Monday, November 30, 2009

Ten ways to really rev up your career

by ForbesWoman

In these challenging economic times, companies and individuals recognize the importance of differentiating themselves in the marketplace and taking steps to secure their future.

Interested to learn how?

Below are 10 tips from the Inforum Center for Leadership, the education and research arm of Inforum, for anyone looking to take her career to the next level.

(1) Have an Elevator Speech

What do you do, and how do you contribute to the success of your company? When you get that question, you should be prepared to answer it in a brief, compelling and confident manner. Even if you never literally find yourself in the elevator with the CEO, your elevator speech can be the best tool you have when it comes to building your personal brand.

(2) Get Connected at Your Company

If your company has an internal networking or mentoring program, get involved. You enhance your chances of moving up when you increase your exposure to and interaction with the company's decision makers.

(3) Dare to Apply

McKinsey, citing internal research from Hewlett-Packard, found that "women apply for open jobs only if they think they meet 100% of the criteria listed, whereas men respond to the posting if they feel they meet 60% of the requirements." That by itself, if it holds true across the corporate world, could be holding back a lot of talented women.

(4) Network Like Your Career Depends on It (Because it Does)

How many women do you know from your profession besides those who work at the same company as you? If the answer is none, that could be a problem if layoffs hit. Now is the time to start making strategic connections. Professional organizations, alumni groups and networks like Inforum can help you build valuable contacts outside your current sphere.

(5) Have an Online Presence

Online networks like LinkedIn and Facebook can not only make your networking more efficient, they can help you build and maintain your personal brand. For that reason, how you use them is as important as whether you use them. A good rule of thumb is never to post anything you would not want to hear attributed to you in the media.

(6) Get Trained

Are your skills up to date? Do you even know? If your company offers training opportunities or tuition reimbursement programs, use them. If those things are not offered, find other ways to keep your skills sharp and gain new ones. In this economy, knowledge is power.

(7) Boost Your Leadership Skills

Keeping up with the latest technology and industry trends is not enough to get you to the top. Leadership and organizational skills are learned behavior. Find time to hone the crucial "soft skills" that will help you climb the ladder.

(8) Know What You Are Good At

Instead of just focusing on what you are lacking, take time to inventory what you have to offer. Evaluate your potential based on your skills and competencies, not merely the jobs you have held in the past. Many of your skills could be applicable in jobs--or in fields--you have not considered.

(9) Know What Success Means to You and Move Toward It

If you want to get somewhere, it helps to know where you are going. In the book Stepping Out of Line: Lessons for Women Who Want It Their Way...In Life, In Love, and At Work, author Nell Merlino says: "You have to see it before you can devise a plan to get there. Imagine how other people feel or how they might approach the challenge." One good way to start, she says, is by writing down a "strategic outline" describing where you want to go.

(10) Be Flexible

While it is important to know what you want, be ready to alter your plans as your situation--and the world--changes. Opportunities can pop up from nowhere and sometimes evaporate just as quickly. Changes in your personal life also can have a big effect on your priorities. How you adapt to and account for the things life throws at you will have a big impact on your success.


4 Ways Your Eating Habits Can Make You Happier


Many people seeking help for mental health issues look first to chemical intervention in the form of a medication.  There is another chemical intervention which you can utilize yourself - your diet.  Having a healthy diet is crucial when trying to fight for your mental health, especially where mood disorders are concerned.  How can dietary changes affect depression, anxiety and mood swings?

Good mental health is about maintaining balance, in your thoughts, in your actions and especially in your emotions.  When addressing nutrition for mental health it is important to understand how food nourishes and fuels your body as well as the part it plays in providing your body with necessary nutrients for maintaining that balance that it is important for peace of mind.

1. Complex Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are the body's preferred source of energy.  Your body will burn carbohydrates first before turning to protein or fats.  A lack of energy sources in the body will result in the body shutting down and altering activity levels.  People who are chronically tired often feel sad and hopeless as a result.  To keep your emotions on an even keel it is important to have a slow steady stream of carbohydrates broken down and made available in the bloodstream for energy.

