Is a company allowed to fire you over email?

Let’s face it—the rules of the work world have changed drastically over the last few years. Everything from widespread technological innovation to an uncertain economy, globalization, and rapidly shifting cultural norms have all led to seismic shifts in how we think about work and professional etiquette. No one has all the answers about how to […]

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Let’s face it—the rules of the work world have changed drastically over the last few years. Everything from widespread technological innovation to an uncertain economy, globalization, and rapidly shifting cultural norms have all led to seismic shifts in how we think about work and professional etiquette.

No one has all the answers about how to behave and what’s appropriate in every possible scenario and situation in the workplace. Truth is, things are changing so fast these days that the rules are practically shifting while they’re being written. Advances in technology have seemed to create more new questions than answers in many areas—including what’s appropriate and not appropriate to handle electronically and what’s better left handled in person. This question most often arises when dealing with sensitive and personal issues like hiring and firing.

In today’s tech-centric work world, is it appropriate to fire and to be fired electronically? It’s an important question, and one worth looking at seriously in order to help set the tone for what technology should and should not be made a part of. The truth is, in almost all conceivable instances, it’s up to the employer how they want to set the parameters when firing someone—if they’d rather do it electronically, it’s probably within their legal discretion to do so. But that doesn’t necessarily make it the best or most appropriate choice for handling such a personal and potentially difficult situation. Besides, firing someone in a cold, callous, and impersonal way is a sword that can cut both ways—not only can it be really potentially hurtful and damaging to the person getting fired, it can also lead to the employer getting a bad reputation. News travels fast in the Twittersphere.

Most people would agree that in most instances, firing someone is best handled in person. After all, our work lives are usually key components of our identities (sometimes spanning years and even multiple decades), and losing such a big piece of ourselves can be extremely challenging and difficult. And that’s not even considering the stressful and damaging financial consequences of being out of a job. It’s something that employers should be mindful of and appreciate—and making the process as kind and humane as possible is a good way to show it.

There are instances where letting someone go electronically is less egregious. For example, if you’re a freelancer or you work remotely (which sometimes means that you’re in different cities or even countries), or if the entire employer-employee relationship is a remote one, then it may be a necessary or at least a more acceptable approach. That said, just because it’s handled electronically doesn’t mean that it has to be completely impersonal—if you’re going to use a text or email to let someone go, doing so with sensitivity, humility, and grace is always a good approach.

Above all
else, we should also remember that throughout our professional journeys, most
of us have opportunities to play both the role of subordinate and superior, and
some form of the Golden Rule should be applied here as a guiding principle when
making the decision to let someone go: Always fire others as how you’d want
them to fire you.

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What are former employers allowed to say about you?

There’s a common question that pops up whenever we decide to move on to newer and hopefully greener career pastures and leave a job in search of new opportunities: What exactly is my former employer allowed to say and share about me now that I’m gone? It’s a valid question, and one that can kick […]

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There’s a common question that pops up whenever we decide to move on to newer and hopefully greener career pastures and leave a job in search of new opportunities: What exactly is my former employer allowed to say and share about me now that I’m gone?

It’s a valid question, and one that can kick up a wide mix of feelings, often depending on how things went there. If you left your previous job on great terms and are confident that all those with whom you had worked were left with nothing but positive impressions of you, then wondering what previous employers can disclose about you moving forward might not bubble up to the level of a crisis. However, if things were a bit more contentious or challenging and there are some things regarding your previous employment that you’d really rather not be made public, then knowing the answer to this question may be high on your list of concerns.

Whatever situation you may be in, it’s helpful to know what former employers are able to disclose about you as you travel along your career journey.

It’s often a legal matter

Laws regarding what former employers are legally allowed to disclose about employees exist only at the state level—there are no federal laws designed to regulate when and what your previous bosses can share about you. Therefore, the answer to this question depends upon in which state you resided and/or worked in at the time of your employment. The best resources for determining the specific types of information that can legally be disclosed are the Department of Labor websites for the state(s) in question.

