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Supreme Court hears case challenging public employee union fees

A non-union worker argues that mandatory union payments violate First Amendment rights

Employees who belong to a labor union know they will have to pay dues to support the union's collective bargaining efforts.

But what about non-union employees? Should they have to pay a monthly fee to support those efforts as well? That's what the U.S. Supreme Court will soon decide.

The high court heard arguments Monday for and against a challenge to laws in a number of states that require people who work for state and local governments, but aren't union members, to pay a monthly fee to the public employee union that represents other government workers.

Arguments for and against

The rationale for the law is that non-union employees benefit from the union's collective bargaining efforts and therefore should pay something to support it. Opponents argue that being required to pay so-called agency fees to a union with whom it might not agree violates a worker's rights to free speech and free association.

At stake are millions of dollars that public employee unions use to negotiate contracts and participate in electoral politics. About half the states have agency fee laws covering nearly five million public employees.

The plaintiff is an Illinois state employee who declined to join the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). Nonetheless, he is required to pay the union a $50 monthly fee to negotiate on his behalf.

2016 case

His challenge is similar to one the court heard two years ago, but split 4-4. There were only eight voting justices because of the death of Justice Anton Scalia. The court now has its full nine justice panel, with last year's nomination and confirmation of Justice Neil Gorsuch.

Losing the case would be a severe setback to public employee unions, which are among the largest and most powerful of labor organizations. Government data shows organized labor has been in a slow decline over the last few decades.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that the union membership rate was 10.7 percent last year. That compares to 20.1 percent in 1983, the first year statistics were kept.

Employees who belong to a labor union know they will have to pay dues to support the union's collective bargaining efforts.But what about non-union emp...

Acing the interview is the first step to getting a job

Experts say just be yourself, but use caution when salary comes up

Even though the economy created 200,000 new jobs in January, that doesn't guarantee that job seekers will be able to land one of them.

People in search of a job still have to apply and then go through the job interview process before being offered a position. Since employers are mindful of the high costs of hiring the wrong person, the job interview is more thorough than it once was.

One of the most important things to do in a job interview is to show confidence, according to Toastmasters International, an organization that trains public speakers.

Toastmasters suggests job applicants spend time researching the company they are interviewing with and practicing answers for anticipated questions.

Just be yourself

Toastmasters member and career coach Jennifer Blanck advises job applicants to be relaxed during the job interview and, above all, just be themselves.

"If you're not being authentic, you won't know if you're the right fit," Blanck said. "Remember, it's just as important for you to decide whether you fit in as it is for your potential employer to decide. If the interviewer is uncomfortable with the real you, then it's a good indication that you should keep looking."

Blanck says it's also important to make a good first impression. Arrive for the interview early, dress appropriately, turn off your cell phone, stay focused on the interview, and actively listen to the interviewer.

At some point, the interviewer may bring up salary. This is where some jobseekers become a deer in the headlights.

Wait before negotiating

If the offered compensation falls short of expectations, is it appropriate to negotiate? Many career counselors suggest waiting until a firm offer is extended before broaching that issue.

Paul McDonald, senior executive director at staffing firm Robert Half, says employers are bringing up salary expectations earlier in interviews to streamline the hiring process.

If that happens, a job applicant must be ready to respond. But McDonald advises caution.

"First and foremost, avoid negotiating any part of the compensation package until after you've received a formal offer," he said. "Second, don't go into a negotiation without practicing the conversation in person with a trusted friend or mentor. Someone who has been in your position can help you prepare for the unexpected and make a stronger case."

How do you know if the salary offer is fair? McDonald says two things should guide it -- the skill levels required to do the job and the competition for people with those skills.

Researching market conditions and finding out what others in similar positions are paid will help you negotiate from a position of strength.

Even though the economy created 200,000 new jobs in January, that doesn't guarantee that job seekers will be able to land one of them.People in search...

ExxonMobil announces another $35 billion U.S. investment

The company is the latest to pledge that it will put tax savings to work

Exxon Mobil is the latest large company to announce plans to put its corporate tax savings to work in ways that could benefit consumers.

Since the end of last year, several firms -- including AT&T and Home Depot -- have announced bonuses for all employees, citing the savings from the corporate tax rate drop from 35 percent to 21 percent.

ExxonMobil has announced plans to spend an additional $35 billion -- in excess of the $15 billion previously announced -- on U.S. investments over the next five years. Company CEO Darren Woods says the investments will come out of company profits as well as the tax savings.

Woods predicted the lower tax rate would spur additional investment as other firms realize savings, helping to boost U.S. economic growth.

'More jobs and economic expansion'

"These positive developments will mean more jobs and economic expansion across the United States in a myriad of industries," Woods wrote in a corporate blog post. "And it will complement the substantial capital spending in the United States that ExxonMobil has teed up in the coming years.”

Specifically, Woods said ExxonMobil would invest billions of dollars in Permian Basin oil production in West Texas and New Mexico, enlarge current operations, update infrastructure, and build new manufacturing sites.

"This will create thousands of jobs, strengthen the U.S. economy and enhance energy security," Woods said.

More stable gasoline prices

Increasing U.S. oil production may also keep world oil supplies plentiful, which could ultimately lead to stable gasoline prices.

Last week, the Consumer Federation of America (CFA) put pressure on the insurance industry to lower customers' rates in light of the changes to the corporate tax rate. The consumer group said insurance rates are based, in part, to account for company profits.

Because those profits will increase due to a lower tax rate, CFA says the law mandates that insurance rates go down to reflect increased profitability.

Until insurance rates are adjusted lowered, the group says policyholders are being overcharged for insurance coverage.

Exxon Mobil is the latest large company to announce plans to put its corporate tax savings to work in ways that could benefit consumers.Since the end o...

Retail job losses are mostly falling on women

Employment analysis shows more men in retail as women exit

A new report by the Institute for Women's Policy Research (IWPR) finds the staggering job losses in the retail sector in recent years have mostly fallen on women.

Month after month the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports on job losses and gains, usually showing a net increase in new jobs as some sectors add jobs and others reduce them.

In a 12-month period, from October 2016 to October 2017, the retail sector has shed about 54,300 jobs, leading some economists to call it a "retail apocalypse." Drilling deeper into the numbers, however, IWPR finds that men are actually gaining jobs in retail while women account for nearly all the job losses.

During that 12-month period, the IWPR study found women lost 160,300 retail jobs while men gained 106,000 jobs in the category.

'Segregated into more vulnerable jobs'

IWPR says the reason for this gender disparity isn't clear. But Emma Williams-Baron, a research assistant at IWPR, has a theory.

"It could be that women are segregated into jobs more vulnerable to larger economic forces, like automation and online retail," she told ConsumerAffairs. "That may affect workers like cashiers and department store clerks more directly, while men are in better-insulated jobs, like appliance and furniture sales."

Another factor could be the types of retail businesses that have been most severely affected. When a department store closes down, Williams-Baron says its lower-wage employees and salespeople are disproportionately women.

But not all retail is suffering. Home center stores are booming and their employees tend to be men.

The IWPR study found that most retail job losses have come at general merchandising stores where men have actually increased their job numbers in recent years.

"I do think this connects to online retailing, which targets types of items more similar to those sold by general merchandise stores than, say, building material and garden supply stores or gasoline stations," Williams-Baron said.

General merchandise stores take the biggest hit

She notes that general merchandise stores make up the biggest retail segment, and while they have suffered the greatest job losses, they still have the largest number of workers than any other retail category.

Because more women work in general merchandise stores than any other type of retailer, when this category looses jobs -- as it has during the study period -- its victims tend to be women.

There's also the possibility that women are leaving retail for greener pastures. Women may be moving from retail jobs into other fields, such as healthcare, which has shown dramatic job growth.

Williams-Baron says one takeaway for women entering the job market is to focus their efforts where jobs are increasing and opportunities are greater.

"Many retail positions are characterized by instability and poor job quality overall, so those who can avoid retail jobs are likely better off," she said.

A new report by the Institute for Women's Policy Research (IWPR) finds the staggering job losses in the retail sector in recent years have mostly fallen on...

Women appear to be closing pay gap in Los Angeles -- until you look at race

Gender and pay disparities are persisting in the United States

Stories of the abuse that women face in the workforce have dominated headlines in 2017. Even with the #MeToo movement and Merriam-Webster’s naming "Feminism” the 2017 Word of the Year, working women continue facing barriers to equal treatment, as a recent analysis of the gender pay gap suggests.

The American Association of Women (AAUW), an advocacy group that studies employment issues that affect women and minorities, recently published a report investigating the best and worst cities for women’s pay.

In Los Angeles–the country’s second largest metropolitan area–the average woman earns 90 cents on the dollar for every man. That 10 percent pay gap amounts to $4,800 annually, the narrowest gap between men and women for the largest metropolitan areas in the country, according to new research by AAUW. 

But broken down by race, the relatively progressive pay difference of Los Angeles vanishes. Compared to white men, white women in Los Angeles earned just 77 cents on the dollar. Latina women, who make up nearly half of Los Angeles County’s female population, make a mere 39 cents on the dollar for every white man.

“Part of what's happening is that white men in Los Angeles are making a lot more money than men overall,”  Kevin Miller, senior research director at AAUW, tells ConsumerAffairs.

Miller analyzed how women’s pay stacked up with men overall and specifically white men in 25 major metropolitan areas. He found that Los Angeles has the narrowest gap between overall male and female pay. But Los Angeles looks similar to other cities once face is factored.

Meanwhile, women in Detroit fare the worst of major U.S. metropolitan centers, earning an average of 75 cents on the dollar earned by their male counterparts. But Asian American women in Detroit are out-earning white males by two percent, making them the only demographic the researchers found that actually out-earned white men.

Race and gender pay gaps

Miller’s report states that no city is immune from the gender pay gap, even or especially when factoring in race. In addition to gender discrimination, minority women are also vulnerable to racial discrimination in the workforce, a collection of past research has indicated.

But socio-economic factors in Los Angeles and elsewhere also indicate that white women simply have better access to decent-paying jobs.

"White women are substantially more likely than Latinas to go to college and complete a college degree,” Miller points out.

State legislators and numerous studies highlight how lack of access to a college degree, bolstered by the ballooning cost of tuition, is a major factor keeping young people of both genders or any ethnicity out of the workforce.   

With numerous structural barriers in place, it may seem intimidating to look for a job. But Miller has some advice for women on the hunt: get out of rural areas. More opportunities remain in the cities, despite salary disparities there.

"The good jobs [in rural areas] that are available tend to be sort of reserved for men still,” he says.

As 2017 comes to a close, women’s issues have dominated headlines–for both positive and negative reasons....

Survey finds employment 'mistakes' are common and costly

Expert says bringing the wrong person on board can be bad for morale

Congratulations on landing that new job -- unfortunately, there’s a likely chance your employer will consider this move a mistake.

A new survey from CareerBuilder underscores a dilemma facing hiring managers -- making sure the person being hired is a good fit. When they aren't, it gets very expensive. Their survey estimates 74 percent of employers have hired the wrong person for the job, at an average cost of $14,900.

“There are a number of reasons you could end up with a bad hire. Something that often stands out is a flawed interview process,” Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer at CareerBuilder, told ConsumerAffairs.

“You’ll end up in trouble down the road if you don’t have a standard protocol for interviews, ask the wrong questions, don’t articulate the company culture or job requirements, and don’t evaluate the interview.”

When hiring managers do make a mistake, Haefner says it can have a “ripple effect.” She points out that disengagement can be contagious and urges hiring managers to implement proper screening procedures so that they can identify the best candidates for the job. That requires an understanding of the job and what it entails.

"Poor performers lower the bar for other workers on their teams, and their bad habits spread throughout the organization," she said.

Where mistakes happen

The survey identified where the hiring process often runs into trouble. Among hiring managers, 35 percent admitted hiring someone without the required experience or skills because they believed "they could learn quickly."

Nearly a third of hiring managers said they "took a chance on a nice person." Nearly as many said they looked too closely at the applicant's skills and and not closely enough at the applicant's attitude.

Mistakes or poor matches aren’t exclusive to hiring managers; job applicants also admit to regretting offers they accepted. Survey results showed two out of three people say they have taken a job offer and then later realized it wasn't right for them.

Half of that group said they quit their new job within six months, forcing them to start the job hunting process all over again.

However, more than a third said they stayed on the job in spite of their dissatisfaction, citing a “toxic work culture” and disparities between their job description and actual work as the main reasons for disappointment.

Avoiding job mistakes

Haefner says hiring managers can avoid mistakes by conducting a pre-interview by telephone. “In just a few minutes, you can get a decent read on a candidate,” she said.

Haefner says job applicants can also do their part to avoid a bad situation for both the organization and themselves by making sure the job and organization fit their interests and values.

You can start by researching the organization, backgrounds of key executives, and a detailed job description. A preliminary step might include taking a career aptitude test. Team Technology offers one on its website.

Congratulations on landing that new job -- unfortunately, there’s a likely chance your employer will consider this move a mistake.A new survey from Car...

Survey finds salaries stagnating in spite of improved economy

Only 48 percent of U.S. workforce increased their income in the last year

As the economy improves and stock market hits record highs, one might expect an uptick in pay raises. Unfortunately, a new survey from Bankrate.com shows that only 48 percent of employees got a raise, bonus, or higher-paying job over the last 12 months. 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) puts those numbers in perspective when it measures earnings against the cost of living. It reported this week that real average hourly earnings for all employees actually went down 0.1 percent from September to October.

The decrease is entirely due to wages staying stagnant and the cost of living, as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI), going up 0.1 percent. Average earnings were up slightly on a year-over-year basis.

Top-performers also face challenges

Bruce McClary, vice president for communications at the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC), says the recent growth in the private sector economy has been a big win for top-performing employees who are being rewarded for their efforts and who are advancing their careers.

But he notes that sudden increases in income can create a challenge, tempting the employee to increase spending at the expense of savings.

"All too often, the temptation is to spend more when income and job stability increase," McClary told ConsumerAffairs. "We are already seeing an upward creep in credit card delinquency rates at the same time as revolving credit balances are also on the way up."

The New York Federal Reserve reported this week that credit card and auto loan delinquency rates increased in the third quarter. At the same time, total household debt increased by $116 billion to $12.96 trillion in the three month period.

Stretching a stagnant income

For those who didn't get a raise, McClary says the challenge is different. To get ahead, they need to cut expenses and McClary says the best way to do that is reduce credit card debt.

"High interest debt has a dampening effect on the growth of savings, a key factor in financial stability," he said. "Prioritize the payoff of debt that carries the highest interest and fees so those payments can be added to your savings when that debt is out of the way."

In the end, consumers trying to cut expenses are better off focusing on budget adjustments that are sustainable. That means the most effective cuts may seem modest but will pay off over time.

"The biggest cuts may not be as beneficial over the long term if they cause greater pressure in other spending categories or lead to unacceptable quality of life issues," McClary said.

As the economy improves and stock market hits record highs, one might expect an uptick in pay raises. Unfortunately, a new survey from Bankrate.com shows t...

Target to hire 100,000 workers for the coming holiday season

New employees will stock shelves at stores and pack and ship orders at fulfillment centers

It’s only September, but retailers are already looking ahead and preparing for the coming holiday season. And luckily for seasonal workers, it looks like there may be a few more jobs for the taking.

In an announcement on Wednesday, Target said that it would be hiring approximately 100,000 employees over the holiday season to work at its 1,816 stores across the U.S., with another 4,500 being hired in distribution centers and fulfillment facilities. That’s up 40% from the 70,000 workers that were hired last year.

The company says that prospective employees at Target stores will stock shelves and help guests “find the perfect gifts” for the coming holidays, while those at distribution and fulfillment facilities will help pack and ship online orders. These latter employees should have their work cut out for them, as online orders have soared in popularity in recent years.

Target chief stores officer Janna Potts says that the increase in hiring is all part of Target’s plan to serve its customers during the busiest time of the year. She says new team members will be provided training and benefits, including flexible schedules and competitive wages.

“Target team members play such an important role in helping guests as they prepare to celebrate the holidays with their families,” she said. “As always, we will provide our seasonal team members with meaningful opportunities to build and develop skills, and offer great benefits, including a variety of schedules and team member discounts.”.

Target has planned its second annual seasonal hiring events for Friday, October 13 through Sunday October, 15 at all of its stores. Consumers can view a full list of available positions by visiting the company’s site here.

It’s only September, but retailers are already looking ahead and preparing for the coming holiday season. And luckily for seasonal workers, it looks like t...

Lots of potential employers check out your finances first

Survey shows about 25% of small and medium size businesses want to know how you manage money

Job applicants, especially in certain industries, have become accustomed to potential employers running background checks.

But some job-seekers might be surprised to learn that their potential employers could be looking into their financial history and current credit standing as well.

A survey by the National Financial Educators Council (NFEC), which sampled opinion among small to medium-sized business owners and managers, found a little more than 25% had conducted a credit or financial background check on a job prospect.

The reasons are not exactly clear, but the report authors suggest that employers are not just looking for knowledge, skills, education, experience, and cultural fit when they bring a new person on board. They are also interested in how the potential employee manages money.

It's important to have a good credit score

The takeaway is the increased importance of having a good credit score, which is indicative of good personal financial management. You don't have to have a lot of money, you just have to show that you can wisely manage what you have.

Vince Shorb, CEO of the NFEC, says if you are experiencing difficult times financially, it could make it harder to get a good job. Improving your financial standing is as important as burnishing your job credentials.

"With a quarter of employers checking financial backgrounds, we need to do better across the board so our nation's citizens can secure income sources, Shorb said. "Elementary, high school, and collegiate school systems have goals that include the career success of students – yet the majority of schools fail those students by not teaching financial education courses."

The impact appears to fall heaviest on the youngest job applicants. The NFEC survey shows that about 5% of job applicants age 18 to 24 believe they lost a job or promotion because of a check into their financial background. Another 19% said they aren't sure.

NFEC works with businesses and organizations to develop educational programs to promote financial literacy. Other organizations that can provide financial literacy education are non-profit credit counselors and many credit unions.

Job applicants, especially in certain industries, have become accustomed to potential employers running background checks.But some job-seekers might be...

Young women are still struggling to get jobs

New analysis finds Millennial women have yet to recover from the Great Recession

In the wake of the Great Recession, Millennial women seem to be having a particularly tough time finding jobs. Although it’s been a decade since the start of the Recession, many young women are still feeling its effects.

According to a new analysis by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR), many young women (especially those ages 25 to 34), are experiencing unemployment at higher rates than in 2007.

"While the overall unemployment rate for American workers is now lower than it was just prior to the Great Recession, Millennial women, especially Millennial women of color, have still not fully recovered from the recession," said IWPR Senior Research Scientist Dr. Chandra Childers.

Skill development paused

The analysis found that young Black women’s unemployment rates were higher in 2016 than young White women’s unemployment rates were at their peak in 2010 (8.8 percent compared to 7.7 percent).

"These are women who were just entering the workforce or early in their careers when the recession hit, and the ensuing high unemployment paused the development of their skills and work experience,” Childers said.

A separate report, titled “The lost generation: recession graduates and labor market slack,” says Millennials in general are struggling to get jobs.

Effects longer lasting than average

"Data on youth unemployment rates show a sharp rise during and after the 2008-09 recession – both on an absolute and relative basis," wrote Spencer Hill, economist at Goldman Sachs.

Currently, Millennial unemployment rates stand at more than double the national average (12.7 percent compared to 5 percent as of September 2016, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics).

"While youth underperformance is typical of recessions, the effects of the most recent downturn appeared larger and more long-lasting than average," Hill added.

Reasons for the trend

In addition to stalled development of job-related skills, the trend may be driven by the generation’s high expectations for the type of job they hope to land. Millennials tend to look for “dream jobs” that afford them work-life balance, with flexibility, breaks and time to focus on personal development. 

Statistics support the idea that Millennials are an overconfident bunch. But for those lacking experience, this quality may shrink the pool of potential jobs. It could also make the idea of continuing to live with mom and dad sound like a more appealing option than trudging onward with the job search.

The high price of a college education might also be making it more difficult for Millennials to enter the job market. On the heels of the 2008 economic crash, Millennials may find it more difficult than ever to scrape together the funds to obtain a college degree and find an entry point into the job market.

In the wake of the Great Recession, Millennial women seem to be having a particularly tough time finding jobs. Although it’s been a decade since the start...

What's your side-hustle?

A Bankrate report says 44 million of us have one

In the past, it was called "moonlighting." It was a job you did to earn extra money, in addition to your fulltime job.

These days, it's referred to as a "side-hustle," and more people have one. In fact, a report by Bankrate estimates 44 million Americans are earning extra cash on the side.

The research shows that most people with a side-hustle work at it every month, and more than a third of them pocket an additional $500 or more. The younger you are, the more likely you are to be consistent with your outside work.

However, Millennials tend to earn less on the side than do older employees. Among Millennials, only 19% with a side-hustle earn $500 or more per month.

Younger Baby Boomers are the most likely age group to earn $1000 a month or more on the side.

Created out of need

Side-hustles most likely gained popularity in the years after the financial crisis, when pay raises were few and far between. Of those earning extra money on the side, 54% say they use it to help pay expenses, which tend to go up, even when pay doesn't.

"A side hustle can be a great way to help pay the bills or pad your savings account on your own schedule," said Sarah Berger, the Cashlorette at Bankrate.com. "It's important to be smart about any extra income you earn. Pay down debt and take care of your monthly expenses first before adding anything to your shopping cart."

The rise of the so-called "gig economy" has also produced more side hustle opportunities. Many businesses have found it more cost effective to hire temporary contract workers than add to the payroll.

Internet venues have also created opportunities for people to start a sideline, home-based business to earn a little extra cash.

Forbes recently identified several side-hustles that aren't that hard to do. They include giving online English lessons on Skype, using your Instagram account to market products and services, and even refurbishing used electronics, if you have that ability.

In the past, it was called "moonlighting." It was a job you did to earn extra money, in addition to your fulltime job.These days, it's referred to as a...

Trump administration delays rule that encourages immigrant-founded companies

Business leaders call the decision a 'big mistake'

Critics are decrying a decision made by the Trump administration to delay and potentially eliminate a federal rule that encourages foreign entrepreneurs to set up their companies in the U.S., according to the New York Times.

Business leaders and executives say that rolling back the rule will hurt American business, especially in fast-growing industries like technology.

“Today’s announcement is extremely disappointing and represents a fundamental misunderstanding of the critical role immigrant entrepreneurs play in growing the next generation of American companies,” said Bobby Franklin, president and chief executive of the National Venture Capital Association.

Following orders

The decision to delay the International Entrepreneur Rule was announced by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on Monday, and it will push the effective start date of the regulation from July 17, 2017 to March 14, 2018 while the agency seeks public comments for a proposal to rescind the rule altogether. The rule had previously been published in the Federal Register on January 17, 2017 under President Obama.

Under the rule, foreign entrepreneurs who received financial backing for a new business venture could come to the U.S. for 30 months to build their companies, a stay that could be extended if they raised $250,000 or more for their business from American investors or $100,000 or more from government entities.

Officials under the Obama administration estimated that nearly 3,000 entrepreneurs could be eligible to come to the U.S. under the rule. However, DHS said that it delayed the start date because of an executive order signed by President Trump on January 25 that tightened restrictions for border security and immigration enforcements.

Under that order, the DHS Secretary was asked to “take appropriate action to ensure that parole authority under [the Immigration and Nationality Act] is exercised only on a case-by-case basis in accordance with the plain language of the statute, and in all circumstances only when an individual demonstrates urgent humanitarian reasons or a significant public benefit derived from such parole.”

In its decision, DHS determined that the International Entrepreneur Rule violated this order and decided to delay it accordingly.

Big mistake

Investors and business interests have expressed outrage at the decision, with some saying that it is a big mistake that will reduce jobs. “Immigrant entrepreneurs are job makers not job takers,” remarked Steve Case, founder of AOL, in a Twitter post.

“The 44 immigrant-founded billion-dollar start-ups now in the U.S. have created an average of 760 American jobs per company,” added Gary Shapiro, chief executive of the Consumer Technology Association in a statement.

“Without these immigrant entrepreneurs, it is unlikely America would stand as the beacon of innovation that it is today.”

Critics are decrying a decision made by the Trump administration to delay and potentially eliminate a federal rule that encourages foreign entrepreneurs to...

The job market looks strong for the rest of the year

Survey shows 60% of employers plan to hire full-time employees

There's good news for people looking for a job, or hoping to change jobs.

Last week's release of the June employment report showed strong job creation, and a survey by employment site CareerBuilder suggests that trend will carry through the rest of the year.

The survey found 60% of companies plan to hire full-time, permanent employees in the second half of 2017, a double-digit increase from last year.

Thirty-six percent of companies said they plan to hire permanent part-time employees between now and the end of the year, while 42% revealed plans to hire temporary, or contract employees. In all three categories, hiring is expected to increase over last year.

Matt Ferguson, CEO of CareerBuilder, says the hyper-partisan political atmosphere may be having a polarizing effect, but it hasn't distracted businesses from their growth plans. He says it's good news if you're looking for a job.

"Job seekers stand to benefit not only from having more options, but also from the growing intensity in the competition for talent,” Ferguson said. “Employers are moving quickly to recruit candidates and they are willing to pay more across job levels.”

There's greater competition for talent

How much more? If you're a job seeker, Ferguson says you don't need to be shy when discussing salary. Among a group of hiring managers spotlighted in the survey, 72% said they believe it will be necessary to pay higher wages to attract the right talent – even for entry-level employees.

