same is true for those already in your network.

"If you let a connection lapse, you may encounter apathy when you ask for help," Ryan adds.

Be Ready with References

If you're looking for a job while you have one, you probably don't want to use your boss or a current colleague as a reference. This is particularly vexing if you've held the same position for a number of years. Ryan, an expert on the new millennium workplace, advises, "We have to cultivate references all the time. Look to people who have left the company. Former clients. Even vendors. You may think a vendor wouldn't roll over on a client they serve, but they're pragmatic. You may be a good contact for them down the road." Individuals you know through volunteer activities and professional associations can also act as references.

Another great opportunity for references from your current boss and coworkers are LinkedIn endorsements. "Approach your boss in an 'up' moment, when you've gone the extra mile or saved something, and ask, 'Do you use LinkedIn? May I ask you for an endorsement? It would be fantastic because I'm thinking of becoming an officer in a professional association.' Or something to that effect." Once you have the endorsement, it's there for potential employers to see.

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Rabu, 11 Agustus 2010

Top Certifications to Enhance Your Career

Targeted Training and Good Salaries in Less Than Two Years
by Amelia Gray,

Looking for a career change, but not sure you're ready to spend years in school? No matter what you're looking for in your job future, certifications can bring big changes. These certifications are concentrated career-advancers that can give you the targeted training you need to prove your knowledge to hiring managers. Become indispensable in your field with a shorter degree commitment than either a bachelor's or associate's degree.

Cisco Certified Network Associate
This essential IT certification proves your skill with the industry's most ubiquitous networking products. CCNA training prepares IT professionals to mitigate security threats and work with wireless networking technology. CCNA training is a must for anyone interested in network administration, information systems, and management. Network and computer systems administrators saw mean annual earnings of $67,850 in 2007, the BLS reports.

Dental Assisting
When dentists want to expand their business, assistants are often the first hires. Excellent job prospects are expected, with 82,000 new dental assistant jobs projected to enter the field through 2016. What's more, this growing, interesting career can be had with a short certificate program. Dental assistants earned mean annual wages of $32,280 in 2007, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports.

CompTIA Project+
Gretchen Koch, director of skills development programs at CompTIA, reported to Computerworld that as of late July, The Computing Technology Industry Association awarded 20 percent more Project+ certifications than in the previous year. According to CompTIA, the certification "allows employers to validate the basic project management skills of any employee." In plain English, that means you get a little more control over your climb up the ladder.

Court Reporting
This specialized career combines elements of transcription, reporting, and skilled labor. Career prospects for court reporters are expected to be excellent for those with certification, the BLS reports. Salaries are also looking up: In 2007, court reporters saw mean annual earnings of $48,380. This criminal justice career requires only a short certificate program, making training to become a court reporter a solid option.

Microsoft Certified IT Professional
In the IT world, certification is a way to stay current and distinguish your skills in a swiftly changing job environment. IT infrastructure is the focus of this certification, which gives students focused training in an essential element of the industry. Windows system administrators benefit the most from this certification. According to the BLS, computer support specialists and system administrators saw mean annual earnings of $67,850 in 2007.

Working behind-the-scenes in a law firm could be one certification away. If you already have a bachelor's degree in another field, you might feel like you're stuck in one industry for the rest of your working life. Fortunately, certification programs open up your options. Earning a certificate in paralegal studies could have you earning mean annual wages of $47,600, as reported by the BLS. If you don't have a bachelor's degree, an associate's degree in the field is all you need for most positions.

Accounting Clerks
While fully licensed accountants require years of school, the clerks who work with them need only a certificate, which stands in for valuable work experience in the field. Salaries for the career are another perk of gaining the knowledge that will have you doing your own taxes every year. Bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks earned mean annual wages of $32,780 in 2007, the BLS reports.

Fire & Emergency
Hiring managers for fire department and EMT personnel are looking for the kind of worker that is trained, professional, and able to go to work in stressful situations. Certification in fire and emergency services gives you a background in policy and safety guidelines that will prepare you to work in this important field. In 2007, fire fighters earned mean annual wages of $44,130, according to the BLS.

Graduate Certifications
Add to your existing bachelor's or master's degree with a certification that can take your career to the next level. The business, IT, and vocational certifications at the graduate level offer a range of advanced training opportunities. Graduate certifications are available in information systems, Six Sigma, quality assurance and other fields.

While no certification program can guarantee career advancement, a new job, or a particular salary, they're one way to advance your skills without spending years in school. Whether you're in a career with a swiftly changing job description or trying to leave your current dead-end job for greener pastures, certificates offer an alternative to a traditional associate's or bachelor's degree.

Amelia Gray is a freelance writer in Austin, Texas.

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Businesses You Can Start with a Tax Refund

by Richard Barrington,

Looking for funding for a new business venture? Capital is tight these days, but a check may already be on its way to you -- your tax refund. For a number of reasons, this might be a good time to put that tax refund into starting a new business, or ramping up an existing one.

Modern business techniques make entrepreneurship more affordable than in the past. E-commerce solutions have lowered the barrier to starting new businesses; equipment leasing arrangements can help minimize fixed costs; and techniques such as search engine optimization (SEO) and PPC (pay-per-click) management can reduce the ongoing cost of promoting a business. With the job market not looking very welcoming, your best option may be to create your own job.

The Economic Power of Tax Refunds

Even with these cost-saving techniques, are tax refunds really enough to make a dent in the cost of starting a new business? Consider that a total of $261 billion in tax refunds were paid out in 2008 -- that's enough to be thought of as something of a small business stimulus package.

In 2009, with incomes and investment returns down over the past year, many people will be looking at a lower tax liability, and therefore a bigger refund. This cash can be used to start a new business, or pump a little extra life to one that is struggling to get off the ground.

Examples of Low-Cost Businesses: Daycare to Web Design

The following are examples of businesses that can be started at relatively low cost, promoted via e-commerce solutions, and might be especially timely for today's economy:

1. Daycare. With many parents having to work longer hours to make ends meet, demand for daycare is a natural result. Thirty-five percent of daycare workers are self-employed, and most of these provide the service in their homes, so daycare is a natural for a low-cost start-up business. Licensing requirements vary by state, but in many cases, looking after small numbers of children does not require licensure.

