Corporate Outplacement and Career Transition Information

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Magntize - a fresh addition to the old resume game

Resume Templates

Resume Help with a Creative Twist

Jan 12, 2010 Karen Masullo

Many web resume and portfolio companies can help job seekers look professional, but one wants to make them look beautiful as well.

Job seekers look for interesting ways to stand out to potential employers, and interactive resumes and web portfolios are a great way to maintain a living, current work archive that is easily accessible.
A new player in this space is...Read the rest of this article at Suite101: Resume Templates: Resume Help with a Creative Twist

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Tips for Job Seekers - A Job Search Social Media to-do List

Just published a new article at Suite101: Tips for Job Seekers: A Job Search Social Media to-do List 

 "It's a new year, and for those currently in career transition, these Social Media action items may help start or re-energize the job search."  Read more at Suite101: Tips for Job Seekers: A Job Search Social Media to-do List by Karen Masullo
Also read a GREAT article from Alison's Job Searching Blog By Alison Doyle, Guide to Job Searching on Paying for Job Listings
"Regardless of what you read, it's important to be aware that job seekers don't have to pay to access listings from employer web sites...more)

Friday, January 8, 2010

Willows Marsh Partners with CareerAdvantagePortal!

Willows Marsh is pleased and thrilled to announce a new partnership with the brilliant folks at CareerAdvantagePortal!

CareerAdvantage provides relevant, actionable business information and career campaign management tools to help candidates (from entry level to C-level executives) research potential employers, identify new relationships, and find "hidden" job opportunities.

Willows Marsh Outplacement and Career Transition Partners with CareerAdvantage Portal from Karen Masullo on Vimeo.

Want to research your contacts on LinkedIn? CareerAdvantagePortal is integrated and seamlessly displays your LinkedIn contacts with one click .

Career Advantage Company Search

Additionally, the career portal contains fast, accurate information including in-depth information on millions of companies and key executives, a national recruiter database, hidden job opportunities obtained directly from employer’s web sites.

The future of career search belongs to those professionals who have access to superior business intelligence and know how to use it. CareerAdvantage offers candidates a competitive advantage with access to in-depth company profiles, "hidden" job opportunities comprehensive recruiter databases and online career networking tools.

CareerAdvantage provides candidates and career professionals tools they can use to research companies that may be hiring. Career Advantage contains rich content on millions of business, executive contacts, recruiters, job postings, "hidden" job opportunities, and includes social networking tools and a built in CRM system to track and manage the job search.

Career Advantage Company Search
Comprehensive Company Search
Search millions of potential employers within our Career Portal or research companies before you interview with them.

Career Advantage Job Opportunities 

Hidden Job Opportunities
Receive information and indicators about companies that are expanding, and will be hiring. Many of our "job triggers" indicate new products, signing new custom contracts, hiring senior executives and indicate a need to hire new employees BEFORE they publicly post a job.

Career Advantage Search by companies and executives

Advanced Search by Companies & Executives
Use advanced search to filter out companies and find potential employers that meet your criteria such as industry, size location, title, or even a keyword searches such as “Harvard MBA” or “IBM”.

Job postings from employers

Job Postings from Employers
Find “hidden” job opportunities. CareerAdvantage aggregates job postings directly from employer web sites and updates the listings each day. Many of these job postings are never listed on some of the Job Board web sites such as, or

Career Advantage recruiter search database

Recruiter Search Database
Search for thousands of recruiters around the country.  Our database includes detailed information such as retained recruiters, contingency recruiters, industry specialization and positions (i.e. marketing, C-level, entry level, finance, sales, etc.).

Career Advantage Track Job Opportunities

Manage and Track Job Opportunities
The average candidate researches over two hundred potential employers and may apply to dozens of job opportunities. Career Advantage makes it easy for candidates to track and manage their search online.

Contact us today at or Toll-Free:  866-214-5445 for an Overview of our complete Outplacement and Career Transitions solutions.  Whether you are a Company seeking to provide best of class transition services to your workforce, or an individual wishing to accelerate your job search, Willows Marsh provides affordable, customized solutions.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009



Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Behavioral Interviewing Part II - Practice makes perfect

I received some great email comments regarding the post on Behavioral Interviewing, and have decided to keep this ongoing by posting, every month, a different set of Behavioral Questions for you to practice.  With the Holidays upcoming, you may want to leverage some of your downtime by thinking about these.  Answering tough questions for the first time in the actual interview is unwise, so answer here first.

You can also run your answers by us and our readers by posting in the comments section.

The first step in Career Transition is Self Assessment.  These Behavioral Questions target this specific area.  Have at it!