Not surprisingly, information technology (IT) is the area where expected hiring is the greatest. But manufacturing, healthcare, and financial service jobs are also expected to be plentiful.

Areas where employers say they plan to take on additional personnel include skilled trades, software as a service, cybersecurity, sales, talent management, managing and interpreting Big Data, social marketing, and e-commerce.

In terms of geographic breakdown, more than 50% of all companies in each region of the country plan to add personnel between now and the end of the year, but the West leads the country with 67%.

There's good news for people looking for a job, or hoping to change jobs.Last week's release of the June employment report showed strong job creation,...

Why many teens won't be looking for a job this summer

Despite increasing employment opportunities, many teens will instead focus on academics

Things have been looking pretty solid in the job market recently. Job openings have been on the rise and unemployment was down to 4.3% in May, the lowest it’s been in 16 years. Some might think that these statistics would create a perfect situation for entrepreneurial teens looking to make some cash this summer, but a Bloomberg report suggests that many young people won’t be entering the workforce.

The finding isn’t exactly groundbreaking if you look at summer job trends over the last few decades. Since the late 1980s, 16-to-19-year-olds have been participating less and less in the labor force during the summer months, dropping from nearly 70% at its peak in 1988 and 1989 to 43% last year.

But what’s behind this turnaround? An analysis by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that many teens are taking the time to further their educational goals.

“Teen labor force participation has been on a long-term downward trend, and the decline is expected to continue to 2024,” the researchers write. “A number of factors are contributing to this trend: an increased emphasis toward school and attending college among teens, reflected in higher enrollment; more summer school attendance; and more strenuous coursework.”

Increased academic focus

The researchers say that changing economic factors and an increased emphasis on schoolwork are the driving forces behind the declines in teen employment. During the school year, many young people are too overloaded with schoolwork to take up a part-time job, and students who want to take courses over the summer to get ahead, participate in extracurricular activities to improve their college resume, or must attend summer school for failing a class also don’t have much opportunity to put in work hours.

Data collected by BLS reinforces this point. The researchers say that 40% of teens aged 16-19 were enrolled in school during the summer last year, more than four times the number of teens of the same age in 1985. Part of the reason might lie in the U.S.’ increasing education standards.

In 1982, less than 10% of high school graduates had completed four years of English classes, three years of math, science, and social science classes, and two years of foreign language classes. That number jumped to 62% by 2009, the most recent year for which data was collected.

The difficulty of classes is also increasing, according to the researchers. Since the 1980s, the number of students taking Calculus classes has more than tripled, and nearly one million students graduated in 2009 after taking an advanced placement (AP) course – up 39% from just four years previous.

Building experience

While the academic benefits behind these changes are unquestioned, some may question whether abandoning employment opportunities is really a good thing for young people.

Although the money earned while working a summer job will likely fall far short of paying for increasingly expensive college tuitions, experts point out that working part-time has been shown to increase teens’ ability to manage social conflicts and helps build real-world and job experience.

Things have been looking pretty solid in the job market recently. Job openings have been on the rise and unemployment was down to 4.3% in May, the lowest i...

Why your retail job may be in more jeopardy than you think

Researcher says e-commerce and AI are creating a perfect storm for retail jobs

There's a common expression, "don't quit your day job," when your new venture doesn't seem quite ready for prime time.

But if your job is in retail, there are plenty of experts who say quitting might not be bad advice.

Dr. Keng Siau, chair and professor of business and information technology at Missouri University of Science and Technology, says people with jobs in retail need to be making alternate career plans right now.

He points to the obvious -- Amazon taking sales away from traditional brick-and-mortar retailers and putting many out of business. But he says there are things going on beneath the surface that will only accelerate that trend.

Teaching machines to interact with consumers

Retailers, he says, have embraced artificial intelligence (AI) and are using it to teach machines how to interact with customers.

“In a face-to-face environment, people may still prefer to interact with another human,” Siau said. “In a virtual environment or a non-face-to-face context, people could not care less about who or what is on the other end of the line or responding to online queries.”

He says these machines have a number of advantages over humans in the workplace, besides the obvious advantage of not having to pay them. He says sales machines can be programmed to use “Segment-of-One Marketing,” which enables the machine to track and understand individual customer behavior.

That means retailers will be able to customize products or personalize service to the individual customer, something that humans will have a hard time matching. Siau points out sales robots will be able to instantly access and process to serve every customer in a personalized way.

Replaceable

"Humans may become replaceable,” Siau concludes.

So if you are working in retail, the future might not be so bright. Siau says you don't have to switch careers immediately, because these changes won't reach critical mass overnight. But he does expect that eventually, many retail employees will eventually be replaced by AI.

In fact, you are already seeing it on a rudimentary scale in large supermarkets, where self-checkout stations have been installed. Instead of waiting in the checkout line, often manned by a union employee, consumers scan and bag their items at one of six to eight stations. These robotic checkout stations total the bill and accept payment.

If Siau is correct, these kinds of retail interactions are about to become a lot more common, as well as more sophisticated.

While many people have spent years working in retail, young people may be the biggest losers in this technological transformation. Most young people get their first work experience in short-term retail jobs, which may soon become short in supply.

There's a common expression, "don't quit your day job," when your new venture doesn't seem quite ready for prime time.But if your job is in retail, the...

Are your job prospects getting better or worse?

Last week presented workers with mixed signals

The latest report from the Labor Department on employment was a rude awakening for consumers hoping to find a new job in the months ahead.

Government economists reported employment edged up by only 98,000 last month -- well short of the 180,000 jobs projected by economists at Briefing.com. This was a significant retreat from the 219,000 jobs created in February and 216,000 in January.

At the same time, the unemployment rate dipped to 4.5% from 4.7% in February, the lowest level since May 2007, mainly because fewer people were looking for work.

But what does that mean if you were looking for a job last month? There doesn't seem to be a clear answer.

Likely to cool optimism

The Conference Board says the report was disappointing and is likely to cool the recent rising optimism in the U.S. economy.

"At 4.5%, the unemployment rate is back to 2007 levels," the Conference Board said in a statement. "In such a tight labor market, it becomes harder and more expensive to fill job openings and maintain rapid job growth. Despite the unexpectedly low job growth in March, with its unemployment and inflation targets already being more or less met, the Fed is still likely to stay on its current normalization course of between two and three additional rate hikes in 2017."

But that doesn't necessarily mean your job prospects have diminished. Employment website CareerBuilder.com reports the current conditions for hiring have rarely been better.

Hiring managers still bullish

According to the company's latest survey of hiring managers, 45% of U.S. employers plan to hire full-time, permanent employees in the second quarter – a significant jump from 34% last year. It's also the the highest percentage for the quarter dating back to 2007.

Even temporary hiring is expected to experience a huge boost, at a time when there is rising concern that robots are taking over jobs currently held by humans.

"This is the best forecast we have seen for the second quarter since we started doing this survey more than ten years ago," said Matt Ferguson, CEO of CareerBuilder. "Nearly half of employers hired full-time employees in the first quarter and that momentum is expected to continue over the next few months."

The survey found 49% of employers expect to hire temporary or contract workers over the next three months, up 12% from the second quarter of 2016. It's nearly double the rate in 2011, when the economy was struggling to overcome the effects of the Great Recession.

What's responsible for the employment optimism? Ferguson says the economy is improving, but it's also true that companies are paying close attention to Trump administration policies that are promoting job creation.

The latest report from the Labor Department on employment was a rude awakening for consumers hoping to find a new job in the months ahead.Government ec...

FTC sets out to prune occupational licensing

The proliferation of licensing hampers job growth, raises prices for consumers, the agency says

When you think of the Federal Trade Commission, you expect to hear of a new consumer protection measure or perhaps a corrective action taken against a company that short-changed consumers in some way.

So it may come as a surprise to learn that the FTC's newest initiative is something called the Economic Liberty Task Force, which Acting Chairman Maureen K. Ohlhausen said is her first major policy initiative for the agency.

To many consumers, "economic liberty" may sound like a license to plunder, but Ohlhausen says she's trying to address regulatory hurdles to job growth, including what she said is "the proliferation of occupational licensing."

Nearly 30 percent of American jobs require a license today, up from less than five percent in the 1950s, Ohlhausen said. For some professions, occupational licensing is necessary to protect the public against legitimate health and safety concerns. But in many situations, the expansion of occupational licensing threatens economic liberty, she said.

“This is an important moment for economic liberty. Governors, state legislators, and many other stakeholders want to move forward to remove or narrow occupational licensing regulations and open doors to opportunity, enhancing competition and innovation,” said Ohlhausen.

Obama was concerned too

It may sound outrageous, but Ohlhausen is not alone. Last year, the Obama Administration made $7.5 million in grants to organizations working to prune licensing requirements, which one federal report said not only retard job growth but also cost consumers more than $100 billion per year in higher prices.

The Defense Department has also weighed in on the issue, noting in a 2012 report that military spouses are often hampered in finding employment because of widely differing licensing requirements from one state to another.

"About 35 percent of military spouses work in professions that require state licenses or certification. They move across state lines far more frequently than the general population. These moves present administrative and financial channels," said one DoD report cited by Reason Magazine.

Ohlhausen's task force has set up a website that she said "will gather many existing resources, from the FTC and elsewhere, into a central repository for stakeholders." 

The website features FTC testimony before Congress on occupational licensure, as well as blogs on the topic, and selected speeches and articles by FTC officials and staff. 

When you think of the Federal Trade Commission, you expect to hear of a new consumer protection measure or perhaps a corrective action taken against a comp...

Survey suggests being funny at work can boost your career

But be careful, humor in the office is a double edge sword

The headline on the press release resulted in raised eyebrows: "survey says a sense of humor is an important part of company culture."

Really? Even in this day and age of hyper-sensitivity, when any innocent attempt at humor in the office could cause offense to someone, somewhere?

But a new survey by Accountemps found that 78% of chief financial officers believe an employee's sense of humor is at least some contributing factor to his or her success.

When asked, 22% said it was very important while 56% of CFOs rated it as somewhat important.

Boost moods and improve connections

"A sense of humor can boost moods and improve connections among colleagues," said Mike Steinitz, executive director of Accountemps. "Creating a positive and friendly work environment can lead to higher levels of employee engagement and productivity."

Maybe, but don't mistake your office for open mic night at the Improv. In the age of political correctness, humor is in the ear and sensitivity of the listener.

"The problem, most would say, is that humor is subjective: What you find amusing or side-splittingly hilarious, Mary in marketing and Amir in accounting most certainly do not," writes Alison Beard, in the Harvard Business Review.

But Beard notes there is a growing body of research suggesting humor in the workplace is worth the risk -- that a good belly laugh once in a while or a playful pun does wonders for productivity and morale.

Indeed, a Google search of "humor at work" reveals dozens of articles suggesting that people who are funny on the job tend to get ahead. There weren't all that many warning of the pitfalls, of which there are undoubtedly many.

A little levity

"Not all business matters are funny, but a little levity can go a long way, particularly when it comes to defusing tension or recovering from a minor mishap," Steinitz said. "There's nothing like a joke to put people at ease."

But Steinitz offers a few rules for workplace humor to keep you out of trouble. First, consider the circumstances. A chuckle might diffuse a tense situation but cracking a series of one-liners during a serious business meeting will be frowned upon.

Be careful where you express your humor. Emails and instant messages are dicey, since they are subject to misinterpretation. They're also permanent.

Self-deprecating humor is always safer. Getting a laugh at someone else's expense never works out well, as George Costanza learned in this scene from Seinfeld.

Finally, keep it G-rated. Anything off-color is bound to offend someone, and will probably result in a meeting with HR. When in doubt, save the material for open mic night at the Improv.

The headline on the press release resulted in raised eyebrows: "survey says a sense of humor is an important part of company culture."Really? Even in t...

Disney agrees to provide $3.8 million in back pay

Labor Department says thousands of employees were paid less than mimimum wage

The Walt Disney Co. had a very big weekend, raking in $170 million at U.S. box offices with the nationwide release of its live action fairy tale remake, "Beauty and the Beast."

The numbers perhaps show that the audience for movies these days is families, not young people, who perhaps can no longer afford them, and would who prefer to watch Netflix anyway.

Disney will need $3.8 million of that haul to settle a matter with the U.S. Labor Department. The money will go to 16,339 employees of the Disney Vacation Club Management Corp. and the Walt Disney Parks and Resorts U.S. Inc., two Florida-based entities.

The Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division hit Disney with alleged violations of minimum wage, overtime, and recordkeeping provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Employees charged for costumes

According to the complaint, the Disney operations had charged employees for the costumes they were required to wear as part of their jobs. The charge was deducted from their paychecks.

The resorts also allegedly did not provide pay for performances during a pre-shift period before the designated start of their shifts. The performers were also sometimes required to work after their shifts, again allegedly without pay. The government also said the Disney resorts failed to maintain proper payroll records.

Not uncommon

“These violations are not uncommon and are found in other industries, as well,” said Daniel White, district director for the Wage and Hour Division in Jacksonville. Fla.

White says employers may not make deductions from employees paychecks that take them below the minimum wage for the work they perform. Also, time on the job must be carefully tracked, including time before and after official shifts.

The Labor Department said Disney resorts cooperated with the investigation and "worked with the division to ensure employees received the pay they earned.”

The Walt Disney Co. had a very big weekend, raking in $170 million at U.S. box offices with the nationwide release of its live action fairy tale remake, "B...

20 jobs women are paid less for than men

Working as a financial advisor tops the list

There's been much discussion of pay inequities among men and women. Women have pointed out they tend to earn less than men for doing the same work and for assuming the same level of responsibility.

The financial news site 24/7 Wall St. has taken it a step further, conducting an analysis, using government data, to pinpoint the occupations where the pay inequity is greatest. It came up with "The 20 Worst-Paying Jobs for Women in America."

Here's the list:

  1. Personal financial advisors

  2. Insurance sales agents

  3. Physicians and surgeons

  4. Real estate brokers and sales agents

  5. Securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents

  6. Marketing and sales managers

  7. Administrative services managers

  8. Sales representatives, services, all other

  9. Other teachers and instructors

  10. Financial managers

  11. Credit counselors and loan officers

  12. Inspectors, testers, sorters, samplers, and weighers

  13. Retail salespersons

  14. Property, real estate, and community association managers

  15. Accountants and auditors

  16. Bartenders

  17. Lodging managers

  18. Financial analysts

  19. Designers

  20. First-line supervisors of food preparation and serving workers

Some surprises

The analysis found that women working as first-line supervisors in food service earn 72.8% of what men in those jobs do. But that's better than working as a personal financial advisor, the editors say. There, women earn just 55.6% of what a man does.

You might be surprised to see some of the occupations on the list, especially near the top of the list. But the report notes that the jobs where pay inequity is greatest tend to be the highest-paying jobs. Women earn a nice salary but men tend to earn an even nicer one.

The 24/7 Wall St. report comes on the heels of University of Chicago research, which we reported earlier this week, noting that women financial advisors -- the occupation where the pay gap is widest -- are fired for violations of policy more often than men.

There's been much discussion of pay inequities among men and women. Women have pointed out they tend to earn less than men for doing the same work and for...

Are workplace mistakes more costly for women?

Study contends female financial advisors are more likely to be fired than men

When focusing on the workplace, women's rights advocates usually point out the difference in pay that men and women receive for the same work and responsibility.

But researchers at three major business schools point to what they say is another troubling discrepancy. After analyzing the financial services industry, the researchers contend that men and women working as financial or wealth advisors are often treated differently for the same types of transgressions or violations of policy.

Men often get off with a reprimand, they say. Women get fired.

Gregor Matvos of the University of Chicago, Stanford’s Amit Seru and University of Minnesota’s Mark Egan collaborated on the paper, “When Harry Fired Sally: The Double Standard in Punishing Misconduct.”

They acknowledge the issue tends to get less attention because it is often difficult to quantify. Sometimes, charges of wrongful termination are without merit.

Hard to ignore the numbers

However, Matvos says it's hard to ignore the numbers. On average, he says, male financial advisors are not fired for similar transgressions. The study found that after an incidence of misconduct, female financial advisors were 20% more likely to be fired and 30% less likely to find a new job when compared to their male colleagues.

The research turned up something else. The researchers say men are far more likely to be found guilty of misconduct than women.

“Although men commit misconduct at a rate that is three times higher than women, women face substantially harsher punishments both by the firms that employ them, and other potential employers in the industry,” the authors write.

Women less likely to get a second chance

As an example, the study contends that if a woman is fired for violating a confidentiality agreement, she will have a more difficult time getting rehired than a man in similar circumstances.

“The financial advisory industry is willing to give male advisers a second chance, while female advisors are likely to be cast from the industry,” the study concludes.

The researchers say they were unable to identify the reason for the alleged discrimination. At first they suspected that women tended to commit transgressions that were more costly to the firm. That turned out not to be the case.

A follow-up study might ask women in the industry what they think is behind the phenomenon. The researchers site a survey in which nearly 88% of women in finance believe that discrimination exists within the industry. Nearly half said that gender discrimination exists at their firm, and 31% said that they have experienced discrimination.

When focusing on the workplace, women's rights advocates usually point out the difference in pay that men and women receive for the same work and responsib...

Young workers most likely to feel 'vacation shamed' for taking time off

New research finds that less than half of workers use all of their paid vacation days

The majority of working Millennials feel shamed for taking time off work, according to new research from Alamo Rent A Car.

“Vacation shame” was a familiar feeling for around half (49%) of U.S. workers, but young workers were most likely to report feeling shamed for planning and taking vacations from their jobs.

Last year, 59% of Millennials who responded to Alamo’s Family Vacation Survey said they felt vacation shamed. This year, the number rose to 68%. 

Millennials are more likely than non-Millennials to say that vacation shaming would keep them from planning or going on a vacation (40% compared to 17%). But across the board, feelings of guilt surrounding time off translate to unused paid vacation days.

Unused vacation days

Findings from the study showed that less than half of all workers (47%) are using all of their paid vacation days, compared with 60% in the 2015 study and 57% in the 2016 study.

Millennials were the least likely age group to say they used all of their vacation days, with 60% opting to leave unused vacation days on the table.

What’s more, nearly half (48%) of employees said they have felt the need to justify to their employer why they are using their vacation days. Of those who do muster up the emotional fortitude to use their paid time off, just one in five will actually go on a vacation. The majority choose to spend time staying home and running errands.

Forgoing rest and relaxation

"Our research shows roughly one in four U.S. workers say the biggest benefit of vacation is feeling less stressed at work -- yet, the majority still choose to limit their vacation days and forgo some much-needed rest and relaxation," said Rob Connors, vice president of brand marketing for Alamo Rent A Car.

"This year's survey suggests that American workers are putting a lot of pressure on themselves in workplaces when it comes to planning and taking vacations, especially in vacation-shaming environments,” he added.

Additional findings from the study showed that, overall, 54% of workers feel their colleagues are serious when they engage in vacation-shaming activities.

Interestingly, the generation most likely to feel vacation shamed is also the generation most likely to inflict guilt upon others. Millennials were more likely than non-Millennials to say they vacation shame their colleagues all of the time or sometimes (33% vs. 14%).

The majority of working Millennials feel shamed for taking time off work, according to new research from Alamo Rent A Car. “Vacation shame” was a famil...

Your chance of getting a job may be improving

Forecasting firm finds growing optimism among employers

The latest employment report from the Labor Department was cause for optimism if you're looking for a job. There was a big jump in job creation and the jobless rate dropped to 4.7%.

Here's more reason for optimism: a report by The Manpower Group projects U.S. employers will increase their hiring in the second quarter of the year.

The survey covered 11,000 U.S. employers, with 22% saying they plan to increase staff from April through June. Only 3% said they plan to reduce the workforce. That, The Manpower Group says, suggests a stable employment scene through the middle of 2017.

What's particularly encouraging for job seekers is data showing employers in all 13 industry sectors expecting to increase headcount during the period. The leisure and hospitality industry plans to expand by 28% – the most of any industry. Wholesale and Retail Trade expects to increase hiring by 21% and transportation and utilities by 20%.

Thinking positive

Michael Stull, senior vice-president, Manpower North America, says employers seem to have a positive outlook as they wait to see how Trump administration policies play out.

“We are also seeing an emerging positive outlook from manufacturing employers who are reporting some of their strongest hiring plans since the end of the recession," Stull said. "The sector is showing signs of entering a renaissance period, transforming itself to be higher tech and data driven, stepping up to the increased global competitiveness.”

But unlike in the past, Stull says this rebirth of American manufacturing is not taking place in the rust belt, but in the “brain-belt,” areas where there is a powerful mixture of education and technology.

But the rust belt shouldn't lose any ground. The report shows a stable hiring outlook in the Midwest and South, with much of the increase occurring in the West.

Broken down by states, job seekers in Montana, Colorado, Maine, Alaska, Hawaii, and Michigan may see the most opportunities over the next three months. Nashville, Provo, Utah, Colorado Springs, Fresno, Calif., and Raleigh, N.C., may offer plenty of new employment opportunities as well.

The latest employment report from the Labor Department was cause for optimism if you're looking for a job. There was a big jump in job creation and the job...

Career expectations vary widely by gender, study finds

But both men and women are choosing to delay their family plans to focus on their careers

A new survey commissioned by CareerBuilder finds that a majority of women over the age of 25 are postponing starting a family in order to focus on their careers.

Eighty-three percent of women are delaying their family plans while opting to allow their career to take center stage. Slightly fewer male respondents (79%) indicated that they were doing the same.

Wanting to earn and save enough money to provide for their family was the top reason to postpone family plans among both women and men who plan to have children. But while men and women may be equally content to focus on their careers, the two genders share few similarities in the realm of career expectations.

Different views

The study found that men and women have very different ideas of what they expect to get out of their career, in terms of both expected annual salary and job title.

“There is a growing trend among today’s workforce – both men and women are waiting to have children until they have reached their professional and financial goals,” said Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer at CareerBuilder.

“Despite similar reasons for postponing family plans, men and women differ widely on how much they expect to earn and at what level of position over their careers,” said Haefner.

Gender differences regarding career expectations were apparent in the fact that 44% of men expected to reach a six figure salary, compared to just 20% of women. Over a third of women (34%) believed there is unequal pay at their organization.

Title expectations

In addition to higher salaries, men were also more likely to expect higher job levels during their career. Twenty-two percent of women expected to remain or reach entry-level, while only 10% of men had such modest expectations.

More than double the amount of men (9%, compared to 4% of women) expected to become company owner. Aspirations to become vice president reflected a similar discrepancy, with 5% of men expecting to reach vice president level compared to just 2% of women.

Additional findings from the study showed that 63% of women who plan to have children are waiting until at least age 30 to start a family. Fifteen percent of women (and twice as many men) said they are waiting until at least age 35 to start a family. 

A new survey commissioned by CareerBuilder finds that a majority of women over the age of 25 are postponing starting a family in order to focus on their ca...

Why you may make more if you’re physically attractive

Researchers say it's a factor, but certain individual traits matter too

Tensions can run high amongst employees when it’s time for a company to distribute raises and promotions. Oftentimes, those who end up getting the short end of the stick will feel slighted, but does the fact that they’re making less than their coworkers have anything to do with their looks?

Researchers from the London School of Economics and Political Science and the University of Massachusetts believe that may be a factor. After conducting a study, they stated that being more physically attractive gave consumers an edge when it came to earning more income.

However, they say that beauty isn’t really the key aspect that leads to more money. It turns out that the personality traits and confidence imparted by being good-looking are more important.

"Physically more attractive workers may earn more, not necessarily because they are more beautiful, but because they are healthier, more intelligent, and have better personality traits conducive to higher earnings, such as being more Conscientious, more Extraverted, and less Neurotic," explains researcher Satoshi Kanazawa.

Personality matters

The idea that more attractive workers make higher salaries isn’t necessarily a new one; past studies have sought to address the “beauty premium” and “ugliness penalty,” as the researchers call it.

In the current study, the researchers evaluated the concepts by analyzing a nationally representative sample of U.S. workers. It rated workers based on physical attractiveness at four different points in life over a 13-year period. The findings were organized using a five-point scale.

The analysis showed that workers were not necessarily discriminated against because of how they looked. Rather, the researchers found that aspects such as health, intelligence, and major personality factors correlated with physical attractiveness.

“It appears that more beautiful workers earn more, not because they are beautiful, but because they are healthier, more intelligent, and have better (more Conscientious and Extraverted, and less Neurotic) personality,” the researchers said.

Pays to be unattractive?

In a bit of an ironic reversal, the researchers even found that in some cases it paid to be more unattractive than coworkers.

After analyzing the findings, Kanazawa and lead researcher Mary Still found that respondents who were rated as “very unattractive” on the scale usually made more than those who were simply unattractive. These workers were even able to challenge those more highly rated in beauty in some circumstances.

“Very unattractive respondents always earned significantly more than unattractive respondents, sometimes more than average-looking or attractive respondents,” the researchers said.

The full study has been published in the Journal of Business and Psychology.

Tensions can run high amongst employees when it’s time for a company to distribute raises and promotions. Oftentimes, those who end up getting the short en...

What stresses you out at work?

A survey finds deadline pressure is the most common source

Let's assume that people normally think they have a little too much stress at work. It just goes with the territory. No one thinks they have it easy, right?

But when CareerCast conducted a survey of its readers, it found nearly three-quarters of them believed they were under a lot of stress at work. Participants were asked to rate their stress on a scale of one to 10, with 10 being constant stress.

