Saturday, October 31, 2009

Holiday Help (a job)

As I mentioned in previous posts, try looking for businesses in town that are thriving. They may need extra help. Many retailers may have already hired for the holidays but I've still seen some hiring signs in my retail realm. Remember, there is a technique you can use to ask for a retail application. Be ready to work because "4th quarter sales" are crucial for companies. By they way, have you been in a Goodwill recently? The one near me is oozing with customers and might be worth checking out for a job. I know Goodwill also does job training.

Good luck!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Gearing up for the holidays

I've had quite a few years of retail experience and plenty of absurd customers. If you've worked in retail before then you know what I'm talking about. You have to grin and bear it sometimes. Then, you tell the story to your co-workers later. There are always lessons to be learned. This holiday season I will be working in the holiday portion of our bakery and will most likely have some interesting customers. So, to kick off the holiday season here is:

Story #1
A few days ago I volunteered at the fair-trade gift shop and a portly customer with a turtle fetish (yes, that's right, turtles) had some interesting words to share with me. After talking with him about the various turtle gifts we had in the store I managed to secure a sale from him. However, while I was running his credit card he said, "Let me see that ring!" (I held out my hand with the engagement ring.) Then, he said, "Well, where is the other one that goes with it?" Assuming that he was talking about a wedding band I said, "It is coming." The portly man says, "Well, you Hollywood figure types would do better if you ate a little more sweets...because if you ate more then he'd put that other ring on your finger because you'd be sweeter then." Now, let me step-back and tell you that I am kind to all customers (regardless of their absurdities) about 98% of the time. My response to the portly man with a turtle fetish? "Well, sir, I actually work at a bakery and volunteer here. I eat sweets all the time, believe it or not, and I can't gain a pound!" He definitely chose the wrong 'Hollywood figure type' person to talk to about sweets.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

1.5 Months!

It has been nearly 2 months since I started this blog! Thank you for visiting, commenting, and emailing! In case you're new to my blog, here are some of the most commonly viewed posts from the past weeks:

Intro Post: My Letter to You

Interview Questions

Job Applications and Closing Dates

Resumes: Good, Bad, and Ugly

Temporary Employment

Continue to send feedback and ideas for posts to Remember, you can always post anonymously!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Extra Cash

Last week I took a day off from The Bakery to work for my father. I was promised a sizable sum for a 10 hour job which involved "touching-up" chairs with varnish in a fine dining establishment. My day started at 4:15 am and ended at 6 pm. Even though the job was tedious and some of the restaurant employees were quite demeaning I'd say it was worth the money. (Note: I will never eat in that particular restaurant because the employees were total snobs and treated us like scum.)

Mowing lawns and babysitting are no longer for teenagers. I earned quite a lot of extra cash by babysitting through undergrad and graduate school. Do you have a knack for household things like cleaning, moving, organizing, sewing, repairing, etc.? Network with people you know in the community to see if anyone needs help. You never know who may pay you $$ to help put up a Christmas tree, repair kitchen cabinets, shuttle children, or take elderly people to the grocery store. You could say something like, "Hi Mrs. Such and Such. Yes, I hope you are doing well today. I'm still looking for a job in my field but I'm trying to earn a little extra cash by mowing lawns. Would you happen to know anyone who would be interested?"

Monday, October 26, 2009

Scientist in The Bakery

I will stand behind my years of retail experience. I work in a bakery now and actually enjoy my job even though it is totally unrelated to my academic background. (Yes, I could eat pastries all day long for free if I chose to do so but that is not why I enjoy my job.) First of all, it is nice to do manual labor sometimes---especially if you've been in school for awhile. Take a break from school and work with "the public" in the "real-world." You'll certainly get some practical work experience. Penelope Trunk has some words to say about retail jobs in her post called, "The new post-college prestige job is retail." You should check it out.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Health Insurance: "Young Invincibles"

Here's a video from CNN about a young bike messenger in NYC who does not have health insurance. He says he's been in a few health-related binds on the job. See what you think. As mentioned previously, I advocate purchasing health insurance if it is not provided through your employer (some is better than none). Here are my thoughts on the bike messenger:

1) It may be possible for him to get a short-term policy for relatively cheap if he's healthy.
2) If you are a bike messenger is it difficult to obtain medical coverage? (It seems like a high risk job...)
3) Does he have a medical condition that prevents him from obtaining affordable coverage?

