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How to Turn a Job Interview Into a Job Offer

How do you turn a job interview into a job offer?

It’s not all about your qualifications or experience. You may have gone to Harvard, then Yale, then spent five years volunteering at your local animal shelter, but if you don’t present yourself as a confident candidate, none of that really matters.

Instead of gloating about your achievements, identify yourself as a problem solver, a problem identifier, and a problem preventer. This will help you turn the job interview into the job offer of your dreams.

Let’s take a look at how to optimize your performance during each stage of the interview:

How to Open the Interview

Research says you have a mere seven seconds to make a good first impression on someone. That means you must appear articulate and courageous from the moment you step foot in the interview room. To truly stand out from other candidates, you must state your goal, purpose, and agenda for the interview as soon as you can.

Here are three tips to consider:

  1. Think of your interview as a business meeting. Imagine you’re meeting an important client or investor for the first time. Prepare and perform for the interview accordingly.
  2. Start the interview by telling the employer you want to learn more about this opportunity and better understand the technical and business challenges the role is designed to address.
  3. Once you have learned about the challenges, find out more about the expectations of the hiring team. What do they expect you to achieve in this role? How do they expect you to face the challenges of the role?

How to Keep the Interview Conversation Moving Smoothly

During your interview, don’t wait for the employer to give you an opportunity to ask questions. Show initiative and your own leadership skills by asking questions when an opportunity presents itself. Asking the right question at the wrong time never packs the same punch as asking the right question at the perfect moment.

You may be worried about coming across as rude or interrupting the interviewer. This can be easily avoided if you simply frame your question properly — e.g., “Excuse me for interrupting, but I have a question I would like to ask. Is that okay?”

The key here is to have a natural conversation with the interviewer. In the context of a real back-and-forth dialogue, you can talk about your skills, share stories of your past experiences, and offer authentic help and value to the interviewer. Don’t simply describe what you can do for the company or how you can do it. Instead, you want to dig deeper into why this position is important to you and why it is important to the company. This kind of genuine conversation is far more effective than the stilted question-and-answer form many interviews take.

Need help formulating smart questions to steer the interview in the right direction? Try these:

  1. Who else is on this team and what are their top skills?
  2. What are the common attributes of your top performers?
  3. What is the current status of this project?
  4. What needs to be done first/next?
  5. What is the time frame for completing this project?

How to Close the Interview

At the end of the interview, ask for the job. This might seem strange to you. It may even feel awkward. However, it will show the employer you have confidence — and lots of it. Confidence plays a big role in hiring decisions. In fact, it can even be more of a factor than your skills or qualifications.

Not sure how to come right out and ask for the job? Try closing with something like this: “Based on what we’ve talked about today, can you see me being successful in this role?” The interviewer’s answer will tell you a lot about where you stand, and it can even help you highlight some opportunities for improvement you can leverage to further reinforce your value to the company.

Finally, don’t forget to ask what the next steps will be in the hiring process. This shows you are engaged and truly interested in landing the role — and it also helps you plan your next move.

Job interviews can be nerve-racking, but if you come across as a courageous and confident person who isn’t afraid of asking tough questions and facing difficult challenges, you’ll have a much easier time winning the interviewer over.

Confidence is all about saying the right things at the right time. Follow the interview game plan outlined above, and you’ll be able to turn more job interviews into job offers.

Nader Mowlaee is an engineering career coach and recruiter who is motivated by building confidence in engineers.

Is It a Genuine Job or Just a Scam? Follow This Flowchart to Find Out:

As you’re scouring Indeed for a new gig, you come across what seems like a perfect role. It’s a work-from-home opportunity, and you’re free to set your own schedule. For just 20 hours a week, the ad says, you can make $8000 a month!

It seems too good to be true — because it is.

If you’ve ever searched for work on a job board — and, in this day and age, who hasn’t? — you’re likely familiar with these job scams. The scammers pose as employers promising easy cash, but all they really want to do is steal your identity and drain your bank account.

Job scams are sadly common today. By some estimates, there are as many as 70 scam ads for every one legitimate work-from-home opportunity on a job board. At least 17 percent of job seekers have been scammed at least once, and millennials are more likely to fall for scams than job seekers of other ages, according to FlexJobs.

The good news is there are steps you can take to identify scams before they have a chance to snag your personal information. For example, the new infographic from Resume.io offers a handy flowchart you can follow to determine whether or not an opportunity is genuine. Check it out below:

Job Search Breaking Your Spirit? Cut Yourself Some Slack

When it comes to job hunting, you should probably know it’s not the searching that’s hard.

Sure, searching takes time and effort, but the search itself is not why you’re in a bad mood. The search itself is not the reason you’re doubting your abilities. The search itself is not the reason your period of unemployment is dragging on for so long.

Think about it this way: You don’t usually find a job by actively searching, stumbling across an ad, and sending in a cold application. Instead, it’s much more likely you found your last job because your uncle had a tip, or your boss recruited you directly, or you met someone at a conference who happened to be hiring. When you land a job through networking and referrals, the process is quick and relatively painless. The job just lands in your lap.

When you actively search for a job, however, the process is very different. In fact, it’s almost as invasive and uncomfortable as a bad doctor’s visit. You spend hours and hours searching for jobs and filling out applications online. Potential employers poke and prod, asking about your past salary history and your previous work experience. They scour your social media posts to make sure they are in line with the company’s values. They require you to work through personality tests and IQ tests — sometimes even before you’ve talked to a single real person at the company!

When you do finally get in touch with real people, the process can get even worse. Hiring managers aren’t always very considerate interviewers. They might show up late or reschedule with no notice. They may talk down to you, disrespect you, or ask illegal interview questions.

If you don’t get the job, you might not even know the process is over and you’ve been declined. It’s not uncommon for the employer to simply stop responding to your messages. If you do hear back, it will most likely come in the form of an automated email rejection with no details.

