Top 13 Workplace Legal Issues Of 2014

Your favorite columns on bosses, breaks, firings and pay

law scales on table. symbol of...

I'm so grateful to you, my readers, for asking me questions, sharing your comments, and reading my columns every week. I'm taking a break for the holidays, so I thought I'd share with you the columns that you checked out the most in 2014. Here's a recap of the columns covering the employment law issues that concerned you the most this year:


1. The Little-Known ObamaCare Catch-22: You are concerned and confused about the Affordable Care Act, better known as ObamaCare, because every time I wrote about it, you read it. This column was about a concern I had about a gap in the ability to elect COBRA and the Affordable Care Act. It affected everyone who lost their job outside an open enrollment period. You spoke up and we got a partial fix, but the gap is still there.

2. 9 Out Of 10 Americans Don't Know This Secret About ObamaCare: If you got caught up in the gap, you have the opportunity to switch. Do you know your deadline? Do you know how to switch? I explain in this article.

How Not To Get Fired

3. 9 Ways A DUI Will Destroy Your Career: Before you drive on New Year's Eve, better know the consequences. A DUI/DWI will mess you up, career-wise. Here's how.

4. Can I Be Fired Because My Boss Knows I'll Be Leaving?: If you are planning to exit your job, but not right away, read this to make sure you protect yourself.

5. Does My Boss Have The Right To Ask For My Password?: If your boss demands the passwords to your office email or other accounts, can you say no?

Horrible Bosses

6. My Boss Kicked Me. Can I Sue?: What can you do when your boss gets physical at work? Lots of readers must have truly awful bosses, because this was a very popular column.

7. Am I Being Targeted For Layoff Due To My Age: If you think age discrimination is the reason behind your layoff or termination, then this column explains how to prove it.

8. Is Employer Nepotism Illegal?: Favoritism, hiring relatives and friends, and other nepotism are pretty common. When is it illegal? I tell you how to figure it out.

9. Can My Boss Make Me Assume Legal Liabilities For The Company?: Your boss demands you sign a contract that makes you personally responsible for company debt or other liabilities. Can you refuse?

Breaks And Leave

10. Can My Employer Force Me To Take My Lunch Break?: You want to work through lunch to get things done but your boss says no. Can they make you take a break? Best read this column before you say no.

11. Does My Employer Have To Pay Earned Sick And Vacation Time When I Leave?: Whether you quit or were fired, you earned that vacation and sick time. Do you lose it when you leave, or do they have to pay it? It may depend on where you live.

General Issues

12. ObamaCare, Handbooks, Benefits And More: Your End-Of-Year Career Checklist: You've clearly been paying attention and want to make sure you're ready for 2015, because many of you have read this column already. If you want to have a great 2015, career-wise, here's your checklist.

13. Employment Law: What To Do When Your Boss Is Violating Your Rights: One of my most popular columns was another compilation. If you want to see more columns covering your legal rights at work, this is a good place to start.

Have a safe New Year's Eve and a wonderful New Year! Join me again in 2015 for more on your rights at work.      

For the New Year, Skip Resolutions--Make Goals

5 tips to nail your career in 2015

blue sky behind two white and...

I've been thinking about what resolutions I should make for the new year, and, as usual, I can list many things: get healthier, become better organized, write a book (or three), and on and on and on... Basically, pretty much the same things every year. And every year, like most resolution-makers, I usually fail/forget before January 7.

So, I'm trying to find a better way to implement necessary self-improvement for 2015, and I think I found it.

Instead of a new year's resolution, set a new year's goal for your career in 2015!

What do you most want to accomplish in your career? If you are unemployed, you probably want a good job. If you are employed, you may want a better job - more money, a nicer boss, better working conditions. All are worthy and attainable goals, but they seldom happen automatically without planning and effort!

Here are some possible goals for 2015:

1. Figure out what you want next in your career.
Knowing what you want next is a major accomplishment and a very worthy goal! It is the basis of everything - from your career path to choosing your next employer or earning a certification or degree. When it comes to something as important as your career, take time to do some thinking and reflection. Read the classic career book "What Color Is Your Parachute?" If your library has only one book about careers, this is the one - for good reason. Be sure to do all the exercises in the book. Like millions of others, you'll find them very helpful.

After you've read Parachute, spend at least an hour, maybe two or more hours (you're worth it!), figuring out where you want to be in the future. That old saying about "not being able to see the forest for the trees" is about being buried too deeply in life's daily details to see "the big picture." Reading Parachute and then taking the time to think about your career is a very good way to see what is really going on, what your big picture is - or what you want it to be in the future.

If you finish this goal early in the year, you can add another goal (or two! See below)!

2. Create a list of your ideal next employers.
If you know what you want to do next (and even if you don't know), explore the employment options available to you. What are your selection criteria - location, industry, size, or something else? Think about where you and friends and family have been happiest working. Or, where you think you would have the best possibility of future growth. Research your options online. MapQuest and Google Maps are two great ways to identify employers.

3. Expand your professional network so that you will have more options in your next job search.
This may mean bringing your LinkedIn profile up to the 500+ connections level and becoming more active in LinkedIn groups related to your job and career goals. Outside of LinkedIn, consider joining a national association related to your profession (or your target profession). Employee referrals are employers' favorite method of filling jobs - you are five times more likely to be hired if you are referred by an employee than if you simply submit a resume or application.

4. Become more active in the local community to expand your local network.
To meet more people in your community, join the local chapter of a professional or industry association related to your career goals or volunteer for a non-profit in an appropriate role (like being an officer in the parents' organization for your kids' school). You could also go to your high school or college reunion. I met many interesting and influential people helping my PBS station with their annual fund-raising.

5. Learn something new that will help you in your career.
Perhaps you have a gap in your knowledge or the requirements for your next step up the career ladder or the salary scale. Make your goal for this year to - at a minimum - get started meeting that requirement. If possible, meet that requirement. Perhaps the goal is learning one skill: improving your understanding of effective email marketing, getting a law degree, or creating beautiful watercolor landscapes. Once you have learned that skill, use it as much as possible, inside your job or outside of it in your personal life or networking activities, to gain experience and confidence.