People struggling with depression and/or mood swings often rely heavily on simple carbohydrates (sugars) rather than complex carbohydrates (starches).  Simple carbohydrates (candies, table sugar, honey, sodas, fruits, milk products) break down quickly in the bloodstream and hit it with a bang that provides immediate energy.  This is why they are preferred by people with depression.  However, what goes up must come down, usually with the same speed and intensity.  The surge of energy is followed by a crash when the sugar is quickly burned up.  This crash exacerbates depression, fatigue, impaired concentration and memory and irritability.  However, all simple carbohydrates are not equal.  There is a difference between the simplest carbohydrates like table sugar, sodas and candies which are referred to as "empty calories" because they provide so much glucose, an easily broken down form of sugar, and no nutritional value.  Compare these with fruits and milk products whose sugars (fructose and galactose respectively) are somewhat harder to break down, enter the bloodstream a bit more gradually and have a somewhat milder crash and provide significant nutrition such as vitamin C and calcium.  If you are craving something sweet have an apple or orange rather than a candy bar.

Complex carbohydrates (whole grains, starchy vegetables and beans) are even harder for the body to metabolize and provide and slow, constant stream of fuel for the body's energy demands.  This avoids the peaks and crashes of the simple carbohydrates.  Whole grains also provide lots of B vitamins which calm and stabilize the mood and help your body metabolize carbohydrates for increased energy.

2. Proteins

It is important to eat high quality proteins like chicken, fish, turkey, soy, dairy products and beans.  (I am a very big fan of beans.  They are usually high in protein, low in fat and high in fiber.)  Proteins are made of amino acids.  Your body uses amino acids to make neurotransmitters in the brain.  These chemicals (like serotonin, norepinephrine, dopamine and GABA) are the chemicals which antidepressants and anxiolytics (anti-anxiety medications) seek to increase to improve your mood and calm you.  Chicken and turkey are also high in tryptophan, which the body also uses to make serotonin, one of the primary neurotransmitters for lifting and calming the mood.  Running short on these neurotransmitters results in depression, irritability, difficulty thinking and remembering, insomnia, fatigue and anxiety.  Having sufficient stores of these neurotransmitters available to the brain helps it regulate emotions and thinking.  Providing your body with the necessary ingredients to manufacture these neurotransmitters is vital for improving your mental health and keeping things in balance.  

3. Fats

The benefits of a low fat diet for fighting weight gain and heart disease have been highly touted.  However, many don't realize that limiting your fat intake too severely of healthy fats can result in serious mood changes, irritability and aggression.  The omega-3 fatty acids found in fish have been found to help stabilize mood swings and decrease stress.  "Good fats" burn clean in the bloodstream compared to "bad fats" which clog the arteries and narrow the blood vessels.  Good fats include olive oil, nuts, seeds, avocadoes and fish.  Exchange that fried chicken for a grilled salmon.  Replace a mayonnaise dressing with an olive oil and vinegar splash.

4. Caffeine

It's always amazing to me to find people struggling with serious anxiety problems who are still drinking a significant amount of caffeine everyday.  Since I don't drink caffeine on a regular basis I have no tolerance for it and it literally makes me shake when I do drink it.  I can't imagine throwing that in on top of an anxiety problem.  If anxiety is the problem, I would eliminate caffeine all together and see if it helps.

For people with mood disorders, caffeine provides a serious rush of energy, but like simple carbohydrates (sugars) you crash when it wears off.  This peak and crash pattern is not good for people trying to stabilize mood swings and the crash will exacerbate depressive symptoms.


Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Most Recession-Proof Jobs Right Now

by Helen Coster

October was another dark month for the American worker, as the unemployment rate rose from 9.8% to 10.2%, the highest level since April 1983. More than 15 million Americans are now out of work, and they remain unemployed for an average of 28 weeks.

Not surprisingly, the construction sector has suffered the most, and developers are continuing to wait on the sidelines as the real estate market crawls toward recovery. Manufacturing has also been hit hard; manufacturing companies eliminated 61,000 jobs in October alone.

