Most Popular Outsourced Jobs

outsourced jobsMany companies are realizing that they can outsource jobs to other companies and save their company money. Instead of paying benefits and salaries to more employees, they would pay a contract fee for the job being outsourced.

Collection Agencies

In today’s times, many people have experienced the situation of having to talk to a collection agency employee. Credit card companies, department stores, doctors and many other businesses have outsourced their collection of overdue payments to other companies. These collection agencies hire local people to call on clients who owe money to businesses and arrange for payments to be made. When money is collected, the collection agency would be paid a fee out of what is collected. The collection agency in turn pays the employee a salary and sometimes benefits or commissions, on what was collected.

The companies would get a percentage of what was collected, but would not have the expense of paying the salary, benefits or commissions. The companies would also benefit by outsourcing this type of business because they would not have to buy all the phones, computers, and staff to run a collection department. Companies could then focus on what their company produces and save money on their employee budget.

Customer Service Centers

Companies have outsourced their customer service calls to other companies who hire people who work from home to represent their clients. Customer service centers handle many different clients at one time. The call center will hire people to work from home to answer their client’s questions or take orders for products that are online. The employee would be set up with a high-speed Internet computer and be required to have a quiet space at home in which to work.

The employee would be a sub-contractor to the call center and would answer questions about the clients company and help customers who call in for information. Some of the clients may be selling products online and others may need employees to answer questions about their products. The employee would work from home and be given all the information needed about the client on their computer screen. The call center employee could answer questions about the customers account and settle disputes about orders.

The customer service center would be responsible for the employees and pay their salary, benefits and any other commissions that may be owed to the employee. This relieves the business that hired the call center, from the responsibility of the hiring and maintaining a customer service department.

Medical Billing

Physicians and health care providers often use a medical billing service to assure them of proper compensation for their services. Medical billing outsourcing companies work as intermediaries between both government-owned and private health care provides, with insurance companies.

Medical billing can be an extremely difficult process and errors in billing can be costly. With a professional billing service, physicians and health care providers are assured that their billing is handled with the proper coding. With proper coding, they receive payments from the insurance companies in a timely manner and have fewer aging account receivables. Accounts that are coded wrong usually sit on a desk waiting to be solved. A good billing company will handle all problems with the medical accounts and get the physician or health care provided paid for their services. The professional billing company also helps the patients from dealing with insurance companies and allows the doctors to do their job instead of wasting time on billing problems.

Physicians and health care provided who use a medical billing service would still have full access to all their billing accounts. The billing service would run medical software that would allow the client to log in and see all the process that is taking place for their billing. This software gives the clients the confidence that they are in control of their own billing, without the stress of doing the work.

Medical Transcription

Patient documentation needs to be complete and accurate. Medical transcription services make sure that they hire professional employees who understand the importance of accurate and timely documents that need to be transcribed. Quality assurance specialists work closely with all transcribers so that any medical questions or questionable writing can be transcribed properly. As a team, the specialists and transcribers work to assure all clients that their documentation is of the best quality and done in a timely manner.

Transcription services use medical software that will enhance the performance of getting your documents transcribed accurately. Voice activated technology is used to meet the needs of many clients. With the understanding of integrated speech technology, client documentation will be effectively executed to meet all HIPAA and other requirements.

Physicians and other health care providers would not have the expense of special software programs, equipment and transcription employees, when using a transcription service. Doctors and staff would then be able to care for their patients and pay attention to their needs.

Freelance Writers

Writers who work from home for other companies or even other writers are considered freelance writers. They can take on projects as small as an article or help a writer with a book. Freelance writers usually are contracted to work on single pieces of writing at one time. Writers are hired to design layouts for a companies advertising, write articles for Websites, or help another writer with a book. Most freelance writers are paid by the piece they write and then move on to another writing assignment.

If a company hires a writer to design a Website or an advertising campaign, he would be paid for that project and not be an employee of the company. Many small companies do not need a writer on staff at all times. Companies will outsource an advertising project in order to find potential customers for their business.

Freelance writers work on setting up blogs on the Internet for businesses, writing product reviews, researching travel adventures or informing the public on special events in their community. A freelance writer, who was hired by someone else for his work, could have written anything that is on the Internet.

photo by victorcastillo

7 Side Business Ideas that are Worth your Time

side business ideasThere are literally hundreds of articles online that talk about legitimate side business ideas.  Unfortunately, most of them talk about fluff jobs that are just simply not worth your time.  Do you want to make the big bucks or not?

This article is all about honing in your energy and placing it somewhere where the money will flood in.  You have to be strategic with the type of side business you start.  It’s stupid to just do something if you have a “passion” for it.  What if your passion doesn’t pay?  I think you see where I’m going with this.

