Get a new or better job

It’s not surprising that one of the most popular New Year’s resolutions is to “Get a new or better job.” Whether you want to start working, are searching for a new job to advance your career, or even if you aren’t sure what to do next. A lot of us have been there. Just going through the motions and wishing for something better. Change is hard, but, not making a change is hard too.

Fortunately, the Manpower Employment Outlook Survey shows a positive trend in U.S. hiring plans for Quarter 1 of 2015. With employment opportunities increasing, it’s a good time to look for a new or better job. But how do you set yourself apart from other applicants? In our Get a New or Better Job series, I will explore all aspects of the job search including finding opportunities, the application process, interviewing tips, and communication techniques. Many real or perceived barriers may be standing in the way of you and your employment goals, but, job search tools and techniques don’t have to be some of them.

Let’s not kid ourselves; job searching can be time consuming, challenging, and at times discouraging. My goal is to discuss some important aspects of job searching in 2015 with the hopes of leaving you informed, prepared, and optimistic for the future.

Furthermore, out of 168 hours in a week, about ¼ of them are spent at work for full-time workers. This means each year we spend about 2,080 hours at work. I don’t know about you but I want to love what I do, where I do it and the people I’m surrounded by when doing it. Shouldn’t that be an option for everyone? I certainly think so. So let me help you make the change you want and deserve.

Resume Writing Ideas

I bet you thought Step Two was “Write a Resume.” A common misconception is that resumes are “one size fits all,” meaning you submit the same resume for all of the jobs you are applying for. Sometimes that may be the case, but that might not be the best approach. I’ll tell you why.

In this day and age, it may not be feasible for a Human Resources department to view each and every application, resume, and cover letter. Instead, agencies may use software to screen and sift through applications and resumes, by searching for key words. If your resume does not clearly demonstrate that you have skills as required by that specific job, your application could be missed entirely through this process. This doesn’t mean that you should copy the job qualifications list onto your resume. That’s actually a really bad idea. Rather, you should look at the required experience and qualifications of the job, and be creative in your approach to set yourself apart from other applicants.

 

What should you be doing to set yourself apart from others as you write your resume?

Recruiters want to know that you’ve done your homework on the company you are applying to. Ask yourself some of these questions:

  • What is the company’s mission?
  • Why do I want to work for this company?
  • Why should they pick me above anyone else?
  • What can I do for them that other applicants can’t?
  • What kinds of traits or skills does this company desire from its employees?

Think about your work experiences, paid and unpaid internships, as well as volunteer and personal experiences. Then ask yourself:

  • What have I accomplished that demonstrates that I have the skills I say that I have?

The answers to these questions can go into a professional summary at the top of your resume, before your relevant work experience, specialized skills, awards and honors, and education. You can also answer these types of questions within your cover letter. If you aren’t addressing these questions in your professional summary and you aren’t writing a cover letter to submit with your job applications, I strongly recommend you start. Find out more about the importance of the cover letter in your job search.

Youth Job Opportunities

Have you heard about Wisconsin Promise? Wisconsin is one of six sites participating in the US Department of Education’s demonstration of a promising path to success for youth receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Wisconsin Promise will help youth and their families meet their school and work goals in order to better their income and financial stability reducing poverty.

Wisconsin Promise will enroll 2,000 youth (between the ages of 14-16) receiving SSI and their families. Families who participate in the study will receive $30 in gift cards. A computer program will assign participants to one of two groups based on chance, like a lottery. Half of the youth will be assigned to the Promise Services Group and the other half will continue to receive Services as Usual.

The PROMISE initiative is intended to improve services for youth SSI recipients and their families. Services provided through Promise can help youth participants achieve better education and career outcomes, including:

  • graduating from high school college and career ready
  • completing post-secondary education and job training, and
  • obtaining competitive employment in an integrated setting.

As a result, youth participants can achieve their goals and move toward a stronger financial future.

 

Enrollment

Youth age 14 to 16 who are SSI recipients are encouraged to participate.

