Moving Talent

Continuing discussions around Human Resources topics, I found this infographic interesting.

The infographic below looks at the survey responses of more than 500 organizations across 45 countries to questions about mobility programs. Moving talent is an interesting piece of management. What I found particularly interesting was that most movement is across departments. I also like the list of Benefits of Talent Mobility.

When I think of the organization at which I work, we’re not a large, multinational corporation. Movement is centered in one geographic location across at most ten sites. Most often talent does move across departments rather and is about motivating and retaining talent.

Workforce motivation is a key topic being discussed, especially by those focused on millennials/Gen Y in the workplace. I’m sure I’ll be bringing it up in future posts.

Talent on the move
Infographic by Mercer Insights

What About You?

What do you think of the above infographic?

What are your thoughts on talent mobility within your own organization? Do the above responses ring true?

How do you feel mobility relates to the question of employee retention and motivation?

How’s This Personal Branding Thing Work, Anyways?

As you all may have guessed by now, I love Infographics. I think they help share really useful, educational information in a format that most people find easy to digest.

The latest find in Infographics is¬†Enrico Bisetto and Jorgen Sundberg‘s The Way to Personal Branding (see below). ¬†It asks the major questions about what is your personal brand, how do other people see you and what ¬†do you want to do? It also talks about how you can go about creating and enhancing your personal brand. This may be one of the simplest, easiest explanations of personal branding that I have run across to date.

What do you guys think?

Do you think this infographic is helpful?

(Also, follow Jorgen and Enrico on Twitter! Jorgen posts some great tweets dealing with social media!)

Buying High and Selling Low – What it Costs [Infographic]

We keep saying that emotions get in the way of good investment practices. The infographic below helps illustrate how many investors would benefit from staying the course on a long-term investment plan that doesn’t have they buying high and selling low (thereby losing money).

This is a point that young investors should pay particular attention to. For anyone just starting out in the world of investing, it’s good to know where the pitfalls are before you make the mistakes. Letting your emotions dictate when you buy or sell a stock can greatly affect your rate of return (i.e. how much money you make).

A current example would be the Facebook IPO. Everyone was/still is talking about it, and I knew a number of people discussing the merits of investing in it. IPOs are special cases in the investment world, but the point I’m making is that many people’s decision to buy the Facebook IPO was based on emotion. The IPO was hyped up to no end and it was all the financial world could talk about for days (it still is, as we watch how the stock is trading in the days following the IPO release).

Individuals should make investment choices based on their financial plan and goals. If you’ve done your research, you think a stock purchase aligns with your goals and you’re ready to buy, that is up to you. But do it because it makes sense for you; not because everyone says it’s the next best thing.

See the infographic for more details on “the high cost of bad buy/sell decisions”.

Infographic by Column Five Media as made for Jempstep

Top 10 CV/Resume Mistakes [INFOGRAPHIC]

This is great. Having reviewed many a CV and resume on the job, I’ve actually seen quite a few of these errors.

Even in my own resume, before I knew better, I was guilty of “highlighting duties instead of accomplishments“. That’s a key mistake many people make without realizing it.

What About You?

Have you or are you making any of these mistakes?

What are some of the most interesting mistakes you’ve heard of?


Writing a CV or Resume is never easy and avoiding classic mistakes will help you to progress your job search. Here are some real life examples of mistakes people made. When is the last time you checked your CV? Did you ask someone to proofread it? Choose someone who is able to give you honest feedback and ask them to proofread it in order to perfect your CV.


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Student Loans: Millennials, We’re All in it Together

At last! The nation is talking about student loans issues!

Student loans have been coming up in national news, in financial magazines (Kiplinger’s – see below), in online petitions…everywhere!

This is great news because student loans have been a looming problem for quite some time. The cost of education in this country has risen dramatically in the last few decades. I’m sure many of you have heard your parents talk about how they went to college and worked at the same time to pay their way. Haha! If only! Those days are long past, and now young people struggle with the cost of higher education. Some are just beginning to think about it (oh, you recent college grads…if I had known what I know now when I was your age!), others of us are working out the best way to pay down our debts.