Here are 7 side business ideas that are worth your time because they all can pay  huge dividends over the long term.  Another benefit of the following side jobs is that they are easily managed along-side a full time job!

Here we go:

 

Tutoring

I’ve seen some of my friends make BIG money through tutoring.  The real money is made in this side business with extremely wealthy families that are looking for someone to tutor their kids at home while they are at work.  I know of tutors who make a full time living out of this side business.  The beautify of it is that you can be flexible in terms of hours and often times weekends are the best times to tutor kids.  With the never ending pressure to have successful children, tutoring can be a great side venture while you work at your day job.

 

Blogging

Wow, all I can say about this is that it’s an incredible way to make money.  Figure out what you’re passionate about and the money will follow in the blogging world.  While blogging is not a get rich quick side business, it’s a sweet way to make long term passive income over time.  I blogged for free for 6 months and only survived because it was something I loved to do.  If you can survive the initial hump, blogging will put dollars in your wallet guaranteed.  Something similar to this is website acquisition.  If you have the cash, you can purchase a blog instead of building one up.  I recently did this with Redeeming Riches.  Instead of creating a second  successful  personal finance blog, I decided to purchase an authority site within the same industry.  After a payback period of a couple months, it’s pure profit going forward.  If you do this with multiple sites, the money can add up quite quickly.

 

E-bay store

If I had more time on my hands, I would start an E-bay store.  With very little overhead and the potential to make a killing, it’s a wonderful side business idea.  Most people go about this side business the wrong way.  If I did it, I’d make all my purchases off ultra-discounted sites like Woot and Whiskey Militia.  Buy your merchandise of choice through these sites and then tack on a 20% mark-up in your E-bay store.  It really is as simple as that.  I remember a TV that was on sale ($499) through a discount site and hundreds were available.  I checked Ebay and they were selling for $899.  See the potential with this?  It’s a very straight forward business model and one that can be done after work or on the weekends.  Rinse and repeat, you now have an endless stream of opportunities!

 

Freelance writer

When I first started blogging, I didn’t make a cent.  To help me achieve my goals, I ended up doing some freelance writing.  I contacted other big name bloggers and offered my freelance writing services.  At one point I was writing for twelve blogs on a weekly basis!  I was pulling in around $800/month and loving it!  Another huge benefit of freelance writing is that you can do it anywhere!  My favorite spot to freelance was the  local  Starbucks overlooking the beach.  It doesn’t get much better than that.  Think about all the time you waste during your lunch breaks, after work, and weekends.  Why not use some of that time to start your freelance career?  Recession or no recession, quality writing is always in style and there will always be a market for it.  I encourage you to try this side business out immediately!

 

Jack of all Trades

How many times have you found yourself frustrated with your lack of experience solving a plumbing leak or adjusting a new door in your house?  This is where a handy-man comes in.  People will always have small issues with their houses that don’t necessarily require a full blown general contractor.  I’ve been seeing handy-man businesses popping up all over the place and I understand why, they charge$60/hour!  So if you know you’re great with your hands or are an especially good problem solver, why not do some handy-man work on the weekends?  I’ve seen this type of side business turn into some significant income for people and it’s fairly easy to get started!  Also, once referrals start coming in, the marketing will take care of itself.

 

Nanny

This is one that I don’t have any personal experience with, but my future wife (Hannah) does.  She currently works as a nanny part time and is making great money.  As this is a referral game, making a good first impression and being responsible are critical to your long term success.  Again, this is a side business that requires no up-front investment and the hours are typically very flexible.  If you love working with kids and like the idea of getting paid to make babies laugh, then working as a nanny is for you!

 

Landscaping

I personally love landscaping and doing work out under the sun.  Much of my college tuition was paid for by odd-job landscaping projects, most being from Craig’s List.  Landscaping is another great side business to get involved in.  It’s awesome if you have a full time job or are a student in college because homeowners typically like having their landscaping done over the weekend when they can be around to watch.  To get started, you can start contacting family and friends.  Once you have a couple projects under your belt, you should plan for a flood of new clients coming in.  Who doesn’t want to hire someone they’re comfortable with?

 

It’s time to go make some greenbacks!

I’ve always been a huge fan of starting a side business.  Not only is it great to increase your income but it reduces the stress related to solely relying on your day job’s income.  It also provides you with an opportunity for YOU to be the boss, not your employer!

So do something you love and get paid for it.  If that’s not common sense, I don’t know what is!