In some lucky scenarios, you get a chance to speak with a real human about your rejection. Those conversations are genuinely helpful sometimes — but other times, the person on the other end of the phone behaves as if they are not talking to another human being. They speak as if giving feedback on a car they test drove. They are quick to judge, rattling off all the ways you fail to qualify. You come from the wrong industry. You don’t have enough experience. You don’t have the right skills.

What makes this even worse is that the feedback employers give you is rarely 100 percent accurate. Their judgments may be based on misunderstandings or miscommunications. You may not have done a perfect job of articulating your strengths. Or maybe the company is just concocting an excuse to hire someone else. As a job seeker, however, you may never know the truth. As a result, you may doubt yourself.

The most difficult part of the job search isn’t the search — it’s the waiting and the wondering. It’s going through the wringer just to be turned down unceremoniously. It’s waiting weeks or even months to hear from a company that has seemingly ghosted you.

If you or someone you know is struggling with a job search, remember what really makes it such a difficult journey. Cut yourself or your friend some slack.

A version of this article originally appeared on Copeland Coaching.

Angela Copeland is a career coach and CEO at Copeland Coaching.

Speed Networking: 20+ Questions (and Advice) to Help You Stand Out

I’ve both attended and emceed speed networking events, which offer a fun and exciting way to meet a large number of people in a short amount of time. These events can take any number of formats, from round robin to group migration to mixer-seater. No matter what the format, the core philosophy is always to move quickly from person to person, sparking connections along the way.

You might get away with the same old boring questions the first few rounds, but the best networkers have an arsenal of powerful questions they can use to engage others and start great conversations. You only have a few moments to make an impression at a speed networking event, so every question counts.

With that in mind, here are some questions you might want to keep in your back pocket for the next time you attend a speed networking event:

  1. What do you love most about your job?
  2. What inspired you to get into this industry?
  3. What did you want to do when you were little? / Is this what you wanted to do when you were a kid?
  4. What is your dream job?
  5. What do you want to do next in your career?
  6. If you could start any kind of company, what would it be?
  7. Are you a Mac or a PC person? Why?
  8. If you could recommend one app that makes everything easier, what would that be?
  9. What is the best book you have read in the past year? What book are you reading right now and would you recommend it?
  10. What do you do to relax?
  11. How do you stay balanced?
  12. What is the No. 1 way you use LinkedIn?
  13. What did you do to prepare for tonight?
  14. Is there anyone here you were excited to meet? (Besides me?)
  15. What are your hobbies?
  16. Do you get involved in your community?
  17. What is one cool tip or trick you learned from your time in your industry that most people don’t know?
  18. What surprised you the most about your industry/customers/company?
  19. Where was the last place you traveled? Where was the best place you ever visited?
  20. Do you have a passion project or side hustle?
  21. If you were going to be a speaker at an event, what would you want to talk about?
  22. What is the best question you have been asked tonight?
  23. Do you have a mantra or words of wisdom that you would be willing to share with me?

3 Quick Tips

Remember, your job at a speed networking event is to make the most of every introduction. Asking the right questions will get you far, but it’s only part of the road to success. Keep these tips in mind as well:

1. Engage Each Person With Enthusiasm and Positivity

Remember to ask for business cards, and bring plenty of your own as well. Jot notes on the back of those cards so you can remember which connections you might want to invite to coffee or to whom you have committed sending information. After a long night of networking, details tend to get fuzzy.

2. Pitching Yourself Is Only Half Your Goal

Everyone attending has something to say and a particular person they hope to meet. Be sure to give the other person a chance to share information about themselves. By being a great listener, you may find you are the most memorable person everyone meets that night!

3. Don’t Forget to Thank Everyone You Meet

Block out time the next morning to connect with each person on LinkedIn using a personal message. Immediately send out the information, resources, and coffee invitations you promised!

Erica McCurdy has earned a reputation for being one of the best coaches in the metropolitan Atlanta area. Learn more at McCurdy Solutions Group.

9 Effective Side Hustles to Double Your Income

It doesn’t matter if you’re a doctor, a bartender, or a school teacher. Everyone could use some extra money. It’s no surprise, then, that people everywhere are taking on side hustles to supplement their incomes.

But what side hustles pay well? Which ones can actually increase your earnings enough to make it worth working all those extra hours?

Here are nine great side hustles that can help double your income in 2019:

1. Become a Rideshare Driver

Uber and Lyft are the biggest rideshare players in town, but they’re not the only ones out there. Depending on where you live, you may also have the option to drive for other car services like Juno, Curb, and Via.

When it comes to making money as a rideshare driver, it’s important to understand that what you earn depends on what you drive, when you drive, and where you drive.

Uber and Lyft have different levels of service, and which you qualify for depends on how nice of a car you have. For example, most standard sedans qualify to drive for Uber X, which pays a national average of $0.73 per mile. If you happen to have a Porsche Cayenne, a Mercedes M Class, or a similar luxury car, you can drive for Uber LUX, which has a national per mile pay rate of $3.27. That’s a huge difference.

As for when you drive, you’ll make more money if you drive when Uber’s surge pricing or Lyft’s prime time pricing are in effect. When the demand for rides is high and the supply of drivers is low, rides cost more, and that means more money in your pocket.

Finally, where you drive matters as well. As you might expect, more expensive cities and prime markets command higher prices and pay more than small towns. According to a recent survey, the average driver in Honolulu, Seattle, New York City, or San Francisco can make more than $20 an hour, whereas drivers in Akron, Ohio, report only earning about $5 per hour.

Uber and Lyft drivers can make decent money. If you hustle and put in your fair share of hours, you should be able to make at least a few hundred dollars each week.

2. Deliver Food, Groceries, or Packages

Don’t want to drive passengers? You might want to try delivering food, groceries, or packages instead.

Apps like GrubHub, Uber Eats, Postmates, DoorDash, and Caviar are great places to start. These jobs typically entail driving to restaurants to pick up orders and dropping them off at customers’ locations.

Food delivery not your thing? Services like Amazon Flex, Instacart, and Deliv hire people to deliver packages or groceries instead.

Amazon Flex drivers are required to pick up packages at Amazon warehouses and deliver them to customers’ homes, much like a UPS driver would. With Amazon Flex, you can expect to earn at least $18 per hour.

