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Women Build Up Their Careers

(category: Careers, Word count: 344)
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What do women want? When it comes to their careers, studies show, popular responses include options, opportunity, respect, geographical mobility and good pay.

Fortunately, for many women-and their families-that can describe many of the jobs available in the skilled trades. Trade occupations can include aviation technician, automotive painter, construction equipment operator, welder, carpenter, decorator, chef, horticulturist, IT support analyst, florist, electrician, tool and die maker and water-well driller, to name a few.

Why The Trades?

Careers in the trades can offer a chance to contribute to society and the opportunity to be your own boss. Skilled trades touch every part of Americans' lives, from roads and homes to hospitals and schools. You can get hands-on training and a chance to "earn while you learn."

What Does It Take?

Some jobs need modest physical strength and endurance but most do not. Virtually all require intelligence and creativity as well as good reading, math and analytical skills. Thanks to technology, skilled trades are not "dirty," as they once may have been. Knowledge of computer software and mechanical systems is increasingly important.

Opportunities On The Rise

This nation faces a looming shortage of skilled tradespeople. As the baby boomers retire over the next few years, the construction industry alone will be short more than 1 million workers.

What About Pay?

The salary ranges vary by job, location and experience but a skilled electrician can easily earn $70,000 a year. Apprentices and others may get less and the work for some is seasonal, while union members are often paid more than nonunion workers, report the experts at the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC).

The organization was founded in 1955 to create a support network and enhance the success of women in the construction industry. It now has thousands of members around the world and has advanced the causes of all women in construction, from trades-women to business owners. According to the group, educational and career resources play an integral role in facing the challenges of this evolving industry.

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New Job Blues Now What

(category: Careers, Word count: 1008)
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You've landed what you thought was the job of your dreams. Each stage of the interview went smoothly - you sold them on your skills and expertise, and your prospective boss sold you on the position and benefits of joining the company. He/she seemed excited about extending an offer. And then, with offer in hand, it was thrilling to give your notice (or tell your friends you're finally employed after a long stint of unemployment!). All seemed right with the world.

You've now been on board a few days... a week... perhaps even a month. Suddenly you're not so sure you've made the right decision. The job that seemed like a dream is starting to feel like a nightmare. Perhaps the position isn't what you thought it would be; it's either too narrow, too broad, not challenging enough, or more of a stretch than you imagined. Maybe the company isn't measuring up. Or, perhaps your boss isn't the caring, supportive mentor you thought he/she would be.

In a state of confusion, you wonder what you should do. Stick it out? For how long? Leave? Then what? The decision to stay or leave a new job is a personal one, with no right or wrong answer, as everyone's situation is unique. And most people, at one time or another, have been faced with this dilemma. To help you think through your next move and determine what's right for you, here are some questions you may want to ask yourself:

Is it just the newness of the job? Changing jobs can be an unsettling experience. In your previous job, you knew your way around - you knew what was expected of you; you knew your job; you knew the players; you felt like you belonged. In a new job, however, it takes time to learn the ropes and feel like you're truly adding value. Sometimes it's best to give yourself time to get over the "newness" and then decide if the job is right for you.

Can you live with your boss? Hiring managers sometimes put their best foot forward in an interview, then do an about-face when a new employee arrives. Even though your boss isn't the supportive manager you thought he/she would be, can you live with the change? If so, it may be worth staying. If, however, you experience a nauseous stomach on Monday mornings or a rise in blood pressure every time he/she walks into your office, it may be wise to consider leaving.

Can you navigate the politics? Office politics can be the bane of many employees' existence. If you've been hired into a political crossfire, it will be important to assess your political skills to determine if you can make it work. If politics aren't your strength, you may want to leave before you find yourself failing without even knowing why. If you're good at developing relationships and working with differing styles, as well as "managing up", you may want to consider staying and seeing if you can make a tough situation work.

What will you learn if you stay in this job? Sometimes a seemingly wrong job can turn out to be a terrific opportunity to learn new skills, become exposed to new technologies, and gain valuable experience. Is it possible this job could be a stepping-stone to a better, more satisfying job down the road? Could it ultimately propel your career forward? If so, and you can tolerate everything else, it may be worth staying.

If the scope of the job has changed, can it be renegotiated? If the actual work turns out to be far different from what you thought it would be, you may want to speak with your manager to see if aspects of the job can be changed. If the scope is too narrow, can more responsibilities be added? If the workload is too great, can you get some assistance? If the job ultimately represents a step backwards and/or you're doing work you didn't feel like you signed up for, it may be worth looking elsewhere.

