How to survive brain-teaser interview questions

By Larry Buhl,

Is it not enough to have a résumé bursting with accomplishments, an action plan for how you can benefit the company and a winning interview style to land the job? Now, you're also expected to answer brain-teaser questions? Seriously? 

Seriously. "This trend toward asking off-the-wall questions started in high tech a few years ago and has now emerged in interviews for jobs in a variety of fields," says John O'Connor, president of North Carolina-based CareerPro Inc., a professional career-coaching and branding company.

These questions are often brain teasers and can be anything from a complex, multilayered math and logic problem to a wacky question with no real answer. Some examples include:
  • How many rocks are on the face of the moon?
  • How many jellybeans can fit into a gallon jar?
  • Why are manhole covers round instead of square?
  • How many pounds of breakfast cereal are sold in the U.S. every year?
  • What are the decimal equivalents of 5/16 and 7/16?
It may seem like some sort of interviewee hazing, but there's often a method to the madness. In many cases, you won't be expected to come up with the right answer. In fact, the interviewer might not even know the answer. "They're more interested in your thought process and your ability to present ideas, debate and think creatively," O'Connor says. "They want to see candidates who can walk them through their way of thinking. And they're looking for candidates who will be thrown a curveball and not freak out."

So don't freak out. Below are ways to prepare for the brain teaser.

Bring tools. Show up to the interview with pens, paper, markers, calculator, stopwatch and ruler to work out a possible brain teaser. It's unlikely that you'll be asked, point blank, how many times heavier an elephant is than a mouse and be expected to answer it on the spot. You'll have time. And depending on the job and the field, what you do on your scratch paper is more important than the conclusion you reach.

Don't be shocked or offended. A question might surprise you or seem silly given the job for which you're interviewing. Don't let it throw you. Again, the answer is usually not the destination. Sometimes the wackiest question deserves an equally wacky process to reach a conclusion. But do take the questions seriously. Don't assume that it's being asked to tick you off or make you the butt of a human-resources joke.
Question the question. Show your ability to think through a problem by asking a clarifying question regarding the brain teaser, suggests Paul Bailo, a New York-based recruiter and author of "The Official Phone Interview Handbook."
"Asking a follow-up question will give your mind a break and buy you time to help you fully understand what is being asked so you don't solve the wrong problem," Bailo says.

Speak out your logic. Listen to what you are thinking, Bailo adds. "Sounding out" the process of reaching an answer can help you think through the process in a different way. "Leveraging the logical speaking method will allow for a quicker answer and faster mental processing," he says. "Think of it as reading a book out loud, only the book you are reading out loud is your mind thinking through a problem."

See what you are thinking. Just like sounding out a problem can give your brain a productive whack, drawing it out can help you edit and improve your approach. 

Practice. You can't prepare for the exact question unless you're sure you know what they'll ask. But you can exercise your mind by reading philosophy books, playing mental games, doing crossword puzzles and thinking about big problems, O'Connor says. "How would you solve the world energy crisis? What would the world do without drinking water? Think of these exercises as a workout for your mind." 

How to get the most out of a recruiter

By Kelly Services
Using the industry knowledge and networks of recruiters can be a critical component of any job search. A professional recruiter can offer career advice, inside knowledge of your target industry or company, compensation guidance and "cultural fit" insight on prospective employers.

With the right recruiter you can:
  • Avoid the general inbox: Recruiters have relationships with human resources and hiring managers, so your résumé goes directly to them, not a "job response inbox" containing hundreds of résumés.
  • Access unadvertised opportunities: Recruiters often know about and fill positions well before they are advertised.
  • Gain valuable insight regarding company culture: A good recruiter should be able to tell you about the company culture and what to expect from individual interviewers on your schedule.
  • Get your own advocate: As an advocate, a recruiter can present you in the best way, provide feedback and follow-up, and provide assistance through the negotiation and hiring process.
Different types of recruiters

Staffing recruiters work for staffing firms to provide a wide range of candidates to customers. Staffing recruiters may place administrative, professional or technical candidates, ranging from entry level to senior level, in temporary contract or permanent jobs.
Corporate recruiters handle most aspects of the employee recruitment process for their own organization. Corporate recruiters are typically in the human resources division.
Executive contingent recruiters work for search firms that are engaged by clients to perform a specific search for a range of mid- and senior-level positions. Contingent recruiters receive a fee only upon the successful placement of a candidate.
Executive retained recruiters work for search firms that are engaged by clients to perform a specific search for a senior executive position. Retained recruiters receive a retainer (upfront fee) to execute a search.
Make a recruiter shortlist

There are many types of recruiters, and each may have a specific industry or area of expertise. Ideally, you should focus on building relationships with the recruiters that can best help you with your career aspirations.
Don't just engage a recruiter, build a relationship

The best recruiter-job seeker relationships are mutually beneficial. A candidate receives access to unadvertised career opportunities and gains an advocate. A recruiter will appreciate reciprocal access to your network of potential referrals as well as specific company or industry insight.
A common job-seeker mistake is to engage with a recruiter only when actively searching for a new job. A strictly transactional relationship -- candidate needs a job, recruiter needs a candidate to fill a job -- is less valuable for you, the recruiter and ultimately the hiring organization. Be prepared to invest time in building and maintaining a long-term relationship.

Consider these guidelines to strengthen a good working relationship with recruiters:
  • Make a good first impression: Approach a recruiter as you would a prospective employer, and send an email with a professional cover letter or social media message.
  • Make an introduction: Introduce yourself during the first conversation, just as you would in an interview. A recruiter will need to be comfortable with you before advocating for you as a candidate to a prospective employer.
  • Provide information: Let recruiters know how you found them and if you're interested in working for a specific company or targeted industry.
  • Think longer term: Be prepared to stay in touch over the short, medium and long term to find the right opportunity.
  • Keep your information current: Ensure they never have an out-of-date résumé on file, and update your recruiter when things change.
  • Be open to constructive feedback: A recruiter can share a great deal of information about the company, job requirements and even specific interviewer characteristics before an interview. After the interview, ask for and be open to constructive feedback.
  • Share insights: What did you learn in the interview that would help both you and your recruiter? Was the job as described by the recruiter or has it changed? Was there a new interviewer in the process? Is this the right role for you based on your career goals?
  • Keep the communication open: Maintain a positive relationship for the future, even if you secure another job.
  • Become a resource: Share your industry knowledge and network of contacts who may be interested in learning more about an opportunity.
  • Consider all kinds of work: Short- or long-term project and contract work can often be a steppingstone to a permanent job and allows you an opportunity to evaluate the job and company.
  • Be clear: An open dialogue regarding your work experience, career goals and salary requirements will increase the chances of a successful placement.