2. General repair. If you are handy with a set of tools, you can translate this talent into a paying business. In a soft economy, people are looking to put off new purchases by making their existing equipment last longer. From cars to lawn mowers, or from furnaces to swimming pools, anything you can do to substitute an affordable repair bill for an expensive replacement can be a win-win situation. If you have the skills and the tools, this can be a low-cost business you can promote with SEO techniques such as linking advertisements to articles about repairs to specific items.

3. Pet care. Sometimes it isn't children who need looking after as people pursue additional jobs, but rather their pets. From supervising and exercising pets during the workday to providing grooming services, helping people keep up with the responsibility of owning a pet can often be a welcome alternative to giving up the pet.

4. Computer troubleshooting. With so many job losses, people who relied on workplace help desks for laptop support are now on their own and need a technical lifeline. Providing this type of support requires expertise but little in the way of overhead.

5. Gardening & landscaping. With an aging population, more and more people are finding it a challenge to look after their yards. If you are in good health and have something of a green thumb, this type of work can be good for your physical and mental health while also rewarding you financially.

6. Tax preparation. Since this article is based on the power of tax refunds, it makes sense to point out that tax preparation can be a low-overhead business. If you have accounting expertise, you can help other people squeeze a little more out of their government refunds.

7. E-commerce consulting and Web design. Once you've mastered the art of setting up a business based on e-commerce solutions, you can use what you've learned to help others do the same thing. While job losses are painfully disruptive, one of their long-term benefits is that they do spark a new wave of business formations. Whether it is helping with general consulting on business formation, or tackling specific projects such as e-commerce Web design, you can position your business to ride the general wave of new business start-ups.

With all the news of government bailouts, many individuals have been left wondering where their handout from the government is. A tax refund is no handout -- it's money you have coming to you -- but it can be an opportunity to make business investments that could help you earn more in the future.

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How to Avoid Communication Disasters With Your Boss

by Kip Parent,

No matter what career you have chosen, at some point you are called on to make a presentation to "the Big Boss."

Whether you're in a corporation, academic setting, non-profit, or government organization, you will be asked to make a presentation about your project, research, team, or class to the CEO, VP, Director, Principal, or Department Head -- and the results may have a great deal of impact on your future within the organization.

A Typical Scenario

Susan, a first-level product marketing manager at a high-tech company, was presenting the results of her market research project to VP of Marketing, Steve. Five minutes into the presentation, Steve asked a question challenging Susan's team's methodology in conducting preliminary research.

Even though Susan's team had considered Steve's points before determining their chosen process, she answered diplomatically, "That's a very good point, Steve. Let me have the team put together the data around it, and I'll get it to you before the end of the day."

However, Steve immediately began challenging more of Susan's assumptions, to which she again diplomatically deferred, and the presentation devolved rapidly. Susan never did get through her PowerPoint presentation, which she and her team had spent hours preparing; but instead bore the brunt of Steve's increasingly aggressive challenges, in the end having promised to get back to him with a large inventory of answers to his questions. Susan felt crushed by Steve's seemingly harsh treatment and, after a few months, left the company -- a loss for all concerned.

What happened? And how can you be prepared so that this type of disaster does not befall you?

Consider the Boss's Personality

The key is to know something about the Big Boss's personality, and just as importantly, about yourself. A prime cause of presentation meltdowns lies in the difference between the two: in key areas you may be speaking the equivalent of a foreign language -- without knowing it. Disaster looms when communication breaks down and misunderstanding occurs. Most often the presenter has no clue that it has happened, and keeps digging a deeper hole, unable to climb out.

Fortunately, Dr. David Keirsey, author of "Please Understand Me" and "The Keirsey Temperament Sorter," has performed more than 50 years of research into these differences in personality style (or temperament), and once you are aware of them, you are on your way to successful presentations to your current and future Big Bosses.

According to Keirsey, there are four basic temperament groups. Each of us falls into one of them. Each group has a specific set of traits that, when mismatched between "Big Boss" and employee, can result in the above type of disaster scenario.

How the Four Types Play Out

If you are a Guardian (about 45% of the population):

  • You are respectful of authority. As a high ranking member of the organization Mr. Big deserves your esteem, and you will tend to defer to him when there are differences between you.
  • You value established processes, proven methods, and proper channels. These keep order in the organization and avoid unnecessary risk that can cause chaos.
  • You are loyal to the organization, and likely to put the needs of the organization ahead of the needs of individuals -- including your own.

Rationals (about 10% of the population):

  • Respect competency above all else and are skeptical of hierarchy and positional authority.
  • Question the status quo continuously and will discard any process or method if they find a new one that they believe to be more efficient or effective.
  • Are loyal to finding a better way, and the needs of the organization or individuals take a back seat.

Artisans (about 30% of the population):

  • Respect results and "getting things done." While they expect you to jump when they command, results are what counts, and they're open to challenge if you can back it up.
  • Despise red-tape. Extremely utilitarian, the ends often justify the means, and Artisans have little patience for bureaucracy, hierarchy, or tradition that stand in the way of reaching a goal.
  • Seek the thrill of competition. Winning is important, and teams and sides shift with the game at hand. Personal friendships and loyalties never disappear, but they are put aside during competition -- and reappear after the final gun.

Idealists (about 15% of the population):

  • Respect cooperation and diplomacy. Idealists see the workplace as an arena for interdependent labor.
  • Value harmony and individual growth. They abhor processes and organizational structures that disregard the value of people, or block harmonious relationships between people in different departments or job functions.
  • Are loyal to the needs of the individuals within their sphere, and are likely to challenge organizational rules that they see as detrimental to the well-being of their people.

The Application: Adjusting Behaviors

In our example at the top of the article, once you know that Susan is a Guardian, and Steve is a Rational, an effective response for Susan becomes apparent. Rather than deferring to Steve when he challenged her, Susan needed to respond directly to Steve's question, explaining that his point had been considered and the reasons a more effective path had been selected. Having established her competency to Steve's satisfaction, she would have continued on with her presentation. Instead, Steve interpreted her deference as a lack of confidence, and from that point distrusted her methods as incompetent and incomplete.

Most of us have experienced similar situations at some point in our careers, and are likely to face them in the future. Armed with awareness of Keirsey Temperament Theory, these unfortunate results are both foreseeable and preventable. In fact, knowing how to best pitch the Big Boss based on their temperament can make you a star.