Self Assessment

  1. Can you recall a time when you were less than pleased with your performance?
  2. Describe a situation in which you were able to use persuasion to successfully convince someone to see things your way.
  3. Give a specific occasion in which you conformed to a policy with which you did not agree.
  4. Give an example of an important goal that you had set in the past and talk about your success in reaching it.
  5. If there is one area you've always wanted to improve upon, what would that be?
  6. In what ways are you trying to improve yourself?
  7. Tell us about a time when you had to go above and beyond the call of duty in order to get a job done.
  8. What do you consider to be your professional strengths? Give me a specific example using this attribute in the workplace.
  9. What goal have you set for yourself that you have successfully achieved?
  10. What was the most useful criticism you ever received?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Need Some Validation?

"Validation" is a fable about the magic of free parking.

Starring TJ Thyne & Vicki Davis. Writer/Director/Composer - Kurt Kuenne. Winner - Best Narrative Short, Cleveland Int'l Film Festival, Winner - Jury Award, Gen Art Chicago Film Festival, Winner - Audience Award, Hawaii Int'l Film Festival, Winner - Best Short Comedy, Breckenridge Festival of Film, Winner - Crystal Heart Award, Best Short Film & Audience Award, Heartland Film Festival, Winner - Christopher & Dana Reeve Audience Award, Williamstown Film Festival, Winner - Best Comedy, Dam Short Film Festival, Winner - Best Short Film, Sedona Int'l Film Festival.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

What happens when you get laid off? How about you make a movie?

I am so inspired by this project, and I hope you will be too.

If you'd like to help the Lemonade project, you can contribute here. Your donation will go to legal fees, distribution costs, and screening expenses. Again, nothing is expected. But every bit matters. Thank you.

About Lemonade, the Movie:

More than 130,000 advertising professionals have lost their jobs in this Great Recession. Lemonade is about what happens when people who were once paid to be creative in advertising are forced to be creative with their own lives.


News from Eric Proulx:

In case you're in the advertising industry and haven't heard yet, BBDO in Detroit is closing its doors after losing the Chrysler account, laying off nearly 500 people. It's the latest in a long string of bad news for the Detroit ad community.

As Todd Gilleland of Cola Creative describes it, no one in Detroit leaves their homes anymore. No one socializes or attends Red Wings or Pistons games. It's an entire population trying to figure out how to survive.

Eric is working closely with Todd to bring an event and screening of Lemonade to Detroit. Tentatively planned for December 17, we want people to come out of seclusion, even if for a night, to watch a movie and enjoy each others' company. And maybe, collectively, we can start to think about what's next.

Ideally, we'd love to find a sponsor or two to fund it, including the costs of getting my partner and I out there, food & beverages. (The venue is graciously being donated by Ringside Creative.) So if you know anyone in Detroit who might want to be associated with this event, please do no hesitate to give them my name.

As for distribution of the film, there's still no official news to report. But if you happen to be in Miami next week, there is a pre-screening at Books and Books next Tuesday, November 17. You can register at

Stay tuned. And thank you for all your support!
Erik Proulx

PS - If you'd like to help the Lemonade project, you can contribute here. Your donation will go to legal fees, distribution costs, and screening expenses. Again, nothing is expected. But every bit matters. Thank you.


If you are in Boston/Cambridge area, please support the movie's Premiere.

Monday, 11/30 7:00 PM, premiere for movie Lemonade at the Brattle Theater Cambridge, MA

In addition to the movie, creator Eric Proulx is writing a book as well. Here is his call for submissions:

"Lemonade, the book will assemble a collection of essays from people telling stories of reinvention in their own words. Only this time, I don't want to limit it to the advertising industry. Imagine all the inspirational personal triumphs that arose after the auto industry crash. Think of all the school teachers, engineers, and finance professionals who have found their life's work thanks to being downsized. Those of us in advertising provide just one, very sheltered viewpoint of what's possible in unemployment.

If you lost your job but found your calling, Eric wants to hear from you:

"You can submit a simple abstract of your experience, or an entire 1k - 3k word essay. (I want this to be more about the quality of your story and less about the quality of the writing. If your story is inspiring enough, we'll get it written.)

Here are the general guidelines for your submission:

  1. It can be a 1-paragraph abstract, 3000-word essay, or anything in between. But is has to communicate your inspirational post-layoff story.
  2. The submission must be an original, unpublished work.
  3. There's no submission fee or cash prize. This is simply a forum to tell your story and inspire others who need to hear it.
  4. All entries become the property of Please Feed The Animals and Fighting Monk, Inc (the legal entity for my business).
  5. I want to be ambitious about getting this completed. So all submissions must be received by November 30.
Please email submissions to me directly at with the title "Lemonade Essay."
And if anyone knows anything about the process of book publishing and wants to lend a hand, I'm not shy about accepting the help.
Thanks everyone. Hopefully there will be more news about the movie with my next email.
Erik Proulx"

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Well Hello, Where Have you Been all my Life?