Typically, employers are allowed to share general information regarding your tenure with their companies—things like your dates of employment, job title, and responsibilities, all which serve to confirm your employment and validate the things you likely provided on your resume for potential employers. Some states allow employers to go a bit deeper, and topics like salary, ability, performance, and reasons for your leaving (e.g., were you laid off, did you quit, or were you fired for cause and why) are fair game to share.

Of course, despite what states allow, employers use their own discretion when choosing what to share. Companies are often cognizant of laws regarding defamation, slander, and libel, and usually make absolutely sure that everything they disclose is factual and precise, in an effort to avoid any legal retaliation or lawsuits being brought to them by former disgruntled employees.

Control as much as you can

You have some options here. If you’re concerned about what a former employer may disclose about you then it might be in your best interest to refrain from using them on any list of references you provide prospective future employers (although this approach might raise some red flags and follow-up questions). You can also ask previous employers what they plan to share about you and politely ask them to keep certain information private. (Just keep in mind, as we’ve mentioned, they aren’t required to comply and it’s a risk to expect them to convey exactly what you prefer.)

Be careful when trying to coordinate what you plan to say about a previous job. Nothing sounds off warning alarms for HR managers quite so loudly as when you and a previous employer have different stories to tell about your tenure. Hopefully, this will keep you on the honest, straight-and-narrow path whenever sharing information about your work history—which is always your best approach when on the job hunt trail.

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How to cope with a crowded job market

In a perfect world, the notion of being involuntarily “in-between jobs” wouldn’t exist. We’d all have our ideal dream jobs with the exact salaries, benefits, and responsibilities we wanted—and nothing would ever go wrong to threaten our positions throughout our professional journeys. It’s a nice dream for sure, but we all know that it’s not […]

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In a perfect world, the notion of being involuntarily “in-between jobs” wouldn’t exist. We’d all have our ideal dream jobs with the exact salaries, benefits, and responsibilities we wanted—and nothing would ever go wrong to threaten our positions throughout our professional journeys.

It’s a nice dream for sure, but we all know that it’s not a perfect world, which is especially true when it comes to today’s job market. It’s crowded, cutthroat, ultra-competitive, and often downright unfair out there, and can be pretty tough to navigate. Things get especially difficult when you’re in-between positions and on the job hunt—on top of the stress of being unemployed and the uncertainty surrounding when your next great opportunity will pop up, knowing how to cope with a crowded job market and its constantly shifting rules can be a real challenge. 

If you’re in this boat, don’t let the stress and anxiety of the situation overwhelm you. Instead, keep reading to pick up some valuable ideas for coping and making it through.

Prioritize your search

The truth is, conducting a proper, full-scale job hunt is not a part-time affair—it should be your primary focus if you really want to open up the doors to new opportunities. This includes crafting your job materials like cover letters and resumes until they’re just right, hunting high and low to unearth available openings in your industry and field, and continually tweaking and refining your approach as needed based on the feedback and results you receive. Here’s the bottom line: make sure you’re investing the right amount of time, energy, and effort to your search and, if possible, put off other things in life that aren’t as important until your job hunt starts to bear fruit.

Get flexible

Sure, most of us have a target position or ideal job in mind at the onset of our job searches, but for most of us hitting the bullseye right in the center doesn’t always happen. If you’re narrowing your search so much that you’re only looking at jobs that exactly match your dream scenario, you’re likely doing yourself a real disservice. Conducting a more flexible and expansive job search—which includes a wider swath of jobs that are related to your industry, background, and skill set—sets you up for a greater chance at success.

At the onset of your job search, invest some time in a purposeful brainstorming session with the goal of expanding your range of prospective positions. Trust us, thinking outside the box will be time well spent. You just might surprise yourself by landing an opportunity that turns out to be even better than you could’ve anticipated.

Use all of your resources

While most of us are now good at using public tools for job searching (like job posting sites and the career pages of companies we’re interested in), many of us still fail to use the full arsenal of tools at our disposal. Not using your professional network to help find a job can put you at a tremendous disadvantage when facing a crowded market. A comprehensive job hunt in today’s ultra-competitive field needs to include all of your available resources, which must include all of the personal and professional contacts you’ve acquired throughout your life. Sure, keeping up the hunt on the usual online channels is important, but these days, more and more opportunities arise through personal contacts—and what better way to get around the crowd then through people who already know you and can vouch for your abilities and strengths? You never know who amongst your network may be aware of an opening that’s just right for you, so be sure to leave no stone unturned.