With Instacart and Deliv, you’d visit stores to pick up products and then deliver them to drop-off locations. Instacart drivers make an average wage of $11 per hour nationwide.

3. Rent Out Your Home

Renting out your home is one of the highest-paying side hustles. With companies like Airbnb and Vrbo, you can rent out an entire vacation home or a futon in a small spare bedroom.

Renting is a great option for anyone looking to make some extra money without having to do a whole lot of extra work. This side hustle is also ideal for people who travel a lot or own second homes.

How much you can make on Airbnb or Vrbo depends on where you live and what your home has to offer. If you have a luxury penthouse in New York City, you’d be able to charge a lot more than you could for a one-bedroom studio in a small town.

If you want to start renting out your space, try doing so when a special event is happening in your town. Concerts, festivals, conventions, and big sporting events always attract lots of visitors. When the traditional hotels in the area are all booked, you can charge a little more because of the demand.

4. Earn Money Doing In-Home Tasks

With companies like TaskRabbit and Handy, you can find work mounting shelves, cleaning homes, or hanging ceiling fans. With the variety of task jobs that exist, this side hustle allows you to tap into special skill sets you really enjoy using. You can work as a handyman, pack and move boxes, set up home theater systems — the list goes on.

You’ll make even more money if you have some professional skills in the construction industry. If you’re an experienced plumber, electrician, or house painter, you can pull in loads of jobs on Handy.

How much you earn depends on what type of job you do, where you do it, and how often you work. For example, certified plumbers and electricians make more than furniture assemblers or house cleaners.

5. Work From Home as a Freelance Writer

From small businesses to Fortune 500 corporations, companies are always looking for people to write web content like blog posts, articles, marketing emails, and social media posts. Freelance writing is a great way to earn some extra money on the side, and if you’re really good at it, you could even turn it into a full-time job.

To get started, check out websites like Upwork and Freelancer. On these sites, you create a profile that details your experience and compete for jobs in the marketplace. As you complete each project, your clients can rate your work. The key to being successful in freelance marketplaces like these is to get great ratings and build a strong profile. The better your reputation, the more high-paying jobs you can get.

If writing isn’t your forte, don’t worry. There are lots of other freelance jobs you can do from the comfort of home. You can find work as a virtual assistant, a social media marketer, a customer service representative, etc. The opportunities are endless.

6. Work From Home as a Freelance Web Developer

Like writing, web development is something you can do from anywhere at any time. With the right experience, you can turn your passion for web development into a side hustle or even a full-time job.

Upwork and Freelancer are good sources for web developer gigs, hosting many short-term contract positions you can do on the weekends or at night. Jobs range from building entire websites from scratch to implementing small updates on existing sites. As with freelance writing, demonstrating your expertise and earning high ratings are key to finding the most high-paying jobs.

7. Charge or Repair Scooters

If you live in a major city, there’s a good chance you’ve seen Lime or Bird scooters around town. Lime and Bird scooters are electric dockless scooters you can rent for short distances. These scooters have become quite popular recently, and both companies have started hiring people to charge them to ensure they’re ready for customers who need them.

As a Lime “Juicer” or Bird scooter charger, you can literally make money while you sleep. All you need to do is collect scooters that need to be charged, take them home to charge them overnight, and return them to the street in the morning.

Bird pays a minimum of $5 for every scooter you charge. The harder a scooter is to find, or “capture,” the more you can earn for charging it — as much as $25 per scooter. Lime also pays a minimum of $5 per scooter, with harder-to-find scooters paying as much as $20 per charge.

If you’re handy with a set of tools, Bird also hires mechanics to repair broken scooters. You can earn $15 for every scooter you repair.

8. Fix Cars as a Mobile Mechanic

One of the highest-paying side hustles is YourMechanic, which allows customers in need of vehicle repair to hire mobile mechanics who come to them. While customers can’t get major engine overhauls or serious transmission work done, they can get help with smaller tasks like patching tires, replacing fluids, and fixing hoses and belts.

Mobile mechanics earn an average of $40 per hour. Of course, you need to have the chops to do the job. YourMechanic only hires legitimate, experienced mechanics. It’s not like signing up for Uber or Lyft.

The high pay is an obvious benefit to working as a mobile mechanic, but there is one major con: Some mechanics report there just isn’t a lot of work to be done. You may only be needed to work a few hours each week.

9. Walk Dogs

Believe it or not, walking dogs can be a rather lucrative side hustle. If you’re willing to pet sit overnight, you can make even more.

With the dog-walking and pet-sitting app Rover, people who pet sit part-time report earning as much as $1,000 per month. Full-time sitters and walkers can earn even more.

On Rover, you set your own fixed rate per half-hour walk. The price is completely up to you. The trick is to be competitive, prove that you are trustworthy, and earn great ratings from customers. With great reviews and high ratings, you can increase your rates as you become more experienced.

You can also find pet care jobs on Care.com, where you can make $15, $20, or even more per hour just by walking dogs in your neighborhood.

Depending on your interests and level of experience, there are plenty of side hustles you can start doing right now to double your income each month.

Regardless of what you do, however, there’s one key tip to keep in mind: A side hustle is no different from running your own business. Work hard, put in the time, and do a thorough job. If you do those things, there’s no limit to how much you can earn or how successful you can be.

Brett Helling is the head of Ridester.

No Matter What Benefits Your Employer Offers, You Can Start Planning for Retirement Today

When it comes to planning for retirement, every financial adviser will tell you the same thing: Start early.

But what if it’s too late to “start early”? What if you’re already approaching retirement age and haven’t given it much thought?

According to a recent study, 31 percent of Americans have less than $5,000 in their retirement savings, and the average American only has about $85,000 set aside for their golden years.

If you have little to no retirement savings, you are not alone — but just because you’ve got company doesn’t mean you’re in good shape. If you haven’t started saving for retirement yet, you need to start as soon as possible.