ALERT JOB SEARCHERS: Research just got a whole lot easier for free!

I've told you never to approach a company without a firm understanding of why you're approaching them, based upon extensive research you conduct on your target companies.

Toward that aim, we've used a variety of free and proprietary databases, but the best ones are very expensive. Not anymore.

Meet launched today, and I am impressed. In the past, I was a buyer of information services, and I have reviewed hundreds of companies who offer less than this at premium prices.

From company breaking news, extensive bios, and customized watchlists, Tracked goes one step further than "old school" databases, and makes it social; profiles, 140 character messages, connections, groups and more.

Go get an account - understand they are in Beta, and will be improving and adding features as they go forward, and at times the server may slow a bit, but jump in now. Visit the "Tour" link for great walk-throughs, and their youtube channel at is chock-full of good demos.

Next, Connect to me @ to start your connection list.

Then research your target list! Using in combination with other search tools will absolutely prove valuable to you in your job search and interviews.

A note to users regarding record accuracy: ALL research databases are only as good as the information that is confirmed by principals in the company, and data is generally updated on a rotating basis. Ideally, data should not be modified based upon anything other than a company authorized principal confirming the modification. All databases - Hoovers, OneSource, D&B, etc. will have inaccuracies even in their premium pay subscriptions - it's the nature of the beast as people move on to new roles & companies and it may take a bit for the updates to be confirmed, so double-check, and expect occasional discrepancies.

from Miles Lennon of "We spend many cycles on creating new ways to curate data both algorithmically and manually. Although we're striving for near-perfect accuracy, we understand that sometimes incorrectly reported data will hit the site. That is the nature of the beast, but it's one of the many reasons this project is so intellectually stimulating."

And, folks, this company just launched and I heard from the support team immediately! Within ten minutes of my inquiry, I had a response. Outstanding!

I'm a fan! Can you tell?

Friday, October 9, 2009

Any one can get a Nobel Peace Prize - On Google Wave

As seen on Twitter: "RT @mozami OH: Sure, President Obamas got a Nobel. But did he get a Google Wave invite?"

(This is a file from the Wikimedia Commons.
Created by User:Evil_saltine using Graph 2.6, Photoshop, and Microsoft GIF Animator)

I've been experimenting with Google Wave for about 3 hours now. I like it, but then I like waves. Sine, sound, standing, and now Google.

To start with the basics, the default view has two main panes, with a simple menu on the far left of the two panes. For my screen-shot below, I'm only showing the two main panes.

When creating a wave, you either invite only specific Google wave users to join, or you make it public.
  • To make a wave private for only a select group of users, create a wave and select only specific people from your contact list.
  • To make a wave public, you add to your contacts, and then add that contact to the wave.
The left pane is the Wave In-box. This includes private and public waves. To get started, the key search term is [with:public]. Remove my brackets. Using this command, I see every wave currently public.

By viewing with:public, all waves appear.

Once I open a specific wave, it will appear on the right-hand side of my view, next to my main in-box pane. I can re-size these panes to suit my view.

If I leave a wave and return later, I can then see the number of new responses indicated by a green icon, and when I open the wave, I hit the SHIFT key on my keyboard to forward to any new messages I haven't read.

I can join in, read, drag other waves into a wave, and a wealth of other actions I'll cover in another post.

To focus in on a specific interest, subject, or group, I narrow my search terms. In my last example, I used search term with:public Charleston, SC.

In this way I found local folks, and a wealth of helpful advice. Thank you Calvin Webster!

Tomorrow, I'm going to experiment with adding Blogger and Twitter Robots, and next week I'll be real-time collaborating on a paper via Google Wave with a very talented CTO (more on that later).

Thursday, October 8, 2009

I'm on the Wave!

Well, I received my Googlewave invite about an hour ago, stumbled around for 15 minutes, and then broke down and read some of the massive help material.

I gotta' tell ya', so far I like it. I conducted a quick search and found a group of 61 users in my local city, added them to my contacts, and had a great chat with Calvin D. Webster II of Calvin is also coordinating Charleston's first BarCamp. Cool guy.

I'll post screenshots tomorrow with some quick navigation tips. I will say for the record, it's easier to navigate and use than I first thought it would be.

Nice job Google. Now let's see what we can do with it.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Dressing for the Job Interview for Men

From those great guys at

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Mass Layoffs Summary from DOL

Related to the below data, if you are in transition, you have to think like an independent contractor.

The way you secure work today is by establishing yourself as an expert and developing opportunities to solve problems in your area of expertise with other folks in the same situation. Crowdsolve. That is the bottom-line.

Make sure you understand Social Media tools as well; build your brand via your Google Profile, a blog, Twitter, LinkedIn and tools like VisualCV.

If you say none of these things are for you or don't relate to you, you will struggle in the current highly competitive climate.


