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Jobless Execs: To Find Work, You Must Go Digital

December 1, 2011 5:14 pm

The nation’s unemployment rate may be inching downward, but the out-of-work figures have remained in the 9.0 to 9.2 percent range since April 2011, according to Bureau of Labor statistics.

An estimated 32,000 job seekers found work in October, but that still leaves 13.9 million reported unemployed, which means a lot of people are competing for the same job.

So how do you stand out in that crowd?

“It used to be that executives could network their way onto the CEO’s schedule, maybe on the golf course or a chance meeting at lunch or a ball game,” says Colleen Aylward, a recruitment strategy expert and author of, From Bedlam to Boardroom: How to Get a Derailed Executive Career Back on Track! ( ”It’s now up to you to gather your data, polish it up and position it where people will find you—and that’s one of the biggest shocks in the executive job seeker’s world right now.”

It’s a message that unemployed execs in their later years may not want to hear, but it’s one they need to get their collective arms around as the economy tries to rebound. The old-school train has left the station—permanently—and if 40- and 50-something prospects want to compete for top-flight executive positions it’ll mean breaking old habits and exiting their comfort zones.

Two words: digital brand.

Aylward says it’s time to become an authority on-line and to create a virtual network of business connections so that you can easily be found.

“Just when they thought their golden years entitled them to being ‘served’ by recruiters, members of that older generation now have to do homework and market themselves,” says Aylward, who interviewed thousands of jobless executives over 20 years.“ They don’t want to hear it, or believe it, but it’s reality.”

According to surveys, 89 percent of employers use a form of social media to identify job candidates, with LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter the most popular. LinkedIn, with its more than 135 million members, dominates the competition, with 86 percent usage compared to just 50 percent for Facebook and 45 percent for Twitter.

Sounds like a good place to start.

After embracing social media (even building a personal website), Aylward has these tips:
• Streamline your strengths with specific examples. It’s not the interviewer’s job to figure out what your strengths might be; it’s the candidate’s job. The days of clever cover letters opening doors are gone. Those resumes and on-line profiles better be stronger than ever and packed with data and specific accomplishments.
• Don’t waste time with external executive recruiters. They don’t find jobs for people. You need to get in front of the internal corporate recruiters who are searching for you online. So help them do their job by researching companies online yourself, as well as locating jobs yourself, introducing yourself to a prospective employer and conversing directly with hiring managers – online.
• It’s all about them, not you. Get out of the mindset that matching yourself for a job or interviewing for a job is about you. It’s all about what you can do for them. That means defining your strengths and determining specific areas where you can solve their business problems. And be prepared to demonstrate that you have kept up with technology, industry changes and how the economy has affected them. 

“Embrace change,” Aylward says. “You are still very valuable and worth money for a long time, but you need to make yourself visible—and viable—to those who need your expertise.”

Six Savvy Ways to Avoid Overspending this Holiday Season

December 1, 2011 5:14 pm

Every holiday season, millions of Americans spend above their means. So the temporary feel-good high of giving big to the ones we love ends up hurting more than helping. "It's self-defeatist to overspend to make loved ones feel good when the result makes you feel worse in the long run," says Meredith Simonds of "I'm talking about worst-case scenarios that all-too-often come true, from debt settlement to bankruptcy." 

To avoid overspending, try to:
1) Pay with cash.
This means leaving credit cards and debit cards at home. Know your budget for the day's spending and take no more cash than that on your shopping trip.
2) Stick to your list. Take your time with it, carefully choosing the right item (at the right price) for everyone you want to buy for this year.
3) Shop with a friend. To be more specific, shop with a friend who has your best financial interest at heart. When you're tempted to go over budget or make an impulse buy, they can help keep you on track.
4) Don't buy something just because it's on sale. If it's not on your list, that sale item isn't saving you anything. Unless you buy the sale item to replace something else you planned to buy.
5) Look for items that cost less than the allotted amounts. For example, if you planned on spending twenty dollars on something but find it for fifteen, stop there. As long as you got the item you were looking for, don't feel you need to spend the full twenty dollars.
6) When shopping online, take advantage of promo codes. You've know the prompt at checkout asking you to enter a promo code? Rather than skipping over this option, simply do an online search for one, such as, "[name of store] promotional code." 