Whether you’re just starting your career or approaching its end — whether your employer can help or you’re on your own — we have some advice. Below, check out a comprehensive guide to planning for your retirement, covering various savings options, government assistance, life insurance, and more.

Social Security

Social Security is a taxpayer-funded government initiative designed to assist people who are too old to work. It is a safety net that guarantees payouts for retirees, but living on Social Security alone is not a retirement plan. If you have paid into social security for at least 10 years during your working years, you are eligible to receive social security benefits.

How much you receive each month depends on the age at which you start collecting your benefits. All Americans are eligible to receive benefits at the age of 62, but that doesn’t mean 62 is your retirement age.

Your retirement age varies depending on the year in which you were born. For example, if you were born in 1954, your full retirement age is 66. If you were born in 1957, it is 66 years and 6 months. If you were born in 1960 or later, it is 67. To determine your exact retirement age, view this chart.

If you opt to take your payments before your retirement age, your monthly payouts will be reduced. Before you decide to start receiving payouts, estimate how much income you will need each month to live the lifestyle you want. Can you afford to take less each month by taking your payouts early, or are you better off waiting until your retirement age to receive your full benefits?

Curious how much your benefits and payouts will be? The Social Security Administration has a benefits calculator you can use to estimate your monthly benefits. This is a great place to start when developing a retirement plan.

401(k)s and IRAs

If your employer offers a 401(k) plan, invest as much as you can afford. These plans come with a variety of tax benefits, and the earlier you start, the more time you give your investments to grow.

Some companies are generous enough to contribute to your 401(k) on top of your own contributions, but even if your company doesn’t, a 401(k) is still one of the best ways to build your retirement account.

401(k) plans allow you to make diversified investments in stocks, bonds, cash, and money markets. The younger you are, the riskier you can afford your investment portfolio to be. If the stock market plunges and you lose a chunk of your 401(k) in your 20s or 30s, you’ll have plenty of time for your account to rebound. As you get closer to retirement age, you’ll want to shift your money into safer bonds and stable value investments.

If your employer does not offer a 401(k) plan, start investing your money in an IRA. The amount of money you can contribute to an IRA is limited each year, but anyone under the age of 70 and a half years old can contribute on an annual basis.

There are two main types of IRAs: traditional IRAs and Roth IRAs.

With a traditional IRA, you pay taxes on the money when you withdraw it in retirement. You will also have to pay a 10 percent penalty if you withdraw from the account before you hit age 59 and a half years old.

Roth IRAs are a bit more flexible when it comes to making withdrawals. With a Roth IRA, you pay taxes up front and don’t have to worry about paying them when you take the money out of your account.

Regardless of whether you put your money in a 401(k), IRA, or Roth IRA, low-cost index funds are a smart way to invest. Index funds are large collections of stocks and are therefore less subject to volatility than single-company stocks.

Employee Pension Plan

Fewer and fewer companies still offer traditional pension plans. If you’re lucky enough to work for one of those companies, you’re one step closer to funding your retirement.

Depending on what type of pension plan you have, your monthly payout will vary based on how much you and your employer have contributed to the plan. When you retire, you’ll have the option to take your pension in one lump sum or in monthly payouts spread out over several years.

Steady, monthly payments are ideal if you want to ensure a guaranteed amount of income every month. Couple this with your monthly social security payouts and you can have a steady stream of funds throughout retirement.

Thinking about investing in the stock market or purchasing real estate? You can take a lump sum from your pension and put that money into the investments of your choice. However, having a large amount of money at your disposal can be a bad idea for people who aren’t good at budgeting for the long term.

Investments

There are a variety of ways to invest money to build your nest egg for retirement, including investment accounts, real estate, businesses, and more.

Anyone can invest in the stock market. With a good broker by your side, you can build a significant amount of wealth to carry you through your later years.

Real estate holdings can also be great sources of wealth. If you can buy a home when you’re in your 20s or 30s and pay off the mortgage before you retire, you’ll be in great shape. You can continue to live in your home without the hefty monthly payments, or you can sell your home, downsize, and put the leftover money in the bank.

Annuities

An annuity is a contract with an insurance company. The purchaser pays a certain amount into the annuity and, in return, they are guaranteed a payout. That payout can be for a specific duration or for the remainder of the purchaser’s life. The amount paid in can be made in one lump sum or in installments over a period of years leading up to retirement.

With an annuity, how much you receive each month depends on how much you put in and how long the insurance company expects you to live. There are different types of annuities and different types of payouts. You can opt for a fixed payment that remains consistent from month to month or a variable payment that fluctuates (and sometimes pays out more).

Most people prefer fixed payouts. Variable annuities tend to have larger annual fees, and those fees often negate the small gains a variable annuity can earn.

Annuities aren’t for everyone, and they have their fair share of pros and cons. On the plus side, annuities are secure. They guarantee additional income throughout your retirement. You can also pay into them on a tax-deferred basis, and they don’t have the contribution caps many IRAs have.

As for the negatives, annuities are contracts that are almost impossible to get out of. Before you enter into one, make sure it is the way you want to invest your money. Annuities tend to have steep commissions and high fees, and if you have to pull your money out early, you’ll have to pay surrender fees. The biggest downside? If you die young, you could lose big.

Life Insurance

If you have dependents, life insurance is a must. If you’re single and don’t have any dependents, you may be able to get away without it.

When buying life insurance, make sure you take out the right kind of policy for yourself. Make sure you understand the terms, the conditions, and how the payout will work in the event of your death.

There are two main types of life insurance: permanent life and term life. Term life pays you for a certain period (10 years, 20 years, or whatever your specified term is). Term life insurance is typically less expensive than permanent life, but there is one main thing to keep in mind: If you have a 20-year term and you pass away at 20 years and one month, your beneficiaries will receive nothing at all.

Permanent life insurance, on the other hand, is more of an investment. With permanent life insurance, you pay more for your monthly premiums, but the policy pays out until the end of your life. It is ideal for anyone looking to protect their heirs or provide stability and income for a spouse or a child. Whole life policies also accumulate cash value, which you can borrow against as you age.

