4 Ways To Get More From LinkedIn

Create a bigger digital footprint


You know you should be using LinkedIn to create your digital footprint – what people know about you online. You signed up and created a profile, but opportunities are not flooding in. Are you making mistakes on LinkedIn or missing something important? Here are four things you can do to use LinkedIn more effectively.

1. Jazz Up a Boring Headline

The headline appears directly under your name in LinkedIn and shows up whenever your profile comes up in search. Does it say something that will make someone want to click through to learn more about you? If it is a job title, it's not likely to be very compelling. Consider your headline an opportunity to pitch your unique value proposition – what is special about you – to anyone who comes across your profile. Include keywords that people will use when they search for someone like you as well as a promise of something you will do for them. For example: Leadership Development Management Consultant: Build effective work culture and accelerate employee performance.

Be sure you choose words for your headline that people will type into the search bar when they are looking for someone like you. When you incorporate a promise or a pitch, you'll be a step ahead of the competition.

2. Connect with Alumni

LinkedIn's most successful users engage and interact with colleagues and mine new contacts. One great tool is under the "Network" tab: Find Alumni. Click through and you'll be able to find information about alumni of your schools. You can see "where they work," "what they do" and "where they live." It's a great opportunity to easily find and connect with people who share your alma mater.

3. See Who's Viewed Your Profile

Under the "Profile" tab, scroll to "Who's Viewed Your Profile." Even with a free account, you can see the last several people who clicked through to your profile. If they allow you to identify them (some people are anonymous), you can ask them to connect with you or reach out to offer to network with them. Keep an eye on this tab and you may wind up connecting with someone who can make a big difference in your career.

4. Choose Your Groups

Maybe you joined some groups, but you aren't actively involved. Or, perhaps you're trying to decide which groups to join so you can be more productive? Did you know you can learn about groups before you join them, or check out some stats to decide if you should be active? Click into the group you want to investigate. Then, select the I (it's on the right side of the toolbar in the Group). You'll see another toolbar pop up below with information about the group, including "Group Statistics." You can learn what type of people are members, where they live and how active the group is based on discussions and jobs posted.

Once you pick the right groups for you and prioritize the ones best suited to your needs, you'll want to be active and post discussions and updates in your favorite groups. Also, be sure to request notifications from groups so you're aware when someone posted something you'll want to see and be able to respond.

Keep in mind...

Once you have a firm handle on how to use LinkedIn, don't miss the opportunity to use other social media tools -- including Twitter and Google+ to land a job.

10 New (And Legal) Ways Your Employer Is Spying On You

The right to privacy is fast vanishing.

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Just when I think I've heard every extreme story about employer spying, I hear a new one that curls my hair. For instance, a company recently turned in a former employee to the local police for making "suspicious" Google searches on the company computer. One employer installed a tracking device in the car of an employee they thought might be moonlighting with a second job. The National Workrights Institute says that two out of three U.S. employers are using some sort of electronic monitoring of employees. Why? Because it works. One study found that monitoring decreased theft by 22% and increased revenues by 7%. Employers don't seem to care that monitoring also causes increased employee stress and dissatisfaction with their jobs.

Think you have the right to privacy at work? Think again. Here are 10 perfectly legal and new ways your employer may be spying on you:
  1. Internet usage monitoring: Okay, maybe a worker searching for "pressure cooker bomb" might justifiably set off some alarm bells, as it did like for one employer who notified authorities. But searching terms such as, "pork," "cloud," "team" and "Mexico" can generate Homeland Security's interest, so if you spend time at work checking out whether there are storm clouds on the way for your visit to Mexico to see your favorite soccer team and eat pork rinds, you may be in trouble. Your employer is almost certainly monitoring your internet usage. Even if you don't care about Mexican pork rinds, if you're booking airline tickets, tweeting, checking out your ex-spouse's relationship status on Facebook or, god forbid, checking out porn sites, your employer will know about it. Read, understand and don't violate your company internet usage policy. Don't end up being disciplined for your internet usage.
  2. GPS: While your employer might not go as far as attaching a device to your personal vehicle, many company vehicles are equipped with GPS. If you don't go right to the customer's house, and instead stop at the flashing donut sign for a quick snack, your employer may know about it. Make an unscheduled, unapproved stop for gas? Duck into a rest stop to avoid a nasty thunderstorm? Better make sure you supervisor knows about it, or you could be fired. 3.
  3. Keylogging: A keylogging program records every keystroke you use on your computer. Employers who use keyloggers see everything you type, including your passwords. The Stored Communication Act and Federal Wiretap Act, along with some state laws may offer limited protection, but so far most employers are getting away with this intrusive practice.
  4. Email monitoring: Your company probably has a written policy, something in your employment agreement, or some paper you signed when you started saying the company can monitor your email. This doesn't only apply to your work emails. Your company may well look at your personal emails sent on company computers and devices, even if you used your personal email address. While there is a law, The Electronic Communications Privacy Act, that limits email monitoring, it's pretty weak. Employers can sneak consent forms into handbooks, applications and contracts in order to circumvent your right to privacy. Looking for another job? Contacting an employment lawyer about discrimination at work? Sending confidential information to your personal email? Assume your employer will read what you sent and be sensible about email at work.
  5. Social media: The trend of employers demanding social media passwords to monitor employee and potential employee activity continues, although the horrible publicity this intrusive practice got has slowed the employer bandwagon. California, Washington, Maryland, Arkansas, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Vermont, Delaware, Michigan, New Jersey and Illinois have banned this practice, but it's fair game in other states. Legislation is pending or has been passed in 36 states in 2013. While demanding passwords is quickly being made illegal, your employer can still check out your social media activity. Some companies have an overbroad social media policy that says you aren't allowed to discuss or disparage the company in social media. This may violate your right to complain about working conditions with coworkers. If corporate snooping reveals that you have a disability, pregnancy, genetic condition or other protected information, you may have a lawsuit against them if they fire you. Management-side lawyers continue to tout a parade of horribles to employers who don't monitor employee social media, so expect more monitoring in the future.
  6. Audio recording: There are limitations on taping conversations that vary by state. In 12 states, everyone in the conversation must consent. In others, only one party need consent to being taped. However, employers may be allowed to tape employee conversations even in all-party consent states. Federal wiretapping laws have exceptions for employers who obtain employee consent, which means you may have signed something saying you agree to being taped when they shoved that giant stack of papers in front of you on your first day, in your application, when you signed the form attached to your handbook, or in an employment agreement. Employers also are allowed to tape for legitimate business purposes such as customer service, under very strict conditions.
  1. Videotaping: Employers sometimes use videotaping to monitor employees. The wiretapping laws don't apply unless there's also audiotaping. I've heard of video cameras installed in offices, company vehicles, and locker rooms. Imagine driving a truck on a long haul and having to adjust your clothing. Smile! Someone is watching as you sort out your unmentionables. Some states have limitations, such as privacy laws, but in most places your employer can watch you. Employers may even videotape you while you're out of the office. In a recent case, an employer had an investigator tape an employee's off-duty activities while out on FMLA leave. Instead of punishing the employer for this extreme snoopery, the court tossed the employee's case.
  2. Off-duty conduct: Moonlighting? Unusual hobbies? Smoking? Social drinking? Your employer may or may not be able to monitor your off-duty activities and fire you if they don't like it. Some states limit employers' ability to fire you for certain legal off-duty conduct. Most allow you to be fired at-will, even for something you did outside of work.
  3. Medical records: In Arizona, there's a law allowing employers to inquire whether employee contraceptives are for medical reasons. While you do have some medical privacy at work, if you seek accommodations for a disability, ask for Family and Medical Leave, or make a worker's compensation claim, your employer may be entitled to your medical information. Employers can also demand doctor's notes under their sick policy, as long as they don't require the letter to include a diagnosis, disclose a medical condition, or apply the policy discriminatory.
  4. Company devices: Almost every company device can be monitored. Copy machines, cell phones, vehicles, security entrances and computers can all tell the employer what you are up to. Copiers can store what you copied and tell the employer what time you made the copies. Text messages are not private. Your swipe card tells the employer when you came and went. Instant messages and chats can be recorded. If you're using a company device or are on company property, you can be monitored.
Some states allow employees who are the victims of employer snooping to bring claims for invasion of privacy, intrusion on seclusion, or other privacy rights. In general, your privacy rights at work are minimal. If you're at work, on the internet or out in public, it's best to assume your employer could be snooping. Beware. Big employer is watching you.