What are your goals for 2015?

The list above represents only a few possible goals for your career in 2015. Think about how you would like to be positioned for 2016, and create your own goal if none of the examples above work for you. Then, set your goal(s) for 2015, and go for it! Or, you'll be in the same spot next year that you are now.    

Ask Jack: Holiday Time at the Office + Job of the Week

Holidays can mean humbug at the office. Tell Jack your troubles.

Do Men Gossip More Than Women in the Office

Gossip, rumor-mongering, and catty behavior know no gender

Whisper Words

I chose a career in finance for a number of reasons. I liked the classes in college, I wanted a challenging career, I wanted to make money. However, more than anything, I was interested in pursuing a career that was not filled with women. This fact is surprising to many; however, those that know me know that after growing up with five sisters and attending an all-female Catholic high school, I was ready to leave the drama of cattiness, gossip, hormones and cliques behind. Before I started working, I glorified the world of finance as being removed from drama. After all, I argued to myself that the lack of estrogen was bound to make for a smoother work environment.

It took about two weeks on the trading floor of a large investment bank for me to come to the realization that men gossip as much as any woman I know.

Typically after a big deal closed, many would leave the office early to celebrate over a few beers, and since I wanted to bond with my new co-workers, I joined them for a few that led to many. The evening took a turn for the bizarre when the group ended up at a strip club, and I had no ride home. Thankfully, one of the guys from the floor offered to drive me. Unfortunately, when he drove me home, he offered other things, but took my rejection like a gentleman.

As I crawled into bed in the wee hours of the morning, I said a prayer of thanks that I worked with men and would not be judged the next day in the office. A few minutes after I took my seat on the floor, a teammate asked me to step off the desk for a conversation, and he shared with me the word that had spread around the floor about the evening before. I stared at this friend in shock that word had traveled that fast--in a matter of minutes, since most people arrived at 6:00, and it was now 6:30 in the morning.

Fortunately for me, my evening chauffeur did not make up stories and told the truth--in fact, he shared the full story, including my rejection of him. From that moment on, I began to view my male co-workers in a completely different light. For the better part of my life, I had always assumed that women were gossipers and that men could not be bothered with sharing stories. However, I realized quickly that men are just as bad--if not worse--than women when it comes to the gossip department.

I would love to say that I learned my lesson about partying with co-workers after that first incident. However, there were numerous other times that I walked into work the next morning to a buzz about the happenings of the night before. Finally, after a male co-worker shared some intimate knowledge of a female teammate, I realized that I needed to find more friends outside of work.

Women typically gossip in small groups of one or two close friends, and usually stick with one person or one topic of conversation. From my experience, men seem to gossip in large groups, around broad subject matter. I have sat on a trading desk and heard men gossip about everything from outfits that women wear to rumored hook-ups of co-workers from a decade before--and the more outrageous the story, the longer it seems to be discussed across the desk. Even after I left the trading floor and worked for a smaller hedge fund, I found out that it was the men in the group who spread information more than the women.

Looking back on my 14 years in the finance world, I feel that I have heard and witnessed more gossip spread from men rather than women. Perhaps it's just because women are better at keeping gossip low-key--and I know that, working in finance, my perspective is skewed since the majority of financial service professionals are male. However, I have not heard gossip stories from other industries that rival mine.

I may be wrong in my assumption that men gossip more than women. However, until someone convinces me otherwise, I will keep my friends close and watch out for the men if I misbehave or have a few too many.      

5 jobs for the marketing team of the future

Ashley Furness, CRM market analyst, software advice 

During a recent business leaders' conference in London, Saatchi & Saatchi Worldwide CEO Kevin Roberts declared marketing dead, saying, "The further up in a company you go, the stupider you become – and the further away from new things."

While I agree with his latter sentiment, the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects marketing payrolls to increase by at least 13 percent between 2010 and 2020. Perhaps what Roberts meant to say is that the old ways of marketing are dead, as evidenced by the dramatic shift in skills desired from today's marketer. Recruiters are ditching mass media and direct mail for candidates who are savvy in search-engine optimization, analytics, mobile platforms, social media and content.

I asked more than 30 marketing and recruiting specialists what new marketing job titles they expect will become popular in the next decade. Here are five of the most common roles they named.

1. Crowdsourcing specialist
"You don't [market to today's customer] by just vomiting sales pitches on them, you do it by listening to how the product has helped them," says Josh King, director of business development at Peacock Virtual Solutions.
This role has two parts: listening and promoting. Companies can no longer dictate their brand identity to the customer. To that end, the crowdsourcing specialist would monitor conversations about the brand on the Internet and develop messages that respond to customers' expectations. On the promotion side, the crowdsourcing specialist would send out calls to action, such as inviting customers to compete to create the best video about the brand and perhaps tying the theme to something trending on Twitter.

2. Vice president of marketing data analytics
"Accountability wasn't present [in marketing] before. It's required now, because we can measure every aspect of a campaign," says Jennifer Pockell-Wilson, vice president of marketing and demand operations at Demandbase. "You can't judge success by return on investment on a specific campaign anymore because traffic, brand awareness and consumers come from multiple sources that interact together."
People in this job would decide when, why and how marketing data should be tracked. This includes data collected through marketing automation, website analytics, social media, email campaigns, mobile platforms, SEO, content marketing and other channels. The goals: to improve marketing performance and continually refine the company's definition of the ideal customer. This information would be shared with brand and campaign strategists who design promotions.

3. ROI and marketing budget officer
Marketing budgets are shifting from quarterly allotments for print, direct mail and media advertising to constantly shifting spending from one channel to another. Data about return on investment are often instantly available -- from paid search ad spending, for example -- so marketing can be more nimble with resource allocation. The budget officer would track ROI from all promotion channels and adjust spending based on those results.
"The idea is to get marketing tactics out there quickly, track results, then continue with ones that work and dump ones that don't," says crowdSPRING co-founder Mike Samson. "The idea is to try a bunch of things and learn through constant trial and error."