For more info, visit

Tips for Preventing Decorating Disasters This Holiday Season

November 30, 2011 7:10 pm

As spirits brighten during the holiday season, many families rely on holiday lights and festive décor to brighten up their homes as well. The Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) is urging families across the country to keep safety in mind as they decorate their homes this holiday season to ensure that their celebrations do not end in tragedy. 

While holiday lights and other decorations add to the splendor of the season, they also contribute to the rise in incidents of home fires and preventable injuries that occur during the winter months. An average of 260 home fires begin with Christmas trees each year, with another 150 home fires beginning with holiday lights and other decorative lighting. 

With its annual holiday safety awareness campaign, ESFI encourages families and communities across the country to Make Safety a Tradition of the holiday season. ESFI, in partnership with The Home Depot, is educating consumers about the unique safety concerns of the winter holiday season. 

“The joy that festive decorations provide can cause people to overlook the inherent dangers that are also associated with them,” said ESFI President Brett Brenner. “It is critical that families follow simple instructions and inspect their holiday decorations to minimize the risk of fire and electric shock.” 

Follow these basic safety guidelines to help prevent serious electrical and fire hazards as you decorate your home and yard this season:
• Avoid using candles when possible. Consider using battery-operated candles in place of traditional candles.
• Never leave an open flame unattended. Keep burning candles within sight.
• When purchasing a live tree, check for freshness. A fresh tree will stay green longer and be less of a fire hazard than a dry tree.
• When purchasing an artificial tree, look for the label “fire resistant.”
• Choose holiday decorations made with flame-resistant or non-combustible materials.
• Use only electrical decorations and lights that have been approved for safe use by a nationally recognized testing laboratory.
• Carefully inspect each electrical decoration before use. Cracked or frayed sockets, loose or bare wires, and loose connections may cause a serious shock or start a fire.
• Follow the use and care instructions that accompany electrical decorations, and always unplug electrical decorations before replacing bulbs or fuses.
• Keep young children away from holiday lights, electrical decorations, and extension cords to prevent electrical shock and burn injuries.
• Avoid plugging too many holiday lights and decorations into a single outlet. Overloaded outlets can overheat and cause a fire.
• Do not mount or support light strings in a way that might damage the cord’s insulation.
• Never connect more than three strands of incandescent lights together.
• Make sure any electrical decorations used outdoors are marked for outdoor use.
• Keep all outdoor extension cords and light strings clear of snow and standing water.
• Use caution when decorating near power lines. Contact with a high-voltage line could lead to electrocution.
• Turn off all indoor and outdoor electrical decorations before leaving home or going to bed. 

Visit ESFI’s holiday safety website,,

How to Be a Good Dad in a Tough Economy

November 30, 2011 7:10 pm

With a masters in human leisure development and a business specializing in recreation services and facilities management, Tom Watson, author of "Man Shoes: The Journey to Becoming a Better Man, Husband & Father," knows the importance of fathers spending quality down time with their children. 

But with so many families financially stressed, it's the first "job" many dads are abandoning. 

"These days, many fathers are either unemployed and working hard to find work or they're working two jobs or more just to make ends meet," Watson says. "Either they don't have much time for family, or they just aren't in the mood." 

Watson offers these tips for dads trying to stay connected in a tough economy:
Share Time - It's important for your kids to know that you aren't paying attention to them out of obligation, but rather, because you need to be with them as much as they need to be with you.
A Little Time is Better Than None - Even if you can only block out a couple of hours every week, that can be enough. As long as you keep to the schedule and don't let your kids down, that time will be as valuable as if you spent the entire weekend with them.
Don't Plan Big - The pitfall is that the bigger the plan, the bigger the expectation. The truth is, kids don't care. You don't have to spend a lot of money or make big plans all the time. It could be as simple as going to the park to fly kites and eating a brown bag lunch together, and most kids would be happy with that.
Watson adds, "While it may seem to some that working hard to provide for their families is their primary responsibility as a father, that's just not so." 