 

Showing Your Lunch Break Who’s Boss!

lunch breakIt still amazes me to this day how people waste their lunch breaks.   I’m sure you can relate.   Think of all the people you’ve seen play online poker, surf the web needlessly, or even stare off into the distance as they eat lunch.   Lunch breaks can be used a tool instead of a time waster.

Now, let me clarify something.   I’m not saying it’s wrong for people to waste their lunches away, it’s really their prerogative.   However, it annoys me when people complain that they don’t have enough time in their day to talk to their wife, start working out, or even read a book.   It’s nonsense!

I personally use lunch breaks for productivity boosts.   As I run this blog, I use my personal break time to reach my goals faster.   And some days I use my lunch break to catch up on work emails so I don’t have to stay late.   Efficiency, efficiency, efficiency.   I like to work smarter, not harder.

Instead of wasting your lunch break away, let’s look at some ways you can use your lunch break to better yourself and use the time effectively!

 

Make your next lunch break EPIC

Get active.   Unless you live in remote Alaska where it’s negative 30 degrees outside, try to step out of your office and get active!   Being stuck inside of an ugly office all day is no fun.   It’s time to get outside and enjoy a little fresh air and sunshine.   Getting physical activity in at work has also shown to increase productivity in the workplace.

Catch up on current world events.   Work can get hectic, and sometimes you lose touch with what’s going on in the real world.   Use your lunch break to read the Drudge Report and catch up on what’s going on around our world.   Not only is it good to know what’s happening but you won’t sound clueless when your boss asks you about current events.

Work on a side business.   It seems like people are scared to start a business or even work on personal stuff during their lunch break.   It’s your legal right to do whatever you want on your lunch break!   Take this time to start a side business.   You could be networking or starting an online company.   The sky’s the limit.

Catch up on work emails.   If you’re in a demanding industry such as construction, sometimes there is more work than can get done in a day.   This usually means staying late.   Oftentimes I use my lunch break to catch up on work emails so I can leave work at a normal time.   And let me tell you, I hate working overtime!

Get a quick massage.   Yes, I’m a guy and I also enjoy massages!   If I was less frugal, I would do this too.   Thankfully I have a fiancée  who does it for me these days 🙂   This can be a quick escape once a week during a lunch break.   A happy back is a happy employee.

Run errands.   This is one that I do a lot.   Whether it’s taking mail to the post office, getting oil changes for my Acura, or even doing some quick grocery shopping, it’s a wonderful time to knock some errands off my to-do list and free up some time for the coming weekend!

Call a loved one you haven’t talked to in a while.   We all live very busy lives.   But when’s the last time you’ve called your parents or even a sibling.   Make an effort to use your next lunch break to reconnect with someone.   You’ll make someone’s day, trust me.

Read a book. I’m guilty of not reading more often.   Reading has been shown to increase brain power and your vocabulary.   Grab a book and make it your goal to finish it within a certain timeframe.   I’m torn between Tom Clancy and Stephen King for my next one.

Flip through your favorite magazine.   I’ve always enjoyed a fresh edition of Popular Science or even ESPN.   I love catching up on the world around me through magazines.   This would be a cool as well as a relaxing idea to spend your lunch.

Decorate your office.   Man, if you saw my office you’d think I worked in a prison!   I plan on doing some decorating but it will have to happen during my next lunch break.   You too can take some time during lunch and spruce up your office.   Who knows, you may find yourself buying a rock fountain for your office space.

Go for a Starbucks run.  Do I enjoy a Starbucks brew on a rare occasion?  Heck yes I do!  Instead of wasting your time surfing the web on your lunch break, why not grab your car keys and hit the road and find your nearest Starbucks.  It’s going to help you relax by going out and leaving work for a couple minutes.  Not only will it clear your head but it’s a fun outing to make with some of the co-workers you actually enjoy being around.

Take a power nap.  This one totally depends on your employer.  I understand that most employers would never allow this but it’s technically your right to take a nap on your lunch break!  Studies have shown that a mid-day nap can improve productivity.  Imagine that!

Save someone’s life.  Did you know that giving blood can save not one but numerous people?!  Why not hunt down your local blood drive center and give some of your precious blood away.

 

So, what’s your excuse?

If after reading this article you still choose to waste your lunch break away, I’ve failed to convince you then!  Hopefully you take initiative and actually do some of these activities.  I for one hate wasting time, especially if it’s my own personal time.

If you start using your lunch break wisely I can assure you that you will become addicted to it!  Soon, you’ll have all your errands and shopping done that you won’t have anything to do on the weekends!

So, did I miss anything?  If you have an additional  activity  to add to this list, please comment below!