Consider an alternate plan

It’s always admirable to be dedicated to a goal—and this is especially true when you’re on the job hunt. But sometimes having a backup plan is a wise strategy. If the job market in your field is especially competitive right now and opportunities are few, then consider an alternate route. This can include widening your search to include other positions in the same orbit as your target field or even trying something completely new until things get less crowded and intense. You may also want to journey down the entrepreneurial route and start your own business, leveraging your background or personal interests and being your own boss. Who knows—what may start out as a side project or short-term opportunity may turn into a lifelong pursuit.

Today’s job market is a tough one: Many fields are beyond competitive and crowded, with a ton of qualified candidates for every open position. If you’re facing this problem, then consider using the strategies and advice presented here to help you wade through the crowds to find your way to employment.

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Everything you need to know about being president of a company

At some point or another, on a frustrating day at work, we’ve probably all muttered, “I could run this place so much better.” But what does it actually mean to be the president of the company? If your long-term goals include ascending the executive ladder, it’s important to know what this important figure does. What […]

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At some point or another, on a frustrating day at work,
we’ve probably all muttered, “I could run this place so much better.” But what
does it actually mean to be the president of the company? If your long-term
goals include ascending the executive ladder, it’s important to know what this
important figure does.

What does being “president” mean?

A president of a company is typically the primary leader of
the day-to-day operations of a business, agency, institution, school, etc. Like
a political president, he or she is often one of the most visible people in the
organization. As a job title, “president” can also refer to department or
division leaders within a company. Basically, it connotes a serious leadership
role. Some presidents may be the top of the food chain, but others may report
to a Chief Executive Officer (CEO).

What does a company president do?

The presidential role can vary pretty widely, depending on the industry, the type of organization, and the company’s overall structure. For example, the president of a massive Fortune 500 company likely has a much different daily work life than the president of a small, lean nonprofit.

But while the specific tasks and responsibilities of a company president vary from place to place, there are a number of common factors.

A president is typically responsible for the following duties:

Leading the company. Employees all the way up and down the org chart take their cues from the organization’s leadership. It falls to the president to set the tone and expectations for the company, including establishing mission statements and communicating values. The president sets the bar for all employees to meet and should enable communication at every level so that each employee understands where the company is going.

Managing senior
staff.
The president is typically in charge of the company’s other leaders
(department heads, senior managers, vice presidents, or other executive-level
positions). In a large company, there are often several layers of leadership,
and the president is often the backstop for the most senior managers in each
group.

Developing strategy.
Working with senior employees, presidents are often the key driver of the
company’s strategic plan for the year, including high-level budgets,
forecasting, plans for growth, new initiatives, and long-term business plans.

Acting as the public face. Depending on the organization’s structure, the president may be the most visible employee in the company. When there are important announcements or public-facing issues, it’s often the president who is issuing statements or acting as a public ambassador for the company. The president may represent the organization in the community, or even at the national level.

Communicating with stakeholders. Many companies have a board of directors or shareholders or a parent company, and the president is often tasked with communicating their organization’s results, plans, and mission to those stakeholders.

What do you need to become a president?

Unless you grow your own start-up or company, there’s usually no quick or easy way to sit in the president’s chair. Most company presidents have a bachelor’s degree (at minimum) in business or in the field, and many have advanced degrees (like an MBA) as well. Presidents of academic institutions typically need a PhD.

Skills-wise, a president isn’t so much different from any other leadership role: Communication and strong social skills are essential, as are problem-solving skills. A president of the company will face problems, so being able to solve them effectively (or find resources who will) is mandatory.

Experience is typically a key factor as well. Many presidents started at the bottom—if not at this particular company, then likely in the field—and worked their way up through the ranks. Presidents usually have experience at every level and were promoted up through the industry. So if you’re looking deep into the future and setting your own personal leadership goals, it’s important to know that you can absolutely build your way into a president’s career path.

