Category Archives: Jobs

College Majors You May Not Want to Consider

I graduated from college in December of 2007; almost 5 years ago now. I had a lot of ups and downs throughout my college career that made figuring out what I wanted to do with my life difficult. In the end, I settled on a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology, which, without a Master’s Degree, got me a job at a pizza place. This was definitely not the shining moment in my life.

After 6 months of unsuccessful job hunting, I went in to my university and decided to apply to earn a Master’s Degree, this time in Communication Studies. This was a good move on my part, as I am now a personal contractor/freelancer and am getting by much better than I did when I was trying to flop around with my B.A. in sociology.

This morning, I was reading an article on Yahoo! Finance, where Kiplinger shared the worst college majors for a bad economy. I was really intrigued by the article. Here are some of my thoughts:

I’m not surprised by the art stuff. A dear friend of mine just finished high school and is going to college. This week she’s looking at art schools. Now, she was going to go into nursing, but realized that she wanted to follow her passion instead. Not a horrible idea, but she’s realistic and knows that jobs in the art field are limited and hard to come by. You aren’t going to be the next Picasso, and low-wage jobs may be your life for awhile, but if it’s what you want to pursue, go for it.

Sociology and anthropology are degrees that you need a Master’s degree to get a job in. I was told this going into my sociology program a year before I was going to graduate. Our sociology and anthropology department made that a clear indicator, and our senior seminar class involved more “let’s get you to graduate school” instead of “let’s get you out in the field.” From what I understand, the research for this article was done for Bachelor’s degrees; if you want to do sociology and/or anthropology, know that you will have to get a Master’s to be able to land a good research job.

Graphic Design surprised me quite a bit. This shocked me. Now, granted, it is technically an “art” major, but I thought, with the rise of the internet, that graphic designers would be necessary. Apparently, the biggest issue is that there isn’t a lot of growth in the graphic design field, which I can understand. Unemployment’s quite high as well; it seems that any company that has the need for a graphic designer likely already has that graphic designer in their ranks.

What do you think about this list? Are you a successful worker that has one of these Bachelor’s degrees? Or do you have one of these degrees and think that you wasted your money to be stuck in a retail job? Share some thoughts in the comments, have a great day, and we’ll see you back here next week!

Why Aren’t Wages Increasing?

Some of my readers are probably sick of me saying that our economy is bad. I’m very good at stating the obvious, apparently. Unemployment is high, gas costs are high (like I talked about last week), and the cost of living is becoming harder and harder to meet. Sometimes we get some little bits of relief, but we haven’t seen a lot of economic recovery in quite a long while.

Economists put a lot of focus on the unemployed when talking about the economy, and with good reason. People being unemployed negatively affects the economy because they are not getting money and, because they aren’t getting money, they’re not putting more money into the economy to fix it.

What if you’re working? Sure, the high costs of things definitely affect your wallet; I talked to a friend the other day who is picking up a third job because she just can’t make ends meet with all of her bills and such. But, the biggest strain comes when those prices increase, but your income doesn’t.

Many people in the United States are getting the same wages that they were earning a short while ago. Statistics say that the private sector wage average has gone from $23.12 an hour to $23.52 an hour, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s a mere 40 cents, which really isn’t much of a difference at all when other years have seen an increase of a dollar or so. It’s barely moving at the same rate as inflation, which is risky; if wages don’t increase with inflation, then the number of people struggling for cash continues to rise, even among the employed.

The biggest reason for this? Surprise! Unemployment. The unemployment rate is high because there are jobs out there, but those jobs are only in certain fields that many people don’t have training in. Have you ever realized how many nursing jobs there are? Exactly my point. But, how does unemployment affect people who are working?

If there aren’t jobs out there for people to potentially get, an employer doesn’t have to do things like adjust benefits or wages in order to keep you as an employee. It seems kind of cruddy, but it’s true. Employers are depending more on the fact that the job market is poor instead of giving you incentive to stay. They don’t need to do anything to keep you in order to keep you when there’s very little in your field out there.