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Reference Snippet

Who you know can be very important in a good OR a bad way. Don't "burn bridges" with previous employers or co-workers. You never know when you may need that person for a reference.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Do you have "digital dirt"?

As I mentioned in a previous post, you should clean up your online profile before you start looking for a job. It is very common for employers to Google the names of potential employees. If you have a smattering of drunken photos all over the internet it would be wise to remove them. Or, according to this article from CNN and CareerBuilder, you may be able to cover up the bad with good...

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Health Insurance: Short-term plans

There is a website called gradspot that has helpful career articles that are easy to understand and oriented towards recent graduates. This particular article, "Considering Short-Term Health Insurance", contains information on who may benefit from purchasing short-term insurance, how much short-term insurance can cost, and common providers.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Student Loan Snippet

Do you have a Direct Loan from the U.S. Department of Education (a.k.a The Government)? Are you also a recent graduate and unemployed? Know your options for deferment and forbearance on subsidized government loans.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Retail Job (Don't do this to yourself!)

I have over 3 years of retail experience. I have witnessed multitudes of THINGS YOU SHOULD NOT DO when it comes to picking up, filling out, and submitting a retail application. Remember, sometimes it is all in the way you go about doing it. Right now second chances are few and far between. Two examples for today:

1. Just the other day a woman turned in her application WET because it was raining the day she submitted it. Where was her purse? Or her umbrella? Or a folder to keep her application? Who wants to hang onto a wet, smeared application? Really?

2. A man came into the store in a t-shirt and asked for an application. While the manager went to the back to get an application he proceeded to tell the other employees his long unemployment story. There are plenty of unemployed people. It is very unlikely that you'll be hired because of your unemployment story. Get over it.

Want tips on how to get a retail job? See this post
Want more THINGS YOU SHOULD NOT DO? See this post

Monday, October 19, 2009

Health Insurance: Be a Smart Consumer're still looking for a job but you want to purchase health insurance? Or, do you have a job and access to group health insurance through your employer? Are you being a smart consumer?

As I mentioned previously, some health insurance is better than none at all. Although I hate to say it, it is possible that the health insurance plan offered by your employer may be worse than what you could purchase as an individual. It would be wise to compare costs and coverage if at all possible to save some $$. Health insurance was offered to me through my new employer but I decided to decline because of a $10,000 (gasssp) deductible. If you go to the doctor infrequently then you might be o.k. paying all of that out-of-pocket cost. On the contrary, I'll keep my individual insurance, thanks. Here are a few thoughts to consider...

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Salary Snippet

Yes, we all have a minimum acceptable salary. However, if the job application has a blank box for 'salary' I recommend putting 'salary negotiable' or 'negotiable' on the application. Wait until the employer gives you a job offer to discuss your salary.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Health Insurance: Pre-existing conditions and risk pools

After I finished graduate school and was kicked off of my university (group) health plan I applied for individual insurance through several major companies. I have a pre-existing medical condition and was determined to be "medically ineligible" for any affordable health insurance. So, what do you do when you've finished school, are unemployed AND have a pre-existing medical condition? A friend of my mother's jokingly said I could either get pregnant (be a single mother and perhaps qualify for medicaid) or get married to someone who has health insurance. Geez. I am here to tell you that you may qualify for health insurance through a state risk pool. I'm not saying that all of these policies are good or even worthwhile. I wanted to provide the link (above) so that you may investigate your options if you fall into this category.

More health insurance posts here !

Friday, October 16, 2009

Temporary Jobs and Staffing Agencies

One of my co-workers used a temp agency and was eventually hired permanently. The American Staffing Association provides an easy way to search for temporary agencies by state, zipcode, type of position, and/or occupational category. I recommend searching by state or zipcode FIRST before refining by occupation. You may be qualified to do more than you think. I have never used a temp agency before but if you have used one and would like to provide some insight for the rest of us please leave a comment!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Student Loans

Ohhhhhh....the student loan. For starters, here's a loan calculator from CNN. It asks for your loan amount, your monthly payment and your interest rate. It spits out how long it will take you to pay off the loan and the interest you will have paid in that time frame.

Are you thinking about going to school again? Play around with this calculator. Consider the cost of going to school and your future profession. Will going to school again really lead to a better salary? Or, would work experience do the trick?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Professional and Personal Reference Snippet

Don't forget: There is a difference between a personal and a professional reference.