Why We Won't Need College in 15 Years

Some things just outlive their usefulness.

We all have that one thing in our lives we keep around without really knowing why. If you live and work in a big city, you may still have your car from the days when you used to live in the suburbs. At one time, the car had a purpose. But now? It just collects parking tickets and bird poop.

If you think hard enough, you can probably find something like this in your life. The same is true for society as a whole. Have you ever seen a pay phone and wondered why it's still there?

Some things outlive their usefulness. Is a traditional college education one of them?

Why we used to need college

Long before the Internet came along, in post-WWII America, information and knowledge were hard to come by. Knowledge was largely centralized in the universities, so if you wanted to gain the education necessary to obtain a middle-class job, you needed to go college. And the government paid you to go to college through programs like the GI bill.

Somewhere along the way, though, things changed. College tuition started rising more than the cost of living, and wages stopped increasing, making college a questionable financial investment. The quality of a college education began to decline, and employers started to realize that doing well in college didn't correlate with doing well in a real-world job. The old system started breaking down.
Today, the Internet has decentralized knowledge and government funding for college has dried up, but we still see college as the only viable option for an education. Why? Because most employers still require college degrees.

But what if we could find jobs that didn't require a traditional college degree? And what if we could find a way to acquire the knowledge required to be successful in those jobs without incurring $100K in student loans?

With the decentralization of knowledge, we can acquire the education to be successful without a traditional college education and, at the same time, find good jobs that don't require traditional college degrees. The infrastructure for this type of system is already being built, and the disruption of the traditional university system has begun.

Why we won't need college

Have you ever watched a how-to video on YouTube? Or searched Wikipedia for an article on a topic you didn't quite understand? These are simple examples of how the Internet has decentralized knowledge over the past 20 years. Imagine if we could extend these examples to replace an entire college education.
Massive open online courses ("MOOCs") like Udacity and Kahn Academy, which give you the tools to educate yourself for free, are building the infrastructure for this new system. If you question the quality of the education you can get from MOOCs, organizations like Dev Bootcamp provide apprentice-like experience for much less than a college degree.

If these non-traditional options are too risky for you, there are more traditional options available to you that avoid an expensive college degree and still give you access to a good middle-class job.

The main reason most of us don't take advantage of this type of education is because most employers don't accept it. Lucky for you, the employment infrastructure suited for this type of education is being created, too.

Are you a computer programmer? Apple gives you access to millions of customers through its App Store. Are you an author? Amazon has a platform for independent publishers. Are you a film buff who dreams of producing videos? YouTube lets you do that.

Many of these options are still unproven, and the path won't be easy for the early adopters. There's a lot of risk in self-employment, and there are questions about the quality of MOOCs. But, with rising college costs and stagnating wages, we're not being given much choice. Necessity is, after all, the mother of invention. The opportunity is there for you.

You just need to grab it.

Millennium Predictions That Were Hilariously Wrong

5 ridiculously wrong predictions that the experts made for the 2000s.

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No matter how hard work seems today, it used to be tougher. After all, it's not as though minimum wages, safety regulations, anti-discrimination laws, and the many other things that make the office or factory or sales floor far more manageable than had been back in the 19th century are of ancient origin.

But it's also not as easy and delightful as pundits in decades past thought it would be. Whether it was the amount of time people would be logging at work or the conditions they'd face there, the "futurists" made some hilariously-wrong predictions for the 2000s. Here are some of the prognostications that were wildly off (and perhaps might give you reason to question the predictions for 2030).

People would work only two days a week.
There was a time when a 40-hour full-time work week seemed like a dream. People in the U.S. routinely worked 6 days a week. But the Ford Motor Company pioneered the 5-day week in 1922, as the History Channel Reports. The 40-hour week became law in 1938, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Ah, but back in the 1930s, noted economist John Maynard Keynes predicted that eventually people would work a 15-hour week, as CNNMoney notes. People would work roughly two days each and then face the problem of what to do with their leisure time.

Clearly that didn't happen, and what to do with leisure time became clear: mow the lawn, get the kids to soccer, or even work another job because of the lack of middle class economic growth, as former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich told CBSNews.com.

However, the work week has grown shorter over time, probably because of an increasing trend to part-time employment. Statistics from the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development show that in 2000, the average number of annual working hours in the U.S. was 1836, or about 36.72 hours a week, if you take out two weeks of vacation. Last year, the number dropped to 1790, or 35.8 hours a week.

American workers would enjoy 7 weeks of vacation a year
Speaking of two weeks of vacation, to some, that's still the standard. Many people, though, either don't get that much or can't take it all together. What did experts in the past think? Try 7 weeks, according to CNNMoney. In this case, the prognostication came from a Senate subcommittee in 1965, which thought that by the year 2000, we'd all have that much time off a year.

Greater productivity from technology got channeled back into businesses, rather than passed on to workers, at least domestically. The same isn't true everywhere. The European Union, for instance, requires that workers get at least 20 days a year of paid leave, according to Time. But that's the bottom end. The average is 25 to 30 days, or 5 to 6 weeks, according to the Christian Science Monitor.

Virtually no one would need sick days.
Paid sick days are one of those great benefits when you are heavily under the weather. However, what if you didn't need any sick days? That's what the situation should have been, had medical experts been right in their day. Nearly all diseases would have been cured by 2000, according to Dr. James Bryant Conant, the president of Harvard University, as Smithsonian.org reported. Most people would be well and at work.

The letters 'c,' 'x' and 'q' would disappear
Typing, writing, and spelling would be easier because there would be fewer letters to keep track of. According to an article in a 1900 issue of The Ladies Home Journal, as reported by the BBC, the letters c, x, and q would be "abandoned because unnecessary." What a capital and exemplary quest.

Women would stay in the home
As you rack up the bloopers, though, the biggest had to belong to David Riesman, a sociologist who taught at Harvard. According to the Los Angeles Times, Riesman said in a Time article in 1967 that "if anything remains more or less unchanged, it will be the role of women." Uh, yeah, which actually means no in this case. And he managed to say this right at the time that the women's movement was expanding.

But all sorts of people got the status of women wrong at that time. After all, there was the person who in a 1973 television interview said, "I don't think there will be a woman Prime Minister in my lifetime." That was Margaret Thatcher, according to the Margaret Thatcher Foundation.

Questions You Should Always - and Never - Ask On An Interview

It's possible to save a bad interview with good questions

Question x 4
Remember, the interview is an opportunity for you to ask your own questions of the employer. Don't miss this opportunity to find out information that may help you make your case for being hired and impress the interviewer simultaneously. Here's a list of topics you should – and should not – ask at an interview if you want to be remembered for the right reasons and win over the interviewer.

Interview Questions You SHOULD Ask

1. A question that proves you've done your homework. Employers are so relieved when candidates come to interviews well prepared and informed. Ask questions that make it clear you're informed about the organization, its goals and its culture. It's even possible to save a bad interview with good questions.

