Strong U.S. Job, Wage Gains Open Door to Mid-Year Rate Hike

January 11th straight month of job gains above 200,000

overview of business people at work in cubicles

Feb 6 (Reuters) - U.S. job growth rose solidly in January and wages rebounded strongly, a show of underlying strength in the economy that puts a mid-year interest rate increase from the Federal Reserve back on the table.

Nonfarm payrolls increased 257,000 last month, the Labor Department said on Friday. Data for November and December was revised to show a whopping 147,000 more jobs created than previously reported, bolstering views consumers will have enough muscle to carry the economy through rough seas.

At 423,000, November's payroll gains were the largest since May 2010, when employment was boosted by government hiring for the population count.

While the unemployment rate rose one-tenth of a percentage point to 5.7 percent, that was because the labor force increased, a sign of confidence in the jobs market.

January marked the 11th straight month of job gains above 200,000, the longest streak since 1994.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast hiring increasing 234,000 last month and the unemployment rate holding steady at 5.6 percent.

The continued improvement in the labor market comes despite the economy slowing. Sputtering growth overseas and lower oil prices have weighed on exports and business investment.

Wages increased 12 cents last month after falling five cents in December. That took the year-on-year gain to 2.2 percent, the largest since August.

Interest rate hike expectations had been dialed back to September in the wake of December's surprise drop in wages.

The Fed last week ramped up its assessment of the labor market. Brisk job gains and the improvement in wages could harden expectations of a June policy tightening.

The pick-up in wages is likely to combine with lower oil prices to provide a massive tailwind for consumer spending and keep the economy growing at a fairly healthy clip, despite the global turmoil.

Growth braked to a 2.6 percent annual rate in the fourth quarter.

While several states put in place higher minimum wages last month, that likely had a minimal impact on wages. Economists say roughly three million workers may have been affected, accounting for just 3 percent of the private sector's more than 118 million employees.

The government revised payroll employment, hours and earnings figures dating back to 2010. The level of employment in March 2014 was 91,000 higher than previously estimated.

A new population estimate that will be used to adjust the figures from its household survey was also introduced. That survey is used to determine the number of unemployed and the size of the workforce.

Away from the firmer wages and job growth, the labor force participation rate, or the share of working-age Americans who are employed or at least looking for a job, rose two-tenths of percentage point to 62.9 percent, a sign of confidence in the jobs market.

A broad measure of joblessness that includes people who want to work but have given up searching and those working part-time because they cannot find full-time employment rose to 11.3 percent from 11.2 percent in December.

In January, private payrolls increased 267,000. November and December private employment was revised higher. Private payroll gains in November were the largest since September 1997.

Manufacturing added 22,000 jobs in January. Construction payrolls increased 39,000 after rising 44,000 in December.

Retail employment increased 45,900 after braking sharply in December. The only areas of weakness were government, where payrolls fell 10,000, and transportation employment which dropped 8,600, the first drop since last February.

Temporary help fell 4,100, the first drop in a year.

(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Andrea Ricci)    

Here's How Your Handshake Can Affect Whether You Get a Job

Forget eyes - for interviewers, the handshake is the window to the soul

This Software Could Be Better At Hiring Than Any Human

Call it HR: Rise of the Machines

Close up of the Facebook 'like' button. (Editorial use only: ­print, TV, e-book and editorial website).
Computer programs can draw conclusions about hirability based on your digital footprint, which includes data like Facebook "likes."
By Jacquelyn Smith

What you "like" on Facebook may seem inconsequential now - but there's a good chance that will change in the future.

A new study, cited by The New York Times, finds that computer models can draw accurate and detailed conclusions about your personality and creditworthiness, among other things, based on your Facebook "likes."

According to researchers Youyou Wu and Dr. David Stillwell of the University of Cambridge, and Dr. Michal Kosinski of Stanford University, employers may eventually use this technology to make important hiring decisions.

In a paper on the study, the researchers write: "Although accurate personality judgments stem from social-cognitive skills, developments in machine learning show that computer models can also make valid judgments." They found that these models may even make better judgments than humans.

Using a sample of 86,220 volunteers who completed a 100-item personality questionnaire, the researchers determined that computer predictions based on a generic digital footprint (Facebook "likes") are more accurate than those made by the participants' Facebook friends using a personality questionnaire.

The researchers found that someone who "likes" Nike and In-N-Out Burger, for example, is likely a calm and relaxed person.

"Computers outpacing humans in personality judgment presents significant opportunities and challenges in the areas of psychological assessment, marketing, and privacy," they write in the paper.

Another process this may have an affect on? Hiring.