For more information visit

Seasonal Stress Busters

November 30, 2011 7:10 pm

The holiday season is a time for family, friends, and fun. However, with all of the excitement also comes a whopping dose of stress—there are events to plan, gifts to buy, meals to cook and guests to pamper. Mind the following helpful hints to ease stress this season.

Exercise- Fitness is important year round, but the winter especially. With cold weather, darker days and busier schedules, it’s hard to maintain a work-out routine. However, studies have shown that regularly physical activity not only lowers stress, but bolsters your immune system, warding off wintertime sniffles.

Eat right- Between decadent meals, holiday parties, and comfort foods, nutrition often gets neglected between Thanksgiving and the New Year. Indulge in moderation and load up on leafy greens, whole grains and filling protein to keep your body happy and your mind sharp.

Laughter- Don’t let work stress or that looming visit from your in-laws dampen your holiday cheer. Spending just 10 minutes a day laughing can brighten your spirits. Watch a funny YouTube video, call a friend or play with your kids to put a smile on your face and keep stress at bay.

Down-time – Between pressing work schedules and shuttling the kids from one event to another, you can lose sight of your “you” time. Make sure to schedule at least thirty minutes in your day to relax. Spend that time doing something that puts you at ease, whether it’s taking a bath, reading a book, playing with your pets or working on a hobby.

Power off – Studies have shown using electronics—from TVs to laptops and Smartphones—before bed can disrupt your sleeping pattern. The less restful your sleep schedule, the easier it is for you to become stressed and agitated. Power off all electronics at least thirty minutes prior to slipping in the sheets for sounder zzz’s.

Word of the Day

November 30, 2011 7:10 pm

Real property. Land and buildings and anything permanently attached to them.

Question of the Day

November 30, 2011 7:10 pm

Q: Do I need to be at the inspection?

A: No, but it is a very good idea to be there. Following the check-over, the home inspector can answer your questions and discuss problem areas with you. This is also an opportune time to get an objective opinion about the home from someone who does not have emotional or financial ties to the property.

Chainsaw Safety, Part II

November 29, 2011 5:08 pm

As reported in the previous segment, I was among the millions in New England left dealing with a double-barreled punch of post-storm cleanups this fall. With all those cleanups, hospitals across the region saw a significant rise in chainsaw-related emergencies.

So we turned to the U.S. Occupational & Health Administration (OSHA) for some tips on chainsaw safety, and got the full scope on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Your PPE helps protect the head, ears, eyes, face, hands, and legs—and is designed to prevent or lessen the severity of injuries to those using chain saws.

Before you even fuel up your saw, OSHA recommends you inspect your PPE to ensure it’s all in serviceable condition.

One of the least talked about protective measures, even for occasional chainsaw users, perhaps due to cost—are chaps. But Elvex Safety Products ( of Bethel, Connecticut recommends that even casual "weekend warriors" consider donning protective chaps when operating a chainsaw.

The company states that the average chainsaw injury results in 120 stitches, and even its unique brand of chaps won't stop or prevent injuries if the chainsaw is running much faster than 2,750 feet per minute. (A full throttle chainsaw is capable of up to 6,000 feet-per-minute, reinforcing the inherent danger of that type of tool.)

Once you are equipped for safety and safely fueled, it's time to dig into the task at hand. Keep in mind these final OSHA chainsaw safety pointers:

• Clear away dirt, debris, small tree limbs and rocks from the saw’s chain path. Look for nails, spikes or other metal in the tree before cutting.
• Shut off the saw or engage its chain brake when carrying the saw on rough or uneven terrain.
• Keep your hands on the saw’s handles, and maintain secure footing while operating the saw.
• Proper personal protective equipment must be worn when operating the saw, which includes hand, foot, leg, eye, face, hearing and head protection.
• Do not wear loose-fitting clothing.
• Be careful that the trunk or tree limbs will not bind against the saw.
• Watch for branches under tension, they may spring out when cut.
• Gasoline-powered chain saws must be equipped with a protective device that minimizes chain saw kickback. • Be cautious of saw kick-back. To avoid kick-back, do not saw with the tip. If equipped, keep tip guard in place.