2. What's the most important initiative for the person you hire in the first month? Not only do you want to know this because it will be your job if you get this position, you'll be able to assess if the organization has any clue about what they expect this person to handle. If the reply seems too vague, overreaching or unrealistic, you'll have the heads up that if you take the job, you could be in for a difficult start.

3. Who will be my boss and who is on the team? Don't assume that you'll automatically meet your potential supervisor or colleagues at an interview. Make sure you have a clear understanding of who is in charge and whom you'll be relying on if you take on this position.

4. When will you be making a decision? It's such an obvious question, but many nervous job seekers forget to find out when they can expect to hear back. This is especially important if you are the first of 30 interviews over the next three weeks, and the employer doesn't plan to be in touch before then. Instead of cooling your heels and fuming that no one is getting back to you, you can relax when you ask, "When do you expect to make an offer?" or "When will you be letting people know about the next steps in the process?"

5. What's the best way to follow up? You don't want to annoy the interviewer with follow-up phone calls if she doesn't check voice mail more than once a week. Ask how to follow up and at least you'll be assured that you're getting in touch with the employer using their preferred methods.

Questions You Should FORGET

1. It's a mistake to ask anything you can easily find online. It makes you look like you're unprepared and just grasping for a question to ask. It's almost better to ask nothing than to ask something like, "So, what are your most popular products?

2. Any question that suggests you would want or need special favors. This actually starts when you schedule your interview. If you start asking for special favors from the get-go, it's a red flag for employers. At the interview, don't ask about working from home, flexibility, vacation or other benefits. Table questions about salary until it is time to negotiate.

3. Anything that makes it look like you want this job to be a stepping stone to something else. If you ask, "When could I apply for a promotion?" you're giving a clear message that you're already moving on from this job they are focused on filling. No one wants to hire someone who has their eyes on the next thing. Keep your aspirations to yourself for the time being.

3 Worst Mistakes To Make When Changing Careers

Test your ideas by talking to people and get out of your head

Rock in Rio 2013
Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images)
You're miserable in your job, you were fed up with your previous job and you're slowly coming to the conclusion that the industry you chose for yourself as an undergraduate isn't working out the way you'd hoped.
You've decided it's time to make a career change.
Many people grapple with how to make a successful career change and make a few common, avoidable mistakes. If you're considering a career change, here are three errors you should watch out for:

1. Keeping your struggles in your head
This is the most common mistake I see as a career coach. It's made so often I've coined a name for it: early dismissal.
Here's how early dismissal works. You come up with an appealing career idea, like being an architect. You initially feel optimistic and hopeful about your future life designing buildings. You happily imagine all the wonderful aspects of the job.
And then, just as quickly, doubts begin to creep in. You start to wonder if you're cut out for all that schooling. You recall that your uncle, who worked as an architect, often complained about his job. And you never were great at drawing. With a sigh, you mentally cross off the possibility of going down this career path.
The following week you run through the whole process again with a new profession.
The symptoms of early dismissal are frustration and confusion about your career direction. There's also a distinct lack of any action in the real world. Everything occurs in your head.

The solution to early dismissal is to get out of your head, talk to people and test out your ideas in the real world. (Click to Tweet!) Give yourself the opportunity to get as clear as possible about what your day-to-day life would be like in the profession you're considering.
By doing this, you'll get a more accurate understanding of whether or not you're on the right track. Plus, by connecting with people in your desired field, you'll naturally set yourself up for being able to network into a job.

2. Confusing short- and long-term goals
What do you do when you want to leave your job right away and make a bigger career change?
People frequently get confused in this situation. They know they want to make a big career change, but they also know they can't immediately make the jump to a new field. After all, making a career change can take some time. You might need to go back to school, work at an entry-level position to gain experience or learn the ropes of running your dream business.
When you're faced with a lengthy timeframe for making a change, you might wonder if you should ditch your bigger dream entirely since it won't happen right away.

It means you should approach leaving your job and building your new career path as two separate tasks. First, handle the short-term goal of finding a new job you're qualified for. Then tackle the long-term goal of building toward your career change.

3. Trapping yourself with a negative outlook
Nobody's positive all the time, but if you find yourself getting Eeyore-ish about your future prospects, it's time to take note. Your negative thoughts influence your actions. If you're constantly thinking, "No one will ever hire me," you might not bother to apply for jobs.
There are two main warning signs that your thoughts are impeding your progress. One, you feel discouraged, stuck or hopeless. Two, you aren't taking action toward your goals.

Step back and notice what you're thinking. Write down these thoughts and look at how they're impacting the way you're feeling and acting. Doing this will decrease your attachment to unhelpful thought patterns.
Next, try to find a perspective that feels more empowering and motivating. You can change your mindset from "I'm not experienced enough for this job" to "I am capable of learning how to do this job." Choose a thought that feels better and that you actually believe, and look for evidence of why this new thought is true.
It's possible to make a career change, but it does take a willingness to try new things, patience and a positive outlook. This may sound like a tall order, but remember that the reward of a new, better-fitting career will be worth it.

How To Tell If Your Employer Is Spying On You

11 signs that your employer is snooping.

Businesswoman watching over work
By Donna Fuscaldo

You may know that your employer can legally spy on you at work (and outside of work) in several ways. But how do you actually know if your employer is snooping? Here are some signs that your employer may be spying on you:

Your Handbook: Your employee handbook may well have some policies where your employer tells you they're spying. For instance, there may be a policy saying that your work on your computer belongs to the company, that they monitor emails sent and received on company devices, that they record calls for customer service purposes, or even that they monitor your social media. If it says so in your handbook, that's a good indication that big employer is watching.

Contract: This is an easy one. If you have a contract with clauses saying your computer and company-owned devices aren't private, they probably aren't. If your contract says your phone calls are being monitored, they probably are.

Other policies: Sometimes, the policies indicating the company is watching you are separate from the handbook. Read those new policies your employer sends out. You might be surprised what they say. If you have to sign policies saying you've received them, you'd better read and understand them. You might sign something saying you agree that your conversations can be taped, allowing your photos to be used in company advertising, or acknowledging that you have no expectation of privacy at work (which you probably don't).

Cameras: If you see cameras around the workplace, someone is either behind them or there's a device recording your actions. While there are restrictions on recording audio, most employers are allowed to videotape you at work. Cameras are easy to hide, so just because you can't see them doesn't mean they aren't there.

The computer camera is on: If you see your computer's camera light on, someone may be watching you up close and personal. I've heard of bosses who were able to turn on employee computer cameras and spy on them at their desks. Before you adjust those pantyhose or unzip to tuck in a shirt, best make sure nobody is watching. If the camera turns on unexpectedly, either turn it off or put a post-it over it.

Discipline: If you're written up for a conversation you thought was private, your employer may have an audio recording device in the workplace. On the other hand, the co-worker whom you thought you could trust might just have blabbed. Be careful what you say at work, and to whom you say it. Sometimes even people whom you thought were friends will rat you out.

Counter-spying: There are lots of articles written about how to counter-spy on your employer to figure out if they've snooped your computer. I can't vouch for any of these techniques, but here are some. Ctrl-Alt-Delete on a PC brings up a menu called Task Manager. If you go to the Processes tab, it will show you everything that is running in the background. When I did this, it brought up a list of a zillion things that looked like gibberish. I'd hesitate to delete anything because I don't know what I'm doing. You might want to get a computer guru to check yours if you're in doubt. If you look at your Start menu and see anything called VNC, RealVNC, TightVNC, UltraVNC, LogMeIn, Shadow, Web Sleuth, Silent Watch, or GoToMyPC, then you might have a spy. On the other hand, my computer guy sometimes uses LogMeIn to remotely repair my computer. I make sure it's turned off unless I expect him to be working on it. There are also some tracking beacons you can supposedly install in your emails to see if they're opened, such as emailprivacytester.com or ReadNotify. I wouldn't recommend any of this unless you feel comfortable that you won't crash your computer. Imagine explaining what you were doing to the IT guy.