"Currently, occupational psychologists evaluate people's characteristics and decide the fit between people and jobs," Wu tells Business Insider. "It's very likely that in the future this process of assessing personalities and determining how someone's characteristics are related to a certain job will be automated using computer models like ours."

Stillwell says there are many benefits to using computer models like the ones he and his colleagues have created - which are only being used for their research projects for now - as long as they are implemented with a respect of privacy and ethics. "One, computer models are cheaper than human capital; two, computer models are more efficient and can be applied on a large scale; and three, they generate more reliable results, as computers can use big data to detect unobservable patterns between likes and personality, or between personality and jobs."

Eventually, he says, employers will be presented with a list of job candidates that computers deem the best matches, without knowing why they are suitable. "Besides the benefits we already mentioned, this approach would help promote equality in the selection process and avoid human biases prevalent in occupational settings," Stillwell adds. "Computers do not favor people of certain gender, race, or personality."

But of course there is some apprehension.

"I think people, from a job candidate's perspective, might be at first worried about not being able to present themselves in the way they want anymore," Kosinski says.

But they needn't be worried, he argues, since if candidates present themselves in an inaccurate way on social media, it could eventually lead to a mismatch between their characteristics and the job.

As for whether employers will begin using these models for hiring purposes and when, the researchers are unsure.

"It takes time for companies to switch gears and accept a new recruiting method," says Kosinski. "I think it's likely that some companies will experiment with computer's evaluations, and use it as a reference in addition to other traditional metrics. There are also legal and ethical concerns that need to be addressed before any implementation," he explains.

"For instance, users need to understand which of their personal data is out there, how it is being used, and how it might be used," he continues. "We also need to enable users to take full control of their data and decide for which purpose it is to be used. Both aspects have relatively well understood technological solutions, but their implementation may require user awareness and, perhaps, some nudges from policy makers."

Wu says any companies that collect data on individuals, like Facebook and major banks, should take it upon themselves to inform the public about how that data can be used to benefit the users themselves. "I believe that if users have a better sense of how their online experiences can be improved by letting their data be analyzed, and they have the control over how and what data are analyzed, they will be more motivated to share their data."                                          

The Demise of the 9-5 Workday

Does a more flexible schedule really mean we're just working all the time?

a card for control over working ...

When does work stop? In truth, it doesn't. Email and smartphones have completely transformed the traditional 9-5 work model. Millennials entered the work world during this transition.

I'm not surprised that according to a recent survey by Bentley's PreparedU Project, 77 percent of millennials prefer a flex-work schedule. With Wi-Fi virtually everywhere, you can literally be online and 'accessible' anywhere. We've been able to flex-work during college, vacations, internships, and train with virtual classrooms. Email and internal instant messaging have greatly changed the typical workday.

Working 24/7 isn't the answer. There is a grey area when it comes to flexible work schedules. I believe that employees need to create an open dialogue with their bosses about their schedule. Be honest about what the hours are and what hours would work best for you. Would they mind if you started your day a bit later to hit a yoga class or left early to attend a networking event? The problem many managers face is knowing if they can trust their employee.

As for me, I put in the long hours, the face time, and my work shined. My boss completely trusts my instinct. She also works from her home and wouldn't easily be able to check in on my whereabouts without connecting with the internal office staff. My work, my work ethic and my accountability are what allow me to have a flex-work schedule.

Understanding work needs. If you have a client on the West Coast, or worse, in Asia, you could be clocking in double or triple the hours of your coworkers. Arranging conference calls at 3:00 in the morning or constantly working on projects in the middle of the night can take a toll on anyone. If you become overworked and sleep deprived, you'll be more likely to start looking for positions elsewhere.

Speak up to your boss. Come up with a plan to ensure the work gets done, and you don't come into the office the next day looking like a zombie. Don't assume that your boss has thought of these alternative options already. Most likely, they are worried about so many things that unfortunately, they aren't always thinking about you.

Millennials are always on. Millennials often get pegged as the generation with a terrible work ethic, but in fact, 89 percent of millennials regularly check work email after their regularly scheduled work hours, and 37 percent say they always check work email. Smartphones have truly changed the work landscape. As a community, we have a Pavlovian response when it comes to email. We see the blinking light, hear the ding of a bell and immediately need to check our messages – personal or professional. Time of day does not hinder this need to be "on."

The truth is, millennials work differently than our older counterparts, as each generation did before them; Generation X worked differently than the Boomers. Technology and awareness played a big role in that. Millennials don't have a poor work ethic- it's simply a different approach to work.

124-Year-Old Company Ruined By Typo

Mistake costs UK government equivalent of $13.6 million

Do I Get Paid If We're Closed For The Blizzard?