Forbes has tracked 625,806 layoffs since Nov. 1, 2008, at America's 500 largest companies, including recent cuts at Sprint Nextel, the videogame developer Electronic Arts, and Applied Materials, a semiconductor equipment company. On Nov. 19 AOL announced that it would cut 2,500 jobs, or one-third of its workforce, as it prepares to separate from Time Warner.

But amid the gloom, job hunters can find reasons to be optimistic. Pockets of the job market continue to show growth, especially in the fields of education and health services. Last month those perpetually resilient sectors saw some of the country's highest monthly gains in employment. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job market's second-biggest gains, after health care, were in temporary help services, as employers who couldn't invest in full-time staffers turned to part-time labor instead. In October, 34,000 employees entered the workforce in new temporary jobs.

Forbes looked to the online job site for a clear snapshot of the current job market. developed a list of recession-proof jobs by examining all the 1.2 million jobs it aggregates through its partner site and then determining the ones that were available in the greatest number.

Just as health care is the industry leading in job gains according to the BLS, the specific job at the top of's list is registered nurse. They're in high demand thanks to a nursing shortage that will intensify as baby boomers age. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, health care employment increased by 29,000 jobs in October. Since the start of the recession, the field has added 597,000 jobs. Occupational therapists, who help patients perform daily activities like eating and dressing, rank fifth on the list.

Seasonal jobs occupy the second and third spots. Retail work, including store manager and associate, ranks No. 2, and UPS driver helper is No. 3. If you have the courage to face down shoppers on Black Friday, or want to channel your inner Santa while unloading UPS trucks, interview right away.

"These jobs wouldn't have been available in March," says Yazad Dalal,'s vice president for North American sales. "Companies are both ramping up for the holiday season and seeing their sales gradually increase." The UPS job doesn't include benefits, so if you strain your back unloading a flat-screen TV, be prepared to foot the medical bill yourself. The hourly pay starts at around $9.50.

Despite last year's meltdown on Wall Street, financial specialists are back in demand. Financial advisors rank fourth on the list, and financial analysts make the No. 9 spot. "The last year and a half has been devastating to this industry," says Yazad Dalal. "We're seeing job numbers increase just so that these companies can get back to where they were pre-recession."

Companies are still betting on the strength of sheer revenue, so many are ramping up their sales efforts. Sales and marketing reps rank No. 6 on the list, ahead of controllers, No. 8, who direct an organization's accounting functions, typically reporting to the chief financial officer.

Today more than ever, job hunters in every field need to be creative and persistent. "Do as much networking as you can, both offline and online," says Dalal. "Some of the best jobs aren't advertised."

Top 5 Recession-Proof Jobs Today

1. Registered nurse

Job description: Most registered nurses work at hospitals, where they treat patients and provide emotional support and advice to patients' family members. Nurses also help perform diagnostic tests and analyze results, record patients' medical histories and symptoms, administer medications and treatment and help with patient follow-up and rehabilitation.
$55,000 to $90,000.

2. Retail (including store manager, assistant store manager and retail sales associate)

Job description: Run stores and help shoppers through every aspect of the retail purchase process.
Sales associates earn $15,000 to $30,000, while store managers can bring home as much as $80,000.

3. UPS driver helper (seasonal)

Job description: UPS driver helpers pack and unload UPS trucks during the holiday rush.
Part-time driver helpers receive hourly rates of $9.50 or more, depending on their locations.

4. Financial advisor

Job description: Financial advisors help businesses and individuals make investment decisions.
Compensation varies according to the client base. Private bankers, who work with wealthy clients, can earn seven figures.

5. Occupational therapist

Job description: Occupational therapists help patients improve their ability to perform tasks related to all parts of their life, from dressing and eating to typing on a computer. Therapists also help patients use adaptive equipment, such as wheelchairs. Some therapists work with infants who show signs of developmental delay.
$50,000 to $75,000.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Money in the Bank: 5 Careers for $60K+ Salaries

by Patricia Cecil-Reed

While it comes as no shock that everyone would like to make a little more money, it may be surprising to learn that 83 percent of working Americans are living paycheck to paycheck.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national mean salary was $42,270. Those surveyed in the study said that they would need to make $250 to $1,000 more per paycheck to live comfortably.