Stuff you said privately gets repeated: Even if something you said doesn't end up in a written warning, if your boss makes a snarky comment like, "Some people think I'm tough on them. You haven't seen tough yet," right after you told a co-worker that you thought the boss was tough on you, then there's either a technological or human spy. You might try a test, such as saying something completely false but innocuous to a person whom you suspect of being a spy. Maybe share that you've decided to take up quilting or karaoke and see if it comes back to you.

Weird stuff starts when the new guy starts: I knew someone years ago who had been a hired company spy. She would be hired as a regular rank-and-file employee and get to know her co-workers to root out an evildoer. If a company suspects wrongdoing such as theft or corporate espionage, they sometimes hire a private detective or a company that will send in undercover snoops to spy on employees. If a new person is hired and private conversations are suddenly known to management, or your personal papers start to disappear or get moved around, you may have a hired spy in your midst.

Your boss comments about your personal life: Companies like to monitor social media. If you find your boss commenting about things you posted on Facebook or Twitter, you can assume that you're being watched outside the office as well.

A co-worker was snooped on: If a co-worker is disciplined for an inappropriate email, a social media post, or something they said about the workplace, you can be darned sure the company is also watching you.

All in all, the best advice I can give is to assume that everything you say, do or write at work is being monitored. Many courts say that you have little or no expectation of privacy at work. That means you shouldn't check personal emails on company devices, shouldn't open personal emails that might be inappropriate, and shouldn't do or say anything at work that you don't want to appear on the front page of the company newsletter. If you need to check personal email at work, then bring your own device to do it, and don't hook up to the company's wi-fi or server. If you're on social media, don't post anything that could get you in trouble at work.

If you assume you're being watched, you probably can't go wrong.

Why Everyone Should Freelance

6 good reasons to start freelancing.

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In today's economy, it isn't always possible to land a traditional, 9-to-5 position in your target field. Many employers are hiring part-time or contract workers to handle the projects and work that full-time employees once did. As a result, competition is fierce, and, in some industries, it may be futile to search for typical jobs. The silver lining is that this situation has pushed the door wide open for professionals interested in working for themselves. If you know how to be productive and have an entrepreneurial bent, you should evaluate your full-time options and business prospects and consider these six reasons to freelance:

You're in good company. Surveys indicate that the freelance workforce will continue to grow in the next decade; it may be the perfect job for you. According to Intuit, by 2020 more than 40 percent of the workforce will be freelancing. Temporary placement service provider, Adecco, predicts temporary workers will eventually comprise 25 percent of the global workforce as employers replace many jobs with contract workers. Mavenlink says that the number of self-employed, independent service firms, "solopreneurs" and temporary workers will grow to approximately 65 million American workers by 2020.

There's no time like the present. If you get started by creating a business now, you will be ahead of the curve and therefore more competitive for opportunities now and in the future. Companies prefer to hire contractors who are set up as official businesses with websites and processes in place that help them function as independent businesses. Even if you are not sure that you want to start your own business and be your own boss, if you begin to create a digital footprint, including your website and social media content demonstrating your expertise, you will be ready to attract interest and attention online when and if you do need to rely on freelancing for your income.

Multiple income streams are all the rage. You can't assume one employer will be there for the long haul. If you work for one company, organization or person and you lose your job for any reason, all of your financial eggs are in one basket. When you cultivate a variety of bosses and projects, you don't lose everything when one company or industry goes sour.

Stretch your geographical limits. In many cases, freelancers work remotely and do not have to worry about location concerns or traffic. As an independent worker, you may be doing work one day for a client in Los Angeles and the next day for someone in Boston -– all from your home base in the Midwest.

Tap your creative juices. When you freelance, you have more opportunities to follow different professional paths. By necessity, you'll probably need to take on a lot of roles yourself: chief marketer, IT expert, financial officer. You name it, when you freelance, at first, it's probably your job. This is great for people who felt trapped in one role in a traditional job and for anyone who loves learning new things.

Win flexibility. When you freelance, you decide what jobs and projects to take on and you set your own schedule in many cases. For example, unless you need a lot of interaction with clients, you may be able to work late at night and have flexibility to do other things during the day. While you may initially accept any work to generate income, eventually, your goal will be to control your own schedule and work stream. When you are successful, you will spend more time doing work you enjoy.

5 things you should never say to your employees

Dont say to employees
Goonies never say die, Jon Bon Jovi never says goodbye and great bosses never say the following five things to their employees:

1. “You’re lucky to work here.” A statement like this is dictatorial, threatening and clearly meant to incite fear, which isn’t good for anyone. “Fear-based management does not create the best results — that’s all there is to it,” says Katherine Crowley, co-author of “Working for You Isn’t Working for Me: The Ultimate Guide to Managing Your Boss.” “If someone is afraid all the time of losing their job, they’re not going to give you their best work.”

2. “It is what it is.” A statement like this implies that there’s no room for change or flexibility in an organization — even when the organization is badly in need of it. Not only is it frustrating for employees to hear this, but it can also hinder your organization from moving forward. As demonstrated by the growing popularity of “hack days,” being open to new ideas and empowering your employees to explore new business solutions not only increases morale, it’s also good for business.

3. “That’s not my fault.” Unless you’re the pope, you’re not infallible, so if you make a mistake, own up to it. While you may think admitting a mistake reveals a weakness, it’s actually a sign of strength, argues leadership expert Doug Guthrie in a recent article for Forbes. “What is more powerful than an individual who can stand in front of his or her employees and admit that the failure was his or hers?” Guthrie writes. “What better way to gain the respect and admiration of your team than to take the blame and responsibility on yourself rather than calling out someone on your team? By admitting you are wrong, by taking blame, you will have a group of more committed followers.”

4. “That’s none of your business.” Whether you’re trying to protect your employees or yourself, more often than not, keeping employees completely in the dark can do more harm than good. Great leaders need to be candid with their employees, and as transparent as possible. “If you fail to practice total candor, you will lose the trust of your team, your leadership and your customers,” says Jim Welch, author of “Grow Now: 8 Essential Steps to Flex Your Leadership Muscles.”

5. “Did you get my email?” It’s cool if you want to work 24/7, but you can’t expect the same of your employees. Putting pressure on your employees to constantly be connected to the office can infringe on their work/life balance, ultimately stirring up feelings of resentment and leading to burnout.

Quitting Your Job? 10 Things To Do Before You Leave

Now's not the time to burn your bridges.

Close-up of a mid adult man throwing away papers 

A new job offer is on the table, and with it, new opportunities, a fresh start and an opportunity to be happier at work. When you plan for your transition, don't forget to put the following on your "to do" list.

Before You Give Notice

1. Get your new job offer in writing. This should be a given, but sometimes people who are anxious to leave their job give notice a little early. Even though a company can still renege on a written offer, having things in writing means that you know exactly what terms you should expect in the new job.

2. Finalize any pre-employment testing. Some companies require drug tests or have other types of requirements before onboarding employees. Ideally, you'll be able to pass these with flying colors before giving notice at your current employer.

3. Think things through and make sure you make the right choice. Ask yourself: "Is the new job offer worth it?" Don't leave a job for bad reasons. Make a list of pros and cons. Identify if you'll have new challenges that you are not prepared to handle. For example, a much longer commute could affect your life in ways you haven't considered. If the new job involves a lot more travel, you may tire of it quickly. Conduct some due diligence to help decide on the risks and rewards. No job is perfect, but you'll want to make sure you're not jumping from the frying pan into the fire.

