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Career Corner
Don't Just Choose--Decide!
Monday, April 23, 2012

People are always interested in how others come to be in their current positions. Careers are a journey, a series of processes and no two are alike even for the same job title.

People often don't have a clear-cut answer and will usually say, "I just ended up here." The fact is no one "just ends up" anywhere. Somewhere down the line, they made a conscious decision that lead them to where they are now.

Even if by a process of elimination, people still know what to eliminate and what to leave open. There are influences all throughout our lives that steer us toward one direction or another.
In order to guide ourselves down the right track we need to make sure that we're doing more deciding on rather than falling into our professions like a chip in "Plinko."

Ask yourself these questions often as a reminder for what your ultimate goals in life are and where you want them to take you.

1) Get a grasp for your strengths.
It can seem to be, but it really isn't hard to find out what you're good at and what you're better leaving as a hobby. Start with what interests you and see which of these things you have a knack for. Do you like working with people? Great with kids? Considering careers in sales, customer service, or even child care could be viable options for you.

2) Understand what you care about.
Perhaps things you care about don't seem translatable in terms of a career. For example, maybe you care about where your clothes are made but not sure how to turn that concern into a career--but you can. Maybe you had a job in sales before and were good at it. Think about places that you like to buy clothes and how you can apply your skills at that company.

3) Know yourself and your values.
Personality types play a major part in the positions a person excels in. Some people can work at a desk and others would rather spend their days traveling. Apply your own personality to what types of industries you envision working in. This will help you thrive in your job and your career.

These are not questions that are meant to have an immediate answer nor a right one. As your life goes through changes, so will your mind.

If you continually think about your career not only as something to pay the bills, but as an extension of who you are then you won't have one that you "just ended up in." You'll have a fulfilling calling that you decided to pursue.

When Taxes Get Taxing
Tuesday, April 10, 2012

It's crunch time for tax season and the issue of taxes is intensifying throughout neighborhoods across the country and on Capitol Hill.

President Barack Obama is pushing for fairer and equal class responsibility. Today he traveled to Boca Raton, Florida to promote his support for the "Buffet Rule" which calls for a tax raise on millionaires.

This move has envoked much resistance from Republicans who claim that this "millionaire's tax" would do more harm to the economy than good. Romney campaign spokeswoman, Gail Gitcho, said that the plan would raise taxes on small businesses.

Obama's proposal calls for people earning at least $1 million dollars per year, through salary or investments, should pay at least 30 percent of that income in taxes. The current tax rate that many wealthy investors pay is half that at only 15 percent. As a result, they're able to pay less in taxes for their incomes while those whose incomes are based higher salaries have a tax rate of 35 percent.

All this is brewing with only a week left until the tax deadline. The major question that this sparks among many taxpayers is whether they'll have the means to pay the taxes they owe.

Death and Taxes...and You
Though it may seem like a tempting option, simply avoiding to pay--or worse, file--will dig you a deeper hole. Sooner or later, the government will find you.

The penalties for not filing stacked on top of what you already owe will accrue interest and most likely lead to a lot of regret. Instead, file for an extension that will buy you some time in making payments.

Filling out a Form 4868 will give you an extended six months. Paying at least 90 percent of the taxes owed by April 17th will save you from getting the late-payment penalty. It does not, however, exempt you from owing interest on any unpaid taxes.

A good rule to stick by is to pay off as much as you can as soon as you can--whatever the amount may be. Taxes come around only one time a year but the repercussions of bad tax management can last years. Paying up front may be hard, but overcoming the challenges of paying additional interest can feel almost impossible.

Catch a Break
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) does offer help to those who need a break. One of thse hardship breaks is called Fresh Start that allows qualifying filers to request a six-month extension for paying their taxes without facing penalites.

To qualify, filers must have been unemployed for at least a month straight last year or up uptil the deadline date. Other qualifying factors are survivors of natural disasters or those on active military duty.

If you don't qualify but still owe more than you can afford there are other options you can consider. If you must, bill it to one of your credit cards. It's not the greatest option, but it's an option. Another one along the same lines is using a home-equity line or credit. Undesirable but feasible.

Seek help and advice when you can so that you know your capabilities. Having your taxes in order will help prevent further issues spilling over into your other finances and create money problems beyond your control.

You can ask the IRS for a formal installment agreement and if that doesn't go through you may just have to suck it up and face the music to the tune of penalties and interest--at least you won't be in jail.

3 Career Myths Debunked
Monday, April 02, 2012

People with all different kinds of professional backgrounds will offer career advice that they've come up with over the course of their own.

Since these insights are coming from a particular experience they can't always be applied to wide-range of circumstances. This doesn't mean that the advice isn't good, as they usually come from successful people, it's just that it may be more useful to some more than others.

Amidst all the advice being thrown at you, there will be some fallacies mixed up in the jumble--things that once were but are no longer relevant. To help weed out some of the less helpful stuff, for anyone, here's a compilation of career advice that are more career myths:

It's All About Who You Know.
This one is somewhat 50/50. In some cases, who you know will help but that doesn't make it the determining factor. Even though some places will be more lenient toward qualifications it's more likely that they will take your job skills more into account than your connection at the company. Companies want the balance between likeability and capability but if they had to chose one or the other, they would certainly choose the latter. For any job, you want to show that you can fit comfortably as if you already were acquainted with the team, but the charisma needs to have the skills and abilities to back it up. Realistically, it's all about YOU.

Kissing Up Will Move You Up.
Never in a million years. Kissing up is the most obvious way of showing you're incompetent. Trying to get on someone's good side through flattery shows that you're lacking some way to do it through performance. Confidence in yourself and your work is the surefire way of getting noticed and respected. Kissing up is not only ineffective but actually more annoying to the person you're doing it to. Avoid it altogether to make sure you don't get on the wrong foot with your boss and colleagues.

Work and Play Must Be Separate.
Nope. In fact, the best kind of work is the one that allows you to play while you're at it. You can have fun and enjoy yourself at work and you should. Many people end up in their careers because they find the work to be fulfilling and enjoyable rather than just the money aspect. Things like working with animals, taking care of the elderly, or even sales. Different people find different things to be rewarding and there are plenty of occupations out there that can offer that feeling. Find the place that's right for you and getting out of bed in the morning will never be a drag.
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