But what if you could increase your salary to $60,000 or more per year? If the mean national average just isn't cutting it anymore, consider investing in online education or further career training to shift into a job with a higher income. Below are five diverse career options for those who want more out of their paychecks.

Postsecondary Education Teacher

Shattering the notion that teachers make poor salaries, this career offers a nice salary and much faster than average job growth, with 23 percent growth expected between 2006 and 2016. Postsecondary education teachers instruct in areas related to education, such as counseling, curriculum, guidance, and English as a second language. Some teach exclusively while others do a combination of teaching and research.

Education requirements can vary widely based on specialty. A master's degree will likely be required for university teachers, while those teaching at career institutes will mostly need to demonstrate experience and expertise in their field. If you have an inquiring mind and enjoy instructing others in your favorite subject, this may be a fulfilling career path for you to consider.

Mean annual salary: $60,080.

Registered Nurse

This is the largest health care occupation in the U.S., and the one expected to see the most job growth in coming years. Registered nurses help the sick and assist doctors and other medical professionals, usually in a hospital setting. You may be familiar with the basic duties of a nurse, from treating patients to recording health information to educating and supporting patients and family members. RNs often specialize in a particular area, such as geriatric or pediatric care. This is a vital career within the health care system, and a promising path for those who enjoy helping others.

There are several paths to becoming a registered nurse, from earning an associate's degree in nursing (ADN) to a bachelor's of science in nursing (BSN).

Mean annual salary: $65,130.

Network and Computer Systems Administrators

Network and computer systems administrators can be found in offices, small businesses, and government organizations -- really, anywhere where a computer system is vital to business operations. In today's society, this is just about everywhere, perhaps explaining why this career is expected to see much faster than average growth over the next seven years. Network and computer systems administrators are responsible for designing, installing, and maintaining an organization's computer systems. They usually need a bachelor's degree in an area like computer science or information systems. Without a degree, prior experience in the field is considered essential.

Mean annual salary: $69,570

Occupational Health and Safety Specialist

These professionals enforce the rules for health, safety, and environmental regulations in the workplace. Their job description is primarily concerned with keeping workers and the general public safe, and may include designing work spaces, testing air quality, or inspecting machinery. Additionally, they aim to save the organization money by reducing absenteeism, keeping equipment running properly, and lowering insurance premiums.

Training for this career can vary from an associate's to a master's degree. Some employers prefer a bachelor's degree in occupational health and safety or a related field like engineering or biology.

Mean annual salary: $63,030.

Technical Writer

Putting technical or specialized information into understandable terms is the main duty of a technical writer. They make technical manuals, catalogs, and assembly instructions easily digestible for the general reader. Technical writers are mainly found in the information technology industry, planning and editing technical materials, and overseeing the layout of these publications.

A college degree is usually desired for writers, and for technical writers, a degree or certification in their technical area is becoming more of a standard in the field. It is common for scientists, technicians, and engineers with good writing skills to transition into technical writers.

Mean annual salary: $64,210.

Now that you have some ideas for exciting, high-paying jobs, consider how you can parlay your interests and talents into a $60,000 or higher paycheck. In addition to the financial cushion, you may find yourself more fulfilled in a career that reflects your true potential.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Jobs to Get Temporary Boost From Census Hiring Spree

by Nooman Merchant

The job market will receive a fleeting jolt next year when the U.S. Census Bureau hires more than one million workers for its 2010 count.

Every 10 years the bureau hires a large number of temporary workers to knock on doors, process data and publicize its once-a-decade headcount. The bureau opened its application process earlier this week and plans to complete hiring by late spring next year. Most will be on the government's payroll for several weeks.

With a weak economy and months of job losses, the Census Bureau has experienced few recruiting bumps. "What we're seeing now is blowing our socks off," said Wendy Button, the decennial recruiting chief for the bureau. "We're seeing a huge response to very little media."