Youth and their parents or guardians may complete the enrollment materials at home by downloading them from the Wisconsin Promise website or in person at a Promise office or community event.

Work for People with Disabilities

Social Security is spreading the word about the underutilized Ticket to Work and Self-Sufficiency Program as a way for people with disabilities to achieve their employment goals.

At the end of April 2015, Social Security began mailing letters to beneficiaries who qualify for the Ticket to Work program. Social Security expects to mail up to 60,000 paper Tickets every month to beneficiaries who became entitled the previous month. Social Security expects these mailings to encourage a substantial number of beneficiaries to seek additional information on the Ticket program and to contact Employment Networks (ENs) and State Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agencies for assistance in going to work.

Adults age 18 through 64 who get disability benefits, qualify for Ticket to Work. The program connects individuals to Employment Networks (ENs) who offer services and support needed to help individuals with going to work or earning more money. The goal is to help individuals earn enough money to become financially independent.

Remember! Social Security has rules that encourage individuals to try work. The rules are called work incentives. Work incentives offer safety nets that make it easier to try work without losing benefits right away or access to healthcare. Work incentives can also offer an easy way to get back on benefits if a job doesn’t work out. Connect with a benefits specialist to learn more about Ticket to Work or Social Security work incentives.

One Page Resume Rule

Contrary to what your college professor said, the one-page resume rule is a myth. Unfortunately, many listen to this outdated advice and devise ways to cram a complete professional history into one sheet. So much so that most job seekers expand the margins of the documents, use a small font size, and skimp on accomplishments rather than risk exceeding one page.

With today’s standards in resume writing, it is impossible to gain a full picture of a professional candidate in one 8-1/2″x11″ sheet of paper. Let’s break down the introduction of a resume and how it has changed over the years.

Objectives Have Been Replaced with Profile Statements: In the past, resumes started with only one sentence: “Seeking a challenging position where there is an opportunity for growth.” Now, resume introductions are more comprehensive, usually up to five sentences. As such, the profile statement takes up more room on the resume.

Keyword Section: Due to the advent of the Internet and resume data banks, all resumes need a list of core competencies that demonstrate the skills, knowledge, and abilities you have acquired throughout your work history. The keyword section alone adds three to five lines.

As you can see, where the beginning of the resume used to be only one sentence, it has grown to ten.

Professional History: Long ago professionals stayed at the same company for ten-plus years. As such, the work history section of the resume consisted of only one or two jobs. Nowadays, many job seekers have six jobs within that same ten-year span. The addition of more jobs usually translates into at least a two-page resume.

Education Section: With a lot more certifications available and many companies investing in employee professional-development courses, the education section has expanded as well.

There is only one rule you should follow in terms of resume length: your resume should be as long as it needs to be to sell your qualifications. That may mean your resume can be one, two, or even three pages.

When you insist on limiting your resume based on the number of pages, the reader won’t get the full breadth of your experience. This isn’t to say that you should include every last detail of your history; however, it should flesh out all the important aspects of your career–especially those all-important accomplishments.

Think About Lying on Your Resume

It is tempting to put little white lies on your resume. These might include overstating your knowledge of required software (“If they call me, I’ll teach myself over the weekend”), a certification (“They’ll never go through all that trouble to find out”) or extending dates at a former employer (“They can’t find out. The company went out of business”).

How many times have you heard someone say, “Just put it on your resume. There’s no way they’re going to find out”?

It is tempting to put little white lies on your resume. These might include overstating your knowledge of required software (“If they call me, I’ll teach myself over the weekend”), a certification (“They’ll never go through all that trouble to find out”) or extending dates at a former employer (“They can’t find out. The company went out of business”).

So what’s the big deal? It’s not like you’re claiming to be a medical doctor, right? Who are you hurting anyway? You’re just stretching the truth a little to get your foot in the door — or so you tell yourself. If these are familiar thoughts, you might want to re-think them. Why? Because the risk of getting caught is real. The odds of getting away with listing false information on your resume are probably, well . . . who really knows? Do you really want to find out the hard way?