The Keirsey Temperament Sorter, and a free temperament report, are available at

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Working Without Walls: Tips for Success When You Don't Have a Desk

by Caroline M.L. Potter, Yahoo! HotJobs

You may have spent several years working your way toward a corner office only to discover there aren't any offices -- at all.

As disappointing as this may be, if you want to continue to succeed in this or any economic climate, adaptability and flexibility are key. Embracing nontraditional work arrangements (e.g. consulting and telecommuting) as well as nontraditional work environments that feature touchdown stations rather than dedicated desks are essential to your professional ascent.

Use these tips to survive and thrive in a non-traditional work environment.

1) Scope out a space. Alexandra Levit, a business and workplace author and speaker, advises off-site workers without a home office, "Create a space to call your own. This might mean staking out a regular table at your local Starbucks or library. It's important for your emotional well-being and productivity to have a place to work with minimal distractions."

2) Insulate yourself when you're out in the open. If you find yourself sitting in a different place each day, moving around often, carry some comforts with you, such as headphones and a sweater, to help you adapt wherever you are asked to work. "An iPod with familiar music that is mellow enough that you can work to it can provide a temporary barrier to interruptions," says leadership expert and consultant Stever Robbins.

3) Watch what you say. Remember that loose lips can sink ships -- and careers. Levit, author of "They Don't Teach Corporate in College: A Twenty-Something's Guide to the Business World," says, "When you don't have an office, you have to assume that others are listening when you talk. If you know you have to have a chat you don't want others to overhear, book a conference room or take a walk outside with your cell phone."

4) Create a virtual office. Robbins recommends, "Use online collaboration tools, such as Basecamp, to keep your work online yet accessible from any of your mobile locations. Understand the security implications, however, if you are working on sensitive data."

Levit agrees that you should look online for support, saying, "When you don't have a dedicated office space in which to store things, there's no place like the Web with its free tools you can access anywhere!"

5) Don't forget face time. Levit reminds mobile workers, "Just because you don't have dedicated office space doesn't mean you're not a part of the team. Make an effort to attend meetings in person, especially if you're giving a presentation or a status report. And, maintain your coworker and manager relationships by inviting those individuals to coffee or lunch."

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Are You a Doer or a Thinker?

Use Your Personality Traits to Help Find a Job
by Maria Hanson,

Are you a doer or thinker? Creator or helper? According to John Holland's widely accepted psychological theory, people fall into one of the seven different personality types. Use your type to find a job with ease:

DOER (Realistic)

You get satisfaction from getting things done. You also like physical activity and working with your hands.

Doer Job-Search Tips

Since Doers thrive on accomplishment, social psychologist Rachelle J. Canter, author of "Make the Right Career Move" suggests "setting challenging daily goals, and constantly upping the numbers." For instance, decide to make 10 networking calls a day for a few days, then 15, then 20. Also, be sure to take frequent breaks from the job search to exercise or do a favorite hobby. You'll come back to your job hunt refreshed.

THINKER (Investigative)

You have a great deal of curiosity about the world. You also enjoy problem solving and are analytical and methodical.

Thinker Job-Search Tips

Put your curiosity and analytical ways to good use by researching companies and positions. Stand out from the competition by incorporating this information into a highly customized resume and cover letter.

PERSUADER (Enterprising)

You like to talk with, influence, and persuade others. You're confident, assertive, and tend to be a leader.

Persuader Job-Search Tips

"Persuaders have a natural affinity for the critical marketing demands of a job search," says Canter. It should be easy for you to create a results-focused resume, define your competitive edge or sell your strengths whether you are networking or in an interview.

ORGANIZER (Conventional)

You are a conventional type who shows careful attention to detail, are well organized and like things to be in good order.

Organizer Job-Search Tips

You'll excel at putting together a helpful system for organizing contacts, meetings, information, and ticklers for follow up, says Canter. Spreadsheets are your friends. Use them efficiently to expand your job search.

CREATOR (Artistic)

You are original, creative, and adaptable. Thinking outside the box is your specialty.

Creator Job-Search Tips

Take advantage of your adaptability and resourcefulness. Don't be afraid of applying to jobs in career fields and work environments that you've never considered before.

HELPER (Social)

You are very social and enjoy giving advice, helping others, and teaching.

Helper Job-Search Tips

Identify all the ways you can help a prospective employer. Highlight your ideas in your resume and cover letter and make sure you bring them up in an interview.

SERVER (Attentive)

You have great patience and enjoy helping others and looking after their comfort and personal needs.

Server Job-Search Tips

Your patience and persistence will come in handy during the sometimes lengthy process of a job search. Use your compassion to empathize with busy recruiters and overwhelmed hiring managers while expressing your continued interest in a job.

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Reducing stress in the workplace

There isn’t a person alive who does not suffer from stress. Some people don’t even know they are suffering from stress because they don’t take the time to notice how they are feeling. Such people often feel overwhelmed, burned out, or stressed out much of the time, no matter whether they are at work or at home. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Only you can control how you feel, but you can’t do that unless you are aware of how you feel. Once you become aware, you can choose how to react to whatever is happening around you. But the key is that you have to be aware of what is going on in your body. This guide will help you learn to take a few moments out of your day and check in with yourself so you can go through your workday as smoothly and stress-free as possible.

1. Take a few moments in the morning to be silent, gaze out the window, take a slow walk, or meditate. Orient yourself to being awake and notice how that feels. It will help if you can start out your day with a feeling of inner peace.

2. Take a few minutes to do nothing but breathe while your car is warming up. Check in and see how you are feeling right now, knowing you are on your way to work.

3. Become aware of any tension within your body as you are driving to work. Consciously work at releasing that tension. Notice the difference in what it feels like to drive while tense and while relaxed.

4. Decide not to play the radio and just be with yourself instead.

5. Stay in the right lane and do not go above the speed limit. Do not succumb to societal pressure to rush everywhere. It’s ok to get where you are going in your own time.

6. Pay attention to your breathing when stopped at a red light. Don’t wait impatiently for the light to change to green—just sit.

7. Take a moment to orient yourself to your workday after you park your car. Allow yourself to transition from home mode to work mode.

8. When you are sitting at your desk, periodically monitor your body tensions. Consciously attempt to relax and let go of any excess tension you may have.

9. Use your breaks to truly relax, rather than grab a quick snack or smoke. Take a short walk or meditate.

10. Change your environment at lunch. Perhaps eat outside in nice weather. Or find somewhere quiet where you can talk to co-workers or eat alone.