Can you afford to leave without another job to go to? If your boss, or the job, or the politics are so bad it's beginning to affect your health and personal life, then leaving sooner rather than later may be the best move. But can you afford it? Carefully evaluating your financial situation prior to jumping ship will help alleviate regrets later on. Consider also the momentum you had in your job search prior to starting your job. Can it be easily resurrected so your time of unemployment is minimized?

The decision to stay or leave an intolerable new job is a tough one. How long to stay is also a dilemma. Many have left after two weeks, never to look back. Others have stayed, only to regret staying too long. And still others have stayed and managed to make everything work out. Only you can decide what's best for you and your situation.

If you answer the above questions honestly, you will surely make the right decision for you. Pay attention to how you're feeling and what the job is doing to your health and self-esteem. Recognize that the longer you stay, the greater the requirement to add the job to your resume. Know that it's always an option to stay and look for employment on the side. If you do that, it may be valuable to evaluate your job, boss, team, and culture requirements so you can develop some insightful interview questions to ask the next time around.

Talking with a trusted friend or colleague can be helpful during this challenging time. Whether you choose to stick it out and hope for the best, or leave right away and cut your losses, trust that you've made the right decision. And know that regardless of the outcome, the experience has presented an excellent opportunity for learning and personal growth that will be invaluable in helping you manage the rest of your career.

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Five Steps To A Richer Retirement

(category: Careers, Word count: 332)
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You've probably heard about the Nebraska meatpackers who won the largest lottery jackpot in the United States last week. One winner replied "I've been retired for about four days now" when asked what he would do with his winnings. His response did not surprise me; I'm sure my reaction would be similar!

What does surprise me is that many Americans believe that they cannot retire comfortably unless they win the lottery. A survey by the Consumer Federation of America shows that 27% of Americans believe that their best chance to gain $500,000 in their lifetime is to win a sweepstakes or lottery.

Fortunately, building a comfortable retirement nest egg is easier than you think. Here are five steps to help you build a comfortable retirement:

1. Start early! If you started saving $100 a month beginning at age 18, you would have over $500,000 by age 65. The power of compounding is great, and the earlier you start saving, the greater the benefit.

2. Have a plan. The best way to ensure that you will have a comfortable retirement is to plan how much you will need to retire. You can't reach your destination if you don't know where you're going.

3. Participate in company sponsored retirement plans. Many companies offer matching contributions to your 401K or other retirement plan contributions. This is free money - take it!

4. Invest in a diversified portfolio of stocks and bonds, that fits your goals and risk tolerance. Studies show that your investment return is determined primarily by the allocation of your assets, not the individual investment selections you make.

5. Keep your costs down. Invest in no-load, low cost mutual funds (or other investments). Lowering the expenses in your portfolio by just 1% can equate to 20% more money in your portfolio after 20 years.

Although winning a large lottery certainly can't hurt, following the steps above should send you well on your way to a comfortable retirement.

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Medical Transcription Myths And Realities The Basics

(category: Careers, Word count: 466)
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Unless you have some sort of super anti-spam e-mail blocker installed on your computer, you have probably received e-mails with titles such as "Make $150,000 a year as an at home medical transcriptionist - no investment required". Many of these e-mails are nothing but solicitations to try and get you to buy some sort of e-book, or other item, that will teach you how to become a medical transcriptionist. While remembering that many of these e-mails are nothing more than spam, it is equally important to remember that many of them are legitimate.

To start with, medical transcription is one of the fastest-growing of the medical related career fields. A study conducted about 6 years ago found that transcription, and related fields, would continue tremendous growth for many years to come. This is due in part to the rapid advance in the number of retiring "baby boomers". As well, virtually all medical career fields are nearly recession proof, as no matter what the economic climate, people are always going to need medical care; thus, doctors and other medical professionals are always going to need medical transcriptionists.

In essence, a trained medical transcriptionist can take the notes (most commonly being voice recordings) of doctors, nurses, etc., and translate them into various forms, including medical reports, charts, etc. Potential medical transcriptionists will need good listening skills, as medical terminology may sound the same, but have different meanings depending upon the context in which it's used. The final results of a medical transcriptionists work must be 100% accurate, as this work is what's used to document a patient's medical history. As well, a transcriptionist's work may be utilized during certain legal proceedings, so everything must always be perfect. Legal matters can hinge entirely on the accuracy of the transcriptions. And, no matter what the outcome of the proceedings, all transcripts most generally become a matter of public record.

