Insight News

Mar 04th


Social security over the holidays

If your holiday to-do list includes business with Social Security, you should know that the busiest times for Social Security field offices and the agency’s toll free telephone number are early in the week and early in the month. 

“If your business can wait, it’s best to contact us at other times,” according to SSA spokesperson, Rhonda Whitenack.   The same is true during the holiday season — especially the week between Christmas and New Year’s.  If you must do business with Social Security during the holidays, you may experience more busy signals on the telephone and longer wait times in local offices.

Avoiding the holiday spending hangover

Avoiding the holiday spending hangoverAt this time of year, many people overindulge, whether it's overeating or drinking too much at holiday parties or spending too much on gifts and decorations. You'll regret the former the next morning; but with overspending you may not feel the hangover effect until the bills come due in January.

Here are a few tips for managing holiday expenses to avoid a holiday spending hangover:

Before spending a dime on holiday expenses, calculate how much you can afford relative to your overall budget. Many financial planners recommend spending no more than 1.5 percent of annual income on holiday expenses. Consider:
Will your savings cover a few months' expenses in case of a layoff, unexpected medical bills or another financial emergency?
Can you pay off all holiday-related bills within a couple of months?
Do you already struggle to pay your monthly bills?
Would you need to suspend retirement savings to buy gifts?

Gaps in employment: The interview hot spot

Gaps in employment: The interview hot spotOver sandwiches with HR placement guru Susan Seward of HR Advantage Partners, she and I agreed that the number one concern candidates have today is around interviews.  Specifically, “I’ve been out of work for two (ten, twenty) months.  How do I explain that employment gap?”  If you, reader, happen to have a gap in your resume, keep reading.

See, you’re still reading, as are countless others with the same issue.  You are not alone.  So much so that interviewers have become experts in recognizing resume gaps.  They are paid to notice these and ask about them; they are not required to rule someone out because of them.  They simply have to ask, so first, ‘fess up:  “I have been unconventionally employed.”

Social Media: Not that kind of leader?

Social Media:  Not that kind of leader?“I’m not that kind of guy.” The terrified smile suggested this man of influence and considerable decision making authority had considered the question, decided against it, and would not, for any reason, be persuaded to change his behavior. The firm stance would have been perfectly appropriate if the individual were facing any of the inappropriate proposals businesspeople are often handed. This time, however, the question was, “How does your company employ social media?”

Technology is moving so fast that it can seem like one of those sound barriers along the freeway. It divides. And those who suddenly realize they are on the wrong side of the barrier are slow to move forward and are hard-pressed to find a way over or around the wall.

Choose your charities carefully

Today's tough economy has been doubly hard on non-profit organizations that rely on charitable contributions. Many people feeling the pinch have had to cut back on their donations; and because so many are out of work, charities that assist low-income families are being swamped just when their funding has been reduced.

If you're able to make charitable donations, whether cash, material goods or volunteering your time, make sure the organizations deserve your support.

Here are a few ideas that might help:
Make sure the non-profit organization is well-run. Ideally it applies at least 75 percent of contributions to programs that serve beneficiaries, as opposed to salaries, advertising, fund-raising and other administrative expenses.

LinkedIn: Career-minded gold mine? Or job search junk yard?

LinkedIn:  Career-minded gold mine?  Or job search junk yard?When I first discovered LinkedIn, I was linking in a rural network landscape - a few people out there, but not many. A person could check their LI messages once a week or so and keep up with expectations. Kind of like looking out the window over your farm fields and feeling thrilled when a car turns up your dusty road. Well, times have changed, and small-town LI is now a sprawling suburban network, verging on a becoming a city in itself.

LinkedIn is getting crowded, and the newest users have suspicious motives. "If someone connects with me on LinkedIn," says one manager, "then I know they are looking for a job." How can an honest networker escape the assumption that all newcomers to the countryside are evil? Your best bet is to take a two-tiered approach: use it, and personalize it.

Youth Business Club develops entrepreneurial skills

Kids learn with support and guidance from community

Recent studies show that nearly seven million jobs that employed young people were erased during the current economic meltdown. In fact, 52.2% of youth do not have a job, the highest percentage since World War II.

However, a group of hardworking and dedicated youth from St. Paul’s Selby Avenue neighborhood are paving the way for their own entrepreneurial and economic future.

The Selby Ave Youth Business Club began in November 2009 as a collaborative between Mychael Wright, owner of Golden Thyme Café; Janet Williams with The Family Partnership; Dave Bonko and Sara Reller with Selby Area Community Development Corporation; and the University of St Thomas SIFE team to build a program to promote the next generation entrepreneur and successful workforce. 
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