Also, another factor is that most job growth is in low wage jobs, fast food and retail in particular. They don’t give much in terms of raises anyway; I worked at McDonald’s in high school for 3 years and got an extra 21 cents in the three years I was there. That’s pretty standard from what I’ve heard.

What do you think about all of this? Do you think that employers should still be giving raises even though you don’t have a lot of job options? Do you think unemployment really has that much of an impact on the wages of the currently employed? Share some thoughts in the comments, have a great week, and we’ll see you back here next week!

Should I Consider Becoming A Temp?

The economy is in a bad place, and there are definitely a lot of people who are seeking jobs and are unable to find them. Recent graduates seem to be getting the short end of the stick, being forced to go home after graduation because the employment rate is just plain lousy. No matter what kind of job seeker are are, you’re probably wondering what your options are. It is summertime, and some places are hiring, so maybe, if you’re a job seeker, you should consider finding a temporary position. Temporary employment brings a lot of financial questions to mind, but it’s not as big of a mess as some people think it would be.

Temporary employment is, of course, employment that isn’t permanent. Seasonal employment (jobs that only occur during summer, winter, or the holidays) are also types of temporary employment. Basically, there is no long-term contract, your assignment can last anywhere from a day to a year, and you get a set amount of payment. You are unable to get unemployment benefits after your temporary placement ends because you knew upon your entry into the position that it was not planned to be permanent. Sometimes you get hired permanently if you show enough potential in

There are a couple of reasons that you may want to consider becoming a temp.  First off, if you can’t find a job, registering with a temp agency is always a good idea. They can help you find temporary employment to get you through until you land a career or go back to school. Also, temporary jobs can turn into permanent positions at times, especially if it’s holiday employment at a store of some sort. The person you may be replacing at a company may decide to leave permanently and, if you do a good enough job, the company may consider you first.

Some temp agencies (one that comes to mind is Manpower) offer reduced-price benefits for those employed through their agency. Also, if you are registered with a temp agency, you can get help with reductions for your student loans and you may be eligible for federal or state health insurance.

Now, the most important question, of course. Is it financially feasible? It depends. I had one friend who did just fine, but was forced, because of her finances, to stay under her parents’ roof until she got the job that she just started. I’ve had other friends end up on their own, going broke, then move into their parent’s house again, and others end up in endless debt and killing their credit. But, if you manage your finances correctly and don’t mess around you should be just fine for the short term. You may want to avoid it for the long run, though.

What do you think? Have you ever worked as a temp? Would you consider doing it again? What issues could you see that I didn’t mention here? Have a great week, and we’ll see you here next week!


Job Interview Don’ts

I’ve interviewed for a lot of jobs. Not as many as some people, but I’ve definitely done my share of it. I’m definitely not the best job interviewee, but I’m getting there. Getting a job nowadays is harder than ever; unemployment is high, and dozens of people are likely scrambling for the same exact job that you are. There are some things that most people know: Dress up nice, make your resume sound good, and always be polite. But what shouldn’t you do at a job interview? We’re going to look at a few things you may want to consider avoiding when you are applying for a job.

- Don’t be late. I am a stickler for being on time. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become more lax, but in the case of job interviews, I’m not. In high school, our marching band motto was “if you’re 10 minutes early you’re on time, if you’re on time you’re late.” Get there early; it also will help you get rid of interview jitters if you’re used to the environment that you are interviewing in. If you don’t know where you’re going, leave early and get good directions. Also, don’t be afraid to ask the person who set up the interview for directions.

- Don’t smell too strongly. Some people have allergies. Others get really irritated if they have to share a small space with someone that has strong perfume or cologne on. A small bit helps you smell good; too much makes you reek. Be considerate of those around you and be light with whatever scent you wear.