Employers took 2,690 mass layoff actions in August that resulted in the separation of
259,307 workers, seasonally adjusted, as measured by new filings for unemployment insurance benefits during the month, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Each action involved at least 50 persons from a single employer. The number of mass layoff events in August increased by 533 from the prior month, and the number of associated initial claims increased by 52,516. Over the year, the number of mass layoff events increased by 803, and associated initial claims increased by 70,356. Year-to-date mass layoff events (21,184) and initial claims (2,162,202) both recorded program highs through August. In August, 900 mass layoff events were reported in the manufacturing sector, seasonally adjusted, resulting in 93,892 initial claims. Over the month, the number of manufacturing events increased by 279, and associated initial claims increased by 21,626. (See table 1.)

During the 21 months from December 2007 through August 2009, the total number of mass layoff events (seasonally adjusted) was 44,669, and the number of initial claims filed (seasonally adjusted) in those events was 4,556,636. (December 2007 was the start of a recession as designated by the National Bureau of Economic Research.)

The national unemployment rate was 9.7 percent in August 2009, seasonally adjusted, up from 9.4 per-cent the prior month and up from 6.2 percent a year earlier. In August, total nonfarm payroll employment decreased by 216,000 over the month and by 5,830,000 from a year earlier.

Industry Distribution (Not Seasonally Adjusted)

The number of mass layoff events in August was 1,428 on a not seasonally adjusted basis; the number of associated initial claims was 125,024. (See table 2.) Average weekly layoff events rose from 285 in August 2008 to 357 in August 2009, and average weekly initial claims increased from 28,000 to 31,256. Seven of the 19 major industry sectors reported program highs in terms of average weekly initial claimants for t
he month of August: construction; wholesale trade; retail trade; management of companies and enterprises; educational services; arts, entertainment, and recreation; and accommodation and food services. (Average weekly analysis mitigates the effect of differing lengths of months. See the Technical Note.)

The manufacturing sector accounted for 31 percent of all mass layoff events and 33 percent of initial claims filed in August 2009. A year earlier, manufacturing made up 29 percent of events and 37 percent of initial claims. Within manufacturing, transportation equipment comprised the largest number of aver-age weekly claims (2,269) despite experiencing the largest decrease in average weekly initial claims over the year (-1,688) among three-digit NAICS industries. (See table 3.) The administrative and waste services sector accounted for 14 percent of mass layoff events and 12 percent of initial claims, down from 15 and 14 percent, respectively, the previous August. Construction accounted for 11 percent of events and 10 percent of initial claims, an increase from 10 percent of events and 7 percent of claims in August 2008.

Of the 10 detailed industries with the largest number of mass layoff initial claims, 3 reached a series high for August: motorcycle, bicycle, and parts manufacturing; warehouse clubs and supercenters; and casino hotels. The industry with the largest number of initial claims was temporary help services (6,721). (See table A.)

Table A. Industries with the largest number of mass layoff initial claims in August 2009

Geographic Distribution (Not Seasonally Adjusted)

Among the 4 census regions, the West registered the highest number of initial claims in August due to mass layoffs (36,897), followed by the Midwest (32,197) and the South (29,486). (See table 5.) Average weekly initial claims associated with mass layoffs increased over the year in 3 of the 4 regions, with the Northeast experiencing the largest increase (+2,064). In 2009, the Northeast reported its highest August level of average weekly initial claims (6,611) in program history.

Of the 9 geographic divisions, the Pacific (30,781) had the highest number of initial claims due to mass layoffs in August, followed by the East North Central (25,962) and the Middle Atlantic (23,491). (See table 5.) Seven of the 9 divisions experienced over-the-year increases in average weekly initial claims, led by the Middle Atlantic (+1,786). This year, the Middle Atlantic, Mountain, and South Atlantic divisions reached program highs for August in terms of average weekly initial claims.

California recorded the highest number of average weekly initial claims in August, with 6,521, even though it had the largest over-the-year decrease in average weekly claims (-704). The over-the-year decrease was largely due to a drop in claims from the administrative and support services industry. The states with the next highest number of average weekly initial claims were New York (2,851), Pennsylvania (2,481), and Florida (1,949). Thirty states and the District of Columbia experienced over-the-year increases in average weekly initial claims, led by Pennsylvania, New York, and Illinois. In 2009, eight states reached program highs in average weekly initial claims for the month of August: Alaska, Arizona, Hawaii, Illinois, Nevada, New York, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin.