4. Prepare for negative reactions when you say you're leaving. Don't expect everyone to be happy for you. If you're a good employee, your departure will cause more work and possibly longer hours for those left behind. Maintain a positive outlook even if your colleagues don't seem happy for you.

5. Understand your organization's culture regarding "notice." In some organizations and fields, when you give notice, you're escorted by security to the door and you receive your personal items in the mail. If that's the norm, be prepared in advance. You may want to remove your important personal items before handing in your resignation.

After You Give Notice

6. Don't burn bridges. Especially if you're leaving a bad situation, it's tempting to throw caution to the wind and run out the door without looking back. However, keep in mind, in our constantly evolving workplaces, it's as likely that you'll wind up working with or for the people in your current office at some point. Behave as if you'll be working with these colleagues again in the future and you won't be sorry later.

7. Manage financial and retirements accounts and make plans for your health insurance if necessary. Depending on your employer, you may be able to leave retirement or pension plans in place, or you may need to make plans to set up new accounts. If you'll need interim health insurance or COBRA, make sure you understand the administrative details you'll need to handle to make sure you don't leave yourself without coverage.

8. Communicate your news personally. Be mindful that your news probably affects a lot of other people. When possible, it's nice to communicate directly with everyone your departure impacts. While a mass email gets the job done, it's a thoughtful, personal touch to meet or have a phone conversation with people to let them know about your plans. This can help smooth over any negative feelings and it also allows people to wish you well.

9. Create mechanisms to keep in touch. Social media makes it very easy to keep connected with past colleagues. While you may have neglected to connect on LinkedIn with your colleagues, now is the time to forge those online links, before you forget and lose track of people. Be sure your LinkedIn profile and other online networks use your personal email address, not your work contact information.

10. Learn from the past and move on. This is important advice whether or not you've had a bad experience in your current job. A new position is an opportunity to do things differently. It's a fresh start and a chance to take any lessons from your past job and apply them to your next career move.

6 Things HR Won't Tell You

What you need to know about the job interview.

Close up of young woman 

Is HR on your side or public enemy number one? In most cases, human resource professionals are doing the best they can to find and hire the best candidates. What should you know when you're looking for a job?

They hope you're the right candidate.
People in charge of hiring want to find the best candidate to fill the job in the most efficient way. If you are that candidate, HR is likely rooting for you. Face it, no one wants to have a long, protracted process to fill a role if it isn't necessary. This is the good news for candidates: if you've passed an initial screening, it's possible the job is yours to lose. Follow best practices for interviews and don't screw up and the job could be yours.

They prefer to hire via referrals.
This shouldn't be news to job seekers. Job search coaches have long described the "hidden job market," which refers to unadvertised positions filled by known candidates. CareerXRoads reported in their 2013 Source of Hire Report that for every 100,000 external hires, nearly 25,000 were filled in part through the company's Employee Referral Program. CareerXRoads says, "We estimate that a candidate who has acquired a referral is 3-4 times more likely to be hired."

These data should compel you to spend less time applying for random jobs and more time cultivating relationships with people who may potentially refer you to opportunities.

A large number of jobs are filled with internal candidates.
We've all heard this story: a job is posted for legal reasons, but everyone knows it's a formality, as a candidate is already identified and, for all practical purposes, already has the job. CareerXRoads' findings indicate that this scenario may happen more than we think. Their report notes that current employees fill 42% of all the openings.

Some companies have preferred pipelines for candidates.
If you meet people who work at your target company and everyone seems to have a similar work history – perhaps most employees worked at one or two other organizations before landing at this organization – it's not an accident. Some companies actively recruit and source from their competition or have other preferred companies where they like to find their hires. You may be best off identifying this early in your search and targeting opportunities at the preferred source.

They hate when you look desperate.
There's a fine line between appropriately persistent and desperate, and this threshold shifts based on individual personalities. Yes, hiring managers are making snap judgments about you. Should you follow up after sending an application if you have not heard? It can't hurt to send a friendly note, email or to leave a voice mail a week later. Should you call twice a day to ask about your status? No.

They're vetting your background.
We've all heard stories about companies who don't screen candidates or who wind up hiring people who faked their credentials. It's much more likely that HR is looking deeply into your background, and that includes tapping into information they've asked your permission to access, such as your credit history, as well as what is readily available online. Potential employers will Google your name and review your social media profiles, and they will make decisions based on what they find. For example, if your public Twitter stream suggests you have a volatile temper, expect employers will see it as a red flag and move to the next candidate.

Would your career be better off with a mentor?

mentorWhen grappling with a work-related problem, there’s only so much advice a spouse or friend can offer you. Since they likely don’t work in your industry or company, their insight may focus on the limited details they have of your work, which they probably know only from you.
But what if you could receive custom advice from an industry insider who knows you well and has your best interests at heart? What if their goal in the relationship is to see you succeed? Working with a mentor may be exactly what you need to grow in your career.
In a 2013 CareerBuilder survey, 29 percent of workers reported having had a mentor, and of those who are in a mentor-mentee relationship, 84 percent said the mentor helped advance their careers. Learn more about this prosperous relationship and if a mentor is just what you and your career need.

The benefits of having a mentor
If you’ve never had a mentor before, the relationship may seem strange in today’s age of social media-focused interactions and movement away from interpersonal relationships. However, a mentor is more than somebody to report to — they are there to share their experience and insight with you and see you succeed.
When asked if the mentor helped advance their career, 84 percent of workers said yes. Here are some of the ways workers said a mentor aided their career:
  • By guiding me in daily responsibilities – 45 percent
  • By guiding me in career path decisions – 37 percent
  • By helping to make connections for me – 26 percent
  • By recommending me for a promotion – 25 percent
Finding a mentor
How do you set out to find somebody to serve as your mentor? There are a number of different ways to begin this relationship. Based on answers from the survey, here are some of the most common:
  • It’s someone I work with – 70 percent
  • It was part of a structured mentor program offered by my company – 15 percent
  • I was introduced to them by a friend/colleague – 8 percent
If your company doesn’t have a structured mentor program, speak to your manager or human resources department about setting one up. If the company doesn’t have the resources, you can independently find a mentor. Ask a co-worker you admire and respect to have go out for coffee or lunch with you, and discuss what you admire about their career and ask for advice. If the meeting goes well, have a follow-up lunch several weeks later, and see if they are receptive to a mentor-mentee relationship. If not, networking may be a good solution to meet industry experts outside of work who would enjoy the relationship.
Based on the survey results, a mentor-mentee relationship can be just as unique as the two people in it. Some of the variants of the relationship were the length of time, the age of the mentor and the number of mentors.
  • When answering about their last mentor, 19 percent of workers said their relationship lasted less than a year, 44 percent said one to three years, 20 percent said four to six years, 6 percent said seven to nine years, 5 percent said 10-15 years, 2 percent said 16-20 years and 4 percent said more than 20 years.
  • When responding to the age of their last mentor, 82 percent of workers said their mentor was older, 11 percent said younger and 7 percent said the same age.
  • When replying to the number of mentors they’ve had in their career, 39 percent of workers said one, 35 percent said two and 26 percent said three or more.
Bottom line: The best fit for a mentor is somebody who you respect and can trust to share your problems and concerns with, and be open to learning from their experience.
What is the best piece of advice a mentor ever gave you?
If you’ve never had a mentor before, gain from the wisdom mentors have imparted on others. Here is some of the best advice workers have received from their mentors:
  • Do your work now.
  • Look after the nickels and dimes, and the dollars will look after themselves.
  • Never stop learning.
  • Always do the best job you can, no matter what others around you are doing.
  • Focus on activities that make you excited to go to work and get work done. Don’t worry about job titles.
  • Always network and never burn bridges.
  • Ask for what you want.
  • Fail fast and move on.
  • Double check spelling and grammar.
  • Ask questions — lots of questions.
  • Be yourself and play to your strengths.
  • Being lucky comes from hard work.