Source: careerbuilder

10 Questions You Should Ask in an Interview

When preparing for an interview, most applicants concentrate on formulating well-crafted answers to potential questions from their interviewers However, not many realize it is just as important to prepare a few good questions they themselves should ask during the interview.

"When interviewing job applicants, I often learn as much from the questions they ask as from the responses they give," John Langland, president of Langland & Langland Consulting, says. "What potential employees inquire about reveals what they deem important -- as opposed to merely answering my questions with information they think I will find important."

What can asking questions in an interview do for you?
  • Show your interest in the position and the company

  • Give you an active role in the interview

  • Offer explanations about the position and the company, which helps you decide if you want to work for that organization

  • Showcase the depth of your knowledge and help you guide the discussion into a particular area of expertise

  • Langland suggests preparing at least three questions in advance and taking notes during the interview to record the responses. "A few insightful, knowledgeable questions can speak volumes about you and distinguish you from other job candidates," he says. "However, as important as asking questions is asking bad questions, such as, 'How many vacation days does the company offer?' is worse."

    Langland advises asking these 10 questions during your next interview:

    1. What are the top three tasks you want the candidate to perform after being hired?
    This gives you a concrete idea of the projects you will be working on if hired. Often job ads list general qualities and capabilities the position requires, but the answer to this question will lay out the actual specifics of the job.

    2. Why did you choose this company?
    The answer will help you determine the organization's strengths and weaknesses with this insider's perspective.

    3. How do you see me benefiting the company?
    This tells you exactly what they're looking for in a candidate and where they see your strengths.

    4. Is there room for growth and advancement?
    This points to your drive and initiative and underscores your intent to secure a career, not just a job.

    5. Are there opportunities for professional training or further education?
    This shows a willingness to learn and adapt as changes in the position or industry occur. Adaptability is very important in today's fickle employment market and may make you very valuable to the company should a reorganization occur.

    6. How will I be evaluated and by whom?
    This provides insight into the company's corporate culture and the department structure in which you will be working.

    7. What is the general culture of the company?
    This can tell you if you will fit into the organization. If they're strictly a "suit and tie" operation and you're all about comfort clothes, you may want to rethink the position.

    8. Are there other job responsibilities not mentioned in the ad?
    This reveals exactly what the ad meant when it said: "...and other duties as assigned." Will you be helping other departments in a pinch? Making coffee? These are things you should know before going any further in the candidate selection process.

    9. When will you be making a decision on the successful candidate?
    Knowing this helps you gauge when to follow up on the interview.

    10. May I call you if other questions arise?
    This keeps the door open for further communication.

    The interview is an artful conversation designed to help both parties learn more about each other in an effort to decide if the candidate and the position are a good match. Use it as an opportunity to spotlight your accomplishments and determine if the job is right for you. 

    Source: careerbuilder

    13 tips to great storytelling that will help your career

    Rachel Farrell, 

    Stories rule our lives.
    When we were young, we told our parents detailed narratives, which originated from our imaginations. As we grew older, we told stories (er, lies) to our parents to keep us out of trouble. And we shared anecdotes with our friends to make ourselves appear interesting enough to make them like us.

    Now as we try to "make it" in the real world, telling a good story can help our careers, says Peter Guber, author of "Tell To Win: Connect, Persuade, and Triumph with the Hidden Power of Story."

    "It occurred to me that everybody in business shares one universal problem: To succeed, you have to persuade others to support your vision, dream or cause," Guber writes in his book. 

    "Whether you want to motivate your executives, organize your shareholders, shape your media, engage your customers, win over investors or land a job, you have to deliver a clarion call that will get your listeners' attention, emotionalize your goal as theirs, and move them to act in your favor. You have to reach their hearts as well as their minds -- and this is just what story telling does."

    Simply put, if you can't tell it, you can't sell it.
    The best part is that anyone can tell a story, Guber says. "You don't need a special degree to tell the story of your company, brand or offering and make it a powerful call to action. You don't need money or privilege. This really is a vital skill that's freely available to anyone."
    The key is knowing how and when to tell a story effectively, whether it's in an interview, at a networking event or if you're making conversation with the CEO.
    "In any situation that calls for you to persuade, convince or manage someone or a group of people to do something, the ability to tell a purposeful story will be your secret sauce," he says.
    "Purposeful" is the key word, Guber says.
    "Purposeful stories have a goal, a call to action that tellers want their listeners to do. The power in telling a purposeful story makes the purpose -- the object of the story -- emotional rather than intellectual, and aspirational rather than inspirational," he says.
    What you want to avoid is informational storytelling. While you should of course share facts about yourself, especially in terms of figure or data where possible, it's more important to put that information in the context of a story.
    "Very few people remember facts, figures and data. Research on memory absolutely shows that you can remember details of things much more effectively when they are embedded in a story," he says. "When you bond information with emotion, which is the catalyst in every story well told, the information is then experienced, ingested, emotionalized and thus recalled and acted upon more effectively."
    Of course, not everyone has inherent storytelling skills, but that doesn't mean they can't be learned.
    "Practice, practice, practice. You will tap into your inherent resource," Guber says. "Be clear to yourself about what your intention is, that you want to be heard and felt and what you want as your goal."
    Here are 12 quick tips to remember when telling purposeful stories that could help boost your career, from Guber's book.

    1. Data dumps are not stories -- dump them, don't tell them!

    2. A purposeful story is a call to action -- be sure to make your call.

    3. Successful stories turn "me" to "we" -- align your interests.

    4. Be sure your story tells what's in it for them.

    5. Be interested in what interests your listeners and they'll find your story interesting and your goal compelling.

    6. Remember, the context in which you tell your story colors the story you tell.

    7. Your firsthand or witnessed experiences are the best raw material for your story.

    8. Employ the element of surprise.

    9. Craft the beginning to shine the light on your challenge or problem.

    10. Shape the middle around the struggles, then meet the challenge.

    11. End with a resolution that ignites in the listener your call to action.

    12. To tell a great story, make preparation your partner. 

    Your 2013 job-search guide: April – June

    By Susan Ricker, 
    Your New Year's resolutions may have disappeared before you turned the calendar to February. But if your goals for the year included finding a job, there's still plenty of time to make this resolution happen.
    Earlier this year, we created Your 2013 Job-Search Guide, with a quarter-by-quarter breakdown of actions to take in your hunt for employment. Here's an overview of the year's timeline:
    • Q1 (January -- March): Devote the first few months of the year to getting organized -- organize your thoughts, organize your application materials and organize your contacts.
    • Q2 (April -- June): A few months in, you should be going full-steam ahead with your job search. Your days should be filled with applying, following up, networking and (hopefully) going to interviews. If you're a college student, get a head start in your professional job search by tapping alumni, using your school's career resources and making initial contact with companies of interest.
    • Q3 (July -- September): At around the mid-year mark, take a step back to review what's working and what's not in your job search. It's not too late to course-correct to ensure that you reach your goals during the back half of the year.