The monthly data series in this release cover mass layoffs of 50 or more workers beginning in a given month, regardless of the duration of the layoffs. For private nonfarm establishments, information on the length of the layoff is obtained later and issued in a quarterly release that reports on mass layoffs lasting more than 30 days (referred to as "extended mass layoffs"). The quarterly release provides more inform-at ion on the industry classification and location of the establishment and on the demographics of the laid-off workers. Because monthly figures include short-term layoffs of 30 days or less, the sum of the figures for the 3 months in a quarter will be higher than the quarterly figure for mass layoffs of more than 30 days. (See table 4.) See the Technical Note for more detailed definitions.

Mass Layoffs in September 2009 is scheduled to be released on Thursday, October 22, 2009, at 10:00 a.m. (EDT).

Metropolitan area over-the-year unemployment rate increases, August 2009

For the eighth consecutive month, all of the nation's 372 metropolitan areas had over-the-year unemployment rate increases. The largest jobless rate increase from August 2008 to August 2009 was reported in Detroit-Warren-Livonia, Michigan (+7.9 percentage points), followed by Muskegon-Norton Shores, Michigan (+7.0 points).

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Introducing Belbin Team Roles!

My friend and a co-collaborator Steve Jandrell of CandidAdvisors (I consult to CandidAdvisors) has introduced me to Belbin Team Roles. Steve is certified in administering the Belbin, and we used it so we might collaborate more effectively.

Well, I loved it and encourage you to consider a Belbin workshop for your team. While I am promoting this for a partner, I have been through it as well, and have seen how utilizing the knowledge gained about self-perception can impact a team's achievement.

The Belbin was developed by Dr. Meredith Belbin and his team who conducted research at Henley Management College in the UK over a period of nine years and studied the behavior of managers from all over the world. Their book, Management Teams - Why They Succeed or Fail was cited by the Financial Times as one of the top fifty business books of all time.

Steve has developed a workshop around the Belbin, and you can read more at CandidAdvisors

Friday, August 28, 2009

Waht Typo? 6 Simple Tips for Web Profile Quality

Is a typo on a paper-based resume worse than a typo on the web?

I'm active on LinkedIn. I like it. Occasionally, while reading someone’s profile, I'll notice a typo. Common ones I see are “employement” and “developement.” I generally drop a quick note to the profile owner and mention it. I usually receive a nice thank you in return.

I think I'm more forgiving when I see these web-based profile typos than when I see the typo committed to paper.

Yesterday however, I was reading a web-based news story from a major news outlet and shuddered when I read the word "suspisions" in the body of the story.

While I understand the web-typo - we move fast, type directly into a CMS, read something so many times it looks correct - there are certain instances where I feel it's unacceptable, and that's for the job seeker (and for the major news outlet, but that's another blog post).

As I've said before, during a job search, every piece of information you put out for public view is the first example of your work product.

For me, a typo shows a lack of thoroughness, and I'm not alone in that point of view.

It only takes a moment to type your information into Word or some other application that allows spell-checking and review. Dictionaries, both web-based and old-school, are readily available. I personally use Firefox as my browser, and have selected Check Spelling as I type (under “Options,” I love this feature).

So I was wondering: What are other people’s tolerances for the dreaded typo? I created a poll on LinkedIn to find out, and frankly, I was surprised at how forgiving certain demographics of responders are. Tips to avoid typos are at the end:

Top of Form

The Poll: 63 Responders

The Responses:

By OCCUPATION: HR folks were more forgiving than I would have assumed, but just barely. The most forgiving group were Operations folks, the most unforgiving Product:

By COMPANY SIZE: Small and Enterprise-level companies were the most flexible, Medium-size the least:

BY JOB TITLE: If you're interviewing with the Owner or C-Suite level of a company, you are more likely to be forgiven than if you are speaking to Management. The C-Suite is also more likely to let you know you have an error:

By GENDER: There ya' go. Pretty straightforward with men being a little bit more flexible (but not much):

By AGE: the lower the age, the less tolerant:

Last, the OVERALL: DON'T have a typo; you may still receive contact; about a 25% chance you may be notified, and people do appreciate being told they have a typo, but if such a small percentage is telling, how do you know?

the point, don't wait to be told.

How to Avoid the dreaded typo whether you are job searching or not:
  1. Start your document, blog post, VisualCV, Google profile etc. in Word or a like application. Check your Document Review settings - make sure you do not have options set to ignore words in Caps or other terms. Spell- and Grammar-check.
  2. Do not automatically accept word processor suggestions: Somewhere, out there today, is a major proposal that has the word "seamy" where "seamlessly" should have been. Really changed the meaning of the paragraph.
  3. Copy your text into Notepad to strip underlying formatting & HTML that may create issues if you are pasting into a CMS.
  4. Copy and paste using a Browser that has a spell-check option.
  5. Used web-based resources if you are in doubt of spelling or meaning of a word. from Miriam-Webster is a good, free tool. There are many others.
  6. Have an objective party review whenever possible, or set the work aside for at least a couple of hours so you may review it with "fresh" eyes.
I also received some good comments from participants:

Did you find a typo in this post? Let me know, would ya'? OPCGal on Twitter

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

How To Fire Half Your Company Without Being Hated

Video courtesy of

Henry Blodget CEO & Editor-in-Chief of The Business Insider, in a short interview with Kevin P. Ryan, one of Silicon Alley's most well known Internet entrepreneurs. Mr. Ryan has started six New York-based businesses - Silicon Alley Insider, Gilt Groupe, Music Nation, Panther Express, ShopWiki and 10gen in the past two years. He presently serves as chairman and CEO of AlleyCorp.