Regardless of what type of policy you take, make sure you get the proper amount of coverage. At the very least, make sure you can cover the cost of your mortgage and bills so your spouse won’t have to worry about those obligations when you’re gone.

If you’re nearing the end of your life and you need cash more than you need life insurance, it is possible to sell your policy in a transaction called a “life settlement.” In a life settlement, a policyholder cashes in on their life insurance policy, receiving more than the accrued cash value but less than the death benefit. This is an excellent option if you need the money more than your beneficiaries do.

Health Insurance and Medicare

There is no way around it: With age comes a decline in health. When planning for retirement, take your current health and future health risks into consideration.

The most obvious and affordable health insurance choice for most retirees is Medicare. Medicare Part A is free for most people, and all Americans are eligible to start receiving benefits at age 65. There are also Part B and Part D coverage options. Part B covers specific doctor’s services, outpatient care, and certain preventive services. Part D helps subsidize the cost of prescription drugs.

If you paid into Medicare through taxes for at least 10 years, much of the coverage is free, but the additional parts will cost you, and depending on your health, they can cost you big.

The standard Part B cost starts at $135 a month. Part D starts at $33.19 per month. If you have a hospital stay your deductible starts at $1,364 and can increase the longer you stay. The key takeaway is that Medicare is not entirely free.

Depending on your health, you may want to take out a long-term care insurance policy. Long-term care insurance is ideal for anyone who has a chronic illness, a disability, or a debilitating disease. It will cover you should you need nursing home care, an assisted living facility, or in-home care. Long-term care can be costly, and long-term care insurance is one of the best ways to protect your finances in retirement.

Summary

Financial planning for retirement can seem like a daunting task, so it is essential to break it down one step at a time.

Start by estimating how much money you will need. Determine what your monthly payouts from Social Security and pension plans will be. Invest money in a 401(k) through your employer or open up your own IRA.

Make investments in stocks, bonds, and real estate. If you want to ensure a steady stream of income, consider investing some of your savings into an annuity that will pay out each month. Protect yourself with life insurance to guarantee a payout a spouse or child can use when you’re gone.

Most importantly, don’t underestimate the cost of healthcare. Our health declines as we age, so make sure you are fully aware of the costs of Medicare and supplemental insurances such as Medicare Part B and Part D.

The final takeaway: The sooner you start to plan for retirement, the better off you’ll be. If you’re close to retirement age and haven’t yet formulated a solid plan, it might be time to consult with a financial adviser. The only way to enjoy retirement is to make sure you’ve got enough money to cover everything you’ll need.

Scott Abramson is the head of growth at Mason Finance.

Christy Wright’s Best Tips for Launching a YouEconomy Business

Article by Cecilia Meis

The farm was beautiful: A moderate house and 11-stall barn built on 40 acres outside of Nashville. It reminded Christy Wright of her dad, and of Bo, the wobbly legged foal she watched take its first steps nearly two decades prior. Bo was her first horse. He was wild and adventurous, kind of like her. She had wanted to live on a ranch since that day. She wanted this ranch.

But there was one not-so-small problem: The rent was about three times more than the struggling college grad could afford. Wright rented it anyway.

She wasn’t focused on the ways she might fail; she was focused on her dream. To solve her big-ranch, little-money problem, Wright looked to the resources she already possessed: knowledge of horses and horse care and 11 empty stalls.

Fields of Grace Farm would become Wright’s first business, a horse boarding service that transformed into a haven for miniature donkeys, some stray cats, and two fainting goats. She never went in with the intention of making a huge profit or even labeling herself an “entrepreneur.” She simply combined her skills, background, and available resources to solve a problem in her life.

“More often than not, business is not super sophisticated; it’s just scrappy,” Wright says. “It’s just making it work. It’s failing and picking yourself up and trying something new.”

Opening the farm was pretty risky, but Wright was tired of living in a house alongside an endless cycle of roommates moving in and out. She was tired of working 80 hours per week at a nonprofit earning minimum wage. She gave herself permission to chase a bigger dream, and then she made a plan to achieve it.

Now a 35-year-old business coach, Dave Ramsey-aligned media personality, best-selling author of Business Boutique, and the creator of the Business Boutique brand, Wright is on a mission to empower women everywhere, from boardrooms to nurseries, to embrace that little voice in their head brimming with ideas. Her often sold-out events aim to inspire women to exercise their natural gifts and supplement their income through the solo hustle.

A solo or side hustle doesn’t have to be big, nor does it have to change the world, Wright says. You don’t need to move to Silicon Valley or even out of your basement. You don’t need to scale up to $1 million in revenue. You can make just enough to fund an annual family vacation or your child’s club-sports travel costs. The beauty of the YouEconomy is that it’s eternally customizable; it can be bent, turned, twisted, and contorted until it fits the beautiful and often messy realities of your existing schedule. Your YouEconomy venture should fit within your life, not the other way around.

This new manifestation of the American Dream is available to any woman willing to work for it. Helping women ideate, plan, launch, and grow their YouEconomy pursuits has become Wright’s life’s work and the basis of Business Boutique.

“My favorite part of this journey is to have a front row seat to watch these people do this thing, build their businesses and chase their dreams,” Wright says.

But, she cautions, starting a business — no matter the size or complexity — isn’t easy, and it’s not for everyone. For those who want it, though, the timing has never been better. Here, Wright offers her best tips for launching a YouEconomy business:

Understand Your Calling

So, you like designing and building coffee tables? Cool. Is it your passion? Is it your life’s work? Is it how you will be remembered?

Maybe not, and that’s okay. The point is you enjoy it, and you might find a group of people who also enjoy handmade coffee tables but don’t have the talent, time, or patience to build their own. They might be willing to pay you for your product and maybe create long-term business relationships with you. Boom, you have your first customers, which means you are in the YouEconomy.

It can truly be that simple, Wright says.

“[The word ‘calling’] implies there was one thing that you were put on this earth to do, and I don’t agree with that,” she says. “Regardless of what you do or how you do it, I’m passionate about serving people, and there are a lot of different ways we can do that.”

