Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Job Doesn't Pay Enough? Ask For a Signing Bonus!

If an employer wants you badly enough, you may be able to talk him or her into paying you a signing bonus. Signing bonuses are typically easier to negotiate than a higher salary, because an employer views a signing bonus as a one-time payment, rather than your reoccurring salary. Offering a signing bonus, rather than a higher salary, can be much less expensive for the company.

Signing bonuses have come to be seen as a sort of admission on the part of your employer that you are worth more than the job actually pays. This is information to keep in mind during your negotiations, as well as when you are asking for a raise down the line. If your employer thought that you were worth a little extra money to hire you, he or she might decide that it’s worth a little more to keep you on board.

Thinking you're worth a signing bonus is one thing. Requesting one may be downright awkward. Rather than asking if this position might carry a signing bonus, you might ask ‘what is the signing bonus?’ Just acting with confidence may be enough to carry you into negotiations, particulary if the salary is lower than what someone of your experience would be expected to make.

When negotiating a signing bonus, keep in mind that the IRS considers them regular income. And, if the IRS considers signing bonus income, so should you. That means you should set aside some money to help pay the additional taxes.

It’s up to you to negotiate the terms of your bonus. Most companies will include contingencies in your contract regarding your signing bonus. For instance, you might receive your bonus up front, but you would be required to return it if you leave the company within your first year. If you do decide to move on to a new job without completing the terms of your contract, you may be required to return either part of or the entire signing bonus.

Overall, signing bonuses can add that bump to your salary and benefits package to make employment with a specific company worth your while. You should realize, though, that a signing bonus is only a one-time payment. It may be better worth your while to find a company willing to raise your salary to convince you to take an offer, because, in the long run, you will typically make more.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

How to Screw Up Your Resume

Want to know how to make a resume that will totally turn off your prospective employer?

1. Be sure not to spell check.

2. Have a bunch of unexplained gaps in your work history. Prospective employers like to see that you were doing something during a work absence, like volunteer work, stay-at-home parenting, schooling. So, if you don't want the job, just make it seem like you were at home watching Law & Order reruns all day long.

3. Put in a bunch of personal hobbies and interests. Employers hate that. Especially when the hobbies have nothing to do with your career.

4. Include personal attributes or photographs. Unless you're applying as a model or entertainer, employers don't need to see your photo. And, most don't want to.

5. Print your resume with fancy fonts, or print it on lime green paper. Employers like easy to read fonts on white or neutral paper, which makes it easier to read. So, if you don't want the job, use some fancy script that looks like it's a poster for the Renaissance Fair.

6. Put in a bunch of very outdated information. Face it, if you're over 30, you don't really need to put in the name of your high school. And, if you have some obsolete skills, such as your Wang word processing skills, leave it off, unless, of course, you want to annoy a prospective employer with meaningless information they have to read through.

How Long Can I File a Tax Extension?

Okay, I guess no one really needs a reminder that your tax returns are due in today.

If you've already mailed in your tax return, congratulations! If not, you'd better hurry. They are due today.

What about an extension?

You can get an automatic six-month tax extension by filing Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return. But, you do have to file it on April 15, today. But, remember, filing an extension of time to file is NOT an extension of time to pay. You do have to pay the amount of the tax estimated to be due for the tax year. Interest will be charged on your unpaid taxes.

You can get the form by going to:

Monday, April 14, 2008

How to Dress for Success on a Budget

No doubt about it, dressing for success is important, particularly if you wish to move up in your career, or ace that job interview. But, how can you do that if you're on a tight budget?

I'm going to say two words which may make some people cringe. But, here goes: THRIFT STORE. That's right, thrift store. Okay, by now some people's jaws have dropped and hit their keyboards. "Thrift store?!" you ask in shock. "I would never shop in a thrift store!" Then you would be losing out on some great deals on business clothing. Many people get rid of their wardrobes every one or two years, donating some very nice business clothing which is still in style.

The key to thrift store shopping is to not get discouraged if you don't find something on your first visit. Yes, it is hit or miss, but you can often find some great labels from the previous year which are in good shape and fit you nicely, or which will fit with some inexpensive alterations.