Hopefully, with this advice as a guideline, individuals including occasional users of chainsaws and chain driven equipment will be prepared to tackle their cutting chores with the utmost safety in mind.

Attention Holiday Shoppers: Tips to Protect You and Your Vehicle

November 29, 2011 5:08 pm

The race is on! With the holiday season now in full swing, department stores, malls and downtown streets are packed with shoppers looking for great gifts and last-minute deals. Unfortunately, it's that hustle and bustle of long lists and large crowds that opportunistic criminals are counting on to distract holiday shoppers and make them easy targets for vehicle break-ins, carjacking and other auto theft-related crimes. 

According to Help Eliminate Auto Thefts (H.E.A.T.), law enforcement agencies report an increased number of auto break-ins during the holiday season. H.E.A.T. is Michigan's statewide auto theft prevention program that coordinates citizen action with law enforcement agencies through a confidential toll-free tip line (1.800.242.HEAT) and website ( 

"The holidays are a joyous time of year filled with family gatherings and gift giving," said Terri Miller, director of H.E.A.T. "But, with overflowing parking lots and vehicles filled to the brim with purchases, the holidays are also a dream for car thieves." 

The following tips from H.E.A.T. will help you to be more careful and prepared while shopping this holiday season.
• Stay alert and watchful. While walking to your car, take a moment to observe your surroundings. Talking or texting on cell phones, digging for keys or juggling multiple packages can be a distraction, all of which make you an easy target.
• Park in well-lit, high-traffic areas. Try to avoid shopping alone after dark. If possible, avoid parking near objects that block your view of the surrounding area such as dumpsters, bushes, large vans or trucks.
• Place valuables and purchases in the trunk or out of view. Before leaving your car, make sure anything of value is locked in the trunk or out of sight.
• Remember where your car is parked. Walk directly to your car and do not spend unnecessary time wandering around the parking lot. Walk confidently and with purpose.
• Move your car. If you return to your car in the middle of a shopping trip, move to another area of the parking lot, even if it means giving up a prime spot. This will deter a thief who may have been watching you unload your purchases and then return to shop.
• If threatened by a carjacker, give up the car. Don’t resist or argue. A life is more important than any vehicle, and most carjackings involve a weapon.
• If you witness an auto theft or carjacking, call the police immediately.

Postal Service Provides Guide to Mailing Season's Greetings

November 29, 2011 5:08 pm

With 16.5 billion cards, letters and packages to be delivered between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day, the U.S. Postal Service has shipping tips to help make sure gifts are delivered promptly and safely during the holiday season. 

"The Postal Service is making it easier to ship packages to family and friends for the holidays—be it online at, or by visiting your local Post Office," says Gary Reblin, vice president, Domestic Products. "And remember, proper addressing and packaging will ensure every gift receives the service it deserves. 

Shipping Basics
• Remove batteries from toys and other electronic devices. Wrap and place them next to the item in the mailing box. Customers should include the new batteries in the manufacturer's packaging.
• Place a card inside the package that contains both the delivery and return addresses. This ensures the safe return of an item that could not be delivered should the mailing label become damaged or fall off.
• Include both "to" and "from" information on packages — and only on one side.
• Always use a return address, which tells the Postal Service where to return mail if it cannot be delivered.
• Select a box that is strong enough to protect the contents.
• Do not reuse mailing boxes as they can weaken in the shipping process.
• Leave space for cushioning inside.
• Stuff glass and fragile, hollow items, like vases, with newspaper or packing material to avoid damage.
• When mailing framed photographs, take the glass out of the frame and wrap it separately.
• For Parcel Post packages using a customer-supplied box, the weight cannot exceed 70 lbs. and the combined length and width measurement must be 130 inches or less. Make sure the width is measured around the largest point of the package.

For more information, visit

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