- Don’t be clueless about the company.  Do your research. Make sure that you are fairly knowledgeable about what the company you are interviewing with does. You’ll likely get asked questions about your perception of the company and how you can fit into the company’s vision. If you’re clueless about what that specific company does, you’re likely to get rejected.

- Don’t talk too much. If you talk too much, you can get annoying, or you can say things that you probably shouldn’t say in an interview. I’ve bombed interviews before because I started talking about my social anxiety and freezing up when interacting with people. That was definitely not on the list of things I should be saying when trying to get a job. Don’t incriminate yourself with nerves.

- Don’t get too buddy-buddy. Sometimes, interviewers will ask you about your hobbies and such. This is normal, they want to get an idea of who you are outside of a working environment. But, if you start getting too personal, it can be incriminating. The relationship with your interviewer is purely business, if you want friends, wait until after you get the position to do so.
What other “job interview don’ts” can you think of? Have you ever messed up with any of these? What other advice would you like to share? Share some thoughts in the comments, have a great week, and we’ll see you here next week!

Do’s and Don’ts of Job Hunting

With President Obama’s speech last week on his proposal for what should be done about the job crisis in the United States, jobs and careers seem to be on everyone’s mind. Are you part of the 9% of Americans who are jobless or the 8 or so percent that don’t have enough work? Job hunting is more of a hassle and challenge than it has ever been. Here are some do’s and don’ts for you to consider if you’re hunting for any sort of job.

Do’s:

  1. Always have flexibility. One of the biggest mistakes that people make is telling their potential employer that they can only work weekdays or mornings or whatever. The more flexible you are, the more likely you are to be considered. Now, if you have a religious observation, kids you need to pick up from school or another important reason, mention that, but otherwise, be flexible.  
  2. Watch what you put online. Social networking is a double-edged sword. While it can make networking and communicating a piece of cake, it can also be what destroys you in your job hunt. Don’t have controversial statements, pictures from wild parties, or other posts that could be detrimental to a potential employer’s view of you.
  3. Follow up. Always do this. When you put in an application, if they don’t contact you within a week, call and see if they received your application. It shows ambition, and you’re more likely to be remembered by such an action if you come in for an interview. If you get an interview, always follow up a couple days later with an email, phone call, or postcard thanking the interviewer for taking the time to meet with you. You could end up with a potential contact, and networking is vital to success in the job market.

Don’t:

  1. Don’t be shy.  Your résumé and interview are your chance to shine. Don’t sound cocky, but make it so that the interviewer can recognize your confidence in your own skills. Don’t overemphasize your weaknesses (but be aware of them!), make sure to point out your strengths and how that can benefit the company as a whole.
  2.  Never stop learning. Add credentials to your résumé! Take or audit classes, further your education, go to workshops, get certified in things that could be beneficial to your field.  Don’t become overeducated, but don’t let your brain become stagnant either.
  3.  Don’t forget to update your résumé. Always update your résumé with anything that changes. Previous jobs, references, learning opportunities you have taken, new addresses and/or phone numbers. Whatever changes are made in your life, make sure to change your résumé along with it. This will ensure that nothing important gets left out.

I’m not saying that following these will guarantee to land you your dream job, but I am saying that these will make the possibility of your employment more of a reality.  Enjoy your week!

Negotiating your Salary and Benefits Packages

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When you get your first job offer, how will you know if the salary is reasonable? The first thing you need to do before you enter the job market, whether it’s your first job fresh out of college or a new step into a career path, you need to research what the going rate or salary is in your area that also matches your education and skills.

When it comes to negotiating salary and benefits, most of it just boils down to knowing how much you’re worth in the marketplace. You need to identify which benefits are important to you and associate these benefits with a price tag offered by the employer so that you can evaluate the real value of the offer. The total compensation encompasses much more than just a salary, but also benefits and bonuses such as relocation package and signing bonuses.