The bureau has already canceled its national advertising campaign for temporary jobs. Most of the jobs will last several weeks and pay between $10 and $20 an hour.

As Census Director Robert Groves put it in a recent interview, "We are, in a strange way, the beneficiary of the recession." The bureau's new employees work harder and finish assignments more quickly than temporary workers hired in the past, he said. The Census hires temporary workers throughout the decade for various projects.

For the 2000 count, when some states' unemployment rates were at historic lows, the Census Bureau had trouble filling positions and ended up raising salaries in some regions to attract applicants.

This year, job losses nationwide have sent a flurry of applicants -- many with advanced degrees and years of professional experience -- to the census. When the bureau hired address canvassers to work this summer, it had to stop taking applications two months early due to overwhelming interest. In Charlotte, N.C., about 40,000 people signed up for a waiting list to take the census' employment test.

Lily Woo said that when she was a recruiter earlier this year for the Census Bureau in Seattle, she met out-of-work real-estate agents, construction workers and lawyers. One man, Ms. Woo said, walked for miles through a January snowstorm to take the test. "It became a little competitive," she said. "It was just very, very challenging for some people, because we've never had so many high-caliber applicants."

The final number of hires will depend on how many U.S. residents return their census forms, which are mailed out early next year. California's census offices plan to hire about 110,000 workers between January and June. In Michigan, which had the nation's highest unemployment rate at 15.3% in September, the Census Bureau plans to hire 23,000.

In some locations, including Indian reservations and some large cities, recruiting is more difficult, especially in places where the bureau needs census takers who speak certain languages.

Economists say the flurry of hiring won't have much effect on the economy as a whole. Temporary employment through the census isn't likely to stimulate real job growth, said Harm Bandholz, an economist with UniCredit Group.

Mr. Bandholz said he figures the biggest impact will be psychological. "Fundamentally, the impact on the economy is rather limited," he said. "Consumer confidence may be lifted a little bit by that, but there is no real hard connection between consumer confidence and consumer spending in the short term."

Monday, November 23, 2009

Growing Gains - 6 Jobs With High-Rising Numbers

By Tony Moton

In a competitive job market, maximizing the potential of your education could hinge on a question of numbers: How many workers might be hired in a given field?

Since crystal balls aren't exactly what one might call reliable, the U.S. Department of Labor has done some projecting of its own when it comes to employment outlook.

Here's a closer look at six of the fastest growing occupations, in terms of numbers hired, through 2016.

1. Network systems and data communications analysts perform a number of tasks in relation to data communications systems, like the Internet, including designing, analyzing, testing, and assessing systems and their performance. Analysts might also supervise computer programmers and work as specialists who handle the interfacing of computers and communications equipment.

How Fast Is It Growing? This is considered the leading occupation in terms of the percentage of growth in jobs. In large part, this is due to the increasing use of computers and information technology. The rise from 262,000 employees in 2006 to 402,000 in 2016 represents a 53.4 percent increase over that span - that's 140,000 new jobs.

How Do I Get Started? Many jobs require a bachelor's degree, although some might only require a two-year degree in computer science or an information technology-related field.

Salary: $73,800 a year

2. Dental hygienists are responsible for examining patients' teeth and gums, removing deposits from teeth, and providing other types of preventive dental care, like showing patients how to care for their teeth. They also record the presence of diseases or abnormalities.

How Fast Is It Growing? A total of 217,000 dental hygienists will be employed in 2016, up 30.1 percent from 2006. Population growth, tendency of older people retaining teeth, and an increased focus on preventive dental care has contributed to a demand for these workers. Dental hygienists are also increasingly taking on duties previously completed by dentists.

How Do I Get Started? An associate's degree or certificate in dental hygiene is typically necessary for practice in a private dental office.

Salary: $66,950 a year

3. Computer software engineers rely on their knowledge of computer science and mathematical analysis to develop, design, test, and evaluate the software and systems that operate our computers. Their tasks are evolving quickly and reflect the ever-changing landscape of computer technology. Computer games, word processing, and operating systems are among their areas of expertise.