Student Loans in the News

You may have heard that Congress is taking up the subject of keeping interest rates on some student loans from increasing. Subsidized federal Stafford student loans currently have an interest rate of 3.4%. However, that rate could double to 6.8% if no legislative action is taken to maintain the status quo. Subsidized federal student loans (given out based on demonstrated financial need) are only one type of loan students may take while in college, but they’re receiving the bulk of the attention right now. “Unsubsidized loans, which are available to students regardless of financial need, already have an interest rate of 6.8 percent,” states Inside Higher Ed, “and the interest accumulates while borrowers are still attending college.” Many students have unsubsidized loans, yours truly included, so its important to know where you stand and how the news on student loans relates to you.

Student Loans in Various Media Forms

So how excited was I to arrive home today and find my June 2012 issue of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance¬†in my mailbox? I enjoy this personal finance magazine more than I can say, and I would (and have) highly recommend it to individuals interested in learning more about the world of finance. (Also, follow them on Twitter: @Kiplinger). As I sit back to flip through the content, I find myself reading the “From the Editor” page. I like to start here because Janet Bodnar always takes some time out to talk about current events and how they shaped content of the issue. As I’m reading along, I find she’s giving a shout out to Gen Y (millennials) [she even uses the term!]. And she’s addressing all the major issues: a poor labor market for recent grads, large student loans, a bear market, and moving back home!

Millennials, which of us have not faced at least one of these challenges since 2008?

It isn’t just the news media or personal finance magazines picking up this discussion. #studentloans is a prominent hashtag on Twitter. This blog is one of many sounding off on the subject. Lots articles I see my friends sharing on Facebook relate to the latest issues surrounding student loans. I even received an email from a friend, who was only half-kidding when they said that they couldn’t buy a <$15 LivingSocial deal with a group of us because they had to pay their loans starting this month. Shoot, when you’re coming out of your master’s with student loan debt, every penny counts!

My Story

I happen to be one of the lucky ones. I came out of my undergraduate years with around the average level of student loan debt that most Bachelor degree holder’s find themselves managing. My loans were a mixture of federal and private, the bulk of them being federal. The private loans were the result of the FAFSA doing me absolutely no good – I have a lot of issues with that application that I won’t go into here and now – and going abroad for a month right when financial aid information was due for the next academic year. I had thought all documentation had been submitted, but apparently ONE form had failed to submit properly… and by the time I realized the issue, all that was left in the world of student aid was loans. Looking back, I could have worked with our Financial Aid office to a greater extent but I was, for all intents and purposes, a first-generation college-goer and didn’t know enough to camp out in their office. Again, to know what I know now then.

I was very conscious that my grace period was not a¬†lengthy one. I had also established that rather than jumping right into a master’s degree, which would have allowed me to defer my loans a bit longer, I wanted to join the working world. It was time to gain some skills. I also wasn’t entirely sure what I wanted to get my master’s in, and spending¬†¬†thousands of dollars (and probably adding to my loan debt) without being certain didn’t make sense to me.

In the end, I was lucky. And blessed. I worked three part-time jobs after graduation and had a very generous living situation (thank goodness for friends!) that allowed me to save my money. My home state did not have much to offer in the way of job opportunities, and that was right at the start of the Recession. I knew I had to move to where the jobs were – read: the East Coast. Particularly the nation’s capital, where it was clear entry-level jobs still existed at the time. My grace period ended two months before I made my move, but I was able to cover those costs and still save enough to relocate.

I was again lucky and blessed to find a job VERY quickly after arriving in town, and this allowed me to continue paying the bills and to begin saving. The big questions: save, invest, pay the loans off faster?

The Friends’ Stories

Many of my friends had different stories. A wonderful few had no undergraduate debt. Their parents had been able to help them pay for those four years of postsecondary education. However, many went on to get their master’s degrees and accumulated debt that way. Most graduated to find jobs and have settled or are settling into making their monthly payments.