When negotiating with your prospective employers, you need to find out what benefits and bonuses the company offers to employees in the position that you’re applying for, what the average pay increase is, and what benefits might be added later.

As far as when to discuss salary negotiations, you should delay any questions or requests until you’re well into the interviewing process and you also want to avoid telling your interviewers how much you currently make. You shouldn’t be thrown into a salary range that’s lower than your current going rates just because you were underpaid at your previous job, and discussing your salary too early in the game can take you out of the running if your current salary is too high. The main goal here is to have enough time interacting with the managers and interviewers to have a chance to “sell yourself” and to convince them why you’re the right person for the job before going into discussion about salary.

Keep in mind, the objective of them asking your current salary or the salary you’re looking for is generally to pay you as little as possible. Employers, for the most part, will always offer less than what they can afford. So the general rule of thumb is this, whatever the offer, always ask for 12%-15% more than what they give you. The reason for this is because when they put together your initial offer, they compose the letter assuming that you will ask for an increase. The employer usually allocates 15% higher than the initial offer for their budget on you, so if you don’t ask for the increase, then the company is more than happy to give you your base pay since they were able to reel you in with their minimum offer. When asking for the 12-15% increase, you might not always get the exact 12-15% but any increase is better than nothing. In the worse case scenario, they say no and that’s it. They’re not going to retract their offer because you asked for an increase, it can’t hurt to ask.

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Tips on Ways to Maximize Tax Deductions for Travel

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Remember that you cannot deduct expenses that are for personal purposes, but you can deduct travel expenses that are the ordinary and necessary expenses of traveling away from home for your business or job.You may also deduct travel expenses, including meals and lodging, you had in looking for a new job in your present trade or business. You may not deduct these expenses if you had them while looking for work in a new trade or business or while looking for work for the first time. If you are unemployed and there is a substantial break between the time of your past work and your looking for new work, you may not deduct these expenses, even if the new work is in the same trade or business as your previous work.

With that being said, here are some tips to maximize tax deductions for travel:

  • Do not prorate travel costs of getting to and from your business destination.
  • Allocate travel expenses between business and non-business. Prorate your business and non-business expenses to identify the business expenses that are tax-deductible.
  • Deduct costs associated with travel outside the United States. If you did not want to spend your entire time on business, you can still deduct the entire cost of your travel outside the United States.
  • Deduct travel expenses for another individual. Yes, you can deduct the travel expenses for another individual who travels with you as long as its a business trip and he/she is an employee of your business.
  • Deduct the cost of travel associated with your attending a business convention. You can deduct your travel expenses when you attend a convention as long as you can show that your attendance benefits your business.
  • Deduct up to $2,000 each year for attending cruise ship conventions that are directly related to your business. As long as you meet the following conditions: The ship must be registered in the US, All ports must be in the US, You must submit two supporting statements with your tax return, and you must spend at least 51 percent of your time attending the seminar.
  • Qualify a day as a business day. You can do this if your primary activity was business. A good rule of thumb is that your business activity be at least four hours in length during normal working hours.

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Managers: How to Avoid Employee Lawsuits

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In today’s society, it is really easy for employees to sue their employers and whats worse is that many employers do not realize until after they are sued that a lawsuit could have been prevented. Although “good intentions” goes a long way, they are in many cases not enough when it comes to a lawsuit.

So the key is to combine good intentions with the necessary legal/management skills and you will experience increased productivity, happier employees and a thriving workplace. Follow these 5 tips for protecting yourself from employee lawsuits:

  1. Hire carefully. You should look for people with strong work ethics and avoid hiring those who feel life owes them something.
  2. Keep good records on employee mistakes, even when they’re not firing offenses. Document your own actions and the reasons behind your employment decisions.
  3. Consider buying an employment practices liability insurance (EPLI).
  4. Do not discriminate in hiring, or permit sexual harassment.
  5. Have strong employment policies. Communicate them clearly to employees and enforce them.