A personal reference is an acquaintance who knows your character. This could be someone within your volunteer organization or a maybe a church or community member.

A professional reference is typically a previous employer. This person should also be able to speak of your character but provide more specifics about your previous work responsibilities and work ethic.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Health Insurance: Short term plans

Are you out of work and out of health insurance? Have you finished college and been kicked off of your university's or parent's insurance? Short-term medical plan options exist.

+If you're healthy (no pre-existing conditions, illnesses, etc.) then you can often be covered very quickly.
+A short-term medical plan may be a good option if you're temporarily unemployed and want to avoid a waiting period.* *

+Keep in mind that short-term plans or gap plans may not include comprehensive medical coverage.
+And, if you develop a medical condition while on a short-term plan you may have difficulty later when purchasing your own comprehensive medical plan.

**That's right folks: If you are uninsured for more than 63 days you will have a waiting period. This means your health insurance coverage ($$) will not kick-in until after that waiting period...even if you secured a new job and group health insurance. The amount of time you will wait usually depends on your medical history. For those of us with a medical history this is financial death.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Health Insurance: Your plan and all those fancy words

If you have health insurance the last thing you want to think about when you're sick is how your policy works and what all those terms (a.k.a. "fancy words") mean. Even if you do not have health insurance and are considering your plan options it is important to know some terms so that you can be a smart consumer and compare your choices. Here's a glossary of terms for starters and some terms to consider:

1. Do you know the difference between group and individual insurance?
2. What is an E.O.B. (explanation of benefits)?
3. What is a deductible?
4. What is a copayment?
5. What does it mean to be 'out of plan' or 'out of network'?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Unemployed in Georgia

I found this short article in Parade today titled, "Should Unemployed People Work for Free?" The title is a bit misleading but the article is interesting. In Georgia, many unemployed people are working for free for a limited time. In my opinion, it sounds like an unpaid internship or a volunteer stint. Basically, you have an opportunity to try out a new job (but you'll have to work for free for six weeks) and the potential to become employed after that time period. In addition, many of these people still receive unemployment benefits. See what you think...

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Health Insurance: Do you need it?

I know many young people who do not have access to group health insurance through an employer and have decided not to purchase individual health insurance because they are unemployed or only working part-time jobs. Sure, paying for health insurance monthly is a drain on the budget, particularly if you're not making much to begin with. Sure, some of us may not get sick very often or never develop any medical conditions. However, most of us aren't that lucky. Even if you do not get sick very often and do not currently have any medical conditions I STRONGLY suggest that you purchase some sort of health insurance because you never know what could happen. A single overnight stay in the hospital could put you in financial ruins. Take it from me: I've had a freak accident before and also developed a medical condition seemingly out-of-the-blue. You need health insurance. Protect yourself. You don't want to be a health insurance loser.

Here's an article which quickly explains why purchasing health insurance is a must.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Federal Government Job Applications and Resumes

Invest in a book or advice on how to correctly create a federal job resume. Federal job applications are very different from many online applications. They can be very long and sometimes tricky to complete. I have found that explains how the process works but it will take you some time to complete your first application. The book I purchased is called Federal Resume Guidebook by Kathryn Kraemer Troutman. It was the best book available at my bookstore when I needed it. If you know someone who works for the federal government you should see if you can get some pointers on the application process. And of course, share them with us!

From a personal stand-point, I have applied for 3 federal government jobs and was rejected twice because I was not "best qualified." Make sure you read and re-read the job description. It may be o.k. to apply even if you are not "best qualified." Just remember that there are probably people who are "best qualified."

Thursday, October 8, 2009

NEW: Health Insurance Series

If you're new to health insurance, then brace yourself. There's a lot to learn and it is important that you know how health insurance works (and does not work). My mother is employed in the field of health care. When I was much younger she talked with me about health insurance and the information would go in one ear and out the other ear. Now that I have become a slave to my health insurance I can give you some starter advice from the perspective of a young professional. This is the very first post of my Health Insurance Series. I will try to cover topics relevant to young professionals and those new to health insurance. If you have a pertinent question feel free to leave a comment or email me at and I will try to steer you in the right direction. Here's food for thought:

Do not forget the recent, jobless graduates and unemployed (or underemployed) young professionals. Many who are healthy will go without insurance. However, some of us do not have that option. What do you do when you finish school, cannot be covered by your parent's health insurance, are no longer covered by your university's group plan, are unemployed, have a preexisting condition, have been determined to be medically ineligible for health insurance and only offered health care plans with HIGH deductibles? My answers coming soon in future posts...