4. Marketing integration planner
"People don't call directly in from an infomercial or click a banner and immediately buy items," marketing consultant Jocelyn Saurini says. "They search for reviews, they interact with brands, they pay attention to trending topics."
People in this job would identify ways to deliver a single marketing message, campaign or branding effort across multiple digital channels. An example includes using a pay-per-click advertising campaign to promote a viral video or using SEO keyword analysis to help craft a press release. They might also use tools such as Demand Metric's Marketing Channel Ranking Tool to prioritize message delivery channels based on cost and other indicators.

5. Content marketing chief
"The people who are able to create a lot of value in the marketing organization of the future think in terms of content, not channels, and in terms of insight, not data," says Zach Clayton, CEO and founder of Three Ships Media.
People in this job would plan the development of websites, blogs, videos, infographics, webinars, social media and other content vehicles. The individual would decide how that content would be promoted and cross-promoted, then track its performance. Finally, the content marketing leader would look for externally created content about the company on the Internet and find ways to use it for SEO and other marketing purposes.

What's your take?
It's doubtful that every marketing department will need all of these positions. The point here is to show the future of marketing through the most highly desired skills and emerging job titles.
"All the top-down, brand-driven marketing disciplines aren't dead, they just must be balanced now with the consumer-centric disciplines that require brands to let go of the steering wheel and let the consumers drive," says Tom Cotton, partner at marketing consultancy Protagonist.

Staying Focused During The Job Search

Don't knock the idea of a routine--or a bit of exercise

Woman sitting in meditating position outdoors, close-up

Whether you're a first-time job seeker or someone who's been looking and looking, everyone can hit a wall of frustration, loss of focus, and even resignation during a prolonged job search.

If you've suffered a few setbacks (you were one of two final candidates, or at the end of the process they decided not to fill the position due to budget, etc.) it can be hard to keep at it with all of the energy, enthusiasm, and zest necessary to come across as a great candidate. If you're living this reality, I'd like to offer some ways to help you recharge, stay focused, and get that job.

Letting go of rejection

First of all, please stop beating yourself up. Sometimes there are obvious reasons why we don't get a job (wrong skill set, experience, culture fit), and other times we'll just never know why. Yes, it's frustrating. But when we continually focus on what didn't work and hit replay over and over, it literally sucks emotional and creative energy from us that we could be using to think about the next opportunity.

Did you make a misstep during the interview or feel like you didn't successfully convey the things you feel make you stand out? By all means, learn from the experience and keep practicing. But remember, focus on practicing for the next opportunity, not dwelling on the past one.

Routines and rituals

Set a time-frame for job search efforts each day. If possible, try sticking to the same time-frame every day. For example, you are actively working on your job search from 9:00 to 12:00 each day. When you have a start and a finish, you'd be amazed how efficient you are.

The ideal work/rest ratio is 90 to 120 minutes to power away on something and then take a short break. Why? When we restore ourselves with either a drink of water, healthy snack, a quick walk, or some deep breathing, we recharge and are able to improve our focus and clarity for our next time chunk.

I'm a big fan of time-chunks, because when we spend entire days on the same task, our productivity slowly diminishes over time, making us less efficient. We also become tired, unfocused and are often listless by the end of the day. Which brings me to...

The power of exercise, networking, and socializing

A job search can seem like a marathon, so let's take that analogy and extend it to the physical realm. If you're not taking care of yourself, you will burn out on all levels. Not just physically, but mentally as well. Exercise is great for getting and staying fit, but the effects of a workout also supercharge our brains and make us feel more energetic and happier. Endorphins are a good thing. If gyms are not high on your priority list, try other forms of movement like martial arts, yoga, or dance. Or just take a walk.

Often, we can isolate ourselves when looking for a job. We feel like we need to be searching constantly, which can sometimes mean being surgically attached to our computers and smart phones. Remember how each day you set a time frame on your job search efforts? That means that you have time to get out, network, and socialize. Maybe this means having a cup of coffee with someone in a field you're interested in, taking a class, or volunteering. Yes, you could potentially meet someone who might be able to help with your job efforts, but on a deeper level you will be recharging yourself, which ultimately means more energy for your mind, body--and job search.      

13 College Majors In Which The Pay Goes Nowhere

You should totally follow your dreams, but...

Graduation day

By Jacquelyn Smith

When deciding on a college major, students are encouraged to think about a few things: what they love to do; what they want to do; what jobs they imagine themselves in; and what the earning and growth potential is like for those careers.

For instance, they would probably want to know ahead of time that human services majors see their annual pay increase by only about $7,500, or 22%, over the first 10 years of their careers, compared with the average American worker, whose salary grows by about $25,000, or 60%, in that time.

That's according to Payscale, the creator of the world's largest compensation database with more than 40 million salary profiles. It recently looked at the difference between starting (less than five years of experience) and mid-career (10 or more years of experience) pay by college major, and it determined the 13 majors with the smallest salary growth.

"We're not trying to discourage students from pursuing these majors - we're simply offering information so that students can make informed choices and get the most out of their degree, whatever major they choose," says Kayla Hill, a research analyst at Payscale.

Among the majors, child development has the lowest starting salary ($32,200) and mid-career pay ($36,400) while showing the least amount of growth in the first 10 years ($4,200, or 13%).

"Human support service majors tend to be paid less across the board," Hill says. "Child development workers in particular may see less growth over time because it is a field that tends to be undervalued by society. Additionally, childcare workers may not have the same opportunities for advancement as more technical jobs, where learning new skills can lead to a pay bump or promotion."

Human services majors had the second-lowest salary growth between starting and mid-career, while early childhood and elementary education had the third-smallest.

"People in support service jobs tend to find a high level of meaning from their jobs despite the lower pay," Hill says. "For many of these workers, the satisfaction and fulfillment they receive from helping others outweighs the lack of pay growth."