Also, you want to listen very carefully and patiently to what the employee has to say, especially when dealing with any complaints that they may have. Last thing you want to do is to argue with them. Just simply say that you are sorry for not coming to an agreement. It’s better to let down your pride for a minute than to lose your business.

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Billionaires Who Dropped Out of School

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Heres an interesting fact. In the year 1900, there were only about 5,000 millionaires in America. By the end of 2000, there were more than 5 million millionaires, and more than 300 billionaires and multi-billionaires. Almost all of these guys began with nothing and accumulated their fortunes in the course of a single working lifetime.

We all know that education is very important and crucial to obtaining a job these days but there are those few who were able to make it to the top without the complete aid of college education. These self made billionaires suggest that rather than a college education, that talent, hard work, attitude, consistency, and also along with a great deal of luck are the key ingredients of success. Here is a list of billionaires who all dropped of college, and some even high school. (not in any particular order)

    *Bill Gates
    *Li Ka-Shing
    *Larry Ellison
    *Roman Abramovich
    *Sheldon Adelson
    *Paul Allen
    *Amancio Ortega
    *Michael Dell
    *Kirk Kerkorian
    *Carl Icahn
    *Stanley Ho
    *Donald Newhouse
    *François Pinault
    *YC Wang
    *Jack Taylor
    *David Geffen
    *David Murdock
    *Steve Jobs
    *Ralph Lauren
    *Henry Fok
    *Richard Branson

It’s a pretty long list here. Now before you consider dropping out of school, keep in mind that these people are the exception. For the most part, it’s probably like a million to one ratio for those who make it big. So the chances of dropping out and hitting the jackpot are pretty slim, something I wouldn’t recommend. Stick with the lottery. Although the chances of winning one of those are ridiculously slim, at least you’re not bartering your education.

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Carnival of Money Stories: Chicken Soup for the Financial Soul edition

Welcome to the 13th edition of the Carnival of Money Stories! This week we had a little over 30 great article submissions, however since majority of the submissions did not have a personal story or experience behind it, I had to omit most of it. Remember guys, Carnival of Money Stories is strictly dedicated to articles with some kind of personal story and/or experience involving finance so if your article did not have either or, then it was not included in the carnival. For awesome articles that does not fit the Money Stories, there is the Carnival of Personal Finance.

For this edition, I’ve decided to take the popular “Chicken Soup for the Soul” idea as my theme but instead filled with money stories with pictures. There is a total of 14 great stories and I put them each into their own perspective chapters or topics. In order to get to the story, just click on the picture. Anyway, without further delay, I present to you the Carnival of Money Stories #13 :Chicken Soup for the Financial Soul.

Chapter One: Real Estate

real-estate-1.jpgTrent from The Simple Dollar

real-estate-2.jpgSilicon Valley Blogger from The Digerati Life

real-estate-3.jpgCap from Mint

Chapter Two: Customer Service

customer_service-1.jpgMr Medicated Money from Medicated Money

service-2.jpgFire Finance from FireFinance

Chapter Three: Financial Mistakes

money-mistakes-1.jpgBret from The Frugal Law Student

money-mistakes-2.jpgMr Credit Card from Ask Mr Credit Card

Chapter Four: Credit Cards

credit-card-1.jpgFundZine

credit-card-2.jpgThe Credit and Credit Card Blog

credit-card-3.jpgMatthew from Getting Green

credit-card-4.jpgSkilled Investor from The Skilled Investor Blog

Chapter Five: Career

career.gifNina from QueerCents

career2.jpgFreeMoneyFinance

Chapter Six: Retirement

retirement.jpgStop Swimming

So that concluded this weeks Carnival of Money Stories. I want to thank all the contributors for their great work.

The next edition of Money Stories will be hosted Monday over at Frugal Law Student, don’t miss it! You can submit your money stories here.