Prior to AlleyCorp, he was first president then later became CEO of DoubleClick. There, he was instrumental in building the company from a 20-person startup to a global leader with over 1500 employees. Silicon Alley Reporter voted DoubleClick "New York Company of the Year" and Kevin was named one of the "50 Most Influential Business People" by Crain's New York Business.

A great Outplacement and Career Transition partner can certainly help any CEO in this situation as well.

Helping employees transition with dignity is a huge part of preserving your company's brand in down times, especially if you wish to re-engage transitioned talent at some point in the future.

Monday, July 27, 2009

When did Rude Become the New Black? Tell me YOUR Story

Situation 1: I was standing in a check-out line at the grocery. The person behind me had a six-pack of a carbonated adult beverage. One can from the six-pack chose to make its escape, experienced a little thing called gravity, hit the ground, burst open and sprayed the back of my legs (and a lovely new pair of sandals I might add). The cashier called for a mop. The holder of the now five-pack issued an expletive. No one said "Oh excuse me" or "pardon me" or "sorry about your legs now smelling like a brew-house."

Situation 2: 45 minute commuter flight from Charleston to Atlanta. My head was smacked twice by luggage - once going in the overhead, once coming out. I do not have an overly large head. I am 5'1" inches tall. I am not an easy target. I also understand that these things happen, but would an "excuse me" kill you?

Situation 3: Same flight. De-plane time. Man three rows behind me grabs luggage and lunges in front of other folks who are attempting to exit in a polite, row-by-row manner. The plane is not late, we are 3 minutes early. He crushes the foot of a gentleman attempting to stand and exit. He does not slow down or acknowledge his victim. I look at crushed-foot man sympathetically.

Situation 4: Line in airport restroom. 70-something woman in front of me mowed down by 30-something woman exiting stall with cell-phone glued to ear who does not slow down, but rather glares at 70-something woman for having the audacity to occupy space. I apologize loudly on behalf of all persons who are offended by rude behavior. Cell-phone woman rolls her eyes and click-clacks away.

From the people who dead-stop to chat at the bottom of the escalator to those whose entire private lives are broadcast via their overly loud public cell-phone conversations I say STOP!

Simple civility is called for. Are we so preoccupied with our own self-importance that we have forgotten we occupy this Earth with other humans? Have we become so used to inferior service in the marketplace that we undervalue our own service interactions with others?

Let me tell you this: I was once cut off in traffic by someone who then glared at me and saluted in the traditional one-finger manner. Twenty minutes later she walked into my office for an interview. She did not get the job.

Do me a favor please? Practice civility each day. Hold a door, step out of the way, lower your voice, be aware of your surroundings and respect other people's space. Say "excuse me" "thank you" "please".

And stop hitting my head with your luggage. Please?

Thank you.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

ScamWays - Keep Your Money in Your Pocket

While in Atlanta on business this week, I mused with Bill Frech and Steve Jandrell of CandidAdvisors ( - disclosure - I am also a member of their consulting team), that I had seen a repetitive bit of SPAM on Twitter announcing "Make $180 a day the easy way! I can show you how!" and how tired and frustrated I was that these leeches continue to prey on the recently downsized.

The too sad truth is that many recently downsized, severanced, gotta' roll my 401k over transitioned employees in this very tight job market are perfect targets for thieves, scammers and the pitiful, dishonest, manipulative bottom-feeders of the Web/Franchise/Affiliate/Whatever Marketing world.

Am I being harsh on these Marketers? Yes, yes I am, and I make no apologies.

I have run two businesses folks, and it's a wonderful thing to create a vision, a quality standard, a deliverable, and a customer base that trusts you. It takes work, focus, and a whole bunch of other stuff, but what it does not take is giving a stranger $x dollars to show you how they made millions with some passive Twitter/Facebo
ok/Pyramid party.

The likelihood of your retiring on your yacht as a result of your $x dollar investment is e
qual to that emailing Dr/Barrister/Representative from Nairobi/Nigeria/Wherever who wants to send you $4.6 million from a long lost relative if only you'll pay the handling fees out of the initial (bad) check they send you. It ain't gonna' happen.