If you live in a major metropolitan area you probably will have many options, such as Goodwill, Salvation Army, or other specialized thrift stores. In many California cities there are "Out of the Closet" thrift stores which benefit AIDS patients. Out of the Closet offers many gems at pretty decent prices. Not sure if this is nationwide, but the Goodwills in the Los Angeles area often have sales such as "all pants for $3.99," or "shirts for 2.99." You can pick up many dress shirts, pants or skirts for really cheap.

You do have to be careful that you're not choosing something which has a great label but is hopelessly out of date, so you may want to brush up on current offerings at the retail stores first. You also have to develop an eagle-eye when looking over the clothing. Be sure to examine each article of clothing carefully for stains or rips.

Many people also find used business clothing on eBay, but, if you're like me, you want to try something on first. Just because it's your size doesn't mean it's going to be a great match for you.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Considering a Second Job?

Considering taking on a side job? In this economy, many people are, either taking on entirely different second jobs than their primary employment, or doing the same job, but at a cheaper rate than your employer charges (such as a plumber who does side jobs after working hours).

Second jobs can certainly help pay the bills or pad your savings, but you don't want them to jeopardize your primary job. Here are some tips to help you avoid losing your primary job:

..:: Make sure that you have not signed any sort of contract that would limit your ability to work outside of your primary employer. The most common contract that could affect your ability to do so is a non-compete contract, which states that, within certain geographical and chronological constraints, you are not allowed to work for (or start) a business that competes with your current employer.

..::Don't do anything on company time or on the company's dime for your side business. Don’t take phone calls for your side job, don’t read email for it, and don’t do work for it.

..::Don't networking for your side job when you should be working on a project for your primary position. So, if you're that plumber, don't solicit side work from the homeowner while you're there doing work for your employer.

..::If your primary job is the more important of the two, ditch your second job if the workload becomes too much.

If you're transitioning from employee to entrepreneur or from job to job, it's expected there will be some sort of overlap. But, don't allow that overlap to jeopardize your primary job until you're ready and able to complete the transition.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Dress for Success: Purses and Handbags

Okay, ladies, you're turn! What type of purse or handbag should you choose when dressing for success. You know, you have that big job interview coming up and you want to dress to impress.

Well, ditch the backpack and have a look at this video I spotted on YouTube about the proper handbag for business. Think red!

Dress for Sucess: Men's Shoes

The previous post dealt with "how to dress for success." This post will put a spotlight on one element of dressing for success for men: the shoes.

What types of shoes should men look for when dressing for success? If you have a job interview coming up, what should you wear on your feet?

Here's a little video I found which can help even the most "wardrobe-challenged" guy find the proper business footwear.

How to Dress for Success

They say clothes make the man (or woman). And, when you're successful in your career, your clothing will reflect that. Even if you have a way to go in your career goals, dressing the part can help, both mentally for you and in how people react to you.

So, how do you dress for success?


For women:

o Skirted suit or pants suit

o Skirts should be knee-length or slightly above or below

o Wear neutral or flesh-tone hose

o Pants should break at the top of the foot or shoe

o Watch the the neckline of your blouse: not too low

o Low heel flats better than flats or high-heels

o Don't overdo it with the jewelry

For men:

o Go with a conservative suit: navy, black or grey; solid or pinstripe

o Add a solid white or blue dress shirt

o Go with a simple silk tie, nothing too flashy

o Shoes should be lace up and polished

o Make sure your socks match

o Keep socks calf-length or above

o Wear a belt that matches your shoes

What about accessories?

o When it comes to jewelry, again, don't overdo it. Keep it simple and conservative. You want them focused on you, not your five rings and gold chains.

o For women think red when choosing a handbag. See our video on women's handbag. (Just click on the below label for "dress for success," you'll see it.)

o For both men and women a briefcase can be very professional. Leave the backpack at home.

o Remember, a pen is an also an accessory. Do you really want to write notes with a cheap, throwaway stick pen? Invest in a stylish pen and bring it with you.

o Avoid strong cologns or perfumes. You never know if the interviewer is sensitive to strong smells.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Should I Post My Resume Online?

Should you post your resume on an online job site? Well, if you want a job you do.