11. Try closing your door if you have one for a few minutes for a time-out. You have to take care of yourself before you can take care of anyone or anything else.

12. Stop working for a few minutes every hour or so in order to become aware of your breathing and bodily sensations. Take time to get back in touch with your feelings.

13. Use everyday cues from your work environment, such as the phone ringing or the time on your computer terminal, as reminders to stop and take a moment to breathe.

14. Take time during your lunch break to talk with your coworkers about non-work-related topics.

15. Choose to one or two lunches in silence each week. Eat slowly and mindfully.

16. At the end of the day, make up a “Got Done” list and congratulate yourself on all you accomplished.

17. Pay attention to the walk to your car—how does the air feel? Is it cold or hot out? If it isn’t to your liking, try to accept it rather than resisting.

18. While the car is warming up, consciously transition yourself from work to home. Just sit and enjoy the moment.

19. While driving home, notice if you are rushing. How does that feel? What can you do to change it? Remember, only you can control how you feel.

20. When you park your car at home, take a minute to come back to the present. Orient yourself to being at home again.

21. Change out of your work clothes as soon as you can. It helps you make a smooth transition from work mode to home mode. Then, if possible, take 5-10 minutes to be alone and check in with yourtself.

Stress can kill, but you don’t have to be a victim if you make a conscious choice to focus on your feelings and choose what to do with those feelings. You don’t have to react to stress; you can choose how to respond to it.

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How to Work a Room

Unusual advice about networking at a group gathering
by Susan Adams,

On a couple of occasions lately, I found myself in places where I felt I had to do some serious networking. One was my thirtieth college reunion; the other, a meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative. Though I'm not a shy person, I felt stymied. I had trouble starting conversations and, then, once I did, figuring out how long to linger before moving on. If only I knew how to work a room.

In hopes of doing a better job next time, I've interviewed four professionals who have focused on the subject. One of them, Ali Binazir, a hypnotherapist and author in Santa Monica, Calif., has put together an eight-step plan. A Harvard graduate with a medical degree from the University of California at San Diego, Binazir has worked as a McKinsey & Co. consultant to biotech and pharmaceutical companies and has spent time studying Eastern philosophy. He wrote "The Tao of Dating: The Smart Woman's Guide to Being Absolutely Irresistible."

I find some of Binazir's advice a little off the wall--he recommends walking up to potted plants and introducing yourself--but I figured that perhaps if I could put his steps into practice, I'd improve my networking skills.

One of his suggestions seems easy to follow and especially useful: Arrive early. That way, you take on what he calls "host physiology." If you're one of the first in the room, you can adopt the mindset of someone who is there to meet and greet, as opposed to walking into a room of 200 people who are already talking to one another.

Binazir also recommends that you wear something that can make for a conversation starter, such as an unusual brooch or lapel pin. His own signature: a jaunty white hat. And he suggests you always be prepared with some conversation starters drawn from news headlines, like, right now, Mark Hurd's resignation as Hewlett-Packard's chief executive. He exhorts you to get into what he calls "a powerful state" before walking into an event, by engaging in five minutes of meditation or closing your eyes and taking ten deep breaths.

Next, one of his oddest suggestions: Make friends with your environment. Go up to an object in the room, like a plant or an armchair, and introduce yourself. "It creates a shift in your mind, and the whole environment goes from feeling foreign or hostile and becomes yours," he says. He also recommends positioning yourself so that you're framed by a doorway, in order to look more inviting to others.

Warm up by using your prepared conversation starters with the next person you see. Binazir likes to begin on the periphery of a crowd and work his way in. You can also stand by the bar, or, if you're female, near the restroom, where there's often a line. He also likes what he calls a "two-hit technique," where he starts a conversation, excuses himself, and then returns later to the same person. "If you see someone multiple times you feel as if you know them," he explains.

To establish rapport, mirror the other person in word and gesture. He also recommends what he calls the "million-dollar handshake." Imagine that the next person you'll meet is your best friend from elementary school, whom you haven't seen in decades. Shake the person's hand as though he were that person. Cover both hands with your free hand, and count off three seconds before releasing.

Another technique: Tell a memorable story about yourself.

Don't wait until the end of a conversation to exchange contact information, he advises. He carries a digital camera to events and snaps pictures of people he wants to remember. When he follows up with an email, he attaches photos.

It's tough for me to swallow all of Binazir's ideas. I've never meditated, I'm not interested in conversing with a piece of furniture, and I don't know any party tricks. I find it enough work to strike up an engaging conversation without trying to calculate the moment to snap a photograph. Besides, I'd feel embarrassed doing so.

Other networking professionals I interviewed disagree with several of Binazir's tactics. Don Crowther, an online marketing consultant at, says you should wait until a conversation's close before exchanging contact information. Marcie Schorr Hirsch, a career coach and consultant with Hirsch/Hills Consulting, says it's unrealistic to be so strategic about working a room. "Networking is a non-linear function," she insists.

Nicholas Boothman, the author of "How to Make People Like You in 90 Seconds or Less," says it's better to start in the middle of a room rather than skimming the periphery. But Boothman also maintains that working a room is a fallacy anyway. "It's nonsense," he says. "People who work a room are off-putting to other people." At large social or business events, your goal should be to make connections with two or three people, he says. "That can be much more valuable than flitting around like a social butterfly."

In that case, maybe I'm not so bad at this networking thing after all.

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Preparing to Start Your New Job: A Checklist

by Gina Cappiello,

Congratulations on landing your new job! The hard part may be over, but you still have some loose ends to tie up. This is a checklist of tasks to take care of before, during, and after your first day at work.

Before the First Day

Double-check everything. Cathie Faerber, managing director of The Wellesley Group, recommends confirming the details of your first day by double-checking everything: not only when and where to arrive, but also things like the office dress code. She says this will help you avoid any confusion or embarrassment.

She adds, "Verify if there are any drug-testing or pre-employment activities that need to be completed prior to your start date. And then get them completed."

Update your network on your newly employed status.
"No doubt you have called upon your network to help you with landing a job," says career coach and president of Call to Career, Cheryl Palmer. Do the polite thing and let them know that you are no longer unemployed. "You can send an email to everyone, letting them know the name of the company and your job title," she says.