Chasing your dreams can feel intimidating when you start to consider whether your hobby or skill is profitable enough and scalable enough to share with the world. Put those negative thoughts aside, Wright says.

Embrace Your Story

Wright’s entrepreneurial journey began long before her adventure on the farm. When she was 6 months old, her single mother was struggling to make ends meet as a sales representative for a large national company. Long hours meant no time with her daughter, so Wright’s mother rewrote the script of her life.

She approached a moderately successful candy store owner in downtown Nashville. The owner needed more business, and Wright’s mother needed an established platform to showcase her talents for creating cakes and desserts. She proposed that the owner display her homemade sweets in an empty storefront window. For a portion of the profits, Wright’s mother would have prime real estate and the candy store owner would see more foot-traffic business. It worked, and Wright’s mother eventually opened her own bakery.

Wright grew up in that bakery. She became friends with the employees, ran deliveries around downtown on a bicycle, and organized the icing bags by color. She wasn’t much for baking, but the hustle of a small business excited her even then. She spent most mornings before school napping on 50-pound bags of sugar and flour, often showing up to class with a powdery hue to her already white-blonde hair. She liked the cash register, the rhythm of the buttons and the satisfying whir as the drawer popped open.

Wright holds a Bachelor of Business Administration and is a certified business coach, but her first business and leadership lessons happened in that bakery.

“My mom didn’t teach me work ethic and character and passion and perseverance and kindness and customer service,” Wright says. “She lived it in front of me, and as a result, I live it as well.”

The bakery never grew exponentially, but Wright’s mother made a comfortable enough living. She loved baking, and it brought her joy to play such an integral part in celebrating the life milestones of her loyal customers.

In a time when virtually anyone with internet access can launch a startup, the market might seem too crowded for handcrafted jewelry or all-natural soy candles, but Wright says the same age-old marketing principles sill apply today. Customers, especially millennials, want to try new products, and the market is always ready to embrace new ideas.

What truly sells, however, is the person and the story behind a product.

The personal brand is your business brand, and that’s a unique advantage,” Wright says. “It can be the reason people come to you.”

The things that might seem weird about you are the things that make you — and by extension, your product or service — unique. Embrace the story of who you are and what you’re trying to accomplish. Your audience will feel that vulnerability and respond.

Do Your Research and Be Realistic

Wright is a no-fluff business coach. After managing large teams, growing departments, and launching new ventures, she doesn’t subscribe to sugar-coating her advice. She is a realist. If your passion has no demand in the current market, she’s going to tell you that.

If you love teaching piano lessons, great. But if your neighborhood has three other piano teachers who are struggling to fill time slots, you might have a problem. That doesn’t mean you’re doomed to fail, but it does mean you need to do your research. Why are those other teachers struggling to fill benches?

“For someone to make money in the world we live in today, they have to solve a problem,” Wright says.

Start With What You Have — and Quickly

Launching a successful solo gig doesn’t have to be complicated, Wright says. Start with the resources you have.

If you speak three languages fluently, consider teaching foreign language or launching a digital course your clients can take at their own pace. Your barrier to entry into the business world is only the cost of your internet connection and the time it takes to develop a course outline.

For many, the hardest part is getting started, Wright says. This is true for most scary or unpredictable things in life. She advises her clients to focus on getting just one paying customer as quickly as possible. Your first win can provide the confidence boost you need to stay motivated. After that first customer, you can adjust as needed.

“It’s start fast, fail fast,” Wright says. “You’ll find out if it doesn’t work, and you can redirect if you need to.”

Stake Your Ground

Your unique selling proposition is the one feature about your product or service that hasn’t been done by anyone else. A prime example, Wright says, is the Ember Mug, a ceramic mug that allows you to adjust the temperature of your drink through an app on your smartphone. For Wright, a mother of two young boys who reheats her coffee 50 times before lunch, this was a groundbreaking product.

But what if you don’t have a groundbreaking idea no one else has had yet? In that case, your unique selling proposition simply becomes the one quality of your product or service you choose to highlight.

“A lot of what makes Business Boutique unique is me,” Wright says. “There are a bazillion business coaches, but people come to me for the way I teach.”

When you’re considering what makes your solo venture marketable, don’t be intimidated by the thought of creating the first or even the best version of your product or service.

Dream Big, Start Small, and Work Tirelessly

Wright began working for Dave Ramsey, the best-selling money whisperer and radio personality, in 2008. She started as a product developer and then became a speaker. Now, with Ramsey’s mentorship, Wright is a business coach in her own entrepreneurial venture.

Wright had long dreamed of working to inspire women in business as her mom once did, but she also took calculated risks, exercised patience, and adopted a student mindset. As much as she believes we should feed the dreamers within ourselves, Wright cautions against putting you or your family’s financial security at risk.

“I’m always, always going to teach the safe route,” Wright says. “I never teach people to have the Jerry Maguire moment where you grab the goldfish and say, ‘Who is with me?’”

If your YouEconomy business is new, this is probably not the time to quit your nine-to-five, Wright says. Be patient and create time in the fringes of your schedule to build up your business to whatever size feels right for your situation. When you place all of your metaphorical eggs in the side gig basket, you run the risk of sacrificing your financial security and operating your business from a place of desperation.

“I guarantee you this,” Wright says. “If you are desperate for sales, desperate for money, desperate for personal income, your customers will feel it.”

Make Time, Not Excuses

How many times this week, this month, or this year have you told someone you’d love to start a business but there just aren’t enough hours in the day? The problem, Wright says, is we aren’t purposefully choosing how we spend our time.

“I am very aware that my time is finite. I can do anything, but I can’t do everything,” she says. “I’m okay saying no.”

If you often go to bed wondering where your day went or feeling guilty for not accomplishing your to-do list, it might be time for a schedule audit. For one week, write down every single thing you do and how long it takes. If you were sucked into an Instagram scroll session for 25 minutes, write that down. If you binged TV shows for three hours every night, don’t downplay it. At the end of the week, calculate how much time was spent doing time-sucking activities versus ones that promoted self-care and your goals.