 

8 Tips on How to Get Along With Your Boss

get along with your bossFor all too many of us, our faith walk can stop in the pursuit of earning a living. We can be faithful and reverent on Sunday, but come Monday, our secular selves are magically released into the world as if Sunday never happened. If we’re committed Christians, we can’t allow this. The world is looking at our behavior far more than it’s listening to our words, and it is that behavior that truly determines who we are.

But let’s admit to one thingâ”if we do have a tendency to go secular❠at work, there are some good reasons. Work is about production, procedures, satisfying customers and clients and getting along with disagreeable co-workers, isn’t it?

We may not think of it in this way, but among our co-workers is one very important one, our boss. He or she is almost certainly the most important relationship we have on the job, and it isn’t a stretch to say that how that relationship works will flow to all other relationships at workâ”it may even determine our success or failure on the job. For these reasons, it’s well worth the effort to get along with your boss.

How do you do that if your boss is, shall we say, disagreeable? With greater effort! Here are some ways to make it happen.

 

Build rapport

What ever tension may exist between you and your boss, never forget that he or she is a human being. While there is a certain amount of professional distance that must exist between a supervisor and subordinates, the more common ground you can establish between yourself and your boss, the less chance there will be for conflicts related to misunderstandings, which themselves are often due to unrecognized personal factors.

What that means in practical terms, is get to know your boss and make an attempt to let him get to know you. The more you know about each others personalities, preferences, weaknesses and even personal struggles, the stronger the bonds become and the less chance there is for conflict.

 

Avoid confrontational behavior

You don’t have to agree with everything that your boss tells you to do, but you must always respect her position (see 1 Peter chapter 2 ). A hierarchy is established in every organization, and that means that everyone in the chain of commandâ”including your bossâ”has to answer to someone in higher authority. Anything less can lead to chaos and that’s never a better state of affairs.

That will mean doing what the boss says even if you don’t see the logic of the order. Bosses are usually aware of situations and conditions that they cannot discuss with their subordinates, and very often they are the very cause of directives that don’t seem to make sense to those who need to carry them out. Accept that you don’t know all that’s going on and cooperate with your boss to the best of your ability.

 

Always do more than the minimum

The business world is awash in employees who put in the minimum time and effort in exchange for a paycheckâ”resolve that you won’t be one of them. Be someone who not only your boss-, but also your coworkers-, can turn to when the workload gets heavy or when new products, services or procedures are being rolled out. The more your boss can rely on you, the more you’ll be able to rely on your boss.

If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.ââ”Matthew 5:41

 

Find out what your boss’s biggest concerns are

Every organization, and every department within it, have problems. That doesn’t mean that the organization is a failure or doomed to become one. Your boss is probably more aware of those problems than you are, and that’s at least part of what guides his management style.

If you really want to improve your working relationship with your boss, find out what HIS biggest problems in the organization are and do your best to help solve them. You’ll win more favor if you become your bosses ally than by standing off in the background as a critic.

 

Offer to help when you can

We all want to be able to go to our bosses when we’re snowed in and in need of help. But sometimes your boss is stuck on a major project and some of her regular responsibilities are going undone. Is there a way you can help her to do her job? Such an effort will be appreciated, particularly if she is experiencing personal problems that are affecting her ability to do her jobâ”we all have them, so be sympathetic and be ready to help. As believers, we should always be ready to step up and serveâ”even if it’s for people who have authority over us.

 

Avoid going over your boss’s head

Unless you’re pretty certain your boss is doing something illegal or seriously disruptive to the organization, never go over your boss’s head. And if you ever do have the need to do so, make sure you’re going with a lot more than loose accusations. If you go to upper management with anything less, you will almost certainly have destroyed any chance of a positive relationship with your boss going forward.

 

Criticize situations, not people, and never the boss

All departments have dysfunctions, and if possible, they need to be addressed and fixed. But when doing so, always target the dysfunction and avoid naming names. It’s easier to do this when your criticism is well thought out, meaning you take the time to observe and chronicle the problems. When you do, you’re in a position to make helpful suggestions for improvement. In fact make it a personal policy to never complain or criticize unless you first have an idea for a workable solution!

If you aren’t methodical about this, you will fall into the human tendency to complain, and that usually includes criticizing others. That’s the easiest thing in the worldâ”most of us don’t even have to work at it! If one of the people you’re criticizing happens to be your boss, you’ll do little more than destroy that relationship going forward. In fact, you might even be targeted as The Problem.

 

Offer praise when deserved

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirableâ”if anything is excellent or praiseworthyâ”think about such things.ââ”Philippians 4:8

And while you’re thinking about them, you might want to share them with your boss! Is your boss doing anything right? Then let her know! Are there any functions in the company or department that are flowing smoothly? Again, let your boss know, and give her proper credit.