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Is your job paying you market wages?

In your career, you are always your own best advocate when it comes to promotions, professional development, and salary. It’s so important to be aware of the value you bring to your role, as well as the market value for your position and your experience. When you go into a negotiation for a raise or […]

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In your career, you are always your own best advocate when it comes to promotions, professional development, and salary. It’s so important to be aware of the value you bring to your role, as well as the market value for your position and your experience. When you go into a negotiation for a raise or a promotion, it’s essential to know whether your job is paying you in line with the current market or if there’s room to grow. The more data you have right in front of you, the stronger your negotiation will be.

So how do you know if you’re making money in line with the current market? Now more than ever, online tools let you scope out detailed information to bring with you into your next request for a raise.

What constitutes a “fair” market wage?

A “fair” wage is one that has two prongs:

  1. What your industry is paying people in your
    approximate role.
  2. What your company is paying people in comparable
    roles.  

This is typically a range—not everyone will be making the same, nor will exact dollar amounts usually be available in a public search. But having a range of low-end salaries and high-end salaries for people that do work similar to yours is a good way to see where you fit in, and how much wiggle room there is.

Plus, salaries can vary from company to company depending on
an employee’s education level and experience. The upper end of the range is
especially important, because it helps you figure out what’s realistic for you
to be making. (After all, you don’t want to go in to a raise negotiation and be
laughed out of the room because your $10,000 increase request is way out of
whack with the rest of your field.)

Start with a comprehensive job description.

Job titles can vary pretty widely even for similar work in the same industry, so before you start your research, have a bulleted list of job responsibilities. Start with your own, and then do a little digging on job sites for similar titles or key words.

Don’t forget to factor in benefits.

Base salary is useful information, but it’s not always the full picture when it comes to how a person is being compensated in a particular role. Online job descriptions often include at least a partial list of benefits offered by the company, so you can see which companies give their employees medical insurance, paid leave, tuition reimbursement, and other types of compensation in addition to salary. That can be taken into consideration and compared against your own company’s benefits package to see if that lines up with industry standards as well.

Search the right places.

Job descriptions on career sites may have salary information, but those may be vague and aren’t always reflective of what a person ends up making in that position after accepting the job and negotiating pay.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics is a fantastic, comprehensive source for employment data of all kinds—especially salary information. It’s a government database, supplemented by its yearly National Compensation Survey and research, which contains information (wages, earnings, and employment statistics) for just about any job you can think of.  Again, having key words comes in handy, because not every job title will be the same—but you can usually find at least an approximate version of your job, if not one that’s right on the nose.

The BLS also provides employment outlooks for each job, which helps when you’re figuring out market value. Is a field declining now, or expected to grow over the next ten years or so? If demand is expected to grow, that can make your skills and experience more valuable from a market perspective.

Sites like Salary.com and Glassdoor also provide valuable
context when it comes to market value. With real data and feedback from real
employees, they also factor in data like location, education level, experience,
and employee reviews to give you a comprehensive picture of each job’s market.

If you’re willing to do a little digging, it’s pretty straightforward to create a picture of your industry’s pay and compensation and figure out where you stand. Having this information at your fingertips will make you a better advocate for your career interests and help you plan your goals and next steps.

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How to answer 3 common questions asked in a teacher interview

Attention teachers: are you on the job hunt trail and want to make sure that you’re as successful on interviews as you are in the classroom? The truth is, today’s job market is as competitive as it gets—even for teachers—and when you’re looking for a new position, chances are you’re going to face some stiff […]

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Attention teachers: are you on the job hunt trail and want to make sure that you’re as successful on interviews as you are in the classroom? The truth is, today’s job market is as competitive as it gets—even for teachers—and when you’re looking for a new position, chances are you’re going to face some stiff competition from other teachers who are just as qualified and capable. In the face of such a challenging environment, hiring decisions often come down to who handles themselves best during interviews.

For better or for worse, interviews are a bit like class exams—we can practice and prepare with the very best of intentions, but because we don’t know exactly what will be asked there’s always an anxiety-producing element that all of our hard work will be for nothing.