Your entitlement to pay for snow closings depends on state law and whether you are exempt from overtime

Exempt employees: If you're exempt and you worked any portion of the work week, your employer has to pay your entire salary, whether or not the workplace is closed for a natural disaster such as snow, hurricane, or flood. Fair Labor Standards Act regulations state, "If the employee is ready, willing and able to work, deductions may not be made for time when work is not available." This would include natural disasters, so if you are able to work after a blizzard then you must be paid even if you didn't work any portion of the week. If you can't get there on time or have to leave early due to the blizzard but the office is open, they can't deduct for any partial days you worked.

Vacation time and PTO: The company can deduct from your vacation time or PTO for the time taken. However, if you have no accrued vacation or PTO time available, they still can't deduct from your pay if you're exempt.

Non-exempt employees: If you are non-exempt, then your employer doesn't have to pay for the time the office is closed. However, if your company takes deductions and you're a non-exempt salaried employee it may affect the way overtime is calculated. If you report to work after a natural disaster, only to find out that the workplace is closed (assuming they didn't notify you), then your state law may require some pay.

State by state: New York law and District of Columbia law require the employer to pay you at least four hours of wages. Massachusetts and Rhode Island require three hours of pay. New Hampshire requires two hours minimum pay for showing up. New Jersey and Oregon laws require the employer to pay you at least one hour of wages. Other states that have some requirements for pay if workers report for duty as scheduled include California ( 2- 4 hours) and Connecticut (only certain industries, 2 – 4 hours). If your state doesn't have such a requirement, maybe the arctic blast is a good time to talk to your state legislators about protecting employees.

Who Is Exempt?: You're not exempt unless you fall into very specific categories. For more about whether or not you are correctly classified as exempt, check out my column, Salaried Workers, Do You Get Overtime Pay? Odds Are You Should!

The Three Colors Of A Job Hunt

Why grey is more than just a pin-stripe suit

Businessman looking through binoculars, view from above, studio shot

There are essentially three ways of being in a job hunt – actively looking for a job, not looking for a job, and inactively looking at what's out there. Most time and attention is spent on the first two, but it's the third – inactive job seeking - that can yield the best, most surprising and awesome job opportunities.

Of course when you're unemployed, laid off, in a bad work situation, or in a train wreck industry you should be actively seeking a new job. This is the time you're registered on job boards, writing and rewriting your resume, tailoring cover letters, and constantly scanning options. Then, there are those of us lucky enough to be in good jobs, happily employed, or those who have decided to be out of the work force, or given up the search. These people are not looking for a job, even if they sometimes fool themselves into thinking they are.

So who are the third type of job hunters – the inactive seekers? These are people finishing up their first or second or third year in a first job, those who have hit a ceiling in their current jobs but still want to grow, or those who feel bored by now doing the same job again. Many are happily employed, but would welcome an opportunity to do something new if the opportunity presented itself.

But opportunities rarely just pop up out of the blue, so how do people inactively seek a job? A few ways:

Regular Scanning of Job Listings. Even after I became employed in my latest position, I never stopped all the automated job feeds that came to me via email. When I was actively looking I got several feeds daily. Now that I'm happily employed, I get 1-2 of my favorite feeds weekly. The exercise keeps me sharp about what's available, the currently requested skill sets, and how I need to continue to grow in my current position so I'm always employable should the worst ever happen.

Selective Networking. When unemployed, active job seekers go to many networking events. Once employed, smart career professionals continue to network, just less aggressively. They can be more selective on the networking sessions, and pick the more expensive seminars that truly help them improve themselves, provide skill training or updates. This again positions a person to have a stronger network when and if they become unemployed and need to start actively asking for references, leads, and ideas on new employment.

Association Profiles. Recruiters look for employees several ways including association rosters in both professional and trade associations and by digital profile searches. Smart employees keep their profiles up-to-date including latest wins on major projects, and make sure they stay affiliated with active clubs and professional groups.

Seminar Attendance. Similar to Networking and Associations, seminar attendance puts you out in the world speaking to people interested in the same things. It helps keep you fresh in your current job, and sometimes even leads to a new one. I once lost one of my best young employees when he went to a seminar in Philadelphia on a detailed programming topic. After asking a few pointed questions, a few managers from a hot publishing firm made sure to swap business cards with him. Several phone conversations and one interview later he was offered a new job that paid much more and gave him new challenges that I couldn't match. He didn't go to the seminar looking for a job. He went to improve his skill sets, but his passion for the field and thirst for knowledge made him stand out in the crowd to his next employer.