Please understand as well, that many of these folks who look so nice, have such nice bios, have pictures of their kids as their Twitter Avatars are robots - automated feeds owned by one person with many, many "spoof" accounts made up to fit your fantasy - your demographic profile - of what a trusted person looks and sounds like.

If I can tell you one thing, it is Please invest your time in your job search in investing in YOURSELF.

At the end of this month at his annual appreciation dinner, my pal Paul Zaio is having a speaker from the FBI present a talk on security and scams. Here's a bit from the FBI's website on this subject - specifically for Job-Seekers:

Here are a few of the most common work-at-home scams.

  • Advance-fee: Starting a home-based business is easy! Just invest a few hundred dollars in inventory, set-up, and training materials, they say. Of course, if and when the materials do come, they are totally worthless…and you’re stuck with the bill.
  • Counterfeit check-facilitated "mystery shopper:" You’re sent a hefty check and asked to deposit it into your bank account, then withdraw funds to shop and check out the service of local stores and wire transfer companies. You keep a small amount of the money for your “work,” but then, as instructed, mail or wire the rest to your “employer.” Sound good? One problem: the initial check was phony, and by the time your bank notifies you, your money is long gone and you’re on the hook for the counterfeit check.
  • Pyramid schemes: You’re hired as a “distributor” and shell out big bucks for promotional materials and product inventories with little value (like get-rich quick pamphlets). You’re promised money for recruiting more distributors, so you talk friends and family into participating. The scheme grows exponentially but then falls apart—the only ones who make a profit are the criminals who started it.
  • Unknowing involvement in criminal activity: Criminals—often located overseas—sometimes use unwitting victims to advance their operations, steal and launder money, and maintain anonymity. For example, they may “hire" you as a U.S.-based agent to receive and re-ship checks, merchandise, and solicitations to other potential victims…without you realizing it’s all a ruse that leaves no trail back to the crooks.

What can you do to avoid being scammed? We recommend you practice safe surfing by taking the following steps:

  • THINK TWICE about telling all on your online résumé. Do you really need to provide detailed personal information? Consider posting your résumé more anonymously…with an e-mail address as your primary contact point.
  • NEVER provide a potential employer with your bank account or credit card information, a scan of your driver’s license or other ID, or a detailed physical description of yourself. That’s just asking for trouble.
  • NEVER pay upfront for any job opportunity (they’re supposed to be paying you!) and never forward, transfer, or wire money to a prospective employer.
  • BE WARY of job listings with misspellings, grammatical mistakes, and terms such as “money transfers,” “wiring funds,” “package-forwarding,” and “import/export specialist.” Those are big clues that something is amiss.

Illinois Secretary of State - Get Rich Quick Employment Scams

FBI: Cybertheft Division

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

United Breaks Guitars: The Power of Social Media

Watch the Video and then read the full story Here

Friday, June 19, 2009

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Taking Financial Stock During Career Transition: Part I of II

Recently, my friend Paul Zaio and I were discussing the financial impact of job loss and career transition, and I asked Paul what the number one piece of advice he would give

to a professional in transition. Well, Paul has ten points of advice that we'll cover in this two-part series, and I hope Paul will contribute more often.

A little about Paul:
Paul J. Zaio, CFS is a 17-year professional in the financial industry. He specializes in working with those who want to protect their principal and ensure that their money lasts a lifetime. He resides in Mount Pleasant, S.C., is a member of the LPL Directors Club, and teaches financial education at universities and corporations, and is a genuinely nice guy.

10 Financial Questions & Answers for Job Changers - Part 1 - One through Six

Getting you started on the next chapter of your life.

What’s the purpose of this blog posting?

Changing careers is a decision that deserves almost as much attention as starting a family, buying a home or retirement. Career changes can have a profound effect on both your finances and your lifestyle. That’s why it’s so important to approach a job change with three things: knowledge, goals, and a plan.

Knowledge. In an era of forms and paperwork, changing jobs has become increasingly complex. There are many available options in regards to compensation and benefits, but many pitfalls as well. Knowledge of these is crucial to ensure getting the most out of both your job and future retirement.

Goals. Changing jobs is not just about a new place of employment. It’s about living comfortably and well, about fulfilling your dreams and building a legacy. The successful job hunter sets goals that are designed to fulfill these objectives.

Plan. Application of knowledge and reaching goals means having a plan. This report is designed to be the first step in creating that plan.

Below are ten of the most common and important questions you can ask regarding a job change – specifically in regards to how it will affect your retirement savings.

The accompanying questions are designed to be quick, helpful references to you as you begin readying yourself for new employment.

What do I do with it?

Some will use this as a handy reference from which they can always draw. Still others may use this as a kind of jumping off point – once knowing the kinds of questions to ask, they can then begin researching the answers with greater attention and thoroughness.