Why? Why can't you just find the job you want, then send your resume on to the employer? Sure you can, but some employers want to get onto the online job site and look for their candidate right then and there. They don't want to wade through the replies of unqualified people, so they just check the resume data base to save themselves time. If your resume is not there, how will these employers ever know you exist?

What should you never include on your resume?

..:Social Security number
..:Driver’s license number
..:Bank account information
..:Credit card information
..:Date of birth

For more information about how to write a resume, go to our webpage at How to Make a Resume

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Upcoming Texas Job Fairs

Attention all you Texans out there. Here are some upcoming Texas Job Fairs you might be interested in:

April 12, 2008
San Antonio Police Department Career Fair
10:00 AM - 2:00 PM
San Antonio Police Training Academy
12200 S.E. Loop 410
San Antonio, Texas

April 17, 2008
JobFairs of America - Job Fair of Dallas
3:00 PM - 6:00 PM
Embassy Suites Hotel
4650 W. Airport Freeway
Irving, Texas

April 19, 2008
Dallas Job Fair
11:00 AM - 3:00 PM
West Dallas Multipurpose Center
2828 Fish Trap Road
Dallas, Texas

April 21, 2008 Career Fair
10:00 AM - 2:00 PM
Crowne Plaza - Greenway
2712 Southwest Freeway
Houston, TX

April 25, 2008
Faith Summit Career Expo 2008
10:00 AM - 2:00 PM
Friendship-West Babtist Church
2020 W. Wheatland Road
Dallas, Texas

April 29, 2008
Monster Job Fair
11:00 AM - 3:00 PM
1950 Stemmons Freeway
Dallas, Texas

May 12, 2008
Military Career Fair sponsored by National Career Fairs
11:00 AM - 2:00 PM
Holiday Inn Select
Houston-Greenway Plaza
2712 Southwest Freeway
Houston, Texas

May 13, 2008 Job Fair
10:00 AM - 2:00PM
Infomart 1950 N. Stemmons Freeway,
Dallas, Texas 75207

While career fairs do vary, most employer booths have a company representative who is able to discuss their company’s opportunities and accept resumes.

Although career and job fairs can be a great way to find new career opportunities, most people are unprepared for them. What many do not realize is that some employers actually interview and hire candidates right on the spot! That means you need to do more than just attend a career fair; you need to prepare for it. Be sure to dress professionally and bring your resume. Lots of them! It's your calling card. Make sure you have plenty to pass around.

Monday, April 7, 2008

High Salary Careers's homepage just had an interesting article about surprising salaries, including some high salary careers you might like to know:

For example did you know there are only 1,700 astronomers in the U.S.? That might explain why an astronomer makes an annual salary of $95,740. Are you deciding what your second career might be? How about an astronomer? Of course, this is not an easy career change; most astronomers have doctorates.

Another high-salary career? Think elementary school principal. For those of you who thought working for the school system meant taking a step down in pay, think again. Elementary school principals make an average of $79,310. And the benefits? Huge. If you work for a public school system you have great health and retirement benefits. You know those retirees who play golf and tennis all day and take several cruises a year? Principals. Okay, maybe not everyone of them's a principal, but you can bet your average retired principal is having a nice retirement. Of course, being a principal can be a stressful job. It's not just sitting in your office and scolding the really bad kids. They have budgets and personnel they have to manage, not to mention angry parents.

One career not in the MSN article, but a personal favorite of mine is librarian. Librarian? That's right, a librarian can be counted among high-salary careers. And, the job growth outlook, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics is pretty good, due to the fact that a large number of librarians are due to retire in the coming decade. Of course, a librarian can work in many different types of libraries: elementary schools, junior colleges, universities, public libraries, law libraries, medical libraries, etc., so there is a wide range of salaries. Here are some examples of median librarian salaries in the U.S. as of May, 2006:

Junior colleges $52,030
Colleges, universities, and professional schools 51,160
Elementary and secondary schools 50,710

And, according to the BLS, the average annual salary for all librarians in the Federal Government in nonsupervisory, supervisory, and managerial positions was $80,873 in 2007.

That's Fine - But What About Six-Figure Jobs and Careers?

Glad you asked. I also stumbled upon an article on which listed some six-figure careers without having to obtain a professional degree (even better). What are they?