Opening Side Comments. When you meet someone at a cocktail party, networking event, or any type of meeting, engage with your fellow participants. Just by commenting to someone that their job "sounds interesting" can lead to new opportunities. Frequently the other person might respond, "Wow, I had no idea you even liked this stuff." Just by admitting that you're happy but interested in new things can open doors you never thought existed.

Taking the Meeting. One friend was recently asked to consider a job at a competitive company. He's happy where he is, but he took the meeting, because as he admits, "You never know." He quickly stopped the interview process when he confirmed the competitive company was not for him, but not before exploring what they might offer and thanking them for the consideration.

The old saying remains that those employed are in the best position to be offered the next job. The unsaid part is that the next job offer is likely to go to someone who wasn't even "officially" on the market,but was curious enough to hear about a new challenge. In some fashion, they were inactively keeping job ideas and opportunities in their peripheral vision.

Job hunting, like most things in life, is never just a black and white endeavor –not looking at all (black), or actively looking (white). Instead, many jobs are found in the grey areas -- meetings, seminars, through unexpected, dropped comments, or a reference by someone who just sees you in a new spot they've seen. Never ignore the grey areas. Sometimes the rosiest and most amazing positions are hidden and can be found there.    

Bag The Commute, Work From Home

Telecommuting jobs are going mainstream at last

Don't try to read this while you're stuck in rush-hour traffic, but we've got good news for you: The decades-old promise of bagging the commute to work from home may be a reality at last.

FlexJobs, an online job search company which focuses on telecommuting opportunities, reports a 27 percent increase in the past year alone in the number of postings for remote jobs.

And, it has a list of the top 100 companies to watch for remote opportunities in 2015. Predictably, tech companies like Amazon, at number 4, take up a fair number of slots in the top 100. But the range of skills in demand for remote work, and the companies that need them, is surprisingly wide.

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Health Services Professionals

With increasing demand for home health care visits for the disabled and elderly, companies that provide them are looking for people to work in the field, and from home. Insurance company Humana, with over 50,000 people on staff, has offered telecommuting jobs to licensed registered nurses, home care providers, social workers and related professionals. Other big companies including Aetna, UnitedHealth Group, HealthFirst, Health Net and CVS Caremark are on the list, too.

girl at school using a laptop...


The growth of online education is providing opportunities for instructors who want to work from home part-time. Kaplan, number 6 on the list, has a million students on its rolls worldwide and employs more than 30,000 teachers to coach them, many of them working remotely on flexible schedules. At the higher-education level, Western Governors University, number 35, offers courses that are "independent of time and place" for instructors as well as students. Several other institutions of higher learning, including the University of Maryland, make the list, too.


Government Work

Even the federal government is catching up with the trend. The U.S. Department of Transportation offers telework opportunities for air traffic, railway and highway safety inspectors as well as desk-bound jobs in finance and analytics. The Department of the Interior and Department of Agriculture also look for flex workers.

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Customer Support

In today's world, "customer support" covers a wide range of tasks, from hand-holding buyers of new gadgets to direct sales to debt collection. Those jobs increasingly are available with a remote option. Number 2 on the FlexJobs list is Convergys, a global management company that serves big clients seeking to outsource some or all of those functions. The venerable Kelly Services has branched out from its temp-secretary roots to provide short-term services in a wide range of professions. It's number 5 on the list for remote job seekers.

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New Tech

Well, duh! America's biggest technology companies are practicing what they preach when it comes to home office productivity. It's no shock that Amazon is a top innovator, at number 4 on the list. The company has customer support specialists working from home as well as from its many fulfillment centers. IBM, at number 8, hires people around the globe to provide its technology consulting services.

Portrait businessman resting arm on workstation

Executive-Level Jobs

Clearly, many companies are getting over their need to keep their employees under management eyeballs at all times. In fact, another study from FlexJobs, of the most surprising work-from-home job listings of 2014, is littered with high-level titles like chief operating officer, chief executive officer and senior staff attorney. They may have to offer telecommuting to get the best candidate. A report from Inc. magazine indicates that eight out of 10 people would work from home at least occasionally, if given the chance.

Words To Remember

If you're looking for a job that allows telecommuting, there are certain search terms that you should keep in mind. If your skills fit the bill, any of the following job titles could trigger a response, according to FlexJobs: consultant, case manager, sales representative, engineer, marketing manager, account executive, interpreter/translator and developer.

In case you're wondering, FlexJobs practices what it preaches. It's a "virtual" company, and all of its employees work remotely.

Want to see the top 10 companies hiring remote positions? Click through below.