Finally, many people find that subjects such as 401(k)’s and IRA rollovers are easiest to manage with the help of an expert financial professional, someone who can advise them on everything from the proper investments to retirement planning to managing their existing assets. The choices are limited only by your own imagination.

A quick glossary of terms:

IRA – An Individual Retirement Account is a retirement plan that provides tax advantages for retirement savings. There are several different types, that may be either employer or self-provided.

401(k) – A retirement plan in which an employee chooses to have a portion of his wages deferred directly into a 401(k) account. The money in this account is usually tax-deferred, and most employers will provide a number of investment options that provide an opportunity for the employee to augment his savings.

Roll-over – A tax-free reinvestment or transfer from one retirement plan to another. For example, to transfer assets from a 401(k) to an IRA. Many employees, upon changing jobs, transfer the money from their previous employer’s retirement account to one provided by their new employer.

10 Questions & Answers for Job Changers - Part 1 Questions One through Six

1) What financial preparations should I make before changing my job or if I feel a layoff is imminent?

1. Stay up-to-date. Even if you aren’t actively seeking new employment, it pays to stay on top of your resume and talents. It’s the best way to both seize a sudden opportunity, and ensure your ability to bounce back swiftly should you suddenly need new employment.

2. Review vesting schedules. Double-check your retirement plans at your current job. Are you vested? If not, how much longer before you are? How much will the benefit be? This ensures that you leave your job at the right time – in other words, not a few months before you become fully vested. Knowing the right time to change jobs can guard you from the perils of a hasty decision – and potentially save you thousands of dollars.

3. Build a rainy-day account. Having cash set aside to help through your transition (no matter how smooth that transition may be) is a good idea, since you may go for sometime without a paycheck. In addition, that extra margin of safety can be a lifeline should your job be unexpectedly downsized. The last thing you want to do is find yourself unprepared and have to rely on high-interest credit cards to keep you afloat.

4. Educate yourself on finances. This report is a good first step, but one of the best things a job-changer (or pre-retiree) can do is continually educate themselves on finances. For example, research the best options for your IRA. Many people make the mistake of cashing out of their retirement plan when they leave their job. This creates a significant tax burden, and really sets your retirement savings back. It’s also unnecessary. When you move your money to an IRA, you control when and how much you take out because you now have direct ownership. It will also allow you to continue delaying taxes. Learning simple (but essential) facts like these are the best investments.

2) What about early retirement? How do I know if that’s an option?

The advantages of an early retirement are obvious. However, the financial challenges are significant, and should be carefully considered when pondering early retirement. The earlier you retire means the longer you must live off an income that does not come from a steady paycheck. Social Security is helpful but often not enough to provide the desired lifestyle. Early retirement means increased reliance on pensions and retirement savings. Thus, the only way to know if early retirement is right for you is to take a long, hard look at the numbers. Is your portfolio large enough to provide for 15, 20, 30 years of unemployment?

A person’s needs will vary, but do you know what your needs are? How much will your dreams cost? To find out, your best bet is to run a retirement budget alongside a tax-and-income projection with the help of a financial professional.

3) When can I start withdrawing money from my IRA?

The normal age at which you can begin distributions is 59 ½.

4) How do I handle a severance packages?

First you must decide how to receive your severance package, should you be offered a choice. If you would like to immediately invest your money, taking a lump sum is advisable. However, because severance pay is usually taxable, spreading out your package into multiple payouts make taxation easier to handle.

Balancing immediate needs versus your overall goals is also important. Paying bills or eliminating debt may be a necessity when receiving your severance, however it’s never a good idea to spend the entire amount. Allocate the minimum you need into your checking account, and the rest into conservative investments that will give you a higher return than a simple checking account. This balance will help you both use and grow your money should you seek a different job.

5) What are my options for the money that is in my 401(k) or other pension?

Usually there are four broad choices, each with different advantages and disadvantages:
  • A. Leave it invested in what the company offers
  • B. Annuitize and receive an income for life
  • C. Withdraw the account balance, potentially pay a 10%penalty on top of taxes, and then invest the funds
  • D. Roll over to an IRA or other pension fund, paying no penalty, and continue to defer the income tax.
6) Why should I consider a rollover to an IRA?

An IRA offers the possibility of higher returns and increasing income potential. The account can be rolled over tax-deferred to a surviving spouse with the remaining balance distributed to beneficiaries at the death of the spouse.

End of Part 1. Part 2 Monday June 21st. Have a question for Paul? Leave a comment and he'll respond and as always, our thanks.

To learn more or contact Paul Zaio:

Paul Zaio, CFS, RIS
LPL Registered Principal / LPL Branch Manager

Securities offered through LPL Financial
A Registered Investment Advisor, Member FINRA/SIPC

1156 Bowman Road, Ste 200—Mount Pleasant, SC 29464
Phone: 843-416-1144
Toll free: 888-277-0095

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