    • Q4 (October -- December): During the last few months of the year, take advantage of the season. Network at holiday parties, consider seasonal job opportunities and take the time to thank those who have helped you professionally throughout the year.
    If you missed the first quarter of the year, you can quickly catch up. If you're on track, it's time to put your organization and research to good use. Follow these steps to plant seeds in your job search, and by summer you could see several job opportunities crop up.

    Q1 catch-up

    The year's first quarter focused on getting organized and laying groundwork in your job search.
    • Put your goals in writing
    • Conduct an audit on your application materials
    • Reconnect with contacts made during the holidays
    Once you've figured out your career goals, as well as what skills and experience you will need to make them happen, you can take action. Also be aware of employee expectations in your particular industry. Are there training sessions you can sign up for to improve your résumé? If you need more tailored help, reach out to contacts from the holiday season or revisit your connections on professional networking sites.

    Q2: Take action

    Now that you've organized and updated your job-search materials such as your résumé, contact information for references and any professional networking profiles, it's time to put that hard work to good use.
    • Set weekly goals to stay on track: To prevent yourself from getting off schedule, set realistic, weekly goals. How much time can you devote to searching for jobs, researching companies and writing cover letters or application materials? How many jobs per week will you apply for?
    • Capitalize on current hiring trends: Many employers are now hiring contract or temporary workers, and nearly one in four employers plan to transition some contract or temporary staff into permanent employees in the second quarter, according to a recent CareerBuilder survey. This can be a great opportunity to add more work experience to your résumé and potentially find a permanent job. Your education may also improve your odds of being hired: Some of the top-hiring industries are targeting specific bachelor's degrees. Also try using social media in your job search.
    • Use your updated materials and customize them further: Personal branding is a hot job-search topic and can help set you apart from the competition. The idea is to sync up your work experience, career goals and personality into a neat package to present to employers. Whether you try it or not, do make sure you're customizing your materials you send potential employers. Find ways to tailor your résumé, cover letter and any work samples or other materials to the personality of the company, including specific qualities of the company in your cover letter and why you're interested; also pull keywords from the job description and include them in your materials to make it past applicant tracking systems.
    • If you're a college student, stay ahead of the competition: Start strong in your career by utilizing all resources available to you. Network with alumni, get advice from a trusted professor or course adviser, attend career fairs and make an appointment at your school's career resources center. Also be sure to avoid these 10 common job-search mistakes recent college graduates often make.

    Source: careerbuilder

    How are you supposed to answer "What are your weaknesses?"

    By Anthony Balderrama,

    Interviewing someone for a job is not as easy as it looks. First, as the interviewer, you're tasked with finding the person who will not only do the job well but also fit in well with the other employees. You have to assess abstract qualities that can't be found on a résumé. Because you have to repeat the process for every potential employee, you end up asking question after question to applicant after applicant.
    Still, interviewers need to be told something: "What is your biggest weakness?" is not a good question. It just isn't.

    Now, job seekers have to understand that interviewers want to find some way to distinguish one applicant from another. Asking questions that are seemingly impossible to answer is one way to see who can think creatively. The question is an admirable way to achieve this. However, this question isn't the same as asking, "Name three difficult situations and how you've overcome them." That question asks you to think critically about your performance, talents and problem-solving skills. Asking you to identify your weakest professional trait is like asking, "Why should I choose someone else for this job?"

    Yet, it's a staple that you should assume will come up in every interview. Rather than tell the interviewer, "Well, that's a dumb question and I refuse to answer it," you do have a legitimate ways to respond and look better for it. And no, stating that your biggest flaw is being a perfectionist is not an acceptable answer, either.

    Honesty, with a twist
    "'What are your three strengths and three weaknesses?'... is a classic, but not too many people know how to answer this," says Kenneth C. Wisnefski, founder and CEO of WebiMax, an online marketing company specializing in search engine optimization. "As an interviewer, we want to hear strengths that describe initiative, motivation and dedication. The best way to respond is to include these attributes into specific 'personal statements.'
    Similarly, weaknesses should be positioned as a strength that can benefit the employer.
    "I like to hear applicants state an exaggerated strength, and put an interesting twist on it. An example of this is, 'My initiative is so strong, that sometimes I take on too many projects at a time.'"
    This answer leads with a strength that employers want -- initiative -- and still acknowledges that you're not perfect. In fact, you can overextend yourself. Although you might consider this acknowledgement too honest, it works because it proves you're being honest. Plus, employers are still requiring workers to "do more with less," so you show that you are prepared to multitask.

    Honesty, with progress
    When you consider what your weaknesses are, think about how you have attempted to overcome them. No one is perfect, so pretending that you had a weakness and then eliminated it entirely will come across is insincere. Debra Davenport, author of "Career Shuffle," believes citing examples are the best approach.
    "My preferred response for this question is to tell the truth without damaging the applicant's image -- and in a manner that doesn't make the candidate come across like they've been coached by a Hollywood PR person," Davenport explains. "Many candidates are on to this question and so have developed fluff answers such as, 'My co-workers have told me that I sometimes take my work too seriously,' or 'I can never seem to leave the office at 5:00 -- I guess I just love my work too much!'"
    Employers aren't buying it, she says.
    "A better response might be, 'I've had some challenges with work-life balance in the past and I realize that a life out of balance isn't good for me, my family or my employer. I've taken the time to learn better time and project management, and I'm also committed to my overall wellness. I eat right, exercise and maintain healthy boundaries for myself.'"
    The answer adds some dimension to the question, and proves you've thought beyond the answer. You've actually changed your behavior to address the situation, even if you haven't completely overcome the weakness.
    "[It] lets the employer know that this candidate is emotionally mature, self-directed and takes care of himself or herself ... and possesses a high internal locus of control -- a very positive attribute."

    Put yourself in the interviewer's shoes
    However you decide to answer, Debra Yergen, author of "Creating Job Security Resource Guide," recommends job seekers imagine themselves sitting on the other side of the desk.
    "If you were doing the hiring, what would you be looking for? What would be your motivation for asking certain questions? Who would you be trying to weed out? If you can empathize with the interviewer, you can better understand what they want and need, and then frame your qualifications to meeting their needs for the position you seek."
    Once you consider what the goal of the question is and figure out what your honest answer is, you'll be able to give the best possible answer to a tricky question.