That said, we’re not advocating for a “no prep” approach when going on
interviews. There’s plenty you can do to help ensure that you present yourself
in the best way possible and make a great impression. This includes getting
familiar with common questions that are often asked during teacher interviews,
and how to attack them successfully. Let’s take a closer look at some of these.

1. What is your preferred teaching style?

This is an extremely common interview question and is designed to help showcase your passion. Are you in the classroom simply to drive students to perform on exams and assignments so that you look good, or are you eager to motivate students to do their best and realize what they’re capable of, and inspire them to discover what’s possible—both inside and outside of the classroom? Here’s your chance to demonstrate what being in the classroom and being charged with the power and responsibility of molding young minds mean to you.

Here’s one way to tackle this question:

I never take a one-size-fits-all approach to working with my students. Every student is a unique individual with their own strengths, interests, and style of learning that works best for them, and I consider devoting my time and energy to discovering how best to reach each of them an important investment. The lessons, activities, and assessments that I develop for my students are designed to support this philosophy.

2. Recount how you handled a particularly difficult situation.

This is a popular question at interviews for all professions, and for good reason. It’s designed to help gauge your ability to stay cool, calm, and collected in a storm and to navigate your way out of a stressful and challenging situation effectively. This is especially important as a teacher, when young and impressionable minds are involved and on the line. Because every teacher’s example of a challenging situation is different, answers to this question will vary greatly—but the key to answering this question is to avoid assigning blame externally and instead focus on what proactive steps you took to affect positive and lasting change.

This is especially true if the situation you’re describing involves a student. You want to make sure that you refrain from labeling the student as unteachable or a problem and instead focus on the efforts you made to reach them on their own terms—focusing on their strengths and interests, providing them with additional support and encouragement, reaching out to parents and caregivers, and modulating your approach as needed in an effort to turn a challenging situation into a success story.

3. What key attributes help make you a successful teacher?

This question is designed to help show interviewers that you know what teaching abilities and personality traits are typically needed to be successful in the classroom. Employers looking to hire intuitive and skilled educators are really going to be interested in how you handle this question.

Here’s one potential answer:

I think that being in confident command of the subject material being taught is important before ever stepping into a classroom—nothing represents more of a disservice to young minds than an unprepared teacher. When I do enter the classroom, I’m passionate about the goal of motivating and inspiring young minds and helping them to discover new things about the world around them. I’m aware that each student is unique and I think that having the patience and flexibility to work with each of them by drawing upon their strengths and attributes is essential.

Students are excellent at detecting whether others truly care, and I never forget this. I also believe that my ability to embrace a holistic teamwork approach—working collaboratively with students, their other teachers, and their caregivers to help students reach their full potential—is important. And I also believe that my level of accountability is a powerful tool—whenever I face a challenging situation involving a student I always think about ways that I can do my job better, to help reach them more effectively and make every classroom experience successful.

Here’s the bottom line: Even teachers can learn something new, and this includes the time they spend outside of the classroom and on the job hunt. If you want to succeed in interviews and get the opportunity to use your skills and expertise in the classroom, then make sure you’re handling the interview questions you’re to likely encounter effectively.

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Should you talk to your boss about your personal problems?

Regardless of job title or industry, the work world is full of challenging situations—both on the job and around it—and those among us who climb the career ladder fastest and achieve success always seem to be able to navigate these challenges effectively. This often requires an uncanny ability to correctly read the terrain of a […]

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Regardless of job title or industry, the work world is full of challenging situations—both on the job and around it—and those among us who climb the career ladder fastest and achieve success always seem to be able to navigate these challenges effectively. This often requires an uncanny ability to correctly read the terrain of a tricky situation, use sound judgment and logic to determine a course of action, and deploy the right strategies for making it through unscathed.

Among these sticky situations is the question of how close we should allow ourselves to get to our colleagues. Although we spend a significant portion of our waking lives at work and amongst our coworkers—for some of us, as much or more time than we spend at home—the question of how personal we should allow our workplace relationships to get doesn’t have a quick and easy answer. Of course, not all relationships are created equal, and this holds true for those we forge at work—the rules for how we connect with our bosses, peers, and subordinates aren’t one size fits all.