8 Things To Do If You're Being Targeted For Age Discrimination

You don't have to let yourself be a victim.

Experienced Baby boomer looses his job
My last article was about how to prove an age discrimination case. Now that you know how to prove age discrimination, what next? What do you do if you think age discrimination is going on in your company?

Here are 8 key steps to take if you're being targeted for age discrimination:
  1. Write it down: Write down dates, location and any witnesses of any age discrimination you notice, whether against you or against your colleagues.
  2. Gather documents: If you see that the best territories have gone to younger employees, that layoffs or disciplines are focusing on older employees, or have any other documents that you think prove age discrimination, gather them together and make copies.
  3. Keep your evidence safe: Take your notes and documents somewhere safe. Don't lock them in a desk or keep them in your office. It's best to keep them at home or at least in your purse or briefcase so your employer can't take them away from you if you're fired.
  4. Report it: If your coworkers or supervisors are singling you out for harassment due to your age, you need to follow your company's policy on reporting harassment. Report it, in writing, as a "Formal Complaint of Age Discrimination." Lay out every way you are being singled out for nasty comments, exclusion, unfavorable job assignments, and disciplines as compared to your younger coworkers. Give them an opportunity to investigate and correct the situation. If you fail to do this, you might lose your right to sue for age-based harassment later.
  5. Don't give them an excuse: If you think you might be targeted, be extra careful at work. Obey every direct order (other than something illegal), document what you've been told to do, and make sure your work is pristine.
  6. Don't delay: In order to bring a suit for age discrimination under the Age Discrimination In Employment Act, you must first file a Charge of Discrimination with EEOC. Depending on whether your state also has an agency that handles discrimination claims, you have either 180 days or 300 days from the date of discrimination to file with EEOC. Your state may also have laws against age discrimination with different deadlines. Especially if you've suffered a demotion, been denied a job or promotion, or lost your job, you should contact EEOC or an employment attorney in your state right away.
  7. Don't refuse to sign: If you're presented with a write-up or discipline, don't refuse to sign. That could be insubordination. Instead, sign with a notation next to your signature, "As to receipt only – rebuttal to follow." Then submit a businesslike and factual rebuttal with any evidence you have showing that you didn't do what they're accusing you of or how younger coworkers who have done the same thing aren't being disciplined. You should mention in your rebuttal that you believe you are being targeted due to your age.
  8. Don't sign: If you're presented with a severance agreement or other documents to sign after you've been laid off or fired, don't sign on the spot. Ask for a copy to review. You're in shock and not thinking straight. Take it home. Then review carefully and take it to an employment lawyer in your state if there's anything you don't understand. If you sign a severance agreement, you are probably releasing any claims you have against your employer, including age discrimination claims. If you do have evidence of age discrimination, this might give your lawyer to negotiate a better severance package for you.
If you take these steps, you might be able to protect yourself against getting fired, or you may have enough evidence to bring an age discrimination claim against your employer if you are fired, demoted, denied a promotion or laid off.

6 Snap Judgments Hiring Managers Make

Snap judgements managers makeYou finally got that interview you've been hoping to land. Don't blow it by making a bad first impression. Expect your interviewer to begin sizing you up the minute you step foot on the company's property. Everything you do can, and will, be held against you, so make sure you don't open the door to any negative snap judgments right from the start.

What will cause the employer to wrinkle his or her nose?

1. You're already offering excuses. You've never been to this part of town at this hour, and you're late. You have a good excuse –- or many excuses. Perhaps traffic was terrible, there was an accident, the road was closed or your GPS gave you the wrong directions. They could all be true, but the result is that you are late and coming up with reasons to explain away your mistake. While some employers may be willing to overlook this faux pas for extremely good candidates, expect to be digging yourself out of the proverbial hole if you can't make it to the interview at least 10 or 15 minutes early.

2. You look like a slob. Perhaps you heard everyone wears T-shirts, flip-flops and cutoffs to work. That's fine once you have the job, but it's not interview attire. A three-piece suit would clearly be out of place in an extremely casual environment, but it's professional and more respectful to dress a little better than the office dress code for an interview. In this case, don a pair of nice khaki pants and a shirt or blouse with a collar in order to avoid making the wrong impression.

3. You talk too much. It's good to demonstrate your enthusiasm and interest in the position, but do not go overboard and start telling the employer about how long you've been waiting for this opportunity, and how you really need this job so you don't lose your car next month.

4. You don't appear confident and poised. Studies show that body language speaks volumes, and employers will decide if you are professional and and self-assured from the moment they see you. Stand up straight, smile and look the interviewer in the eye. Practice your firm handshake and learn to sit up straight without appearing stiff or uncomfortable. Otherwise, you risk coming off as someone who isn't prepared for the position.
5.You cannot get to the point. People do not generally have very long attention spans. If you bore the interviewer with long, overly detailed replies to questions, you will quickly lose your opportunity to land the job. Practice succinctly answering questions so you don't lose your listener's attention before you get to the point.

6. You are unprepared. One of the biggest pet peeves interviewers share is that candidates are unprepared and do not conduct crucial research about the position or the company before their interviews. Do not expect to show up and ask things such as, "What does this company do?" or "What job is this, again?" if you want to impress the employer.

Instead, do some research and be ready to ask questions during the interview that you could not easily answer via your own research. It's even better if you can illustrate that you know important things about the company in the course of the conversation. For example, "I read in last month's Forbes magazine that your company is looking to acquire a tech firm. How do you think that potential acquisition may affect this department?" It's even better if you can follow up with some specifics about how your skills and background will make you a great candidate to help accomplish whatever goals the employer mentions.

If you are interested in the job, don't inadvertently give the impression that you could care less. Focus on both the big and little details if you want to stay in the running for your dream job.

Employers That Cut The Most Jobs Since The Financial Crisis

These 10 employers have cut nearly a half million jobs in the last five years.

Woman carrying box of stationery
On Sept. 15, 2008, Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy, and the financial crisis was officially underway. Fast-forward five years, and the economy is still down a net total of 240,000 jobs from where it was five years ago, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). But during the worst of the recession back in 2010, the economy was behind a net total of 8.8 million jobs. Regular cuts, as many workers know all too well, have hit nearly every sector of the economy -- and many sectors are still struggling.

Many jobs have returned, but not enough. "In reality, we've actually made very few improvements to the labor market," said Heidi Shierholz, an economist with the liberal and non-profit Washington D.C.-based research organization, the Economic Policy Institute. "You also have to consider all the jobs we should have been adding over these past five years, instead of trying to recoup the jobs that have been lost."

But which employers laid off the most workers? To mark the five-year milestone, AOL Jobs contacted employment services firm, Challenger, Gray & Christmas, which checked its database. The result: a list of the top 10 job-losing employers -- and a window into not only how brutal the crisis has been but who has suffered the most. These workplaces are responsible for 475,918 of the jobs that have been lost since 2008. Four of the ten employers who have cut the most jobs are in the finance industry.

A caveat about the list: The Challenger firm focused on combined totals from announced workforce reductions, which of course is automatically going to put the spotlight on larger employers. See below for the top ten.