    Is accepting a counteroffer ever a good idea?

    Debra Auerbach,
    When an employee resigns, it's common for the employer to counter with another offer in order to persuade the employee to stay. It takes a lot of time and money for a company to find and replace valuable staff, so unless the decision is mutual, the company will want to do what it can to retain the employee. Given today's tough job market, who wouldn't want to be in a situation where two companies want you? Yet the counteroffer can often create more problems than it can solve.

    When human-resources professionals and recruiters were asked whether accepting a counteroffer is ever a good idea, most replied with a resounding "no." A few cases were made for taking a counteroffer, but only if done so for the right reasons and in the right way.

    "Recognizing all situations are unique and there is no 'one size fits all' answer, the potentially departing employee needs to consider a number of things when faced with this scenario," says Fred R. Cooper, managing partner at Compass HR Consulting.

    Why accepting a counteroffer may backfire
    You may lose trust. By telling your employer you've either been offered or accepted another position, you're essentially saying you've been unhappy. So even if your company does counter, how can it trust that you won't eventually stray again?
    "By resigning, you've severed the bond of trust with your company," says Judi Perkins, career coach and founder of Find the Perfect Job. "It's like catching your partner cheating. There will always be that bit of doubt. You'll eventually leave the company, but next time it will be on their terms, not yours."
    Elene Cafasso, president at executive coaching firm Enerpace Inc., agrees, saying, "You could be seen as a 'short timer' and be passed up for promotions, the best projects, etc. Your current employer may just counter [the] offer to keep you around long enough to get your replacement identified and trained."

    You can burn bridges. Just as threatening to resign can leave a bad taste in your current employer's mouth, going back on an offer you accepted from another company can sour its view of you as well. Even if your acceptance was oral, it's still viewed as an agreement between you and the company. If you decide to stay put but things don't get better, you've burned a bridge with a company that may have been a better fit.
    "If the hiring company has released the other candidates and announced your imminent arrival -- that you then renege on -- you just ruined your reputation with [a] top-rate company in your industry," Perkins says.

    Your problem won't necessarily be solved. "If the person accepts the counteroffer and stays with their current employer, there is better than an 85 percent chance that the person will leave the company within six months," says Alan Fluhrer, CEO of recruiting firm Fluhrer & Bridges. "This is due to the fact that the underlying issues have not been resolved."

    It shouldn't take a counteroffer to get what you want. It's rarely a good idea to look for a new job for the sole purpose of using it as a bargaining tool with your current company. Not only does that send the wrong message, but it shouldn't take you threatening to leave for your employer to see your value. "What does it say about your current employer if you have to basically blackmail them to get a fair salary, recognition and/or opportunities for advancement? Why would you want to stay?" Cafasso says.

    You accepted the original offer for a reason. If you've accepted an offer from another company, you've likely done so after much contemplation and for a variety of reasons. Some may have to do with issues you're having at your current company, while others may be because you see opportunity at the new company. Cooper suggests thinking about the situation like this: "With this new job, I've made 'the cut': I'm the one they want. I've researched the company and its culture and it is someplace I want to be. I want this new opportunity for all the things offered and more -- it provides the financial, emotional, cultural and/or other things missing in my current employment."

    When a counteroffer is worth considering
    "Obviously each situation is different, but certainly accepting a counteroffer can be very appropriate, if it addresses the 'itch' that caused you to look at alternatives in the first place," says John Millikin, clinical professor of management at Arizona State University's W.P. Carey School of Business. "People tend to listen [to executive search calls] when they are unhappy with current assignments, feel blocked on advancement, have issues with their own management, etc. A successful counteroffer needs to address these concerns, as well."
    When it comes to burning bridges with the company from which you accepted an offer, Millikin says there is always that chance. "You can, however, mitigate some of that by simply being as transparent [with the hiring company] as possible. If you were candid about why you might leave, it is easier to tell a convincing story about how your current employer truly addressed the concern."

    Addressing the issues head-on
    While the answer to whether you should accept a counteroffer isn't black and white, perhaps the best approach is to address the issues you're having at your current company before they get so bad they drive you to leave. If you tell your manager and nothing improves, then you'll never wonder whether things would have gotten better. You can move on to your next opportunity without looking back. 

    The 8 weirdest work stories of 2012

    Plus 3 stories to make you smile.

    The working world is always full of odd folks doing strange things while on the job. Spend a week in any office where you're surrounded by cubicles, and you'll quickly realize how strange people can be. While your co-worker clipping his toenails at his desk might not be newsworthy, sometimes weird workplace incidents do make the news. Although nothing was quite as scandalous as former Rep. Anthony Weiner's Twitter debacle in 2011, this year's stories were no less strange or noteworthy.

    Here are the weirdest work stories of 2012:

    GSA chief resigns amid reports of excessive spending

    Why it's weird: General Services Administration chief Martha Johnson resigned after an investigation into excessive spending by her agency, including a conference on the Las Vegas strip that featured a clown and a mind reader -- all paid for by taxpayers. That's not including a reception that cost nearly $32,000.

    Source: The Washington Post
    Lynnae Williams: The CIA trainee who Tweets

    Why it's weird: Gone are the days when a disgruntled worker would vent about her old boss over a few drinks at the corner bar. In today's digital world, a former CIA trainee can decide to air her grievances with the notably secretive agency by posting sensitive information on Twitter. Williams also decided the 140 characters of Twitter weren't enough space to blow off steam, so she started a blog devoted to her CIA gripes.

    Source: The Daily Beast
    At State Department, kids get sex-scandal primer

    Why it's weird: Like many proud parents around the country, federal employees and Capitol Hill reporters took their children to work for Bring Your Child to Work Day in April. Although the State Department's spokeswoman, Victoria Nuland, began her daily briefing with a warm welcome to all the children in attendance, she still had a job to do, and so did the reporters. Eventually the conversation turned to the ongoing controversy about whether Secret Service officers hired prostitutes while working in El Salvador.

    Source: Reuters
    This week in Internet outrage: 22-year-old ripped apart for having a job, I guess

    Why it's weird: A 22-year-old recent college graduate, Taylor Cotter, lamented the fact that she had a steady, well-paying job shortly after entering the proverbial Real World. She had romanticized dreams of living in New York City as a struggling writer barely scraping by. Instead, she was offered a lucrative job that many graduates would dream of and was bummed that she didn't get to worry about living paycheck to paycheck. So she wrote about it on The Huffington Post. As you can imagine given today's economy, readers were not amused, and they let her know.