Almost no one admitted to a stress-free job. But the survey found 71% of participants rated their stress at seven or more, suggesting they believe they work in a very stressful environment.

Stressful deadlines

What's the source of the stress? Thirty percent said it was the deadlines they had to meet as part of the job. The next-closest source of stress was being responsible for other people's lives, like being an airline pilot, surgeon, or police officer. That came in at 17%.

Further down the list, 10.2% said competitiveness in the office was the biggest source of stress and 8.4% pointed to the physical demands of the job.

"There isn't much you can do about reducing stress if you are on the front lines and responsible for the lives of others aside from changing careers," said Kyle Kensing, online content editor for CareerCast. "However, if deadlines are causing undue stress at work, ask your supervisor for additional resources to help with the project or find out if timelines can be relaxed to find some relief."

Education more stressful than healthcare

Believe it or not, people who work in education reported higher stress levels than those in healthcare. Among education workers, 88.9% reported a stress level of seven or higher, while only 69% of healthcare workers did.

In between are people who work in customer service, the poor souls who spend each day listening to our complaints. Seventy-eight percent of customer service employees reported a stress level of seven or higher.

The survey found that the average employee spends 47 hours a week at work, not the customary 40 hours. That means the average employee is spending nearly 40% of his or her waking hours facing various job-related stress.

The survey found that stress was a principal reason some employees left a job. Nearly 59% of participants said they would leave their professions, if they could, to escape the stress.

Let's assume that people normally think they have a little too much stress at work. It just goes with the territory. No one thinks they have it easy, right...

Millennials seek stability in the workplace after a turbulent 2016

Here's what employers can do to combat Millennials' pessimism about the future

On the heels of a year that was anything but smooth sailing, Millennials appear to be apprehensive about their future. Shaken by terror attacks in Europe, Brexit, and a contentious presidential election, many Millennials are looking to their workplace to provide a sense of stability. 

Deloitte’s sixth annual Millennial survey found that young professionals are less likely to leave the security of their jobs, more concerned about uncertainty arising from conflict, and not optimistic about the directions their countries are going.

"This pessimism is a reflection of how millennials' personal concerns have shifted," said Mr Punit Renjen, Deloitte Global chief executive.

"Four years ago, climate change and resource scarcity were among millennials' top concerns. This year, crime, corruption, war, and political tensions are weighing on the minds of young professionals, which impacts both their personal and professional outlooks."

Looking for stability

As a result of their shaky confidence and heightened anxiety, Millennials are looking for stability and want to remain in their jobs. 

Last year, the “loyalty gap” between those who saw themselves leaving their companies within two years and those who anticipated staying beyond five years was 17 percentage points. This year, the balance of Millennials looking to “leave soon” is only seven points, according to the survey. 

Respondents said they intended to stay longer with employers that engage with social issues, such as education, unemployment, and healthcare. Those most optimistic about their countries' progress are more likely to report their employers getting involved with wider social and economic issues, the survey noted.

Addressing Millennial pessimism

Millennials who have a chance to contribute to charities and worthwhile causes in their workplaces are “less pessimistic about their countries’ general social/political situations and have a more positive opinion of business behavior,” explained Jim Moffat, Deloitte Global Consulting CEO.

Young professionals feel most able to make an impact via their workplace. Consequently, business and large organizations can address Millennials’ pessimism by doing more for society, says Renjen.  

“We're in the best position to address many of society's most challenging problems and lead the way in creating an economy that works for everyone."

On the heels of a year that was anything but smooth sailing, Millennials appear to be apprehensive about their future. Shaken by terror attacks in Europe,...

Young people feel personally responsible for own work ability, study finds

However, putting too much responsibility on these workers is unhealthy, says one researcher

Are you responsible for knowing how to do your own job?

The obvious answer seems to be yes, and many young workers would agree with the sentiment. But a new study by doctoral researcher Maria Boström suggests that employees should not shoulder all the responsibility for maintaining work ability. The fact that many do, she says, is actually pretty dangerous.

"It is really serious when young people feel that they must assume responsibility for their own work ability. The employer, of course, has a large responsibility for creating good conditions in working life and one should not expect young people to assume such a large responsibility," she said.

Common misconception

Boström, who is a qualified physiotherapist and ergonomist, conducted a study that gauged perceptions of work ability in 24 participants between the ages of 25 and 30. The group was evenly split between men and women and was defined by varying levels of education and a wide disparity in the job they held; for example, the group included a carpenter, restaurant employee, doctor, engineer, and a cleaner.

While the individual participants differed in many ways, one of the things they had in common was the way they perceived work ability. Each person believed that they were responsible for maintaining their ability to do their job and stay motivated.

"They perceived that it is up to them. I'm the one who has to experience working life as being meaningful and I'm the one who has to possess knowledge and then be able to solve everything myself. I believe it is unfortunate that they perceive things in that way," says Maria Boström. "They perceive that if the boss is friendly, warm and provides support, work ability is enhanced, but they do not expect the boss to create conditions for a good work ability.”

Creating a healthy environment

Boström believes that having this mindset isn’t healthy for young workers because it sets a bad precedent for the rest of their working lives. This is seen primarily, she says, when it comes to taking on more work or finding time to step away from the job.

"There are many players who can be of importance in order for people to be able to both enter, and deal with, working life. One needs to know when one can speak out and when one should speak out, for example when one has too much to do,” she said. “Recovery is important, not least of all for young people in working life. Moreover, young adults assess a balance between work and leisure, which benefits recovery and work ability.”

To counteract this dangerous trend, Boström says that employers should focus on introduction, guidance, and mentorship. By developing these aspects early, she believes that young workers can enter the working world in a healthy way.

The full study has been published in the International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health.

Are you responsible for knowing how to do your own job?The obvious answer seems to be yes, and many young workers would agree with the sentiment. But a...

The downside of working from home

You'll probably put in more hours without getting paid for them

Telecommuting is much more common than it once was. And while there are many benefits for employees sick of the morning commute and office politics, there can be a few drawbacks as well.

Researchers at the University of Iowa and the University of Texas analyzed data from a study of American workers who put in the standard 40 hours each week. What they found was employees who worked just part of the time from home or other remote location put in an average three hours more per week, without pay, cutting into family time.

Co-author Mary Noonan says the results should cause employees to rethink the value of telecommuting.

“To think that telecommuting eases the burden may be a little simplistic,” Noonan said. “It cuts down on commuting time, and it appears to add more flexibility to the work day. But it can extend the day, and it doesn’t get you much more in terms of wage growth.”

Extra productivity doesn't equal extra compensation

That's because when you work from home, you may be more likely to keep working after normal business hours. While it might make you more productive, it won't necessarily add to your compensation.

But won't putting in extra work help you get ahead, making you more valued within the organization and increase your future earnings? The researchers said they found no evidence to support that assumption.

When they looked at the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, conducted between 1989 and 2008, they found little difference in earning growth between those who had worked remotely at some point and those who had always commuted to an office.

Overtime pay

The big difference may lie in overtime pay. The study suggests office workers are more likely to be paid for extra hours, while telecommuters just extend their work time, taking up home and family time.

In spite of this, it's clear many employees choose to work from home if given the opportunity. The benefits are obvious -- being able to be at your desk at an early hour without having to fight morning rush hour traffic to get there is a big plus.

Noonan says some employers are beginning to offer telecommuting opportunities to attract top talent. In these cases, she says employees should carefully track their time and ask for extra compensation when they work extra hours.

Telecommuting is much more common than it once was. And while there are many benefits for employees sick of the morning commute and office politics, there...

Things not to do on a job interview

CareerBuilder's survey shows being normal just might separate you from the pack

Despite the drop in the unemployment rate, getting a job these days is no slam dunk. There is usually plenty of competition for the good jobs, and employers want to be sure they are getting the right person before making a commitment.

That's why the job interview is still a very important step in getting that first job or moving up in your career. Your resume may have gotten you in the door, but it is up to you to close the deal with the interviewer.

So CareerBuilder.com's annual list of the strangest job interviews may prove helpful in avoiding the kind of faux pas that can immediately put an end to your chances. This year's list is so strange it almost defies credulity.

If you bring pizza, at least offer to share

Among the strange things hiring managers report is the candidate whose first question was where was the nearest bar, or the candidate who brought, and ate a pizza during the interview – and didn't offer to share!

One hiring manager said a candidate asked her out to dinner after the interview. One candidate asked the hiring manager why her aura didn't like the candidate. Another candidate picked up crumbs off the table during the interview and ate them.

Okay, these are some pretty outlandish, over-the-top actions that just about everyone knows would torpedo chances of employment. But the hiring managers in the survey offered up some other, not so obviously crazy actions that could prevent you from landing the job.

Make eye contact

Two thirds of hiring managers said they were bothered by candidates who failed to make eye contact. More than a third said they downgraded a candidate who never smiled.

Nearly as many cited candidates with nervous ticks, either fidgeting in their seats or playing with something on the table. Handshakes that were either too strong or too week were also turn-offs.

Some of the mistakes cited by hiring managers might be due to nervousness on the part of the candidate, but Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer for CareerBuilder, says that's easily avoided.

"The best solution to minimize pre-interview anxiety is solid preparation," she said. "If you don't read about the company and research your role thoroughly, you could magnify your fear of interviewing poorly and lose the opportunity."

Simple courtesy is also a basic requirement. You don't take a phone call or answer a text during a job interview, as more than a few hiring managers reported.

Being normal, it seems, could give you a leg up in the job market.

Despite the drop in the unemployment rate, getting a job these days is no slam dunk. There is usually plenty of competition for the good jobs, and employer...

IBM wants to hire 25,000 new employees

And many of these jobs don't require a four-year college degree

The CEO of U.S. Steel announced last week that his company intends to rehire some 10,000 steelworkers laid off in the latest economic downturn.

Now, another major U.S.-based corporation is disclosing plans to bring on more employees. In an Op-Ed in USA Today this week, IBM CEO Ginni Rometty said Big Blue may hire up to 25,000 new employees – as many as 6,000 of them in the coming year.

But she points out that these workers have so far been hard to find. She calls them “new collar” employees, as opposed to white or blue collar positions. IBM, she says, is looking for bright men and women who don't necessarily have a four-year college degree.

Nature of work is evolving

“We are hiring because the nature of work is evolving – and that is also why so many of these jobs remain hard to fill,” Rometty writes. “As industries from manufacturing to agriculture are reshaped by data science and cloud computing, jobs are being created that demand new skills – which in turn requires new approaches to education, training and recruiting.”

Obviously a lot of the highly-technical jobs at IBM require advanced college degrees, but already, Rometty says the company is expanding the number of jobs that don't. At some IBM installations, she says as many as one-third of employees do not have a four-year degree.

She says these jobs, such as cloud computing technicians and services delivery specialists, require relevant skills – skills that can often be gained through vocational training.

While this is very good news to young people considering a career in technology, it is not so good news to the nation's colleges and universities, and many of the students who paid dearly to attend them.

Salaries start at $40,000 to $50,000

The technology website Quartz quotes Sam Ladah, an IBM vice president for human resources, as saying as many as 15% of IBM's new hires don't have a four-year degree and many start off with salaries of between $40,000 and $50,000 a year.

In a further dig at expensive higher education, it quotes Lazlo Bock, a former HR executive at Google, as saying college too often just prolongs adolescence.

The changing nature of the technology labor force, says Rometty, requires changes in education. She points to new six-year technical high schools that prepare graduates for “new collar” jobs as highly effective. She also calls for updating the Perkins Career and Technical Education Act that governs federal support for vocational education.

The CEO of U.S. Steel announced last week that his company intends to rehire some 10,000 steelworkers laid off in the latest economic downturn.Now, ano...

Your office Christmas party could make or break your career

Here are some tips for avoiding the pitfalls

Among the weekend's new movie releases was “Office Christmas Party,” a seasonal comedy starring Jennifer Aniston and Jason Bateman.

The movie plays the corporate tradition for laughs with raunchiness and over-the-top hi jinks. An entertaining movie, says Florida State University business professor Wayne Hochwarter, but not exactly a guide for your career. At least, not if you want to keep working.

“Tonight the decisions you make will have consequences that’ll haunt you for the rest of your professional lives,” one of the movie's characters says as the office party is about to begin.

It’s a funny movie line, Hochwarter says, but not so funny if it actually comes true. But on the flip side, he says attending your company's annual holiday merry-making could actually advance your career, as long as you do the right things and avoid the wrong ones.

Put in an appearance

Hochwarter says employees should go to the office party. It should not only be enjoyable, it demonstrates to colleagues and superiors that you're part of the team.

“I tell my students the Christmas party is a work party. Look at it as work,” Hochwarter said. “You may not want to go, but you might be ostracized if you don’t go. There’s a certain obligation to it.”

Don't hook-up or get drunk

It might seem obvious, but getting hammered in front of your boss and co-workers can't be a good thing, and Hochwarter says playing the role of “the drunken fool” is the quickest way to kill a career.

One of the dangers of getting drunk at the office party is your judgment could go out the window and you might find yourself getting a little too romantic with a co-worker. That is sure to follow you back to the office when everyone sobers up.

Hochwarter says bosses are increasingly concerned about employee fraternization and the complications it can lead to. It's another reason to switch to club soda after a couple of drinks.

Be sociable

Not everyone is comfortable in social settings. Sometimes they can be awkward, especially when employees aren't sure how to engage with supervisors outside the office environment.

That's why Hochwarter suggests giving some thought to some light conversation topics before arriving at the party. Avoid talking business and steer clear of controversial topics.

“It should be a social function,” Hochwarter said. “If you ask people work-related stuff, why do you need a party? People don’t want to do that stuff at a Christmas party. They just want to get to know people a little bit better.”

Toward that end, Hochwarter says it is important to mingle, trying to speak or say hello to as many people at the party as possible, without getting trapped in a never-ending conversation.

Have an exit strategy with a target departure time and be sure to express your gratitude to your boss and others who may have organized the party.

If all this doesn't sound like a great night out, it probably isn't – and that's the point. You aren't there to blow off steam and have a great time, but rather to make a positive impression on your boss and co-workers.

Among the weekend's new movie releases was “Office Christmas Party,” a seasonal comedy starring Jennifer Aniston and Jason Bateman.The movie plays the...

Here are the 'hot jobs' for 2017

Careerbuilder says employers want people with skills that can generate revenue

The job market is always in a state of flux, especially in recent years. Today's hot job with a lucrative salary and benefits may go to a robot next year.

So how do you know where to look when it's time to change jobs, or even careers? CareerBuilder and Emsi have assembled a list of what they consider the hottest jobs for 2017 based on compensation, job growth, and the recent number of existing positions.

The study focuses on five main categories where there is on-going demand and a significant number of job postings each month. Not surprisingly, it found numbers crunching and revenue generation will be in demand.

“Our research shows that employers are very invested in expanding headcount in areas such as analytics and data science, product development and sales as they strive to stay competitive in B2B and B2C markets,” said Matt Ferguson, CEO of CareerBuilder. “Skilled laborers will also see high employment demand in the year ahead as will workers in clinical roles.”

Here are the hot jobs

People thinking about making a career move in 2017 will likely be interested in the findings.

Sales jobs lead the categories by a wide margin. The study found more than 16 million sales jobs this year, paying from $12.91 to $22.13 an hour. There were more than 13 million jobs for people with trade skills, and those jobs paid more – from $17 to $25.70 an hour.

The highest potential pay, however, may lie with jobs in business and financial operations. There were nearly eight million of these jobs posted this year, an 8% increase over the last four years, paying between $32.95 and $57.97 an hour.

Information technology jobs are growing the fastest – at a 12% rate over the last four years. These jobs pay between $30.91 and $49.41 an hour.

Health care positions also remain in demand, growing at an 8% rate. These jobs pay $29.82 to $43.61 an hour.

The job market is always in a state of flux, especially in recent years. Today's hot job with a lucrative salary and benefits may go to a robot next year. ...

Employers expect to hire fewer people in 2017

But the reason for the lowered expectations isn't clear

Despite a steadily improving economy and a “Trump rally” that has sent Wall Street soaring, America's employers appear to be dialing back their hiring plans.

A survey from DHI Group, Inc., a data analysis firm, found 56% of hiring managers expect increased hiring levels in the first half of 2017. While encouraging, it's a six-point drop from six months ago and a five point drop from when they were asked the same question a year ago.

Even 68% of employers who focus on hiring IT professionals have lowered their targets, even though technology jobs have been among the hardest to fill.

Taking longer to fill jobs

The survey also found that vacant staff positions are taking longer to fill. About half of hiring managers say the time it takes to fill open positions has lengthened since last year, which at the time was the longest since the survey began.

Again, the job openings in the tech sector appear to be the ones that take longest to fill. That suggests that the reason hiring managers are lowering their outlook for 2017 might have more to do with the competitive landscape than any expectations about the economy.

"Finding the right candidates for the right positions continues to be a challenge for America's hiring managers as demand for highly skilled professionals creates tension and competition among employers," said Michael Durney, President and CEO of DHI Group. "To combat the time a position remains unfilled, recruiters are turning to sourcing and services which speed efficiency. But, professionals remain ultimately in control and are asking for more money during the recruiting process."

New hires cost more

Rising wages could well be another reason that employers expect to scale back in the coming year. If they have to pay more to fill a position, they may try to consolidate resources or leave positions open for longer periods of time. The fact that 59% of hiring managers expect they'll have to pay more to hire new people in 2017 suggests the pay issue could be a key factor in a slowing labor market.

The U.S. economy added 161,000 new jobs to the economy in October – a slowing from earlier in the year – and the unemployment rate dropped to 4.9%. Last week Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer suggested the U.S. economy is very close to full employment, if not there already.

Despite a steadily improving economy and a “Trump rally” that has sent Wall Street soaring, America's employers appear to be dialing back their hiring plan...

Deck the halls -- and all that jazz

Companies say they plan to spend more on holiday parties this year

Is the company you work throwing a holiday party this year? If so, chances are it'll be better than last year's.

Challenger, Gray & Christmas says its annual survey finds that 80% of companies are planning parties this year, and that just over 21% will be spending more for them.

Chalk it up to a stable economy and rising corporate profits.

After dipping in the last of half of 2015, corporate profits are back above $1.6 trillion, according to government data. “Our survey suggests that employers are ready to spend some of those profits on their workers,” said John A. Challenger, the outplacement consultancy's CEO.

The Challenger survey was conducted in October among a small sampling of approximately 100 human resources executives, representing a variety of industries across the country.

More than 66% of those who responded said they'll be hiring caterers or event planners -- up 4% from last year. Firms are also allowing more guests at their parties: 42.9% will include spouses or family; just 31% did in 2015.

“Company holiday parties are a great way for employers to thank workers for a successful year,” said Challenger. “For employees, it’s a great way to meet and interact with co-workers and managers who are not part of one’s daily routine. If you happen to be attending the holiday party of a spouse or friend, it could be a great opportunity to network.”

Better behave

“In addition to the benefits, however, holiday parties can be fraught with risks, for both employers, employees, and guests,” Challenger warned. “The biggest risk, of course, is related to alcohol consumption.”

In fact, almost 62% of those responding to the survey said their holiday parties would include alcohol, versus 54% who said they would open the bar last year.

“Serving alcohol can make for a more celebratory mood, but it also has pitfalls, especially for employees and their guests. Company parties are not necessarily a time to let loose,” Challenger cautioned.

Just 20% of respondents said that their companies won't be having a party this year, 16% of which said they never do. The percentage of companies not having parties is on par with the percentage of companies not having parties a year ago.

Tips for partiers

OK party animals, here are some guidelines from Challenger for getting the most out of your attendance:

  • Arrive early -- This might be your best opportunity to talk with senior executives while things are still relatively quiet.
  • Work the room -- It's easy to simply socialize with the members of your department, with whom you work with day in and day out. However, you gain if you use this occasion to meet people in other departments. You never know who can help your career.
  • Do NOT over-indulge -- Free booze can quickly lead to excessive drinking. Stay in control. You do not want to do anything that will embarrass you or your employer. Even if your alcohol-induced actions don't get you fired, they could hurt your chances for advancement.
  • Be friendly, but not too friendly -- The company party is not the place to try out your latest pick-up lines. The risk of such behavior being seen as sexual harassment is high.
  • Avoid talking business -- This isn't the time to approach your boss with a new business idea. Save that for Monday morning. Instead, find out about his or her interests outside of the office. Find a connection on a personal level. That connection may help you on Monday when you bring up the new idea and it could help when it comes time for salary reviews.
  • Attend other companies’ parties -- Fifty-two percent of company parties are employees only. If a friend invites you to his or her company party, you should go. It's an opportunity to expand your professional network, which is critical in this era of downsizing and job switching.
Is the company you work throwing a holiday party this year? If so, chances are it'll be better than last year's.Challenger, Gray & Christmas says its a...

Job applicants often escape a background check

Here's what employers look for when they do check you out

When you apply for a job, you should probably expect to undergo a background check. It's almost standard practice these days.

Or is it?

A new survey from Careerbuilder.com suggests your chance of avoiding a deep probe into your background is actually pretty good. More than one in four employers – 28% – said they hire employees without performing a background check.

Maybe that makes your chances of getting a job slightly better, but Careerbuilder says if you aren't a good match for the position, ultimately it will show up and be costly.

“If an employee isn’t well-suited for the job or has a bad attitude, the time they spend not working could significantly impact your bottom line. That’s why it’s so important to make sure qualifications are substantiated,” said Ben Goldberg, CEO of Aurico, a CareerBuilder company.

Costs of a bad hire

Goldberg says it may be hard to quantify the cost, but it adds up when you consider the loss of employee morale, the additional supervision that employee needs, productivity loss for the organization, revenue that’s not being generated, and client relationships that could be turning sour as a result of bad impressions.

If you are applying with an employer who does perform background checks, here's what you should expect: the most common investigation is for any criminal activity. If you've never been arrested, you don't have much to worry about.

Sixty-two percent of employers check for previous employment, so it's a good idea to be truthful on your resume. Sixty percent will check to make sure you are who you say you are and 50 percent will check your education credentials.

Forty-four percent will check for prior illegal drug use and only 29% will run a credit check.

Honesty is the best policy

All of this suggests that it will pay dividends to be open and honest with a prospective employer. If you aren't a good fit, it will become apparent very quickly.

Twenty percent of employers who admit to making a bad hire say they will know within the first week of hiring a candidate whether or not they made a mistake. More than half say they will know within the first three weeks.

That could mean your job search could start all over again.

When you apply for a job, you should probably expect to undergo a background check. It's almost standard practice these days.Or is it?A new survey...

Companies starting to train own employees for hard-to-fill positions

'Upskilling' gives currently employed people a chance to move up

There are still plenty of people looking for work, but companies are becoming increasingly particular about who they hire. In the digital age, they are looking for employees with certain skill sets and often complain that they can't find them.

According to the ManpowerGroup annual survey, the problem is only getting worse. The survey found 46% of employers reported trouble filling certain jobs because they couldn't find skilled candidates. That's a big jump from the 32% who reported that problem last year.

The survey also found this growing problem has changed the dynamics of the job market, and while it might not help job seekers in the short run, it could definitely benefit people who are currently employed, but haven't been able to persuade their boss they need a raise.

'Upskilling'

Here's what's happening: employers frustrated at the lack of qualified candidates have begun looking around their own organizations, finding competent and proven employees performing lower skilled jobs, and have begun training them for the hard-to-fill jobs. It's called “upskilling.”

"We see this particularly in industries like manufacturing, construction, transportation and education," said Kip Wright, senior vice president of Manpower North America. "When the talent isn't available, organizations need to turn to training and developing their own people – and in many cases this means first identifying the skills that will be required in increasingly digital industries, like manufacturing.”

The benefit for companies is the employees are known quantities. If they have proved reliable in their current capacities, there's a reasonable expectation they would be reliable in a new capacity, assuming they received adequate training and had the aptitude.

Path for advancement

For employees, it's a path toward advancement in a career, which would likely lead to increased pay. Employees who believe they have a chance at upward mobility are likely to have better morale.

The survey measured businesses in 42 countries and territories and found that it's hardest to find skilled trades workers. After that, IT positions have been the hardest to fill.

For job seekers, obtaining these skills could improve the chances of landing a job. On the other hand, getting any kind of position at a company willing to “upskill” its employees could be a ticket to a new career without having to pay for training.

There are still plenty of people looking for work, but companies are becoming increasingly particular about who they hire. In the digital age, they are loo...

Lack of control in a high-stress job could cause you to die younger

Flexibility within a job is important to employees' health, study suggests

The effects of one’s job don’t always stay neatly tucked away at the office. Numerous studies have proven that your job can impact your health, even beyond the hours of 9 to 5.

One study found that answering work emails after hours can leave employees feeling depleted, while others have found that feeling control over one’s job can help a person stave off work-related stress.

Now, a new study from the Indiana University Kelley School of Business has found that being in a high-stress job with little control over your workflow may send you to an early grave.

15.4% increased risk of dying

To conduct the study, researchers analyzed 2,363 Wisconsin residents in their 60s. At the end of seven years, the team found that participants who had jobs with little control and high demands had a 15.4% higher risk of dying compared to those in low-control jobs with low demands.

"We explored job demands, or the amount of work, time pressure and concentration demands of a job, and job control, or the amount of discretion one has over making decisions at work, as joint predictors of death," said lead author Erik Gonzalez-Mulé, assistant professor of organizational behavior and human resources at the Kelley School.

In contrast to those in low-control and high-demand jobs, employees who held positions in demanding jobs with high amounts of control had a 34% decrease in the likelihood of death.