A medical transcriptionist is normally employed in one of the following 4 ways:

In an actual hospital

In a doctor's office, clinic, or other outpatient medical care facility

In labs, medical schools, third-party transcription services, etc.

As independent or "home-based" medical transcriptionists

Most appealing to potential new transcriptionists is the possibility of working from home. While being home-based has its benefits, it has its challenges as well. The lack of a normal "9 to 5? work schedule, and structured office environment are two good examples of such challenges. As well, if you decide to become home-based, you will likely need to form your own business legally, set up your tax requirements, etc. All of this is really not anywhere near as difficult as it may sound. But all potential home-based transcriptionists will want to keep these things in mind.

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Top 10 Things People Do Wrong At Interviews And How To Avoid Them

(category: Careers, Word count: 852)
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A face-to-face interview is the most stressful part of the job search for many individuals, but it is also a critical component of the recruiting process. Up until this point, you have been able to hide behind your resume and cover letter. As the selection process starts to draw to a close, though, it's time to impress the hiring team. A large part of a successful interview is avoiding potential pitfalls that can undermine your ability to impress the hiring team.

The top ten critical mistakes that people make when interviewing for a position are:

Arriving late to the interview

Arriving late makes a strong negative first impression and will raise questions in the interviewer's mind about your reliability and punctuality. Always ask for directions to the interview site and double-check a map so that you know where you are going. Don't forget to allow extra time for traffic and other unforeseeable events.

Poor dress attire and grooming

Remember that professional companies are looking to hire professional individuals, not the beach bum who just shook the loose sand from his hair. Dress conservatively in a well-fitting suit and keep jewelry, makeup, and fragrances to a minimum. It's also important to always take a shower, brush your teeth, and comb your hair before an interview as well to present to clean, polished image.

Failure to do research about the company prior to the interview

Show you are interested in the company for by doing some outside research before the interview. This attention to detail sends a clear message to the interviewer that you are serious about the position and are willing to go the extra mile. This research will also help you determine if the company's industry, products/services, and culture are a god match for you.

Failure to give specific examples of your experience and measure your skills against the position

Interviewers want to know more than just the bare bones of your experience. They are interested in the specifics of task how you performed, challenges you have faced, and the methods you have used to overcome those challenges. This is especially true of behavioral interviewers. Take the time to give the interviewer specific examples of how you have performed and how these collaborate to the duties of the position. If you can draw a clear parallel between your work experience and the position you are interviewing for, you have a much higher chance of being successful in the interviewing process.

Not taking the opportunity to ask intelligent questions about the company and/or position

The interviewing process is not just an opportunity for the company to evaluate your fit for the position; it's also your opportunity to evaluate how well the company and the position match your ideal job. Asking questions not only helps you determine how well-suited you are for the position (and it for you), but also clearly indicates that you have done some basic research about the organization. Don't ask questions just for the sake of asking questions. Intelligent, poorly-worded questions can frequently do more damage to your reputation than remaining silent.

Failure to practice

Even the best public speakers need to take the time to practice delivering and answering detailed questions. The more you practice, the more comfortable you will get with your answers and the material, allowing for a much smoother delivery.

Talking too much (or not at all)

The best answers are succinct, but detailed. Interviewees who ramble on and on come across as trying to compensate for some weakness, while those individuals who just sit there and stare appear as though they are in shellshock (and maybe in over their heads). Neither of these scenarios is ideal in an interview situation. Choose your words carefully and sparingly, but don't be a mute.

Bad-mouthing previous managers or companies

One of the fastest ways to turn off an interviewer is to bad-mouth your current or previous employer. This raises questions about your loyalty and integrity, and labels you as unhappy and a complainer. Even if you worked in a sweatshop with no lights, running water, or meal breaks for 18 hours a day, keep all negative commentary to yourself.

Fail to explain why they are a good fit for the position (and the company)

If you leave it up to the interviewer to evaluate if you are a solid fit for the company, then you risk the chance that they might not make the decision you'd like to hear. Make it easy for the interviewer for hire you by connecting your experiences, talents, and strengths to the job description.

Don't state that you want the job

Once the interview has concluded, if you want the job, let the interviewer know that you are still interested in the position. Since the interview is as much about your evaluation of the company and the position as it is them evaluating you, don't assume the interviewer knows you still want the job. Reiterate your interest and inquire about the next step in the hiring process.