    Source: Thought Catalog
    Cleansing from cubicle to cubicle

    Why it's weird: Water-cooler talk and happy hours have been replaced in some workplaces with group cleanses. Co-workers are bonding by going on liquid diets together. Apparently team building now involves discussing your digestive system at the office.

    Source: The New York Times
    Unemployed professors write essays for cash

    Why it's weird: In most schools, academic dishonesty is grounds for discipline and possibly even expulsion. Yet, some unemployed professors in Canada are making ends meet by writing academic papers for students. What's even stranger is that the professors are the ones bidding on the writing assignments and hoping students pick them.

    Source: United Press International
    NASCAR driver fined $25,000 for Tweeting from car during race

    Why it's weird: By now everyone should know not to get on their smartphones while behind the wheel of a car. That's especially true if you're a famous driver with thousands of followers. It's not a debatable topic when you're in a race car on a track filled with other motorists. And even if you're sitting in a stopped car on the track while the crew handles an accident, you shouldn't tweet a photo of the burning car with the caption, "Fire!" as Brad Keselowski did.

    Source: Mashable
    Anderson Cooper goes blind for 36 hours, keeps being charming

    Why it's weird: Apparently we should all be scared of sunlight. When "60 Minutes" reporter Anderson Cooper was on assignment in Portugal, he made the seemingly innocent mistake of not wearing sunglasses. After hours of sunlight reflecting off of nearby water, Cooper went temporarily blind. Luckily he regained his vision and was able to keep tweeting.

    Source: PopWatch
    Don't think the working world is only full of strange people and happenings. For a bonus, here are three stories that prove genuinely good people still exist in this world:
    N.J. woman swam from home to get to ER job after Sandy

    Why it's noteworthy: Marsha Hedgepeth, an emergency-room technician in New Jersey, didn't let flooding from superstorm Sandy stop her from going to work. She swam for a half-hour to get from her home to the hospital where she works to help her co-workers and patients in need. As USA Today reporter Dustin Racioppi notes, her aquatic journey was approximately the length of two football fields.

    Source: USA Today
    A thankful grocer shares his success with his employees

    Why it's noteworthy: In a rough economy where workers are worried about losing their jobs, one Minnesota business owner decided to put his employees before his wallet. Rather than sell his grocery business to the highest bidder or close up shop, Joe Lueken is letting his employees take charge. As Larry Oakes writers, "On Jan. 1, Lueken's Village Foods, with two supermarkets in Bemidji and another in Wahpeton, N.D., will begin transferring ownership to its approximately 400 employees through an employee stock ownership program."  Not only are his employees now co-owners, but they don't have to pay for their stakes in the company. Not to mention they're still employed.

    Source: Star Tribune
    Family fulfills deceased man's dying wish: Purchase a pizza and give the server a $500 tip

    Why it's noteworthy: When Aaron Collins died, he left behind one special request: Order a pizza and then tip the server $500. So his family did just that and caught it all on film. Most waiters and waitresses worry that patrons won't leave them tips. One lucky waitress was fortune enough to benefit from Collins' wish for a random act of kindness. Plus, the Collins family continued to accept donations and surprise workers with generous tips.

    Source: Gawker

    Source: careerbuilder

    Want That Job? 6 Body Language Tips

    By Janine Driver,

    Reading and understanding body language is critical to your success in a job interview.  Nonverbal communication equips you to understand what interviewers are thinking, helping you tweak your body language to get them to like you ... and offer you the job!

    1.  The wet fish versus the bone crusherThe handshake tells a story about each of us. Do you shake hands softly? Do you come in from the top and deliver a "bone crusher"?  Aggressive people have firm handshakes; those with low self-esteem have limp, "wet fish" handshakes. 
    A great handshake is a three-step process:
    ·         Make sure your hands are clean and adequately manicured.
    ·         Ensure hands are warm but free of perspiration.
    ·         Execute your handshake professionally and politely, with a firm grip and a warm smile.

    2.  The eyes have itWhat's considered an appropriate amount of eye contact may vary in different countries.  In North America, 60 percent eye contact is a safe figure -- one that can give hiring managers a feeling of comfort about you.  More eye contact than this and you may seem too intense; any less and you risk appearing uninterested.
    Eye-contact tips:
    ·         When you meet the interviewer, look her right in the eyes, then think to yourself, "Wow, so great to finally meet you!"  This will make you smile, and she'll pick up on your positive mood.  When we look at someone we find interesting, our pupils dilate, a phenomenon the other person instinctively picks up on.
    ·         During a job interview, keep your eye contact in the upside-down triangle area of your interviewer's face: from the left eyebrow, to the nose, back up to the right eyebrow.
    Warning: Staring at a person's lips is considered sexual, while looking at their forehead is considered condescending. 

    3.  Get it straightPosture is an important thing to master on an interview: Get your posture straight and your confidence will rise with it.  Next time you notice you are feeling a bit down, pay attention to how you are sitting or standing.  Chances are you'll be slouched over with your shoulders drooping down and inward.  This collapses the chest and inhibits breathing, which can make you feel nervous or uncomfortable.  

    4.  Get a "head" of the gameWhen you want to feel confident and self-assured during an interview, keep your head level, both horizontally and vertically.  Also assume this position when your goal is to be taken seriously.  Conversely, when you want to be friendly and in the listening, receptive mode, tilt your head just a little to one side or the other.  

    5.  Arms lend a hand, tooArms offer clues as to how open and receptive we are, so keep your arms to the side of your body.  This shows you are not scared to take on whatever comes your way.
    Quieter people tend to move their arms away from their body less often than outgoing people, who use their arms with big movements.  Keep gestures within the frame of your body, or you'll risk being seen as out of control.  Avoid the negative action of crossing your arms during the interview.
    Here are two common perceptions of hand gestures:
    ·         Palms slightly up and outward: open and friendly
    ·         Palm-down gestures: dominant and possibly aggressive

    6.  Get a leg up on the competitionOur legs tend to move around a lot more than normal when we are nervous, stressed or being deceptive.  As a result, try to keep them as still as possible during the interview.  You should not cross your legs during a job interview, as it creates a barrier between you and the interviewer and may lead to fidgeting.  When you cross your ankle at the knee, this is known as the "figure four," and is generally perceived as the most defensive leg cross.