13. Theology


Common job: Chaplain 
Starting median pay: $36,800
Mid-career median pay: $51,600

Difference: $14,800 / 40%

12. Social Work


Common jobs: Mental health therapist; social worker; nonprofit program manager 
Starting median pay: $32,800
Mid-career median pay: $46,600

Difference: $13,800 / 42%

Read more "13 College Majors In Which The Pay Goes Nowhere"

Where To Intern In 2015: Vault's Top 50

Consultants rank high in annual survey

Portrait of young man in office next to wall presentation

If you are in college (or have a child who is), it's time to start the search for a summer 2015 internship. While some people might think seven months is a bit too far in advance to start searching, they would be wrong. Competition to get an internship in your desired industry, much less company, is aggressive.

Internships act as a solid bridge between the academic and business worlds. Good internships connect you with great contacts, experience and a good working understanding of the industry. The best internships provide you with tangible training, relationship-building events, hands-on experience and career development seminars. recently released their list of the Top 50 Internships for 2015.

Vault surveyed 5,800 interns at 100 different internship programs for their Internship Experience survey. The survey was based on the following criteria: "quality of life, compensation and benefits, interview process, career development, and full-time employment prospects."

"Today, 40 percent of all entry-level full-time hires in the U.S. are sourced through internship programs," according to Derek Loosvelt, a senior editor at "This means that, for those looking to work for the most desired and admired employers in the country, internships are no longer a luxury but a necessity."

10 Best Overall Internships for 2015:
1. Bates White Summer Consultant Program
2. Elliot Davis ENVISION
3. Frank, Rimerman + Co. LLP's Summer Internship
4. Bain & Company Associate Consultant Intern and Summer Associate programs
5. Northwestern Mutual Internship
6. Plante Moran's Internship Experiences
7. KPCB Fellows Program
8. Evercore Advisory Summer Analyst and Summer Associate Program
9. CapTech Summer Internship Program
10. Anadarko Corporation Summer Internship Program

Vault, in addition to ranking the Best Overall Internships, also ranked internship programs in seven industries: Accounting, Consulting, Energy, Financial Services, Investment Banking, Media & Telecom, and Retail & Consumer Products.

Best Accounting Internship: Elliot Davis ENVISION
Best Consulting Internship: Bates White Summer Consultant Program
Best Energy Internship: Anadarko Petroleum Summer Internship Program
Best Financial Services Internship: Northwestern Mutual Internship
Best Investment Banking Internship: Evercore Advisory Summer Analyst and Associate Program
Best Media & Telecommunications Internship: AT&T Finance Leadership Program
Best Retail & Consumer Products Internship: Kohl's Information Technology Internship

According to Loosvelt, the company has been studying, surveying and ranking employers for quite some time. Mainly focusing on consulting, law, banking and now expanding into consumer products, tech, energy, media and entertainment. Why study the internship programs of these industries?

"Internships have been growing in importance, as nearly half of all entry-level full-time jobs at the top employers in the country are now sourced through their internship programs. So we found it important to give readers a better sense of the best internship programs out there, and to give them information about what it's like to intern at top employers as well as how to get these internships," says Loosvelt.
Loosvelt says Millennials are looking for jobs and careers that have meaning.

"Of course, prestige and salary are still important to Millennials, but I don't think they're the most important factors by far (like I think they were to, say, Generation X). I think Millennials want to make an impact. They want to feel their work is meaningful (the definition of what's meaningful varies, of course, from person to person)," says Loosvelt. Some people might want to advance the tech field in Silicon Valley, others might find their meaning in charity, while others are spreading awareness via social media or through education.

"Millennials are very focused on career advancement and training," Loosvelt says. "They're attracted to positions in which they'll be able to make difference right away-that is, being able to contribute to their firm's success without much waiting/training period. And they want to know that they'll be able to advance quickly if they succeed. They shy away from strict advancement time periods. And I believe that Millennials are also less fearful when it comes to changing careers and entrepreneurship -- starting their own ventures. This might just be because it's easier to start businesses these days; for example, brick-and-mortar stores aren't necessary to begin because, in most cases, all you need is a web domain and an idea; it doesn't take that much money to get going."

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Millennials will be the majority of the workforce in 2015. Loosvelt agrees that more companies (like the ones ranked in the study) are putting more time and resources into their programs in order to attract top talent and retain them.

There has been a major switch as companies have been putting a greater emphasis on training and development in internship programs. "This is partly, I assume, because they realize it pays to do this. If you treat your internship program like one long training period (and now sometimes students will intern two and three summers with the same firm), once your interns start full time with you, they're ready to perform real work, not to mention they're apt to stay at your firm for a lot longer period of time-that is, they'll be less apt to jump ship to another firm just for the money since they have a stronger connection (more loyalty) to you," says Loosvelt.

"Companies are increasingly offering better benefits and perks," he adds, "as they understand that Millennials are interested in flexible schedules (to raise families and/or engage in outside-of-work activities) and in having a community feeling at work, which wasn't so much the case with respect to past generations."

Is Employer Nepotism Illegal

Is Employer Nepotism Illegal?

Boy (3-5) chairing business meeting

I get this question a lot. Can an employer favor a relative over you? Is nepotism illegal?

The simple answer is, no. Nepotism is not illegal. Your employer can fire you to hire their son, daughter, nephew or second cousin twice removed.

That being said, there are some circumstances where nepotism might be illegal:
  • Public Employer: While I don't know of any state that has a law prohibiting nepotism in the private workplace, many laws exist prohibiting nepotism at government entities.
  • Foreign Corrupt Practices Act: If your company does business overseas and hires relatives of an overseas public official, they may be violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
  • Failure to Disclose: While nepotism isn't illegal under federal securities laws, it is illegal not to disclose any potential conflict of interest to shareholders. Failure to disclose might violate Sarbanes-Oxley.
  • Race Or National Origin Discrimination: If the company hires mostly relatives, they may be crossing the line into race or national origin discrimination. If they are turning down better qualified people of a different race or ethnicity, then hiring relatives, they might get crosswise with Title VII or state discrimination laws.
  • Marital Status Discrimination: If there's a no-married-couples policy, some companies make the mistake of making the woman leave when employees marry. Or maybe they just say the person of lowest rank has to go. A policy like that might discriminate against women.
Of course, many companies have policies prohibiting nepotism, or at least prohibiting relatives from hiring, promoting, supervising or firing relatives. If your boss violated that policy, then you might think about reporting them to HR. Some companies even have anonymous reporting lines that let you report violations of policy without giving your name. If you do report a violation that isn't illegal, you probably aren't legally protected against retaliation, so be very careful.    