Gonzalez-Mulé says these findings “suggest that stressful jobs have clear negative consequences for employee health when paired with low freedom in decision-making, while stressful jobs can actually be beneficial to employee health if also paired with freedom in decision-making."

Importance of flexibility

The study underscores the importance of flexibility and discretion in the workplace. The ability to set one’s own goals and have a say in how the work gets done could have a positive impact on employees’ health, explained Gonzalez-Mulé.

"You can avoid the negative health consequences if you allow them to set their own goals, set their own schedules, prioritize their decision-making and the like,” he said, adding that increased flexibility may also translate to thinner employees.

The study found that people in demanding jobs with little control were heavier than those in demanding jobs with a high amount of control.

In explaining why this may be, Gonzalez-Mulé points out that “when you don't have the necessary resources to deal with a demanding job, you do this other stuff. You might eat more, you might smoke, you might engage in some of these things to cope with it."

Restructuring jobs

The study’s findings highlight the benefits of job crafting, says Gonzalez-Mulé. Research has shown that job crafting -- a process which gives employees the ability to mold their job into something more meaningful to them -- can create happier and more productive workers.

He notes that in some settings, job crafting may not be feasible. For a construction worker, for example, he explains that it would be "hard to allow them autonomy; there's usually just one right way to do things.”

But in some blue-collar jobs, Gonzalez-Mulé says job crafting is very much a possibility. Flex-time and pay based on piece-rate are a few of the ways employers in factory settings can show employees the outcome of their work.

The effects of one’s job don’t always stay neatly tucked away at the office. Numerous studies have proven that your job can impact your health, even beyond...

Government sees tightening labor market

There were a lot fewer job openings in August than July

If you have been searching for a job lately, you might have noticed employment is a little harder to come by.

The U.S. Labor Department's latest Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) shows that at the beginning of September there was a drop in the number of posted job openings in the U.S., with fewer people leaving or starting jobs.

That happens to coincide with the September employment report, which showed a slight uptick in the unemployment rate to 5%, mainly because more people were actively looking for jobs.

According to the government numbers, there were 5.4 million job openings on the last day of August, 388,000 fewer than at the end of July. The job openings rate was 3.6% in August, with the number of openings dropping over the month for both government and the private sector.

New hiring was mostly flat from the month before. The report shows 5.2 million people started new jobs in August, at a hiring rate of 3.6%.

Fairly static labor market

The Labor Department says the numbers point to a fairly static labor market, with about the same number of layoffs in August as in July.

Other data suggests job growth is slowing. For example, the economy produced 156,000 new jobs in September, after averaging 229,000 a month in 2015.

Analysts say this particular set of data tends to be volatile, so it is hard to draw many conclusions. However, should this become a trend, it could be a sign that business is losing confidence in the economy, and people seeking jobs may have to look longer and harder.

If you have been searching for a job lately, you might have noticed employment is a little harder to come by.The U.S. Labor Department's latest Job Ope...

How to get your resume noticed for the right reasons

Lead with your skills and tailor it to the specific job

If you've been out in the job market seeking employment, whether you are moving from an existing job or just starting out, you know how tough it can be.

Hiring managers complain they can't find enough people to fill jobs, but what they are really saying is they can't find people with the needed skills to fill the position. Or at least, they think they can't.

What you have to do is set yourself apart from the crowd and call attention to your skills and qualifications. And you don't have very long to do it.

Resume mistakes

Careerbuilder's annual Resume Mistakes Survey, conducted by the Harris Poll, found that 43% of human resources (HR) managers, the gatekeepers to most jobs, spend less than one minute looking at a resume. About 24% said they spend less than 30 seconds before deciding which pile it goes in.

That puts enormous pressure on a jobseeker when he or she produces a resume. Making a strong, positive first impression is key to moving to the second phase, meeting with a hiring manager.

When the survey-takers asked the HR people to provide examples of the wrong approach to getting noticed, they had plenty to offer. These resumes probably got passed around the office, but for the wrong reasons.

How about a proof reader?

Some gaffs might have been avoided by just having someone proofread the document. In one case, the applicant’s name was auto-corrected from “Flin” to “Flintstone.” Making matters worse, his first name was Freddie.

Another applicant claimed he had “great attention to detail,” but misspelled “attention.”

HR officers say embellishment is also a big problem. Seventy-seven percent said they have spotted a lie on a resume, such as the applicant who listed work at a federal prison as part of his employment history. It turned out he had been an inmate.

Too much information

Other applicants reveal too much about themselves that shows they really aren't a serious, business-like person. Such as the applicant who said he had been a prince in a previous life or the applicant who used direct quotes from Star Wars throughout his resume.

What to do

Those are some of the things not to do. So what did the HR officials say they want to see on a resume? The biggest thing your can do to help your case is customize the resume for the job.

For example, let's say you are applying for a job in sales and your experience is divided between sales and management. Tweak your resume to emphasize your sales experience and make sure it is reflected in your goals. In other words, let the HR official know what you can do in that specific job.

Also, HR managers say they want to see skills listed first on a resume and they expect a cover letter. If it is addressed to the HR person personally, it will win added points.

If you've been out in the job market seeking employment, whether you are moving from an existing job or just starting out, you know how tough it can be....

Care.com provides contract workers with $500 limited benefit platform

It represents a big step for independent contractors working in the gig economy

Being an independent contractor in the gig economy can come with its own pros and cons. While many like the flexibility of being able to work where and when they want, many more are wary to engage in a job that doesn’t give much stability or the generous benefits plan that many larger companies provide.

Now, one company has taken steps towards providing its contract workers with some breathing room. In a new plan announced today, Care.com has said it will provide its caregivers $500 per year to use on health care, transportation, and education expenses. It marks one of the earliest company commitments towards providing contract workers with employee benefits in the gig economy.

“Caregivers constitute one of the largest segments of the gig economy and the fastest growing large job category in our country. Caregivers frequently work for multiple families and almost always work without access to professional benefits,” said Sheila Marcelo, founder and chief executive of Care.com.

“The Care.com Benefits platform not only provides that access but now makes these benefits more affordable through the help of employer contribution to the program. Pooled, portable, peer-to-peer benefits represent a new model for household employment and an innovative step forward in professionalizing caregivers.”

An important step

The new plan stands in stark contrast to the support that many contract employees have enjoyed over the past few years. While several initiatives have been started to provide contract workers with benefits, more often than not they end up falling flat.

Take, for instance, the attempt by the New York Taxi Workers Alliance. In 2012, a labor organization moved to have taxi medallion owners deduct six cents from every cab fare to fund portable health and disability insurance for drivers. It lasted for a little while, but the New York Supreme Court shut down the regulation in 2014.

Cases like these tend to pervade the culture of the gig economy, so Care.com’s new plan may end up being influential towards similar causes. “We’re starting to see the first signs of life, where companies see it as in their interest to collect money for workers to get benefits. It’s a really important step,” said Sara Horowitz of the Freelancers Union.

“A strong care workforce is critical to our economy and the well-being of families, yet we lack a scalable solution to provide benefits for these workers who support us all,” said Marcelo. “As freelance labor moves to work for different people, their benefits should move with them. We haven’t seen anyone do what we’re doing. We think it’s groundbreaking.”

Being an independent contractor in the gig economy can come with its own pros and cons. While many like the flexibility of being able to work where and whe...

How the growing cybersecurity threat is creating millions of jobs

One study cites a skills gap and a lack of qualified people needed to fill positions

Hackers and cybercriminals keep getting smarter and more sophisticated, making government and private IT professionals scramble to keep up. Perversely, it's also creating job opportunities.

Increasingly, vulnerable organizations don't have the people they need to defend themselves. That's the takeaway from a study by Foote Partners, which tracks IT jobs across all skill levels.

Its report estimates the demand for cybersecurity professionals will climb to six million by 2019, with an anticipated shortfall of about 1.5 million.

The reason, the report argues, is a skills gap. There aren't enough people trained to defend databases and networks from attack, or who have the latest skills required to do so. Some of the people who are in place aren't the right people, the study argues, since the whole field has rapidly changed with the mushrooming threat.

“They may have good technical people who can fix firewalls and implement basic perimeter solutions,” the authors write. “But what’s missing are enough of the sort of people who can make the case for cybersecurity being linked to business challenges and business developments.”

Job opportunities

While this is perceived as a weakness for organizations, it could present opportunities for people considering a career, or career change. A check of job site Monster.com showed more than 1,000 cybersecurity job openings.

“Government and the private sector haven’t brought enough urgency to solving the cybersecurity talent shortage” said Chris Young, senior vice president and general manager of Intel Security Group.

However, some clearly have. Microsoft has taken a leading role in pushing development of cybersecurity in the Internet of Things (IoT) and globally-relevant IoT standards. Microsoft recently advocated government action to help protect IoT, including a private-public partnership to pursue guidelines for cybersecurity.

New challenges and vulnerabilities

IoT presents new challenges and vulnerabilities. As more things become connected to networks, there is greater opportunity to break into them. Once inside, a hacker might be able to access other connected devices or even networks.

Analysts at Gartner think that within just four years, more than a quarter of hacking attacks on organizations will involve IoT. That will require more spending than is currently allocated, and it will require more people, they say.

According to the Foote study, Cisco System is ramping up its cybersecurity training efforts. It recently said it would invest $10 million in a two-year scholarship program to help close the skills gap.

For people interested in pursing these career opportunities, the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Careers and Studies might be a good resource.

Hackers and cybercriminals keep getting smarter and more sophisticated, making government and private IT professionals scramble to keep up. Perversely, it'...

Personal interests and family matter when it comes to picking a career

Employees who pick a career with non-work factors in mind have greater life satisfaction

Picking which career you want to pursue is a big decision with a many different variables to consider. While some people may consider how much money they can earn to be an overriding factor, a new study shows that you shouldn’t eliminate non-work factors from the equation.

A team of psychologists from the University of Bern in Switzerland have found that people who consider family, personal interests, and civic engagements when picking a career are more satisfied in the long run. Additionally, they say that taking these factors into account did not negatively affect how much a person could earn.

Family and personal interests matter

These conclusions fly in the face of many long-held beliefs that professionals have about a person’s dedication to their job.

“In many organisations, there is still a prevailing image that an ideal employee completely and totally lives for work. On the other hand, people who are strongly involved in nonwork activities are often told that they do not have enough ambition for their career and that it could have negative consequences on their career success,” explains senior researcher Andreas Hirschi.

However, the results of the study indicate that this simply isn’t the case. Hirschi and his colleagues followed roughly over 500 German employees over the course of six months to see how their career choices affected their overall satisfaction. They found that participants who had an increased attention towards family, personal interests, and civic engagement had higher general satisfaction with their lives.

Perhaps most importantly, the researchers found that focusing on non-work factors when picking a career did not affect how much a person was likely to earn. This held true across participants of different ages and gender.

“The results suggest that, in general, it is worth [it] to actively include nonwork aspects like family or personal interests in career planning,” said Hirschi.

The full study has been published in the Journal of Vocational Behavior

Picking which career you want to pursue is a big decision with a many different variables to consider. While some people may consider how much money they c...

Workers not quite ready for the 'gig economy'

Survey finds reluctance to work as an independent contractor

There are pros and cons to working as an independent contractor instead of an employee. But a new survey suggests workers see more cons than pros.

Deloitte surveyed nearly 4,000 workers and found that 67% of those who had worked as an independent contractor would not do so again, if they could avoid it.

More than 60% of those who are classified as employees said they would avoid working as a contractor, fearing a loss of stability, compensation, and benefits.

The results are significant because, increasingly, companies prefer to hire people as independent contractors instead of employees, in a transition to the so-called “gig economy.” Deloitte says estimates indicate that the number of jobs filled by independent contractors will grow by 54 million by 2020. But companies may have to work harder to find these workers, according to Deloitte's results.

Flexibility

There are, of course, advantages to being an independent contractor and most are connected to flexibility. You can work where and when you want.

Over 40% of the people in the survey said they recognize that, but it isn't as important to them as having a paycheck every week with taxes deducted and medical and other benefits provided by an employer. The workers most leery of working as a contractor were those who most value a steady income.

"In order to achieve business goals, organizations should look to attract all talent pools," said Mike Preston, chief talent officer at Deloitte. "Organizations should start thinking about the culture they have in place and the experiences they can design for contingent workers."

Generational breakdown

There appears to be a generational breakdown at play in the numbers. Some workers value a connection to a company, if it has a desirable culture. Culture is most important for Millennials, followed by Gen-X. It's least important to Baby Boomers, who may be approaching retirement and thus are most open to working as an independent contractor.

Despite the clear preference to be on a company payroll, more than a third of respondents in the survey said they would consider working as a contractor. Women are most open to it, citing the flexibility.

Even so, the numbers show that when it comes to working independently, men are actually more likely to be working independently than women.

There are pros and cons to working as an independent contractor instead of an employee. But a new survey suggests workers see more cons than pros.Deloi...

How to get noticed by the hiring manager

Some job-seekers take things too far

How desperate are you to get that job?

There are good ways to be noticed by the hiring manager and then there are...

Obviously, you want to stand out but there are limits -- at least for most of us.

But a new survey by CareerBuilder found that some candidates are doing not just creative things but strange things to be noticed.

“Candidates are realizing that an extraordinary cover letter and resume with strong references aren’t enough, that if you really want the gig, you have to stand out from the competition,” said Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer for CareerBuilder. “Unfortunately, what many aren’t realizing is that the catch is making sure you do that in a professional, respectful way.”

The good, the bad and the...

Hiring managers gave the following examples of unusual tactics job seekers used to stand out, not always for the right reasons:

  • Candidate had a priest contact the hiring manager to ask for the candidate to be hired.
  • Candidate bought a first class upgrade to sit next to the hiring manager on a transatlantic flight.
  • During October, the candidate came dressed in a Halloween costume.
  • The candidate’s wife made homemade lavender soap bars for the hiring manager as a thank you for taking the time to interview the candidate.
  • The candidate asked the hiring manager to share an ice cream cone.
  • The candidate sent a pair of embroidered socks with a note saying he would knock the company’s socks off if hired.
  • The candidate showed up in his camp counselor attire with some of the children from the camp he worked for to show his leadership capabilities.
  • The candidate sent a shoe with a flower in it as a thank you after the interview. The note said: “Trying to get my foot in the door.”
  • The candidate mailed the hiring manager money in an envelope.
  • The candidate arrived at the interview in a white limousine, an hour early, dressed in a three-piece suit. The open position was middle-wage and had a required dress code of khakis, company button-down, and black shoes.
  • The candidate kissed the hiring manager.
  • The candidate gave the hiring manager a book on a subject he knew the candidate manager enjoyed.
  • The candidate wore a tie bearing the name of the company with whom he was interviewing.

What to do

To increase your chances of getting hired, you need to provide evidence that you're the ideal fit. Here are some ways to stand out:

  • Don’t forget the past: Giving a few examples of how your experience is transferable shows that you’ve thought through how you would fit into the organization.
  • Use social media to your advantage: Tweeting, blogging, and commenting about things you know builds up your credibility online. When an employer searches your name after an interview, you want them to find a knowledgeable individual who can fit well into their company.
  • Ask questions: Be sure to prepare a few good questions of your own. What's the corporate culture like? Are there opportunities to advance? Your questions communicate to your interviewer what’s most important to you. They can also position you as a solid candidate for the role and set you apart from the competition.
  • Showcase your numbers: Use as many facts and figures as you can when promoting yourself. How many people were affected by your work? By what percentage did you exceed your goals?
  • Send a note: If you feel the interview has gone well and you want to continue pursuing the opportunity, let the interviewer know. Tell him or her that you’ve enjoyed the interview, believe you can thrive in the role, and are interested in exploring the next step.
How desperate are you to get that job? There are good ways to be noticed by the hiring manager and then there are...Obviously, you want to stand out...

Political seasons can make the workplace tense

Michigan State researchers say uncivil behavior carries a real cost

Every four years, a presidential campaign seems to always bring out the conflicts, especially on social media, where people never shy away from expressing their political leanings.

This year? Fasten your seat belts.

The New York Times reports the contest between Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton even threatens marriages. In one case, it says a dentist who said he plans to vote for Trump was threatened with divorce by his physician wife, a Clinton supporter.

It's not just that people hold opposing views and values. It's the mean and often insensitive way they are expressed, says Russell Johnson and his Michigan State colleagues, who have published a study of rude and insensitive behavior – often politically inspired – in the workplace. Johnson worries about the effects of this behavior.

Mentally fatigued

"People who are recipients of incivility at work feel mentally fatigued as a result, because uncivil behaviors are somewhat ambiguous and require employees to figure out whether there was any abusive intent," said Johnson, associate professor of management at Michigan State. "This mental fatigue, in turn, led them to act uncivil toward other workers. In other words, they paid the incivility forward."

So the situation doesn't get better, it gets worse.

Johnson stresses that the researchers didn't witness openly hostile behavior, or bullying. Instead, it was more passive-aggressive in nature, with curt remarks and put-downs, of the sort viewers often see on cable TV shows, where talking heads of different political persuasions face off for some verbal jousting.

Johnson says when this sort of thing is replicated in the workplace, there are real costs. He estimates workplace incivility has doubled over the past two decades and can cost companies $14,000 per employee in lost production and work time.

Incivility spirals

One of the most intriguing aspects of the study, says Johnson, is the finding that incivility seems to feed on itself. He calls it "incivility spirals" - when acts of incivility lead to more incivility.

"When employees are mentally fatigued, it is more difficult for them to keep their negative impulses and emotions in check, which leads them to be condescending and rude to colleagues," Johnson said.

Even employees who think of themselves as agreeable and polite can succumb when subjected to ongoing uncivil behavior. Johnson says the sapping of their emotional energy leaves them unable to filter their comments.

Johnson's advice? Companies should address the issue now, providing employees with clear guidance for avoiding political commentary if it cannot be done in a civil manner.

Every four years, a presidential campaign seems to always bring out the conflicts, especially on social media, where people never shy away from expressing ...

How to turn an internship into a real job

It's all in how you end it, one expert says

There's no question that having an internship gives a student a leg up when it comes to landing a job. A recent survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) proves it.

In 2011, students who performed an internship were 12.6% more likely to land a job before graduation than those who didn't. By last year, the internship gap had grown to 20%.

But just being an intern won't guarantee a real job, placement experts say. Interns who use the opportunity to separate themselves from the pack will stand the best chance.

“Soon-to-be seniors are hoping to land the job offer before crossing the stage in May and performing well in an internship that matches your skills and interests can help make that happen,” said Patrick Sullivan, an internship specialist at Wake Forest University.

Make a memorable exit

Sullivan says it is important to perform well during the internship. It's even more important, he stresses, to make a memorable exit.

Sullivan has three main pieces of advice. They start with being proactive.

He suggests seeking out your supervisor before your internship ends. Tell him or her what you have learned, go over what you think has been a success, and most importantly, ask how you can improve your skills.

Communication is also very important. Research shows when employers add staff, they look for people with initiative, flexibility, and good people skills. Find ways to demonstrate that you have those traits.

One way is to be open and direct with your supervisor at all times. And when the internship is wrapping up, tell him or her you would like to join the organization. Don't assume that it is understood. Even if it was assumed, a supervisor likes to hear it said out loud.

Stay connected

It's also important to keep up with the organization and in touch with mentors. Use LinkedIn to keep your professional experience up to date and follow everything the organization is doing. Sullivan suggests job seekers create and save a Google News search to follow industry trends. This shows recruiters you are serious about wanting to be part of the organization.

Sullivan says it never hurts to end an internship with a handwritten note, thanking a manager and other colleagues who were helpful. In this digital, impersonal age, a handwritten note makes an impression.

It's also a classy move, and Sullivan predicts that when it comes time to fill a full-time position, your note will be remembered.

There's no question that having an internship gives a student a leg up when it comes to landing a job. A recent survey by the National Association of Colle...

Job site now gives applicants a peek at the competition

CareerBuilder offers tool showing how you stack up

It's one thing to know about a job opening. It's quite another to know if you have real shot at it.

Employment site CareerBuilder.com has made a tweak to its job listings, giving job applicants insight into how they stack up against other applicants. From now on, applicants will be able to see the qualifications other applicants possess – experience, education, and accomplishments.

It's called the Job Competition Snapshot, and it's now available to all job seekers at no charge. It's designed to help applicants understand why they might not have gotten a response to their application.

“Our Job Competition Snapshot provides more transparency into the likelihood of being called by an employer based on how you stack up against other candidates,” said Matt Ferguson, CEO for CareerBuilder.

Should you apply or not?

Ferguson says the tool can help job seekers determine whether they should apply for a particular job, or instead focus their efforts on positions where they have a better chance. On the other hand, he says it may also make some applicants feel like they have a better chance because of how they will stand up to the competition.

The Snapshot protects the privacy of all applicants but aggregates information they provide. When you apply for a position, you will be able to see:

  • The number of candidates who have applied
  • The average years of experience of the applicants
  • The average level of education they have

If, after viewing that information, you decide you have a good chance, you will be able to access more in-depth insights from a hiring status report, called Hire Insider.

That report will tell you how many applications have been reviewed so far, the number of applicants who currently have jobs, the top college majors of applicants, the states where they live, and their current salaries.

Information stays current

“The information is automatically updated as other candidates apply, so job seekers can continually assess the competitive landscape in real time,” Ferguson said.

In its advice to job seekers, competing online employment site Monster.com says it is important to research the company before submitting an application for a position.

“Whether you know anything about the business will come through in your cover letter and interview, so do your homework and find out what you can,” it advises.

It's also important to have a well-written, compelling resume that is relevant to the position being offered. These days, having a strong online presence is important, with prospective employers searching for reasons for both hiring and passing on an applicant.

It's one thing to know about a job opening. It's quite another to know if you have real shot at it.Employment site CareerBuilder.com has made a tweak t...

Five jobs that will let you earn over $100,000 per year

Having the right credentials can put you on the fast track to living comfortably

Whether you spend your days sitting at a desk or outside on your feet, you may have dreamed of having job that allows you to rake in six figures. While professions like doctor and lawyer may jump to your mind first, have you ever wondered what other jobs would allow you to reach that goal?

The team at Glassdoor, a job-recruiting and analytics company, has the answer for you. They’ve compiled a list of 11 professions that make $100,000 or more per year, on average -- as well as the requirements you’ll need in order to get hired. Here, we’ll discuss the top five earning positions.

Jobs earning over $100,000

Reservoir Engineer: With a total median pay of $143,000, reservoir engineers top Glassdoor’s earnings list. Consumers who want to get in on this profession will need to have top-notch credentials, including a degree in chemical engineering and field experience. Even those who fit that bill may have trouble landing the job though; Glassdoor calculates that there are only 23 positions available on their site.

Software Architect: With the growing emergence of online technologies, it makes sense that a software engineer would rank high on the list. These professionals earn a total median pay of $139,000, but you’ll more than likely need a bachelor’s in math, software engineering, or an associated field.

Airline Pilot: You may not have realized it, but the person in the cockpit of that plane you’re seated in is being compensated pretty well. Pilots earn a total median pay of $134,000 per year, but job seekers should keep in mind that the position demands a high time commitment. Most airlines require you to have a bachelor’s degree in aviation, physics, or an associated field – though military experience can go a long way.

Dentist: Dentists earn a pretty good living, coming in at $129,968 in total median pay – but the requirements for landing the job are fairly extensive. Job seekers will need to have a four-year degree in pre-dentistry or a related scientific field. That’s just the beginning, though. Prospective candidates also need to score well on the Dental Acceptance Test given by the American Dental Association and earn a doctoral degree in dental surgery or dental medicine before they can receive their license.

Special Agent: Coming in at number five on the list, special agents make $125,000 in total median pay. The job description across the field can be a little murky, with some agents working with law enforcement to build criminal cases and others being employed by private companies. Job seekers will usually need a background in law enforcement, though a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice combined with military experience may also do the trick.

Whether you spend your days sitting at a desk or outside on your feet, you may have dreamed of having job that allows you to rake in six figures. While pro...

Why more businesses are helping employees with student loans

Surveys show Millennials value it more that other employee benefits

The student loan debt crisis has been well documented. Millions of young Americans have gotten educations with the expectation it would make their lives better, only to be saddled with tens of thousands of dollars in debt.

People that are early in their careers have been faced with paying off student loans the size of a small mortgage. As a result, they haven't taken out actual mortgages because they have been unable to buy homes.

In recent years many employers have recognized the problem it has caused with hiring the right people and retaining them. According to EdAssist, it's created changes in the way businesses and organizations are structuring employee benefits.

EdAssist helps organizations develop these tuition assistance programs that offer help to employees who are struggling to pay back student loan debt. It currently managed more than $420 million in tuition reimbursement a year for more than 120 clients.

Helping employees

In a recent study of millennials, who now make up the largest segment of the U.S. workforce, EdAssist found one in three workers said employers should help to repay their student loans.

IonTuition.com, an education-fintech company specializing in helping borrowers monitor and manage their student loans, found much the same thing. Only it looked at the employer side, and found a strong recognition of the need to include student loan repayment assistance as part of the employee benefits package.

In a survey of more than 400 middle managers, the company found that most employers recognize value in helping employees manage their student loan debt. Further, they appear willing to offer plans that reduce some of that stress.

The survey found nearly universal belief that employees with student loan debt would take advantage of a student loan repayment benefit should one be offered. Employers also strongly believed that relieving some of this stress would improve morale, productivity, and general well-being.