    5 Factors to Consider Before Relocating

    By Selena Dehne,

    In an ideal job market, you would find the job of your dreams right under your nose. You'd have a hefty paycheck, great benefits, flexibility and you'd wake up every day loving the work you do.
    The reality is you'll probably spend several weeks -- even months -- scouring the Internet and chasing job leads just to find a few openings worth pursuing. Even after all of your efforts, the jobs you find may fall short of meeting all of the criteria to be the right opportunity for you.

    People in such situations may never come across their dream job because they've limited themselves in the job market. They've narrowed their search to local job openings and have no idea that their dream job is actually in another city or state. 

    Many people, however, would be willing to pursue those opportunities if they were aware of them. According to a study from and, conducted by Harris Interactive, 59 percent of employees say they'd be willing to relocate to another city for a new job and 44 percent say they'd be willing to relocate to another state, province or region for a new job. 

    "Depending on your career goals and where you live now, your best chance of finding work and achieving a rewarding career may be in another city or town," says Michael Farr and Laurence Shatkin, co-authors of "Today's Hot Job Targets." 

    They warn, however, that relocating for a job isn't the best option for everyone. In their book, they encourage people to consider the following five factors before making the decision to relocate. 

    Continued growth
    There are no guarantees in today's ever-changing job market. An occupation may experience booming growth one year and then come to a stand-still or decline a few years later. For example, jobs in the finance, insurance and human service clusters are now expected to grow significantly faster than previously expected, according to the Occupational Outlook Handbook 2008-2009, which is published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, job projections are less optimistic than they were two years ago for occupations in the manufacturing, retail and wholesale sales, and service clusters. 

    To help determine whether relocating is worth the effort, Farr and Shatkin suggest researching a particular occupation and its field or industry first. They say, "Before moving to another area, investigate whether local economic trends are expected to remain favorable. You may be able to find projections of job openings at the Web site of the state department of labor or office of employment security."

    Opportunities in your field
    Many occupations flourish in some locations, but are rarely offered in others. For example, job seekers interested in the public relations field would have much more luck landing a job in densely populated areas like New York City than in areas populated by only a few thousand people. 

    Farr and Shatkin recommend visiting to compare job opportunities in various cities. This resource shows people the state-specific economic trends for each occupation, followed by links that let them compare wages in different regions of the state; compare wages across states; or compare employment trends across states. 

    Having an intricate network of contacts is one of the biggest advantages people can have in their job search and careers. These contacts are excellent sources of job search advice, job leads and referrals. In most cases, a person's network is usually made up of contacts living in the same area. Although a change in location doesn't mean the contacts are no longer useful, it does mean the person relocating will need to work hard to develop new contacts that can support them in their new location. 

    Farr and Shatkin suggest, "Investigate whether your targeted area offers opportunities for you to network quickly. Perhaps there are local branches of social, religious or hobby-centered organizations to which you now belong or where you would fit in readily."  

    Your résumé
    Farr and Shatkin also warn that a person's résumé may not be as impressive in one location as in another. "Employers in many regions may not be as familiar with your previous employers or the school or college you attended." 

    They recommend that job seekers contact the job placement office of their school or college to find out whether or not other people have found employment in their target area. This strategy isn't as necessary for job seekers from schools with a national reputation or seeking jobs where on-the-job training is all that's required. 

    Culture shock
    Before moving to a new location, people should be aware that there's a good chance the culture will be different than where they currently live and work. It's important for people to visit their target area before actually moving there to see if they feel comfortable there. 

    Farr and Shatkin remind job seekers that, "Given these concerns, the ideal strategy for relocating is to get hired for a job in the new location before you move -- but this can be very difficult to do. A compromise strategy would be to set up temporary, bare-bones living quarters in the new location, find employment there and then settle into your new location." 

    Are you a good fit for a small company?

    If you're job hunting, one way to potentially increase your chances of success is to look for a position with a small business. Many applicants focus their efforts on large companies, because they either are attracted to the idea of working for a household name or believe these companies have more openings. Yet pursuing employment opportunities with smaller companies can be a wise move.

    Before you begin sending your résumé to every small employer with an opening, however, make sure you'd be a good fit for the company. Small businesses often have very defined corporate cultures, and working at a mom-and-pop shop can be different than working at a larger company.

    The ideal candidates for roles with small businesses often have these traits.

    An entrepreneurial mindset. By definition, small and midsize companies have fewer people to tackle projects, oversee initiatives and move things forward. As a result, employees need to be self-starters who can work on their own and think creatively about business solutions.

    The ability to collaborate. It's hard to get any job if you aren't a team player, but in a small business, your ability to work and get along with colleagues is absolutely essential. The most effective employees can advance their ideas, but not at the expense of working relationships.
    In addition, you should possess excellent listening skills and an upbeat personality. When you're working with the same tight-knit group every day, a negative attitude can easily affect the entire team.

    A willingness to do it all. If you're a veteran of a large employer, you're probably accustomed to having someone in IT address your computer issues and asking the department's administrative assistant to order more office supplies. At a small company, however, you may not be able to call upon these same resources. Are you comfortable attending to all tasks, both large and small? And are you willing to help others who need a hand?

    A focus on customer service. Every client counts for a small business. You'll need strong interpersonal skills to provide great service and ensure customer satisfaction. A small company may not be a place in which you'd thrive if you get annoyed by the small or "irrational" demands of clients.

    A passion for the job. Small employers seek employees who don't merely punch the clock. They want people who show a true interest in and commitment to the bigger picture and understand the correlation between individual effort and the company's overall success.

    Working for a small business offers many rewards, including autonomy, the opportunity to make large contributions, a chance to assume significant responsibility and often a family-type atmosphere that may be hard to find elsewhere. If you possess the right skills and mindset, working for a small business could be an excellent career move.

    Hundreds of Applications and Still No Job?

    By Anthony Balderrama,

    Here's how every job seeker secretly hopes his or her search will go:
    8:00 a.m. You see an ad for the job of your dreams: close to home, makes use of your skills, offers the right pay.

    8:05 a.m. You apply for the job.
    8:07 a.m. The hiring manager, out of breath, calls you. "We must have you. The CEO said to pay whatever you ask for -- we need you on our team ASAP!"

    8:10 a.m. After you give your demands (a high salary and access to the company jet), you're faxed the job offer.

    8:15 a.m. You head out the door to your first day of work.
    In reality, the process takes a few weeks or months longer, and you probably won't get every single perk you want. Along the way, you don't hear back from the companies you think are perfect matches for you, and it takes weeks to get an interview after sending in your application.