Among the trickier and stickier of these is how close we should allow ourselves to get to our bosses and whether or not we should let ourselves get comfortable enough to talk to them about our personal problems. It’s not a question with an easy yes or no answer.

Conventional wisdom says that whenever possible, you should try to keep things between you and your boss in a strictly professional mode. All those personal things orbiting your life at any given moment—the ones you share with friends and family without reservation—are best kept out of the workplace. Sure, sometimes the line gets blurred and for good reason—for example, when you have a personal obligation (like a doctor’s appointment) that requires you to miss work time you have to let your boss know about it—but in all other instances you shouldn’t talk to your boss about personal problems. The thinking here is that your professional and personal worlds should be kept separate whenever possible and that oversharing with your boss, especially regarding things that may be viewed or interpreted negatively, may reflect poorly on you, adversely affect your relationship with them, and limit current and future opportunities for growth.

That said, it can be argued that the old rules of the work world have changed over the years, and that includes the traditional ways of viewing the employer-employee relationship. Some feel that these days it’s okay to develop a deeper and more personal relationship with your coworkers—including your boss—and that it helps foster teamwork and an atmosphere that’s conducive for deeper collaboration. This includes sharing your personal problems with your boss—after all, aren’t we all just people with a wide range of experiences, triumphs, and challenges under our belts, and that acknowledging this simply brings us all closer together? It’s certainly a viewpoint worth further investigation.

So where does this leave us as we try to determine if it’s okay to talk to our bosses about our personal problems? Well, the smart money when it comes to answering this question just might just be right in the middle—realizing that while we can share snippets of our personal lives with our bosses and coworkers in an effort to forge stronger bonds with those in our professional networks, we should always be aware of the potential dangers and pitfalls of oversharing. The key is to stop, think, and use sound logic and judgment when deciding precisely what to share and what to keep for yourself.

In the end, there are no universal guidelines for how to develop relationships with our bosses, as all bosses are not created equal. So, when asking yourself this important question, it’s a good idea to think about your current work situation and environment and then proceed with care and caution.

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7 jobs for retirees who want to get back to work

Retirement can be great: There’s time to travel, do projects you’ve put off for years, or just do a whole lot of nothing. But sometimes, it can also be difficult to transition to a more relaxed pace. A job can give you purpose and a reason to set your alarm in the morning, a little […]

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Retirement can be great: There’s time to travel, do projects you’ve put off for years, or just do a whole lot of nothing. But sometimes, it can also be difficult to transition to a more relaxed pace. A job can give you purpose and a reason to set your alarm in the morning, a little extra cash to finance your retirement or travel, or the chance to apply your drive and creativity to a new endeavor.

But one way to frame this new life phase is having the freedom to choose a job that is simply enjoyable—not tied to your ambition. There are fulfilling, low-stress jobs out there that can offer retirees the opportunity to learn something new, engage with the community, and make some extra money in the process.

1. Pet sitter

If you’re an animal lover or have been a pet owner before, starting your own pet-sitting business as a retiree can be a great way to make money and find some companionship in four-legged friends. For many, retirement means traveling and visiting relatives, so pet owners have to find a local kennel or pet-sitter. If you have retired friends, you can fill that role. You can pet sit out of your own home or visit neighbors’ homes a few times a day to give pets the extra attention they need when their owners are traveling.

2. Small business owner

If you have the talent and access to supplies, you can turn a hobby into a small business. Explore your photography skills, get into woodworking, look into selling your knitting masterpieces—you’ve honed skills over the years, and now you have the time to see where they can take you. You can create your own website or open an Etsy store—you don’t need to have a physical storefront to start a business. If you’re up for a challenge, starting your own small business that engages your skills and your passion can be a rewarding way to fill your time while you make extra money in retirement.