Some friends have put off starting their master’s because they’re hoping to find an employer that will pay their bill for them. Again, I happen to have that benefit. Another friend of mine does as well, and we’re taking full advantage. For my friends who are still looking to start their master’s and whose employers don’t offer that perk, the question of where to get their degree has been dominated by the price of the various institutions they’re researching.

What to Know About Loans

For those not yet out of college, there is a lot to know. For those out of college, there is a lot to consider and keep in mind.

1) Learn about financial aid. 

  • For those who are new to college, I can’t stress enough the importance of educating yourself about your financial aid options. This is something I should have done a better job of in undergrad. More schools now, too, are taking the time to make things easier for students and their families; providing clearer explanations of financial aid packages, information on loans, and lists of things to consider before signing on the dotted line.
  • For those who are already past the college years, don’t forget your experiences and help those coming behind you. Share what you learned. Consider volunteering at financial aid workshops in local high schools or being a mentor to soon-to-be high school grads. Giving young students an edge before they walk into the complicated world of college is a great service.

2) Know what kind of loans you are going to get/have. It won’t do you any good to try to plan your finance life without having a clear picture of where you will be/are.

  • If you’re in college or about to start out, learn the difference between the loans you’re being offered. They may not all be right for you. Also, if you have questions, ASK. Talk to your financial aid counselors and make sure you have a very clear picture of how your education is being paid for. Even if your parents like to get involved, don’t sit on the sidelines. It’s your life and your future, so you should be right in the middle of the conversations.
  • For those who have graduated, make sure you know your loans. You should know your lenders, how much you owe each one, and your repayment status. If you have a grace period, know when it ends and plan ahead! Don’t let your first payment catch you by surprise.
  • If you’ve been out of college for some time, make sure you take time to periodically check your loans. Things may change. It’s especially important to keep track of things when you’re jumping in and out of deferments (if you go back to school) or¬†forbearances¬†(you might get a forbearance for a number of reasons – see here).

3) Know Your Repayment Options

  • For those who have graduated, make sure you know what your repayment options are. With federal loans, you are typically placed on a standard 10-year repayment plan.
  • If the standard repayment plan’s monthly payments seem to high, you may have the option of a graduated payment plan. This plan starts off with lower monthly payments which slowly increase over the years of your repayment plan. It’s important to note that a graduated payment plan will cost you more in interest payments in the long run.
  • Another option is the Income-Based Repayment (IBR) option. Your payments are based on and capped by your income. For more information about the IBR options, see here.

4) Keep track of your interest rates. Pay the loans with the highest interest rates off first if you can.

When it comes time to repay loans, you may look at your total debt and say, “Wow, I will never pay this off!” For many, it will take time…years. A lot of people want to know how they can speed up the process. If you have multiple loans with multiple interest rates, one important question to consider is which loan to pay extra on first.

  • Start by paying off the loans with the highest interest rates. If you have a mix of federal and private loans, these are almost always your private loans.
  • Make sure that if you pay extra on your monthly payment that you make it clear, either in writing with your check or via their online payment system, that you want any extra money you’re paying beyond your monthly minimum to be applied to your principal (the total amount your borrowed). If you don’t tell them in writing or make it clear by choosing the right option in the online payment system, they will apply extra money to your future payments.

5) Know about loan consolidation¬†(and decide if it’s right for you)

Loan consolidation isn’t for everyone, but it may benefit you under the right circumstances. There’s a wealth of information on loan consolidation online, but a place to start to learn more about the pros and cons can be found here.

Clearly, there’s a lot to know about student loans. Just remember that you’re not alone and help is available!

  • Search for answers online. Any question you have about your student loans someone has probably had, and asked, online already.
  • Ask around. Family and friends can be great resources. With your peers, don’t share private information but do feel free to ask about their experiences. It’s a great way to get tips and learn from other people’s’ mistakes.
  • Keep up to date with the latest news. It could directly affect you, so better to be in the know! If you don’t watch/read the news, take two seconds to search the topic on Twitter to see what people are saying.
  • Don’t freak out!
  • Don’t ignore the issue. Sticking your head in the sand doesn’t make student loans go away. Confront the issues, arm yourself with knowledge and make the best informed choices you can.