Remember the little people. "If you networked your way into the company, it's time to break out the thank-you notes and show some love," says career coach and author of "Career Sudoku: 9 Ways to Win the Job Search Game," Adriana Llames. Along with thanking your network contacts, take some time to thank your references. "Eighty-five percent of companies are calling on them today, and their kind words likely played a part in your landing your new role," she says.

You may also want to send token gifts (a gift card for a coffee drink, for instance) to contacts and references who were instrumental in your job offer.

During the First Day

Make a good first impression. Come into the workplace with a positive and open-minded attitude. "Be friendly to everyone, and try to understand the inner workings of the organization," Palmer recommends. She also says to accept invitations to lunch from new coworkers. "It's a way of getting to know them, and not accepting their invitations could be considered rude," she says.

Plus, if you're relocating for your new job, getting to know coworkers is a good way to start making friends and learning about your new home.

Find out what the boss's top priorities are. By knowing what your supervisor's needs are, you can start formulating a plan of attack and prioritizing work. "You don't want to wait until you are a few months into the new job to find out that what you think is a priority is not what the boss thinks is a priority," says Palmer. Also, "it's a good idea to have a few goals on paper before your first meeting with your manager," says Llames, to show your supervisor that you are proactive.

After the First Day

Get through the paperwork. Use the end of your first day to review company literature, such as information about benefits and corporate policies. "Ensure that you have a thorough understanding of the policies that you will be governed by as an employee of the firm," says Faerber. She also suggests completing all forms and returning them the next day. "Prompt attention is important--and they will be watching."

Treat yourself. "It takes 21 days to develop a habit," says Llames, so you may feel a bit tired or overwhelmed during the first few weeks at your new position. Make sure to relax, unwind, and get plenty of sleep to avoid exhaustion. Llames also says that after 30 days of working at your new job to treat yourself to something special. "Do something you normally would never do, just because you've earned it."

"Ultimately, you want to get off on the right foot," says Faerber. "These details will go a long way to make the right impression."

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Hot Prospects From Cold Calling

by Larry Buhl, for Yahoo! HotJobs

In the era of emails and online social networking, the old-tech method of pitching yourself over the telephone is an overlooked way to job hunt. Some experts say it's overlooked for a good reason: Cold-calling strangers has a pretty low return on investment.

In fact, in a 2009 ExecuNet Job Market Intelligence Survey, only 3% of executives say cold calling is an effective career strategy (whereas 73% said networking was effective). Dave Opton, founder and CEO of ExecuNet, said job seekers at all levels of the career ladder are better off relying on job-search strategies.

"Put yourself at the other end of the call," Opton tells Yahoo! HotJobs. "If you're busy, are you going to want to spend time on the phone with a stranger who's calling you for a job? Probably not."

Then again, Opton admits that very often people aren't effective at cold calling because they don't know how to do it right, and that under the right circumstances a cold call could pay off.

How can it work, and for whom? Experts have a few suggestions.

1. Know yourself. If you are shy, hate talking to strangers, have a less than compelling phone presence, or possess a less than bulletproof ego, you'll end up being frustrated with cold calling. If you're outgoing and articulate, have a thick skin, and already have experience in sales or marketing, you'll stand a much better chance of getting what you want from a cold call. Furthermore, if you have a distinct skill set that causes you to stand out from the crowd, cold calling can be more effective, according to Massachusetts-based career coach Jean Knight.

2. Call the right person. It's safe to cold call a recruiter, but take the time to find out a specific manager to contact. "Forget about calling human resources, unless you want a job within that department," Knight says. "HR will just tell you to send in a resume. Do some research to find the hiring manager."

3. Name-drop if possible. Cold calling works best when someone at the organization has already referred you, so use that referral if you can. If you can't, never lie about being referred. You will be discovered and remembered, and not in a good way.

4. Have a compelling pitch. Sales people use scripts to sell products and services. No matter what field you're in you'll need a script -- a powerful, short one -- to sell yourself to a stranger over the phone. "You need to hook the caller in 10 seconds," Knight says. "If you say, 'Hi, I'm Joe Smith and I'm calling about the network administrator position,' you won't get anywhere. If you say, 'Hi, I'm Joe Smith and I worked with one of your competitors for five years and managed projects involving Java for five years and I think I would be perfect for the network administrator position,' you may get a chance to set up a meeting."

5. Practice your pitch. "Try out your pitch on your coach, a colleague, or a friend who can give you an unbiased opinion," according to career coach and author Deborah Brown-Volkman. "And make sure you can be as polished and professional and passionate on your twentieth call as you are on your first," she tells Yahoo! HotJobs.

6. Follow up, but don't stalk. If you're sure your pitch is stellar but you keep getting the hiring manager's voice mail, keep trying, Brown-Volkman recommends. "Very often people are simply busy, so try calling three or four times before you decide if you want to continue, and don't take it personally if they don't get back to you." If you receive a firm "not interested," know that it's time to move on.

Even though cold calling is one of the less effective job-search strategies, it still works better than cold-emailing, according Brown-Volkman. "Today everyone sends emails, which are easy for the receiver to delete. An email is a passive medium, and can't convey passion the way your voice can. A phone call is a stronger form of connection, and because fewer people use cold calling you stand a better chance of standing out."

Still even the best cold-calling strategies are never as effective as networking. But when used together, these strategies can lead to hot prospects. "When it comes to hunting for a job, it's all about building trust and building relationships," Upton says. "To have the best chance at success you should build your network to where you get referrals instead of having to 'dial for dollars.'"

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What Are Green-Collar Jobs?

What Are Green-Collar Jobs?
by Ada McMahon, Green for All

So you've heard President Obama talk about green-collar jobs, and you're ready to get one for yourself. If only you knew what a green-collar job actually is.

The simplest definition of green-collar jobs comes from Green for All founder Van Jones:

"A green-collar job is a blue-collar job, upgraded to better respect the environment."

Jones knows what he is talking about. After all, he now serves as Special Advisor on Green Jobs to the White House.

Transforming Blue-Collar Work

Everyone knows what a blue-collar job is, right? Many green-collar jobs are in familiar fields like manufacturing, construction, and maintenance and repair.

And like blue-collar jobs, many green-collar positions do not require a college or graduate degree. Rather, some additional technical skills and job training are often enough to ramp up workers for green-collar jobs.

For a job seeker, this can be good news. You may not need to learn entirely new skills in an entirely new field. Instead, a few months of training may be enough to "green" your trade.