10. Westat


Westat is an employee-owned statistical survey research corporation in Rockville, Maryland, providing research services to agencies of the U.S. Government, as well as businesses, foundations, and state and local governments.
Sample job titles: Senior Study Director, HR Generalist, Clinical Research Associate
> Find a job at Westat

10. Westat


Westat is an employee-owned statistical survey research corporation in Rockville, Maryland, providing research services to agencies of the U.S. Government, as well as businesses, foundations, and state and local governments.
Sample job titles: Senior Study Director, HR Generalist, Clinical Research Associate
> Find a job at Westat

Put Google to Work for Your Job Search

Learn to speak Google's language

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Google can find job opportunities with specific employers. It can also help you find additional employers who might be good places for you to work.

Google searches and indexes millions of web pages every day, but it doesn't index the whole web every day. So, doing your search every day can show you very different results.

Speak Google's Language

Google is very smart when you know how to help it understand what you want. Here are some tips on speaking the language called Google.

To search on a phrase -

Often your query will include a phrase, like a job title. When that happens, enclose those words inside a set of quotation marks like these job titles:

"medical assistant"
"guest services representative"

Without the quotation marks around the words in a phrase, Google will think that you want results with the words scattered anywhere on the pages it finds.

To request pages containing more than one term -

To require Google to find more than one term or phrase on a webpage, add the word AND, in all capitals, in front of each additional term.

So, assume we want to find a job as a medical assistant. To find medical assistant jobs, use this query:

"medical assistant" AND job

Then, Google's search results will include pages that have the phrase "medical assistant" plus the word "job" on them.

If we wanted those medical assistant jobs to be in New York City, we could combine our query terms like this:

"medical assistant" AND job AND "New York City"

To have Google eliminate pages which contain a specific term -

Perhaps our search results contain many part-time jobs, and we're interested only in full-time jobs. So how do we eliminate those part-time jobs? We put a minus in front of the phrase "part-time" like this:

"medical assistant" AND job AND "New York City" -"part-time"

Or, if you want New York City but not the island of Manhattan
"medical assistant" AND job AND "New York City" -Manhattan

As usual with Google and punctuation, don't put a space between the minus sign and the term to be excluded.

To have Google choose pages which contain one term or another term -

Sometimes a job title or skill or location can be described using more than one term, and you want to see all the pages that might contain any of those terms. Or perhaps you are considering two different jobs, and you want to see every page that contains one job or the other job.

For example, the job title "medical assistant" may be spelled completely or abbreviated as "medical asst" on a webpage. Or, possibly you are considering jobs as a "medical assistant" and as a "medical coder" which are completely different jobs.

Use Google's "OR" function -- all caps, again -- and clearly show Google which terms you want by putting your "OR" statements inside a set of parenthesis. Your search query would look like this:

("medical assistant" OR "medical asst") AND job AND "New York City
("medical assistant" OR "medical coder") AND job AND "New York City
("medical assistant" OR "medical asst" OR "medical coder") AND job AND "New York City

You can combine several terms, as in the last example above, before Google gets confused.

To have Google help you find target employers -

It's smart to have a list of employers where you might want to work, and Google can help you with that too. Start with an employer you know you want to work for. For example, assume you want a medical assistant job at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) in Boston.

To have Google search one specific website -

If you want Google to search an employer's website (or your favorite job board), add the word "site" followed by a colon and the site's domain name, with no space between the word "site:" and the search term!

To search for jobs only at MGH, first we need to find the domain name for the hospital.

So, we do a search on the hospital's whole name, like this:

("Massachusetts General Hospital" OR mgh) AND Boston

When we look at the search results, we see that the hospital's domain name is

Now we can tell Google to look only on the MGH website by doing this search: AND "medical assistant" AND job

Again, no space between "site:" and ""

To have Google find similar websites -

If, as in our example, MGH was one of your target employers, Google can help you quickly find similar employers, too. Simply type in this query:

Type in "related:" followed by the domain name of the site you want Google to use as an example of the websites you want it to find. Again, no space between "related:" and ""

Now you can apply the site: search to those sites, too, to find even more jobs.

For more help fine-tuning Google searches, check out the options on Google's Advanced Search page. Google can be much more useful than we think -- when we take the time to learn its language.    

How To End An Interview On A Strong Note

Learn the art of questions that leave them wanting more


There are many tricks to a strong interview, but the one most frequently overlooked and underutilized is the final question. This is rarely the question an interviewer asks you. Instead, it's the question you ask the interviewer. Unfortunately, in many cases, prospects make the classic interview mistake of missing this opportunity to make a strong, lasting impression.

Here's how many interviews end. The hiring manager's last question is:
"Do you have any questions for us?"