The 10 College Majors With The Highest Starting Salaries

Electrical engineering majors start at $57K

Power engineer performing maintenance on fluid filled high voltage insulator
Electrical engineering is a potentially lucrative major.

By Peter Jacobs

Electrical engineering majors make the most money immediately after graduating college, with an average starting salary of $57,030, according to a recent study from Michigan State University.

The study comes from MSU's College Employment Research Institute, and charts the average starting salaries for new college graduates in a variety of majors.

According to the MSU study, the average starting salary among all new college graduates is $39,045. The lowest average starting salary - advertising - is $36,638.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the MSU list is dominated by engineering majors.

Check out the top 10 highest average starting salaries below (or click on one of the jobs to apply!).

Electrical Engineering - $57,030
Computer Engineering - $56,576
Mechanical Engineering - $56,055
Software Design - $54,183
Computer Programming - $54,065
Chemical Engineering - $53,622
Computer Science - $52,237
Civil Engineering - $51,622
Mathematics - $47,952
Construction - $45,591      

The 15-Minute-a-Day Habit That Can Boost Your Career

The 15-Minute-a-Day Habit That Can Boost Your Career

By Hannah Hamilton
Monster Contributing Writer
If you’re interested in an easy way to improve your job performance and boost your career, it’s time to start a writing habit. A study from Harvard Business School tested whether taking 15 minutes at the end of a work day to reflect on that day’s work improved their performance and found the participants tasked with daily written reflection did 22.8 percent better on an assessment than the control group.
But wouldn’t internal reflection by itself be enough to bolster performance? “My speculation would be that writing things down would be more beneficial as the act of writing imposes a discipline on us to stay focused,” says paper co-author Brad Staats, an associate professor of operations at the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School.
Reflection forced people to process their days, find patterns and link actions. Some people might think the experiment focused on the successes of the day, but Staats says the parameters of the experiment when explained to the journaling employees didn’t specify giving the reflections a positive or negative slant.
“What we wanted was for them to reflect more on whatever they thought was most important from the day,” Staats explains. “The positive/negative point is a great question, but not one we looked at here. In other research, Francesca and I have explored how individuals struggle to learn from failure, but when they accept internal responsibility for their actions then they learn from failure.”
One idea of why a writing habit helps is that thoughts running through your mind about your day suddenly become significant and deliberate catalysts for change through thinking them over and writing them down. “Reflection on experience and learning facilitates deep processing, which allows you to retain information for a long time — as opposed to simply cramming it in your brain and promptly forgetting it after the test,” says career coach George A. Boyd.
Despite taking a portion of time out of the work day, essentially working less than the control group, the new distribution of energy towards reflection heavily impacted performance. Even Staats was surprised by how much of a difference the exercise made.
“I thought reflection might help a bit, but I didn’t expect it to make such a meaningful impact on performance,” Staats said. “These people weren’t spending extra time at work — they were spending 15 minutes less on training each day so they could reflect, however by reallocating their time in such a small way we see a significant, positive impact on performance.”

Making writing a habit could be a simple way to both gather your bearings and be a better employee, but it is also a hard habit to adopt and keep consistently. “In talking to people, one of the real challenges with reflection is finding the discipline to maintain it,” Staats warns. “That means people need to find ways to continue the practice — whether that is blocking your calendar, finding an accountability partner who might also reflect at the same time, or something else that works well for you.”

The new office etiquette: Rules for today's workplace

Shannon Lee,

Gone are the days when office etiquette was clearly defined. In today's relaxed professional environment, conduct is more casual, which means it's often difficult to know what is OK and what isn't. Fortunately, some rules of workplace etiquette are universal.
These 12 tips can help you adjust to a new office or clean up your behavior in a place you've worked for years.
1. Avoid social media. Unless your job requires you to peruse social networking sites all day, avoid them while you're on the clock. Though surfing Facebook or Twitter might be tempting, it can be detrimental to your work performance and productivity, not to mention the way your boss perceives your enthusiasm -- or lack thereof -- for your job.
2. Take that phone call elsewhere. Everyone has a cellphone these days, so getting personal calls at work is pretty much unavoidable. But don't assume that just because your phone rings, it's OK to take it right there at your desk. If you get a personal call, excuse yourself and answer it in private. The last thing you want to do is air your personal business.
3. Gossip: The big no-no. Who hasn't been tempted to speculate on the lives of their co-workers? It's especially tempting when everyone else in the office is doing it. But remember that gossip says more about you than it does about the person you're discussing. Don't talk about others, and keep your personal life private to discourage water-cooler talk about you.
4. Keep emails formal. Email seems pretty casual, doesn't it? It isn't like correspondence on letterhead that requires careful composition and proofreading -- right? Contrary to popular belief, work emails should be held to the same formal standards that you would hold any other office correspondence. So toss the slang, get the punctuation right and proofread before you hit send.
5. Watch your language. No matter how comfortable you are with your co-workers, or how casual your office may seem, blurting out a curse word can get you noticed for all the wrong reasons. You don't want that accidental f-bomb to overshadow your work, so keep the language clean.
6. Stay tuned in to the world around you. Want to plug in your headphones and jam while you finish that report? Go ahead (if your office allows it), but don't make them a constant fixture on your head. In the workplace, having headphones on all day can come off as antisocial. Need to focus on a project? Sneak away to a conference room for a while.
7. Knock before entering. Sometimes an informal office atmosphere can go too far. That's especially true when people start drifting from one cubicle or office to the next, without bothering to knock or otherwise announce their presence. Treat others as though they are in the midst of serious business -- even if they aren't -- and knock before you enter their personal space.
8. Stay home if you're sick. It seems like an obvious rule, but when you're stuck in the rat race, dropping out for a few days of the flu can seem detrimental to your career. However, going to work sick does more harm than good. Not only does it make you feel worse and potentially spread your germs to others, when you're under the weather your productivity most likely suffers. Make life easier on everyone and use those sick days.
9. Remember that scents travel. Do you have an allergy to perfume or cologne? Do you get a headache when you smell spicy food? Some of your colleagues might. Keep those potent lunches away from your desk, and don't overdo it on the fragrances. Those around you will be grateful.
10. Dress like the rest. There are many places where expressing your unique style is a fantastic thing to do. The office is not one of them. To make sure you're dressing the part, use your boss's attire as an example. If you want to appeal to management, dress just a notch above the office norm.
11. Save the job search for home. Looking for a new job? Don't do it on company time. Not only might someone get wind of your search (and feed that information into the gossip mill), but taking time away from your current employer to look for a new one is just plain rude.
12. Remember that everyone has a life. Show respect for everyone's down-time by avoiding late-night emails, phone calls or anything else that might require someone from the office to respond after hours. Save those for the next business day. Leaving the office behind when you walk out the door is important for everyone -- so honor business hours, but make sure you honor your time off, too.