Most of us are all too quick to complain when something isn’t right, but are we equally quick to praise when things are going well? We should beâ”all the more if we’re Christians. Part of our individual ministry is to build one another up (1 Thessalonians 5:11), and that includes those in authority.

Every one of us needs to hear praise from our coworkers, at least occasionally. Your boss is no different. A word of heart felt praise every now and again will go a long way toward building a better relationship with your boss, and might even give you the right to offer some constructive criticism every now and again.

If you get into the all too common habit of seeing your boss as an enemyâ”or at least as an adversaryâ”you will display that through your behavior and attitude. But see your boss as a friend in authority, and you might forge the kind of alliance that will advance your boss’s career and yours at the same time.

In an employment environment in which layoffs have become all too common, it could be the difference keeping your job and a long stint in the unemployment line.

How to Find Work Fast During a Down Economy

find work fastThe economy continues on a path of mediocrity, the stock markets present almost daily doses of whiplash to investors, and just this week the U.S. Census Bureau released a report on poverty in the United States (hint: it’s increasing). If you or someone you know is unemployed or under-employed, it’s time to evaluate every income producing option available – even those options that are less than ideal.

I’ve worked for well over 100 employers (no, that’s not a typo or an exaggeration). I know a few things about finding a job, and quickly, when the chips are down. So if the landlord is banging on your door, your car is running on fumes, or you just need to pay for a decent sandwich – then I’m your own, personal “expert” at finding work in a hurry. Read on…

Swallow your pride and do something “beneath” your abilities.

This is no time to think that “you’re too good” for whatever it is that you don’t want to do. Here’s one trick to use when searching for so-called “low status” jobs: try looking for work in towns located some distance from your normal “stomping grounds”. This way, people you know won’t find out that you’re delivering pizzas or working at McDonald’s (the ones that they might patronize, that is.)

No matter how rotten the economy is, the same industries always seem to be seeking workers. Many businesses involved in the retail, restaurant, seasonal, leisure, agriculture, and trucking industries are always hiring. And don’t forget call centers, also. (By the way, if you decide to look for work at a call center, try to grab a position that involves “inbound” vs. “outbound” calls. “Outbound” means: you’ll be cold calling people just as they sit down for dinner. Not fun.) Remember: a little “hard time” at the crummiest greasy spoon in town may well help you get a management position at a respectable nightclub in the future.

Deliver pizzas

This one really isn’t bad, and probably gets a worse rap than it deserves. To get paid to deliver a major staple of the American diet, you’ll need three things: wheels that you don’t mind putting some mileage on, a reasonably decent driving record, and insurance. Don’t bother with this type of gig if any one of these is missing. You’ll get tips, which means you’ll have cash – always.

You can work whatever schedule is convenient for you (though, obviously, weekends will be more lucrative). Bad weather means better tips. You can listen to whatever you want on the radio, and pull over and use the cell phone at your convenience. Bonus benefit: free food! And, if you’re single: you’ll certainly encounter cute members of the opposite sex, either co-workers or customers.

Start a hauling and/or moving business

I did this once – and wound up with a business that lasted over two years. There are now national franchises that are making millions from hauling away junk from homes, garages, and storage units. If you have a pickup truck and/or trailer, a cell phone, work gloves, and a willingness to get paid to excercise – you can be in the hauling business. When I ran a junk hauling business, I used local weekly small-town newspapers to advertise.

Running classified ads in these types of papers is pretty cheap, and they always yield at least a handful of phone calls. You can use online classifieds like Craigslist, of course – but so is your competition. Besides, many homeowners don’t bother calling service businesses listed in Craigslist because they don’t trust those businesses, or take them seriously.

Play the numbers game

It’s obvious that you should be using the web to look for work. But try the old school method of “pounding the pavement” – since so few others do this these days. Find the area near you where the half-dozen (every town has this area) fast-food joints are located near one another.

Or go visit your local mall. Grab applications at each store, take them home, then fill them out (it’s a more laborious process than you think – do it at home, trust me). Then return those completed applications in person. Try to hand your application over to the store manager on duty. This will leave an impression on that particular manager that you’ll never be able to deliver via cyberspace. You may even receive an interview on the spot – I’ve had this happen to me several times when the business in question needed workers immediately.

Get a commercial driver’s license

This idea only applies if you have a decent driving record, no felonies, and you’re single. If you aren’t single, you soon will be – if you go OTR (trucker parlance for “over the road”). You’ll be away from home for weeks. In fact, some drivers don’t bother having homes and instead live out of their trucks. Which, actually, will save you huge amounts of money – but cost your social life dearly.