..:: Marketing Manager

..:: Health Services Manager with compliance skills

..:: Information Systems Manager

..:: Financial Manager

..:: Human Resources Manager

..:: Fashion Designer

..:: Court Reporter coupled with freelance overtime for private depositions

..:: Computer Application Development Manager

..:: Educational Administrator

The reason I'm bringing all these careers to your attention is to point out that when looking for another career, you have to stretch your thinking.

It's good to go to job sites, such as or and see what types of jobs are out there and what they're offering. For those of you wanting to check out careers making over $100,000 per year you might want to go to You will have to register, but they do have a free registration with limited access. Check all the different categories; see what type of educational background you'll need. It's also a good idea to go to government job sites and see what are the in-demand, high-salary careers as well. Who knows, you may stumble onto something really great.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Tips for Making a Business Card

Starting your own business and beginning the process of making a business card? Smart. A business card is the calling card for your business. But, it's important to make sure your business card is one people will hold onto and not throw away. Here are some tips.

1. Don't Cheap Out

Yes, you can get business cards for free. But, if your business card says "free" on the back of it, that just tells people you're cheap. And, if you absolultely must print your own business cards make sure the card stock is heavyweight card stock. There's also nothing that says cheap like flimsy card stock.

2. Keep it Simple

Don't use too many different fonts or include too much information on your card. You don't want to make it difficult for people to get the main focus of your business.

3. Use a Font Large Enough to Read

Use fonts that are large enough for people of all ages to read. There are many people out there (like, many over 40) who can't read the small print. Don't loose their business.

4. Use a Larger Font for the Most Important Information

If the desired action is for them to give you a call, highlight the phone number with a larger font. If it's the address, highlight the address. Don't make them have to hunt for the most important information on the card.

5. Include your Website Address and E-mail Address

Don't have a website? Then it's time to get one. A five-page website won't cost much, but can be the difference between gaining a new client or not.

6. Never Use Cards with Outdated Information

Have you ever received a business card with a phone number crossed out in black marker with another phone number written in ink next to it? All that says is "I'm too cheap to buy new cards."

7. Write an Offer on the Back of the Card

When handing your business card to someone, make sure there's an offer on the back of the card, and hand the card to the person with the backside up so the person will see your offer.

A business card can be one of the most important marketing tools your new business can have. Give it the attention it deserves and you may be richly rewarded.

Friday, April 4, 2008

What to do with your Stimulus Money

Are you one of those people expecting to receive some stimulus money from the IRS this summer? So, what are you going to do with it?

Take a trip?

Buy a new fancy cellphone?

Buy a new grill for the summer?

Pay some bills?

Those are all good uses for the money, to be sure. And, if you have some outstanding bills or credit card debt that's beginning to really creep up there, using your stimulus money for that is definitely a good thing.

But, before you buy that fancy cellphone or grill, or take that three-day trip to wine country, why not consider taking that money and investing in your career?

There are so many classes at the community college level which can give you skills for a new career or advancement in your own career. Why not take a class?


Yeah, I know, sitting in class learning something new while your neighbor is grilling on some fancy grill that you could have bought is not fun. But, neither is staying in a job you hate, or not being able to advance to a higher-paying career because you don't have updated skills.

Tip of the Day: Don't Get Distracted!

Those who are most successful at finding work dedicate as much time to their job search as they would a full-time job.

Yeah, I know, another tip that's a DUH! But, think about what it means. You would spend 7 to 8 hours at a job, right? So, make getting a job you're job! That means not getting distracted! Actually put in that amount of time! (Wow that's alot of exclamation points!)

Okay, so you're probably wondering "how can I possibly look for a job for 7 to 8 hours a day." Well, it's not all looking for a job. That can include anything that will help propel you to getting a job. That can include reading a book on self-esteem. That can include taking a class to boost your job skills. That can include meditation to help calm yourself as you go through a stressful period of unemployment. That can include self-hypnosis to give yourself some positive affirmations to help your confidence or help attract work to you. (Yeah, I do believe that. I'll probably post about that later).

What that doesn't include is grocery shopping, cleaning the house, doing yard work (unless, of course you're getting really stressed and gardening or cleaning the house is like meditation for you. In that case, come to my house and clean it and really get mellow).