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Take This Job And Shove It Is A Country Song Not A Best Practice

(category: Careers, Word count: 695)
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"Find a job you like and you add five days to every week."

-H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Sometimes it's an easy choice to leave a company. However, one of the most important choices that you can make in your career is to leave your current employer in the right way. Like any other relationship, there are faults and virtues with every company. At the end of a relationship, people tend to focus on the faults.

BREAKING UP IS HARD TO DO

When you leave a company, it is like breaking up with a boyfriend or girlfriend. Regardless of how you do it, there will still be emotions. The longer the relationship, the deeper the feelings. Keep this in mind during the separation. People express their emotions in different ways so be prepared to respond with compassion.

IT'S A SMALL WORLD

I've learned first hand not to burn bridges. In fact, I was hired by my former boss within two years of leaving the company. He had moved onto a bigger job with another company and thought of me when a position came open in his department. Since we already had a great relationship, the interview process was both short and painless. Also, the job was a significant step up for me both professionally and financially.

TO DO OR NOT TO DO?

Here are a few do's and don'ts that may help make the transition a little easier for everyone.

DO write and give a simple resignation letter to your immediate boss and, perhaps, your Human Resources Director, if appropriate. By putting a few key items in writing, it memorializes your intention to leave the company. It also gives you a chance to pre-play the discussion with your boss. The letter should include the following: your last day on the job, open items that you need to complete prior to leaving, and any work that you will need to pass off to someone else.

DON'T say anything negative about the company or anyone working for the company. While this is a good policy to employ at all times, it is even more critical when you are leaving. Disgruntled employees may seek you out during this time to air their negative feelings about the company or people working for the company. Resist the temptation to entertain these conversations. It is likely that your comments will be shared with others.

DO give as much advance notice as possible to allow for a smooth transition. Typically, this is two to four weeks. Use your best judgment to decide how long you will need to give keeping in mind what's best for the company. Be aware that is also possible that the company will ask you to leave immediately, especially if you're going to work for a competitor. This is nothing personal and should not be considered an insult.

DO work hard until you leave. It's perfectly natural to get "short-timer's disease" as you have already mentally moved onto the new position. Whether discussing movies, books, or relationships; people generally remember the beginning and end more than the middle.

DON'T take anything that is not yours. Whether it's a stapler, a book that belongs to the company, copy paper, or paper clips; leave them behind. While you're at it, tidy up a bit.

DO make yourself available for your replacement. If the company hires your replacement before you leave, offer to train them. Even after you have departed, it's a good idea to leave a phone number where you can be reach with times that it is acceptable to call.

DON'T abuse e-mail, the telephone, or the internet during your last days. Be sure to keep your communication as professional as you have during your tenure.

There's no reason that you still can't be friends when it's over. If you are careful to maintain a good reputation with the company, their suppliers, their customers, and employees; it will pay off considerably. It may not happen right away, but your paths will cross again.

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The Job Application Tango

(category: Careers, Word count: 275)
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We do it all the time. When we're ready for a job change we go online to search for a better job. You go to your favorite job board or employer's site, find a job that fits you perfectly, and submit your resume and nothing happens.

Just a typical online job hunting experience that we're all used to. You are now in the Bermuda Triangle of job hunting, sending your resume into the unknown digital zone that goes in and never comes back.

So, what can you do to improve your odds of receiving that next step of the employer contacting you for the job interview? First, it's important to understand what's happening on the employer's end. Employers nowadays will receive hundreds to thousands of resumes after posting a job in any given week. Their computers and networks are overwhelmed from the entourage of resumes that are pouring into their email and HR application management software.

Some employers have the technology that can handle all the resumes pouring in and those are the ones that you will get an auto-responder message stating that they have received your resume and will contact you if they want to schedule you for a job interview. Other employers don't, their Human Resources departments have been downsized or their budgets have been cut so much they can't even afford a computer.

Does that mean you shouldn't even bother applying for the job? Of course not. There are thousands of new jobs posted daily on job boards. To help increase your chances of success begin the "Job Application Tango." Here's how:

Step 1: Submit your resume properly

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Genuine Help Vs Exploitation

(category: Careers, Word count: 671)
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I had a recent exchange of e-mails with someone who wrote:

"39 dollars for a book that proclaims itself to be a way out of depression and feelings of worthlessness for unemployed people?

Tell me: what does a PsyD know about unemployment and low-self-worth?

This price tag is atrocious.

You are victimizing the unemployed, the societal outsider, and I do not appreciate it."