Whether you're in a high-stress office or a relaxed small business, etiquette matters. Brush up on it now to continue making a great impression on your boss, co-workers and clients.

10 things the college admissions office won't tell you

1. Not all grades are created equal
For the more than two million high school seniors who intend to go to college next year, the stomach-churning slog of filling out applications is in full swing.
And whether they'€™ll get a thick package announcing their admission or a thin, dream-dashing one-page letter (or their online equivalent) may well depend on their grade-point average. Grades account for about 75% of the typical admissions decision, according to the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC).
But not all good grades are created equal. In the eyes of the admissions officers at the nation'€™s more than 2,800 four-year colleges, an "A"€ earned at one high school may only be worth a "€œB" at a more rigorous one. And in recent years, colleges have given more weight to grades from designated college-prep courses — and the more exclusive the college, the more weight those grades get.
One reason colleges are getting choosier: Grade inflation. Research by the College Board, the organization that administers the SAT, shows that the average GPA for high school seniors rose from 2.64 in 1996 to 2.90 in 2006 — €”even as SAT scores remained essentially flat.
The researchers saw this as evidence that some teachers were "€œusing grades... to reward good efforts rather than achievement."€ (The College Board also noted that, based on their test scores, less than half of SAT takers — €”just 43% in the graduating class of 2013—were academically prepared for college work.)
All that said, admissions officers generally believe that if you have a good GPA in high school, you'€™ll probably have a good GPA in college.
"€œThe clear message (is that) hard work and good grades in high school matter, and they matter a lot,"€ said William Hiss, a retired dean of admissions at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine who co-wrote a February 2014 study on standardized testing.

2. We don'€™t trust your essay
Many colleges rely on a student'€™s application essay to create a fuller picture of the applicant. But in an era of helicopter parenting, colleges increasingly worry that these essays aren'€™t written by the student.
To combat the possibility that parents, siblings or school counselors may be ghostwriting essays, many colleges require an additional piece of school writing that has been graded by a teacher. "€œIf the application essay looks like it was written by Maya Angelou and the school work looks like Willy Loman'€™s, it will raise some eyebrows,"€ Hiss said.
At some schools, application essays have also been caught up in the debate over whether a student'€™s race, ethnicity or gender should be a factor in the college'€™s admissions decision. At some public universities where race and gender preferences are banned, admissions officers are encouraged to give less weight to the essay because it can give away clues about the race and gender of the applicant.

3. We'€™re having second thoughts about the SAT
For decades, the SAT has been considered the primary benchmark for students'€™ ability to handle college-level work. This year, more than 7 million students will take entrance exams like the SAT or ACT this year for college admission.
But at more schools, skepticism about the test is affecting admissions policy: About 800 out of the country's 2,800 four-year colleges now make the SAT optional.
Critics have long argued that the weight given to SAT scores gives an unfair advantage to wealthier students who can afford test-prep classes. That in itself makes the SAT suspect in some admissions officer'€™s eyes. "€œIt's leading to an increasing divide in this country of those who can afford it and those who can't,"€ says Steven Syverson, the former dean of admissions at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wis.
There are also growing doubts over how well the SAT predicts college performance. A study produced this year and endorsed by the NACAC looked at the performance of 123,000 students admitted to college between 2003 and 2010, about 30% of whom hadn'€™t taken the SAT or its counterpart, the ACT. The study found no significant differences in college GPAs or graduation rates between those who took either test and those who didn'€™t.
Syverson says many admissions officers are looking forward to the rollout in 2016 of a new SAT that is designed to better reflect typical high-school curricula.
Many admissions officers are now giving more weight to Advanced Placement tests, which, like the SAT, are administered by the College Board. In 2013, 2.2 million students took AP tests, up 6% from a year earlier and more than double the number a decade earlier. AP tests essentially reflect a test taker'€™s mastery of college-level skill and knowledge; successful test takers often can skip some entry-level college courses, and some scores can count toward a major.
"€œMost deans feel pretty good about AP results since they are based on more of a tight curriculum,"€ Hiss said.

4. Obsessing over class ranking? That'€™s adorable
In 1993, more than 40% of admissions counselors viewed class rank as "€œconsiderably important," according to the NACAC. By 2006, that figure had declined to under 20%.
Hiss notes that in a small class of 100 students, being outside the top 10% doesn'€™t mean that you'€™re not capable of doing college-level work. "€œIs the fourteenth-ranked student in that class still a good college prospect? The answer is probably yes."€
Where rank still comes in to play is at larger colleges, where "€œholistic"€ reviews of applicants aren'€™t possible. But at smaller, more selective schools, the interview, essays and teacher and counselor recommendations get greater weight than rank, the NACAC says.