Now, you can also drive “local”, but these driving gigs are far more difficult to get, especially for newer drivers. Most local driving gigs involve 10-12 hour days anyway, so even these will greatly impact your non-working life. I’ve worked mostly local gigs, and made great money doing them. But, I like my downtime. A LOT. Which is why even the most lucrative local driving gig, for me, only lasted three years. (However – I paid off huge debts during that period.) Having a “CDL” means you’ll always have work (if you want it).

Use temp firms

Yes, there is a lot not to like about temp firms. Most treat applicants like ten-year-olds, take a cut of your hourly pay, and will waste a lot of your time before sending you to a gig. Temp firms tend to want you at their office, in person, so that they can run you through a battery of tests to prove you aren’t a complete moron. Ironic, since many temp staffers are. (I’m not a fan of temp firms, in case you didn’t notice.) On the other hand, maybe you don’t care, since you need cash immediately.

Let’s face it – in any economy, the temp firms usually have something (anything!) Don’t kid yourself, though – many temp firms are trying to fill lousy gigs with warm bodies – the kinds of gigs that in-house H.R. departments gave up trying to fill. Some firms, of course, are worse than others. The worst part about applying for work via a temp firm is watching the dummy videos that nearly every temp agency forces prospective employees to watch. Painful.

Volunteer, or work for free

If money isn’t really that pressing, and/or you’re fortunate to have a side income or partner who brings home the bacon, then thank your lucky stars. Go visit a volunteer website and offer your time to someone less fortunate (there is always someone less fortunate than you.) Find a cause you can get into and help out. Even a couple hours a month is welcome. You can also work for free (Different from volunteering; I’m talking here about donating free work to a for-profit organization.)

I’ve noticed that sometimes “experts” on job hunting will occasionally suggest that you work for free. This may (“experts” claim) lead to a paying gig. I suppose that might be the case, sometimes. I doubt it, though. I’ve worked for “free” as a freelancer on several occasions. Not once did doing so get me paid work. I don’t recommend doing this, but it’s an idea worth including here.

Some job hunting sites are better than others

I have had good luck finding full-time and part-time work through classified sites like Craigslist and Backpage.com; not so much with the larger job-related “megasites” like Monster.com or CareerBuilder. The latter two sites are overloaded with listings from recruiters, who will waste your time more effectively than actually find you paid work.

The former two sites, however, are filled with job listings from employers looking for help and who need to hire quickly. Beware of scams, however – especially with Craigslist. Never send a prospective employer your Social Security number via e-mail or via an online job application until you are sure of who you’re dealing with. That said, there are far more legitimate job opportunities on the online classified sites than scams – just be careful. If a job opening sounds to good to be true, it’s likely a scam.

Just because you’re a college graduate (and especially if you aren’t) doesn’t mean a good job is your birthright. Quit expecting your “dream job” to fall out of the sky, and look for work beyond “your field” (do people still use this phrase?) Your field is wherever the work is, right now. A paycheck derived from driving a taxi is better than no paycheck at all.

(This has been a guest post by Matt Henterly, a developer of The BuckTrak Budget Planner, a free online financial manager for individuals and small businesses.)

Burn Bridges and Go Hungry

burning bridgesThe old saying “Don’t burn your bridges” is particularly appropriate when it comes to work. Any given company has an agglomeration of individuals, each with their own personality. The interactions and dynamics of these individuals can produce some interesting situations.

An employee is well-advised to keep his emotions under control and perform his duties as best he can. Burning bridges, in this context, refers to acting unpleasantly when someone is leaving, ensuring that he will never be hired by his former employer. There are many ways to accomplish this goal within the workplace.

A particular example comes from Wikipedia, which is known for its high-brow, elitist attitude. A Wikipedia editor “went postal,” as the saying goes, by composing a long and detailed rant. The rant named names and criticized the editor’s co-workers, revealing intimate morsels of information about their perceived shortcomings.

The level of detail made public in this rant gives veracity to its claims.  This editor definitely burned his bridges when he wrote this rant and published it. Even if he was anonymous, he probably did not stay anonymous for long, given the detailed information he exposed.

Here are more ways to burn bridges, some of which are public displays. Social media and the Internet provide a plethora of opportunities to castigate oneself very quickly.

1. Twitter

Posting political, sexist, racist or mean “tweets” on Twitter can get the user fired. Consider the case of Gilbert Gottfried. He tweeted some mean jokes about Japan on his Twitter account. Gottfried used to be the voice of the famous Aflac duck, until he made those comments. Aflac is the largest insurance company in Japan. Gottfried was fired. Generally speaking, making comments on Twitter that can be interpreted as negative in any way can burn bridges faster than a wildfire.