An all too common reply is: "No, you answered everything. Thank you for your time."

Wrong response.

Here's why: You just shut down the conversation. The only thing left is a handshake. Instead, if you could have used the opportunity to to learn more about your fit with the company and better position yourself to be the candidate of choice.

Great post-interview questions can serve many purposes. They allow you to:

Show Your Research. Businesses like people who are interested enough to know something about their industry or marketplace. You can start a question by making a statement such as: "I saw online that your company is looking to expand into ..... Do you see this position being involved in any way, and if so how?"

Show Interest. Interviewers want to know that you understand the challenges ahead and are able to meet them. One way to use the last question is to dispel any questions about your fit. This could start with repeating something mentioned in the interview. "We discussed XYZ earlier, could you expand on that problem a bit and let me know what skills you feel are most important to meet that challenge?" Then, when they list the skills wanted, you have another follow-up opportunity to let them know you have those very strengths!

Gain Insight. You don't want to accept a position that is doomed for failure. You can ask a question that gives you insight into potential success. Here's how: "What do you think are the most important things to accomplish in the first 30 days of the job?," or "A year from now, what would have happened for you to feel that the new person in this job was very successful in accomplishing your most pressing challenges?"

Display Expertise and Exude Enthusiasm. Similar to other questions, this type of ending lets you make a statement before asking a question. "I'm very excited about the job as presented, particularly because of what you said earlier about ... I faced a similar challenge when.... and approached the situation with a collaborative management style. Do you feel that type of style would be effective here, or would you prefer a different approach?"

The ending interview questions -- the ones you ask the interviewer instead of vice versa -- allow you to leave a strong lasting impression. Have more than one question in your quiver and never wing it. You should go into every interview with at least 3-5 questions that can be mixed or matched as needed. Just because you have a list doesn't mean you need to ask them all, but it gives you flexibility to decide which question is most appropriate given the tone of the interview to that point. For instance, if one of your questions was completely answered in the interview, your list of backup questions can easily be put to good use.For ideas on end-of-interview questions, check out How to Make a Lasting Impression at Job Interviews Using Questions.

Experts note that last impressions are important due to something called the recency effect, where people remember what happened last over any earlier impressions. As fellow AOL Blogger Jeff Lipschultz, wrote on      

5 Tips If You're Job Hunting For the First Time in Years

Advice from a woman who did it successfully in her mid-50s

Senior man with laptop

By Beverly Mahone

In September 2013, I made a tough decision to return to corporate America after a seven-year hiatus, since trying to make it as an entrepreneur didn't quite turn out as I hoped it would.

When I left the news business, I was in my late forties. Now that I'm four years shy of 60, I see that so much has changed and I am learning how to adapt.

I chose not to return to my chosen career of "established media" because, quite frankly, I no longer have the stomach for breaking news that starts out with a lot of half-truths and stations always trying to outdo the competition. Furthermore, I was no longer interested in going toe-to-toe with younger, less-talented journalists who seem to have the advantage because of their "blondeness" and their desire to work no matter how little the pay.

I prefer not to say where I'm employed now, but I will tell you it is a position that is totally out of my comfort zone. As I travel through this leg of my journey, I am learning a lot about getting back in the game.

5 Tips From a Successful Midlife Job Hunter

Here are five things to consider if you are considering returning to the workforce and looking for a job for the first time in years:

1. Have a clear objective. By that, I mean: know why you are returning to the workforce. To make ends meet is one thing, but you should also be thinking about what you would like to accomplish.

Just going through the motions of working from 9 to 5 (or whenever) will ultimately make you unhappy and could lead to your untimely termination.

Once I was hired for the position I'm in, I decided to set a goal and am now striving towards it.

2. Understand that the job market has changed. If you're 50+, not only are many employees half your age, but some may end up being your supervisors. That is the situation I am currently in.

My managers are just a few years older than my 24-year-old daughter and, honestly, it is hard to appreciate and to see them as my superiors but they are and if I am going to succeed, I am going to have to accept that fact and act accordingly.

3. Learn to be humble. I've always been a take-charge person, so it isn't easy for me to sit back in a subservient role, as I currently must do. Quite frankly, humility as an employee is something I'm still working on.

But I do keep my devotional reading with me at all times to remind me who I am so I don't get it twisted and end up saying things I will live to regret.

If you have aspirations beyond the job, you will have to learn to swallow your pride and avoid an "I can do it better than you!" attitude.

4. Be willing to accept less money. The job market today is an "employers' market." They can get away with paying less money for employees because the market is saturated with young, hungry professionals who just want to get a foot in the door so they can begin to navigate their way throughout the company.