3. Consultant

You likely amassed tons of knowledge from your former career. You can leave it behind and forget it, or you can use your experience to do consulting work. In the tech industry, for example, retirees often return as consultants to use their knowledge of code writing—because technology has changed so much, consultants with this type of knowledge may be vital to the industry. Consulting in your former industry is a way to employ your skills while keeping your work schedule more flexible.

4. Teacher

Whether it’s by being a substitute teacher or adjuncting at a local university, retirees likely have knowledge to impart. Adjunct jobs at universities often require graduate-level degrees, but experience in the real-world industry can be a leg up when teaching subjects like principles of business, advertising, marketing, writing, or engineering. Substitute teaching, from grade school level to high school, can be a rewarding way to engage in the community, help shape young minds, and keep your own mind involved in the lifelong learning process.

5. Working in the arts

Love art? Movies? Music? Working in the gift shop at a museum or as a docent can be a great way to share your interest that may not have been part of your full-time job before retiring. You can work at a theater and take tickets, or become an usher at your local concert hall. These positions mostly deal with hospitality, but having a job in the arts and entertainment industry can bring you near to the things you love. And instead of buying the tickets, you’re getting paid to be there and help others enjoy the experience.

6. Retail

If you’re looking to make some extra cash, retail jobs (such as a grocery store clerk) are always out there, and seasonal jobs abound during the holidays. Interacting with and helping customers can be an enjoyable way to stay engaged. Chances are you can find retail work more closely attuned to your interests too. If you enjoy home projects or painting your house, you might be a good fit for the paint department at your local hardware store. If you are a book lover, recommending books and ordering books for customers at your local bookshop can be a great way to spend time and earn money.

7. Earn money through traveling

Enjoy your newfound freedom and go to the place you want to visit. Traveling can be expensive, but moving to a resort town to find a local job in a tourist area or looking into house-sitting opportunities can let you explore the country while you finance your retirement—and still enjoy the sights in your downtime. Diving into the tourist culture, while still working, can feel more leisurely than your previous job and can be an excellent opportunity to take you to new places through your retirement.

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Are you a good leader? Answer these questions to find out.

Leadership qualities are some of the most difficult soft skills to assess. Everyone has their own style, and “leadership” is already a pretty subjective term—it can mean everything from just having a fancy title to inspiring team members who are your equals. But even if there’s not one true definition, there are some core qualities […]

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Leadership qualities are some of the most difficult soft skills to assess. Everyone has their own style, and “leadership” is already a pretty subjective term—it can mean everything from just having a fancy title to inspiring team members who are your equals. But even if there’s not one true definition, there are some core qualities that can help you measure your strength as a leader.

1. Do you truly value other people as humans?

Managers who see their team members as a resource, or pieces of a machine, are not among the most productive or successful leaders. If you listen to others, genuinely taking their feedback and concerns into account and understanding their basic humanity (mistakes, quirks, all the good stuff that make us human), it makes you a more empathetic leader. Active listening (without judgment) is one of the most effective leadership qualities you can have.

2. Do you understand others’ emotions, as well as your own?

Going back to the “humanity” issue, being in touch with your feelings and understanding others’ feelings is a common quality in the best leaders. This doesn’t mean you have to overshare or cry at work; it can be as simple as acknowledging your own emotions to your colleagues. “I know I reacted with frustration, and here’s why.” “The announcement made me upset too. Let’s talk about that.” Being open about your feelings (though work-appropriate ones only, please) and acknowledging others’ right to have them is a nuanced skill and one that is valued very highly.

3. Do you encourage inclusivity and diversity?

“Diversity” is a big buzzword these days, but even though it can feel a bit jargon-y, it shows a rather remarkable cultural shift in the workforce. Clique-iness and insider baseball are out, and having a broad range of people, cultures, perspectives, and opinions is in. Building your teams and your projects around people who bring different skills and perspectives shows a deep commitment to teamwork. Finding a balance—instead of a team of yes-people who see things the same way you do—shows how much you value others’ input and viewpoints, and how much you understand that great things can come from unexpected places.