A final thought on paying back your loans early. There’s a lot of information out there on this, so research this question carefully. But here are a couple of things you may want to consider if you find extra cash burning a hole in your pocket and you’re wondering how to use it:

  • Have you paid off your credit card debt?¬†If you don’t have any, congratulations! Gold star for you! If you do, make sure this is the first thing you take care of with any extra cash floating around. Credit card debt is not “good debt” like your student loans – and your student loans being “good debt” is coming into question these days. Too much of credit card debt can put you in a really bad position. Handle your business, pay off your card(s), don’t run them up again and then start looking at the other points below.
  • Have you started an emergency fund? Paying back your loans early is great but those payments that could have stocked your rainy-day fund won’t help you if you have a medical emergency or your car gets totaled. Having an emergency fund is something I’m sure I’ll talk about again in this blog, but I cannot stress its importance enough. Make sure you consider creating such a fund right away if you don’t have one.
  • Have you started contributing to your retirement fund? Yes, I know. You’re young. Retirement is a long way off. But saving young has been advocated by financial experts over and over (and I read yet another article on it just today – that I can no longer put my finger on!). For those looking to be millionaires by the time they retire, starting to save young is key! Also, do you want to be 65 (or 70-something, the more likely age-range for when millennials will be allowed to retire) and realize you have no money to live on? No cushion whatsoever? Start now. We’ll talk more on this, but again…start now.
  • Have you saved up for any major expenses you know are looming? Ok, you have cash today. But didn’t you just say you needed to buy a car in the next 3 months? Weren’t you planning on moving into the city center where rent is a few hundred more every month (but it’s the right choice because it’s nearer to your job and cuts your commuting costs in the long run)? If you know you have expenses on the way and that you might need the cash, put it away somewhere safe (short-term savings) so that it’s ready when you need it. (This category is for needs, by the way, not wants. If the choice is between buying a flashy new toy or paying off money you already owe, pay where you owe.)

So I hope some of this was helpful and gave you food for thought. Tell me –

Do you feel you have a good handle on your student loan situation?

Do you feel you know where to get more information regarding your questions?

What other advice would you offer millennials about student loans?

Any other words of solidarity you care to share! After all, we’re all in this together!

Image credit: Occupy* Posters, Flickr

7 Reasons Why You Should Be on Twitter

[Note: This post is written for those who are newcomers to the Twitterverse. For those who are experienced Twitter users, please feel free to leave encouraging comments below for those who are thinking of joining Twitter. What do you think are the best reasons for joining Twitter?]


Why Should I Use Twitter?

I get this question a lot from my friends. Whenever I pry into the reason for their question, it has to do with the fact that most people want to “get” Twitter before using it.

I think this is a terribly flawed way to approach this form of social media, because Twitter is something you have to experience to find out how it can be valuable to you personally. While Pinterest or Instagram make perfect sense from the get-go (“Oh, you share pictures! On one I share whatever images I want to with my friends and on the other I share my own pictures? That makes sense” *Runs off to download the app*), Twitter takes a bit more explaining. Perhaps it’s because a picture is worth a thousand words. Perhaps it requires a bit more effort to justify to folks the value of writing in 140 characters or less.

There are many, many blog articles detailing why young professionals and businesses should have Twitter accounts. Just Google it, and you’ll run into a myriad a professional reasons why you should be on Twitter right now. (Right now!) But if you’re like I was not so long ago and feel that you’re looking for that precise reason or reasons why¬†you personally should be on Twitter . . .well, let’s talk about them.

1) It’s Not Scary

Contrary to what I think must be some subconscious conviction, Twitter will not bite. You can create an account in just a few steps and then you’re free to explore. I often feel that when I meet folks who are not yet comfortable with technology, what holds them back is a fear that something is going to go wrong. Now, there are times in the technological world where this fear is justified. But I’m here to tell you that in this case, with this form of media, it’s ok. Deep breath now, and say it with me: It’s ok. You will not break the internet (or you computer/laptop/iPhone/Android, etc) by creating a Twitter account.