Wright’s mother taught her from an early age that letting your dreams take a backseat is not a viable option. Whether you’re swallowing a wish to create a YouEconomy gig or you’re already in the planning stages, identifying your why can provide the extra motivation you need to make your dreams and goals a priority. Your why doesn’t need to be grandiose; it can be as simple as wanting to make a little extra money.

“You stay-at-home mom, you person who has fears and doubts — you know that you can do it, too,” Wright says.

Versions of this article originally appeared on SUCCESS.com and in the Summer 2019 issue of SUCCESS magazine.

Cecilia Meis is a full-time writer and editor based in Dallas, Texas. Besides SUCCESS, her work has appeared in Time Out Dallas, Rewire, Healthline, and others. Outside of work, she plays beach volleyball, attempts home cooking, and is ardently working toward making her cat, Nola, Insta-famous.

5 Common Workplace Mishaps and How to Recover

Most employees try their best and really do want to be successful in the workplace. Unfortunately, things don’t always go according to plan. What if you make a mistake? What should you do? How should you react?

The important thing to remember is that your response to any workplace mistake is about more than damage control, although that is certainly very important. How you recover from a mistake says a lot about your character. However, the other key is putting prevention strategies in place to catch small mistakes before they become large ones.

Here are five common scenarios and their solutions. Chances are, you can probably to relate to some or all of them:

Scenario 1: A Deadline Is Approaching, and You’re Going to Miss It

It’s Tuesday afternoon, you’ve just realized you have an assignment due tomorrow. There is no way to finish the project in time, as you still have at least two days’ worth of work yet to be done.

Don’t despair! There is hope. To minimize conflict and soften the blow with your boss:

  1. Accept responsibility. Recognize your time mismanagement or the receipt of unanticipated additional assignments. Own up to the situation.
  2. Brainstorm your implementation plan. How much longer past the deadline do you need? What steps on what timeline will it take to complete the project?
  3. Notify your manager immediately. Be honest in your justification. Avoid placing blame on anyone else. Immediately and sincerely apologize to your supervisor.
  4. Lay out potential solutions and request input before you implement.
  5. Once the project is complete, brainstorm ways to avoid this in the future. Schedule tasks on your calendar, conduct weekly team check-ins, and set phone alarms.

Scenario 2: It Looks Like You’ve Hatched an Escape Plan

You desperately need a bathroom break at the morning meeting — for the third time this week. As you make your exit, you’re unable to avoid the disapproving gaze of your boss. It might be coincidence on your end, but team members and managers may perceive it as avoidance or disengagement.

Here are a few simple tips to both avoid and minimize the effects of this situation:

  1. Allow plenty of time in advance to use the bathroom and get a coffee before any meetings. If you forget, be smart and discreet.
  2. Prevention aside, if you must leave, a simple, “Excuse me, I’ll return in a moment,” or “Excuse me, I’ll be right back,” will do.
  3. Use the back or side room entrance, not the front, to minimize disruption.
  4. Reenter quietly without your cellphone, or turn it to silent.
  5. Sit in the back of the room if returning to your original seat will cause a distraction.

Scenario 3: Your Officemate Is Driving You Nuts

Whether you’re dealing with a chatterbox, a nosy colleague, or a challenging personality, working with difficult people is stressful. However, creating an amicable team atmosphere yields a better experience for all. Plus, being able to address and overcome interpersonal conflicts is a key soft skill to have in your arsenal.

A few tips:

  1. Remain professional and keep your emotions in check.
  2. Don’t drag other coworkers into the issue or enlist others to take sides. Instead, seek and discuss potential solutions with a spouse, mentor, or trusted friend.
  3. Get to know your coworker better and try to understand how they work.
  4. If significant issues arise in the workplace, address them immediately with HR.

Scenario 4: You Make an Honest Mistake

You just finished a report to the team that includes several data points pulled from an internal analysis. To your horror, a colleague whispers in your ear that a key percentage is reversed. The report has been sent out to the whole team, including upper management. What to do?

Keep in mind these key recovery tips:

  1. Business professionals make mistakes. It can be embarrassing to admit the truth, but confronting mistakes demonstrates your maturity and helps in the long run.
  2. Accept responsibility; don’t hide your mistake. Don’t blame others for your mistake.
  3. Apologize and learn from it. Double- and triple-check your work in the future to avoid a repeat.
  4. Move forward and continue to do good work to build trust with your coworkers and boss.

Scenario 5: You Have an Awkward Wardrobe Malfunction

Whether your clothing accidentally rips or your neckline is too revealing, it is important to maintain a professional workplace appearance. Here are tips to both prevent and recover from a wardrobe malfunction:

  1. If you’re headed to an interview, research the office wardrobe culture beforehand.
  2. As a new employee, carefully read the written dress code policy and observe the unwritten code, too.
  3. Keep a backup jacket, dress, or other clothing in your workspace in case of a coffee spill.
  4. A scarf is a handy accessory to keep on hand when a little cover up is needed.
  5. Look in a full-length mirror and ask yourself if your attire is suitable to meet your significant other’s family members.

Office mishaps can be utterly embarrassing, but they don’t have to destroy your career. Instead, they can be opportunities to build character and resilience. Reframe mistakes as learning opportunities and skill-building exercises for your professional growth. And when a colleague makes a mistake, support them in the recovery process as well.

Sharon Schweitzer is a former employment attorney and founder and CEO of Access to Culture.

5 Questions to Help You Reevaluate Your Career Plan

Career planning is the difference between taking control of your journey and letting it simply happen to you.

Of course, no matter how much your prepare, things don’t always go as planned. Careers are no different, which is why you should make sure to reevaluate your career plan from time to time. As you evolve, so will your goals. To get what you want out of your professional life, you may have to tweak and adjust your career plan regularly.

Here are five questions you should ask when it’s time to reassess your career plan:

1. What Is Essential to Me as I Go Through My Career?

As with any type of goal-setting, it is important your goal be specific. You may have an idea of what you want to achieve professionally, but you can be much more targeted in your efforts if you can articulate that idea clearly to yourself and others.