U.S. Postal Service Logo10. U.S. Postal Service

Major layoffs: 2009
Total jobs lost: 30,000
2013 total workers: 522,000*

Why so many? The financial crisis has of course overlapped with the digital revolution, which has taken a much-publicized toll on the U.S. Postal Service. And the first full year of the financial crisis saw workers hurt beyond those who were simply cut; nearly a quarter of the Postal Service's 646,000 workers were offered early retirement, as CNN reported. The cumulative job loss in recent years at the Postal Service has been massive; the service 800,000 total workers in 1999.

Verizon Logo9. Verizon Wireless

Major layoffs: 2009, 2012
Total jobs lost: 30,700
2013 total workers: 195,400*

Why so many? Verizon's cuts in 2009 were more related to its buyout of wireless service provider Alltel in 2009. But last year, Verizon made more even more cuts after 45,000 Verizon employees went on strike after the company pushed for cuts in health benefits and pensions when contracts with two major unions expired. The cuts came in the company's traditional wireless division, as CNN Money reported.

Petco Logo8. Merrill Lynch

Major layoffs: 2008
Total jobs lost: 35,000
2013 total workers: 284,000 (Bank of America)*

Why so many? Before the company was taken over by Bank of America at the end of 2008, it pursued a punishing round of layoffs. In one fell swoop, 15 percent of its workforce, or some 30,000 bankers, were let go from the investment bank and brokerage divisions at the firm.

Petco Logo7. JPMorgan Chase

Major layoffs: 2008, 2009, 2013
Total jobs lost: 35,000
2013 total workers: 260,095*

Why so many? When the crisis struck in 2008, leading mortgage lender Washington Mutual was in near collapse. JPMorgan Chase moved in and bought most of the company, but cut much of the staff, including nearly 10,000 in December of 2008. Company CEO Jamie Dimon is however often credited for making moves that have minimized job losses. Back in 2006, for instance, he began tracking how many phone lines his bank owned, and found some 50,000 were being unused, as Marketwatch reported. As a result, the company was able to cut down on the wasteful expense.

Petco Logo6. Bank of America

Major layoffs: 2011, 2012
Total jobs lost: 37,402
2013 total workers: 284,000*

Why so many? Before the financial crisis, Bank of America (BofA) was recognized for going on an "acquisition binge," in the words of Marketplace.org. And in trying to figure out what to cut ever since the crisis hit, BofA has been focused on scaling back its mortgage lending divisions, much of which it inherited when it took over Countrywide, once the biggest U.S. mortgage lender, in 2008. Like many of its peer banks, BofA has also cut jobs to implement a "vast new regulatory system that cuts into profits," as the Wall Street Journal reported.

Petco Logo5. Caterpillar

Major layoffs: 2009, 2013
Total jobs lost: 40,111
2013 total workers: 125,341*

Why so many? The world's leading manufacturer of construction and mining equipment took a direct hit when those sectors suffered in the financial crisis. Cuts were made to ensure that costs were in line with revenue. And more bloodletting may ensue; this spring, the company said it expects a 50 percent decline in sales of traditional mining equipment, as the Chicago Tribune reported.

Petco Logo4. Circuit City

Major layoffs: 2008, 2009
Total jobs lost: 41,305
2013 total workers: none

Why so many? Pressure from competitors including Best Buy and Walmart proved too much for Circuit City as it closed its 567 stores back in 2009. But during its final gasps, the company tried to stay afloat by replacing thousands of its highest paid clerks with lower-paid replacements. The tech community was not impressed; "Let's face it, customer service in Circuit City is far from stellar, and ditching highly qualified personnel does nothing to improve that situation," Gizmodo wrote after a 2008 purge. .

Petco Logo3. Hewlett-Packard

Major layoffs: 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012
Total jobs lost: 74,300
2013 total workers: 331,800*

Why so many? The world's largest tech company embarked on a vigorous cost-cutting mission as soon as Mark Hurd took over as company CEO in 2005; he laid off 15,200 employees, or 10 percent of the workforce in his first year, as CNN Money reported. So when the crisis began, the company only revved up its strategy of cuts, telling thousands of workers they were "redundant" as the company transitioned away focusing on hardware production and towards tech outsourcing. But the moves have been seen in the tech community as undoing the company's identity as a service provider. Indeed, HP is planning to cut 27,000 IT professionals by the end of 2014, according to CIO.

Petco Logo2. Citigroup

Major layoffs: 2008, 2011, 2012
Total jobs lost: 75,000
2013 total workers: 267,150*

Why so many? Citigroup took $20 billion in bailout money from the federal government in 2008 through the Toxic Asset Relief Program (TARP). But it wasn't enough as CEO Vikram Pandit also began laying off workers that year. The cuts have come across Citi's divisions, from combined insurance to investment banking. And hardly anyone expects the cuts to stop. After Michael Corbat took over from Pandit last year as company CEO, he promised the bank would reduce "excess capacity and expenses, whether they center on technology, real estate or simplifying our operations," as USA Today reported.

GM Logo1. General Motors

Major layoffs: 2008, 2009
Total jobs lost: 77,100
2013 total workers: 202,000*

Why so many? When credit vanished after the market collapse of 2008 , GM, along with the Ford Motor Company and Chrysler found themselves with major cash shortages on their hands. The problems in the sector were also compounded by the rising price of fuel earlier in the decade, which encouraged consumers to buy fuel efficient vehicles made overseas, as the Associated Press reported. It got so bad that GM was on the verge of complete liquidation by April, 2009, before the government stepped in to provide an $85 billion bailout. But the instability resulted in mass layoffs which included the elimination of thousands of management jobs in addition to plant positions.

Recharge Your Career With A Big Idea

How to find and execute the big idea that will be a game changer.

Beautiful businesswoman with puzzle
Might it be time to attempt a big goal, your most important accomplishment yet, maybe your first big accomplishment? Here are examples and questions to unearth your Big Idea:

Examples to trigger your Big Idea:

You needn't do these yourself. Should you have a partner?

Create a Udemy course on what you know: from business-plan writing to bowling to bargaining.
  • Direct a play such as Rent or West Side Story with troubled high-school kids.
  • Truck adoptable dogs and cats from shelters in a region with too many to shelters in a region with too few.
  • Mentor someone who has much unrealized potential.
  • Create a match.com-like website that pairs-up people for activities other than dating: MentorMatch, Activity Partner Pair-Up, Book Club Maker, etc.
  • Write a book or make a video that says something important. For example, whatever career you've been in--from clerk to CEO--write a book that helps people in your field become more successful. Perhaps base it on interviews with people in the field, luminaries and just plain folks. If you can't sell your book to a publisher, self-publish on CreateSpace and sell it on Amazon. If you can't get Steven Spielberg to make your movie, post it on YouTube.
  • Start a charter or private school for an underserved category of students: kids who hate standard school, ADD gifted kids, whatever.
  • Raise beaucoup bucks for your favorite charity or advocacy group. For a list of efficient charities, see
  • Invent something. Example: a robot that would help elders who fall to get up.
  • charitynavigator.org A new book on how to pick a charity wisely: Reinventing Philanthropy.
  • Start a business where there's a crying need, for example, a child care center where none exists.

Questions to unearth your Big Idea
  • What's been your biggest success so far? What could be a bigger or more important version of that? It needn't be something you accomplished at work. For example, if you played in the community orchestra, perhaps you aspire to conduct Beethoven's Fifth.
  • If you had to give away a million dollars, to whom or what would you give it? For example, if you'd give the money to the NARAL: ProChoice America, perhaps you'd want to be a volunteer coordinator for it.
  • What societal problem are you most concerned about? For example, if politicians frustrate you, do you want to run for office? If you're sick of traffic gridlock, do you want to join a local transportation committee?
  • Is there a product or service you'd love to improve? Let's say you'd like to improve health care but are intimidated by the problem's massiveness. You might become a patient advocate, helping patients get the care they need.
  • Assume there's a God. What would God tell you is the most important project He or She put you on this earth to undertake?
  • Sometimes,a broad, direct approach is best: What's the biggest idea you could see yourself motivated to tackle?