2) It’s Free

For those who don’t find technology complicated and a bit intimidating, but still need a reason . . . well, if Point #2 isn’t one of the best reasons to try out Twitter then I don’t know what is (aside from perhaps point #3 below). It costs absolutely nothing to test this form of social media. Many of us rush at the chance to jump on the free bandwagon (side note: did you know there is a Twitter account dedicated to free stuff? @free. Actually, I’m quite sure there’s more than one Twitter account dedicated to information on free stuff … all of which you would have access to the minute you create a Twitter account). Don’t let Twitter be your exception!

3) It’s Easy

It really is. All you need is an email address, an idea for your Twitter handle (that’s the name of your account that follows the “@”-symbol, e.g. @Raysa_Leer), and (if you want to seem a little less “It’s obvious I’m new to all this”/like a newbie) a simple picture added to your profile so people know you’re a real person. I recommend a simple headshot.

All About Twitter in 2012Facebook 2012

Twitter 2012: The Freshest Statistics on the King of Microblogging Services by Infographiclabs

Now that we’ve gotten past all the reasons that will lead you to the actual point of creation, let’s talk about why having a Twitter account is useful:

4) You Don’t Have to DO Anything. You Can Simply Follow Others and Read Their Tweets

Many people are held back from Twitter because they can’t think of what they’d write in 140 characters or less and can’t see why they’d follow anyone else writing that way either. After all, who wants to get a live stream of snippets of information about someone’s day or what they’re eating or the cute thing their child just said? Isn’t that the problem with Facebook status updates these days? (“When I was your age, a Facebook status was preceded by the word ‘is’ and you had to be actually DOING something to update, or you looked like an idiot. Now you can say anything you want! Harumph!”)

Ok, point taken. But with the large number of people, businesses and organizations on Twitter you can choose who to follow. You can only follow professional, well-written Tweeps (another word for people who use Twitter…and no, you don’t have to use it if you don’t want to) or folks who write entirely in abbreviations. Whatever makes you happy. You have the power of choice in this.

No one requires you to tweet once you have an account. There is no daily, weekly, monthly quota of tweets you have to meet. Contributing is entirely up to you. If you want an account solely for the purpose of reading the content of others, there is nothing wrong with that. Jump on, follow a bunch of accounts and read away! (I will say, however, that once you’ve been on Twitter for a while, odds are you will want to join in with thoughts of your own. Reading everyone else’s tweets will inspire you to add some of your own. It’s like joining in on a big party!)

5) You Can Keep Up With Your Favorite Friends and Family Members/Artists/Sports Team/TV Shows/Movies/Political Groups/etc.

This is what clinched the deal for me. I believe I first started to use Twitter to follow accounts connected with a TV show I was watching at the time. Then I realized I could search for anything that interested me! Before long I became connected to a many of my favorite TV shows, political figures, favorite authors, local concert halls, and various social media-related accounts. Everyone and everything seemed to be on Twitter! Truly, these days I’m more surprised by what I don’t find on Twitter than what I do.

6) You Can Follow Your Favorite Topics

Twitter allows you to keep up to date with your favorite topics. Are you interested in education? What about nursing? Are you a business professional, looking for the latest information in your field? What if you have personal hobbies such as writing, sewing, hiking, kayaking, wine tasting or traveling? Twitter allows you to follow accounts that match your interests.

And it isn’t only about following specific accounts. Some of you may have seen the “#”-symbol floating around, perhaps in a friend’s Facebook status or even being used in text messages. On Twitter, the “#”-symbol is called a “hashtag”. What are these? When I first started using Twitter, I had to learn what hashtags were and how to use them. Twitter gives a brief explanation here. Other sites go even more in depth, like here. Hashtags are used before words or phrases that are relevant to your tweet and make that word or phrase searchable on Twitter. Users can look up topics of interest by hashtags (e.g. “#education” or “#winetasting”) in the Twitter search field to find tweets about those topics. Twitter is a one-stop shop for all kinds of information.