How Fast Is It Growing? A 44.6 percent increase in jobs from 2006-2016 puts computer software engineers near the top of the growth scale. This growth will be the result of businesses and other organizations embracing and integrating new technologies and seeking to maximize the efficiency of their computer systems.

How Do I Get Started? The prospects are very good for job applicants with at least a bachelor's degree in software engineering or computer science and with some work experience.

Salary: $87,900 a year

4. Physical therapist assistants help physic al therapists treat victims of accidents or people with disabling conditions. The job involves working to improve patient mobility, relieve pain, and prevent or alleviate physical disabilities. A physical therapist might prepare physical therapy equipment, assist with exercises, or apply hot and cold packs while recording and reporting patients' responses to treatment.

How Fast Is It Growing? Consumer demand for physical therapy services is on the rise, helping employment for physical therapy aides to grow much faster than average for all occupations. The main reasons: an increasing elderly population, a baby-boom generation entering the prime age for illness, and an improved survival rate for trauma patients. There were 60,000 employed in 2006, and that number is expected to rise to 80,000 in 2016.

How do I Get Started? Most physical therapists earn an associate's degree from an accredited physical therapist assistants program.

Salary: $46,300 a year

5. Financial analysts and personal financial advisors share their expertise on investment strategies with businesses and individuals. Financial analysts generally focus on a specific industry, region, or type of product. Personal financial advisors assess and individual clients' assets, liabilities, cash flow, insurance coverage, tax status, and financial objectives to develop sound money strategies.

How Fast Is It Growing? Financial analysts and personal financial advisors held 397,000 jobs in 2006. This number will grow to 543,000 in 2016, an increase of 38.8 percent for both. The peak years of retirement savings and personal investments of a large baby-boom generation are creating a need for more people to seek help from experts.

How Do I Get Started? A bachelor's degree in finance, business administration, or accounting is considered highly desirable for financial analysts. Coursework in statistics, economics, and business is required. Knowledge of accounting policies and procedures, corporate budgeting, and financial analysis methods also is recommended. An advanced business degree such as an MBA can be an asset in this competitive field.

Salary: $66,590 a year

6. Substance abuse and behavioral disorder counselors offers counseling and advice to people dealing with problems such as alcohol, tobacco, drugs, gambling, and eating disorders. Some counselors work at therapeutic communities where people with addictions live while being treated.

How Fast Is It Growing? he number of counselors will rise from 83,000 to 112,000 by 2016, a 34.3 percent increase over the 10-year period. The rising number of people suffering from depression and other serious mood disorders has helped create a demand for counselors, according to a recent study by That growth, coupled with the need to replace people leaving the field, make this a solid choice for those who seek a stable, rewarding career.

How Do I Get Started? A master's degree is usually required to be licensed as a counselor. Some states accept applicants with a bachelor's degree and appropriate counseling coursework.

Salary: $39,670 a year

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Eat Like a Brazilian to Slim Down

By Margaret Furtado, M.S., R.D.

I was in Brazil last August, my second visit there, and while on that trip remembered something that had puzzled me when I had lived in Curitiba for a year in 1994: Why, despite my eating 3 hearty Brazilian meals every day, did I weigh less during that year than at any time before or after--with no effort on my part?

This time around, as a dietitian, I of course took note of the Brazilian lifestyle and attitudes toward eating and found some common threads running through the culinary culture that answered my question. To make a long story short, Brazilians avoid packaged foods, indulge in little or no snacking between meals (other than some fresh fruit and coffee, sans cream), and fill up on salads before meals.

The salads are wonderful, including one of my favorites: hearts of palm with tomatoes and watercress. Unlike most salad lovers, the Brazilians forgo high-calorie salad dressings, which saves them huge numbers of calories. You might see a Brazilian add a small amount of olive oil and vinegar to a salad, but the vegetables are definitely the star of the show.