4. Do you look toward the future?

If you find yourself focusing obsessively on what just happened or what’s going on now, that can lead to a feeling of aimlessness or rudderlessness. While you obviously need to be able to synthesize what worked and what didn’t in the past and solve issues in the now, it’s essential to be able to see what’s coming up.  Planning, setting achievable goals, and making sure everyone is aware and on board with future strategies is a cornerstone of good leadership.

5. Do you nurture others’ talents?

Helping others grow should be a priority of any leader. It’s against your interests (and your organization’s) if the people around you feel stagnant in their work, or so overwhelmed with a current workload that they have no bandwidth to figure out what comes next. A strong leader makes sure that others are not only working to their potential but also growing in ways that allow them to move forward in their careers.

If you’ve answered “no” to any of these questions, it doesn’t mean you’re simply a lousy leader or will never be executive material—it just means there’s an opportunity to build your skills to become someone people admire and turn to for advice and guidance.

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3 signs your coworkers dislike you

Most of us take our jobs pretty seriously—we devote our time, energy, and skills to making sure that we handle all of our responsibilities to the very best of our abilities and we work hard to aim for success. After all, the average person spends a huge chunk of their life at work, so it […]

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Most of us take our jobs pretty seriously—we devote our time, energy, and skills to making sure that we handle all of our responsibilities to the very best of our abilities and we work hard to aim for success. After all, the average person spends a huge chunk of their life at work, so it stands to reason that we’d want to make it time well spent.

That said, is doing your job well the only metric of professional success and happiness? Not for most of us. The truth is, we’re social creatures and our workplaces are full of countless social interactions—some work-related and others less so—throughout each day. Therefore, it stands to reason that how we’re perceived by our colleagues and whether or not we think we’re liked (or disliked) by those around us factors in heavily when we form our overall sense of professional contentment.

This shouldn’t come as a huge surprise to any of us—we tend to be happier in environments where we think we’re well-liked by those around us and vice versa. It’s also a significant factor in terms of job performance and career growth. Those of us who are well-liked at work typically have more opportunities to take on new challenges and responsibilities, work collaboratively on new projects, and be considered for expanded job roles and promotions.

So, not only does being liked at work make us happier, but it also has an effect on our career growth. Hopefully, by now you’re convinced of its importance. But are you sure that you know what your coworkers really think of you? After all, the workplace typically puts us on our best and most polite behavior, so if your coworkers don’t like you it may not be as readily apparent as it would be in other social situations. Thankfully, there are signs that you can look for to help you figure out if your coworkers dislike you. Consider the following red flags—if you find your coworkers exhibiting these signs, then you may want to think about making some changes.

Dismissiveness

This red flag gets at the heart of human behavior and psychology—we tend to gravitate towards and interact more with people we like and do our best to avoid and dismiss those we don’t like. Do you find your coworkers avoiding you whenever possible at work? Are interactions, when they do occur, typically kept as brief as possible? Do people ignore your thoughts and ideas, even when they’re helpful and would lead to great results? If so, then you may have a problem on your hands, and some work to do in order to turn things around.

Little to no eye contact

Sure, sometimes avoiding eye contact is just a sign of nervousness or anxiety, which is not atypical at work, but sometimes it means something else entirely. It’s common for people to minimize eye contact with people they don’t like—after all, interacting with people whose presence we don’t enjoy kicks up a lot of negative feelings, so minimizing points of contact is an effective way to reduce this as much as possible. It’s also a good way to try and keep interactions short and quick.

The next time you’re at work take note of the level and quality of eye contact you’re making with your colleagues. If it seems as if they’re looking at everything and everyone except you, then that may be a sign that you have a likeability issue to deal with.

Confrontation

Most of us have had experiences in the office that have resulted in heated exchanges—especially when the stakes are high and people who are serious and passionate about their work are involved. That said, do you find yourself in more heated confrontations with coworkers than normal, particularly in situations that don’t really warrant it? Do interactions with coworkers often go down a negative path? Do you find your coworkers more patient, flexible, and agreeable with others than with you? These may all be signs that you’re coworkers may dislike you, and it’s in your best interest to try and improve the situation.

How do your coworkers feel about you? The real answer may or may not be as obvious as you think. Use the 3 red flags presented here to help you get at the truth.

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