A steel worker is working a green-collar job if he or she is building a wind turbine.

Another simple, yet essential, tenet of a green-collar job is that it is good for people and planet. The "people" part means workers in green-collar jobs must be paid a family-supporting wage, have safe working conditions, and have opportunities for career advancement. Pushing a broom for $7 an hour doesn't count as a green-collar job, even if it's a solar-panel factory you're cleaning.

Over the next 18 months, green-collar jobs are expected to grow significantly in the United States, mainly due to government investment through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (aka the stimulus package). This means more training programs that will give you a leg up in entering green-collar fields.

Opportunities to Watch For

Look for growth in these fields below. This list illustrates the range of green jobs available, from "green-collar" to white-collar work in green fields:

Green Building Retrofitting -- Fixing up buildings so that they leak less energy helps homeowners save on energy bills, lowers the use of dirty energy, and creates jobs like:

- Energy auditor
- Green carpenter
- Insulation installer
- Environmental compliance specialist

Mass Transit and Transportation -- Clean mass transit options (trains and zero-emissions buses) that cut down on carbon pollution.

- Civil engineers
- Rail track layers
- Bus/train systems operator
- Urban planner

Renewable Energy -- Wind and solar energy are clean and safe energy sources, and rapidly expanding fields. It takes 250 tons of steel to make one wind turbine -- that's a lot of work for steel workers, many of whom are currently unemployed.

- Wind turbine machinist
- Solar and PV (photovoltaics) installer
- Iron and steel workers
- Solar operations engineer

Public Utilities (recycling, water treatment)

- Recycling center operator
- Waste water engineer
- Water quality consultant

Learn more at, or download the "Green Jobs Guidebook."

Green For All is a national organization dedicated to improving the lives of all Americans through a clean-energy economy. The organization works in collaboration with the business, government, labor, and grassroots communities to create and implement programs that increase quality jobs and opportunities in green industry -- all while holding the most vulnerable people at the center of its agenda. For more information, please visit

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Selasa, 10 Agustus 2010

7 Smart Career Tactics

7 Smart Career Tactics
by Robert DiGiacomo, for Yahoo HotJobs!

One of the keys to a successful career is making the right decisions at critical junctures, whether you're fielding a job offer, asking for a promotion or plotting your next move.

Beyond those major decisions, every day presents myriad, small opportunities to make good -- and bad -- choices that could have a big impact.

In an uncertain economy, knowing how to proceed at these junctures becomes even more critical, according to Arizona-based business and workplace consultants Jamie and Maren Showkeir, co-authors of "Authentic Conversations."

Here are seven tactics to help keep your career on track.

1. Don't play the blame game.

It's better to acknowledge your role in the company's problems -- and contribute to their solutions -- than to blame management or your coworkers.

"Once you see yourself as being in control of your future, you can change the conversation with your coworkers, by saying, 'We need to do our best to make this business work, or we'll be in even deeper trouble,'" Maren Showkeir says.

2. Skip the gossip and get down to work.

Send a message to coworkers about priorities by concentrating on the tasks at hand, instead of spreading speculative information.

"If you're spending time speculating on what may happen next, it's counterproductive," Maren Showkeir says.

3. Get the real story.

Avoid unnecessary anxiety by approaching a trusted colleague to find out the real bottom line with your company.

"It's easy to get caught up in the what-ifs," Maren Showkeir says. "My advice is to go find out what your manager or boss knows, and figure out how to prepare for the future."

4. Don't play the victim.

Identifying problems within your company won't get you anywhere, unless you follow through with strategic solutions.

"Being a part of an organization means having information, making sense of it, and acting on it," Jamie Showkeir says.

5. Think big picture.

Collaboration is more important than ever during difficult times, so it's wise to put aside any rivalries for the sake of your company's future.

"If you're working together, you have the power of many minds to get things done," Maren Showkeir says. "Collaborations can be a really powerful way to both strengthen the business for when it improves again and to not feel so alone and overwhelmed by all the work staring you in the face."

6. Be a listener, not a talker.

Remember that what's left unspoken during a meeting is just as important as what's on the agenda.

"If we don't discuss concerns and fears, we're missing two-thirds of what's relevant to a project's success," Jamie Showkeir says.

7. You gotta have hope.

In the workplace, misery doesn't really love company, so try to focus on the possibility of better times ahead.

"Would you rather place your bet on the future by engaging in hope and optimism, or be pulled kicking and dragging into it?" Jamie Showkeir says. "How we answer that question ultimately drives our behavior and our success in how we engage others."

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5 Steps to Better Time Management

by Gary Swart,

Time management is essential in our high-speed, always-on culture, yet most advice you'll find on this topic is pretty vague. "Setting goals" and "making time work for you" are, um, great, but so are practical efficiencies. Because oDesk is home to thousands of self-starting contract workers, we've seen many efficiency tricks.

The headline promises five steps for time management, but they all come from a single principle: You can only do one thing at a time, so do it right.

Finish what you've started. This is the core idea: Where possible, working a single task to completion is more efficient. When you sit down to work, you spend a few minutes just getting "settled in" before you're productive. If you jump from task to half-finished task all the time, that's a lot of minutes lost to "rolling up your sleeves."

Think small. You can't always spend several hours working straight through on a single big job. Don't think in those terms. Use a simple to-do list (try, and take each item to completion without interruption, unless something's literally on fire. An example for the job-seeker: It's not "I'll look for jobs this afternoon," it's checking email for replies to previous applications, scanning preferred job sites, writing cover letters, and tweaking your resume for each solid lead, etc.

Quit stalling. Once you're organizing by simple components, it's easier to dive right into the small tasks. It takes a lot of warm up and deep breaths before you jump off a high-dive and we're less hesitant about walking down a flight of steps.

Play well with others. When you're working as part of a team, make sure you're prioritizing what you do to get the most important parts into the production line. Nothing's worse than having people stand around waiting for you to produce. In a job search, prioritize anyone who's waiting to hear from you; hiring managers looking for self-starters (and who isn't?) will appreciate and remember your promptness.

Analyze your output. How could you have been more efficient? How much of your time goes to trivial, mundane work rather than the challenging stuff you enjoy and that your boss values? Job-seekers, log the time you spend at various job sites, and count how many real leads that effort yields. This way you can reprioritize your efforts for high value results. Why are you still lurking on that job board that dried up two years ago?