7) You Can Get Information in Real Time

Facebook is great, but how often do you realize you’ve found something out on FB an hour or half a day after it has happened? If you want to know the instant your favorite band’s concert tickets have dropped or get a blow-by-blow account of your favorite sports game, TV show, etc, having a Twitter account is a great way to get information in real time, as things are happening! ¬†This has many practical applications as well. ¬†For example, you could choose to follow accounts that will give you updates on local news, traffic, weather or city/regional events in order to better plan your day or make the most of your weekend. And all that information can be found in one place, saving you a search across multiple websites!

Reviewing Our Reasons, One More Time

So what are the reasons you should be on Twitter?

  1. It’s not scary
  2. It’s free
  3. It’s easy
  4. You’re not required to do anything once you have an account. What you do it up to you.
  5. You can follow people and things (friends and family, TV shows, music groups, sports teams, etc)
  6. You can follow accounts and tweets related to your interests (personal or professional)
  7. You can get information in real time, right away

The possibilities of what you can do with Twitter seem to be expanding all the time. Not everyone uses Twitter the same way, and that’s ok! Twitter is what you make of it, and there’s no right way to make Twitter your own. Who knows? Perhaps, after some time, you’ll find you want to add your two cents to the online discussions. If so, that’s great! We’ll talk more about ideas for what you can tweet about later.

Where to Start When You Have an Account

I’m sure we’ll talk more about this in upcoming posts, but for those to take the leap and create an account, here’s what you can do to start with:

  • Find your friends and family. Connecting to people you already know allows you to have a personal connection with what’s being posted and to see how they’re using Twitter.
  • Think of 5 topics of interest (personal or professional) you want to know more about. Search them out in Twitter, both by keywords and by hashtag searches.
  • Consider searching for accounts that relate to local interests and issues (accounts related to the neighborhood or city or state you live in). A good example is searching for local news accounts. Also, search for accounts related to your hometown, especially if you no longer live there. Reading about news from where you grew up helps you feel connected to the community.
  • Search out groups you have a connection with. Maybe there’s a Twitter account for your church, your softball league, your club, your alma mater, your professional industry. You might be surprised at what you find!
  • Download the Twitter app to your SmartPhone. Reading tweets on the go is a great way to stay informed and an excellent time-waster.
If You’re Going to Tweet, What Not to Do
  • Don’t share private, personal information! This includes the obvious: passwords, DOB, SSN, credit card ¬†or other financial information, telephone number, and email address you don’t want made public, etc.
  • Don’t say anything you don’t want getting out publicly. This is the internet. It’s a very bad idea to bad-mouth your boss or backstab a friend in a tweet. Even private tweets aren’t safe because one of your approved followers might still share what you post. Use common sense!
  • Don’t tweet dates you’re traveling or are on holiday. It’s a great way for¬†burglars to know when you won’t be home! This also means you shouldn’t post too much about your daily schedule. (Also, something that’s just my own personal preference, but I would suggest that if you have a foursquare account that you NOT share every check-in on Twitter. That is far too much information about where you are all the time for those who wish to do you or your property harm. The odd share now and again probably won’t hurt, but be thoughtful of how much you share publicly).
  • Don’t be offensive. Yes, free speech is great but certain posts can get you kicked off Twitter. No violence or threats directed towards others, no pornography. You can read the Twitter rules here. No one can stop you from posting your views or opinions, however extreme, but you might want to consider how far what you post could spread before saying certain things.
  • Be careful when talking about others in your tweets. Some folks prefer working in a world of anonymity online and may not want you to splash their real names all over your tweets. I prefer referring to individuals by their Twitter handle (e.g. @usernameX) rather than by their real name. Make sure you know what your friends and followers are most comfortable with before mentioning them in your posts.

That’s all for now. I hope this post has given you some reasons to join and some places to start. Comment below if you’re a new user that has decided to join Twitter. What convinced you? If you’re still thinking about joining, tell me what’s holding you back? I look forward to hearing your feedback!

Join now!