Filling up on veggies also helps the Brazilians cut back on their portions of higher-calorie entrees, such as red meat, a food that is certainly popular there. (If you eat red meat, I highly recommend the Brazilian-style barbecue. They make delicious BBQ cheeses too!)

Another thing that struck me about meals in Brazil was the abundance of freshly squeezed juices using fruits that you don't often expect to be drinking, like watermelon and pineapple (with a dash of mint). And because these juices don't come from super-concentrates, the purity of the taste, minus the sugar or anything artificial, is deeply satisfying.

My take-aways for U.S. eaters, after casting my dietician's eye on Brazil's eating habits:

  • Be sure to include a hearty salad before your entrĂ©e, perhaps including such veggies as hearts of palm, fresh tomatoes, watercress, and maybe cilantro or basil. Add balsamic vinegar and a little splash of extra-virgin olive oil--or omit the oil altogether if you'd like to save calories.
  • Consider fresh fruits in season for light snacks and desserts.
  • If you drink a lot of sugary soda or tend to consume other liquid calories because you never learned to appreciate the taste of plain, old water, consider flavoring fizzy water with just a bit of freshly squeezed orange or pineapple juice (again, with mint). When flavored, carbonated water is refreshing and may even help stave off hunger, since many people mistake being thirsty with being hungry.

Whether you're in South America or North America, however, always try to eat slowly. Chewing your food well not only helps your digestion but will also increase feelings of satiety since your brain doesn't notice that the stomach is full until after you've been munching for about 20 minutes.

In Brazil, dear readers, the people say "Saude," which means "to your health."

Friday, November 20, 2009

10 Things Not to Say When Firing an Employee

by Jonathan A. Segal

Amid so much downsizing, it's risky and unnecessary for managers to let feelings confuse what ought to be a clean transaction

Since January, more than a million jobs have been cut in the U.S. Although the pace of layoffs has been declining, the downsizing is by no means over.

Job cutting is never easy, but it often becomes progressively harder as we go deeper into an organization. At the beginning, employers may be able to lay off only weak employees they might have considered letting go anyway. While these weak performers are human beings worthy of dignity and respect, we can make ourselves feel okay about their terminations because they are based on merit.

The deeper we get, the less likely it is that we honestly can say that a job elimination is simply a matter of letting go those who should have been let go years ago. Now we are letting go of solid performers who would remain employed in a good economy. Every organization has solid citizens who do fine in anything but a deep recession.

But we are not done yet. We are told to go even deeper. Now we must let go of good, or even stellar performers -- employees who add value and who at a different time might be considered for promotion, rather than termination.

Last Fired, Last Hired?

Letting talented employees go is further complicated and can become emotionally difficult for managers. First, those terminated earlier often receive better severance packages than those terminated later. As times get tougher, organizations often cut back on severance or eliminate it altogether.

Second, the last to be let go often are competitively disadvantaged at landing jobs, in contrast to poorer performers who were let go early on. Mediocre employees laid off at the outset of the economic crisis had less competition for scarce jobs -- and open positions are even harder to find now.

Perhaps the worst feeling of all may arise when employees you protected from termination in the early waves are caught up in subsequent layoff tides with less severance and fewer opportunities. You may wonder if you hurt them by protecting them.

Finally for some, there is survivor guilt. When you don't go down with the ship, you may be plagued by your "good fortune." This can become too much for a "feeling" manager. Such an administrator may need to find meaning in the job eliminations -- or at least explain his or her role.

So managers often say things in termination events to make themselves feel better. Unfortunately, the comments can make the employees on the wrong side of the axe feel even worse.

The Top 10 Comments to Avoid Uttering

Here are 10 things you should never say when terminating an employee:

While these comments may not be evidence of an illegal motive, they may produce anger that results in the employee's visiting a lawyer to determine whether a viable claim exists.

1."This was a job elimination and had nothing to do with your performance." Do not say this when a discharge had everything to do with an employee's performance. Your desire to protect an employee's feelings -- or your own -- can later be used as evidence of pretext if the employee brings a discrimination claim.