There are many reasons that could prompt a human resources manager to conduct an employment background check. Maybe you are not performing your job as well as expected. Maybe a co-worker has the same credential and became suspicious when your facts did not add up during a conversation. Some companies have never experienced a dishonest employee who lied on his/her resume, and does not routinely verify work histories and the validity of credentials. In short, they have a false sense of security. Just the same, many hiring managers are keenly aware that lying on a resume is becoming a costly problem for many companies, and thoroughly check all facts even after they hire a candidate.

Sadly, it is quite common these days to learn of employee terminations because background checks revealed dishonesty. Depending on the level of the position or the severity of the falsification, this could sometimes lead to legal actions. So, before you decide to make yourself look better on paper, think again. It is not worth getting the job if you are not going to be able to live up to it or hold on to it.

Benefits and Taxes on Social Security

Benefits Specialists normally do not assist clients with their taxes unless they are qualified tax preparers. However, they should have a general knowledge of how Social Security benefits may affect a person’s taxes and what credits may be available to their clients. All Title II benefits may be subject to federal tax; this includes:

  • Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
  • Retirement
  • Survivor (Widow(er) and Child)
  • Auxiliary benefits

Social Security benefits are federally taxable depending on a beneficiary’s total income and marital status. If Social Security benefits are a person’s only income, the benefits are normally not taxed and a federal income tax return need not be filed. Beneficiaries who receive Social Security benefits plus other income, need to complete the worksheet in the Form 1040 or 1040A instruction book to see if they must pay federal taxes on their benefits. The general guidelines are:

  • When a beneficiary files taxes as an individual and has combined countable income of between $25,000 and $34,000, federal income tax may need to be paid on up to 50 percent of SSA benefits. If the combined income of an individual is more than $34,000, up to 85 percent of the benefits may be taxed.
  • When a beneficiary files a joint return with his/her spouse and their combined countable income is between $32,000 and $44,000, federal income tax may have be paid on up to 50 percent of the SSA benefits. If the combined couple income is more than $44,000, up to 85 percent of the benefits may be taxable.
  • When each member of a married couple files a federal return separately, taxes will probably be owed on any Social Security benefits received.

By January 31 of every year the Social Security Administration (SSA) sends each beneficiary Form SSA-1099 (Social Security Benefit Statement) which shows the total amount of the benefits paid in the previous year. The figures listed on this form should be used to determine taxable benefits.

Success Skills for Workplace

What are employers looking for in a good employee? Someone who knows how to do everything their job requires? Not necessarily. Most employers are looking to hire friendly people who have a good work ethic and who are polite, optimistic, and cooperative.  This is because it is easier for employers to teach someone a specific skill, for example, how to use a special kind of software or device, than teaching them “people skills,” also called “soft skills.”  Let’s explore the soft skills you need to succeed at work.

 

Soft Skills

Soft skills can be defined as characteristics and behaviors to help you to work effectively and harmoniously with other people. That encompasses a lot of things! Below are a dozen tips to help you do that.

  1. Be willing to accept challenges. Be eager to tackle the job or a new task.
  2. Manage what you do and be self-motivated. Look for ways to stay busy or to help out.
  3. Ask for clarification if you’re not sure what you are being asked to do. Seek help when needed.
  4. Be mindful of your body language, the tone of your voice, and even the words you use.
  5. Smile. Be positive, considerate and polite. Try to make eye contact.
  6. Work with others. Remember there’s no “I” in team. Take breaks and eat lunch with your co-workers.
  7. Mute, or turn off, smartphones and other devices.
  8. Keep personal problems out of the workplace.
  9. If a conflict or a problem arises, deal with it calmly.
  10. It’s ok to make mistakes. Remain positive, take responsibility, and apologize.
  11. Accept direction and criticism without feeling defeated, resentful, or insulted.
  12. Be creative when solving problems and don’t be afraid to make decisions.