Many boomers like myself have been accustomed to nice, comfortable salaries that afforded us the opportunities to have beautiful homes, a sizable bank account and to take fabulous vacations. That is no longer the case.

You must be willing to accept the going rate but I would caution you to never accept minimum wage, because it devalues your skills and abilities - especially if you have 20 to 30 years of talent and skills to bring to the table.

5. Have a clear exit plan. Going back to work is serious business for those of us who are more mature than the average employee. Know why you are returning and have a plan for an exit. Working indefinitely without a plan or purpose only leads to frustration.

Good luck!    

How To Dress Professionally During The Cold Snap

Your worst enemy: Pants. Believe it.


In case you hadn't noticed, it's getting quite cold outside. Plummeting temperatures have turned much of the U.S. into giant walk-in freezer--but barring all public transportation being shut down, you are going to have to make it to work somehow. When you get there, you need to look professional even though it's absolutely freezing. Here are some tips on how to look good at work even when the weather outside is frightful.

Embrace the tights. For the ladies, this may seem counterintuitive, but pants can actually be your worst enemy in the winter--especially ones you can't easily tuck into boots, like skinny jeans or leggings. If you're wearing a pantsuit, the cuffs will drag and get bad salt stains. A skirt with tights (like these "dig-free" opaque ones from Commando) and a pair of boots are the way to go.

Scarf it up. This season, it's all about the scarves--and we're talking big scarves. Blanket scarves are all the rage right now (and double as a blanket for your legs in the office). Opt for a colorful scarf or a fun plaid pattern. You can keep the rest of your outfit pretty plain, with a lot of blacks and grays.

Long underwear is the way to go. Professional style blogger Kelly Larkin of Kelly in the City says it's all about the thermal underwear: "It adds warmth to my outfits without the bulk, and it allows for versatility. Who wants to wear a wool sweater every day?" She recommends Uniqlo's HEATTECH line (which is for both men and women). "I've tried the leggings and long-sleeved shirts, and I'm hooked. They're super soft and stretchy, and designed to absorb moisture and retain heat," says Larkin. She also loves Anthropologie's fleece-lined leggings, which are perfect for wearing under work pants.

Opt for a wool coat instead of a puffer. Yes, those huge puffy coats do keep you warm, but they aren't always the most professional looking. Unless it's literally the coldest day of the year, try a beautiful wool coat like this one from J.Crew (or this one for men) along with the layering technique discussed above.

Turtlenecks. Lucky for us, turtlenecks are all the rage this winter. "Turtlenecks are everywhere, and completely acceptable in the workplace when paired with wool pants and statement necklaces!" Larkin says. "I'm a big fan of J.Crew's Tissue Turtleneck, especially in the striped pattern."

Prepare for a quick change. Another approach: be prepared to do an outfit change when you get to the office. You're going to want to take off your wet boots anyway, so consider bringing a different pair of pants or a skirt to change into once you get to the office. Then change back into your boots when it's time to go home. After all, you never know what will happen in this kind of weather going back and forth to work.      

13 Suggestions for Keeping Your New Year's Resolutions

Change your habits, change your life

new year goals or resolutions   ...

It took me a long time to realize that what I thought of as "resolutions" could almost always be characterized as "habits." Most often, when people want to make some kind of change in the New Year, they want to master some kind of habit. (If you want to know the Essential Seven of habits, look here.)

Since I started working on my habits for my book on habit change, Better Than Before, and since my resolutions-based happiness project, I've hit on many strategies to help myself stick to resolutions.
Here are just a few:

1. Be specific. Don't resolve to "Make more friends" or "Strengthen friendships"; that's too vague. To make more friends as part of my happiness project, I have several very concrete resolutions like: "Start a group," "Remember birthdays," "Say hello," "Make plans," "Show up," and "No gossip."

2. Write it down.

3. Review your resolution constantly. If your resolution is buzzing through your head, it's easier to stick to it. I review my Resolutions Chart every night.

4. Hold yourself accountable. Tell other people about your resolution, join or form a like-minded group, score yourself on a chart (my method) - whatever works for you to make yourself feel accountable for success and failure.

5. Think big. Maybe you need a big change, a big adventure – a trip to a foreign place, a break-up, a move, a new job. Let yourself imagine anything, and plan from there.

6. Think small. Don't fall into the trap of thinking that only radical change can make a difference. Just keeping your fridge cleared out could give you a real boost. Look close to home for ways to improve and grow.