A generation ago, childcare assistance and retirement savings accounts were the highly-prized employee benefits. While today's young workers undoubtedly could use those benefits, there's a growing consensus that they need help paying off their loans even more.

The student loan debt crisis has been well documented. Millions of young Americans have gotten educations with the expectation it would make their lives be...

A surprising shift in employee benefits

Telecommuting is in, job sharing is out

If you work at a mid-size to large company, benefits likely make up an important part of your compensation package.

But in the last 20 years, the items that are included in these packages – those valued by employees and offered by employers – have undergone some surprising changes.

The latest survey from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) shows the benefit that has expanded most in the last two decades is – not health coverage – but telecommuting.

Twenty years ago, just 20% of survey respondents had employers that offered telecommuting. Today, 60% of employers allow some employees to work outside the office.

Tanya Mulvey, SHRM’s project lead for the 2016 survey, says businesses have found that these flexible work arrangements are a means of attracting and retaining valuable employees.

“These benefits have proven to be highly valued among two sizable demographic groups: Millennials and 55-and-older employees,” she said.

Greater control and flexibility

The two groups have different reasons for wanting this benefit. For Millennials, it's a matter of having greater control over their own schedules. For older employees, working from home often provides needed flexibility to care for family members or to ease into retirement.

While telecommuting is the growing benefit, some past favorites seem to be fading away. Remember job-sharing? That was highly popular a decade or so ago, when two or more employees worked part-time, performing the duties of a full-time employee.

That's much less in evidence these days. While 24% of organizations offered this option in 1996, just 10% do now.

What hasn't changed a lot in the last 20 years are health benefits. Preferred-provider organization plans (PPO) continue to be the most common type of health benefit, offered at 84% of organizations.

Wellness on the rise

Wellness plans are one area where health benefits have changed a lot. In 1996, 54% of organizations offered some type of wellness plan or incentives for employees. This year the number had grown to 72%.

These include everything from organized wellness activities in the workplace to on-site seasonal flu vaccinations. To promote wellness, 20% of respondents charge employees who smoke a “smoking surcharge” in their health care premiums.

When it comes to financial benefits, the 401(k) account is the most common retirement benefit, offered by 90% of organizations.

Meanwhile, fewer employees are getting stock options or the chance to enroll in stock purchase plans.

If you work at a mid-size to large company, benefits likely make up an important part of your compensation package.But in the last 20 years, the items ...

The hidden costs of having a job

CareerBuilder survey finds it costs an average of $3,300 a year to bring home a paycheck

We normally think of employment in terms of how much we get paid. But have you ever stopped to calculate just how much it costs to have a job?

The folks at CareerBuilder.com have. They put the average at around $276 a month, or $3,300 per year.

It also costs money to find a job, according to about 19% of the job seekers in the CareerBuilder survey.

“The cost of work is often what the rest of your budget is centered around,” said Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer at CareerBuilder. “Knowing how much it amounts to can help you trim costs and make different lifestyle choices if need be.”

Here are some employment costs, uncovered by the Harris Poll survey, you might have overlooked:

Getting to work

Unless you work from home, you have to drive or take public transportation to get to your job. The poll found 37% of employees spend $25 or more a week for gasoline. The majority – 63%, spend less than that. A few fortunate souls might live close enough to the office to walk.

If you live in the city, chances are you can take public transportation. There is some savings, but not as much as you might think. The poll found 47% spend more than $25 per week on fare.

Food

An eight hour day usually includes a break for a meal, usually lunch. You can save money by taking your lunch each day, and an overwhelming 72% say they do that.

But of the rest who buy their lunch each day, costs can quickly add up. Over half of those who buy lunch spend $25 or more each week.

Child and pet care

Workers who have young children and pets often have to juggle responsibilities while at work, and sometimes this carries a cost. Of employees with children under 18, 29% say they spend money on daycare each month. Out of that 29%, 36% of working parents spend $500 or more each month.

Pets tend to be much less expensive. More than half the workers in the survey said they had a pet at home, and of these employees, more than half spend less than $10 per week on pet care. But 33% spend between $10 and $25, and 3% spend more than $50.

Work attire

People who telecommute can work in their bathrobe if they want, but you have to look professional when you report to the office. If you work some outdoor jobs, it might require specialized clothing.

The survey found that 53% of employees spend $250 or less each year on work apparel, not a huge amount by any stretch. But 4% said they spend between $1,000 and $1,500 annually.

Haefner says the survey shows that some costs are more manageable than others.

“You can vow to carry lunch to work every day, stop buying coffee out, look for cheaper business clothes. Managing those costs can help account for others, like commuting and childcare, which won’t subside,” she said.

We normally think of employment in terms of how much we get paid. But have you ever stopped to calculate just how much it costs to have a job?The folks...

NY sues Domino's for 'systemic wage theft'

"Rampant wage violations" found in years-long probe, the state charges

New York has sued Domino's Pizza and ten of its stores, charging that they underpaid workers by at least $565,000. It's the first time New York has charged a fast food corporation along with its franchisees, treating them as a joint employer.

“At some point, a company has to take responsibility for its actions and for its workers’ well-being. We’ve found rampant wage violations at Domino’s franchise stores. And, as our suit alleges, we’ve discovered that Domino’s headquarters was intensely involved in store operations, and even caused many of these violations,” said New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman. 

“Under these circumstances, New York law – as well as basic human decency – holds Domino’s responsible for the alleged mistreatment of the workers who make and deliver the company’s pizza. Domino’s can, and must, fix this problem,” Schneiderman said.

The lawsuit alleges that Domino’s urged franchisees to use payroll reports from the company’s computer system (called “PULSE”), even though Domino’s knew for years that PULSE under-calculated gross wages.

Domino’s typically made multiple updates to PULSE each year, but decided not to fix the flaws that caused underpayments to workers, deeming it a “low priority,” the lawsuit charges.

Micromanaged employees

The lawsuit also alleges that Domino’s is a joint employer because, it says, the company micromanaged employee relations at its franchisee stores. A years-long investigation by the AG's office found the company played a role in the hiring, firing, and discipline of workers; pushed an anti-union position on franchisees; and closely monitored employee job performance through onsite and electronic reviews, the suit alleges.

The investigation uncovered internal documents showing that over a two-year period, 78% of New York franchisees listed rates for at least some employees below the required minimum wage, and 86% listed rates below the required overtime rate, according to the suit.

The Attorney General’s Office has already settled cases with 12 Domino’s franchisees, who collectively own 61 stores and who have agreed to pay approximately $1.5 million to date.  

Domino’s is the world’s second largest pizza restaurant chain, and is the largest pizza delivery chain in the U.S.  The company has 136 franchisee-owned stores in New York, along with 54 owned by Domino’s itself.

New York has sued Domino's Pizza and ten of its stores, charging that they underpaid workers by at least $565,000. It's the first time New York has charged...

Survey finds more jobs are becoming temporary

More occupations and pay levels joining temporary workforce

The unemployment rate has dropped significantly in the last couple of years, but the economy is still barely growing.

Could it be because, even though more people are working, they aren't earning what they once did? There has been a huge increase in the number of temporary and contract employees – partly because of competition for skilled workers and partly because temporary workers, who aren't receiving benefits, allow companies to be more flexible.

Employment site CareerBuilder and its economic modeling subsidiary Emsi have conducted research showing that more companies are moving toward a temporary workforce. Their findings project temporary employment will add 173,478 jobs from 2016 to 2018 – an increase of 5.9%. To create the report, researchers pulled data from more than 100 national and state employment resources.

Three million temporary workers

Kyle Braun, President of CareerBuilder’s Staffing and Recruiting Group, says there are already some three million people in the temporary workforce, with that number growing at a healthy pace over the next few years.

“Opportunities are opening up in a variety of occupations and pay levels, and this is a trend we’re seeing in a wide range of industries and company sizes,” Braun said.

Some jobs and some industries are better suited to temporary work than others. CareerBuilder said there are hundreds of thousands of available temporary jobs that pay more than $15 an hour.

In CareerBuilder's rankings, software developers stand to earn the highest wages in the temporary workforce, at a median pay of $46.72 an hour. It says there are currently more than 14,000 job openings in that category.

Formerly salaried occupations

But some traditionally salaried jobs are also trending toward temporary positions. For example, CareerBuilder says there are currently more than 42,000 temporary positions for registered nurses, paying a median $33.28 an hour.

Even some traditionally union jobs have transitioned to temporary positions. There are currently more than 21,000 openings for temporary machinists, paying $19.38 an hour.

Other temporary occupations paying more than $15 an hour include truck drivers, bookkeepers, administrative assistants, computer support personnel, construction workers, and human resource specialists.

Last December, CareerBuilder commissioned a Harris Poll which showed that 47% of employers planned to hire temporary personnel at some point in 2016, up slightly from the year before. But 58% said at least some of those temporary or contract workers would be transitioned into full-time, permanent positions in the future.

The unemployment rate has dropped significantly in the last couple of years, but the economy is still barely growing.Could it be because, even though m...

Study: for women, education still doesn't mean equal pay

Gender barriers in work and politics warrant policy action, researchers say

Despite closing the education gap with men, some advocates say that women still aren’t getting equal access to quality jobs and government representation.

A global study of gender equality finds that women have reached 90% of the education held by men, but only 70% of their rate of employment. Political representation -- though it has increased compared to men (from 14% in 1990) -- remains a meager 25%.

Findings from a University of Vermont study challenge the assumption that education translates into equal access to high-paying jobs. Furthermore, it points to a need for greater policy interventions that could help close political and workplace gender gaps.

The study’s author, Stephanie Seguino, says that holding onto the belief that markets will fix these gaps is a fallacy -- one that fails to account for centuries-old gender norms and male hierarchies.

"Clearly, education alone is not enough to solve this problem," says Prof. Seguino, a University of Vermont Economist. "We need concrete policy tools to break down gender barriers, because the market's 'invisible hand' is not working."

Two key reasons

The study, published in the Journal of African Development, offers two main reasons for women’s lower employment and income.

The first reason is that women experience greater exclusion from high-paying jobs; the second is that a disproportionate amount of unpaid household work is attributed to women (which includes care for children and aging parents).

To help fix the problem, Seguino suggests policy changes in public spending that include affordable childcare, paid parental leave, affordable daycare, and possibly even gender quotas.

Canada's recently adopted gender quota, Seguino notes, helped to increase female government representation to 50 percent overnight.

Potential conflict

Seguino says that leveling the playing field could very well come with some hiccups. As women’s employment increases, so does the potential for gender conflict.

She asserts that manufacturing declines may lead to male job losses, which can then threaten men’s role as the breadwinner. Taking a lower paying job presents a “challenge to their gender identity,” says Seguino, adding that it can create a gender conflict that many are reticent to discuss. She says that it is imperative, however, that policymakers address the issue.

"We won't have the political support for the investments and policy changes needed to improve women access to work, if it's assumed that policy makers are promoting women's wellbeing by making men worse off,” she concludes.

The full report, “Global Trends in Gender Equality,” can be found here.

Despite closing the education gap with men, some advocates say that women still aren’t getting equal access to quality jobs and government representation. ...

GE's advertising campaign isn't selling appliances

It could be the most expensive series of help wanted ads in history

General Electric (GE) launched a creative and amusing television advertising campaign last fall, built around a recent college grad named Owen.

Owen proudly tells his parents and friends that he is going to work for GE as a programmer, but no one gets it. They can't understand why a smart and gifted computer programmer would want to work for an industrial company.

The campaign earned a thumbs up from AdWeek, after it debuted in September on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert.

What is GE selling?

The spots are so engaging and entertaining that the viewer has to watch a lot of them before asking the question, “Hey, what exactly is GE selling?”

The company makes every type of appliance you can think of and a host of household goods – but none of the commercials show a single product.

After GE recently began airing the second phase of the campaign, such as the spot below, that the real purpose was very clear to see. These commercials are actually recruiting ads, aimed at smart, bright Millennials coming out of college.

Phase two

The second phase of the campaign features other young people who now want to work for GE too. It might seem a bit extreme to spend millions of dollars on a network television ad campaign to recruit employees. But high-tech corporations have complained in recent years that it is hard to attract the people with the skills they need.

And apparently it's working. Tony Denhart, University Relations Leader at GE Corporate, tells Business Insider GE is seeing an increase in applications from major colleges. He also says the company is fielding more queries from students and faculty, who want to know more about GE technologies.

Will we see other technology companies develop mass market advertising campaigns that are really stealth help wanted ads? Maybe. And if it recruits the employee who develops the next killer app, it might be worth it.

General Electric (GE) launched a creative and amusing television advertising campaign last fall, built around a recent college grad named Owen.Owen pro...

Brackets vs. business, otherwise known as March Madness

The tournament takes center court at the workplace

It's that time of year when business productivity is about to go down the drain.

According to outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, the opening week of March Madness -- the NCAA men's basketball tournament -- could cost employers nearly $4 billion. So, what's a boss to do?

The natural inclination may be to crack down on office pools or other non-work activities related to the games. But Challenger, Gray & Christmas Vice President Andrew Challenger says that may be the wrong way to handle things.

“We are approaching full employment across the country. In some metropolitan areas, the unemployment is well below the threshold where talent is readily available. In this environment, employers should be taking steps to increase engagement and loyalty, not find ways to crush morale and employee camaraderie” he said.

Loads of interest

How much of a drain is March Madness? According to a Careerbuilder.com survey taken last year, 15% of workers planned to participate in March Madness office pools, 4% more than in 2014. Based on that growth rate, Challenger, Gray & Christmas estimates that as many as 20% or 50.5 million of the 252.6 million U.S. workers could join office pools this year.

Based on Bureau of Labor Statistics data showing average hourly earnings of $25.35, each hour of the workday devoted to bracket-building or watching games will cost employers $1.3 billion. Challenger says the first week of the tournament alone could mean $3.9 billion in lost wages paid to workers who are, basically, goofing off.

A new strategy

Considering all of this, Challenger thinks dropping the hammer on these workers could backfire.

“Efforts to suppress the Madness would most likely result in long-term damage to employee morale, loyalty, and engagement that would far outweigh any short-term benefit to productivity,” he said. In fact, he believes encouraging March Madness participation may be the way to go.

“With labor markets getting tighter and tighter, employers would be better off embracing March Madness,” Challenger advises. “For example, start a company-wide office pool that is free to enter and offers a free lunch or gift card for the winner. Or, allow workers to come to work during the tournament in apparel supporting their favorite college team (even if that team is not in the tournament). Employers may even want to consider setting up a television in a break room or conference room, so employees can check scores.”

Jobless claims

While we're on the subject of work, the number of applications for state unemployment benefits totaled a seasonally adjusted 259,000 in the week ending March 5. The Department of Labor (DOL) says that's 18,000 lower than the previous week's level, which was revised down by 1,000.

The more reliable and less volatile four-week moving average was down 2,500 from the previous week at 267,500.

The full report is available on the DOL website.

It's that time of year when business productivity is about to go down the drain.According to outplacement consultanc...

Why you shouldn't list 'multitasking' on a resume

An expert debunks three common myths of multitasking

When building a resume, job seekers are often quick to note their ability to multitask. But while it might seem like your ability to juggle multiple tasks would be a valuable asset, you may want to hold off on listing it as a skill.

Employers aren’t as interested in effort as they are outcome, says Anne Grinols, assistant dean for faculty development and college initiatives in Baylor’s Hankamer School of Business. And multitasking is more effort-based than outcome-centric.

“I would not use the term ‘multitasking’ on my resume,” said Grinols in a statement. “Instead, I would indicate expertise in multiple areas, timely production and excellence in outcomes.”

Myths of multitasking

Grinols, who teaches in Baylor’s MBA program, has published research on multitasking, including three myths of the so-called "skill." 

Myth #1: People believe they can focus on two mental activities at once.

There are two means of accomplishment, she explains: conscious and unconscious. The subconscious -- or "autopilot," as she describes it -- does take care of some activity, but it doesn’t get the same proactive attention as conscious accomplishment.

Take long-distance driving, for example. Grinols explains that long-distance drivers can begin to think about other things, paying less attention to the road than the other drivers. And as a result, their driving suffers.

Conscious mental activity, on the other hand, happens one activity at a time. A student texting during a lecture or an employee texting during a meeting are both examples of conscious mental activity, she says. In both cases, the information being taught or discussed will be lost to the one who is texting.

Grinols’ research showed that people going back and forth between two conscious mental activities “lose some time and efficiency of brain function that robs them of effective accomplishment of one activity, or both.”

Myth #2: People who go back and forth between mental activities can stay on top of them both.

You might think you’re accomplishing more than others by focusing on multiple things at a time, but employers may view multitasking as a negative. Grinols believes this is because efforts to multitask can yield unfortunate results, such as poor outcomes and employee burnout.

“In the real world, most of the time, results count more than the process to achieve them,” says Grinols. “A good process is more likely to result in consistent, good results; so process matters. But it matters precisely because of the results, not on its own account.”

Myth #3: People believe they can monitor themselves as they attempt to multitask.

Most of us don’t monitor ourselves as well as we think we do, says Grinols. She notes the observation of a fourth grade teacher who told her class, “Do not watch TV while you do your homework, or you will find yourself doing TV while you watch your homework.”

Similarly, if your current task is to develop a new strategy to accomplish a goal while also participating in a team meeting, don’t start thinking about the strategy as you sit in the meeting. Your active participation in the meeting will suffer, says Grinols.

“You must focus on each one separately to be able to succeed at an optimal level at both. Employers expect optimal-level accomplishment,” Grinols said.

When building a resume, job seekers are often quick to note their ability to multitask. But while it might seem like your ability to juggle multiple tasks ...

Glassdoor predicts the 25 best jobs in America for 2016

Survey says that data scientist is the best job available in the coming year

Jobs site Careerbuilder recently released a survey suggesting more employees will be looking for a new job in 2016. If you plan to be one of them, what kind of job should you look for?

Another employment site, Glassdoor.com, has released a list of what it says will be the 25 best jobs in America in 2016.

The best position, according to the survey, is data scientist, with an estimated 1,736 job openings and a base salary of $116,840.

Number two on the list is tax manager. Glassdoor predicts 1,574 job openings for that job with a median base salary of $108,000.

In third place is solutions architect, with 2,906 job openings and a median base pay of $119,500.

Filling out the top 10

Other occupations in the top 10 include engagement manager, mobile developer, HR manager, physician assistant, product manager, software engineer, and audit manager.

What's at the bottom of the list? Software engineer comes in at number 25. It's still a pretty good job. According to Glassdoor, it pays a median base salary of $130,000 – but is highly competitive, since Glassdoor counts only 653 openings.

The Careerbuilder survey found that 21% of employees were determined to leave their current employers in 2016, an increase of 5% from those who expressed that sentiment in the 2014 survey. Younger workers expressed the strongest desire to make a move.

Of the 18 to 34 age group, 30% said they expect to have a new job by the end of 2016, compared to 23% the previous year.

“Just because a person is satisfied with their job doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t looking for new work,” said Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer at CareerBuilder. “Because of this, it’s critical to keep up with your employees’ needs and continue to challenge them with work they feel is meaningful.”

Jobs site Careerbuilder recently released a survey suggesting more employees will be looking for a new job in 2016. If you plan to be one of them, what kin...

Report: robots to replace five million workers by 2020

World Economic Forum sees beginning of "Fourth Industrial Revolution"

As you jockey for position at work, your biggest threat may not be Bill at the next desk, or Lorraine in the office down the hall.

It's more likely to be a robot.

That's the warning contained in a new report by the World Economic Forum that predicts robots are poised to take as many as five million jobs from humans by 2020 – a scant four years from now.

“Today, we are at the beginning of a Fourth Industrial Revolution,” the report begins. “Developments in genetics, artificial intelligence, robotics, nanotechnology, 3D printing and biotechnology, to name just a few, are all building on and amplifying one another. This will lay the foundation for a revolution more comprehensive and all-encompassing than anything we have ever seen.”

Good with the bad

To be sure, there may be plenty of good things to come out of that. Smart systems may make homes, factories, farms, grids, and cities more efficient. It almost certainly will improve supply chain management for all types of businesses.

The report predicts most of the lost jobs will occur in the 15 most industrialized nations. People who perform administrative functions in offices are most vulnerable to having a robot or some other type of machine replace them.

The most secure careers will be those that build, maintain, and otherwise manage machines -- positions in fields like computer science, math, architecture, and engineering.

Four years will pass quickly, so the report urges business and industry to help their most vulnerable employees prepare.

People will need help

"It is critical that businesses take an active role in supporting their current workforces through re-training, that individuals take a proactive approach to their own lifelong learning and that governments create the enabling environment, rapidly and creatively, to assist these efforts," the authors wrote.

The report suggests the future presents a “glass is half-empty, glass is half-full” choice. It says some see the future for its limitless new opportunities, while others foresee massive dislocation of jobs.

In fact, the report says whether the change is positive or disruptive will be highly specific to the industry, region, and occupation in question, as well as the ability of the affected people to manage change.

If you are feeling vulnerable, you might want to check out this report from not too long ago that suggests the jobs with the brightest futures.

As you jockey for position at work, your biggest threat may not be Bill at the next desk, or Lorraine in the office down the hall. It's more likely to be a...

Five social media mistakes that could cost you the job

Posting negative comments is the most common deal breaker according to HR managers

Social media profiles have become an extension of ourselves. The words and photos we funnel into various social media outlets all stack up to create a picture of our character, whether we like it or not. And while you may think those countless selfies are only reaching your friends, the fact remains: they could be seen by your future boss.

"People often believe posting on social media is just harmless fun, but in reality, employers frequently look online to learn about prospective hires," said Brandi Britton, a district president for OfficeTeam. "Professionals should think beyond eliminating unflattering content from their digital accounts to how they can wow hiring managers by showcasing career accomplishments and industry involvement."

OfficeTeam asked 300 human resources (HR) managers what, in their opinion, were the most common social media mistakes professionals make that reduce their chances of being hired. Forty-five percent of HR managers cited writing negative or inappropriate comments. About one in three (35%) said posting or being tagged in questionable photos is the prevailing social media faux pas.

To help you put your best foot forward online, here is OfficeTeam's list of five social media blunders and how to avoid them:

  • The Cranky Critic isn’t shy about sharing off-putting remarks with the world. No subject is off limits, including former colleagues and politics. Advice: Exercise discretion when posting on social networking sites, blogs, or online communities. You never know who might see your comments.
  • The Superfluous Selfie Poster has no shortage of social media photos, but they're not exactly always office-appropriate, and there are enough of them to suggest an inflated ego. Advice: Remove or untag yourself from any images that may raise eyebrows. Use a polished profile photograph.
  • The TMI Transgressor posts every detail when attending a party, playing a game, or taking an online quiz, whether you care to know or not. Advice: Be aware that certain topics may make you appear unprofessional. Use your best judgment when sharing status updates and check your privacy settings to control who in your network has access to what information.

  • The Connection Counter invites just about anyone to join his or her network. When it comes to social media contacts, this person favors quantity over quality. Advice: Be selective about who you connect with and focus on fostering meaningful professional relationships. Having the right people in your network can help advance your career, and potential employers may also reach out to these individuals to learn more about you.

  • The Nonchalant Networker takes a lackadaisical approach to social media. This individual's online profiles are sparse, and updates are few and far between. Advice: Highlight your work history and accomplishments on sites like LinkedIn. Consider including key terms that describe your skills and experience to help employers more easily find you. Show an interest in your industry by participating in relevant Web groups and forums.       

Social media profiles have become an extension of ourselves. The words and photos we funnel into various social media outlets all stack up to create a pict...

The job search: strategies for success

It takes more than sending out a resume to land that prized position

You've made the decision: This year I'm going to find a job I really want.

Even though the job market is expected to keep improving thanks to strong growth across many sectors, including health care, technology, manufacturing, and construction, the fact that many metropolitan areas are already approaching full employment suggests that finding that job will not be easy.

In its annual job market outlook, outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas indicates that 2016 would continue to see high levels of workplace churn, meaning increased hiring amid the job cuts.

“Workforce reductions are a part of the employment fabric now,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas. “We see layoffs even when the economy is flourishing. It could be a single industry, such as energy, which saw several years of expansion only to reach a point where there was more oil than we needed, leading to a massive price drop followed by widespread job cuts. It could be a single company going in a new direction or streamlining its operations.”

Strong hiring environment

Challenger said there should be a very strong hiring environment in the coming year. “Many industries are growing, companies are replacing retiring workers and new businesses are being established,” he noted. “Each month, about five million Americans are hired and employers report that there are still more than five million openings. There is tremendous potential out there.”

But Challenger stressed that even in the strongest economy, finding a job is never easy. “Those who believe they can simply send out a bunch of resumes and sit by phone waiting for it to ring with offers will be sorely disappointed,” he said. “The job search requires a lot of leg work to uncover the best opportunities. It requires networking, cold-calling, interviewing and the ability to persist in the face of rejection.”