Putting in a full day of work-related activities helps your job search, but can also boost your self esteem, giving you the sense that you have accomplished something. You don't want to feel like that unemployed person who has squandered another day. If you have chores like shopping or laundry, make it something you do on your lunch hour.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Phlebotomy Class in the Los Angeles Area

Looking for phlebotomy training in the L.A. area? Just spotted this in the latest Glendale Community College community services pamphlet - a 6-Saturday Phlebotomy Certification Course beginning May 3 and going through June 14.

What's phlebotomy? You may not be familiar with the word, but you probably have come in contact with a phlebotomist. They're the people who draw your blood. And they're in demand.

If you're looking for a new career you might want to consider training to become a phlebotomist. Face it, this is one career they're not going to outsource to someone in India. That would have to be a pretty long syringe now, wouldn't it?

Anyway, this phlebotomy course combines 48 hours of classroom instruction with a 40-hour phlebotomy externship. You will learn (and become quite good at) venipuncture with syringe, vacutainer, butterfly and fingerstick methods. Upon completion of this course, you will qualify to apply to the State of California as a Certified Phlebotomy Technician (CPT 1).

What are the qualifications for the course? They recommend you have a high school diploma (or equivalent) and that you be at least 18 years of age.

The course does cost $2,395, but you know, when you're looking for a stable career, not to mention one that is in demand, $2,395 isn't bad. But, if you'd like a less-expensive course you might want to look at:

California State University Long Beach
University College & Extension Services

Cal State Long Beach Extension Services offers a once a year phlebotomy course, beginning June 2 to June 23, on a Monday through Friday, 9AM to noon schedule. The course is comprised of 45 hours of in-class course work and 100 hours of supervised clinical experience. The cost for this course is $1600, considerably less than the Glendale Community College course, but with a Monday through Friday schedule, rather than a Saturday schedule which allows you to work full-time during the week.

You can get more info by going to: and Phlebotomy Cal State Long Beach

We have more information on becoming a phlebotomist on our website at Phlebotomy School

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Legitimate At Home Jobs - Where are They?

I wrote last month about at-home jobs and how many of them are just scams. You know what I'm talking about. Those jobs which scream out that you can work from home and make a ton of money doing it. Just trying to find out exactly what the job is can be a major chore. Then you find out you have to buy something in order to make something, when all you want is a real job you can do from home.

Are there legitimate at-home jobs out there? Absolutely. You can find some of these by going to and just typing in "at home" in the search box. Within the first couple of pages of results you will find many legitimate at-home opportunities, from customer service to ticket sales to data entry to recruiter. Also do a search for "telecommuting" and you'll find other jobs as well.

Another option is to work as a freelancer. Numerous opportunities exist at and for all types of jobs, from data entry to photography to web design to writing. You do have to sign up and then bid for the job, but it is one way to put yourself out there to possible employers. Some of the positions turn into more longer-term positions.

These are just a few ways to find work you can do from home.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Not Qualified? To Apply or Not to Apply

New career hunting? No doubt you've come across a number of job listings that appeal to you, but that you're not quite qualified for. So, should you apply? Well, if you feel you have similar qualifications, you might just go ahead and apply, even if you don't have the actual qualifications they're looking for.

Why? Well, it's not uncommon for an employer to be hiring for more than one position. Although you may not necessarily be qualified for the position that you applied for, the employer in question may have another position available; another position that you may be better suited for.

Of course, if you are able to land an interview, be prepared to tell the interviewer why you would apply for a position you're not truly qualified for. You'll want to spin the answer to your advantage by telling the interviewer that you are always up for a challenge, or go into detail about how you think you are qualified in other ways. One thing you will definitely not want to do is respond with “I was hoping that I would get lucky.” This is a surefire way to lose your chance of getting that job or any job.

When it comes to applying for a job that you aren’t truly qualified for, you do have to use your best judgment. Don't apply for a position that requires a degree or certification that you don't have. It's one thing to stretch your experience a bit, but quite another to fake having a teaching degree and certificate. (Yeah, some people do fake those things, but they're usually found out and fired or charged with a crime).