7. Ask for help. Why is this so hard? But every time I ask for help, I'm amazed at how much easier my task becomes.

If you have an especially tough time keeping resolutions, if you have a pattern of making and breaking them, try these strategies:

8. Consider making only pleasant resolutions. We can make our lives happier in many ways. If you've been trying the boot-camp approach with no success, try resolving to "Go to more movies," "Entertain more often," or whatever resolutions you'd find fun to keep. Often, having more fun in our lives makes it easier to do tough things. Seeing more movies might make it easier to keep going to the gym. Remember, we must have treats!

9. Consider giving up a resolution. If you keep making and breaking a resolution, consider whether you should relinquish it entirely. Put your energy toward changes that are both realistic and helpful. Don't let an unfulfilled resolution to lose twenty pounds or to overhaul your overgrown yard block you from making other, smaller resolutions that might give you a big happiness boost.

10. Consider keeping your resolution every day. Weirdly, it's often easier to do something every day (exercise, post to a blog, deal with the mail, do laundry) than every few days.

11. Set a deadline.

12. Don't give up if something interferes with your deadline.

13. "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." Thank you, Voltaire. If you break your resolution today, try again tomorrow. Although some people assume that strong feelings of guilt or shame act as safeguards to help people stick to good habits, the opposite is true. People who feel less guilt and who show compassion toward themselves in the face of failure are better able to regain self-control, while people who feel deeply guilty and full of self-blame struggle more.

What else? What are some strategies you've discovered, to help you stick to your New Year's resolutions?      

8 tips for juggling part-time jobs

Hear what career experts, as well as people who’ve dealt with such a work schedule, have to say about how best to juggle multiple jobs.

Working any type of schedule can require some juggling between your job and your other personal or professional commitments. This is especially true for workers who are employed in multiple part-time jobs. Not only do they have to balance work with their personal life, but they have to manage and coordinate various workloads and schedules.

Some workers take on multiple part-time jobs by choice; they like the variety and the idea that no day is ever the same. Others find themselves working several jobs out of financial necessity.

Whatever the reason, finding a way to juggle each job and be successful while doing so can pose challenges. Hear what career experts, as well as people who’ve dealt with such a work schedule, have to say about how best to juggle multiple jobs.

1. Stay local
Isaura Gonzalez, licensed clinical psychologist, board certified coach and CEO of Hudson Psychological in Staten Island, NY, says that if you need to work multiple jobs, try to stay within an easy commute when possible. “It helps reduce stress, frustration and maximizes the amount of time you are using.”

2. Maintain a schedule
“Maintaining a schedule is crucial when multitasking or multi-working, Gonzalez says. “When [and] where you have to be becomes a blur and confusing when you are bouncing around from location to location.” Gonzalez suggests using a weekly appointment calendar with 15 minute time slots. “Using highlighters to mark different locations [and] jobs helps tremendously [in] keeping things organized.”

3. Make a checklist
Another helpful organizing tool is as easy as having a pen and pad of paper. “Balancing two or more jobs gets distracting, which can make it easy to forget tasks,” says Erik Episcopo, a career adviser and resume expert at Resume Genius. “Organization is key to successfully juggling part-time jobs. Begin each day by writing a checklist of things that need to get done for each job.”

4. Choose jobs strategically
Molly Celaschi, executive director at Malena Public Relations, says, “Keep various jobs different if you get bored easily, need a challenge, want a varied skill set or are considering a career change. Or, keep the jobs in the same field if you want to specialize in one field and gain experience and knowledge the fastest.”

5. Communicate effectively
If you’re working in a consulting or freelancing role and are juggling multiple clients, you may want to make it seem as though each client is the only one that’s getting your attention. But, you’re usually better off being transparent, so you can manage expectations as needed. “I think the most important part of balancing multiple jobs is being communicative with your clients [and] employers,” says Lynn Maleh, writer, editor and creative consultant. “Make sure they know you have other projects going on, and always give yourself more time than you think you need for completing projects. I prefer to undershoot than overshoot.”

6. Resist overlap

“Eliminate overlap,” Celaschi recommends. “Do not work two jobs at the same time, i.e., be logged in
online to a telecommuting job while sitting in the office for another position. It's not in the company's best interest, or yours. You'll mix projects and make errors.”

7. Take breaks
“Ending a shift just to start another right after can be demoralizing,” Episcopo says. “That's why it’s important to schedule a three or four hour period between shifts to allow you some time to take a breather, get something to eat or even take a reenergizing nap.”

8. Set limits
You may think that the more jobs you take on, the better off you’ll be, but if you stretch yourself too thin, you’ll end up burning out and may even jeopardize the quality of the work you produce. So, it’s important to set some boundaries. “Set limits often and redefine as necessary. Otherwise, you will be overextended on your time, leaving you open to frustration and stress,” Gonzalez says. 

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