Prosecution Agreement reached following a failure to prevent bribery

The concept of a “deferred prosecution” was introduced in the United States and, in a (radically) different form, has been adopted here, pursuant to Section 45 and Schedule 17 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013 (the 2013 Act).

A key feature of the deferred prosecution scheme under the 2013 Act is the requirement that the Court examines the details of any proposed agreement, to ensure that the statutory conditions are satisfied.  The statutory scheme under the 2013 Act is a two stage process:

Stage 1:  following commencement of negotiations to try and obtain a DPA, there must be a preliminary hearing, held in private, for the purposes of ascertaining whether the Court will declare that the proposed DPA is “likely” to be “in the interests of justice” and its terms are “fair, reasonable and proportionate” – the provisional approval stage.  The Court must give reasons for its provisional approval and if a declaration is declined, a further application is permitted.

Stage 2:  having got through Stage 1 and having received provisional approval, it is for the Prosecutor to apply to the Crown Court for a declaration, made in open Court, that the DPA is in the interests of justice and that its terms are fair, reasonable and proportionate.

Accordingly, and in contradistinction with DPAs obtainable in the United States, DPAs under the 2013 Act are subject to the scrutiny and discretion of the Crown Court; they are not “private” arrangements made between the Prosecuting Authority and the reporting party (usually the company guilty of bribery, corruption and/or other criminal conduct).

The First DPA Approved under the 2013 Act

Standard Bank Plc, now known as ICBC Standard Bank Plc (Standard Bank), has become the first counterparty to an approved DPA under the 2013 Act, having self-reported to the Serious & Organised Crime Agency and the SFO, evidence to show that it had failed to prevent bribery in breach of its obligations under Section 7 of the Bribery Act 2010 – the requirement that corporates must have adequate procedures to prevent bribery.

Facts – as summarised in the Approved Judgment and Indictment

Standard Bank were given a mandate to raise US$600m on behalf of the Government of Tanzania.  Pursuant to this mandate, Standard Bank’s subsidiary in Tanzania, Stanbic, entered into an agreement with a Tanzanian company called Enterprise Growth Market Advisors Limited (EGMA).  Two of the three directors of EGMA were the Commissioner of the Tanzanian Revenue Authority (therefore a Government Official) and the former CEO of the Tanzanian Capital Markets & Securities Authority.  Standard Bank made no enquiries about EGMA; it relied on its subsidiary, Stanbic, to carry out all the due diligence processes (even though the business was being done in a high risk country).

EGMA were paid a fee of 1% of the funds raised; the fee being paid into an account that EGMA opened with Stanbic.  Almost all of the money was withdrawn from the account in cash and it is this that caused alarm bells to ring at Standard Bank.  They immediately instructed a law firm to investigate and the matter was reported to the Prosecuting Authorities within three weeks.  Standard Bank found that EGMA provided no services and/or consideration for the fee of US$6m that it received.

The indictment faced by Standard Bank alleged that the fee paid to EGMA was intended to induce representatives of the Government of Tanzania to perform a “relevant function or activity “improperly”, namely, showing Standard Bank and its Tanzanian subsidiary, Stanbic, favour in the process of appointing or retaining them in order to raise funds for the Government.

How to Identify Job Interests

People often think the first step in a job search is writing a resume, but that isn’t true for everyone. Before diving into a job search, it’s important to consider the types of jobs that you are interested in and the skills you most enjoy using.

If you haven’t been interested in or passionate about your past jobs, it probably won’t make you any happier to find a job that’s exactly like what you’ve previously done. Just because you’ve always been a flight attendant doesn’t mean that you can ONLY be a flight attendant. Think about your skills and abilities. If you’re interested in making a career shift, it’s likely there are skills you’ve used in previous jobs, internships, volunteer experiences, etc. that would easily transfer to a different job. For example, skills in: conflict management, customer service, written and verbal communication, and computer programs are all skills that would be required in many jobs.

If you aren’t sure what you want to do next, try a career assessment or resource for career exploration. Take an opportunity to see where your interests lie and explore possible careers that would allow you to utilize your skills.