2. Facebook

Incriminating photos of oneself or fellow employees on Facebook, another social media website, are a great way to burn all kinds of bridges, including with friends and family. Posting inappropriate or objectionable material can also have the same result. In 2009, Kimberley Swann, an employee of Ivell Marketing and Logistics in the United Kingdom, was fired about posting that her job was ‘boring’ on her Facebook page. She later said the company was being nosy, and Ivell Marketing stated they had a “zero tolerance social accountability standard.”

3. Blogging

Blogging has been a problem for employees who blog since blogging first became popular. Employees cannot rely on the First Amendment to protect them from employer backlash if they write things their employer does not like. While this has limits, in practice it is hard to undo. Ellen Simonetti, a former flight attendant with Delta Air Lines, started a blog in 2003 as a form of therapy to cope with her mother’s death. In 2004, she was fired for posting pictures of herself and fellow Delta employees in their uniforms.

4. Goofing Off

Employers do not like goofing off, spoofing or wasting time. Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York City fired a city employee in 2006 for playing solitaire on his work computer. Employees who wish to keep their jobs must familiarize themselves with the corporate culture. Of course, sometimes employees do things that are frankly stupid in retrospect, like store pornography on their work computers. Not following the unwritten and the written social rules in the workplace will bring bridges crashing down.

5. Getting Along

Employees who fail to get along amicably with their fellow employees are good candidates for the ax. Remember the old saying “There is no ‘I’ in team?” Employees who don’t follow this rule can make everybody hate them. Taking credit and never giving it puts one on terrible footing with co-workers and managers. To burn bridges, all an employee has to do is step over other people, even in a small way.

These are all examples that everyone can avoid.  Your career isn’t worth losing it over such trite situations.  Not burning bridges at work was some of the wisest advice my Dad ever left me.  You never know when your contacts will come in handy someday.  Just remember, you never know when you will have to make a call because you are desperate for a job.

To the readers, have you ever burned bridges at work?  If so, tell us about it in the comments below!

photo by katybate

Home Businesses That Rock

home business

Are you looking for a business you can start but don’t want to leave your home? The internet has made it possible to operate more businesses from home than ever. Most will require no special equipment and cost littleâ”if anything at allâ”to start.

Freelance writer

If you have a talent for writing, the internet has opened up tremendous opportunity for you. There are tens of thousands of websites and weblogs on the internet and they all need content. Much of it is now supplied by freelance writers operating from home.

There are many ways you can take advantage of this trend. One is to become a staff writer for weblogs, which is basically providing regular content to a site. You can write for as many blogs as you have time to accommodate, and this can be a way of earning a steady income.

Another is technical writing. Many sites deal with topics of a highly technical nature, and if you have expertise in a particular specialization you can provide content on either a regular or occasional basis. This can take the form of research, product comparison reports, identification of new trends or even ad copy.

Some other areas available to freelance writers include writing e-booksâ”many people have good topic ideas but no time to write themâ”as well as proofreading, copyediting and writing video scripts.

Virtual Assistant

You may have heard of this concept, or even used it yourself at one time or another. The work is most closely associated with low cost foreign providers, but this doesn’t have to be an obstacle. While foreign entities can provide various services at costs that couldn’t be duplicated here, there are small to medium sized businesses that need local providers to handle certain functions that only a native can provide.

Some of the services you can provide as a virtual assistant include:

  • Live answeringâ”yes, there’s voicemail, but a live voice is better for business
  • Customer serviceâ”this is a job no one in a business ever wants to do
  • Researchâ”every business needs someone to handle special projects
  • Billingâ”this is a back office function that’s increasingly being farmed out
  • Data entryâ”this has multiple applications, but if you can type you can manage it
  • Bookkeepingâ”master QuickBooks and you could be in business pretty quickly
  • Social media point personâ”a a relatively new function, but any business with a website needs to market their site on the social mediaâ”Facebook, Twitter, and a host of media many have never heard of.

Dog Walker and Pet Sitter

OK, you’ll need to leave your home to do this job, but you’ll be home-based and working in neighborhoods that are extremely local (like your own subdivision!) so I think it qualifies.  There are enough businesses doing this that you know there’s a market for it immediately. In many homes, pets are part of the family and owners want them cared for with a personal touch. Once you establish a client base in a neighborhood, you can work on referrals to find more in other neighborhoods.