For my international readers: I am not an expert on the health care system in other countries and would love your thoughts and opinions. Please don't feel excluded!

What happens if we Google your name?

It is time to clean up your internet presence! Google your full name. Then, Google any nicknames or shortened versions of your name. What did you find? Would you be o.k. with an employer seeing this? Do you think you would be hired if an employer saw this? Here is an article from gradspot with some suggestions on how to clean up your online profile.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Interview Handshake Snippet

Learn to give a solid handshake. No sweaty palms. No limp hands. None of those hold-on-for-dear-life-super firm handshakes. And, don't shake the interviewer's hand 10 times either. 2 shakes will be enough.

Also, it is flu season. Wash your hands with warm soapy water before an interview and wash them after an interview. Let's keep the germs to a minimum.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Phone Interview Snippet

If you are invited to a phone interview and plan to use your cell phone make sure you have excellent reception. For any phone interview, cell phone or land-line, find a quiet place (no children or family, no traffic noise, no music or TV, etc.). It is annoying and embarrassing to ask someone to repeat what they said.

Monday, October 5, 2009

YOU and YOUR Job Search

I found this great post on another job blog a few days ago. The post is called "10 Ways You Stop Yourself Getting the Right Job" The title is a bit strange but most of the post contains good advice. Remember, if you're going to find a job right now you've got to have the right mind-set...

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Phone Interview Snippet

If you are invited for a phone interview and perform better at in-person interviews, ask if that may be arranged instead. In addition, if you are presented with the option of a phone interview or an in-person interview I suggest participating in the in-person interview even if the interview location is far away. Otherwise, you will miss the opportunity to show off your personality and interact with your potential employer one-on-one. An in-person interview will provide insight to both parties, the interviewer and the interviewee. Do you want to work for them? Do they want you to work for them?

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Be Professional!

Do not bring your children or friends to pick up job applications or to interviews. You are the company you keep. Here are two unfortunate scenarios that could happen:

1. A mother brings her child to pick up an application. The manager is there and wants to speak with the mother about the job. The child starts crying and is inconsolable. What now?

2. You and your best friend walk into a store together to get applications. You remain professional. However, for some strange reason your best friend decides to ask the manager if you can both be hired. Your best friends says if both of you can't work there then you don't want to apply. (That's a no-brainer for the manager. Don't hire either one of them.) What now?

Have a similar scenario to share? You can post anonymously or send me an email ( Thanks!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Should I Apply for this Job?

So, you have signed up for email alerts from many different job search engines. Your inbox has 30+ alert emails coming through everyday in addition to all of your regular emails. It is a lot to sort through. Which jobs should you apply for?

Some people apply for anything and everything online. Some people are more selective about which jobs they apply for online. While you will not know how many people may be applying for a specific job, you do know that there are lots of people looking for jobs at this time. My guess is that employers can probably find someone who has almost all of their required/requested skills. Personally, I tend to be more selective about which jobs I apply for online and have gotten pretty good at predicting who will call me back.

Now, on finances and job applications. These days the competition is stiff for un-paid internship positions and internship positions which clearly do not pay enough for one to live on their own or support anyone else. Sometimes it may be beneficial to take an un-paid or a low-paying internship. It depends on the organization and your financial situation. (Will it be a step towards full-time employment? How much is my health insurance going to cost? How will I pay my bills?)

Finally, as my brother says, "You can always tell them, 'no'." If the job sounds like a good fit but the salary or benefits make you uneasy, apply anyway. Salary and benefits may be negotiable.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Resume Snippet

Do not post your resume in open forums and sit back thinking your work is done. It is your job to follow-up and find an employer.

Should Your School Find Employment for You?

Are you familiar with the Trina Thompson story? She's suing her school because she can't find a job. Here is a more recent article called, "Should Schools Be Required to Help Students Find Work?" from MSN which has a few good points. Here are some things worth noting:

1. A college degree does not guarantee a job. The same also goes for graduate and professional degrees.

2. We are in a recession. Most recent graduates do not have jobs. Many people with years of work experience do not have jobs.

3. Many recent graduates have moved back in with their parents.

4. It is your responsibility to take initiative. Do not expect hand-outs.

5. Don't dig yourself into a hole so deep you can't get out of it.