Keep in mind that professional goals need not be limited to achieving a certain salary or job title. Things such as work/life balance or finding a purpose are equally as important to consider, if not more so.

2. How Does My Current Path Ensure I Will Achieve My Goal?

Once you’ve gotten specific about the goals you want to achieve, evaluate your current situation. Confirm that it supports your goals, or at least serves as a stepping stone to achieving them. Maybe you’re learning essential skills, or perhaps you’re getting the industry experience you need to move on. Whatever the case, be sure you don’t get so comfortable with the status quo that you stop pushing yourself forward.

3. What Is the Next Step I Need to Take to Progress?

Now that you’ve taken stock of your current situation, you can figure out what you need to do to move forward. Your next move may be positioning yourself for a promotion, making an industry transition, or something else. Whatever your next step is, be specific about what exactly you will do, and set a timeframe for doing it.

4. Do I Need to Make Any Changes to Reach the Next Step?

You know what your next move is — but is your current trajectory going to get you there? For example, it’s possible you will need to learn a new skill or earn a new certification to achieve that promotion you want.

Other things may need to change, too, depending on your goal. Does your office environment need shaking up? Is it time to eliminate that long commute? Don’t avoid making the changes you need, even if they feel intimidating. Focus on one critical change at a time, and you’ll be amazed at how much closer you are to your goal by the end of the process.

5. Have I Made the Correct Adjustments to My Plan?

Your career goals and needs are not static; as you evolve as a person, they will evolve, too. The goals you had when you first entered the job market are likely to change several times as your career develops. This is why it is so important to ask yourself these questions periodically.

However, the most important part of your career plan comes down to what you do with the answers. It’s all in the follow-through.

A version of this article originally appeared on the Atrium Staffing blog.

Michele Mavi is Atrium Staffing‘s resident career expert.

13 Tried-and-True Creative Tactics Candidates Have Used to Stand Out in Interviews

1. They Started With Trust

Good candidates tend to focus on the results and how they got them. They will go the extra mile to share examples of what they can achieve so they can build trust with you. It starts with trust. It’s also about the chemistry. If the chemistry is good between the candidate and interviewer, then the candidate is likely a good fit.

Sweta Patel, Silicon Valley Startup Marketing

2. They Confidently Carried a Conversation

Candidates should convey confidence and show that they’ve done their research. I love when an applicant is comfortable in their own skin and not afraid to ask insightful questions, both in the interview and with our clients. Fluid, genuine conversation shows they’ve taken the time to understand the opportunity at hand and, if given the opportunity, will be a strong addition to the team.

Stephen Beach, Craft Impact Marketing

3. They Described How They’d Thrive in the Position

A job applicant once came in with an outlook on how she would thrive in the position. She used research on our company and competitor analysis, and she showed off her unique skills. This proved she was capable of performing the job and understood what was needed. Even if some of her goals were lofty, it showed ambition and demonstrated her thought process in a fantastic way.

Duran Inci, Optimum7

4. They Came With a Plan

I had an applicant come with a six-month plan for how they would help the organization with goals, tactics, timeline, and budget. I was impressed that they arrived with a plan ready to roll out. It showed real initiative.

Serenity Gibbons, NAACP

5. They Provided Recommendations for Improvements

One applicant had a completely customized resume for the role that included a lot of good recommendations for parts of the company that could be improved. It was product-specific and very on point. This was unique enough to move the candidate to a second interview after we inquired about the resume during the first.

Nicole Munoz, Nicole Munoz Consulting

6. They Shared the Path They Saw for Themself Within the Company

I like a candidate who has thought through what they want in a job. We had a woman come in who was super accomplished on paper, then took the interview to the next level. She explained where she saw herself in two years within the company and how she personally thought she would help us grow. It was my favorite interview to date. We were thrilled to hire her.

Colbey Pfund, LFNT Distribution

7. They Created a Free Account to Learn More About the Company

Our top candidates are those who share during the interview that they have created free accounts on our website to learn more about us. That always gets our hiring team to pay more attention. These candidates are able to be more specific about how their past experiences and skill sets can be applied to building our product and company.

Nanxi Liu, Enplug

8. They Came Prepared With an Interview Agenda

The most impressive candidate I’ve ever interviewed sat down in our conference room, opened up a notebook, and shared their own agenda for the first 15 minutes of the interview. This candidate essentially ran the interview herself for the first half of our session. As the candidate was applying for a project management position, I knew she’d knock everything out of the park. Hired!

Matthew Manos, verynice

9. They Created an Explainer Video

An applicant recorded a five-minute video explaining why they were the right fit for our open position. It was short, funny, and a great way for them to showcase their personality. The best part was the applicant had analytics attached to the video, so they knew exactly when we opened the video, and they called us promptly to check on their application.

Connor Tomkies, SupportNinja

10. They Admitted Their Shortcomings

Many people advise against this. However, if you do it right, it can work.

For example, maybe you say you weren’t in the top 10 in selling for the last quarter, but you led in overall productivity and implemented three of your ideas that improved overall business operations. Shortcomings, when couched correctly, can work to your advantage.

Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers Personal Finance

11. They Discussed Their Creations Outside of Work

I am always impressed by applicants who create their own things outside of work, such as a YouTube channel with 50,000 subscribers or if they developed their own personal website. I want to see what candidates create during their free time outside of work to find out where their passions truly lie.

Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner

12. They Were Funny

The thought of using humor in a job interview is intimidating and it’s not for everyone, but if you can do it well, you’ll stand out. The right kind of humor can make you more relatable, and making the interviewer laugh is certainly memorable.

John Turner, SeedProd, LLC

13. They Proactively Applied Their Skills Before the Interview

The best way for a job applicant to set themselves apart is to proactively apply their skills to the position they seek, tailored toward the organization they wish to work for. For example, a designer could craft concepts for a current project. A PR person could compile a plan for how they would have handled an opportunity for positive press that was missed. Nothing sets a candidate apart like going that extra mile!

Jeff Jahn, DynamiX