Harder than coming up with an idea is developing a plan and especially executing it well. Create your to-do list and get expert advice and hands-on help as needed. Try to treat setbacks as challenges; don't give up prematurely. But as Kenny Rogers sang, "You gotta know when to hold 'em and know when to fold 'em." If you have to toss in your cards, take solace in knowing that gives you an opportunity to play another hand.

Secrets To A Slam Dunk Job Interview

Take these 5 simple steps and you'll have a perfect interview.

Two Business Colleagues With an Application Form Conducting an Interview at a Table
The perfect interview is every job seeker's dream. A great interview also gets the recruiting or hiring manager excited about a great candidate. How can you become that ideal candidate who is a slam dunk for the job? It's probably not as tough as you think. Unfortunately, when you talk to hiring managers and recruiters, you find that many interviewees are unprepared and unimpressive. They make basic mistakes and often lose opportunities as a result.

When you are just a little more prepared to answer interview questions than the next candidate, you can come out smelling like a rose. Follow these tips to a perfect interview;

Apply for the right jobs.
This step happens before the interview. You need to make sure to apply for jobs that suit your skills and experience. Don't bother with a lot of jobs you are overqualified to do, and eliminate jobs where you can't prove that you have the majority of the skills they seek. This key step will help you save time in your job search, as you won't be spinning your wheels applying for positions you don't have a chance to land.

Research the organization and the people.
Do not go to an interview before you've done research that informs you about the company's major issues, also known as "point points." Scan all of the online information about the company, including what it says about itself as well as news mentions. Make a connection between the company's goals and what you offer. For example, if you read that the organization is working to improve its customer service focus, be prepared to explain how your background prepared you to contribute to this goal. Specifics regarding how you contributed to similar successful efforts in the past will help you stand out from the crowd.

You also should take advantage of the opportunity to learn about your interviewers. You can bet that you'll be able to find something out about anyone you'll meet online. Start with LinkedIn, and if you can't learn what you need there, Google the interviewer's name. You know they will do the same for you, so you might as well be on equal ground.

During the interview, feel free to bring up any information you found on LinkedIn, Twitter or Google+, as long as it is professional and seems like something the employer would want you to know. For example, "I see you also attended the University of Illinois!" Or, "I'm a big movie buff, too."

Use "Problem - Action - Result" stories and answer questions completely
You need to have several stories to demonstrate you can handle any challenge the job may bring. Each story should have three elements: 1) A problem. 2) The action you took to solve the problem. 3) The result: what happened and how did your actions affect that result? This is known as a "PAR" story; people who structure their responses to interview questions in this way will be sure to address all of the key points. Oftentimes, interviewees forget to describe the result of their actions, or they may forget to detail how they affected the results. When you have several "PAR" stories at the ready, you'll be prepared for most any interview question.

Think of times when you overcame a big challenge, worked with difficult people or had to make an unpopular choice. These are common interview questions you can answer with a PAR story. If you research the company well, you may be able to predict some of their questions and plan some good stories to tell.

Don't talk too much.
Sometimes, the best thing to say is as little as possible. Especially when asked something you don't want to talk much about, such as why were you fired, your best bet is to cut to the chase and move to the next question. Do not dwell on anything negative and always present things in the most favorable light possible.

Follow up.
If you really want the job, make sure to write a thank you note after the interview to each person you met. Comment on each meeting in individual notes; don't duplicate the same message to each interviewer. This is your chance to elaborate on something you want them to know and to remind the interviewers why you are a good choice. As long as you don't include any typos or other mistakes in your letter, it can only help you stand out in a crowd of candidates.

Working with a recruiter 101

working with a recruiterA recruiter can introduce you to the right opportunity and accelerate your job search. If you’ve never considered working with a recruiter before, here’s your chance to learn more the job seeker/recruiter relationship. In a conversation with Paul McDonald, senior executive director at Robert Half International, a staffing firm, we find out what job seekers should know about working with a recruiter and how it can be beneficial to their careers.
Q: If a job seeker has never worked with a recruiter before, what should they know, starting out, about the recruiter/job seeker relationship?
McDonald: A recruiter’s job is to find job seekers rewarding positions, and your recruiter can serve as your eyes, ears and advocate in the marketplace. Whether you are publicly looking for a new job or want to conduct a confidential search, a recruiter can be a valuable resource.
Working with a recruiter offers a number of benefits. Recruitment firms have well-developed relationships with employers in their areas, provide insights on targeted potential employers, place professionals in positions that fit their skills and also their personalities, and can make the job search quicker and more efficient. In addition, they frequently know about jobs yet to be advertised.
But the benefits of working with a recruiter go further. For example, your recruiter can provide hiring and compensation insights, offer résumé and interview advice and help you navigate salary negotiations. Many staffing firms also offer access to free resources such as online training, which you can use to enhance your marketability.
Q: From start to finish, what’s the timeline and process like when working with a recruiter?McDonald: Job seekers typically start working with a recruiter in one of two ways: Either the recruiter finds them through his or her network or job seekers register with the firm. The next step is a discussion of the candidate’s skills, experience and objectives. The recruiter will also review the job seeker’s résumé and, if there is a potential fit with a client company, invite the person for an interview and conduct a skills assessment and reference checks.
There is no set timeline, since a number of factors affect the hiring process. What job seekers can do to help ensure the process is as efficient as possible is be able to clearly explain to their recruiter their experience, career objective and type of organization where they’d like to work. In other words, know what you want and have a well-honed elevator pitch. This will allow the recruiter to conduct a targeted search and focus on potential opportunities in alignment with your specific goals.
Throughout the process, keep your recruiter up to date on who you’ve met with, what’s working and what’s not and any new openings you hear about. Provide constructive feedback to help the recruiter refine the search as needed, and also be open to guidance about changes, such as to your résumé or interview style, that could enhance your prospects.
Q: How can a job seeker find a recruiter that is right for their career goals, personality and budget?
McDonald: Budget should not be an issue. A reputable staffing firm never charges job seekers a fee.
When considering a recruiter, look for a firm specializing in your field. A specialist will have opportunities better targeted to your needs and can provide stronger market insights and career advice. Also look for a firm with a history of success, including in your area, and expansive networks in the business community.
Tap members of your network for their thoughts and referrals, and also research firms you’re considering. When you connect with a recruiter, ask questions to ensure the working relationship will meet your needs. For example, ask how long the firm has been in business and works with job candidates. The rapport you build with your recruiter is vital to your job-search success, so make sure you find someone who has good experience and who you like working with.
Q: What skills do recruiters look for when working with a job seeker?
McDonald: The specifics typically depend on the market and the job seeker’s field, but, in general, professionals should highlight their skills, experience and, ideally, record of advancement. While these attributes, along with education, accreditations and technology proficiency are critical, so, too, are nontechnical skills. Also known as soft skills and formerly considered nice-to-haves, excelling in areas such as communication, leadership and business acumen is now essential within many professions. Recruiters know this and are looking for professionals who possess the right combination of technical and nontechnical skills to meet their clients’ needs.
When meeting with recruiters, let your personality come through. A major part of hiring is ensuring a job seeker will fit in with the team and organization. A recruiter will assess the type of culture where you’ll fit best to find a position where you can thrive.
A recruiter can be a trusted resource throughout your career. Even after finding you a job, a recruiter can continue providing market insights and serve as a sounding board. Maintaining a strong business relationship with your recruiter will also give you a head start the next time you’re ready to make a move.

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