    You probably spend a few days (at least) wringing your hands over whether or not you'll ever find a job. No matter who you are and what industry you're in, anxiety is just part of the process. But everyone has a different breaking point, and after so many résumés, you're bound to start asking, "I've sent out hundreds of applications -- why isn't anyone hiring me?"

    Here's a checklist for you to review so you can either put your mind at ease ("It's not me; it's them") or revamp your searching technique ("Well, it might be me"). Maybe the factors slowing down your job hunt are not under your control. But it doesn't hurt to double-check.

    1. LocationBefore you start blaming yourself for not getting any leads, take a look at your surrounding area. Not all cities have the same job market. A dearth of construction jobs in a northeastern suburb might be the polar opposite of the situation in a southwestern boomtown. Whether or not you want to or can relocate for your job is a personal matter, but you should consider the unemployment rate of your region when assessing how your hunt is going.

    2. Which jobsWhen you look at how many applications you've sent out and how many you've heard back from, you might want to divide the list into two columns: jobs you expected to get and jobs you applied for on a whim.
    Many job seekers decide to send out applications for jobs they know they're not qualified for, whether they just want a paycheck or they think it would be fun to try a completely unrelated field -- even though they know the odds of getting a call are slim. These Hail Mary passes are perfectly acceptable, but don't consider their failures to be, well, failures. The jobs that align with your experience, education and skills are the ones that should be the gauge of your success.

    3. The résuméHere's where a lot of things go wrong. That one piece of paper, digital or hard copy, causes a lot of problems. Here's a quick rundown of what you should check:
    ·         Is your contact information (including your name) listed so the employer can call or e-mail you?
    ·         Did you target the content to the job posting? Use the same phrasing, list experience that correlates to the requirements and give specific examples of achievements that will intrigue the employer.
    ·         Did you attach the résumé as a document in an e-mail? For security reasons, many employers won't open attachments, so your résumé might go unread. In addition to the attachment, paste it in the body of the e-mail to be safe.
    ·         Was there a cover letter attached to it? No cover letter can mean no consideration for some hiring managers.

    4. The interviewIf you've been called in for interviews already, then you're doing something right. Not getting a job after interviewing doesn't mean you blew it -- it means you made the shortlist, but someone else might have been a better fit. But it never hurts to review your performance.
    An interview is often a chance for the employer to see if you fit into the company culture. Are you too rigid for a casual environment? Are your verbal communication skills good enough for your position? Hiring managers also use this opportunity to learn about you in a way they can't through a résumé. They want you to elaborate on your experience and answer any questions they still have.
    To make a good impression, preparation is key. You don't want to sound rehearsed, but practicing your answers to questions, your handshake, how you'll sit in the chair and anything else you're likely to encounter will help you. If you can avoid being the deer in the headlights, you'll be able to focus on the quality of your answers.

    5. AppearanceNot to be superficial, but presentation means a lot. From the layout of your résumé to the wrinkles in your interview attire, your professionalism is being judged. How are you presenting yourself to employers?
    Don't start your cover letter with, "Hey!" and don't end it with a smiley-face emoticon. Your résumé shouldn't be full of ClipArt butterflies and smiley faces. And you should leave some white space between sections so that the entire page isn't a single paragraph of text. The hiring manager needs to see a job candidate who takes the job seriously, even before you're called in for an interview.
    During an interview, you should dress appropriately. That doesn't mean trying too hard -- say, a tuxedo for an administrative assistant's job -- but it does mean dress for the environment and look like you spent time preparing. If you're told the environment is business casual, then you don't need a suit, but you still need to iron your pants.

    What Not to Wear to an Interview

    Top 20 Wardrobe Malfunctions

    What is the worst outfit ever worn to a job interview? For a career services director at the University of Chicago, it was the applicant who sported a Madras tie as a belt and a patterned cotton hat. Other contenders, according to a survey of hiring managers, include candidates with dirty fingernails, micro-miniskirts, t-shirts with offensive slogans and even bare feet!

    No one needs 'Queer Eye's' Carson Kressley to tell them that wearing shoes to an interview is a good idea, but could you be guilty of one of these top 20 fashion faux pas?

    1. Carrying a backpack or fannypack instead of a briefcase or portfolio: Some image consultants suggest women ditch their purse, too!

    2. Sunglasses on top of your head or headphones around your neck: Be sure to remove all your "transit gear" and tuck it in your briefcase before entering the lobby.

    3. Too-short skirts: Forget what some of those gals on 'The Apprentice' are wearing. Your skirt should cover your thighs when you are seated.

    4. The wrong tie: Ties should be made of silk, no less than three and a quarter inches wide with a conservative pattern. Image consultants say the best colors are red or burgundy.

    5. Overly bright or large-patterned clothing: With the possible exception of creative fields like advertising or computer programming, it's best to stick with navy, black or gray.

    6. Heavy makeup on women (or any makeup on a man)

    7. Earrings on men: In fact, men should avoid wearing any jewelry unless it is a wedding ring, class ring or metal watch.

    8. More than one set of earrings on women

    9. Facial piercings, tongue jewelry or visible tattoos

    10. Ill-fitting clothes. Few people can wear things straight off the rack. Spending a little extra to have your garments tailored is a worthwhile investment.

    11. Long fingernails, especially with bright or specialty polishes. Nails should look clean and be trimmed to a length that doesn't leave an observer wondering how you keep from stabbing yourself.

    12. Unnatural hair colors or styles. Remember, Donald Trump was a billionaire well before he began wearing a comb-over. If you're balding, try a close-cropped cut like Bruce Willis or Matt Lauer.

    13. Short-sleeved shirts, even worse when worn with a tie

    14. Fishnets, patterned hosiery or bare legs (no matter how tan you are). Women should stick with neutral color hosiery that complements their suit.

    15. Men whose socks don't match their shoes, or whose socks are too short and leave a gap of flesh when they are seated

    16. Rumpled or stained clothing: If interviewing late in the day, try to change to a fresh suit beforehand.

    17. Scuffed or inappropriate footwear, including sneakers, stilettos, open-toed shoes and sandals

    18. Strong aftershaves, perfumes or colognes: Many people are allergic to certain scents. For a subtle fragrance, use a good quality bath soap.

    19. Belts and shoes that don't match: Shoes and belts should be made of leather or leather-like materials and the best colors for men are black or cordovan.

    20. Telltale signs that your wearing a new suit. Remove all tags and extra buttons -- and remember to cut off the zigzag thread that keeps pockets and slits closed!

    Don't be a wardrobe malfunction waiting to happen. Plan and lay out what you're going to wear several days before the interview, so you'll have time to shop or get garments pressed and cleaned.