2. "We have carried you for many years. It's just not possible to continue to do so during these difficult times." Don't trash the past. It is not only insulting to the employee, but it may be inconsistent with the employee's prior evaluations. Remember, pretext alone wins cases.

3. "We have no choice but to terminate your employment." There are always other options. Why not tolerate mediocrity a little longer? Termination need not be the only viable option, so don't suggest that it is.

4. "You have no one to blame but yourself. You just did not try hard enough." Hold employees accountable, but don't impugn their integrity. When employees feel personally attacked, they fight back.

5."This is just as hard for me as it is for you." There are few absolutes, but it is absolutely true that it always harder to be fired than to fire. Don't ask an employee who is looking at unemployment to feel your pain.

6. "This is not the right job for you. When you get the right job, you will thank me." That may make you feel good, but it will make the discharged employee bristle. The "thank you" may come in the form of a complaint.

7. "I am sorry, but you are fired." You may mean: "I am sorry we have come to this situation." The employee may hear that you think you are wrong. It's not a good time to have a conversation about the meaning of "I am sorry." Avoid apologies, even though you may genuinely feel badly.

8. "I know how you feel." Unless you have been fired recently, you don't know how the person feels. If you have been fired recently, now is not the time to share that experience.

9. "You will always be a part of the corporate family." Trust me. This will make the fired employee think: "Oh, good. Will I still get the newsletter after I sue you?"

10 "Pardon the e-mail, but you are fired." This may not be unlawful, but it's gutless. And it invites the angry employee to go for your gut.


Thursday, November 19, 2009

5 Ways to Wow Your Boss

by Caroline M.L. Potter, Yahoo! HotJobs

It's more important than ever to make sure your boss is happy with your performance. In tenuous times, your supervisor is one of the few people who may be able to shield you from a layoff. She may also be able to help you pursue a promotion down the road.

However, like any relationship, the one between you and your boss can get stale. You may grow complacent over time or you may never start off on the right foot. The good news is that it's never too late to breathe new life into how you work with your supervisor, thanks to these expert tips from Alexandra Levit, author of "New Job, New You: A Guide to Reinventing Yourself in a Bright New Career."

If you heed these five hints, you'll not only contribute to your job security; you'll also win your boss's admiration and appreciation -- as well as a little loyalty.

1. Be humble. In other words, be mindful of the fact that it's not all about you. Says Levit, "Don't approach your boss with a sense of entitlement, as though he is personally responsible for furthering your career. Instead, focus on learning what you can do to make his life easier, contribute to your company's goals, and make him look good to his boss."

2. Be honest. Everyone makes mistakes -- and you're no exception. Be forthcoming about it from the start. "Admit if you do something wrong, and then ask your boss how you can rectify the situation. Don't allow yourself to get caught in a maze of lies or excuses that will result in a loss of credibility," she advises.

3. Be respectful of the boss's time. If you think your plate is full, consider that of your boss. Use your time together wisely and efficiently. Levit suggests, "Appear in her office with a checklist of things you need to cover, and don't dwell too long on any particular subject. Your boss will be more receptive to meeting with you if she knows you'll be in and out of his office quickly."

4. Be self-sufficient. Be mindful of the fact that your supervisor doesn't have the bandwidth to hold your hand through every crisis or help you make every difficult decision that lands on your desk.

"Only approach your boss with a problem or complaint if you've explored all options for resolving it yourself. When you do, be prepared to have a solution at hand that you could implement with her help," says Levit, who is also a contributor to The Wall Street Journal.

"Choose your battles wisely, and decide carefully if bringing an issue to your boss's attention is really necessary or if you would be better off letting it go," she adds.

5. Be a "can-do" employee. Redefine the concept of a "yes man" (or "yes woman") at the office. She advises, "When your boss asks you to do something, accommodate him, if possible. The words 'I don't have time' should never escape your lips. If you know something needs to be done, do it without being prodded, and if your boss asks for help in a group setting, be the first to volunteer."

If you're always amenable, Levit believes,

"Your boss will quickly come to see you as a huge asset to the team and as someone he can count on…”