Search strategies

For those entering the job market for the first time, those reentering the market, as well as for those in-between jobs or seeking to change jobs, Challenger offers the following steps to improve your chances for job search success in the new year:

  • Get involved with community service group. This is a great way to build your network as well as hone your professional skills.
  • Join a professional/trade association. These organizations can provide training and education opportunities and most hold several networking functions every year. The dues are worth their weight in gold if you meet a person at an event who can help you find a new job.
  • Have lunch with at least one new contact each week. Obviously, networking is an essential part of finding a job. But blindly adding new people to your LinkedIn contacts list, where they will likely just collect dust, is entirely ineffective. It is vital to meet with people on a regular basis. Lunch or even over coffee is an ideal setting, because it is more relaxed. Building these relationships may help you in your current position and they will definitely help when you enter the job market.
  • Rev up your skills. Employers want to know that you are up on the latest skills, trends, advances, etc. While some employers will foot the bill for continued education, the number who do so is shrinking. And, if you are between jobs, no one but yourself can ensure that your skills are up-to-date. Explore online courses and local certificate programs to broaden your industry knowledge, increasing your marketability to a variety of employers.
  • Look beyond your industry. Just because you have been working in the same industry for a certain number of years, does not mean that you must stay in that industry. Your fundamental job function is the primary skill set you are selling to employers, not your knowledge of a specific industry. Your skills as an IT professional in the financial industry are certainly transferable to the health care industry, for example. Job seekers can greatly expand their chances of success by expanding the number of industries in which they seek opportunities.
You've made the decision: This year I'm going to find a job I really want. Even though the job market is expected to keep improving thanks to strong gro...

Employees may be on the move in 2016

Careerbuilder survey finds younger employees, especially, are getting restless

Immediately after the Great Recession, people who had jobs felt lucky to be employed. With the jobless rate at over 10%, there wasn't a lot of moving around.

That seems to be changing.

With the labor market showing signs of new life in 2015, a lot of employees are likely to look for better jobs in 2016. At least, that's the conclusion of a new Harris Poll conducted for Careerbuilder.com.

The survey found that 21% of employees are determined to leave their current employers in 2015, an increase of 5% from those who expressed that sentiment in last year's survey. Younger workers expressed the strongest desire to make a move.

Of the 18 to 34 age group, 30% said they expect to have a new job by the end of 2016, compared to 23% the previous year.

“Just because a person is satisfied with their job doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t looking for new work,” said Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer at CareerBuilder. “Because of this, it’s critical to keep up with your employees’ needs and continue to challenge them with work they feel is meaningful.”

Job hunting tips

Careerbuilder has some advice for people looking to move on. While regularly checking job listings is a good start, it isn't enough.

These days, you have to take advantage of social media and use it strategically. For example, if you’re looking for a job in finance, Careerbuilder says LinkedIn might be the most valuable social media site to keep updated. If you're looking for a job at a media company, Twitter might be a better resource.

Also, it's a good idea to follow the profiles or pages of companies you want to work for to stay up to date on job openings and announcements.

Be creative in your approach. Just because a certain interview tactic or style was successful for one candidate doesn't mean it is the best strategy for you. Take into consideration your personal experiences, preferences and career goals and use them to position yourself as a unique candidate.

Network with your peers. The more people you know, the wider your network of contacts. But most of the time it is the people who know you best who will be in the best position to help. Let them know you are on the move.

Immediately after the Great Recession, people who had jobs felt lucky to be employed. With the jobless rate at over 10%, there wasn't a lot of moving aroun...

Martin Shkreli terminated as CEO of KaloBios

This comes after being charged of fraud and losing his CEO position at Turing Pharmaceuticals

Things continue to go downhill for Martin Shkreli, the infamous ex-CEO who is best known for drastically raising the price ofs Daraprim, a drug used to treat HIV and parasitic infections. 

After being arrested on charges of securities fraud last week, and subsequently resigning from his position as CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals, Shkreli has been fired from his positon as CEO at KaloBios Pharmaceuticals. He has also stepped down from his place on the company's board. 

The move comes after KaloBios' stock took a major hit. On the day that Shkreli was arrested, stock prices for the company dropped by 50%. Tony Chase, a board member that joined KaloBios in November when Shkreli acquired 70% of the company, has also left the company. 

Although only there for a short time, there were indicators that Shkreli was going to be using similar business tactics at KaloBios that he displayed at Turing. In early December, KaloBios acquired a drug that is designed to treat Chagas disease, a type of parasitic infection that affects nearly 300,000 people in the U.S.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) currently gives the drug to consumers at no cost if they have an acute infection. Shkreli had been seeking FDA approval to raise the price of treatment to between $60,000 and $100,000. 

Things continue to go downhill for Martin Shkreli, the infamous ex-CEO who is best known for drastically raising the price ofs Daraprim, a drug used to tre...

Office Christmas parties aren't what they used to be

More subdued, less alcohol and hanky-panky

Big companies often have big holiday parties, but in the seven years since the financial crisis, these celebrations have tended to be smaller, more subdued affairs.

Challenger, Gray & Christmas, a firm usually focused on employment issues, decided to peer through the decorations to see how businesses are handling the annual merry-making.

It found just over 80% of the companies it polled plan to have a holiday party this year. Some 13% of the respondents said employees are looking forward to their first holiday party after one or more years of not having one.

So if parties are any gauge, some – not all – companies appear to be doing a little better this year.

Business barometer

“With the notable exception of the oil industry, where falling prices have caused many companies to make significant cutbacks, most industries are enjoying the fruits of a growing economy,” said John Challenger, CWO at Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

Most employers view holiday parties as a way to mark the end of the year. If it has been a good year, they want to reward their employees. In fact, it's not uncommon for end-of-the-year bonuses to be handed out at the annual Christmas party.

If it has been a challenging year, many employers view a party as a way to boost morale and promote cohesion amongst employees.

Challenger says a new issue will likely get some consideration in some offices this year.

“It is difficult to say if the recent shooting in San Bernardino, which occurred during a workplace holiday party, will prompt companies to cancel or alter their party plans,” he said. “We speculate that most employers will not let fear dictate the decision to move forward with parties. However, we do expect that event, at the very least, to prompt further discussion within the party-planning groups.”

Long tradition

Office Christmas parties have a long tradition. In Charles Dickens' “A Christmas Carol,” published in 1843, the Ghost of Christmas Past takes Scrooge to the scene of an office Christmas party he attended in his youth.

In the modern era, office parties have been famous for too much alcohol and sexual encounters among co-workers – the two things most likely related. In today's litigious and sensitive times, that can lead to massive headaches for HR to deal with.

Perhaps because of that, along with recent economic events, many employers and employees have just decided to skip it. In the survey, 19% of companies said they would not be having a party this year.

“Holiday parties may be falling out of favor,” said Challenger. “Some companies may have cut them during the recession and found that they weren’t really missed. Parties can be a morale booster, but they can also be a source of stress for many employees.”

Big companies often have big holiday parties, but in the seven years since the financial crisis, these celebrations have tended to be smaller, more subdued...

New company benefit for era of high student loan debt

Financial services offers help to its Millennial employees

Companies competing for top shelf talent normally offer a wide range of benefits to entice employees.

Benefits can range from medical, disability, and life insurance, to retirement benefits, paid time off, and even help with child care.

But at a time when many people start their careers with crushing student loan debt, a new fringe benefit has emerged – help with repaying student loans.

One of the latest companies to make this offer is Natixis Global Asset Management, a multinational investment firm. It has announced that it will contribute up to $10,000 to every full-time employee who has been at Natixis for at least five years and has outstanding Federal Stafford or Perkins Loans.

Company officials say they decided to add this benefit after talking with Millennial members of the staff who are putting off important financial events because they are dealing with a significant amount of student loan debt. More distressing, these employees were delaying the start of retirement savings.

Practicing what it preaches

“At Natixis, our mission is to help people make the right financial planning decisions that allow them to meet their goals, and that includes extending the spirit of that mission to our employees as significantly as we can,” said John Hailer, President and CEO of Natixis Global Asset Management in the Americas and Asia. “In addition to hearing firsthand from our younger employees about the toll student debt can take on other financial obligations – such as saving for retirement – our extensive research on Americans’ financial health supports the need to provide student loan repayment as a benefit.”

The company conducted a study this year and learned that 23% of Americans and more than a third of Millennials who are not participating in a retirement plan cite the need to pay off student loans as a reason. Among Millennials, student debt is the third most common reason for not participating, behind needing the money today and feeling the company match isn’t big enough.

$10,000 for 10 years

To earn the benefit, an employee will need to put in 10 years at the company. Qualifying employees will received a payment of $5,000 after five years at the firm, followed by $1,000 annual payments over the next five years.

“We pride ourselves on already providing a fantastic range of benefits to our employees and are excited to help lead the charge in offering student loan repayment, a largely untouched benefit in the workforce,” said Ed Farrington, Executive Vice President, Business Development and Retirement at the firm. “We are confident that this new benefit will empower our younger employees to take full control of their financial futures.”

The new benefit will take effect January 1, 2016 and be based on employees’ outstanding student loan balances. The payments will be taxed at the supplemental bonus rate and cannot be combined with Natixis’ tuition reimbursement policy.

Companies competing for top shelf talent normally offer a wide range of benefits to entice employees.Benefits can range from medical, disability, and l...

Uber and Lyft to donate thousands of free rides to veterans

The move is meant to provide reliable transportation to jobs, interviews, and employment opportunities

With today's celebration of Veterans Day, it is important to honor the men and women who have sacrificed so much for our country. While many soldiers fight and die overseas, those that return to us can often lose themselves in the very country they fought to defend.

Homelessness is one chief concern for veterans who come back home – the Department of Housing and Urban Development estimates that there are over 49,000 veterans who experience homelessness every day in this country. Many come back to limited resources that can make it difficult to hold a job or find a new one. With this in mind, Uber and Lyft, ride-sharing companies that have flourished in recent months, have decided to offer free rides for veterans who need transportation to jobs and interviews.

Rides for veterans

This decision comes at a time when many veterans need it most. The National Coalition for the Homeless has found that roughly 68% of veterans live in cities that do not have reliable public transportation; this has led to many of them missing job opportunities or needed services because they couldn't get around.

Uber has pledged that it will contribute up to 10,000 free rides for five veteran organizations connected to the Department of Labor's Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program. Lyft has abstained from providing a specific number, but says that it will also be “donating thousands of rides” to veterans.

The rides will be given by employment counselors who work with veterans regularly. Organizations hope that this will allow veterans to get on-demand rides to jobs, interviews, and other employment opportunities, like job fairs or hiring events.

Donate a ride today

In order to extend the service, Uber has announced that its passengers will also be able to help veterans secure transportation too. On Veterans Day, the company plans on allowing riders and drivers the chance to donate $5 towards a veteran's ride.

The event will take place in over 150 cities across the U.S. To donate, consumers only need to open the Uber app and slide the toggle to “VETS DAY” and order an UberX. When the ride is complete, a message will be sent with information on the $5 donation. Reply “Yes” to this message to complete the donation.  

With today's celebration of Veterans Day, it is important to honor the men and women who have sacrificed so much for our country. While many soldiers fight...

Background screening companies run afoul of feds

"Serious inaccuracies" cost companies $13 million

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has taken action against two of the country's largest background screening companies, saying they failed to ensure that the information they provided about job applicants was accurate.

The "serious inaccuracies" reported by General Information Services and its affiliate, e-Background-checks.com, Inc. (BGC), potentially affected consumers’ eligibility for employment and caused harm to their reputations. The CFPB is ordering the companies to correct their practices, provide $10.5 million in relief to harmed consumers, and pay a $2.5 million civil penalty.

“General Information Services and its affiliate failed to take basic steps to provide accurate background screening reports to employers about job applicants,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. “Today, we are holding two of the largest companies in this market accountable for cleaning up the quality of their reports.”

10 million per year

GIS and its affiliate, BGC, collectively generate and sell more than 10 million consumer reports about job applicants each year to prospective employers. These consumer reports include criminal history information and civil records, among other types of data. Employers use the consumer reports to determine hiring eligibility of applicants and make other types of employment decisions.

The companies are two of the largest background screening report providers in the United States. GIS is headquartered in Chapin, S.C., and BGC is headquartered in Dallas, Texas.

The CFPB found that GIS and BGC violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act by, among other things, failing to employ reasonable procedures to assure the maximum possible accuracy of the information contained in reports provided to consumers’ potential employers.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has taken action against two of the country's largest background screening companies, saying they failed to...

What makes a CEO?

Researchers find that people at the top of the corporate ladder have many things in common

Have you ever sat back and wondered what it would be like to run the company that you work for? You certainly aren’t alone if you have, but only so many people can rise up to meet that professional goal. But why not you? You might have all of the ambition in the world, but is it enough?

Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) certainly have to work hard to get to where they are, but what allows them to climb so high on the corporate ladder? It was this question, amongst others, that prompted researchers at JobApplicationCenter.com to look into the pasts of CEOs to determine some of the common factors that allowed them to achieve so much success.

Career beginnings

According to the researchers, CEOs tend to start their careers in their early-to-mid-twenties. Nearly a quarter of all CEOs began careers at the age of 22, which, perhaps not coincidentally, is the time when most young adults graduate from a four-year college.

There were not too many CEOs who began their careers after the age of 28 or in their teenage years, but this should not discourage workers who fall into these categories. CEOs from some of the most recognizable companies were able to start their careers well before their college years.

For example, Rodney McMullen began as a stock clerk at the age of 17 for The Kroger Company before rising to become CEO of that same company. Similarly, Mary T. Barra became CEO of General Motors after beginning as a co-op student for the Pontiac Motor Division at the age of 18.

Working for a variety of companies in different fields is also not unheard of for current CEOs. Researchers found that roughly 60% of CEOs started at a different company than the one that they are currently working for. Nearly 30% worked in a completely different field before settling into the role they have now.

Producing CEOs

Another interesting finding that the researchers uncovered was that certain companies had a tendency to produce employees who would go on to become CEOs. Arthur Andersen, a large accounting firm, had the highest number of employees that eventually went on to become CEOs. They were followed by companies such as Procter & Gamble, IBM, Goldman Sachs, General Electric, and Dow Chemical.

CEOs who came from these and other big-name companies were often able to use their previous positions to good advantage. Using contacts that they acquired over years of working for their previous companies gave them the opening they needed to break into the industry. For example, Dave Lesar went on to become CEO of Halliburton because the company was a client of his at Arthur Andersen.

States with the most CEOs

You can usually find a CEO at his or her company’s headquarters, which researchers have found to be fairly predictable. Nearly 44% of all Fortune 500 company headquarters are found in one of five states –California, Texas, New York, Illinois, and Minnesota.

These states are picked most often because they all have assets that cater to specific industries. California tops the list due to its large focus on technology and entertainment; Texas is a major location for the energy industry, where companies dealing in mining, equipment, pipelines, and transport can thrive; New York is a center for financial firms due to its connection to Wall Street.

Apart from these five cities, CEOs tend to live in the Northeast and Southeast of the country. Companies usually thrive in areas that have a major socioeconomic presence; that is why some states – such as Montana, Wyoming, Alaska, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine – have no Fortune 500 companies.

General similarities

So while CEOs can come from different backgrounds, the researchers conclude that there are some similarities that cannot be ignored.

“While no tried-and-true formula exists, some experts suggest a solid education, varied career experience, (for instance, a background in consulting), and specific strengths including a high level of ambition and excellent communication skills are the building blocks to becoming a CEO,” they said.

The researchers hope that their work will help people achieve their professional goals by allowing them to see what successful businesspeople have done before them. Additional information can be found by reading their full study here

Have you ever sat back and wondered what it would be like to run the company that you work for? You certainly aren’t alone if ...

"Black" name conjures image of bigger, more violent man

Researcher says he's "disgusted by his own data"

More than a decade ago, a major study found that people with stereotypically black names were 50 percent less likely to get callbacks from prospective employers.

Have things changed? Not according to a new UCLA study, which finds that a stereotypically black name conjures up a mental image of a person who is bigger, more violent and of a lower social status than someone with a typically "white" name.

“I’ve never been so disgusted by my own data,” said lead author Colin Holbrook, a research scientist in the UCLA anthropology department. “The amount that our study participants assumed based only on a name was remarkable. A character with a black-sounding name was assumed to be physically larger, more prone to aggression, and lower in status than a character with a white-sounding name.”

Jamal vs. Connor

During one version of the study, the mostly white participants, aged 18 to mid-70s, from all over the United States and self-identifying as slightly left of center politically, read one of two nearly identical vignettes.

One featured a man named Jamal, DeShawn or Darnell, and the other featured Connor, Wyatt or Garrett.

In that version, participants read a vignette with one of the two types of names. A control group read a,“neutral” vignette. The other groups read the same vignette with one of two additions: a “successful” scenario in which the character was a college graduate and successful business owner, or a “threatening” scenario in which the character had been convicted of aggravated assault.

In all versions of the study, participants were asked their intuitive impression of the character’s height, build, status, aggressiveness and other factors.

“In the ‘successful’ scenario, the white and black characters are similarly perceived,” Holbrook said. “And when the character is convicted of assault, they again have similar outcomes, no matter their name. But people imagine the neutral black character as similar in size to the white criminal character, and we know that this shift in size is a proxy for how violent and aggressive they implicitly perceive the person to be. It’s quite disturbing.”

Participants rated each character on height, muscularity and size, and the composite score for all three characteristics was statistically equivalent for the “black neutral” character and the “white criminal” character.

Socio-economic status

Not only did participants envision the characters with black-sounding names as larger, even though the actual average height of black and white men in the United States is the same, but the researchers also found that size and status were linked in opposite ways depending on the assumed race of the characters.

The larger the participants imagined the characters with “black”-sounding names, the lower they envisioned their financial success, social influence and respect in their community. Conversely, the larger they pictured those with “white”-sounding names, the greater they envisioned their status, said co-author and UCLA anthropology professor Daniel Fessler, director of the,UCLA Center for Behavior, Evolution and Culture.

“In essence, the brain’s representational system has a toggle switch, such that size can be used to represent either threat or status,” Fessler said. “However, apparently because stereotypes of black men as dangerous are deeply entrenched, it is very difficult for our participants to flip this switch when thinking about black men. For study participants evaluating black protagonists, dangerous equals big and big equals dangerous, period.”

Participants would be dismayed

“I think our study participants, who were overall on the liberal end of the spectrum, would be dismayed to know this about themselves,” Holbrook said. “This study shows that, even among people who understand that racism is still very real, it’s important for them to acknowledge the possibility that they have not only prejudicial but really inaccurate stereotypes in their heads.”

The study was published,in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior.

More than a decade ago, a major study found that people with stereotypically black names were 50 percent less likely to get callbacks from prospective empl...

Praise from your boss may actually be a bad thing

Study finds that verbally praising workers can actually reduce their motivation for some tasks

One of the complaints you might not hear too often is that your friend or family member’s boss is too nice. Movies, television, and other forms of pop culture love making bosses into the bad guy, but it turns out that a boss that gives too much praise for your work could be just as bad. A new study shows that too much praise in the workplace can actually lower work ethic and reduce a worker’s drive to get things done.

You might be wondering how being praised for your work could be a bad thing. Well, let’s backtrack a little bit to explain. Praise can be a very good and effective tool in the work environment, but only for certain kinds of tasks. For example, smaller tasks, or ones that are more repetitive, work well with verbal rewards because there is not a great deal of accomplishment that comes with completing them. More complex or trying tasks are a different story.

“While managers can use these ‘verbal rewards’ – often as simple as saying ‘thank you’ – for simple or repetitive tasks, this approach can backfire for complex tasks and projects. That is likely to be because the latter are interesting enough in themselves to be motivating, so that extra encouragement is unwanted. In fact, it can even rob staff of their own inner drive,” said Dr. Rebecca Hewett, Senior Lecturer in Human Resources Management at the University of Greenwich.

Intrinsic motivation vs. extra encouragement

Greenwich and her colleagues tested this claim by asking a sample of workers to answer a short questionnaire at the end of their work day. Participants were asked about any projects or tasks they worked on that day and what kind of reward or motivation they expected to receive afterward.

Researchers found that participants had less intrinsic motivation to do a complex task if they expected to receive a verbal reward for it. For simple tasks, however, intrinsic motivation was higher when verbal rewards were expected.

This difference suggests that participants did not want verbal rewards for complex tasks because completing them was enough of a reward in and of itself. More menial tasks benefit from verbal rewards because it gives extra encouragement to get the job done.

“We all have to do boring tasks in our working day, and this research suggests that managers can help to motivate us to do those simply by providing a bit of encouragement or saying ‘thank you’. For those more complex tasks, on the other hand, it would be better to let us get on with it,” said Hewett.

The full study has been published in the Journal of Organizational Behaviour

One of the complaints you might not hear too often is that your friend or family member’s boss is too nice. Movies, television, and other forms of pop cult...

How much is too much?

Consumers agree on the need for higher minimum wage -- but how high?

Consumers agree on the need for higher minimum wage -- but how high?

 

A new Harris Poll finds a large majority of those asked (72%) think the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour is lower than it should be. However, while they clearly believe it should be higher, exactly how high is a more contentious subject.

 

When told that some U.S. cities have introduced programs to raise their minimum wage rates to $15.00 per hour over the next few years, 59% of U.S. adults -- crossing regional, political, generational, gender and income lines -- say that's at least somewhat higher than it should be.

 

Divergence of opinion

 

But not everyone feels this way. While majorities of Republicans (81%) and Independents (62%) say $15.00 per hour is more than the minimum wage should be, only 4 in 10 Democrats (41%) share this perspective, slightly behind the percentage who think it’s about right (43%).

 

While resistance to this level of compensation likely has many causes, one that may be weighing on adults’ minds is concern over their own bottom lines: eight in 10 consumers (81%) believe a higher minimum wage would increase costs for consumers.

 

When presented with key provisions from the New York State wage board’s recent recommendation to increase the minimum wage to $15.00 per hour for fast food workers at chains with more than 30 locations, sentiments were mixed toward many elements of it.

 

Just over half of those asked (53%) support the end-of-2018 deadline for reaching this wage rate in 2018, while just over half (52%) oppose the mid-2021 statewide deadline. But ultimately consumers most take issue with the divergent standards these dates represent. Six in 10 U.S. adults (60%) oppose New York City and the rest of the state reaching a $15.00 per hour minimum wage at different times.

 

A 55% majority opposes the recommendation’s focus on workers in the fast food industry, while a narrow 52% majority opposes its focus on chains with 30 or more locations.

 

Big picture

 

Stepping back from which cities are planning what wage hikes and looking at these issues more broadly, a resounding 87% of U.S. adults agree -- 52% strongly so -- that raising the minimum wage only for fast food workers is unfair to workers in other industries.

 

Majorities also agree that all workers should be entitled to the same minimum wage, regardless of what industry they’re in (76%) and that all employers should be required to pay the same minimum wage regardless of company size (69%).

 

Fewer than 3 in ten (28%) say there should not be a minimum wage requirement at all.

 

Circling back to the contentious $15.00 figure, when asked directly whether they agree or disagree that the minimum wage should be increased to $15.00 per hour nationwide, consumers are divided down the middle at 50% each. Even drilling down to “strongly” agree and disagree responses reveals an all but even divide, with 29% strongly agreeing and 28% strongly disagreeing.

 

Nearly three-fourths of Democrats (73%) agree that the minimum wage should be increased to $15.00 per hour nationwide, while nearly 8 in 10 Republicans (79%) and over half of Independents (55%) disagree.

 

Divides also exist by generation and income:

  • 58% of Millennials agree, while Gen Xers are divided (49% agree, 51% disagree) and majorities of Baby Boomers (55%) and Matures (56%) disagree.
  • Roughly 6 in 10 (59%) of those who would be affected most by such a move -- those in households earning under $50,000 per year -- agree with the concept, while majorities of those in households earning $75,000 per year or more disagree (61% of those earning $75k-$100k, 59% of those earning $100k or more) disagree.
Consumers agree on the need for higher minimum wage -- but how high? A new Harris Poll finds a large majority of those asked (72%) think the current fede...

Job insecurity characterizes the new working world

This is not only affecting our professional lives, but our family relationships as well

After World War II, the goal of every head of household was to find a good job that they could keep until they retired. At that time, they would be able to collect a good pension and live comfortably into their golden years. Unfortunately, this job model does not really exist anymore, and a new study shows that job insecurity is negatively affecting relationships within the family structure.

A changing working world

There are several reasons why the “20-year career and a gold watch” job model does not exist anymore. With the advent of new technology, many companies are going digital and eliminating positions that were once held by working people. After all, why pay someone to do a job that you can have a robot or piece of electronic equipment do? An emerging global market also means that competition for jobs is fiercer than ever before.

These factors have led to job insecurity, where workers are much more likely to be laid off. Current projections show that a person can expect to switch jobs, or locations, at least half a dozen times during their working lives. Evidence of this can be seen in the massive layoffs that big companies have conducted in recent years. For example, Hewlett Packard eliminated 34,000 jobs just last year.

In families that have two wage earners, it is extremely common for one or both of them to feel very insecure in their line of work. Allison Pugh, who is a professor of sociology at the University of Virginia, says that that these working conditions encourage a “one-way honor system”, in which workers are dependent on employers but employers are not dependent on their workers.

Family relationships

When examining this working system, Pugh wanted to know how job insecurity affected relationships within the family structure. She interviewed 80 people and asked them about their work lives and their home lives. She found that insecurity culture can blow certain things out of proportion, while also diminishing commitments to our loved ones.

The parent-child relationship is particularly affected by insecurity culture. Teens often see that their parents are working hard, but not reaching the goals that they’re striving for. It can make hard work seem hopeless or pointless, which is a very bad example for young people that will soon be entering the working world themselves.

The interviews that Pugh conducted have been published in her book, “The Tumbleweed Society: Working and Caring in an Age of Insecurity”, which was released earlier this year. 

After World War II, the goal of every head of household was to find a good job that they could keep until they retired. At that time, they would be able to...

The new workday doesn't last from 9 to 5

Technology allows us to work from anywhere, so we do

It used to be that just doctors were on call 24 hours a day. Now, it seems that we all are.