It's a multitasking world, and there's no changing it. But when a dozen things are clamoring for your attention, you can still organize them on your terms.

Gary Swart is CEO of oDesk, the marketplace for online workteams.

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Minggu, 08 Agustus 2010

How to ask your boss for a raise

Thinking of asking for a raise? You're not alone. Most of today's work force is just waiting for their chance to ask for more money. But be wary-there are many do's and don't surrounding this issue. Use the following tips to find out what to do when the moment is right for your to make your move:

1. Consider Your Position

Look at the position you are currently holding. Are you a college-hire, a seasoned veteran, a part-time employee? Its a fact that employees must climb the work status ladder to get anywhere. If you are a college hire, your chances are slimmer for a raise than those of a seasoned veteran. If you are part-time, employers may not be able to consider you for a raise until you take full-time status. Put simply, position is everything.

2. Consider Time

If you are a new hire, you MUST wait at least six months before approaching your boss for a raise. If you've got a few years under your belt, its still advisable to wait at least three months from your last raise before asking for more money.

3. Consider Experience

How solidly do you know your area? If you are an expert, your chances are great for a raise. If you've got only a seminal knowledge of your area, consider training yourself to become more knowledgeable. If you are a valuable commodity and your boss knows it, they'll do whatever they can to keep you.

4. Feel Around

Try and see what the other employees in your office are earning. Ask them tactfully, or ask the employment office in your building. Chances are, they'll be able to give some good hints at what those around you are worth. Consider your raise question accordingly.

5. Spread Hints

Before asking for a raise, it's always good to exhibit a huge burst of company loyalty. Bustle around for a week or two, and do even more than you normally would. Stay later at the office, and contribute highly to company meetings. Try and showcase the fact that you are of great value to the company.

6. Give Hints

It's nice to spread some hints so that you don't take your boss completely by surprise. Schedule your meeting at least a week in advance, and tell him/her that you'd like to discuss your "position in the company."

7. Make a Case

Compile a list of all the reasons that you feel you should be earning more. Type a paper listing all of your projects and what you did to contribute to them. List your assets, and what you've learned. If your boss seems unconvinced of your worth, give them your compiled list of these projects. Practice expounding on all of topics in front of a mirror.

8. Stand Firm

If you feel that a raise has been long in coming, make sure that you stress how much you need it. Indicate to your boss that your comfort depends on the raise. Avoid speaking directly of issues such as a car or rent. Simply tell your boss that you'd appreciate some extra help in the areas of housing and transportation.

9. Watch for Signals

Read your boss carefully. If he/she appears to be having a bad day at the time of the meeting, switch the topic of the meeting, and schedule another one for the next week. The best time to ask for a raise is just after you've been lauded for a project or assignment. If praise is a rare thing in your office, then at least make sure that your boss appears to be in a jovial mood at the time of your talk.

10. Know When to Give Up

In the area of office politics, your boss always knows best. If they give you a definitive "no" to your question, do not press the issue. Instead, work hard, and watch for your next chance to speak to them on the issue of a raise.

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Our Bad Behavior at Work

Millions of people admit to committing these workplace no-nos every day.

by Maria Hanson, LiveCareer

When is falling asleep or knocking back a stiff drink just not OK? When you do it at the office (or behind the wheel). But each day millions of people commit these workplace taboos--and even more-scandalous ones.

But not all workplace no-nos are created equal, in terms of seriousness or consequences, says executive recruiter and career counselor Bruce Hurwitz: "Some taboos can be forgiven or raise concerns about your well-being. Others can result in immediate dismissal."

A Harris Interactive Poll of 5,700 U.S. workers found people confessing to all sorts of questionable behavior at the office. Here are some of the top workplace taboos they admitted to:

1. Falling asleep at work (45 percent)
Need a personal barista to help you stay awake at work? Snoozing on the job looks downright unprofessional and is generally not appreciated by employers.

If you find yourself drifting off on a regular basis, it may mean that you need a more stimulating and engaging career. Take a free career test to find your ideal job.

2. Kissing a coworker (39 percent)
This number shouldn't come as a big surprise to anyone who has spent time in an office setting. According to a Valentine's Day survey of more than 8,000 workers, 40 percent have dated a coworker--about the same number that have kissed.

3. Stealing from the office (22 percent)
Ever wonder where people get the office supplies they use at home? Chances are pretty good they pilfer at least some of them from work. While the Harris survey indicates that only about one-fifth of workers take office supplies, an OfficeMax Workplace Uncovered survey reveals what's probably closer to the truth: a whopping 56 percent of workers confessed to taking office supplies home. Top items were pens, pencils, and highlighters.

4. Taking credit for someone else's work (2 percent)
Stealing pencils from the office is one thing. Stealing ideas from a colleague and passing them off as your own is quite another. Only 2 percent of employees in the Harris survey admitted doing this. But in a survey by OfficeTeam, nearly 30 percent of workers say they've had their ideas stolen at work. (The huge gulf between the figures may be because this is a pretty hard taboo to admit; it's easier to talk about when you're the victim.) Keeping your supervisor informed of your ideas and your progress is good preventative medicine, say career experts.

5. Spreading a rumor about a coworker (22 percent)
While some office gossip is relatively harmless, spreading a rumor can be damaging not only to the subject but also to the rumor-monger. In addition to making you seem untrustworthy or downright devious, spreading rumors can even lead to a lawsuit. Whether you publish a falsehood verbally, in writing, or on the Internet, you could end up faceing a pricey defamation suit.

6. Consuming alcoholic beverages while on the job (21 percent)
There was a time when keeping a bottle in your desk drawer was almost de rigueur in some professions. (Just watch any episode of "Mad Men.") Now most companies have a zero-tolerance policy for tippling in the office.

Still, more than one-fifth of the Harris survey respondents said they'd enjoyed booze while on the job. A recent TV news investigation found that drinking on the job was all too common among some New York City construction workers. One worker they witnessed knocked back six cocktails in 30 minutes!

7. Snooping (18 percent)
While it's legal for many managers to access employees' company emails and instant messages, not all office snoopers go through legitimate channels. Nearly one-fifth of survey respondents said they'd snooped around the office after hours.

The best way to foil these snoops? Log off your computer when you're not there, change passwords frequently, have a clean-desk policy so there's nothing to find, and use a paper shredder for anything you'd like to keep from prying eyes.