5. It pays to make nice with your teacher
As skepticism grows over GPAs and test scores, some admissions officers are giving more weight to recommendations from high-school teachers and counselors.
Angel Perez, dean of admissions for Pitzer College in Claremont, Calif., says the most useful recommendations show that the student is intellectually curious and contributes to class discussions. "We also ask '€˜How does the student respond to setbacks, how does the student interact in teams?'" Perez says.

6. We only sound exclusive
There are only about 100 U.S. colleges offered admission to less than a third of their applicants in 2013, according to the U.S. News & World Report. But a low admissions rate can help a college look "exclusive" — €”improving its scores in national college-rankings — €”and admissions officers say that some colleges try to finesse that rate.
"Right, wrong, or indifferent, our culture values exclusivity,"€ said Perry Robinson, vice president and director of admissions at Denison University in Columbus, Ohio. "€œAnd yet it is one of the easiest figures to manipulate."€
Tim Groseclose, a professor at George Mason University who formerly served as a faculty adviser to the admissions committee at the University of California at Los Angeles, says some schools deliberately try to play with the numbers by getting more high school applicants to apply, even if they aren'€™t planning on attending. And Syverson, the former Lawrence admissions, says that colleges sometimes count incomplete packages as complete ones, the better to increase their applications-to-acceptances ratio.
Groseclose says that sometimes competitive schools encourage students with unique talents to apply even if their grades and test scores may not be among the best. And at times, he notes, that can work in the student'€™s favor: "€œI know of one school that admitted a student because they happened to be the stateĆ¢€™s horseshoe-pitching champion."
Does that mean Tom Cruise'€™s character in "Risky Business"€ really had a shot at getting in to Princeton? "€œSometimes it can be like hitting the lottery," Groseclose says.

7. Politics may determine whether you get in
The role of race and ethnicity has been a polarizing issue in admissions. The NACAC says that about one third of colleges and universities consider an applicant'€™s race as a factor.
At some public universities, racial admissions preferences have been banned by state law, though critics have accused some schools of working around those bans. In California, racial preferences were banned by state referendum in the 1990s. But Groseclose has argued that UCLA got around that ban during the years when he worked with the admissions committee by implementing a "€œholistic"€ evaluation system that let admissions officers consider race. (UCLA has denied the "€œholistic" review process was an end-around the racial preferences ban.)
One practice that'€™s generally legal: "€œLegacy"€ admissions, where children of alumni and wealthy donors — €”or of powerful lawmakers who have a say in public university funding — €”get special consideration in the application process. "€œIf it were up to me, I would make legacy admissions illegal in both public and private universities, especially if those schools took a dime of public funding,"€ says Groseclose.

8. We'€™d rather admit someone who can pay full price
According to the College Board, 10% of college freshmen in 2013 were foreign students. One reason colleges woo these international scholars: Many are wealthy enough to pay the full price of tuition.
At publicly funded state universities, higher tuition for out-of-state students often helps subsidize education for state residents. For example, for an undergraduate at the University of California at Berkeley, in-state tuition is about $13,000 a year; for an out-of-state or foreign student, tuition is about $36,000 a year.
"Many universities look to international students as a panacea to their financial ills,"€ says Robinson, the Denison admissions dean. "€œThey are admitting the out-of-state residents because they are a cash cow, a revenue stream for them," Robinson said. In some states, this has led to battles among legislators and alumni over whether the number of foreign and out-of-state students should be capped.
The foreign-student pipeline can also have pitfalls, says Perez of Pitzer. In some countries, some students pay big money to sometimes unscrupulous "€œagents"€ to help them gain entry to prestigious U.S. schools. "You can interview a student for a freshman class and find out the student who shows up in the fall is completely different, because they hired someone to do the interview for them," he said. "€œI didn'€™t get into admissions to become a police officer, but that'€™s what the job requires now."€

9. We need you more than you need us
After 15 years of steady growth, the number of U.S. high school graduates leveled off this year at 3.2 million; it'€™s expected to stay at that level until 2020 before starting to rise again, according to the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education.
That means more colleges will be chasing after fewer students. "€œThe public believes that it'€™s so hard to get into college, but the reality is that most colleges are scrambling to find applicants to fill out freshman classes,"€ says Syverson.
As a result, students who get into more than one school may be able to do some horse-trading on tuition, notes Matthew Pittinsky, the CEO of, an online college-admissions credentials-management website. "€œIt's just like going to the dealer and negotiating a better rate for your new car,"€ he says.

10. Just because you get admitted doesn'€™t mean you'€™ll stay admitted
About 22% of colleges revoked at least one offer of admission in 2009 (the most recent year studied), according to the NACAC. The most commonly cited reasons were senioritis-impacted final grades (65%), disciplinary issues (35%) and falsification of application information (29%).
But in recent years, student postings on social media have increasingly prompted colleges to take a second look at their some admission offers. Perez of Pitzer recalls an incident in which a student the college had decided to admit was found to be harassing a high-school teacher on Facebook. "€œIt was a difficult situation, but I pulled the admissions letter before it was printed," Perez says. "€œI got hateful tweets, but we are in an uber-selective environment. We just can'€™t take the chance."€

"The bottom line is that the schools are trying to protect themselves," Robinson said. "€œWhat they see electronically is not always what they see on paper."€

5 In Demand Tech Jobs

Sara White

5 In Demand Tech Jobs
Information technology jobs are growing as more companies rely on technology for daily business and find that they need employees to help manage, develop, and implement software, hardware, and web designs. Tech jobs range from working with or developing software, to designing websites, to ensuring a company's data remains secure, and much more. It's a field where workers are in demand and companies are eager to fill any number of tech jobs. Here are five in-demand tech jobs that are slated to grow at a faster rate than other industries.