Employment site CareerBuilder decided to look at how Americans work these days. How many of us, it wondered, stick to the traditional 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. schedule? Now that technology allows us to work from almost anywhere, the typical workday appears to be changing.

The survey targeted 1,000 full-time workers in information technology, financial services, sales, and professional and business services – industries that historically have kept more traditional work hours. Harris Poll asked the questions.

According to the results, 63% of workers in these industries believe “working 9 to 5” is an outdated concept, and a significant number have a hard time leaving the office mentally. For example, nearly 1 in 4 – 24% – check work emails during supposed “down time” with family and friends.

Is working 5 to 9 the new 9 to 5?

Today, work might mean just staying connected. Fifty percent of the workers in the targeted industries said they check or respond to work emails outside of work, and nearly 2 in 5 – 38% – say they continue to work outside of office hours.

It should be noted that very few people who took the survey complain about this new work paradigm. Sixty-two percent say they stay connected by choice because often, it works to their advantage.

“Workers want more flexibility in their schedules, and with improvements in technology that enable employees to check in at any time, from anywhere, it makes sense to allow employees to work outside the traditional nine-to-five schedule,” said Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer of CareerBuilder. “Moving away from a nine-to-five work week may not be possible for some companies yet, but if done right, allowing employees more freedom and flexibility with their schedules can improve morale, boost productivity and increase retention rates.”

I think, therefore I work

While we seem to be working longer hours, work also seems to be more loosely defined than in the past. For example, it isn't always about completing a set task – sometimes it's a thought process.

About 20% of those questioned say they think about work issues just before going to bed and 42% say work is the first thing on their mind when they wake up in the morning.

Men are more likely than women to report working outside of office hours, check or respond to work emails outside of work, and check on work activities while they are out with friends and family.

Older workers are more likely to work outside of normal business hours than younger workers.

How healthy?

There is one question that the survey does not address– how healthy is this trend? Don't we need to unplug every once in a while?

When Gallup delved into this issue last year, it found that, for the most part, workers don't see working around the clock as a burden.

It's not like they're on a factory assembly line. Instead, they are more apt to be working a problem and exchanging ideas with colleagues.

It used to be that just doctors were on call 24 hours a day. Now, it seems that we all are.Employment site CareerBuilder decided to look at how America...

Starbucks plans move into low-income areas

Executives hope that the move will promote local job growth

A new expansion plan by Starbucks will see the company setting up stores in low-income areas. Starbucks will be placing 15 new stores in minority neighborhoods, including one in Ferguson, Mo., which was an epicenter of unrest this past year. Starbucks executives are hoping that these new stores will help with job growth.

Benefitting local neighborhoods

CEO Howard Shultz has tended to prioritize programs that affect positively effect employees. He was one of the first employers to offer insurance for part-time workers, and has vowed to hire 10,000 young Americans over the next three years who aren’t currently employed or are in school.

Blair Taylor, who is the Starbucks Chief Community Officer, said that new stores can employ as many as 20-25 people from local neighborhoods. Local community organizations will also use the stores as training areas in order to teach job training classes.

““We are really thinking about what a for-profit company such as ours can do in addition to the creation of jobs, and that's where this notion of building this kind of a store in communities that have been disenfranchised — particularly some of the ones that have been the most visible over the last few years — comes into play," said Taylor.

Partnering with local businesses

Schultz came up with this idea last April while speaking in Ferguson about his company taking a stand on racism. Starbucks has partnered with a local bakery in Ferguson called “Natalie’s Cakes and More”, and plans on selling their products in its locations.

“The partnership is helping me become a stronger pillar of my community said Natalie DuBose, who owns the bakery. She plans on providing cakes for four St. Louis Starbucks starting next month.

Schultz has taken his idea of partnering with other companies very seriously. He has recruited 16 other major companies to join Starbucks in hiring a total of 10,000 youths by 2018. 

A new expansion plan by Starbucks will see the company setting up stores in low-income areas. Starbucks will be placing 15 new stores in minority neighborh...

Can a search engine be guilty of sex discrimination?

Study finds ads for high-paying jobs shown a lot more often to men

Prejudice is a human trait in which different types of people are treated differently. There have been countless laws and amendments to the Constitution to address it.

The last place you would expect to find discrimination is in the cold, dispassionate digits of a computer algorithm.

That's why researchers at Carnegie Mellon University were flabbergasted when their experiments showed that when male and female computer users searched on Google, men were shown a lot more ads promising help in getting high-paying jobs than women were.

The researchers used a tool called AdFisher that conducts experiments with simulated user profiles. Anupam Datta, associate professor of computer science and of electrical and computer engineering, says the results are clear – online gender discrimination is real.

“Out of the blue”

"This just came out of the blue," Datta said of the gender discrimination finding, which was part of a larger study of the operation of Google's Ad Settings Web page, formerly known as Ad Preferences.

He says the bigger question is “why.” Was it the preference of advertisers or was it the unintended consequence of machine learning algorithms that drive online recommendation engines?

AdFisher created hundreds of simulated users, enabling researchers to run browser-based experiments to identify various effects from changes in preferences or online behavior. The program uses a set of other machine learning tools to analyze the results and perform statistical analyses.

"Many important decisions about the ads we see are being made by online systems," Datta said. "Oversight of these 'black boxes' is necessary to make sure they don't compromise our values."

Profound differences

In the case of the job ads, the differences were profound. Specifically, the experiment looked at who was shown ads for high-paying jobs when visiting employment sites.

AdFisher was used to create 1,000 simulated users - half male, half female - and had them visit 100 top job-listing sites. AdFisher then reviewed the ads that were shown to the simulated users and found the site most strongly associated with the male profiles was a career coaching service for executive positions paying more than $200,000.

The researchers say male users were shown the high-paying job ads about 1,800 times, compared to female users who saw those ads about 300 times. Drilling deeper, the researchers found the ads most associated with female profiles were for a generic job posting service and an auto dealer.

Looking inside the black box

"We can't look inside the black box that makes the decisions, but AdFisher can find changes in preferences and changes in the behavior of its virtual users that cause changes in the ads users receive," said Michael Carl Tschantz, a researcher at the International Computer Science Institute in Berkeley, Calif.

The Carnegie Mellon researchers are quick to point out that they have no evidence that Google is doing anything illegal or that it violates its own policies. While they say Adfisher can identify discrepancies, it can't explain why they occur without a look inside the black box.

However, they add that the discrepancies they found could come from the advertiser or Google's system targeting males.

Prejudice is a human trait in which different types of people are treated differently. There have been countless laws and amendments to the Constitution to...

Obama plan to boost overtime pay moves ahead

It lowers the threshold at which employers would have to pay time-and-a-half

President Obama plans to kick off the July 4th holiday weekend by setting off a proposed new overtime rule that would raise wages for an estimated 5 million workers as early as 2016.

Obama is expected to announce the proposed regulation formally on Thursday during a trip to La Crosse, Wisconsin, but details are to be released by the White House today. 

As we reported a few weeks ago, the rule would nearly double the salary above which employees become eligible for time-and-a-half overtime pay. The current limit, $23,660, would increase to about $52,000 under the proposed revision to Labor Department rules.

It's being called the most sweeping policy yet undertaken by the Obama Administration to boost the middle class. It would be the biggest federal intervention in the wage economy in recent memory and would affect workers ranging from fast-food clerks to middle managers at banks and insurance companies. 

Hard day's work

“We’ve got to keep making sure hard work is rewarded,” President Barack Obama wrote in an op-ed published Monday in The Huffington Post. “That’s how America should do business. In this country, a hard day’s work deserves a fair day’s pay.”

Presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is a long-time proponent of the idea, saying it's "a step in the right direction and good news for workers.”  

Business interests say the measure would have the opposite of its desired effect, as employers cut back employee hours to avoid tripping the overtime requirement.

Since the measure is an administrative rules change, it does not require approval by the GOP-dominated Congress. But, like many measures implemented administratively by the Obama White House, it could be rolled back by a future Republican president. 

President Obama plans to kick off the July 4th holiday weekend by setting off a proposed new overtime rule that would raise wages for an estimated 5 millio...

Some gay couples may have to marry to keep benefits

Supreme Court ruling could have an unexpected result for some same-sex couples

When the Supreme Court ruled Friday that same-sex marriage is a constitutional right, it was understandably a cause for celebration in the LGBT community.

Activists have worked for years to get to that moment. Couples who have been together for decades are now able to marry like anyone else and receive the same financial benefits marriage offers, not least of which is Social Security filing benefits.

But the ruling could have a complicating impact on some relationships for gay couples living in the 16 states where, until Friday, same-sex marriage had not been legal. Depending upon where they work, couples who can now marry may have to do so if they want to keep their benefits.

As PBS reported at the end of May, some large employers that had been extending benefits to same-sex domestic partners were phasing out that practice in the 35 states and District of Columbia, where same sex marriage was legal. The reason was fairness.

Bringing benefits in line

“We’re bringing our benefits in line, making them consistent with what we do for everyone else,” Verizon spokesman Ray McConville told PBS last month.

Verizon is one of many major U.S. corporations that had extended benefits to domestic partners. It only seemed the fair thing to do since same-sex couples could not be legally married.

But as one state after another struck down the ban on same sex marriage, the benefits policy appeared to discriminate against heterosexual couples who lived together but chose not to get married and thus, did not receive benefits coverage for both partners.

Entrepreneur Magazine reported last month that Delta Airlines had also slowly begun phasing out health benefits for domestic partners in states where same-sex marriage was legal, but has compensated by agreeing to pay federal and state income and payroll taxes associated with the coverage, relieving employees of the tax burden. The company said it planned to even out benefits and tax treatment for both same-sex and opposite-sex couples.

Now that same sex marriage is legal in all 50 states, gay couples who work for companies that, like Verizon, are revising their benefits policies, may have to make a choice. The PBS report interviewed representatives from some benefits consulting companies and advocacy groups who said there are legal, financial and other reasons that some gay couples may not want to get married.

“A little bossy”

While some advocates may understand the reasoning behind benefits policy changes, they nonetheless chafe at the pressure. Jennifer Pizer, senior counsel at Lambda Legal, an advocacy organization for gay, lesbian and transgender people, told PBS she the policy feels “a little bossy.”

When same-sex marriage was only legal in some states and not others, corporations had more leeway in expanding benefits coverage. Now that it is legal everywhere, it remains to be seen how they will respond.

Some employers already allow benefits for both same-sex and opposite-sex partners who can provide documents showing they are financially responsible for each other. Those policies should be unaffected by the court ruling.

When the Supreme Court ruled Friday that same-sex marriage is a constitutional right, it was understandably a cause for celebration in the LGBT community. ...

Are you in danger of losing your job to a robot?

Robots will become viable alternative to human work force, report warns

Some really smart people have warned that humans are playing with fire when they develop more advanced machines and robots. Scientist Stephen Hawking says developing full artificial intelligence (AI) “could spell the end of the human race.” Entrepreneur Elon Musk says AI is “our biggest existential threat.”

But these warnings have done little to slow the rapid pace of AI development. Wired magazine reports a British supermarket chain is developing humanoid robots that may be able to understand and help humans in real time.

Rise of the robots

Should people with jobs be concerned about the rise of robots? After all, you don't have to pay these guys overtime. In fact, you don't have to pay them at all.

“As smart machines become increasingly capable, they will become viable alternatives to human workers under certain circumstances, which will lead to significant repercussions for the business and thus for CIOs (chief investment officers),” said Stephen Prentice, vice president and Gartner Fellow.

A new report from Gartner, Inc., suggests the business world has already taken notice of this emerging trend. The community is divided, the report finds, between those who welcome the trend and those who are worried about what it means to the human work force.

As we have previously reported, robots have been deployed for years in one form or another. Robots not only help put vehicles together on the auto assembly line, they help consumers check out faster at the supermarket.

Widely deployed in multiple roles

“As smart machines become more capable, and more affordable, they will be more widely deployed in multiple roles across many industries, replacing some human workers. This is nothing new,” Prentice said. “The deployment of new technology has eliminated millions of jobs over the course of history.”

But the report also notes that new technologies have also produced millions of new jobs over that time. Prentice says the issue isn't exactly cut and dried.

“Organizations must balance the necessity to exploit the significant advances being made in the capabilities of various smart machines with the perceived negative impact of resulting job losses,” he said.

“Unstoppable”

Over the next five years, the report predicts that smart machines will start making more key business decisions, leading some to fear that they may become “unstoppable” or run out of control. Prentice, for one, doesn't seem that worried.

“Within the confines of currently known technology, the idea of machines attaining some level of ’self-awareness,’ ’consciousness’ or ’sentience’ is still the stuff of science fiction,” he said. “Even with the coming generation of smart machines, which actively ’learn’ and will be able to adapt their actions to optimize their progress toward a goal, humans can choose to remain in control.”

That's a way of saying managers' jobs are relatively safe, even if the rank and file perhaps should be looking over their shoulders.

Some really smart people have warned that humans are playing with fire when they develop more advanced machines and robots. Scientist Stephen Hawking says...

Obama may raise threshold for overtime pay

A proposed rule change could make millions of workers eligible for overtime

The Obama Administration is expected to propose a new rule that would nearly double the salary above which employees become eligible for time-and-a-half overtime pay. The current limit, $23,660, would increase to $52,000 under the proposed revision to Labor Department rules.

Business interests are marshalling opposition to the measure and GOP presidential hopefuls have generally been dismissive while Democrats Martin O'Malley and Bernie Sanders have endorsed it.

Sanders, in fact, has been exhorting Obama to implement the rule since at least January and frequently mentions it in his campaign speeches.

"We must ... end the scandal in which millions of American employees, often earning less than $30,000 a year, work 50 or 60 hours a week – and earn no overtime," Sanders said in his May 26 campaign kick-off speech in Burlington, Vt.

“Too many Americans are working longer and harder without anything to show for their efforts in their paychecks. These long hours are straining middle class workers and their families,” Sanders and 25 other Democratic senators wrote in a letter to President Obama in January.  

The proposed rule is seen as the closest the Obama White House can come to raising the minimum wage, also strongly opposed by business interests and Republican candidates.

Currently, employers must pay overtime to anyone who makes $23,660 or less if that person works more than 40 hours per week, regardless of whether they are considered to be an "exempt" administrative -- salaried rather than hourly -- worker. 

That figure, which has not been increased since the 1970s, is below the poverty line for a family of four. The $52,000 salary level would be closer to the median wage and would vastly expand the number of workers who qualify for overtime pay.

Net effect

The White House argues that its measure would increase earnings for millions of workers. Republicans say employers would react by downsizing their workforce. The arguments are basically the same as those rolled out whenever the minimum wage is being discussed.

The liberal Economic Policy Institute estimates that about 6.1 million more workers would become eligible for overtime pay at the $52,000 threshold.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce says it's not practical to impose the higher threshold nationwide and says the Administration should apply different thresholds in different geographic regions.

The revision has been in the works for months and is likely to be formally inroduced this week, Politico reports today

 

The Obama Administration is expected to propose a new rule that would nearly double the salary above which employees become eligible for time-and-a-half ov...

Report: job market for 2015 grads not as good as advertised

Yes, there may be more jobs but they don't pay that well

Students graduating from college this spring have some reason for optimism as numerous forecasts have predicted more job opportunities than grads have enjoyed since the end of the Great Recession. But maybe not too much optimism.

It may be true that there will be more jobs available, but a report from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) presents a rather sobering reality check. These available jobs are unlikely to be the ones students have prepared for by earning a bachelor's degree, and perhaps running up thousands of dollars in student loans in the process.

The report, which measured data from a variety of sources, found that the most recent college graduates are still dealing with both unemployment and underemployment. EPI found that the unemployment rate for young college graduates is 7.2%, compared to 5.5% in 2007.

The underemployment rate – meaning the employee is overqualified for the position – is 14.9%, compared to 9.6% in 2007.

But wait, isn't it normal for someone fresh out of college to start at the bottom and work their way up? Haven't countless generations done that before?

Disturbing difference

Maybe, but EPI has focused on what it views as a disturbing difference. Too many college graduates are having to take jobs outside their field and positions that don't even require a college degree.

“The share of employed young college graduates working in jobs that do not require a college degree underscore that the current unemployment crisis among young workers did not arise because today’s young adults lack the right education or skills,” the authors write. “Rather, it stems from weak demand for goods and services, which makes it unnecessary for employers to significantly ramp up hiring.”

And when employers do hire, they find they no longer need to pay the wages they once did. While highly specialized slots may command high salaries and go to experienced personnel, most entry level jobs do not.

The EPI report finds wages earned by young college and high school graduates are performing poorly and are actually lower than they were 15 years ago. Adjusted for inflation, college graduates are earning 2.5% less than they did in 2000. The wage slowdown has hit women particularly hard.

Added headwinds

Even an underemployed college graduate might be able to make up lost economic ground with an improving economy but 2015 college grads may face added headwind if they took out student loans that they now must begin repaying.

A report by The Principal Financial surveyed employees about their student loans. About one-third of the employees who borrowed money for college say they regret doing so. About 34% said taking out student loans has prevented them from achieving their financial goals.

EPI notes that the cost of a college education in recent years has grown a lot faster than most families' income so that students had little choice but to take on debt. Graduating into a labor market that provides jobs that don't require a college education doesn't provide the means to pay off their debts while getting started on a career.

EPI cites data from the College Board showing that from the 1983–1984 enrollment year to the 2013–2014 enrollment year, the inflation-adjusted cost of a 4-year education, including tuition, fees, and room and board, increased 125.7% for private school and 129.0% for public school.

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York reports a 92% increase in the last 10 years in the number of student loan borrowers and a 74% increase in the amount the average student owes.

Here's the bottom line: the report's authors say there will be long-term consequences to graduating from college and taking a job that doesn't require a degree. They cite research suggesting these grads will likely earn less for the next 10 to 15 years than if they had graduated when jobs were plentiful and their services in demand.

Students graduating from college this spring have some reason for optimism as numerous forecasts have predicted more job opportunities than grads have enjo...

Ice cream recall prompts layoffs of Blue Bell employees

Furloughs and pay cuts have also been ordered

Last month's massive recall of ice cream due to Listeria contamination has prompted the Blue Bell to make what CEO and President Paul Kruse called “the agonizing decision” to cut the size of its work force and take other cost-cutting measures.

 

The company says the need to reduce its workforce, furlough some workers and cut salaries is “due to the extended timeline required to ensure the highest quality and safety of Blue Bell’s products when the company resumes production." The company adds that supply and distribution will be limited for some time to come.

 

An “agonizing decision”

 

“The agonizing decision to lay off hundreds of our great workers and reduce hours and pay for others was the most difficult one I have had to make in my time as Blue Bell’s CEO and President,” Kruse said. While saying Blue bell “did everything we could to keep people on our payroll for as long as possible, “ Kruse added, “we have an obligation to do what is necessary to bring Blue Bell back and ensure its viability in the future.”

 

Blue Bell says the process of cleaning and improving its 4 production plants is going to take longer than the company initially anticipated, especially at the main plant where major repairs and equipment replacements are expected. There is no firm timeline for when Blue Bell will begin producing ice cream again. When production resumes, it will be limited and phased in over time.

 

The employee actions affect three groups:

  • Those who are essential to ongoing operations and cleaning and repair efforts will continue to work but have their pay reduced.
  • A second group of employees will be placed on partially paid furlough. They will be paid a substantial portion of their current pay, with the expectation that they will return to work as production resumes.
  • Because there is not a clear timeline for when production will resume, and because supply and distribution will be limited when it does, a third group of employees will be laid off.

Approximately 1,400 employees will be furloughed, and approximately 750 full-time and 700 part-time employees -- or 37% of the total Blue Bell workforce of 3,900 -- will be laid off.

 

Blue Bell is also suspending operations and laying off employees at the following distribution centers:

  • Phoenix (2 branches) and Tucson, Arizona;
  • Denver, Colorado;
  • Indianapolis, Indiana;
  • Kansas City and Wichita, Kansas;
  • Louisville, Kentucky;
  • Albuquerque, New Mexico;
  • Las Vegas, Nevada;
  • Raleigh and Charlotte, North Carolina;
  • Columbia, South Carolina; and
  • Richmond, Virginia.

Blue Bell says its executives will be contacting area chambers of commerce to ask for their help for employees who have been laid off. Business owners who may have jobs available are asked to contact Blue Bell at 979-830-9831 or at jobs@bluebell.com.

Last month's massive recall of ice cream due to Listeria contamination has prompted Blue Bell to make what CEO and President Paul Kruse called “the agoniz...

Good jobs that don't require a college degree

However, they may require getting outside your comfort zone

The conventional wisdom is a four-year college degree is required for anything but a minimum wage job.

Not true, says Tony Lee, publisher of CareerCast, a job search portal. Lee's company has analyzed its job postings and found many that offer a comfortable salary and don't require a four-year degree.

While it is true that a college degree will give you a leg up on the better jobs, people without degrees aren't carrying any of the $1.2 trillion in student loan debt that has burdened many higher-earning college grads.

"Starting a career without a degree may be unconventional, but succeeding in the workplace without one is far from impossible," said Lee.

What you need, he says, are two things; an entrepreneurial spirit and specialized training.

Entrepreneurial spirit

An entrepreneurial spirit will make you valuable to an employer and help you get ahead. Specialized training will prepare you for a specialized job, more so than most college curriculum.

It might be harder to land that first job so Lee suggests working pro bono where possible. Also, working as an independent contractor allows an employer to see what you can do without making a major commitment.

What are some of the better jobs? Lee says a dental hygienist can make a median salary of $70,000 with a projected hiring outlook of 33%.

In fact, health care is a hot field with growing opportunities. Lee says a registered nurse earns around $65,000. A respiratory therapist earns more than $55,000.

IT opportunities

The increasing demand for IT professionals can mean more opportunities, even if you only have a high-school diploma. The median salary for a web developer is $62,000 a year with a projected 20% hiring outlook. A multimedia artist earns a median salary of $61,000.

Skilled tradesmen can do well too. Lee says the median salary for an electrician is $49,000 while a carpenter makes about $40,000.

Some of the great jobs available to those without a degree require some specialized education but not a full four years. You'll find some states require certification to become a skincare specialist, dental hygienist or personal trainer, for example, while trade crafts such as electrician and carpenter demand either advanced training or apprenticeships.

The full list of jobs is here.

Kiplinger's list

Carpenter, dental hygienist, nurse and electrician also make Kiplinger's list of the best jobs that don't require a 4-year degree. But so does computer user support specialist – someone who helps others deal with increasingly complex technology. Kiplinger's says that job can pay anywhere from $35,000 to $60,000 a year.

Unofficial apprenticeships also are invaluable for job seekers without a college degree.

Lee says a willingness to get outside your comfort zone is definitely an asset for those seeking a good job without a college degree. Technology, he says, can help.

For example, he says you could use CareerCast's Part-Time Network to connect with potential clients. Social media tools can also help.

The conventional wisdom is a four-year college degree is required for anything but a minimum wage job.Not true, says Tony Lee, publisher of CareerCast,...

Most small businesses still coping with Great Recession losses

It may help explain why so many consumers are also still struggling

Since the U.S. economy bottomed at the end of the Great Recession in the third quarter of 2009, it has failed to generate much of a rebound.

There have been only 4 quarters where economic growth exceeded 4%. There have been 2 quarters of negative growth and 2 quarters when there was barely any growth at all.

One of those was the just-ended first quarter of 2015, when the government reported this week that the economy grew by a measly 0.2%. This, in spite of retail gasoline prices around $2 a gallon for months.

A new report from Bank of America may help explain why.

Still recovering

In its annual small business survey, the bank asked small business owners if they believe they have recovered from the Great Recession. Only 21% said that they had.

Since millions of Americans work for small businesses – defined as those that employ fewer than 500 people -- it might help explain why consumers in general have been struggling since the financial crisis nearly 7 years ago.

The report found that the people who own small businesses have been working longer hours, forgoing raises for their employees and delaying their own compensation as they focus on rebuilding their businesses and rewarding repeat customers.

If employees are going longer without increases in compensation, it may be small consolation that the owner is doing the same thing. But according to the survey 67% of small business owners said they would rather delay or reduce their own compensation than take any other course of action to make ends meet.

No raise in 2 years

In fact, more than half said they have either never given themselves a raise, or haven’t done so in more than 2 years.

In order to keep their businesses going, 85% of small business owners work more than 40 hours per week on average. Thirty percent of respondents work more than 60 hours per week on average.

There are jobs available at many small businesses but owners often struggle to come up with salaries that are able to attract the people they need. Forty-five percent of owners said prospective employees declined job offers because the salary was too low.

Hiring expectations, meanwhile, are moving in the wrong direction. The Bank of America report found 46% of small business owners plan to hire additional employees over the next 12 months, down from 52% a year ago. Again, one reason cited for the decline is the inability to offer a competitive wage.

Similar trend

The National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) has noted a similar trend. In March it found a 2 point decline in the number of small businesses planning to create new jobs.

With an estimated 150 million Americans working for small businesses, when a small business struggles, so do consumers.

Since the U.S. economy bottomed at the end of the Great Recession in the third quarter of 2009, it has failed to generate much of a rebound. There have ...

Texas votes to unsnarl hairbraiding regulations

Braiders and barbers are not the same, and don't need the same regulations

Good news for various Texas entrepreneurs: yesterday the state House of Representatives voted unanimously in favor of HB 2717, to deregulate businesses which teach or perform the art of traditional African hairbraiding.