8. Lying about an academic background (4 percent)
It seems every time you turn around there's another story in the news about a power player tumbling off the corporate or academic ladder because of lying about education on a resume. Just recently a top Texas A&M University official resigned after it was revealed that he didn't have the doctorate his resume listed and that he hadn't been a Navy Seal.

If you are concerned that you don't have enough education to meet your career goals, earning a real degree is a far better bet than lying about one on your resume. Take an education test to find out if more schooling could help you to advance your career.

And don't be tempted to lie on your resume. Experts say at some point it will probably catch up with you. Instead use a resume builder for help creating an accurate, impressive resume that gets results.

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How to End a Job Interview

The right closing can seal the deal and land the job.

by Margaret Steen, for Yahoo! HotJobs

In preparing for a job interview, you've probably practiced a firm (but not too firm) handshake, rehearsed answers to tough questions about your background, and polished up your lucky interview shoes. But many job hunters overlook a crucial part of the interview process: the very end.

(Want tips on answering the trickiest interview questions? Read interview advice from career expert Liz Ryan.)

As you finish an interview, you have one last chance to sell the interviewer on your skills--and get the information you need in order to follow up. Experts offer these tips for successfully closing an interview:

Don't leave empty-handed. To be sure you can follow up later, don't leave the interview without getting the names, titles, and contact information of everyone you met. This includes people you may dismiss as unimportant. "You don't know who has pull," says Laura DeCarlo, president of Career Directors International, a global professional association of resume writers and career coaches.

Know the next steps. You should also ask what the next steps are in the process: Will the most-promising candidates be called back for another interview? Is the company about to make a hiring decision? How soon does the hiring manager expect to move to this next step?

"It's totally appropriate for a candidate to ask this," says Peggy McKee, founder of

Lay the groundwork for a follow-up. Once the interviewer explains how the process will unfold, DeCarlo explains, "you say, 'Thank you. Is it OK if I call you if I haven't heard from you?'" Although you don't need the interviewer's permission to follow up, having the interviewer say it's OK will likely make you less apprehensive if doing so becomes necessary.

Close the sale. After you thank the interviewer and briefly summarize why you think you're a good fit for the job, McKee suggests asking straight out, "Based on this interview, do you feel that I could be successful in this position? Will you move me forward in the interview process?"

A positive response doesn't mean you're guaranteed to get the job. But the interviewer will likely remember you as a stronger candidate. "When you answer yes, you cross a line mentally," McKee says.

What if the interviewer expresses reservations? "That's the big fear," McKee says. But even though it may be disappointing, it's better to know. "This is your only really strong opportunity to find out what her objections are, so you can overcome those objections."

For example, if the interviewer says you lack experience in a particular area, you may realize that didn't emphasize your relevant experience enough. You can now clarify, either on the spot or in a follow-up letter.

You may get a noncommittal answer--the interviewer may say simply that there are more candidates to interview, for example. If that happens, use this as an opportunity to ask for more information about how the hiring process will play out.

Remember the details. Your thank-you notes will be more effective if you can mention specifics about your interviews. The best way to do this, DeCarlo says, is to write down everything you remember--good and bad--as soon as you can after the interview.

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How to run a successful freelance writing business

Running your own freelance writing business can be both exciting and scary, but the most important thing to remember is that you are in business. Your business will not run itself; there is much you will have to attend to in addition to writing. On addition to knowing how to write well, you also have to know the basics of running a business.

One of the most important aspects of running your freelance writing business will be scheduling and completing the work. One of the first questions clients will ask you (after ¡§How much does this cost?¡¨) will probably be ¡§How long will this take?¡¨ This depends upon how fast you can write well. If you are good, you can do in two days what it might take another writer a week to do. When pondering how long a project will take, think about the other work you have to do within that same time period. If you have several projects with close deadlines, you need to give yourself plenty of time to do each of them well. And at first, each project may take more time than you would wish. Also think sabot how much research you have to do for a project. If you have all the information at hand, you can probably complete it much more quickly than if you have to do quite a bit of reading first. Maybe you have an interview to do; you have to schedule that into your time frame. Consider adding on two days when you tell a client when their work will be done to compensate for unforeseeable events. And never take on more work than you can handle. You'll lose more clients by missing a deadline than any other way.

Another important aspect of your freelance writing business is building the client-writer relationship. You should set out to win clients, not assignments. If you can build a nice stable of clients with returning assignments, your income will increase more than if you treat each job as just an assignment. Here are a few tips on building good relationships:

- Seek out clients who can provide you with steady assignments rather just occasional work.

- Go out of your way to please your clients, especially regular ones.

- Build a personal relationship. Drop them an occasional line or even have coffee if that's feasible.

- Participate in client activities. Go to events that you are invited to attend.

- Be especially considerate of secretaries and assistants. They have a great deal of control over who sees their bosses and who doesn't. And you never know¡Ksome day they might be promoted and become one of your clients.

- Never, ever be rude or lose your temper. Be very patient and courteous, no matter what your real feelings are. Vent somewhere else.

Good time management skills are essential for the freelancer, since you don't have someone hanging over your shoulder making sure you get things done on time. Make sure your office is efficiently organized so you can find everything quickly. Keep separate files for each project, and consider part-time secretarial help if you need it and can afford it. Remember, your time is money, so make each hour count be turning unproductive time into billable time. Try to do as much business as possible by email, phone or fax rather than in person or by mail. You will save so much time this way and remember time is money.

Another very important aspect of your freelance writing business is getting paid. To insure this, you have to know how to bill clients and how to follow up on clients who are slow to pay. You will need to send an invoice to each client for each project completed. You can buy preprinted invoices at most office supply stores or you can write a simple one yourself, detailing the date, who it's to, what work was done, the amount owed to you, and your payment terms. Most writers expect to be paid within thirty days. Send the invoice promptly, within a week of completing the work. If you have trouble collecting payment, send a polite letter to your client requesting payment. Do not threaten or sound angry; the client may simply have forgotten. If you don't hear back within two weeks, send another polite, but a bit firmer letter. Send this letter certified, return receipt requested. If you still don't get paid within two weeks, try a phone call. Keep track of everything said, and remain polite but firm. You may suggest partial payments if the client can't pay all at once. Any further communication should be by certified letter. Continue sending letters at two-week intervals until you receive payment. If you still are not paid, you can either turn collection over to an attorney or collections agency. Warn your client before you take such action.

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