    Save "innovative" or revealing garb for the club (or your couch) and strive for crisp, clean and professional. Remember, you want the interviewer to be listening to what you're saying, not critiquing what you're wearing. 

    Mishandling Salary Negotiations

    By Kate Lorenz,

    Many people think that once they have landed and aced an interview, all of their work is done. But, sometimes deciding whether or not to accept a job offer can be just as stressful and time-consuming as getting to that point in the first place. One point of contention is salary negotiation. This process can be overwhelming, particularly for job seekers without a great deal of experience. Negotiating a fair and practical salary is a critical step in the job search process, and one that can be navigated smoothly if you know what to do -- and what not to do. Beware of common mistakes.

    Not doing your homework.
    Before you go to an interview, you need to determine your desired salary range. It is impossible to do so if you do not know your industry. Research typical salaries for someone with similar experience in your industry. There are a wide variety of resources available that can help you determine median salaries and ranges for your position and years of experience. Without doing this, you will be virtually unarmed to present a case for the salary you request.

    Neglecting to think carefully about your needs.
    Just as researching your industry is important, it's also vital that you do a bit of self reflection. If you never stop to think about what income you need, you may end up taking an offer that leaves you pinching pennies. Before interviewing, ask yourself some important questions. How much do you need to pay your basic expenses, such as rent or mortgage, groceries, utilities, and car payment? What kind of salary do you need to live a comfortable life that allows you to enjoy yourself? What is the lowest salary you will consider? How much do you need to be able to save for the future?

    Laying all of your cards on the table.
    Negotiating a salary is like playing a card game. You need to gauge the other person's intentions without giving away all of your secrets. While job applications and interviewers may ask you to name a salary requirement, always avoid providing a number. However, many prospective employees feel pressured into doing so in an interview. That's why you need to be prepared to answer the question: "What kind of salary are you looking for?" Try to use answers such as "I'm sure that if I do receive an offer, it will be fair and reasonable," or "I will consider any reasonable offer." If pressed for a number, give a range rather than a specific. The bottom of your range should be the minimum you must make, with the top being a bit higher than your ideal.

    Forgetting about other benefits.
    When you receive a job offer, it is important to consider the offer in its entirety. This means paying attention to the company's medical and dental plan, vacation package, retirement benefits, and other perks. If the company cannot meet your salary requirements, it may be able to make it up to you in other ways, such as stock options or additional vacation time.

    Believing that you don't have the right to ask for more.
    A company is not going to offer you the highest salary they'd be willing to pay right off the bat, and most companies expect candidates to come back with a counter offer. If you have done your research and have supporting information to back up your salary wishes, don't be afraid to let the company know that you would like something higher. However, don't make the mistake of playing hardball, thinking you are irreplaceable, or being unwilling to negotiate. If you receive a low offer, thank the company for the offer, let them know that you are excited about the position, and politely and respectfully request a higher salary. The worst the company can say is no, and you never know what will happen until you ask.

    The bottom line is that salary negotiations, like anything else, need to be done respectfully and kept in perspective. But if you do your research, set your boundaries, and always know how to handle the tough questions, chances are you will end up with an offer that works for you and the company.

    Bad Habits Can Be Good for Your Career

    De-stressing After Work

    Everyone has a bad habit or two (or six). Bad habits don't necessarily have to work against you. After a long day at the office, keeping all of your emotions in check and your work in focus, you could use a little de-stressing to wind down. Here are some bad habits that could actually work to your advantage if you work 'em the right way: 

    Playing Video Games
    If you regularly settle down to devote hours of your free time to Halo, or you nestle into your wheelie chair on your daily lunch break to conquer a round of Minesweeper, you're probably a gamer -- or you're really good at hiding it. The truth is, a little time in fantasy land could be just what you needed. Dr. Kathleen Hall, founder of the Stress Institute and author of "A Life in Balance: Nourishing the Four Roots of True Happiness" recommends 10 to 15 minutes of online computer play to refresh and get you ready to work. Even video games can have a positive effect if you keep your play time to a minimum. Current studies show that certain games and game time can actually help kids concentrate. 

    Dressing Your Worst
    There's the right way to dress for work and the wrong way, but when you're no longer there, you can wear whatever you want. Unless you've hit celebrity status and are under the constant eye of the paparazzi, ditching your work duds and slipping into something a little more comfortable can help create a whole new attitude to fit with your changed environment. It's similar to the effects feng shui can have on your office or your room. Feeling good in what you're wearing gears you up for what's next -- whether it's mowing the lawn, doing the laundry or taking a much-needed break. 

    Watching TV
    Whether it is "Seinfeld" reruns, reality TV or ESPN filling your tube time, there's a solution: Keep it under an hour and everyone wins. Dr. Gary Solomon has not only studied the therapeutic effects of movies and TV shows, but he's even trademarked the term "cinematherapy." Solomon says that flawed characters in these shows enable you to dig a little deeper and see that not everyone's perfect. To give yourself a motivational kick, Solomon suggests viewing a movie along the lines of "North Country" or "Working Girl." 

    Swear It All Out
    If you desperately need to let it all out without censoring yourself, take your day-at-work reviews to the most reliable confidant you have -- yourself. Keeping a journal or sketch book gives you the chance to say everything on your mind without the same consequences you may have telling a real person. If you've got your mind in the gutter, a mouth like a sailor or fear your book could get discovered, you may want to take your musings to an online journal. It eliminates the worries of where you left it and who could find it, with your own password to access it whenever you choose. Just remember to select the "private entry" mode when you write something you're not ready to share. 

    You've whipped out the bills in your wallet so many times that you have actually gotten paper-cuts. Or maybe your dream vacation is a trip to Las Vegas with access to place "just one more bet" over and over again. Well, unless you have the funds to back that kind of desire without watching your life savings dwindle, you could be in trouble. Instead, take the money-losing part out and counter it with online gaming. A non-backed bet on the computer could even provide you with practice to learn more about it before you place your bets. If that's not your scene, try a friendly weekly game of poker with friends who live as frugally as you do. You could multitask by making your time with friends fun, educational and maybe even profitable.

    Rocking Out Your Air Guitar
    The song starts and you're center stage, guitar in hand, rocking out and singing every song like you own it. Only you don't really own it. In fact, center stage is actually your living room and the only instrument you have is the hairbrush you use as your microphone when you're not belting out your hair metal solos. Well, all the energy you pour into your private shows not only helps you memorize every note, it also releases endorphins, entertains and could even help you win some money. And if you practice enough, you could find yourself in the U.S. Air Guitar contest and be in the running to be an international air-superstar.

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