Software Developer - $64,668
Software developers are in high demand as more companies rely on technology and proprietary software. Developers are the brains behind the design and creation of computer programs and are also responsible for creating the systems and networks to run devices as well as creating specific applications. It’s a job that requires you to understand the needs of users and then design a program to suit those needs. Most software developers will create diagrams and documentation that will allow programmers to write the code to make the program run. As a software developer, you will need oversee the creation of software and then test the software before implementing it to ensure it will run smoothly for the end user. Your job won’t end there, however, as you will need to ensure that programs continue to run smoothly and perform any maintenance on software down the line. As a software developer, you will need to work closely with people (especially programmers) throughout the entire process as your software vision comes to life.
In order to become a software developer you will need a bachelor’s degree in computer science, software engineering, or mathematics. During your education, you will want to focus on software development skills to build your resume. A master’s degree isn't necessary, but it will help you chances at getting a higher-level job and can open up more doors, and there are some jobs that might require an applicant with a master's degree. It’s also important to keep in mind what industry you want to work in, to ensure you have the appropriate skills to design software for that niche.
Software developer is a fast growing position, with the BLS predicting that it will grow 22 percent by 2022, which is much faster than most other industries. The BLS also states that application developer jobs are expected to grow 23 percent, while system developer jobs will grow by 20 percent. The average salary for a software developer is $65,668, according to PayScale, with a reported salary range of $43,141 to $101,384 per year. Check out openings on Monster to find software developer jobs in your area.

Business Analyst - $64,888
A business analyst is tasked with identifying possible risks with new projects and then communicating those to the appropriate people. They may also be responsible for managing and creating project plans to develop and test new technology. IT business analyst was rated #43 on a list of the top 100 careers in America, according to CNN. It received B ratings for flexibility and low stress, which indicates that for the most part, business analysts don’t experience high stress in their jobs and have some control over their schedule. Business analysts work to help companies improve their business models by recommending solutions to companies to help them better their structures, policies, and overall operations. According to the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA), the role of a business analyst is to act as "a liaison among stakeholders in order to understand the structure, policies, and operations of an organization, and to recommend solutions that enable the organizatio to achieve its goals."
To become a business analyst you will need at least a bachelor’s degree in computer science with some business courses or a degree in management information systems.  Since it is a job that combines both information technology and business, you will want to have a good grasp on both industries. Some high level business analyst jobs might require applicants to hold a masters in business administration with a concentration in information systems, but it depends on the job. As a business analyst, you will want to keep up with the latest in the tech industry so you are always on top of new software, procedures, and trends in the market.
This in demand position is growing at a rate faster than most industries, with the BLS predicting it will grow 25 percent by 2022. The average annual salary for a business analyst is $63,888, according to PayScale, with a reported salary range of $44,640 to $99,639 per year. Check out openings on Monster to find business analyst jobs in your area.

Database Administrator - $68,592
Database administrator is another in demand IT position that involves the installation, configuration, upgrading, and maintenance of databases for a company. DBAs are also responsible for ensuring the security of databases as well as developing and designing database strategies for a company. Duties will also include installing and upgrading the servers and tools for the database, ensuring all systems are compliant with vendor license agreements, optimizing database performance, backing up the database, archiving information, and more. You will need a strong knowledge of database theory, database design, structured query language (SQL), storage technologies, memory management, operating systems, and more. US News and World Report rated database administrator as number 12 on it’s list of Best Jobs in America for 2014.
To become a database administrator you will need at least a bachelor’s degree in computer science, information technology, or engineering. You may want to get your master’s degree to improve your job opportunities or certifications such as the IBM certification in Database Administration.
Database administrator jobs are predicted to grow 15 percent by 2022, according to the BLS, which is faster than most other industries. The average annual salary for a database administrator is $68,592, according to PayScale, with a reported salary range of $39,874 to $102,602 per year. Check out openings on Monster to find database administrator jobs in your area.

Information Security Analyst - $69,549
Security is a hot IT skill right now, especially considering the publicity that security breaches have been getting in the news. Companies want to ensure their data and customer data is safe, so they are hiring people, rather than employing software to get the job done. Having security skills can help you move up from a position to information technology to cyber security if you tailor your resume the right way. As an information security analyst, you will need to keep on top of all the latest in security, and always be one step ahead of hackers. You will be responsible for monitoring a business’ networks to spot security breaches and look into any suspicious activity. You will need to find the best software to protect the business’ data, ensure that the company has strong data encryption in place, keep people up to date on the status of security measures, and test the systems you implement. It’s a job that is rising as more companies rely on technology for their daily business. The more technology a company relies on, the more avenues that are opened up for security breaches. According to US News and World Report, information security analyst is the fourth best tech job in America for 2014.
To become an information security analyst you will need a bachelor’s degree in computer science or programming. You will also want to get a master’s degree in business information in information systems, since security jobs are generally high-level positions. Schools are starting to introduce security programs into their IT degrees to respond to the growing demand for security professionals. You can better your chances of getting a job in cyber security by getting experience in information technology and tailoring your resume to have skills in security.
Information security analyst jobs are predicted to grow 37 percent by 2022, according to the BLS, which makes it the fastest growing job on this list. The average annual salary for information security analysts is $68,549, according to PayScale, with a reported salary range of $45,275 to $103,207. Check out openings on Monster to find information security analyst jobs in your area.

Web Developer - $53,036
Web developer is a popular in-demand tech job that entails the development and creation of websites. As a web developer you will work closely with clients, or with your company, to develop and implement a website according to their vision. Responsibilities include debugging applications, creating applications, writing code, working with graphic designers to develop the layout, working with graphics, video, and audio, and monitoring traffic to the site. You will need a strong background in programming languages as well as HTML and XML. Web developer is ranked as number three on the list of best technology jobs by US News and World Report for 2014.
The education for a web developer relies on the job posting, with some jobs only requiring a high school degree, while others might want a bachelor’s degree. You can get an associate’s degree in web design and still have a number of jobs to apply to or you can freelance and take jobs as they come. To work for a company, or as a web architect, you will want at least a bachelor’s degree in computer science or programming.

The BLS predicts that web developer jobs will grow 20 percent by 2022, which is faster than most other industries. The average annual salary for a web developer is $53,036, according to PayScale, with a reported salary range of $32,116 to $82,193 per year. Check out openings on Monster to find web developer jobs in your area. 

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