You’ll need to have a love of animals, a gentle nature, a pooper-scooper and an open schedule to accommodate your client’s needs. Much of the job is walking dogs and this will provide a steady cash flow and some light exercise to boot.  Pet sitting can be more demanding as it will typically require several visits per day, including walks, watering and feeding, but you can also charge more. If you really want to take it to the level of a full time business, you can consider adding pet grooming to list of services. This is more involved however, and will require special equipment, a small inventory (of shampoo), and some training, which you can probably get through a part time job with a local pet groomer.

Web entrepreneur

Many people are making money from websites and weblogs without ever leaving their homes and you can too. The idea with a website is to make it interesting so that people will want to visit it. The idea is to create trafficâ”like an online mallâ”then monetize that traffic.  There are different ways to monetize a website, but three of the more typical ways are:

1. Advertising. Google Adsense is a completely passive way to generate ad revenues since it automatically matches ads with your contentâ”on every page! But you can also generate income from direct ads placed by other advertisers; they’ll start coming around as your web traffic increases.
2. Selling your own products. A website is an excellent way to sell a product or service since nearly everyone is buying online these days. Specialized products and services work especially well when sold through websites.
3. Affiliate sales. If you don’t have a product or service of your own to sell, you can always sell someone else’s, also known as affiliate marketing. You sell the product on your site and get paid a percentage of each sale, much like a commission.

Sales

It’s getting more difficult for businesses to get noticed todayâ”let alone to sell their productsâ”because competition is heavy in nearly every niche. If you’ve ever been successful selling anything you can probably sell just about anything else you can think of, especially if you also bring internet and database marketing skills to the table. The combination of technology and personality is a winning one.

And you can do it entirely from home! Many sales transactions today are being done with no face-to-face contact. In fact, there’s almost no function that can be done in person that can’t be done through phone, fax and email. You can sell for a single company, or in a fashion similar to manufacturer’s representatives, you can sell for several at once. Decide what it is you want to sellâ”what it is you believe inâ”and apply your talents. The sky will be the limit!

One of the best features of virtually all of the work from home businesses listed above is that any of them can be started in your spare time. With the job market becoming increasingly uncertain, a work at home business may be just what you need to add some certaintyâ”and a brighter futureâ”to your career.

(Kevin Mercadante is professional personal finance blogger, and the owner of his own personal finance blog, OutOfYourRut.com. He has backgrounds in both accounting and the mortgage industry. He lives in Atlanta with his wife and two teenage kids.)

photo by nikcname

Negotiate a 10% Increase in Salary

negotiate salary

It’s fascinating to me how many people don’t negotiate salaries.   It’s quite possibly one of the easiest things you can do early on in your career to make significantly more long term.   Too many graduates these days are simply thankful❠they got a job offer.   What they’re missing is that almost all employers offer a large percentage lower than what they can actually pay you.   They do this on purpose in hopes you don’t put pressure on them to ask for more money.  Treat it as a challenge, not as some dirty trick.   Earning more money is a good thing!

Lay it all out on the table

There is nothing wrong with being completely honest with an employer after you have received a salary offer.   At this point, you have already sold the company on your skills and future contribution to their bottom line.   It’s fair game to ask for more and give your reasons why.   For example, if you are moving to California from a state with a low standard of living, you can ask for more to cover your additional rent and gas expenses.   If you are confident in your skillsets and past work history, you can negotiate a higher salary by claiming that you are worth more than they offered.   I think most don’t do this because they are scared the employer might take away the offer after being negotiated with.   Reality check, it’s a positive from an employer’s standpoint that you’re negotiating.   Negotiating is a skill that benefits you in the business world.   They see this and see dollar signs later down your career path.   Don’t be shy!

Don’t settle for less

Think of your initial salary offer as an investment that will pay you dividends later on in your career.   Here, this of it this way.   Typical yearly pay raises are only a couple percentage points.   In times of recession (like right now) this could even be as low as 1%…   If you take the standard salary offer, you are missing out on dividends down the road.   You will want to slap yourself silly if you forego this potential for a pay raise up front.   This is all the more important if you plan on being with the company for years to come.

Do your research!

One of the greatest mistakes is not doing research on typical salary numbers within your industry.   If you know the average salary right out of college, you can better negotiate with a potential employer.   Go to slaray.com or glassdoor.com and do a little research.   If you still can’t find information on average salaries within your industry, feel free to ask your recruiter to put you in touch with recent graduates so you can ask them about their salary offers.   Also, this is a good time to ask these graduates what worked and what didn’t during their negotiations for their hiring process.

Remember, a job is not simply a paycheck.   You need to treat your career as a challenge and a day by day learning opportunity.   I’ll tell you what, I’ve learned so much about myself just from my first couple years in the work force.   It’s exciting and fulfilling as long as you choose a career path you truly excel at.   Go out and show confidence during your salary negotiations.   What can go wrong?!