Texas law sets strict regulations on barbers and cosmetologists, primarily on safety grounds: those trades require (among other things) the use of sharp tools and potentially dangerous chemicals. Braiding hair does not, yet in 2007, when the state started regulating hairbraiders and teachers of the art, it mandated that they meet the same licensing requirements as barbers or cosmetologists.

Dallas resident and African hairbraiding expert Isis Brantley has been braiding hair professionally for over 30 years — and the law has hassled her over it for almost that long.

She started braiding hair at home in her kitchen, but was arrested when she tried opening a salon. “As soon as I opened up the shop, wow, the red tape was wrapped around my hands,” she told the Texas Tribune. “Seven cops came in, in front of my clients, and arrested me and took me to jail like a common criminal. The crime was braiding without a cosmetology license.”

Licensed hairbraider

Brantley spent years challenging the legal hairbraiding restrictions in court, and in 2007, the state modified the requirements somewhat: henceforth, hairbraiders seeking a license would only have to show 35 hours of formal training rather than 1,500 hours, and Brantley specifically was “grandfathered in” and granted a braiding license.

So she won the right to legally braid hair, but when she tried opening a school to give others the 35 hours of instruction they'd need to become legally licensed hairbraiders, the state told her that a braiding school would have to meet the same standards as a barber school.

Brantley sued the state in 2013, saying that the barber regulations on her braiding school were unconstitutional and unreasonable. The non-profit Institute For Justice, which joined Brantley in filing her suit, outlined the requirements Texas set before Brantley could legally teach the art of traditional African hairbraiding:

… Isis must spend 2,250 hours in barber school, pass four exams, and spend thousands of dollars on tuition and a fully-equipped barber college she doesn’t need, all to teach a 35-hour hairbraiding curriculum.  Tellingly, Texas will waive all these regulations if Isis goes to work for an existing barber school and teaches hairbraiding for them. 

That “fully equipped” barber college would have to include barber chairs and hair-washing stations, neither of which are required to braid hair.

In January, a federal judge ruled that Texas' regulations on hairbraiding schools were unconstitutional and did nothing to advance public health or safety, nor meet any other legitimate government interest.

During that trial Arif Panju, the Institute For Justice attorney who represented Brantley in her court battle, noted that the state couldn't identify a single hairbraiding school capable of meeting those strict barber-school requirements.

After the trial, he said that the judge's ruling “makes it crystal clear to the Legislature that what’s happening here is nothing to do with public health and safety and everything to do with economic protectionism.”

Good news for various Texas entrepreneurs: yesterday the state House of Representatives voted unanimously in favor of HB 2717, to deregulate businesses whi...

You rate Uber, Uber rates you

Drivers, meanwhile, are starting to tally up their costs, both physical and financial

You do know that your Uber driver is rating you, don't you?

Uber makes much of the fact that consumers can rate the service they get on each ride but doesn't talk much about the fact that drivers can do the same for passengers.

So if you're an obnoxious backseat driver, someone who complains about it being too hot or too cold or if you are just one of those rude, condescending people who make up a fair portion of the human race, get ready to stand around in the rain wondering why no Uber car races to your aid.

We're told that drivers can't see the passenger ratings yet but  there's speculation that they may be able to soon. Also, it's possible that passengers could find themselves removed from the system if they get too many negative reviews.

A similar situation, we understand from its drivers, holds true for Lyft.

This is not really news, although it is getting a bit of media attention today for some reason. Just about every Uber or Lyft driver we've ridden with has promised to give us a good rating, and implied that he'd appreciate our doing the same.

You could call this a blacklist, of course, and no doubt it will be used by entrenched cab companies as another reason why Uber and its ilk should be shoved to the curb. Licensed taxis, they point out, are legally required to answer all calls in their service area and are barred from discriminating against minorities, the disabled and passengers who live in "undesirable" neighborhoods.

Those who believe these rules are actually followed can take comfort from them. Everyone else should remember to be nice to your local Uber and Lyft drivers.

Disenchantment sets in

Ah, but what of the Uber drivers themselves? How are they feeling? I detect a certain disenchantment lately. 

We were rocking along the snowy streets of D.C.'s Virginia suburbs the other day as an Uber driver complained that his car was showing the stresses of being on the road day in and day out. Also, his back was starting to hurt. Also, Uber had cut its rates to be more competitive, taking money out of the drivers' pockets and forcing them to work longer hours to maintain their income.

"A lot of Uber drivers are going over to Lyft," he said. "You're seeing a lot more pink smiles." This, of course, may be like consumers who get miffed at AT&T and defect to Verizon (or vice versa). One may be much like the other.

What actually seems to be at play here is that drivers are starting to realize that while they're not chained to a desk like a workaday 9-to-5er, they're not exactly out there blazing new entrepreneurial trails either.

Initially, many drivers initially calculated their "pay" based on how much money they took in. But in fact, they need to look at themselves as a business -- which means that "pay" becomes the "top line" -- gross receipts from which must be deducted out-of-pocket expenses, depreciation, insurance and the other intangibles that determine whether or not a business is profitable.

Oh, and don't forget the taxes. As self-employed independent contractors, Uber and Lyft drivers must pay their income taxes quarterly. They're not automatically deducted as is the case with employees. And, one must remember, there are no employer-paid benefits -- no 401k, no health insurance, etc. 

Ironically, all of this was just starting to sink in with our talkative Uber driver just one day after Virginia had legalized Uber and its competitors with much self-congratulatory prose.

“I am proud to sign this legislation, which supports innovation in our transportation system while also protecting the safety of citizens across the Commonwealth,” said Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe. D.C. also recognizes the new transportation networks while Maryland remains a hold-out, once again complicating even the simplest tasks in the dysfunctional tri-state region that is home to the similarly dysfunctional federal government.

 

 

You do know that your Uber driver is rating you, don't you? Uber makes much of the fact that consumers can rate the service they get from each ride but do...

Bigger firms more likely to let you work from home

Survey shows large companies recognize the advantages more than small firm bosses

For any number of reasons a growing number of people prefer to work from home, rather than report to an office each day.

If you are one of those people, your chances of being able to do that are better if you work for a large company rather than a small or mid-sized one.

A new survey by Accountemps, a temporary staffing firm, interviewed chief financial officers (CFO) at a wide variety of companies. It found that 68% of the CFOs at companies with 1,000 or more employees reported an increase in work-from-home and other remote work opportunities.

But only 34% of CFOs at firms with 20 to 49 employees reported an increase in these remote work opportunities.

Benefits

There are many benefits for employees when they can work from home. They save on commuting costs and can be present when children get home from school.

But what's the motivation for businesses? The survey suggests the main reason companies do it is to please valued employees. And the survey suggests that large companies care about this more than small ones.

Among companies offering remote work arrangements, higher morale and retention were mentioned most as the reason allowing employees to work away from the office. Companies also see it as good business, with 28% believing it improves productivity.

In the past companies were slow to adopt remote work arrangements on the assumption that employees would be unproductive if not supervised by a hovering boss in an office environment. It turns out that's not true.

Supporting evidence

A study published last year in the Harvard Business Review followed an experiment at a call center operated by Ctrip, a Chinese travel website. Some employees were given the option of working from home and the results were surprising.

“People working from home completed 13.5% more calls than the staff in the office did—meaning that Ctrip got almost an extra workday a week out of them,” writes Nicholas Bloom, a Harvard business professor who co-authored the study. “They also quit at half the rate of people in the office—way beyond what we anticipated. And predictably, at-home workers reported much higher job satisfaction.” 

Work-life balance

The Accountemps survey seems to back that up. The CFOs at companies providing remote work opportunities were asked what benefits, if any, that had seen. By far the most common answer was that it improves employee retention and morale by promoting a better work-life balance.

"Employee preferences for 'anytime, anywhere' work arrangements are hard to ignore," said Bill Driscoll, a district president of Accountemps. "Although telecommuting isn't suitable for every role, it can be a powerful incentive for employees who want greater flexibility.”

Driscoll says other advantages to a business include cost savings on office space, the ability to tap into talent in different geographical areas and time zones, and more around-the-clock client service.

For any number of reasons a growing number of people prefer to work from home, rather than report to an office each day....

Veterans make excellent employees but companies have trouble finding them

Report finds that challenges remain for both veterans and employers looking to hire them

There's a disconnect somewhere between companies that want to hire veterans and veterans looking for work. A new RAND Corporation report finds that while veterans make excellent employees, companies still experience challenges locating and hiring them.

Studying a group of companies that have made a major commitment to hire veterans, researchers concluded that challenges remain for veterans seeking civilian jobs and employers hoping to hire them, including continuing difficulty understanding the match between military skills and civilian job requirements.

Too often veterans believe their talents apply only in the security or defense arenas and employers struggle to understand how military experience translates to the skills needed for civilian jobs, according to researchers.

"Military members need to know that defense contractors and similar businesses are not the only place they should look for work," said Kimberly Hall, lead author of the study and a senior project associate at RAND, a nonprofit research organization. "Veterans should consider the financial sector and other types of businesses. They contribute valuable skills and experience across the spectrum of American industry."

While the federal government has instituted programs to help veterans gain civilian employment, the RAND report suggests several improvements.

"Although we acknowledge the considerable effort by federal agencies to improve the transition from military service to the civilian workforce, and especially to improve the Transition Assistance Program, opportunities remain for improvement," said Margaret Harrell, co-author of the study and a senior social scientist at RAND.

The RAND report suggests that the Transition Assistance Program, which helps military members prepare for civilian life, should include the participation of civilian employers. The U.S. Department of Defense should continue to facilitate on-base access to recruiting events with civilian employers.

The Department of Defense also should extend SkillBridge, which helps military members train and intern with private employers, to include more participants, according to the report. Military members who are leaving service should be encouraged to enroll early with the Veterans Employment Center, an online employment tool with a registry of veterans and employers. Likewise, employers should consider participating in both SkillBridge and the Veterans Employment Center.

There's a disconnect somewhere between companies that want to hire veterans and veterans looking for work. A new RAND Corporation report finds that while v...

Behind the employment numbers: slow wage growth

Women are regaining jobs at a faster rate than men

On the surface at least, the October employment report, released on Friday, looked pretty good. Job creation for the month was a respectable 214,000. The unemployment rate fell to 5.8%, the lowest it has been since before the financial crisis.

When you look at what these jobs pay, however, the results are not all that impressive. Economists have worried that, while the economy is growing, wages are not. If consumers can't afford to increase their purchasing power, there's less fuel to grow the economy.

The job growth in October occurred largely in traditionally low-wage sectors. Food services and drinking places added 42,000 jobs while retail added 27,000. Higher-paying jobs like manufacturing added 15,000 jobs.

Familiar pattern

In an interview with Yahoo Finance, Dan Alpert, Managing Director of Westwood Capital, says we've seen this before.

“When you go back to 2013, some 58% of all the jobs that we’ve created are in the very low wage sector,” he said. “Those low wage sectors are retail, temp work, social assistance and leisure and hospitality. And combined those sectors do just a little more than 50% of all the other sector in terms of wages.”

Women rebound faster

But when it comes to regaining lost jobs, women appear to be doing better than men. The Institute for Women's Policy Research (IWPR) has analyzed Friday's employment report and has found that the total number of jobs lost in the recession has now been recovered.

However, it says men are down 71,000 jobs from the number they held at the start of the recession. In October, men gained 87,000 jobs while women gained 127,000. Women now hold 50% more jobs than they did at the start of the economic downturn.

The unemployment rate is based on the percentage of the population actively looking for work. If you aren't looking you aren't counted. Increasingly, economists have worried about the number of people no longer participating in the work force.

In October, the overall labor force participation rate increased slightly to 62.8% from 62.7% in September. Here again, that's largely due to women.

Fewer men participating

More women joined the labor force last month while more men dropped out. While women's participation rose slightly, men saw a rather dramatic drop of 4 percentage points from the start of the Great Recession.

"The economy is consistently adding over 200,000 jobs each month, but the recovery for men has remained painfully slow," said IWPR President Heidi Hartmann. "Working women continue to be the engine behind the economic recovery."

IWPR found that without women's strong presence in a few growing industries, women would have fared much worse in comparison to men than they did in the recovery. Men added more jobs in more sectors but where women were in the lead – sectors like education and health care – they lead by a lot.

The analysis also takes a close look at wages. It finds growth is not just limited to traditional low wage jobs but says most of the growth has come in what it calls mid-level wages, such as professional and business services.

It agrees, however, that job growth has been much slower in higher paying sectorsm such as information technology, financial services and government.

On the surface at least, the October employment report, released on Friday, looked pretty good. Job creation for the month was a respectable 214,000. The ...

Democratic and unemployed: jobless rolls skyrocket in D.C.

Defeated politicians and their staffers are plunged into a high-stakes musical chairs game

We're always being told that elections have consequences. Yes, they certainly do and no one knows it better today than the Democratic officeholders thrown out of work by a fed-up electorate yesterday. 

But oh, the humanity. It's not just Sen. Mark Udall, Gov. Dan Quinn and the like who find themselves jobless in D.C., Springfield and wherever but also their loyal staffers, campaign aides and other hangers-on.

Leaving aside the Statehouse and City Hall denizens who will soon by looking for work, Washington's K Street is suddenly awash in Democratic job-seekers. While a few may swallow hard and go the academic route or slink home with tail between legs, most will try to find a slot that keeps them in the game -- which means finding a lobbying job toot de suite.

Of course, not all lobbyists work on K St. just as not all movies are made in Hollywood and not all financial shenanigans occur on Wall Street, but it's useful shorthand born of necessity. After all, just as by most calculations there are more dead people than living people, there are more ex-officeholders and bootlickers in Washington than current ones. They all have to pay the mortgage on their McLean digs and K Street is the place to do it -- the inner circle that knows which oxes can be gored, which interests must be protected and which resources can be plundered.  

Who needs baristas?

The wrinkle right now, of course, is that it's mostly Democrats who are out of work. And the reason they're out of work is that the Republicans have won control of both the House and Senate. Think of what would happen if everyone suddenly switched from coffee to tea. Tea houses would be besieged by unemployed baristas.

While baristas may be hard-working and entertaining, they are not necessarily all that attractive to tea shoppes. Such is the predicament in which unemployed Democrats find themselves today. 

When Congress is divided, K Street firms like to say they are bipartisan. But with business-oriented Republicans now in charge on Capitol Hill, the most attractive influence peddlers will be the ones who can grab onto the coattails of those who wield the power in the GOP ranks. By definition, these are not Democrats.

What does this mean to the disgruntled voters who have presumably been hoping to send a message that they want Washington get to work and do something? It means that they will get what they asked for. And history tells us that does not always turn out well.

In the short term, at least, a Republican Congress may be expected to begin cranking out pro-business legislation and assuring us that this will create more jobs, a more robust economy, improved climate change and so forth. Of course, with the Democrats continuing to hold the White House, it's questionable how much of this legislation will be signed into law and how much will be vetoed but rest assured that numerous camels will get their noses into tents that have hitherto been closed to them.

Little people

The one consolation for out-of-work Dems may be that the sting of defeat will be such that Democrats will even further intensify their already strenuous efforts for 2016, which should mean more jobs organizing campaigns, fund-raising and generally agitating on behalf of Democratic causes and candidates. This does not pay as well as dividing up the swag from an office on the Hill but it beats teaching, flipping burgers or greeting Walmart shoppers.

So rest well, America. All is well in Washington. We're open for business. The bars are busy, the steak houses are packed and the Little People are running back and forth parking cars and keeping the white wine chilled. We'll get through this. Maybe you will too. 

We're always being told that elections have consequences. Yes, they certainly do and no one knows it better today than the Democratic officeholders thrown ...

Survey: bullies moving from high school to the workplace

But it's not clear how new this is

For young people who feel bullied at school, graduation and emergence into the work force might appear to hold relief. But then, they might be in for a rude shock.

When CareerBuilder.com, an employment website, looked into whether bullying was a problem in the workplace, the results were surprising. Bullies don't stay in high school their entire lives – they graduate and get jobs too.

“One of the most surprising takeaways from the study was that bullying impacts workers of all backgrounds regardless of race, education, income and level of authority within an organization,” said Rosemary Haefner, Vice President of Human Resources at CareerBuilder.

Haefner says the researchers discovered something else; many of the workers who said they were being bullied didn't confront their tormentor and didn't report the incidents. The solution for some was to hand in their resignation and find another job.

While 28% of workers in the survey said they felt bullied at work, 19% of those resolved the issue by leaving their job.

Expanding definition?

But is it bullying or something else? Is it possible the explosive growth in bullying is a result of expanding the definition of a bully?

Drilling deeper into the numbers suggests there might be something to that. For example, some bullying may in fact be discrimination.

In the CareerBuilder survey, minorities were more likely to report being the victim of bullies. Forty-four percent of employees with a physical disability reported encounters with bullies. For lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LBGT) workers, the total was 30%.

Female workers were significantly more likely to report bullying at work than their male counterparts, 34% to 22%. Twenty-seven percent of African American workers and 25% of Hispanic workers said they have been bullied at work compared to 24% of Caucasian males.

The victims of bullying identified in the survey don't complain of getting wedgies or other physical hazing typically thought of as bullying behavior.

Instead, they report being falsely accused of making mistakes, being the object of office gossip, being criticized or yelled at by the boss, or having credit for their work poached by a co-worker.

The boss is a jerk

Many would contend this nasty behavior in the workplace is nothing new. And that feeling grows once the researchers begin identifying who these bullies are.

It turns out they are in many cases the same people who have making life miserable for employees for generations – the boss.

Of workers who felt bullied, 45% singled out their supervisor, while 25% said the person was higher up in the organization, but not the boss. So it needs to be asked whether it's a case of bullying or a case of extremely poor management by a boss who is simply a jerk.

That said, it's clear from some of the responses that isn't always the case. One in 5 respondents said the bullying involved more than one person, suggesting that mean high school cliques have migrated to the workplace.

More mean people?

So the question needs to be asked – has the definition of bullying been expanded in recent years to include any unpleasant human contact, or have people everywhere become meaner and more insensitive?

“The definition of bullying at work will vary considerably depending on whom you talk to,” Haefner said. “It’s often a gray area, but when someone feels bullied, it typically involves a pattern of behavior where there is a gross lack of professionalism, consideration and respect.”

A lot of people in the survey reported confronting their tormentor. Nearly half – 48 percent – reported taking matters into their own hands and confronting the bully. Of these workers, 45% said it took care of the problem while 11% said it made matters worse.

Tips for handling a workplace bully

Here's how CareerBuilder suggests people who feel bullied at work should respond:

  • Keep records of all incidents of bullying, documenting places, times, what happened and who was present.
  • Consider talking to the bully, providing specific examples of how you were treated unfairly. Chances are the bully may not be aware that he/she is making you feel this way.
  • Always focus on the resolution. When sharing examples with the bully or a company authority, center the discussions around how to make the working situation better or how things could be handled differently.

Whether it's called bullying or something else, Haefner says allowing a work environment in which people feel threatened or abused is simply bad for business.

“Whether it’s through intimidation, personal insults or behavior that is more passive-aggressive, bullying can be harmful to the individual and the organization overall,” she said.

For young people who feel bullied at school, graduation and emergence into the work force might appear to hold relief. But then, they might be in for a rud...

Man up and ask for a flexible schedule

Study finds women are still more likely to get a raw deal when they need time off to handle parenting

You've come a long way, baby but maybe it hasn't helped you too much. Women tend to get a raw deal when it comes to asking for time off at work to handle parenting issues compared to men when they ask for the same thing, a new study finds. It's called flexibility bias.

Flexibility bias is a systematic prejudice in favor of full-time workers who work standard hours, on-site and against workers who work part-time or work full-time but work non-standard hours or a portion of their hours at an off-site location.

The study by Furman University sociology Prof. Christin Munsch revealed that our cultural biases often don’t fit very well with our workplace policies. 

The study looked at 646 people, aged 18-65. They were asked to read a transcript of a conversation between an employee and a human resource manager in which the employee asks to work from home two days a week or come in early and leave early three days a week. Responses were then tallied based on the gender of the employee.

It turns out that men who asked to have a flexible schedule at work due to childcare were most likely get their requests granted, such men being looked at as admirable fellows. Women who asked for the same thing were less likely to get their requests granted and were looked at as not very committed to their jobs.

Today we think of women’s responsibilities as including paid labor and working at home as a parent, but we still regard breadwinning as men’s primary responsibility and we feel grateful if men contribute in the realm of childcare or other household tasks. In an arrangement where both partners contribute equally at home and in terms of paid labor – men, but not women, would reap workplace advantages.

So how can women change this perception? Well, Gloria Steinem has been working on it for quite a while but there's still quite a ways to go, as the Furman study shows. The onus really falls back on employers and organizations as well as supervisors who need to be more objective in granting flexwork requests.

You've come a long way, baby but maybe it hasn't helped you too much. Women tend to get a raw deal when it comes to asking for time off at work to handle p...

'Uptalk' may make you fit in but could kill your career

So, our language has gotten really, like, strange?

The English language was once a fairly precise way of communicating. And it still is, in written form. But increasingly, when Americans speak it, it takes some rather odd twists and turns.

Perhaps none of these trends has sparked the backlash of “uptalk,” the habit of raising your voice slightly at the end of a declarative sentence, transforming it into a question.

Uptalk was a comic feature of the 1995 film “Clueless,” in which the female characters at Beverly Hills High School spoke in the Valley Girl cadence that emerged from California in the 1980s. Diane DiResta, a speech pathologist and public speaking coach and trainer based in New York, says today's widespread uptalk trend probably has much of its origins in that movie.

“I find that when something becomes popularized in the media it starts to spread,” DiResta told ConsumerAffairs. “Now, with young people, it has become peer identity.”

The language of youth

In an episode of the Simpsons, the family has gone to the beach for a week and Lisa is trying to reinvent herself so she can fit in with the cool kids. When she says something intelligent in a declarative sentence, she gets strange looks. When she repeats it in uptalk, with a few “you knows” thrown in, she gets a positive reaction.

Uptalk may be more prevalent in young women but DiResta notes it has crept into male speaking habits as well. She says young people adopt uptalk sometimes because they may think making a declarative sentence will make them seem arrogant.

“It's almost as if people are afraid to put a stake in the ground and make a commitment,” she says.

It may also have something to do with a desire to sound “cool.” Teacher and poet Taylor Mali, in the video below, calls it a “tragically hip interrogative tone.”

Not everyone uptalks

You may think you hear uptalk everywhere, but you don't.

“I always tell my audiences the one place I don't hear uptalk is in the executive suite or boardroom,” DiResta said.

Her message to young managers rising through the ranks is to break the uptalk habit if they want their careers to advance. Leadership, after all, requires a certain level of confidence.

So...

These speech abnormalities have nothing to do with intelligence or education. If you listen to NPR regularly, you'll heard PhD after PhD interviewed on its programs begin each answer to the interviewer's question with “So...”

DiResta says “so” is the new “um.” No one really knows the origin of “so” to begin sentences, but she tells her clients that these filler words, and overworked phrases like “at the end of the day,” rob the speaker of credibility. For young people, that can have dramatic results.

“I tell people, how you speak with your peers is one thing, but when you're in the workplace, uptalk and other speech affectations will work against you,” DiResta said, simply and declaratively.

The English language was once a fairly precise way of communicating. And it still is, in written form. But increasingly, when Americans speak it, it takes ...

Digging up the dirt at work

Lots of good things can sprout in an office garden

There can be a lot of dirty work in your job. I mean REALLY dirty if you build a garden with your co-workers. Yep, it's a new trend: the office garden.

There are a lot of jokes we could make about this: You can grow in your job. Plant a seed, see if the boss notices. But maybe it's a good idea. Companies are encouraging employees to start gardens as a way to stretch the food dollar, build teamwork and promote healthy foods and eating habits.

It's no surprise that healthcare institutions like Mayo Clinic Health System-Franciscan Healthcare and Gundersen Health System in Wisconsin are digging in with this concept. Along with the healthcare benefit it's a great stress reliever. Just think -- when things get pretty heavy at work you can walk outside and do a little garden therapy. Pull some weeds and take a valued time-out for yourself.

How to do it

Subaru's Share the Love Garden (Photo credit: Subaru)

Find a spot. The company property would be ideal,whether on adjacent land, in containers on a deck, or even on the company roof. It that’s not possible, look into renting space from a local community garden.

Independent School Management, a private school management consulting firm in Wilmington, Delaware, put in three raised beds and a high trellis for vertical gardening on company land. They planted things that were easily picked like tomatoes, radishes and melons.

Find a leader, preferably someone who knows a little bit about gardening. Usually there is someone on staff. If not hire someone to just get you started. Maybe a local nursery. What great exposure for them to come over and get you started and then get residual business when you decide to start your own in home garden. (There's your selling point so you don't have to pay them!)

Organize the project. See if your company will furnish tools or will you have to purchase them? Will you start your own plants from seed, or purchase them? Decide who will do what and create a chore chart so everyone has a part and you build it together.

Post photos on the company website. At the Subaru of America headquarters in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, six teams of employees maintain six 13-by-20-foot garden plots in the Share the Love Garden. All the garden harvest is donated to the New Vision Homeless Day Center in Camden.

Enjoy and have fun. What a great way to bond with your fellow cubicle mates you can share recipes and food ideas.

The truth about gardening is that once you’ve taken care of a few startup costs, it really is a very inexpensive hobby that results in delicious produce.

There can be a lot of dirty work in your job. I mean REALLY dirty if you build a garden with your co-workers. Yep, it's a new trend: the office garden....