After my initial response, he wrote back: "I can't say I expected any less than what you've given... a total dismissal of my opinion. Do you see no injustice in the "Catch 22? of expensive "ways out" of financial difficulty?"

The gentleman raises a very interesting question. Is there something inherently exploitative about selling a product or a service to individuals who are in a place of great need and few resources?

There is a common expression in marketing: "Don't try selling boxes to the homeless." Why? Because they obviously have no money, that's why they are homeless. Sales need to be geared to a more lucrative market and demographic distribution charts are developed that pinpoint geographic locations, professions, age levels, and ethnic distributions where household incomes are higher and purchasing is more likely.

Where does that leave the homeless, or anyone else who is in a difficult situation where help is needed but money to pay for it is unavailable or severely limited?

There is the government for starters. At all levels, our public agencies exist to provide the help and services citizens need, that is the purpose of paying taxes. In fact, they do provide those services to a greater or lesser extent, depending upon how well developed is that particular sector.

When the services fall short of what is needed, the private sector steps in. Apart from true charity organizations or companies contracted with some level of government, private services require regular income or will shortly vanish from the scene.

If public colleges don't provide the classes you need, on a schedule convenient to you, you pay to attend a private vocational school that costs thousands of dollars more than a community college but gives you what you need, when you need it.

If the State Consumer Credit office can't help you with your bills and creditors are driving you crazy, you pay a private credit company to work out some sort of financial survival plan.

If the unemployment office has not been able to help you find work, you may pay a private job coaching service to redo your resume, give you interviewing skills practice, and perform research in your field.

Are these agencies exploiting your predicament or meeting your needs?

If they give you what you paid for, they are providing a service. Obtaining solid vocational skills that lead to a good job, working out a manageable repayment schedule that allows you to live without the hounding of collectors, or transforming your self-presentation to allow successful competition for a good position, are all examples of worthwhile pay-for-results exchanges.

It becomes exploitative when a school takes thousands of dollars, provides training of questionable quality, and leaves you unemployed with huge student loans to repay. It is exploitative when a company takes money to reestablish your credit and fails to follow through, leaving you still battling collectors with even more depleted assets. It is exploitative when an employment-assistance agency charges you hundred (or thousands) of dollars and fails to produce the results they promised.

In the end, it comes down to what we need and whether we are willing to pay for a service we see as better than those publicly funded. It also means that we have a responsibility to ourselves to thoroughly research any company, or group, or author, before we hand over our money, to make sure that the services offered will be useful, that the source will deliver what has been promised, and what recourse we have if premature withdrawal is necessary.

P.S. I cut the price of the book in half, anyway.

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How To Search For A New Career Before Giving Up Your Old One

(category: Careers, Word count: 482)
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Are you thinking about changing careers but scared to blindly jump into something new? Are you not sure where to start? Most people are unhappy and frustrated with their current job, but don't know how to create a plan to move into a new career.

If you are lost about where to start, and not sure what career would interest you right now, think about your hobbies. What did you love to do when you were a kid? If you love books, maybe you would like to work in a library or bookstore. If you are good at math, consider an accounting position. Thank about how you would spend your time if you didn't have to work to earn a living.

Taking a class to learn a new skill is now easier than ever. Most colleges offer online courses that will allow you to work at a time convenient for you. You will have specific deadlines to meet just as if you were in a classroom, but you are able to work at your own pace and within your own weekly schedule.

Try something new, even if you're not sure if you would like it. Learn photography, update your computer skills, or take a yoga class. Even if you wind up hating it, you won't know if you don't try.

If you have an idea about what you would like to do, why not work at it part-time? Suppose you work in the medical field now but think you now want to work with animals. You could get a part-time job working in a veterinarian's office or a kennel. There are plenty of part-time gigs you can do at night or on the weekend. Of course, you're giving up some of your free time, but isn't this a small price to pay to test the waters before making the plunge to full-time? Starting out part-time for an employer is one of the best ways to work into a full-time position later.

Volunteering is always an option. While you are helping others, you are also finding out if something is right for you. How about coaching a sports team at your kid's school? Could you tutor someone who doesn't know how to read?

Maybe you won't wind up changing careers after all, but instead build a part-time business that allows you to be creative and express yourself. If you play the piano, could you give personal lessons? If you are good at crafts, why not sell yours online? If you love dogs, maybe you could be a pet sitter for your friends and neighbors.

The possibilities are endless if you just use your imagination. As long as you are doing something that feeds your soul, you are spending your time on a worthwhile cause- yourself!

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